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review 2017-03-07 22:31
Who I Kissed (Review)
Who I Kissed - Janet Gurtler

This is another book that I finished approximately a year and a half ago, and I have exactly two status updates for it on Booklikes… This review will be short and to-the-point (as three-star reviews tend to be anyway).


On the plus side, I thought this was an interesting storyline that raises some awareness for kids with allergies. Eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing someone are not two events I would ever connect, and Gurtler brings the details together in a way that fits nicely. Sam’s family really made this enjoyable to me, and I always appreciate when parents or other family members take the spotlight sometimes in books (family usually ends up on the back burner in YA, unfortunately). Sam’s dad and her aunt helped her grow and find peace, which I appreciated.


(Spoilers ahead!)


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review 2017-01-24 04:41
Review: How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
How I Lost You - Janet Gurtler

Quick review for a quick read. In all honesty, I get the value of Janet Gurtler's "How I Lost You" and I'm not going to say that it isn't a notable book, because I don't doubt some will like it for not only the way the narrative flows but also the ultimate takeaway points and experiences it expounds upon. However, it's a narrative I honestly wouldn't read again and I had a hard time connecting to the story for reasons I'm going to discuss shortly.

"How I Lost You" is a narrative that shows the progressive falling out of two friends: Grace and Kya. Grace is the perspective we follow throughout the novel and the novel starts off showing their relationship very well. The two seem inseparable with playing in paintball matches, asserting their girl power and the strength of their friendship (Buds Before Studs - BBS). But as the narrative moves onward, you quickly realize that this friendship is not as strong in its foundation as you would think. Kya is a very flawed young woman who has suffered greatly in her past.




She was raped, and I guessed this pretty much from the second chapter. I'm not exactly sure why this took so many chapters to reveal, since it was implied.

(spoiler show)



Grace feels a protective responsibility towards Kya and when Kya goes from one problematic relationship to the next and ends up in a number of drunken stupors, Grace is there to help Kya through the guilt and regret she feels in the aftermath. But Grace also notices that Kya seems to be distancing herself from their mutual friend James and she's not sure why.

Things change when Grace begins a relationship with Levi. It's beginning a relationship with him that Grace realizes she's doesn't really focus as much on herself as she does her relationship with Kya. And it's in starting to take a more careful eye to the way that Kya changes that Grace realizes that her friend isn't someone she knows as well as she thinks she does and despite her attempts to hold on, they're pulling apart.

I think a few of my biggest problems with this narrative were that I didn't feel as invested in the characters as much as I was hoping for. I know they're teenagers, aspiring to go to college, but there's a mismatch with the maturity and their respective voices that makes it hard for me to align with the narrative despite how serious and mature the subject matters are presented here. The dialogue at times felt too forced and judgmentally handed down to orient to the change in the relationship between Grace and Kya.

And as goodness awful as Kya was to Grace in many points in this narrative (I ended up hating her for the things she did by the end of the story, and I didn't blame Grace for eventually making the choice to walk away), I honestly felt like Grace's reactions, instead of just focusing on the things that Kya did that were horrible, were counterintiutive by low-key sexually shaming Kya and handing down some sexual innuendo/humor that made me uncomfortable as I was reading this. I felt like the execution of these issues could've been so much better for depth and sensitivity of portrayal than what it came across. After a time, it felt like the drama between the characters came across in a way that, while I believe it could certainly happen in real life, it didn't connect with me. I think another reason why it didn't work with me is because despite the fact that this narrative sports a girl-girl positive relationship - it really isn't at all, because the girls can be horrible in thoughts and actions to each other, sometimes in seemingly unforgivable ways. I raged when Kya basically dismissed a sexual assault attempt on Grace and told her that she wished Grace had a similar experience to understand the pain that she was going through. That was inexcusable and I had a hard time believing that Grace wouldn't have had a stronger reaction to that.

To give another narrative that I think handled the character emotions and respective issues similar to the flaws that Kya has in this narrative, but in a more mature sense: Amber Smith's "The Way I Used to Be." Granted it tells the story of a very flawed young woman who goes through a similar experience to Kya in this tale, and shows her progressive falling in and out of relationships with a more visceral and serious feel than I was able to get out of this narrative.

Overall, I did at least appreciate the intention the narrative was going for, but I couldn't get behind it and it's my least liked narrative from Gurtler thus far.

Overall score: 2/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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text 2016-01-01 09:55
Reviews to Come
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Blur - Steven James
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling,Stephen Fry
Coin Heist - Elisa Ludwig
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
The Choice - Nicholas Sparks
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare - Melissa Jensen
Who I Kissed - Janet Gurtler
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith
The Fill-In Boyfriend - Kasie West

Well, 2015 was kind of a bust as far as reviewable books goes.


Don't let the read count fool you: I read about twelve books for one class in one semester at the beginning of the year, which were all YA/middle grade. I read about five or six books roughly for each English class I take, and multiply that by three and a half semesters in 2015, about three classes each semester with that kind of reading load. I read a lot in 2015. But somehow, I ended up with only about seventeen or so books I felt like I could actually review.


I read a lot of classics, things I'd been wanting to get to for awhile and finally got to read in class, as well as some young adult stuff for some more genre-specific classes I took. I read more than anyone else I know in school right now, and although it's been tough to read for fun and I've had to take a major break from reviewing in the past year, it wasn't because I wasn't reading. But I had to jump from book to book so quickly that I could hardly process enough to want to write a review for what I read, and it seemed so haphazard to only write reviews for a handful of them.


So I decided to scrap all the books I read for class last year and write reviews when I eventually reread them--on my own time. There are lots of books I read for class that I'll want to revisit (like Tess of the D'Urbervilles, for instance), and others I probably won't ever attempt again (like The Bone People). And although it means that my "read count" for challenges both here and on GoodReads make it seem like I barely made a dent in my 70 book goal, I think I easily read that many books in 2015, although it won't show in my reviews.


I am making a goal for 2016 to be better. I'm going to be super busy for awhile, at least through this semester (which ends at the end of February). I'm in a musical, I'm a vice president in a club, I'm a part-time employee, I'm helping to judge a book award, and I'm a straight-A student. I turned twenty-one yesterday, so my new years' resolutions usually hold a heavier weight for me because I'm also looking toward a new year of my life, and another kind of fresh start. I'm saddened by the fact that my love for reading has become more work than pleasure, so I'm determined to make sure I read at least one chapter of something not for school each day so I can keep up with my passion and the books I've accumulated. It's probably best for me to set small goals, especially because I recently went on a book buying binge, and now I can look forward to 2016 by reading books I've put on hold a long time. 


So, here's to the new year! I'll be reading more (although I set a more reasonable pleasure goal at 30 for this year--even my summer break will be shorter than usual, and I'll have graduated by Halloween), and I'll be getting to books I've wanted for read for a long time. I've started Fellowship of the Ring over again because Tolkien just makes me downright happy, but I'm getting new stuff in as well. All in all, I'm excited for what 2016 and being twenty-one brings me. Above are the first ten reviews I'll be writing for stuff I read in 2015 (for fun). 


Thanks for all your patience this year, and here's to progress!

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review 2015-12-15 16:06
Deep-Water Drama (Mermaid Kingdom) - Janet Gurtler,Katie Wood

3.5 stars. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.


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text 2015-07-16 21:42
Who I Kissed - Janet Gurtler

This isn't my favorite book by Gurtler, although I appreciate the awareness it raises for kids with allergies. I am, slightly, disappointed that the peanut butter isn't what actually killed Alex, but only because it allowed so much room for growth for Sam. I don't feel like she ever got to the point where she could accept herself again when everyone though it was her fault. She only wrote her letter to Alex after she realized it wasn't her fault. 


So, yeah, I wish there was more growth for her before she knew it wasn't him. (A kid with asthma that severe shouldn't have been smoking weed, for heaven's sake, by the way.) There were a few grammar/phrasing problems throughout that pulled me out of the story sometimes. And part of me is a little disappointed that Casper ended up being a douchebag and Zee the knight in shining armor. But oh well. Overall, it was alright, so I think I'd give it three stars.

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