If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

letters to the lost banner

30038855
Title:
Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Letters to the Lost

Where do I start with this amazing book? Letters to the Lost is a book about loss, grief, and unexpected friendships. We live in a world where we are always grasping for that chance of hope and happiness, but we are often overshadowed by the sudden windstorm of death. And instead of being forever lost in grief, Brigid Kemmerer’s book portrays a path of dealing with loss and creating new friendships, while also holding on to cherished memories.

In Letters to the Lost, Kemmerer’s characters experience grief and emptiness after the deaths of close family members, but by the happenstance of letters left at a cemetery, these characters form an unexpected bond through their vulnerable and heartbreaking words. But through misty eyes, I liked that their emotions steadily evolve and elate through a blind connection. What they believe to be just words written on paper turn out to mean the world to each other. 

As one of the main characters, Juliet, a current high school student, realistically portrays the emotional struggles of losing a parent. And in order to deal with her grief, she writes letters to her mother and leaves them at her grave site. But as the synopsis points out, the letters do not remain unread. This is when Declan, a fellow high school student, who is working his community service hours at a local cemetery, finds Juliet’s letters and begins responding to her. 

The mystery of writing letters to an unknown person under the umbrella of anonymity can feel frustrating, maddening, but also satisfying. By Juliet and Declan keeping their identities secret from each other, they do not feel physically exposed; they do not have to hide their honest feelings or the hurt that comes from the reality of death. Instead of bottling up their grief, both characters use their letters as an outlet to be loose cannons of emotional verbiage. I liked that this outlet opens them up to a unique way of healing, acceptance, and finally gripping to hope. 

One of the unique messages that I took away from Letters to the Lost is that the book challenges the characters to see beyond stereotypes. Stereotypes usually distort our views of people, especially in high school. We often think we know a person just by their physical appearance or what others have told us about them. Similar to many high school experiences, Julie and Declan have stereotyped each other and their classmates. But at the end of this book, they notice that these preconceived notions are just fabrications. They are then left to acknowledge that the only person they truly know is themselves and sometimes that is even ever changing.

If you are ever in the mood for a book that portrays the distress of loss and grief with the progression of finding conciliation and peace, I highly recommend Letters to the Lost. This book is full of emotions–pain and sadness–but it also contains a message of hope, discovering ways to cope with loss, and finding friends in the unlikely places.

IMG_3016

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Advertisements

Book Review: Lucky In Love by Kasie West

30285562
Title:
Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West
Publication date: July 25, 2017
Publisher:  Scholastic
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Lucky in Love

You guys, I’m so upset that this book did not work for me. Kasie West’s books are always a hit or a miss for me, and Lucky In Love turned out to be my least favorite book of hers. I hate admitting that, but the story did not work for me. I could not connect with Maddie, the main character, at all. Her voice was too “internal” and self-involved for me and I got so irritated with all her irresponsible choices when it came to her lottery winnings. In the end, I could not deal with how naive she was. 

I did, however, really liked the friendship that develops between Maddie and her co-worker Seth. I loved how nerdy, awkward, and cute they act in each other’s presence. Their adorable interactions always lifted my spirits during my reading of Lucky In Love, which made the book tolerable for me.

Another rave for me is the ADORABLE cover. I love how vibrant, cute, and swoony it is. Even if the story did not win me over, this cover definitely did. I wish I could have loved this book, but in the end, Lucky In Love was not a winner for me. But I really do hope it works for other contemporary readers–maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood to read it at the time.

1 star rating

My Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this physical ARC copy through a blogger exchange. I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex Approximately

Have you ever read a book that is so swoony and adorable that it makes your stomach ache? Well, Alex, Approximately is one of those books that gave me butterflies from all it’s cute and adorable moments. I loved its “You’ve Got Mail” mysterious identity vibe and all the swoony banter. There is also a slight hate/love relationship that brews and it is the best developing relationship I have read in a long time. 

One of my favorite things about Jenn Bennett’s books is how realistic she writes her characters. The two main characters in Alex, Approximately, Bailey “Mink” and Porter “Alex,” are both awkward, smart, hilarious, and they both own up to their own unique style. I love that Bailey not only adores classic movies, just like Porter, but she also leaves her house with the best hair and outfits that mirror the style of Lana Turner. Porter is one of the most straightforward and headstrong characters I have read; I loved how honest and confident he is throughout the story. And the playful repartee and chemistry between these two characters will have you happily sighing while your cheeks ache from all your smiling. 

What I liked most about Alex, Approximately is that the story is so heartwarming and knee-weakening. I am a huge fan that the characters did not come off too angsty. Instead these characters, and their destined chance to meet, is flirtatious and bold. Once again Bennett has written a romantic story that I cannot wait to pick up again, so I can re-experience all the laughs, swoons, and sexy sarcasm that overpowers this book. 

star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

about the book - Alex

30312700
Title:
Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository

About the author Pearl Thief

jenn bennett

Jenn Bennett is an artist and RITA-nominated author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series (Kindling the Moon) and the Roaring Twenties romance series, including Bitter Spirits, which was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014 and winner of RT Book Reviews Paranormal Romance Book of the Year, and Grave Phantoms—which was awarded RT’s May Seal of Excellence for 2015. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, (aka Night Owls in the U.K.) is her first YA contemporary romance. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two evil pugs.

Website | Twitter |Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Tumblr

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella

30724132
Title:
Geekerella
Author: Ashley Poston
Publication date: April 4, 2017
Publisher:  Quirk Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository

a review geekerella

As a modern-day retelling of Cinderella, Geekerella is super cute, funny, and a very fast-paced read. This story is charming and geeky and overall a great book to dive into. Like many retellings of Cinderella, Elle (the main character) has a horrible stepmom, greedy step-sisters, and Elle has the obligations to take care of the household duties. However, Elle also has a bit of freedom: she writes a blog focused on her favorite fandom, Starfield, and she has a job on a vegan food truck. The friendships she creates and the shenanigans Elle participates in this book allows Geekerella to unfold in the most fun and surprising ways. 

I had a hard time connecting with the main character, but I still thought Elle was fun and smart. I love that she is emotionally driven to make her parents proud, and you can definitely tell she is a passionate fan of Starfield, a TV show that brought her parents together. Sometimes I wanted Elle to be more straightforward and honest, but often she came across as too frustrating for me to handle. 

Overall, Geekerella is a total full-on fandom-fanatic package.  The story is action-packed from the swoony (great ab) actor to fandom chaos and all the way to a hilarious and heart-pounding convention meet-up. This story is filled with laughs, uncertainty, and warm fuzzies. I think this book is a great homage to the traditional Cinderella tale and a honorable read to all those who love fandoms and “fangirling.”

IMG_3017

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Book Review: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

30687804
Title:
Long Way Home
Author: Katie McGarry
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


Long way home

The Thunder Road series is quite a reading addiction for me. Katie McGarry has written a group of stories about teenagers caught in the most edgy and excitable situations. The stories center on young couples that are growing up and falling in love, all while they are part of a motorcycle club family. I loved the first two books of this series, so I was so excited to finally get my hands on Long Way Home, which finally gives the much anticipated, fist-clenching, tension-building relationship between Chevy and Violet to unravel.  

Although, this was not my favorite book of the Thunder Road series, Long Way Home still captivated my attention with the character development and high-tension plot. Violet was too angsty for me, but I can very much understand where all her frustration and anger comes. And Chevy is such a good guy all around. Both characters are going through a lot family secrets and adolescent dilemmas, and I think they handle their situations the best way they can, especially as teenagers. 

Katie McGarry has become one of my favorite contemporary writers, and once again she does not disappoint with Chevy and Violet’s story. Overall, I enjoyed Long Way Home, and I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that more stories are written in this guilty-pleasure series. 

IMG_3015

 

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

emery lord banner

IMG_2731


Title:
The Names They Gave Us

Author: Emery Lord
Publication date: May 16, 2017
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: e-ARC from Netgalley; physical ARC blogger exchange

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |  The Book Depository


My Rants and Raves of Emery Lord

When summer hits, my “READ ALL THE CONTEMPORARY BOOKS” alarm goes off. From there I’m in the world of swoons, tears, laughter, and sometimes heartache. And when I want to read the most realistic and heart-fulfilling contemporary book, I always turn to the QUEEN OF CONTEMPORARY WRITERS, Emery Lord. Emery Lord is one of my favorite contemporary authors, at least in my top three, so suck it (Pam Beasley quote there, sorry, I had to do it). And once again Emery’s words have made my eyes water, my heart ache, and my soul feel like it needs a giant hug. So friends and fellow book lovers, I’m going to tell you this now, Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us is going to put you on an emotional, reading roller coaster but luckily there is the comfort of campfires and s’mores to warm up the pages. 

One of my favorite parts about reading Emery’s books are how relatable her characters are. Once again she has created a main character, Lucy, who is realistically flawed and easy to connect with.  Throughout The Names They Gave Us, Lucy questions her motives and choices when it comes to awkward, stressful, and guarded social situations. As the daughter of a preacher, she questions God but at the same feels shameful with her intentions. Although it’s heartbreaking to a see Lucy struggle throughout the pages, it is also reassuring to see a character encounter and confront the unfair realities of life. 

I don’t want to give too much away from this book’s plot, because I honestly think, everyone will come into this book with differing world views and then leave this book with a different emotional contemplation. The Names They Gave Us is not a “cancer” book, but the novel does bring in the emotional charge that comes with cancer: a brutal black hole that inevitably swallows up happiness and light. The solidity of cancer tests the main character’s willpower, her faith, her family, her friends, and her future. In The Names They Gave Us, cancer is the driving force that sets the main character on a new path: a path that brings her to a summer camp which helps her meet a diverse group of people, adapt to new beginnings, and a new perspective on life.

At camp, Lucy is able to “people watch,” ponder and observe past lives and choices, and contemplate her own future. Overall, this novel is an emotional package about self-discovery, forming meaningful friendships, and finding ways to emotionally cope and face difficult situations. In The Names They Gave Us, Emery writes with such raw passion and puts so much courage and sincerity in her characters; in the end, she has created a story about honesty, compassion, forgiveness, and fully living. 

In The Names They Gave Us, there’s a part where the young camp counselors gather around a campfire and discuss their highs and lows of the week. So I thought I would break the rest of my review down into the high and lows of the book. The highs are my most beloved topics that the Emery Lord touches on and lows are self-explanatory.  

high ampfire talk

Biracial relationships.
Teen pregnancy.
Lucy and Henry Morris Jones IV
Stories within stories.
“Posy and the Dreaming Tree”

low campfire talk (1)

cancer sucks
Cancer Sucks!
CANCER SUCKS!
CANCER REALLY SUCKS!
CANCER REALLY, REALLY SUCKS!!!

green swirl

IMG_2728

NOTE: Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury  for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Blitz: Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Title: Dating the It Guy
Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator’s son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

EXCERPT:

“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket.

 

Author Bio:

Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

XBTBanner1