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review 2015-05-07 05:00
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

ARC, 448  pages

Release Date: May 5, 2015

Published by: Viking Juvenile

Stand-alone

Source: Penguin First Reads (A copy of this book was sent to me via Penguin First Reads and the publisher. This in no way shaped my opinion of this book. All words on it written under "My Thoughts" are my own.)

For fans of: Realistic Fiction, Realism, Contemporary, Romance, Chick-lit, Sparkly Covers, YA

 

     Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
     Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
     The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

*MY THOUGHTS*

     After reading books I normally write my reviews right away so I don't forget anything. But with this one I had to wait a few days and sort my feelings out on paper before I turned this review in. It wasn't really what I was expecting, but I say that in the most pleasant way possible. Since I've heard so much about Sarah Dessen being the queen of contemporary romance, I was expecting the swoons to be over the moon. Unfortunately, the romance was swoony, but it wasn't all that I was expecting. What was amazing though, was the realistic nature this story was written.  

     Parents will always say they don't ignore you, they just tend to help the child that may need them more. (But in this case,  Sydney's parents were no different. All they were focused on was Peyton and all his mess ups. But as those mess ups get worse and worse, there's nothing else they can do but let the law handle it. Even then, Sydney isn't the one they're looking at. Until she is. And by then, things are already out of control.

     I've only read That Summer by Dessen and that one wasn't too impressing. So when I read "...is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?" I knew it would be good. The romance wasn't really there and at first I was upset about that because I've heard so much about Dessen's swoony boys and it didn't get swoony till super late in the book. But someone told me that Dessen's books are normally about family and other relationships and it made me appreciate the book even more. And as it turns out, that makes a lot more sense because the realism in this book was surreal. It looks like she's become the new Queen of Realistic Fiction. From the food, to the friendships, to the romance, it felt like a movie and not a book.

     The romance in this one was ok, but not the best. Mac has his swoony moments, but he won't be one I write home about. But that was because this book focused more on Sydney as a character. Her friendship with the people from both schools, the relationship between her and her family, and last but not least, the relationship between her and her brother. Having not read many books where the main character and her different relationships are the main focus, it was a very welcome change. 

     Last but not least, the writing in this one was what MADE this book for me. After reading Dessen's very first book and then reading her most recent, I was able to see the difference of her writing styles from the beginning to the most recent. And I can clearly  see the difference. Everything in this felt so descriptive and made me feel all the emotions that Sydney felt as if I were her. I was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn't as MG-ish as the first. I can't wait to see what else she has in store. 

     This book is the the twelfth book by Sarah Dessen but only the second of hers I've read. This one book alone has changed my view on her. It made me want to read everything else by her. If they're all filled with the swoony times, cool families and friendships, and all the realism, like this one, there is about 100% chance that I will read them all. 

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review 2015-02-02 05:00
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
I'll Meet You There - Heather Demetrios

e-ARC, 400  pages

Release Date: February 3, 2014

Published by: Henry Holt & Co. 

Stand-alone

Source: Netgalley (A huge thank you to both the publisher and Netgalley. This galley was provided to me in exchange for a just and honest review. I received no type of compensation for getting this galley.)

For fans of: Contemporaries, Diversity, Realistic Fiction, Tear Jerkers, YA, Sparkly Covers, DEAR

 

     If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
     Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

 

*MY THOUGHTS*

       I know I loved a book when I have to start and stop a review several times and I'm still unsure I've found the right words for it, This is one of those circumstances. I'll Meet You There is a swoony, funny, sarcastic, and just everything you need from a book. 

"Being a Marine isn't the only thing you're good at. Maybe you just don't know your thing yet, you know? I think..." I took a breath "I just think you're selling yourself short.'"

25%

     Skylar is not your typical girl from Creek View. She has an actual chance of getting out. (Without becoming pregnant first.) Try as she might to stay out of trouble, it still found her. In the form of a Marine. Josh is back in Creek View after his tour in Afghanistan and and everything is different. Especially him. As the summer goes by, both Skylar and Josh see what's really important to them. 

"...it's okay to be proud of yourself, Josh."

32%

     I loved all "the feels" this book brought on. I laughed out loud, I cried, I got mad, I felt EVERYTHING while reading this. I was fully immersed in this story. Enough to cry real tears and talk back to the book like Skylar would jump from the pages and do what I told her. 

"you can't have the light without the dark, right? Maybe our darkness was necessary for other people to see their light.'"

43%

     I also loved the beautiful, lyrical way this story was written. Although the main character of this story is Skylar, there are some chapters from Josh's POV that are super intense and give us a look into his feelings. Though they sometimes hurt to read, I loved that Demetrios gave us that glimpse at Josh. This way we were able to see why he did what he did although we may not have agreed with it. Yes Skylar may have been the MC, but my favorite voice of the story was Josh's.

"What am I supposed to do when I'm bad for the one good thing in my life?'"

65%

     As far as Josh and Skylar together there were so many hick-ups but I rooted for them the entire way. Both Josh and Skylar needed someone to be loved by and I wanted them to find it in each other. There were many times I was upset that they didn't do what I wanted them to, but at the same time, I understood. But trust me, the times they finally get it right, it was electrifying. Josh is seriously swoony and he and Skylar together captured my heart. 

"Love is medicine and dreams are oxygen.'"

-Acknowledgements

     Heather Demetrios is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. She dares to write outside the box, from teens with huge families that make it to television to teen amputated war veterans. Her writing swept me away to the trailer park in Creek View and even though Skylar was so intent on leaving, I didn't want to. 

Overall, I give this

 
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review 2015-01-31 05:00
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Love Letters to the Dead - Ava Dellaira

 

Hardcover, 323 pages

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Published by: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)

Stand-alone

Source: Purchased/ Netgalley

For fans of: Contemporaries, Diversity, Realistic Fiction, YA, Poetry

 

 It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.
     Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?
     It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.
     In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

 

*MY THOUGHTS*

     I had this book for review before it was released, but then I heard it was written entirely in letters I kind of shyed away form it, I'm not a huge fan of poetry and that's exactly what this sounded like, But then the reviews for it started pouring in and I was so intrigued that I decided to still give it a chance. So, it stayed on my TBR until I was ready for it. 

     Oddly enough, while reading this, the letter style and the poetry feel didn't bother me. It actually made the story a little more lyrical and it flowed so nicely. Dellaira has a great writing style that I actually kind of envied. She was able to use those letters to tell Laurel and May's story as well as keep incorporate some of whoever she wrote that specific letter to. It was so intricate and well put together and I was very impressed. 

     What I didn't like was the plot. The beginning was good because I was anticipating something bad happening. (So many people had told me to get my tissues ready,) I just knew I was in for a doozie. But as it got to the middle, it just drug on. I really felt like what was happening actually had nothing to do with May and Laurel. Although it taught her a small lesson in the end, I really felt like a large chunk of that could have been left out. The ending is where it got good again which is unfortunate because by then it was too late. Finallt everything began to come together, but by then I had already guessed what had happened. So of course when it did, I wasn't surprised and I didn't cry. It was weird because I normally do cry at books like this, but after a predicted plot twist, the tears just never came. 

     All in all, this wasn't what I was expecting after everyone's rave reviews about it. Yeah the writing was very impressive, but the plot and the middle of the story just dragged on too much for me. Although this wasn't the right fit for me, I hope it falls into the hands of someone who can utilize it and cherish it,

 

 
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review 2015-01-11 15:32
Review: More Than This by Jay McLean
More Than This - Jay McLean

The entire story is shallow, ludicrous and one hundred percent unbelievable.  Poor Kayla has lost her entire family, best friend and boyfriend on prom night.  She is rescued by good ol' boy Jake, who is a baseball prodigy and the literal definition of a knight in shining armor.  Kayla calls him her prince numerous times and he embodies perfection - he's such "big deal" that she doesn't believe that she is worthy to be with him.  The dialogue is awful and a lot of the same phrases are used throughout the book as if this is some sort of cute, endearing feature.  Believe me, it's not.

 

I really don't understand the fascination with the New Adult genre and why all these mediocre romances get such high ratings.  I see a book with the NA tag and I try to convince myself that maybe this time I will find a book that has substance and a believable plot.  I know I shouldn't generalize about an entire genre of books and there are probably a few NA books that are actually decent, but my experience with this genre has been quite negative.  The quality of writing, plot structure, character development, and editing just isn't where it should be for a published work. 

 

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review 2014-12-14 21:54
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
My Heart and Other Black Holes - Jasmine Warga

ARC, 302 pages

Release Date: February 10, 2014

Published by: Balzer + Bray

Stand-alone

Source: ATWT

For fans of: Contemporaries, Diversity, Realistic Fiction, Tear Jerkers, YA

 

     A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.
     Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
     There's only one problem: she's not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel's convinced she's found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who's haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other's broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

 

*MY THOUGHTS*

     When I first read this book I read it over Thanksgiving break. During this time I was already thinking about all the things I was most thankful for. Reading this intensified those feelings. It made everything I was thankful for seem about 50x's more important to me. I'm so thankful for the family and friends (both bookish and non) that I have in my life. Because I've realized that having even only one person in your life to show you that you matter can make all the difference. 

"Depression is like a heaviness that you can't ever escape. It crushes down on you, making even the smallest things like trying your shoes or chewing on toast seem like a twenty mile hike uphill. Depression is a part of you; it's in your blood. If I know anything about it, this is what I know. It's impossible to escape..'"

pg. 14 (ARC)

     Aysel wants to die and she's spent the majority of her life planning out the ways she wants to do it. She's not brave enough to go at it alone, so she enlists the help of a website that specializes in suicides. She goes through a part in the website called "Suicide Partners" and enlists the help of a teen boy named Roman. Together they plan their lives until the end. 

"Before my father's crime, my mother used to look at me with a combination of love and longing, like I was a morror into her past life, a biittersweet memory. [...] It was almost like I was her permanent bruise. Not a painful brusie, but a tender one made of melancholy memories.'"

pg. 20 (ARC)

     What hooked me about this book is the writing style. I'm absolutely shocked that this was a debut. There were so many passages that I wrote down or tabbed to remember for later. Warga did an incredible job depicting Asyel and Roman's sadness; she made it feel so real. When the emotions in a book make me feel like the events are really happening, like I feel really heartbroken, that's how I know I've fallen for the book. 

"Maybe the sadness come just before the insanity.'"

pg. 27 (ARC)

     Which is also another reason I loved this one. Her characters were SO believable and realistic. And her descriptions of depression made me connect with them even more. I know someone who battles with depression and Aysel reminded me so much of them. The same actions, thoughts, everything. Because of this I wanted to reach through the book and try to save her by myself. I really felt like I knew her, or at the very least understood. 

"What people don't understand is that depression isn't about the outside, it's about the inside. Something inside me is wrong. Sure, there are things in my life that make me feel alone, but nothing makes me feel more isolated and terrified than my own voice in my head.'"

pg. 40

     Lastly, I was so thankful for their friendship. Regardless of the circumstances, I was so happy they found each other. Because making one friend to someone who feels so lost and alone could mean the world. Them finding each other helped me see a change in one of them and I was glad for even that one small change even if it was insignificant. At least they could have something to do together and neither had to be alone. 

"...I'm more scared of what comes next. [...] What if this isn't the end and we just go on to a place even worse than this one? [...] Any place has to be better than this one.'"

pg. 99 (ARC)

     As real as the emotions and characters were though, I didn't find myself crying until the very end. The ending of the book and the author's note had me in tears. Like "I'm glad this is the end because I'm crying so my eyesight is blurred" tears. But even still, this book was so good. I encourage everyone to read it. It will make you think about what matters the most to you and why it's so important to keep those things surrounding you all the time.

 
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