My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

book review22.jpg

Title & Author: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins (All authors listed at the top of the book cover)

Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press/2014

Source: Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4hearts*

*I definitely enjoyed some stories more than others. Some I would give a 5 heart rating to while others I’d give a 3, so I felt a 4 heart rating was fair since it was right in the middle.

What This Book Is About

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I would have loved to have had this review posted BEFORE the holiday but unfortunately I didn’t finish it until December 23 and I have a prior commitment to post a review on another book by December 25 at the latest.

As I said in the rating area, some of the stories I loved a lot more than the others. I would love to see some of these stories be made into a standalone novel, especially Rainbow Rowell’s, Kiersten White’s and Ally Carter’s. I will rate each of the stories individually, but they were all entertaining and fun to read especially with the approaching holidays.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell: 5/5
The Lady and The Fox by Kelly Link: 2/5
Angels In The Snow by Matt de la Peña: 4/5
Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: 3/5
It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: 3/5
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: 4/5
Krampuslauf by Holly Black: 3/5
What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: 4/5
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: 3/5
Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: 4/5
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: 4/5
The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor: 2/5

I loved how the stories involved characters of all different races, backgrounds and even sexual orientations. They were all original and not your typical cookie cutter holiday romance stories. They also were mixed genres as well, some were contemporary and others fantasy. I definitely enjoyed this book and would recommend it to every single reader who is into young adult fiction. It would also make an excellent gift if you have a young adult reader in your life. You can’t go wrong with this book during the holiday season. There is a summer themed one scheduled for publication in 2016, also edited by Stephanie Perkins but featuring 11 different authors that I cannot wait to read.

Advertisements

Harmony House by Nic Sheff

book review2

1

Title & Author: Harmony House by Nic Sheff

Publisher/Year: HarperTeen/ March 22, 2016

Genre: YA Mystery, YA Thriller

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books by Author: Goodreads 

My Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.

After Jen’s alcoholic mother’s death, her father cracked. He dragged Jen to this dilapidated old manor on the shore of New Jersey to “start their new lives”—but Harmony House is more than just a creepy old estate. It’s got a chilling past—and the more Jen discovers its secrets, the more the house awakens. Strange visions follow Jen wherever she goes, and her father’s already-fragile sanity disintegrates before her eyes. As the forces in the house join together to terrorize Jen, she must find a way to escape the past she didn’t know was haunting her—and the mysterious and terrible power she didn’t realize she had.

A classic horror story finds a terrifying home in Harmony House, drawing on favorite tropes and edgy, modern characters to create a chilling tale of blame, guilt, and ghostly revenge.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I absolutely love young adult thrillers and even though we’re in a happy holiday season at the moment, I jumped at the chance to read Harmony House. I was even more excited to read it because it takes place in New Jersey where I am from and currently live. The summary just sucked me in and I knew the ending was going to be something I hadn’t been expecting.

In my opinion there was different twists in the plot that I hadn’t been expecting and hadn’t seen coming. I was turning page after page to find out what was going on and what would happen next. It took me 2 days to finish reading Harmony House, and I enjoyed every minute of reading it. I’m not quite sure why it was a lower rating on Goodreads (currently 2.96) because I thought the plot line was original and was actually thrilling.

The characters were amazing. I was of course rooting for the main character Jen the whole time. She was not only easily likable but easily relatable. It was easy to see where her thoughts and feelings came from and I often noticed I felt the same feelings she was throughout the book. Jen’s dad was quite a character as well. Without giving too much away, it was so easy to not like him from the beginning. There were a few other characters that made small appearances throughout the book who really added to the storyline.

The way the author brought the story all together at the ending was something I didn’t see coming and it surprised me. I thought it was a great way to end the story and to explain everything that had been going on. The descriptions of all the scenery and the house itself was described in good detail to create the perfect mental images I needed in my head as I read the book.

I would definitely recommend reading Harmony House in March when it is published especially if you enjoy a good thriller. I hope Nic Sheff writes other young adult thrillers in the future that are just as amazing as Harmony House.

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

book review2

DelicateMonstersCover

Title & Author: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

Publisher/Release Date: St. Martin’s Griffin/June 9, 2015 (TODAY!)

Genre: YA Thriller, YA Contemporary

Format: Finished Hardcover

Source: St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for an honest review

Other Books by Author: Charm & Strange, Complicit

My Rating: 3hearts

What This Book Is About

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

When first reading the summary of Delicate Monsters I had thought it was going to be more of a thriller/mystery and thought, “I need to read this book”. As soon as I received it from the publisher I immediately began reading it that night. While it wasn’t what I had been expecting, I was instantly hooked from the beginning. The book is told in alternating chapters between the three main characters, Sadie, Emerson and Miles. Each chapter was short, yet left readers with just enough to want to know what was going to happen next.

The story itself had it’s thrilling moments and a lot of the storyline actually shocked me. It shows realistically some of the not so pretty things teenagers go through on a daily basis. It was actually a nice change of pace from all the lovey dovey young adult romances I had been reading lately. The characters themselves and their development throughout the novel is what had shocked me the most though. As the book went on, the dirtier the character’s secrets got. The end of the book really got me as well. I kind of suspected it to some degree but not in the way the author had ended up playing it out and I love when the ending is not what I had been suspecting throughout the whole book.

I will admit I did not exactly “like” any of the main characters. I think my favorite had to be May, both who was a minor character. Sadie Su was not your average teenage girl, dreaming of having the perfect boyfriend and into most teenage girl things such as shopping and hanging out with their best friends. Sadie had been expelled from three boarding schools for her behavior, which is incredibly cruel and is shown throughout the entire book. Emerson had to be my least favorite of all. While possessing some normal teen qualities, he also had some pretty sick and dirty secrets. I thought it was bad in the beginning but they continued to get worse throughout the book and my dislike for him only grew as well. Miles, Emerson’s younger brother, was the main character I liked the most. He was different and quirky, yet always down in the dumps which got a little old. I actually felt bad for Miles towards the end of the book though once his secrets were revealed and things had finally fallen into place and made sense. May was a minor character in the book and was only shown in some of Emerson’s chapters, but she seemed genuine, thoughtful and caring whenever she was present.

I really did enjoy Delicate Monsters and read the book within 2 days. It’s a light read page wise but subject wise it really makes you stop and think while you’re reading. I brought it into work with me the other day and already got a few coworkers interested in it. If you enjoy YA fiction of any genre I’d suggest you pick this book up and give it a chance.

Swept Away by Michelle Dalton Blog Tour!

book tour

SWEPT AWAY 1

SWEPT AWAY 2

Title & Author: Swept Away (Sixteenth Summer) by Michelle Dalton

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Genres: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Other Books by Michelle Dalton: Fifteenth Summer, Sixteenth Summer, Pulled Under (A Sixteenth Summer novel)

 My Rating: 4hearts

SYNOPSIS

Beachfront love blossoms in this refreshing summer romance, in the tradition of Sixteenth Summer and Seventeenth Summer.

 

Mandy Sullivan isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer months as tourists invade her seaside hometown on the coast of Maine. Her best friend, Cynthia, has abandoned her for camp and her older brother just announced he’ll be staying at college taking classes for the summer, leaving Mandy with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Hoping to keep herself busy, Mandy takes a volunteer job at the Rocky Pointe Lighthouse. On her very first day, Oliver Farmingham asks for a private tour. A new—and incredibly cute—face in Rocky Pointe, Oliver seems more interested in Mandy than the lighthouse and its history.

 

Without her best friend at her side, Mandy is scrambling to act the right way and say the right things when Oliver is around. Cynthia—not Mandy—has always been the confident, flirtatious girl that everyone wanted to be around. As Mandy and Oliver spend more time together exploring the coast, biking through the woods, and attending the local summer festivals, their budding friendship becomes much more. But with Mandy’s insecurities creeping to the surface, can she open her heart to someone who will only be in town for three months?

BOOK LINKS:

Goodreads l Amazon paperback l Barnes & Noble (B&N)

Bookdepository l iTunes l Kobo

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

Sixteenth Summer (Book 1): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9091814-sixteenth-summer

Pulled Under (Book 2): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18248933-pulled-under

SWEPT AWAY 6 SWEPT AWAY 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Dalton is one of the many names Carla Jablonski uses when writing. Her two YAs written as Carla Jablonski (published by Razorbill/Penguin), Thicker than Water and Silent Echoes, were included on the NYPL Books for the Teen Age list, and her graphic novel trilogy Resistance (illustrated by Leland Purvis, published by :01 Books) has won several awards, including the Sydney Taylor Silver Medal. In addition to writing novels she is an actor, playwright, and former trapeze artist. A native New Yorker, she is eternally grateful to her friends who invite her to their beach houses.

MY REVIEW

I have been a fan of Michelle Dalton since I first read Sixteenth Summer. I instantly loved the clichéd teen summer love story and continued to fall in love with each of her books after that. I love that when I read her books I am suddenly transported to a beach town that I have never been to yet am now so eager to visit. I love how you just fall in love with the storyline, the characters and the setting from the very first chapter. It is such a fun, light, enjoyable read that I could reread over and over again.

I loved the small beach town of Rocky Point and the way it was portrayed to the reader. It was so easy to make a mental picture of the quaint little town and made me want to hop into my car and take a roadtrip up the coast to Maine as soon as I finished reading. I also really loved the characters as I do with all of Michelle Dalton’s novels. They are easily likeable and you are rooting for them most of the book even though you know that their summer romance will likely come to an end. Mandy was so easy to relate to and I think any young girl would be able to see some of their own qualities in Mandy. Oliver was different than your usual summer love interest. He wasn’t the hunky jock out surfboarding on the beach. He was an artist and took the time to stop and admire things most other people don’t. He actually had some depth to him and that made me love him so much more. While some reader’s might not be into the insta-love, I was totally and completely into it and was hoping for the best between the two of them from the beginning to end.

I will definitely be rereading Swept Under (along with the rest of the Sixteenth Summer novels) while I lounge out on the beach this year. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a cute summer book, that also makes for a great beach read. It’s suitable in my opinion for tween and teen girls of any ages and I guarantee once you read Swept Away you’ll want to pick her other young adult books up as well.

MY DREAM CAST

These are some of the actors and actresses that I would match up to the characters in the book if it were being made into a movie.

Mandy Sullivan – Played by: Hailee Steinfield

SWEPT AWAY 8 MANDY

Mrs. Sullivan – Played by: Diane Lane

SWEPT AWAY 12 MANDYS MOM

Justin Sullivan – Played by: Taylor Lautner or Penn Badgley (it was a tie)

SWEPT AWAY 10 JUSTIN 

Cynthia – Played By : Lucy Fry

SWEPT AWAY 9 CYNTHIA

Joanna – Played By: Elizabeth Olsen

SWEPT AWAY 16 JOANNA

Patti – Played By: Sabrina Carpenter

SWEPT AWAY 15 PATTI

 Celeste – Played By: Jessica Green

SWEPT AWAY 14 CELESTE

Oliver – Played By: Nick Robinson

SWEPT AWAY 7 OLIVER

Alice (Oliver’s Mother) – Played By: Rachel Weisz

SWEPT AWAY 17 ALICE

Freaky Farmington – Played By: Tommy Lee Jones

SWEPT AWAY 13 FREAKY

So those are my top picks. I feel like they fit the characters really well in my mind. I really liked Penn Badgley for Justin but felt he might be too old looking for a college freshman/sophomore. Elizabeth Olsen to me looks like she could have an edgy New Yorker look/vibe.

GIVEAWAY:

Prize: Win (1) finished copy of SWEPT AWAY by Michelle Dalton (US Only)

*Click the Link Below, My non tech-butt cannot figure out how to embed the Rafflecopter*

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d9681b86103/?

SWEPT AWAY 3

Couldn’t Finish Friday Book Review

book review2

19286527Title & Author: Feuds by Avery Hastings

Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Griffin/2014

Genre: YA Sci-Fi, YA Romance

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Debut YA Novel

Rating: N/A – Couldn’t Finish

What This Book Is About

In this breathless story of impossible love, perfection comes at a deadly cost.

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold–and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her world…in Avery Hastings’s Feuds.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Well unfortunately today marks my first ever “Couldn’t Finish Friday” post. I was really hoping I never had to do one of these but I couldn’t get very far into Feuds. I have a policy for myself that I have to read at least 50 pages or so before I give up on a book so I continued reading until I just couldn’t anymore. I’m not generally into the young adult sci-fi genre, but I liked the overall summary and thought I would like the book as well. I hate writing negative reviews, but I want/need to be honest. I also don’t want my review to sway anyone’s decision on reading Feuds.

I used to be a dancer so I was really excited that one of the main characters, Davis, was a ballerina. I wish I could have liked her and Cole, but really I couldn’t. There was just so much romance I felt like it was being shoved down my throat. I like when there is some romance in the background between the characters, but I rather read more about more action and thrills. I felt like Feuds could have been amazing and that it could have lived up to more than what it ended up being (if that makes sense). It sounded like an original plot for a young adult dystopian book and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Just because it wasn’t for me does not mean it’s also not for you. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who are going to love this book (there are plenty of positive reviews on Goodreads), so if you were considering reading it, go ahead. The worst that can happen is you’ll stop like I did, but I don’t want my review to sway your overall decision of Feuds.

The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

book review2
22456909

Title/Author: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

Publisher/Year: Simon Pulse – February 17, 2015

Genres: YA Paranormal, YA Horror, YA Thriller

Format: ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy)

Source: Edelweiss

Other Books from Author: The Murmurings

Rating: images (2)

What This Book Is About

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I was so excited to be granted access to an ARC of The Bargaining on Edelweiss. I LOVE creepy, scary young adult books and was eager to jump right into this one. The Bargaining definitely delivered the creepy factor and much more. The first night I began reading this, I started dozing off and waking up, so by the next day I had to start all over again because I couldn’t remember anything I had read. I had been about 35 pages in and was just like…

embarrased

Once I started rereading the book, I was instantly sucked right in. I will admit that I began reading the book from the beginning for the second time in my Western Civilizations class, and I continued to read through the entire class. (Gotta love crazy old college professors…see Saturday’s post.) Luckily Monday was one of my short days, so I immediately went home and continued reading. In all honesty, and sorry for my choice of words, The Bargaining scared the shit out of me. Already being pretty afraid of the dark, reading this in bed in complete darkness (it was on my iPad so my lights were all off) may have not been my smartest choice. I was actually afraid to roll over because I thought someone or something would be standing next to my bed. I never experienced “scary goosebumps” from a book until I read this one. Seriously, read when it’s still light out!

I really liked the storyline of The Bargaining and how Penny’s and Miller’s pasts tied into it. I was constantly left guessing what was going to happen next and overall what really went on in those woods. Penny seemed like your typical moody, curious teenager. At first she annoyed me a little bit because she made no effort with her stepmom, but I ended up really liking her in the end. Miller on the other hand, we get to know his story in the prologue of the book. Knowing who he was and what he caused I think automatically influenced my feelings towards him. Even as he became friends with Penny, I still didn’t really like him too much. The huge shocking secret Miller finally shares with Penny at the end was so unexpected and surprisingly that I couldn’t believe it.

The Carver House reminds me of the many abandoned, haunted places that are all over the state of New Jersey. I’m a hug scaredy cat, but I’ve always wanted to check some of them out. (There were two specifically that really set the picture in my head for the Carver House and if you’re interested in reading about abandoned places and the rumors behind them here are the two houses. Demon’s Alley and Purgatory House. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a justifying article for Purgatory House.) I think I really was interested in the Carver House because of the mystery behind it. You don’t know what happened there or who previously lived there, just that a lot of people talk and have stories to tell about it. If the Carver House was real I may consider flying across the country to find it.

dem036

(A house from Demon’s Alley, inspiration for what the Carver House looked like in my mind.)

Overall I think The Bargaining was great. It’s labeled as a chilling and suspenseful novel, and that it definitely is. It was truly terrifying at some points and I love when a book can deliver that level of terror. I will be purchasing a physical copy of The Bargaining in February when it is published and rereading it in the future. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in young adult mysteries, thrillers, paranormal, horror genres or anyone interested in local legends and abandoned places. I cannot wait now to read Carly Anne West’s other young adult book that has been on my TBR-list for so long, The Murmurings.

Easy by Tammara Webber

Easy is one of those books that has been on my TBR list for months and I just have finally gotten around to reading it. I’m in a group on Goodreads where they have a “Copycat Challenge”. Everyone is paired up with someone and you have to pick a book from their read list to read for yourself. I saw Easy on there, checked my library and decided to go for it.

Easy by Tammara Webber

How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental

4stars

16056408

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night – but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

(Summary from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed Easy more than I had been expecting. The only reason I didn’t give it 5/5 stars is because I hadn’t realized that it was a New Adult book. I feel like the biggest difference between YA books and NA books is that NA books contain more graphic and/or frequent sex scenes. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I just don’t see the necessity of it. Once or twice maybe, but any more than in a 300 paged book to me is a bit much. Anyhow, that is why I took 1 star away (had it been a YA book I would have done the same). I really did like the story though. It was more mature and touched on more sensitive topics than a lot of young adult books deal with. I felt like I was able to make a lot of connections as well because the main characters are all in college, just like myself.

I loved Jacqueline and Lucas, the two main characters of the story. I often got frustrated when they would be together and in a way deny their attraction and feelings for each other. They had been through some intense times together and Lucas had saved Jacqueline from being raped one night after a party. Soon though Jacqueline is also emailing a tutor for her econ class and looks forward to his responses and wonders about him quite a few times. I won’t completely give anything away, but the connection was pretty obvious to me halfway through the book.

The summary makes it seem like Jacqueline has no one besides Lucas and that he is hiding secrets (correction the summary even says that), but it is all false. Jacqueline and her roommate and another sorority girl are still close friends and it seems like those were the only two girls Jacqueline was close to even before the break up. Lucas also is in no way “hiding” secrets. These secrets are very personal information and when the reader learns what it is, it is completely understandable why he didn’t just blurt it out to Jacqueline the first time they hung out. I also don’t think that Jacqueline trusted Lucas any less after learning his secrets. Basically, don’t let the summary fool you into thinking Lucas is bad or deceptive because he definitely is not.

So, forget what the summary says and just get this book and read it when you can. It was really good and I think I want my own copy to keep on my shelf so I can reread it whenever I want.

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

After reading and enjoying an advanced reader’s copy of Liz Czukas’ new book, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, I was eager to read Ask Again Later. I was expecting a lot since TTCYC was so good, but I was a bit let down and confused at the end.

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental

3stars

16090645

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…

(Summary from Goodreads)

I feel like we have all seen a movie, TV show or read a book like this one. The main character ends up being asked to prom by more than one boy and the decision is just too hard to make. When I began reading this book I thought the reader was going to see what would happen had Heart’s choice been Troy, the jock and her choice if it has been Ryan, the theater geek and then in the end the two would tie together to show that the outcome would be the same either way. Well, that is sort of how the story went down. The chapters switched back and forth between “heads” and “tails” which made it more confusing than alternating chapters ever are. In the end the two stories did tie together for one overall outcome and the chapters were no loner alternating between “heads” and “tails”. What left me confused at the end was that Heart seemed to have actually experienced both proms. She would mention something that happened with her one date with Troy and her friends looked at her like she was crazy and then she would mention something that happened with her date Ryan and same thing happened. I have no idea who she actually went to prom with or how she somehow remembers stuff from both. I guess the point was that it didn’t matter what happened before, but what had happened after prom.

When it came down to the characters, I didn’t really like any of them too much. Heart was the most bearable but even then she still allowed herself to be pushed around and her attempts to stick up for herself were half assed. Troy was your typical jock, getting drunk at prom and trying to make his newly ex-girlfriend jealous, yet acting super immature. Ryan, okay maybe I liked Ryan the most. He was a sensitive sweetheart and even was there for Heart when she didn’t choose to go to prom with him (heads). He didn’t get all moody or cause any drama. Heart’s brother was a total asshole and it took her getting drunk at the prom afterparty to finally stick up for herself. At that point I was like, “Thank goodness!” and wished it had only come sooner. Schroeder (Chase) seemed okay at first, but right away it was so clearly obvious that he had a crush on Heart but was just too scared to tell her. Instead he decided to be rude to her all night and lashing out at her as if she should have just known without him telling her that he liked her.

The story line was ridiculous yet so realistic and perhaps that is why I couldn’t enjoy it as much. I graduated high school almost 3 and a half years ago and am over the drama and immaturity that came with high school. I wouldn’t say Ask Again Later was horrible, it just hasn’t been the best or my most favorite book I have read in the past few months. It was quick and easy to read and only took me a few hours to finish.

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Expected Publication: December 9, 2014

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour

4stars

16144570

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

(Summary from Goodreads)

Oh my goodness, when I began reading this book I thought it was going to be light story about a small town girl who falls in love with her best friends brother. It was much better and more intense than that. I love storylines where the main character falls in love with their best friends brother, not quite sure why that it but maybe because the relationships are so much deeper since the characters have known each other for so long before they get together. Anyhow, I loved the whole storyline. There was a ton of family drama, but it didn’t really kill my mood overall for the book. I felt like the family drama actually added a lot to the book and the reader a good insight on Amber and why she makes the choices she does.

I really liked the two main characters, Amber and Devon. Amber is determined and although she made some not so smart choices in the book, I really liked her. She seems super sweet, caring, and like your typical teenager. Like I said, she made some not so smart choices, but she always has the best intentions at heart. Her best friend Devon gave me mixed feelings, but in the end I really liked him. He is like a typical teenage boy, putting his love interest before many other important things. When he was in that stage he got on my nerves a few times, but he soon realized and changed his ways. Amber and Devon together made a great pair of friends. Devon supported Amber even in some difficult times.

There were other characters that I didn’t care for as much, but the story would not have been the same without them. Two of the characters were Amber’s sister and her sister’s husband who is a local drug dealer and has her sister under his control to do what he wants and when he wants it. Amber tries to be there for her sister, but her sister constantly pushes her away even after she is arrested and child protective services comes to investigate. The other character was Devon’s love interest, the new boy at school, whose name I cannot remember at this time (opps :-/ ). He seemed like your typical high school jocky, douchebag. My only wish would have been for Amber to sock him real good in the face and put him in his place.

In No Place to Fall, so much was happening at once and the story never had a chance to slow down to a boring speed. Whether Amber was dealing with her family, her singing, her confusing relationship with Devon’s brother Will or just typical high schooler issues, the story was always interesting. I finished this book in a day which surprised me. It was a bit lengthy compared to the last book I finished and I don’t have as much free reading time as I did before. Granted I did stay up way too late and was super groggy in class the next day, but it was so completely worth it.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I know practically everyone says, don’t judge a book by it cover, yet I feel like we all still do it. I will be the first to admit that 9 times out of 10 I pick up a book or click on a book online because I like it’s cover. From there though, the summary is the ultimate deciding factor if I will actually read the book or not. Belzhar was included.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Expected Publication: September 30, 2014

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour

images (2)

20821376

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

(Summary from Goodreads)

The first few times I scrolled past Belzhar on both Goodreads and Edelweiss, I never once clicked on the title to find out more about this book. At first glance the title made it seem like it would be a strange book and the cover itself didn’t grab my attention. Thank goodness I finally clicked on  it (after seeing it pop up several times) because Belzhar was absolutely, without a doubt amazing. It took me a few hours to read this book from cover to cover. It was so much better than I ever could have expected. I’ve called other books I have read and reviewed original before, which they were, but I feel that Belzhar was original on a completely different level. First, it dealt lightly with some difficult topics that a lot of teens in our society go through everyday/year. Second, the added “magic” I guess you could call it just took the story so much further.

I enjoyed that although the book was focused around one main character, Jam, the reader got to know the other four students in the Special Topics in English class as well. We were able to learn all of their stories and knew them as well as we did Jam. Out of all the characters in the book, there were only two I did not like. One was a very minor character, while the other was pretty important but my dislike was not present until some of the final chapters. The rest of the characters I fell in love with. I loved seeing them open up to the other students and deal with their pasts with the help of their journals. When beginning this book, I have no idea the power of these journals that each student had.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without giving anything away. There are a few surprising moments throughout the book and it will have you unable to put the book down. I really, really love Belzhar and cannot wait to buy my own copy when it is published later this month. I am also really hoping that the author writes a sequel to follow up with the students during their winter break and spring semester. In a way the ending was left open where a sequel could definitely be possible, but at the moment I do feel like this was written as a standalone novel. I cannot wait to see what other young adult books Meg Wolitzer writes in the future.