Book Review: Nantucket Blue

13597696Title: Nantucket Blue
By: Leila Howland
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 294 (Hardcover)
Format: Kindle (e-book)
Source: Purchased

About Nantucket Blue:

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on–most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits–that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

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


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF NANTUCKET BLUE

I have not had that much luck with contemporary reads in the last couple of months. I’m a mood reader, and during the summer, I’m always like, “GIMME ALL THE SWOONY CONTEMPS BECAUSE SUMMER = LOVE.” And sadly, once again, I was unable to fall in love with another contemporary read, in this case, Nantucket Blue.

First, I had a very hard time connecting with Cricket. She seemed off-putting and flat as a character. She is too worried of what everyone thinks, which causes her to fail to focus on the world and friends that surround her. I wanted her to be a stronger character, but with each chapter I failed to like her more and more. And do not even get me started on her so-called best friend, Jules. UGH, worst friend award definitely goes to Jules. I know everyone grieves in different ways, but I honestly do think, and I know from experience with the tragedy she faces, that I would never treat my friend like she treats Cricket. How does treating your friends like crap, help you cope with the reality of loss?! IT DOESN’T! Their friendship is odd, rude, and so complicated for unnecessary reasons, making the whole book less enjoyable.

Furthermore, I think because Cricket is so insecure and worried about what others think, this causes her motivations, interactions, and actions to become too drawn out and over-dramatic, which leads to too much angst.The only rave that I have about the book is the relationship that blossomed between Cricket and Zack. Their interactions were swoony and had me smiling a lot. Zack definitely made up for Jules’ indifference in the friendship department.

Overall, I think this novel had potential. Creating a love story at a beachy, summer location sounds great on paper, but in the long run the chapters were so short and clipped, leaving rarely any room for a story to develop. Cricket goes through a lot, and I mean A LOT, in this novel. She barely has room to work out her problems and maturely grow. I saw that there is a sequel, Nantucket Red, but in all honestly, I do not feel compelled to follow Cricket through another stage of her adolescence after reading Nantucket Blue.

1 star rating

MY RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars

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

Book Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

15283043Title: The Distance Between Us
By: Kasie West
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 312 (Paperback)
Format: Kindle 
Source: Purchased

About On the Fence:

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

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


My Rants and Raves of The Distance Between Us

Reading The Distance Between Us was like watching a John Hughes’ film. I must say I enjoyed the story and the gradual relationship that grew between the two main characters, Caymen and Xander. I mean, there’s even a Blaine in the story, so this book has to be Pretty in Pink – John Hughes inspired!!!

My number one love for this book was the dialogue. I thought the dialogue between Caymen and Xander was witty and funny. With each chapter I looked forward to the quick, sarcastic banter that Caymen brought in Xander’s direction. I thought a few of the scenes were over-dramatic, but overall I did like how quirky both characters were and how well they connected. More importantly, I enjoyed how they dared each other out of their own comfort zones. 

Additionally, I really liked that this book was focused on self-acceptance, instead of it being another contemporary read about a poor girl that falls in love with rich boy and vice versa. Even though I did not enjoy some of the angsty scenes, I enjoyed West’s writing, and I appreciated that The Distance Between Us encompassed a very heartfelt and slow-building story littered with love, jealousy, secrets, friendship, family, humor, and trust. If you love 80s’ films, especially if you’re a John Hughes fanatic, give this book a try. 

3 star rating

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

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

Book Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Title: On the Fence
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By: Kasie West
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 296 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

About On the Fence:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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


My Rants and Raves of On the Fence

I read On the Fence for July’s book club pick. In all honesty, I did not enjoy reading this book; maybe I wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary (but I really thought I was at the time), but this book is my least favorite of Kasie West’s. 

One of the main reasons that I did not enjoy this book was due to the main character, Charlie. I tried to give Charlie a chance, but I found her SO ANNOYING! I realize her mother past away when she was younger, so she was raised by her father and three brothers, so she is characterized as a complete tomboy. But her love for baseball, or any sport, did not shy me away from the story; instead it was her attitude problem that had me wanting to throw the book across the room. Throughout the novel, Charlie is constantly fighting off people who are trying to help her. I could not connect to Charlie or her story, because she was constantly being stubborn and frustrating. UGH, just thinking about her actions, still gets me fired up. 

I almost gave up on this book, but in the end it was a very quick read. I did enjoy the dynamics and the unique relationships between Charlie and her brothers. They were fun, humorous, and protective. And I also liked her friend/neighbor, Braden. Braden is definitely a good guy that cares deeply about Charlie; their encounters and fence talking were honest and adorable. 

Overall, this is a classic girl crushing on the “boy next door” story; it is a quick read, but be prepared for a main character that is stubborn as hell. 

1 star rating

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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

COVER REVEAL: LONG WAY HOME by KATIE McGARRY

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Being released on January 31st, 2017, the highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series has a cover that we can’t wait to share with you! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story!

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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.

“An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page.”

—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge

Add it to your Goodreads Now!

 

LONG WAY HOME Pre-Order Links:

Amazon | Kobo | BAM | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

 

And Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series!

Nowhere But Here - cover

NOWHERE BUT HERE

Walk the Edge - cover

WALK THE EDGE 

 

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Katie McGarry Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

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ARC Review: We Own the Night by Ashley Poston

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Title: We Own the Night
By: Ashley Poston
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher:Bloomsbury Spark/ Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley

About We Own the Night:

“Happy midnight, my fellow Niteowls…”

As a candy store employee by day, and mysterious deejay “Niteowl” by night, eighteen-year-old Ingrid North is stuck between rock ‘n roll and a hard place. She can’t wait to get out of her tiny hometown of Steadfast, Nebraska (population three hundred and forty-seven) to chase her dreams, but small-town troubles keep getting in the way. She can’t abandon her grandmother with Alzheimer’s, or her best friend Micah–who she may or may not be in love with.

But for one hour each Saturday, she escapes all of that. On air, she isn’t timid, ugly-sweater-wearing Ingrid North. She’s the funny and daring Niteowl. Every boy’s manic pixie dream girl. Fearless. And there is one caller in particular– Dark and Brooding–whose raspy laugh and snarky humor is just sexy enough to take her mind off Micah. Not that she’s in love with Micah or anything. Cause she’s not.

As her grandmother slips further away and Micah begins dating a Mean-Girls-worthy nightmare, Ingrid runs to the mysterious Dark and Brooding as a disembodied voice to lean on, only to fall down a rabbit hole of punk rockstars, tabloid headlines, and kisses that taste like bubble tea. But the man behind the voice could be surprising in all the right, and wrong, ways.

And she just might find that her real life begins when Niteowl goes off the air.

LINKS: Goodreads | Kindle: Amazon | Nook: B&N 


MY RANTS AND RAVES OF WE OWN THE NIGHT

WOW! WOW! WOW! We Own the Night is the perfect summery read. It is definitely an attention-grabbing and fast-paced novel (I read it in less than 5 hours, maybe 4), with heart-pounding moments, and a main character worth rooting for. From the first page, we are introduced to a young radio deejay named NiteOwl, who is going through the many motions of crushes, teenage life dilemmas, and graduating high school. NiteOwl turns out to be the main character, Ingrid North, a small town Nebraska native who adores music, is on the mends with her three best friends, and at the same time she has to care for her grandmother who has Alzheimer’s. 

I really loved Ingrid as a character. Even though she is cautious, she can also be fearless, and definitely sarcastic and snarky. She has spent months not hanging out or communicating with her friends, because she has been taking care of her grandmother, and to top off her senior year, she has a major crush on her childhood friend, best friend in fact, Micah. But it turns out Micah is in love with someone else, and that’s when hearts start crumbling in this story.

But Ingrid does not let her heartache outweigh her strength to make it through summer. Ingrid hosts her own Saturday midnight radio show, and this outlet allows her to be her true self, which is a smart, spunky, sassy, and determined young woman. I, in turn, loved how gritty and brave Ingrid truly is, especially when she is communicating with one of her notable callers, who she has dubbed “Dark and Brooding.” Ahhh…their banter is sexy, wildly angsty, and romantic all at the same time. *swoons* These two characters bounce off each other so well, that you will be praying for a chance for them to meet in real life.

Ingrid not only exchanges “laugh out loud” banter with strangers on the radio, but she also exchanges sarcastic comments and hilarious repartee with her best friends and her own grandmother. This banter is often used as a comedic relief in all the craziness and sadness that Ingrid and her friends have to face. Additionally, I loved that throughout the book we not only get fun banter, but there is the awesome littering of The Princess Bride and The Office references, just to name a few popular culture allusions. 

This whole story is a mesh of fighting bullies, experiencing both heartbreak and/or heart-pounding confessions of love, and truly understanding the good and the bad moments that life throws at people.  We Own the Night is an all-around, feel good story sprinkled with love and infinite snapshots of a female protagonist enduring change. Friendships are tested. Punches are thrown. Relationships blossom. Gumballs are spilled. Dreams are dared. Life lessons are learned. And in the end, we get a truly remarkable book about maturing, falling in love, adventuring out of your comfort zone, and accepting the contingent events of life.  

4 star rating

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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

Throwback Thursday Mini-Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

Throwback Thursday Mini-Review: How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

22718802Title: How to Say I Love You Out Loud
By: Karole Cozzo
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Physical ARC
Source: Received in a Swoon Reads Tote Bag Giveaway at Joseph Beth Bookseller’s Cincinnati, Ohio book event

About How to Say I Love You Out Loud:

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they’re related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can’t shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again. Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

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


Mini-Review: My Rants and Raves of How to Say I Love You Out Loud

At first I thought this book was going to be a typical formulaic contemporary read, but I’m so glad I was wrong and kept reading.

I went into this story without reading its synopsis, and I think not knowing what the book was about made me like it more. Throughout the book, Jordyn, the main character, creates a boundary between her peers and her home life–the truth is that she has an autistic brother, and in the past she has always been labeled as the sister of the autistic kid. She is in her second year of starting a new school, and for once she is only Jordyn. But as the story progresses, her brother (Phillip) unintentionally bombards her school life, and people begin whispering how “weird” he is and find out that he’s related to Jordyn.

In the end, I loved the development of Jordyn. She accepts who she is, and more importantly she accepts the challenges that life throws at her. She becomes brave, opens up her heart, and doesn’t worry what other people think about her or her brother.

Karole Cozzo has a knack for real-life storytelling, and her development of creating Alex to push Jordyn to challenge herself is beautifully written. Jordyn’s story is beautiful and well worth the read.

4 star rating

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Note: This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account on August 2, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) from a giveaway hosted by Swoon Reads at a book event held at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, Ohio during the summer of 2015.   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Throwback Thursday Mini-Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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Title: The Fill-In Boyfriend
By: Kasie West
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 344
Format: Physical ARC
Source: EpicReads’ Early Readers Group (2015)

About The Fill-In Boyfriend:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

PURCHASE THIS BOOK FROM YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER/RETAILER OR 

Amazon        Barnes and Noble         Book Depository 


My Rants and Raves of The Fill-In Boyfriend

WOW this story reeled me in and I don’t want to be casted back out! If you know me, I have never been a go-to contemporary reader; however, in the last year, I am trying to change this fact about me and read more YA contemporary novels. I have never read a Kasie West novel, and after reading this book, I may have to gobble up her other books ASAP!

West’s main character Gia is portrayed so accurately as a modern-day teenager–at first she is self-involved and constantly worried about what her “friends” think, but over time she begins to mature. Straight from the beginning, Gia recognizes that her words and actions are self-centered. But after asking for a favor from a concerned stranger (that would be Hayden, the fill-in boyfriend/Bradley), Gia starts to analyze herself, her friends, her frienemies, her family, her actions, and social media’s influence on her life. And throughout her analysis, she begins to change and develop into a likable and self-conscious person.

This book is well-paced and each word tugs at your heart and your gut. Gia straight out says or portrays that she needs to change, and as a reader, I enjoyed that process of her evolution. The Fill-In Boyfriend is a quick read–I couldn’t put it down–and adding a smart, observant, “geeky,” and a lay-it-all-out-on-the-table fill-in boyfriend, like Hayden, to expose Gia’s flaws and strengths made the story 10 times better. Hayden is swoon-worthy and definitely a friend to be trusted.

The only flaw I saw with the book was that I thought it was too short, but I may be acting bias because I want more Gia and Hayden banter/conversation.

Favorite lines:

“The librarian lowered her brow disapprovingly. ‘I don’t think we have any biographies on people who had to deal with d-bags'” (page 217 of the ARC).

“I was thinking about vanilla but then I thought, ‘That is so boring, Gia will think I’m the most boring person ever.'”…”So then I thought, ‘I bet Blake here will tell me what to order,’ but he was no help whatsoever. Thanks a lot, Blake.” (page 225 of the ARC).

star rating

5 out of 5 Stars

Note: This review was previously posted on my Goodreads account in May 19, 2015, and has been updated for my blog. I received an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) from Epic Reads as a participant reviewer for their new Early Readers Group in the summer of 2015.  Thank you, Epic Reads and HarperTeen! All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: AUTOFOCUS by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title: Autofocus
By: Lauren Gibaldi
Published by: Harper Teen
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Fiction

ABOUT AUTOFOCUS:

Family.

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

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


 review in photography

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi is by far my favorite Young Adult Contemporary book I have read this year. Right from page one, the story smoothly unfolds when the main character, Maude, is given a high school assignment: to use photography as a means to define “family.” But for Maude, “family” is hard to define, because she was adopted and her birth mother died from complications during childbirth. Defining “family” is a true crisis of nature versus nurture in Maude’s eyes, especially when her birth mother left no information about herself or her own family for Maude to discover.

footprintGibaldi does a remarkable job depicting a seventeen-year-old that is lingering between the blurred lines of adolescence and adulthood. Maude is one of the most courageous female protagonists I have read in a long time. I often found myself comparing her to Louisa May Alcott’s Jo March in Little Women—a heroine surrounded by family and friends, yet who often shadows herself in a world of creativity as she pleads for life to remain unchanging. Like Jo March, Maude is creative, stubborn, and overall frustrating, especially when she is enamored with concrete and fixed depictions of people. Throughout Autofocus, Maude is often comparing people to who they are now and who they once were, and this leaves her with a mindset that change is hard to accept.

corkboardI mostly liked Maude because she is very determined and fearless. She does not wallow in self-pity; instead, she travels to her birth mother’s hometown, which happens to be the college town that her best friend Treena is attending. While staying at Florida State University for a week, I love that Maude dares herself to make connections with people that once knew her birth mother. And more importantly, I enjoyed that Maude not only discovers the true meaning of family, but she also discovers herself.

blurryUnsurprisingly, I was not a big fan of Maude’s best friend, Treena. I know Treena is in college and she’s going through her own identity crisis, but for crying out loud, her best friend is only staying with her for one week. But without Treena’s slip-ups, Maude would have never met and received help from Treena’s college friend, Bennett. Bennett is by far my favorite character in the book. He’s dorky, honest, caring, funny, and has an eclectic knowledge of pop culture/references. Honestly, you cannot go wrong with having a friend that loves and references Star Wars, Spider-man, and Toy Story, RIGHT?! Bennett is the perfect friend to help balance out Maude’s uneasy and erratic actions during her one-week journey to find information about her birth mother.

spidermanOverall, I really enjoyed Autofocus, and I can definitely see this coming-of-age story being a re-read for me whenever I’m in need of a reading-slump cure. Maude is a dynamic character, and I love that most of her internal dialogue is framed in self-encouraged philosophies. I really appreciated that Maude uses her photography assignment not only as a means to define “family,” but to essentially define herself. In the end, she portrays maturity and understanding that identity is not always a still-frame, but a collection of snapshots that shape who you are.

autofocus

star rating

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Win a finished copy of AUTOFOCUS (US Only)

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about Lauren

Lauren Gibaldi

Public librarian and author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, MATT’S STORY (a Night We Said Yes novella), and AUTOFOCUS (out 6/14/16), all with HarperTeen/ HarperCollins. Fan of dinosaurs and cheesy jokes. And you.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

 

tour schedule

Week 1:
 
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Note: All photographs were taken by me and edited with an Apple app called Color Card. All quotes featured in the photos are from an e-arc/galley of Autofocus provided by HarperTeen/HarperCollins. A gigantic thank you to Irish Banana Tours for inviting me on this blog tour. 

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West: Review & Giveaway

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Title: P.S. I Like You
By:  Kasie West 
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Point
Format: ARC
Source: Blogger Book Exchange

Goodreads Summary:

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?

While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?

From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.


The Rants and Raves of P.S. I Like You

Last year, Epic Reads provided me an advance reader’s copy of The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West for their Early Reader’s Program. And you guys, I fell in LOOOOVE with this book; it was quirky, innovative, fun, swoon-worthy, and so heart-quenchingly adorable. The Fill-In Boyfriend was the first Kasie West book I read, even though she had several other publications before it. When I found out that Kasie had a new book coming out this year, P.S.  I Like You, I immediately added it to my TBR list and my personal “2016-Wishlist.” Luckily, through a book exchange with a fellow book blogger (THANKS, Heidi!), I received an ARC of P.S. I Like You (EEEeekkk!!!).

Now I didn’t love P.S. I Like You, but I also didn’t hate it…I guess you could say I liked it. At first, I was not a big fan of the main character, a high schooler named Lily Abbott. She is very sarcastic, which I liked, but she is also a bit stand-offish, defensive, and very self-involved in her own little world.

Even though Lily has her faults (well, we all do, right?), she does have some likable qualities. First off, she is a very talented and self-determined songwriter. Lily is fierce and witty–overall, she doesn’t put up with people’s shenanigans.

She is also very family oriented. I really enjoyed the scenes of her interacting with her family. And her family members are off-the-wall hilarious. Lily’s family consists of her quirky and competitive parents, her rambunctious brothers (Thing One and Thing Two), and her wise, feisty older sister, Ashley. Even the family pet rabbit, Bugs Rabbit, was a fun highlight in the book and a pain in Lily’s butt, HAHAHA. The dynamics of the Abbott household are entertaining and very heartwarming. Their quirky traditions and the love that they all have for each other is very comforting. The Abbott family dynamics  definitely won me over in this book. 

The plot and twists in P.S. I Like You are quite predictable, but I still enjoyed the development and secrets that unfolded throughout the pages. While reading the first 200 pages, I thought the plot was too slow and I wanted something to happen. I mainly wanted to go beyond Lily’s grudges, wallowing, and self-pity. But as the story progressed, Lily became a more likable character. When she starts exchanging letters and song lyrics with a mysterious boy who shares her desk in a different Chemistry period, Lily begins to open up. Once these letters become a natural part of her day, I really liked how Lily challenges herself and, more importantly, her attitude becomes more tolerable. The main events that happen in the last 100 pages are definitely my favorite (SWOON!) and worth reading the whole book.

As I stated before, I did not find Lily to be a very likable character and her pessimism almost turned me away from reading the rest of the book. But I’m glad I finished the novel, because the ending was definitely worth all its swooning. Although I was not a fan of Lily, I was a HUGE fan of her “enemy” Cade. He’s funny, witty, and his attitude/actions are unexpected and swoony. He is an excellent choice to be Lily’s binary in P.S. I Like You.  

3 star rating

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

P.S. I like you

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NOTE:          I received this Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) through a book trade with a fellow blogger. I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher for a review. All statements and honest opinions are mine.

ARC Review: The Unexepected Everything by Morgan Matson

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Title: The Unexpected Everything
By:   Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Pages: 528 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads Summary

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?


My Rants and Raves of The Unexpected Everything

First off, if you love Morgan Matson’s past books, you will definitely add The Unexpected Everything to your favorites list. Matson once again creates a contemporary world rattled with familial problems, tested friendships, swoony and smart boys, and summer plans gone awry. The main character, Andie, is not the most likable character, but her development throughout the novel shows great maturity. A lot of characters consume this book, making the story a bit confusing and overpowering with drama, but overall each character brings their own spin and flair to the story, and they all help shape Andie’s unforgettable summer.

Andie is the daughter of a widowed congressman; she is organized, ambitious, and always has a plan. She has her summer internship set up and she’s single, so no one can get in the way of her goals. However, after her dad is caught in the middle of an investigated scandal, Andie’s plans get put on the back burner and she has to learn to “go with the flow.” Even though Andie is very high-strung, I love that she takes initiative to make the most of her summer instead of wallowing in self-pity.

Throughout the novel, Andie does not have the best communication skills when it comes to talking to her father and her friends, and this always seems to lead to more problems. When communication problems go astray in the book, frustration is ensued.  The lack of communication is a huge conflict that is stretched throughout the novel, and it is not just Andie dealing with it. Even one of her friends, who is obsessed with emojis, starts to feel the pressure of how communication is a key factor in making friendships and relationships work. Luckily, Andie meets Clark who is shy, but also has an innate gift of bringing people together through storytelling. 

In regards to my absolute favorite “rave” of The Unexpected Everything, I can definitely admit that Clark is by far my favorite character in the book. First off, his “geeky” shirts are “punny” and fantastic. And not to give too much away about him, but I love that he is going through a George R.R. Martin writing phase. Clark is smart, awkward, funny, and so adorable (those dimples!!!). He is definitely the perfect person to balance Andie’s strict, planned out life.

Additionally, my fellow Matson book-lovers, characters from Since You’ve Been Gone make small cameos in The Unexpected Everything…it’s brief but some of our favorite characters are there and it’s blissful and wonderful (EEEEeee!!!)! 

Overall, The Unexpected Everything is 528 pages of frustration AND adoration. It definitely has its great moments: Clark, Bertie’s shenanigans, and a big group scavenger hunt, to name a few.  This book is unquestionably the perfect read to start off your summer with. So prepare yourself for some teenage angst, leaked secrets, fluffy dogs, and a story about an unanticipated summer filled with humorous surprises.

4 star rating

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

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NOTE:         Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book for an honest review. All statements and opinions are mine.