The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith [thoughts]

The Geography of You and Me coverThe Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Goodreads | @ | www
Release Date: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Series: none!

Goodreads description: Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too

I read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and liked-not-loved it, but The Geography of You and Me sounded interesting and I saw some love for it from Estelle (hm, she must write great reviews because I seem to link back to her a lot!) and I remember Gaby tweeting about it (but that’s a link to a post including it, because I’m too lazy to find the tweets) .

Lucy lives in a nice building in NYC. One day while in the elevator with a boy she’s seen around, a blackout hits and the elevator stalls. She’s stuck with a stranger-a cute one. They have very different stories and backgrounds, but they spend the day together and fall asleep on the roof. After the day, things go differently than planned but they keep thinking of one another.

If you were to ask me to describe this book in one word, I think I’d say “warm.” I really liked it, and even though I read some awesome reviews for it, I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. But these two characters were real, with real issues, real ways of dealing with them, real emotions, and it made me smile and it made me hurt and holy run-on sentence, this is me gushing about this book! I really liked it.

Lucy loves her city but she’s lonely. Her twin brothers are off to college and her parents travel constantly. She doesn’t have any close friends and spends a lot of her time on the edges. When she meets E, she explains how sad this is in a way she’s never really had to face before. After the blackout, her parents kind of freak out about her being there alone and being stuck and trauma and invite her to come to Europe (London, actually). She’s excited, because she has always wanted to go on one of their trips. She opens up about some things with her parents and it changes things immensely. I really love books where characters actually talk out problems because sometimes life is like that and sometimes I just wish life was like that. It’s not always easy to say what you really mean, but sometimes when things are important to you, you can do it. And I really appreciate the movements made in this book on both parts. I loved how involved her parents were, and the discoveries you make later on about how assumptions guided silence for so long and how her mom was more observant than she expected and it made a huge difference for words to actually be spoken.

Owen and his dad are going through a tough time and figuring out how to make life work. They have to learn about each other and skirt some issues and eventually talk about important things. I really liked their relationship, but I don’t want to get as long about it. But it meant a lot to me that both Lucy and Owen were close with their parents and felt like it was important to make connections and talk to their parents.

And the relationship? I really liked that too. To me, it felt like an instant connection, because I don’t feel like either one of them thought it was love. It’s just like when you meet someone and spend some time with them and really enjoy them and keep thinking about them. It’s not love, but you’re connected. And they have a difficult time keeping up the connection, but they find some ways, and when they meet again it isn’t perfect, but it’s messy and real and the messy parts made me love the book all the more. I loved that they just kept thinking about each other while traveling and their connection was great.

4 star rating

I definitely want to read The Geography of You and Me again, and it’s going on my “buy” list. I really felt connected to it, even though both characters were very different from me and in different situations. It’s cute and sweet, but it is also so much more than that. It’s got depth and meaning, and it’s genuine and warm. It makes me want to revisit Statistical and give This is What Happy Looks Like and some of her other books a try. I really recommend this one to anyone. I’m sure it’s not for everyone and Jen E. Smith’s books seem to be kind of hit or miss, but I really liked this one! If you like contemps with real emotion and a genuine feeling, depth, growth, traveling and development, The Geography of You and Me might be for you!

 

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill [book review]

Meant to Be coverMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: November 13th 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Series: none

Goodreads description: Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Meant to Be was on my Summer TBR list, and I finally got around to reading it!

Meant to Be is the story of Jules going to London on a school trip and maybe finding love. She miscalculated the dates of the trip, and none of her friends are able to go. The buddy system attacks her with a loud guy that she doesn’t really care for. His name is Jason. She believes in fate and that you’re “meant to be” with someone, and she clings to that idea.

I thought this book sounded sweet and fluffy, and it might make me happy like Anna and the French Kiss. But I was pretty annoyed through the whole thing. Jules is smart and determined, she’s excited about London, but she doesn’t have friends on the trip. She kind of just acts really ridiculous. She tries to take chances and make sure she’ll have fun. She does take some chances, but she also did things I just rolled my eyes at. The romance could have been cute, if predictable, but I thought there was a lot of contrived drama that didn’t feel realistic to me. The end seemed very bam! it’s over and unsatisfactory.

Jules and Jason were the only characters the reader gets a chance to know, and neither were very likable. Jules tried too hard and clung to ridiculous idea. Jason was almost a caricature of an annoying teenager. He had hidden depths, but they weren’t deep enough to compensate for the annoying surface he flings at the world.

two star rating

Meant to Be didn’t work out for me, but I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t read it again. Shout out to Alli at Little Birdie Books because she didn’t like it much either, and her review is better than mine! I wish I’d paid more attention =) I’m still interested in reading Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill because ice skating = yay, but I’m a bit worried about the romance in it. I will see! I think a lot of people did enjoy this book, so if you think it sounds like something you might like, you should give it a shot! You might like Meant to Be if you like class trips to London, arguing, and questioning fate!

Check out Lauren Morrill‘s website and twitter!

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney [Book Review]

When You Were Here coverWhen You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Goodreads | Amazon
Release Date: June 4th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity.

Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

When You Were Here was another book on my Top Ten Summer TBR. Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner said the male POV was as good as Adam from Where She Went by Gayle Forman, which is high praise in my opinion. I also knew it was a sad book and liked the sound of it.

This book basically destroyed me. Can that just be my review? It was painful, there was ugly crying involved. I knew it was going to be sad going in, the description definitely warns you, you know Danny is trying to cope with the loss of his mother. I expected crying and sadness. But this book has surprise sadness lurking. I’m not going to spoil it, but it was rough and if I’d known about it, I wouldn’t have read the book. That being said, I’m glad I didn’t know about it. I had some issues with this book, but over all I liked it.

So, like we’ve already talked about, Danny is trying to cope with his mother’s death from cancer. In the beginning of the story, he is a total douche. I know you can get away with a lot because someone you love dies, but he stretches it way too far in my opinion. He’s also coping with his ex-girlfriend and love of his life, Holland. She dumped him when she left for college and now that she’s back, she’s always around and helping him. He isn’t sure what to do about that because he still loves her and doesn’t understand why they’re not together. Danny is lost in sadness and douchiness, confused about life and how to spend his days when he gets a letter about his mom’s apartment in Japan (yes, they have an apartment in Japan, who doesn’t?” The letter adds to the confusion which makes him decide to go to Japan and investigate.

Danny was an interesting character. He has been through a lot, but a lot of people have been through a lot. I’m sure many of them want to be jerks but don’t, so it might have been really nice for him to be able to act like a twelve-year-old. He is extremely adorable with his dog, Sandy Koufax. He asks her questions and gets sad when he has to leave her, his relationship with his dog is so realistic and was something I really loved about the book. When Danny becomes more focused on finding out what happened in Japan, he becomes a lot more tolerable. He discovers a lot of things he didn’t know and is surprised to learn certain things about his mother. He has to examine how he feels about what he learns and has to look at his own life because of what he learns.

I loved learning about Japan. It was an awesome and unusual setting. It’s a really cool aspect of the story but it’s a little weird, too. Danny’s family was wealthy and his mom could afford to go anywhere for treatment and they owned an apartment in Japan. It’s nice for the story, but it was also convenient. Kana was the daughter of the lady that took care of the apartment while the family was gone. She’s a teenager (I think 17) and she was so much fun! She was happy and wouldn’t let Danny be too serious. She definitely kept him check.

The relationship aspect is difficult for me to talk about because I don’t want to spoil anything. It was good and bad. I liked them both and I liked the chemistry and romance between them. I loved the story of how they got together and started liking each other. I don’t exactly buy the reason she broke up with him. It really frustrated me, and I won’t say anymore about it here because if I do, it will turn into a rant.

I also had some issues with how quickly Danny developed. It seemed really soon, the story takes place in one summer with flashbacks throughout, especially because of how bitter he is in the beginning. It seemed too easy for me. However, I did actually like the resolution and thought it was fitting, it just seemed rushed to me. I had a few other small gripes but nothing huge. A lot of the resolution seemed too simple considering the complicated situations that were involved. I think it just needed more effort. The simplicity didn’t make it bad, but it felt a little emptier than I (personally) was expecting.

So, I obviously had a lot of issues with this book but part of me just loved it anyway. I was sobbing and soaking tissues and even though there were moments that had me rolling my eyes, I really connected with the story and the characters. I liked Danny, even though he could be a jerk. I liked Holland even though I didn’t agree with her actions. I loved Kana and Sandy Koufax was amazing and I wish she would have been around more!

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I had issues, but I think it was a good book. Some infuriating instances but a lot of good things happened, too. I am pretty certain I could never read this book again, unless I was just aching and needed to cry. I would recommend it if you like sad reads with surprising sad hidden inside, guys being adorable with dogs, fun and fashionable Japanese girls, a sad but lovely romances and endless tears.

Check out Daisy Whitney‘s website and twitter!

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour [Book Review]

The Disenchantments coverThe Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: February 16th 2012
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans – and Colby – to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

I went into The Disenchantments blind. When I went to the library, I had a plan but they only had one of the books I wanted so I picked some others I was interested in and this was one I saw and decided to pick up!  It had a bit to do with the cover, I’m not a huge fan of faces on covers but it’s just so pretty and colorful! I’ve also seen some nice things about it and Gayle Forman has mentioned Nina LaCour on twitter a few times. I did break and read the flap after I started because I was curious about where it was going!

Colby and Bev have been best friends since they were kids. They have done so much together, including discovering music. They’re about to graduate from an arts high school in San Francisco. After graduation, the plan is to go on tour for a week with Bev’s girl band, The Disenchantments, then fly to Europe and explore. From the time they take off on tour, Bev is distant and weird. Then she tells him that she isn’t going to Europe because she’s going to college. Colby is understandably upset. He’s been planning this trip and he was really excited.  He feels hurt and isn’t sure what to do instead.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Colby and Bev. Bev is a really charismatic girl, she’s the type of girl everyone gravitates towards. Colby is one of the people gravitating, continually. Early in the book, you see that he likes her and isn’t sure if she feels the same way. She’s attractive and makes out with guys and girls in front of Colby all the time, but she never forms attachments with anyone. He’s sort of in this hopeful limbo where he daydreams about them getting together with occasional embarrassing results, like when he has to cover his lap with his hoodie, ha! It takes a while for Bev to open up and explain what’s going on with her. I like how vulnerable and unsure she is, and how Colby realizes that he doesn’t know everything about her and other things.

The Disenchantments are Bev as the lead singer, and sisters Meg on bass guitar and Alexa on drums. They are awful at playing music but they don’t care. They play because it is something they really enjoy doing. They love the music and the way they play makes people love them, even if they don’t love the actual music. The inspiration for the band is mainly Riot Grrrl bands like Sleater-Kinney and Bikini Kill, but they appreciate a lot of girl bands. Meg’s a huge fan of The Supremes, Colby’s favorite girl band is The Runaways, and on the trip they’re introduced to The Chiffons and Alexa falls in love with Heart. I loved all the music talk and the girl band talk! It was a lot of fun, and the fact that the band isn’t actually good is so entertaining.

They’re all artistic and I loved reading about their art. Colby draws and sketches everything, but one of his favorite subjects to sketch is Bev. Bev carves people and objects out of wood, and I loved reading about her carvings. Alexa has one more year of high school and keeps talking about what her play will be about. Colby also thinks about and discusses different kinds of art, and he’s interested in graffiti and mentions Banksy. I loved it all! I also enjoyed all the people they met and things they learned. They made friends all over the place and met interesting and weird people.

There’s so much discovery, especially for Colby. He’s flailing because he’s had this plan for years. He doesn’t know what to do with his life or who to talk to, because the person he would normally talk to about problems like this is the one who caused it. He has to look at his life and feelings and search for the right thing to do. I’m not going to give anything away, but I loved the ending, even though it was a little bit painful (in a good way). There were definitely some tears. It’s wonderful how it is as a stand alone but I do find myself interested in what happened after the end of this story!

I didn’t have any real problems with the story. Colby was a nice narrator. Sometimes he might have known a little too much about clothes, but I was willing to let it slide because of how much time he spends with girls and he’s also really into art, so he’d probably be more likely to notice colors and prints.

4 star rating

I loved this book! I loved the characters, the music, and the art. I loved the trip and the VW van named Melinda. I loved the discovery and heartache and all the hopefulness. It’s a book I can see myself picking up again at some point and I opened it to find a detail for this review and almost just read it again! I don’t have a copy of my own right now, but I plan on getting one sometime, although I am annoyed they changed the cover for the paperback. I really want to read Hold Still by LaCour because I enjoyed her writing so much. I would recommend The Disenchantments if you love art, music, and friends-to-more stories with a bit of pain involved.

Check out Nina LaCour’s website and twitter!

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Something Like Normal coverSomething Like Normal by Trish Doller
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: June 19th 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Travis is a Marine home on leave after a tour in Afghanistan. He lost a close friend there and isn’t sure how to deal with it. He’s not that excited to be home, where his dad is always disappointed in him and his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car. He doesn’t care much about the girlfriend or even the car, he’s dejected and distant from most emotion. He was distant from his family before he left, but now it’s even worse.

This story is all in Travis’s POV. It can be rough, but it can also be funny. He thinks like a guy thinks and it all seemed realistic. It wasn’t all pleasant, and not just Marine memories. He wasn’t nice about girls and the term “slut” was thrown around liberally. He could be a real dick, but he was also vulnerable and caring.

He’s home from the war and his life has been changed, scarred, and shaken. He’s been through things that people in his hometown can’t even imagine. They ask him if he’s killed someone because they think it’s exciting. They don’t understand the guilt that goes along with it. He has flashbacks and dreams, he scans the ground for landmines, he sees and hears his dead best friend. He’s grappling with loss and he knows something is wrong with him but he’s not sure how to handle it. His struggle is so real and sad. It was intense to read about his life as a Marine and horrors he saw. It was frustrating to see how people reacted to him when he came home and how out-of-place he feels. I empathized with him and wanted him to be happy.

“I’m not an especially romantic person, but when a beautiful girl invites a guy to the beach at night, sea turtles are not usually involved.”

I liked Harper. I was sad that she still had to deal with the aftermath of rumors from the 8th grade, most people at my school moved on from rumors after a while. I liked that Harper wanted to be a marine biologist and wanted to put herself through college. I like that she took a chance on a torn up, jerky Marine. I think she saw how earnest and vulnerable he was. Plus, he could be rather charming. The story wasn’t focused on the romance, but it was an important part of the story.

I enjoyed Travis’s relationship with his mom. She took it hard when he left home and she’s ecstatic when he returns. He isn’t exactly close to her (or anyone) but he loves her. I think coming back, he’s able to see things differently and he tries to approach his relationship with his mom in a different way. He tries to open up more, help her, and be there for her. It was a nice aspect of the story.

Travis feels realistic, like a real person. His thoughts on girls and sexuality aren’t nice but they seem like thoughts that a nineteen year old guy might actually think. I don’t think pretending a guy wouldn’t think of girls in such negative terms would make it a better book. It’s a problem that some guys do think like that, and talking about it and calling people out on their behaviors are all good things. I don’t think by writing him thinking that way Doller agrees with or condones his way of thinking. Maybe being with Harper will help him. Not in the he’ll be better for her way, but maybe she’ll call him out on his bullshit.

3 star rating

Something Like Normal was written well and the story was interesting. The voice sounds realistic and I enjoyed the romance. I removed a star for his judgmental thoughts because even if it’s realistic to his character it wasn’t pleasant to read. I think the story is important and it’s nice that someone wrote about a Marine dealing with PTSD. It seems like Doller did her research and I liked reading her acknowledgments page where she thanked Marines. There was a lot to like about this hopeful, earnest story. I don’t think it’s one I’d want to reread, but I am glad I read it I would recommend if you’re interested in a story about a Marine facing emotional and family problems, making life improvements, and romancing a cool girl, while having some douche-y thoughts. 

Check out Trish Doller’s website and twitter!

The Book of Broken Hearts cover

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

The Book of Broken Hearts coverThe Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 21st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: n/a

Goodreads description:When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking

A few years ago I read Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer. I went into it thinking it sounded sweet or cute but it ended up wrecking me. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I don’t remember not being fond of it. I went into The Book of Broken Hearts expecting sadness and while I don’t feel as negative about it as I did TBS, I still didn’t love it.

Jude would ideally be spending her time rehearsing for a play and hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, her life has drastically changed because her father has early onset Alzheimer’s. She spends her days helping him and hoping he doesn’t get worse or have an outburst. He forgets more all the time, but he remembers his youth and riding his motorcycle through South America. It’s means a lot to him, so Jude wants to help him get the bike fixed.

They seek help and are directed to one Emilio Vargas. Emilio is a few years older than Jude, knows about bikes, and he’s very charming. But the Vargas family is off limits to Jude, she swore an oath with her three older sisters never to be involved with a Vargas because of the pain two of them caused two of her older sisters. She needs Emilio to help with the bike, but she doesn’t know if she can keep the oath and stay away.

The Alzheimer’s part of the story is intense and sad. Jude loves her father and it hurts her to know that he’s drifting away. Papi also knows what’s happening, he knows memories are slipping away and it’s frustrating and scary. Jude has to handle so many negative effects of the disease by herself while her mom is at work. It’s difficult to deal with a ranting man digging through the trash and making scenes in public, but there’s also such an emotional toll. Her father and her world is falling apart. She’s at a turning point in her own life but she needs to be so strong for Papi and the whole family. Things like the post-it notes to help him remember and Papi referring to the disease as “El Demonio” (or the Demon) and seeing glimpses of how he is normally against what he’s becoming is gripping and heartbreaking. I loved Papi and I think his story and the effects of the disease are written very well. This is the part of the story that will stick with me.

“How could someone so whole and alive be shriveling up inside? My brain hurt to contemplate it, and I forced myself to stop, lest the demon sense my thoughts and try to prove its mettle.”

Family is important in this story. I loved reading about Jude’s relationship with her father and her mom is very food oriented, she kinda cooks her love into dishes and wants to feed anyone and everyone. I liked that Jude has a big family and wants to be close to everyone in it. However, I wasn’t fond of her sisters or the obligation she felt to an oath she took when she was twelve. Jude even refers to her sisters as “The Holy Trinity” which annoys me to no end. The sisters don’t seem to understand the toll the disease is taking on Jude. They’re letting her be responsible and take care of him but they still treat her like a child. It’s obvious that they all care for each other and all families are annoying in ways, but for some reason the sisters bugged me.

Jude seemed kind of immature to me. I’m not sure if it i magnified by the difficulty of handling her father and his illness, maybe she just seemed smaller because of everything she had to handle. She is incredibly strong and admirable in helping her father, and not doing it because she has to but because she loves him. What I didn’t like were things like the angel vs. devil thing in her thoughts: “Devil-Jude was totally giving me the thumbs-up, her smile glinting mischievously. She had a gold tooth, that’s why,” cue so much eye rolling.  It also annoyed me how much she “thinks” for her dog, I’m not sure how many “BUNNY” moments there were but it was too many for me. She is also so obsessed with what her sisters thought and what her sisters would do if they found out about Emilio. There was development, but by the time it happened I wasn’t as invested. I liked her relationship with her father but I didn’t connect with her.

Emilio is straightforward with Jude and very understanding about her father’s illness. He is flirty but he is also supportive. He is also honest, even in situations where it would be easier to just agree with Jude. He is definitely attracted to her, but he listens to her and is there for her in ways her friends (don’t get me started on her friends) weren’t. I enjoyed him and there was swooning! It was kind of weird to me that he is a mechanic but couldn’t drive a stick, but I guess that could happen? 

Some things I liked:

  • Jude’s family is Argentinean and Emilo’s family is Puerto Rican. Diversity!
  • Papi’s love of Westerns and how he quotes them.
  • A baking scene with Emilio’s mom
  • Mari, one of Jude’s sister, is in publishing and they talk about reading manuscripts.

3 star rating

While I didn’t love The Book of Broken Hearts, I know a lot of people did and a lot of people will enjoy it. I think most people that love contemps with strong families and a good romance will probably enjoy it. I don’t plan on rereading it but I am glad I read it, mainly for Jude’s relationship with her father but also EMILIOOOOOOO (okay sorry, had to).  I might have to tell myself to stay away from any other Sarah Ockler books. Nothing personal, I just don’t think they are for me!

Check out Sarah Ockler’s website and twitter!

Series Post: Heist Society by Ally Carter

The Heist Society

hs1 hs2hs3 

I’ve seen these books around a lot and didn’t want to read them because of the covers. I’m weird about faces on covers. I can’t actually remember who it was I saw talking about the Heist Society books the other day that made me think, “Oh, maybe they’re good,” but I’m glad I decided to give them a chance! AND Ally Carter is from Oklahoma, which I didn’t know until after I read the series and followed her on twitter, but I love finding out people are from Oklahoma!

Heist Society | February 9th 2010 | Disney-Hyperion | goodreads | amazon | book depository

A good thief is always a good liar.”

An Introduction to a family of criminals! A young girl at boarding school, framed for a terrible crime. Kat (short for Katarina) Bishop is attempting a normal life at the Colgan School. She has left a life – and family – of crime. However, the life and the family will not leave her.

Kat’s friend Hale retrieves her from boarding school because her father is in trouble. Her father, Bobby, is a con man but another con man, a dangerous one, believes he stole some very high-end paintings. However, while Bobby has stolen a lot of things, he did not steal the paintings in question. To save her father from certain violence for a crime he didn’t commit, she gathers a team of teens to steal the paintings back from an (almost) impenetrable museum.

Uncommon Criminals | June 21st 2011 | Disney-Hyperion | goodreads | amazon | book depository

After learning more about art that was stolen by Nazis from her experience in the Henley, Kat assumes a Robin Hood role of returning important stolen goods. She takes an interest in small, solo jobs. She gains a reputation for being a noble thief that will help retrieve lost or stolen valuables. When someone comes to her for help retrieving half of the supposedly cursed Cleopatra diamond, she can’t refuse.

Kat calls her team together again and they set out to steal a legendary piece. As they perform the con, they start to believe the curse might be real. They also realize they’re not the only ones running a con!

Perfect Scoundrels | February 5th 2013 | Hyperion Books for Children | goodreads | amazon | book depository

The con lies closer to home this time when Hale’s family is involved. After his grandmother Hazel dies, Hale is withdrawn. Kat can understand that he’s upset and she doesn’t know how to help. Shockingly to the rest of his family, Hale is named head of the family company. However Marcus, a loyal servant to the Hale family, and friend to the youngest Hale, believes the will that was read is a fake and asks Kat to locate and steal the grandmother’s real will. Kat is reluctant to do anything that might hurt Hale, but she knows how important the truth is.

While trying to steal the will, they discover it isn’t the only thing that’s wrong. Hazel’s lawyer is a liar and wants to bring the company down. The gang, this time including Uncle Eddie and other adult members of the family, runs a con to protect Hall’s family and company from demise.

Review-ish

Issues: It was a bit difficult to believe teens could run such elaborate cons. Kat is fifteen when the first book starts up and Hale is sixteen. It did made sense that they had a brilliant hacker and most of the them grew up learning the tricks and honing skills. There were also some “hmm” moments with bad guys and just, how did they not get caught moments. However,  it was not a big enough deal to diminish any enjoyment for me.

Heists: High tech museums, legendary emeralds, and the corporate world all require a lot of planning. Part of being a good thief is research but a lot of it is being able to roll with the punches. It also requires a few costumes, accents and charisma! Add in some hacking, surveillance, forgery and explosives and what more could you ask for? PLUS, every heist has a name and there are some good ones!

Family: I loved how the series focused on the family aspect. It’s a crime family and they deal with some serious stuff, but they all really care for each other. They hang out in Uncle Eddie’s kitchen and he tells them stories. They all go to Paraguay (or is it Uruguay?) for family heists. Kat thinks she wants to step away from the business, but she still loves her family. Hale is incredibly drawn to the family, he doesn’t need anything they might steal but the closeness is something he craves.

Romance: I also liked the romance! The first book doesn’t get too into the romance, but it’s obvious Kat and Hale like each other and have chemistry. The thing I really love about the romance is that, yes, they both find the other attractive but they both care about so much more than that. Hale wants to be part of Kat’s family and he wants to help her. He wants her to be safe. He’s protective of her, but not in an overbearing/douchey way. He just CARES! Kat is bashful about Hale even though she likes him and they’re close. She doesn’t know everything about him (like what his W’s represent!) but she knows he’s always there when she needs him and she wants to be there for him, too. They are just great, and it felt like more than a simple teenage romance.

Characters: There were so many great characters that made the series! From Uncle Eddie, the mastermind of the family, to Simon, the computer whiz, and Angus and Hamish, the brothers that like to blow things up, this series is full of characters to connect with! The main characters are the ones I fell in love with:

Kat: She loves her family and wants what’s best for them. She wants a life outside of the family business, but she’ll do anything to help them. She’s a thief but she definitely has a strong sense of morality. 

Hale: “Kat sometimes wondered if that kind of self-assurance was something only very old money could buy.”  He’s suave but he’s also genuine and vulnerable. His family is rich and absent, leaving little Hale all alone. He does have an awesome butler, Marcus, who is actually more like family. Hale and Kat met on a heist gone wrong and she “stole” him. He adores Kat and there’s some great friendship and flirtation between the two. There’s also the mystery of his name: W. W. Hale the Fifth goes only by Hale and Kat has no idea what the W’s stand for! And after 3 books, I don’t either!

Gabrielle: I love characters that change your mind! I was annoyed with her when she was introduced. I thought she was an air head, but she proved me wrong, wrong, wrong.  She is smart and beautiful and she will not let you forget it. She is an asset to every heist. She’s also a great cousin and friend to Kat, she listens and gives advice Kat needs to hear, even if she doesn’t want to listen!

These books were fun! I can see myself rereading them and telling anyone that needs a happy, quick series to sink into to get this series! I’m interested in reading the Gallagher Girls series now, too!

Check out Ally Carter’s website and twitter!

Review: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Nantucket Blue coverNantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Series: it seems like a sequel (Nantucket Red) is coming out next summer!

Goodreads description: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.

Confession: I have never been to an actual beach. I live in Oklahoma, the very middle of the country, and I have never seen the ocean. I have seen lakes and I love them, but they are not the same. I have always wanted to see the ocean and spend time on the beach but for some reason, it hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes beach reads are fun to read (like this one!) and sometimes they just taunt me (okay, still this one).

Cricket plays lacrosse at an all-girl school in Rhode Island. She is ready for summer and the chance to spend time with her crush Jay before he leaves for a summer in Nantucket. She spends most of her time with her best friend Jules and her family. She loves Jules’s family, especially her mother Nina. Her own parents are divorced; her father has a new family and her mother has become a bit withdrawn. With Jules’s family, she finds a connection she desires and a place to belong. When they invite her to spend the summer on Nantucket with them, it seems like a dream come true.

All that changes when a member of Jules’s family unexpectedly dies and Jules begins to drift away. She cancels their summer plans to go to Nantucket together. Cricket believes Jules just needs time and will realize that she really needs her best friend. In a show of desperate independence, she decides to go to Nantucket anyway to be there for Jules and be around Jay. Unfortunately, neither Jules nor Jay are happy to see her when she arrives.

Cricket expects a summer of flirting, friendship, and the beach. Instead, she deals with the death of someone important and the loss of a friendship. She finds a job as a chambermaid in a hotel. She also helps an author write a biography on a recently dead senator. She words hard, makes new friends, and spends more time alone. She has a diary (written in a book of Emily Dickinson poems) her mom wrote when she was young and on Nantucket. In her solitude, she learns a lot about herself and her mother. Somewhat surprisingly, she starts spending time with Jules’s little brother, Zack, and sparks fly.

I have to admit that I wasn’t really sure what to think of Cricket in the beginning. A lot of things she did/said about her crush and others were annoying and catty, but seemed sadly realistic for high school girls. Cricket is very earnest, which isn’t really a bad thing, but when mixed with a natural naivete it can be a bit much. However, it’s easy to remember how young she is and how much she has to learn. She makes mistakes but she takes responsibility for them. She stands up for herself even when she knew she had made a mistake, which I think is really important. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t give someone the right to treat you badly. It was also interesting to see her family versus what she wanted in a family. Her relationship with both parents was frustrating, but it was great to see her reach out to her mother.

Jules is consumed by grief and it makes her angry. It’s natural to be angry when you’ve lost someone, and it’s understandable to lash out. There’s definitely some leeway there, but she takes advantage of it. Jules doesn’t care about anything, she doesn’t care about destroying a friendship or changing. It’s difficult to continue feeling sympathy for her when she’s so combative and hateful.

I liked the romance and I really liked Zack. I actually have some weird thing about the guy being younger (I know, it makes no sense) but I thought they were cute and they worked. I tend to like best friend’s brother/sibling stories, and I never really get why a friend wouldn’t want you dating someone in their family. I thought the romance was sweet and imperfect. It was “forbidden” but they both actually cared about each other. It made me smile like an idiot and Zack is probably my favorite character.

I liked Cricket’s road to knowledge, as sad and lonely as it was at some points. Cricket discovers a lot about who she is and what she wants from life. She finds out how she wants to be treated and how she wants to treat others.

I enjoyed Nantucket Blue and it made me want to visit Nantucket in a serious way! The setting was fun, and it felt very homey. The story wasn’t as light as I expected, but I do see myself reading it again! I thought it kind of ended in a weird place, so I’m very excited about Nantucket Red!

4 star rating

Check out Leila Howland’s website and twitter!

Pushing the Limits cover

Odd Reader Out: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Odd Reader Out: That book everyone but me loves.

Pushing the Limits coverPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: July 31st 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Series: Pushing the Limits #1

Goodreads description:No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Lately I’ve seen a lot of people reading and talking about Dare You To, so I thought I’d check out the first book in the series. I feel like the only person that didn’t connect with this book! I know I’m not the only one, but I do feel like I’m in the minority here.

This book centers on two troubled teens: Noah and Echo. Noah is a known bad boy at their high school, who only has one-night stands and is a known stoner. Echo is from a wealthy family and has good grades but people think she tried to kill herself. The reality is that Noah is in foster care and used to have a nice family and Echo didn’t cut herself but repressed the memory of what really happened. They meet through the school counselor because Noah needs tutoring and Echo needs money.

I disliked most of the characters in this book except for the main characters, and I didn’t love either of them. I don’t understand any of Echo’s friends and family. I know that there are horrible people in the world, but this made me so thankful for the people I have in my life. Even Echo’s best friend, who defends Echo from other horrible friends, doesn’t seem to really want to help her. Echo is going through so much and she seems so alone. It might be realistic, but good friends can be realistic, too.

I’m not sure about how they handled her repressed memories. I don’t know a lot about the subject, but everything that happens in the book seems so shady. The school counselor, Ms. Collins, at least wanted to help Echo. Her father didn’t tell her anything and I think he is one of the worst characters of the book. He just wanted to keep her in the dark, and even if he was doing it to protect her, it didn’t seem very healthy. The way the book regarded Echo’s mom’s bi-polar disorder seemed wrong, too.

While I did think there was some cuteness and hot scenes, Noah was so weird! Everything he thought and said about Echo was just cheesy. Calling her a siren and a nymph? What guy thinks like that? “I could think of plenty of things to do with Echo in a house alone. Hell, I’d fantasized about moments like this, but damn if she didn’t make me want to be a better man” – a quote from Noah’s mind, that just doesn’t feel realistic to me. I’m not trying to say all guys are dogs and no guy could ever genuinely want to be better for a girl, but his incredibly quick change from one-nighters to total devotion seems unrealistic. There was also some contrived conflict between Echo and Noah that can only be described as tired.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy this book and it made me feel uncomfortable. I did like Echo, and I felt frustrated on her behalf. I liked Noah, despite his weirdness, and how much he cared for his family. His persistence in getting what he wanted and not thinking out what was best was frustrating, but probably fitted the situation. I know people have difficult lives, but the way the issues were handled in this book made me uneasy. The suddenly happy ending where everyone learns a lesson and gets along didn’t seem to fit the story. I didn’t hate this book, but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like Beth much but the Dare You To description does sound intriguing, so I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up or not.

two star rating

Dear Reader Friend, just because I didn’t like this book doesn’t mean you won’t love it! Check out Katie McGarry’s website and twitter!

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden coverGolden by Jessi Kirby
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date:  May 14th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series:  n/a!

Goodreads description:Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference

Parker lives according to her mom’s should. She should study all the time, work hard, be valedictorian, get a scholarship, and become a doctor. She should devote her life to her future. Parker’s best friend Kat has a different idea of should. She thinks Parker should do something unexpected, something wild. Senior year is ending and life as Parker knows it is changing. When she finds the journal of a missing icon of the community, she begins to find her own version of should.

Each year an English teacher assigns his senior students a journal to write about what they plan to do with their lives. Ten years later he mails students their journals. They get to look back and see how much they’ve changed and what was important to them in the past. This year, Parker is his assistant and mails the journals for him. What she doesn’t expect to see is Julianna Farnetti’s journal. She knows she shouldn’t read the journal, but she can’t resist. Julianna and Shane were golden and special. They went missing ten years ago at the end of their senior year. Everyone thinks they died and ended up at the bottom of the lake because that’s where the car they were in was found.

Reading journal entries written in the weeks before Julianna’s famous disappearance, Parker finds herself relating to the words of a town legend. Julianna followed expectations but wanted more for herself. The more Parker reads, the closer she feels to the missing girl. She becomes emotionally involved with Julianna’s story. Parker also learns more about Julianna’s life and starts questioning the circumstances of her disappearance. With the help of Kat and Trevor, the boy Parker’s always wanted, she seeks out to find the truth.

I like Parker a lot. She’s easy to relate to and feets realistic. The way she interacts with Kat, Trevor, and her mom feel real. I got frustrated with her for not being able to see certain things, but only because I was really invested. Throughout the story, she learns a lot about herself. She decides to make changes in her life and go after what she really wants. Parker really looks inside herself and definitely grows. She makes mistakes, she accepts them and she moves on.

Parker’s relationships add a lot to the story. I really liked Kat, too. All fictional best friends are not equal, and Kat is exciting and wild but very supportive. It’s easy to see that she really wants the best for her friend. I am also very fond of Trevor. He is genuine and sweet. In the beginning, he kind of seemed like a jerk but he quickly grew on me. I love the romance in this book, and that the book isn’t only about romance. Parker’s mom was infuriating at times, and there were door slamming arguments that really added authenticity to the high school age.

There were a few things that weren’t perfect for me that are hard to talk about without spoiling. Some things didn’t seem realistic to me, which was annoying but I still loved this book. When I took a break from reading, it stayed on my mind the whole time. It’s a book that I ended up dwelling on in a good way. I can see myself pushing it on friends and wanting to reread it sometime! I also want to read Jessi Kirby’s other books, In Honor and Moonglass now!

4.5 star rating

Check out Jessi Kirby’s website and twitter!