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
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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!

 

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales [thoughts]

This Song Will Save Your Life coverThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
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Release Date: September 17th 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Series: none

Goodreads description: Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together

I saw so much buzz about This Song Will Save Your Life from bloggers! It was on my Fall TBR list and it took me a while to get to it. Despite a few issues, I am really glad I read it!

Elise has never really “clicked” with anyone. She’s always been an outsider, but she has no idea why. She’s never had a close friend, and people can be downright cruel. The harder she tries to make connections, the more they seem to pass her by. After a particularly bad encounter, Elise is depressed and acts on her depression, which leads to a lot of changes in her life. Then, she finds a club on accident and happens upon people that genuinely like her and learns about DJ-ing, and things begin to change.

I did not exactly love Elise. I understood a lot about her and related to her on certain experiences. I did not always understand her reactions and feelings. I didn’t find her voice “refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny” as the description thrusts at readers. I grew to like her and better appreciate her actions as I continued reading. While I didn’t always understand or agree with things Elise did, I think it’s important to see how other people might cope with situations. People handle things differently, and it’s important to realize that.

I really liked that Elise found a hobby that could help her through a difficult time. I know music can help people in so many ways, and this book really did a good job of showing that. The right song at the right moment can do so much for your mood. I loved reading about Elise discovering how to read the mood and use the music. I loved seeing her learn about herself and others, I loved seeing her grow. I liked the family aspect of the book. I liked seeing Elise make mistakes and learn from them, too. I liked the romance and how it wasn’t the focus of the book, and it didn’t go how I expected it to go.

There were a few times when the book made me a little uncomfortable, but nothing too huge. I didn’t exactly fall in love with it, but I did like it and the end raised my opinion at least half a star.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This Song Will Save Your Life is a special book. I had a few issues with it, but I’m glad I read it! The ending really made the book for me. I really want to read Past Perfect and I’ll be interested to see what else Sales writes! I think This Song Will Save Your Life might be for you if you enjoy teen angst, DJ-ing and music, and characters that learn and grow!

Leila Sales‘s website and twitter!

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill [book review]

Meant to Be coverMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill
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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!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [book review]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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Release Date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be

I went into Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe with limited knowledge. I knew it was about friendship and GLBT subjects. I had seen some good things about it and I wanted another book for Bout of Books so I picked it up.

Aristotle or Ari is 15 and unhappy. He lives in El Paso, Texas. He is Mexican American. He speaks English and Spanish. It’s 1987. He doesn’t have many friends. He meets Dante, who also does not have many friends. They become friends and grow and learn things.

I will be honest: I almost didn’t finish this book. There was something about the writing and the beginning felt so slow to me. I’m so glad I didn’t stop reading it, because while it’s not a favorite, I really enjoyed it! It took me a while to get into the flow of Ari’s head and for me the writing didn’t feel lyrical (as the description states). Once I got used to the voice, I got more into the story and it flowed a lot quicker, which made me more interested in what was happening.

The whole story is in Ari’s point of view and it’s first person. Ari is lost, lonely, and confused. In other words, he’s a typical teenager. He has issues with his father, a quiet Vietnam vet with his own problems. His mother is always worried about him and he wants space. He misses a brother he doesn’t know. A lot of the story focuses on his relationship with his father and brother. I loved seeing how much his father loved him even though it was an obvious struggle for him to be open about his experiences and feelings. When they do open up to each other and talk about things, it’s so lovely and heartwarming. I liked Ari’s mom, too. She is a teacher and she has already lost a son to prison, so she’s worried about Ari’s teenage angst and wants the best for him. Ari’s relationship with her was reluctantly sweet and I loved it.

Dante is a fun character. He’s smart and he’s freer and more open about how he feels. I love that at first Ari wasn’t sure if the friendship was worth it, because he’s so sour. Dante is just a positive and hopeful person, which is refreshing. He’s crazy about his parents, which is so nice. He’s different and he knows he’s different. I like that Ari knows that Dante is different and while he thinks about it, it never gives him pause. I enjoyed when Dante was open about anything awkward and it kind of weirded Ari out.

Aristotle and Dante together are fun. Their story developed a bit differently than I expected. There’s a big emphasis on friendship, and I loved their friendship! There were a few things that felt off to me. I liked what happened in the end, but what led up to the ending was kind of weird to me. I also wanted a bit more from the ending, but it still left me happy!

The book does deal with difficult subjects and I think it deals with them very well. Fitting in, family, sexuality, growing up, and so much more.  It was heartwarming and heartwrenching. I had a few issues, but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy!

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For a book I almost didn’t finish, I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I had issues with pacing and a few other details, but overall I think it was a lovely book. I don’t see it being a book I’d read again, but I definitely think it’s a book worth reading! If you like discovery, growth, well-written families, friends and more, you will probably enjoy this book. I think most people will enjoy it!

You can learn more about Benjamin Alire Sáenz here!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys [book review]

Out of the Easy coverOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
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Release Date: February 12th 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

I knew Out of the Easy was set in New Orleans, but I didn’t know much else about it. I saw something about a murder on the jacket flap. It was sort of a random pick.

“My mother’s a prostitute” is such a great first line. Josie has grown up with a neglectful and hateful mother. People have judged her for her mother’s choice of occupation. She’s worked hard at two jobs and school to be something better and different. She has hopes and dreams to change her life and make it better. She wants more out of life than the same old dirty life where nobody really gets ahead honestly.

Josie is familiar with the mean and dirty side of the Big Easy. She grew up with a mom who cared more about the money and desire that came from prostitution than her child. Her mother resented her and blamed her for changes in her body and the decline in desire. Josie grew up interacting with whores and a low class type of people. She’s close-ish with Willie, the madam or lady who runs the brothel where her mom works. Willie is a businesswoman, she sells sex but she also deals in information. She knows what happens in her area and she has scouts watching for information on the street. She’s closer to Cokie, Willie’s driver.  Cokie is the warmest person in Josie’s life.

She loves books and works at a bookstore. She also lives above the store and is close with the owner and his son. The owner is sick and she helps the son take care of him. When she meets a wealthy girl who goes to Smith in the Northeast, she starts wishing for that life. She’s always wanted out, but now she has a more specific goal.

The setup of the book was lovely, getting to know the city and the people in Josie’s life. Throughout the story the reader gets to know Willie, Cokie,  along with some of the prostitutes pretty well. There are some pretty fun stories about the crazy things that go on in the house. Some are cringe-worthy and some are entertaining.

There was the murder mystery that Josie was very interested in. Along with the seedy parts of New Orleans, there was organized crime and Josie’s mother is dating a creep of a crook. Josie was left in some lurches and had to figure out how to handle some things. I thought some of the drama was almost overdone. I get that it’s a dangerous life and dark times, but it was just a bit much for me.

Jesse was my favorite character and I wanted more of him! He was charming and Josie expected the worst of him. Like a lot of things, Jesse wasn’t what she expected. She thought he was low class and wouldn’t amount to much, and she was surprised to learn he too wanted more from life.

Josie misjudged a lot of people in her life, which is a realistic mistake. A few times, I was frustrated and wanted to tell her to go with her gut instead of hiding everything away and being isolated. She made mistakes, but she definitely learned from them. She was such a likable character because she had such realistic motivations and responses to her mistakes. I think she learned a lot in the story.

I loved the completely unique subject. I haven’t read a lot of books set in Louisiana and not in this time period. It’s a difficult time in a difficult place, which is unique and fascinating. It’s a look at the side of society people look down on, even Josie looked down on them sometimes and she was a part of it. It’s not easy for people that are in ruts to get stuck, to not be able to work their way out. But sometimes, with enough hard work you can find a way out.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Out of the Easy is a good read! I don’t think I would ever read it again, but I will definitely read more by Ruta Sepetys and plan on reading Shades of Gray. This book has an average rating of 4.07 rating on Goodreads, so if it sounds like something you like, you should definitely check it out! I think Out of the Easy would be great for you if you enjoy descriptions of old timey New Orleans, some crime and risque walks of life, and a girl finding her own way even when it’s difficult.

Check out Ruta Sepetys‘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!

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!

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!

Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage coverGoing Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Goodreads | Amazon
Release Date: March 26th 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Series: n/a
Rating: 

Goodreads description:When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far

Mallory is a junior. She’s got a boyfriend named Jeremy. They make out so much that she has to come up with excuses to take breaks. During one of these breaks she discovers something bad about her boyfriend on Friendspace (read: basically Facebook). He is a cyberscum cheater. While playing a game, he made a “deep connection” to another player. He exchanges sweet words with said player and talks of love. Mallory is filled with rage and jealousy. She defames him on his own page, for all their mutual friends and cyber acquaintances to see, then she ditches him.

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