Tag «Realistic Fiction»

Single Sundays: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Forbidden (from Goodreads):
She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite 2015
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dark, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 27, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had heard about this book years ago but never picked it up. I was really hesitant to pick is up because of one word: incest. It’s a word that is reserved for taboo erotica novels (though those are mostly pseudo-incest where the people involved aren’t actually related but are “step-etc”) or ancient, royal blood lines who wanted to keep their bloodline “pure”. As a scientist, I’ve discussed the ramifications of breeding with close relatives (ie you don’t get “pure” blood lines as an outcome) but otherwise, it’s not a topic I really want to read or discuss at the end of the day.

However, many of my Goodreads friends/people I follow have given this book 5/5 so call me curious. When it comes to books, I feel like I am a much more open reader now than I was years ago. Since starting my blog my attitude is more of “I’ll try anything once” and so I decided to bite the bullet and put this one on hold at my library.

WOW. Am I ever glad that I did!

The Concept:

If you had asked me before I started this book whether or not I would have fallen in love with Lochan and Maya’s story I would have told you “NO”. Even going in with an open mind like I did, I still had my reservations. But it wasn’t long before those reservations were shattered to pieces.

I mean, positively-blown-out-of-this-galaxy, shattered.

The way Tabitha Suzuma has written this is absolutely heart-wrenching, beautiful and gripping–things I never thought possible given this “taboo” topic.  It’s done in such a classy, objective way that it doesn’t take you long to sympathize and root for Lochan and Maya. It focuses on the love between the two people and not just a physical desire (like I’m sure the freebie taboo erotica novels do). It’s probably the ultimate “forbidden romance” situation and I love how it explores that ideal within the book. It brings such a realistic edge to this story that easily wins its readers over.

The Plot:

I didn’t really expect the focus on Lochan and Maya’s homelife to be so emphasized at the start but I’m really glad it is. It really helps establish who they are as characters and why they find themselves in the situations they are in. It makes me see how this consensual relationship between siblings could happen–whether that is right or wrong is a moral dilemma that may never have an answer–but I suppose it helped me understand these characters in a way that allowed me to continue reading their story. It made me want to get to know them and see how they handle all the problems in their way.

The plot is a great balance between the romance and the coming of age aspect. It’s just beautifully crafted and if I wasn’t reading this at work, I would have shed tears.

The Characters:

I loved the depths to these characters. Lochan and Maya were such interesting characters all things aside and I loved watching them develop as individuals. The rest of their family were also intriguing and do a great job supporting the story and the leads. They are complicated people in a complicated situation and I loved the way it was all portrayed.

The Romance:

The romance was as equally cringe-worthy as it was romantic. Watching the love between these two made it so easy to forget they were blood related–and I often did until I forced myself to remember. I was rooting for them the entire way, hoping for some crazy twist where you find out that they aren’t really related at all and they can live happily ever after together. Because, at the end of the day, if you take away the fact that they are related, their romance is the type I love to see with my romantic leads in a contemporary romance: an emotional connection that pulls people together and is reaffirmed by physical chemistry. They are such a great pair together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book blew me away! I should have known that consistent 5 star reviews from all my Goodreads friends means a great book! But I think if you can’t get past the idea of incest, you won’t enjoy this book at all! You need to read this book with an open mind and explore the fiction of the story. It doesn’t mean you have to change your views on incest and everything associated with it; I just like that it explores a side of a relationship that people might not think about.

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, emotional gripping novels, dark contemporary
Avoid if You: don’t like taboo topics

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Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Field Party Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Until Friday Night (from Goodreads):
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Most Read Author 2015
Series: The Field Party
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 6 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Game Changer, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Abbi Glines is my most read author according to Goodreads–so I think it is apparent that any books she publishes, I’ll probably be reading it even if I’m skeptical.

You see, I don’t tend to enjoy books set in the Southern part of the USA. I find the drama is a little too…dramatic for me. It’s a little over the top and seems to bring out the worst in some characters. Of course, there are exceptions. Beautiful Creatures is one of my all time favourite series and it is a TOTAL Southern novel–but oh so good. Oh, and anything Abbi Glines writes seems to work for me…though maybe not The Vincent Boys.

From reading her various posts on her blog, I know that Abbi was really excited to start this series and it is something that is really close to her heart. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Abbi Glines would bring with this series…

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Lately, I’ve been droning on and on about characters lacking an emotional connection when it comes to romance. This one did NOT have that problem!

I really loved watching West and Maggie develop that friendship first. I love romances where the characters support each other and work as partners to move through a difficult time. Sure, everything happens really fast in this novel but that is just part of the circumstances. It didn’t bother me that their relationship was fast-tracked because I could see why it was forming and how well they worked together.

OMG, you do not know how happy I was when Maggie clearly stated that their relationship was starting to become unhealthy! I’m all for the idea that love heals but I’m also a firm believer that it isn’t the only thing that can save a person. So I really appreciated the maturity Maggie showed by looking at their relationship and stating that it was heading into a place she didn’t like. She scored major points with me after that!

–The Plot–

I thought there was a great balance between the romance and the main plot line which is dealing with grief/family tragedy. The romance wasn’t all consuming but always had that underlying tension to keep it developing. It complimented the character progression well I think.

And if you’re worried this book is only going to focus on football, rest assured that it plays a very minor role in this story. It’s more of a connecting factor for West and the rest of the characters.

We also get introduced enough to the other characters who I assume are going to get their own books later. Not a ton to make me wish I was reading their book instead of West’s and Maggie’s but enough to get me excited for their stories once they are released.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s Character Development–

I really feel like it was lacking for Maggie in this book. Looking back at the synopsis, I can see why the novel focused more on West because he really has the main, ongoing story unfolding. However, Maggie is a full POV character and I wish her situation was addressed more than it was. If the story was only told from West’s POV I would have been satisfied with her growth but I felt like more could have been done with her.

–Rushed Ending–

I know that some things were left dangling for the rest of the series but I felt like West and Maggie’s story could have used an extra 30 pages or so. Some things were wrapped up wayyyy to easily for my liking and others were just left out in the open. This was really the only time I felt like the plot focus was on the wrong aspect the entire time I was reading. I’m sure some of those things are going to be addressed in the next book but I kinda wanted a resolution to their story within their story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I’m curious to learn more about the rest of the characters and get some of my questions answered about those dangling bits.

updates

–March 19, 2017– Book #2: Under the Lights

Ok, I was really scared to read this when I read the synopsis. I detest love triangles in my stories; particularly in my YA because I can’t take all the petty back and forth drama. And I didn’t really enjoy The Vincent Boys which focuses on a girl torn between two BFFs…the same concept here.

But I should know better! Abbi’s writing over the years just gets stronger and stronger.

While the love triangle is an element here, it is never the sole focus. Instead, we get great character development which in turn leads to a strong romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than its predecessor for a variety of reasons. One is that all the leads had solid character development and it never felt lopsided or like one character was the focus more than the other. I also liked the dramatic plot a lot. It constantly surprised me with its development and I liked that it kept me on edge trying to figure it all out..

And of course, it sets up beautifully for the next installment.

–September 17, 2017– Book #3: After the Game

This was super cute! Their story was really heartfelt and mature in a way you don’t always see in YA contemporary romances. Watching these two learn to forgive and forget about what people think was fabulous. They’re just so likeable as characters and super sweet that you want to see them succeed.

I do wish the romance was a little more though. I just wanted to see that connection emphasized a little more at the start but they do make a great pair when all is said and done. I was thoroughly addicted to this story!

It was like the perfect hybrid between the first and second novel but with a new set of unique leads.

–October 8, 2018– Book #4: Losing the Field

To say I’m disappointed in this book would be an understatement. Honestly, this book was a 2/5 star read for me until the last three chapters when I really got angry with the direction it took.

Overall, the best way to describe this novel is underdeveloped. I can appreciate the attempted drama Glines tried to instill in this story. It’s soap opera-esque and melodramatic–exactly that I expect when I pick up this series. But I think there was too much thrown in here and it took away from the characters and romance. (Where was that plot for revenge anyways?)

As for their love? Where did it even come from? Tallulah’s worship of him over the years and her shedding a few pounds? Compared to other couples in this series I feel like we didn’t see much of them together and I failed to see the deeper connection they shared. I also think they spend more time apart then together…

But the moment that took this book from a “meh” read to an “oh wow, that’s awful”?

Why I Rated This 1/5 Stars:

When Tallulah decides not to press charges against the teacher that tried to seduce her–KNOWING he did the same thing to two other girls–that irked me to no end! In this time of assault awareness (#metoo movement) I’m so upset that her response was simply “It’s OK. It’s over now.” No, it’s not and you should be doing everything in your power to prevent it from happening again if you can; especially when there is a child involved.

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I hated that response and how it comes across to readers, especially younger readers. I’m all for fiction being fiction but I think there was a great opportunity for a strong lesson and it just didn’t happen.

–July 4, 2020– Book #5: Making a Play

While this was a definite improvement over the last novel in the series it was still just an “okay” read for me.

The subject matter of race is a timely one and so I appreciated that the romance explored the difficulties multiracial couples can face, particularly in smaller traditional towns. And having a heroine who is deaf was also a great way to explore prejudices as well.

However, while I am a romantic at heart, I struggled with the love at first sight we get here. These two make some very important life decisions based on a 5 day interaction. But fast and dramatic romances are Abbi’s style so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

My Rating: 4/5

Until Friday Night 4/5 | Under the Lights 4/5 | After the Game 4/5 | Losing the Field 1/5 | Making a Play 3/5

overall

It isn’t my favourite Abbi Glines series, but it was exactly what I was expecting. I cried and swooned so mission accomplished. This is perfect for those who want to try an Abbi Glines’ novel but don’t like New Adult.

Read if You Like: high school drama, stories about grief, books set in the South
Avoid if You:  don’t like football players, high school drama

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Single Sundays: Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Every Last Promise (from Goodreads):
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

breakdown

Author: Kristin Halbrook
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found this book: I think it was a combination of blogs and browsing my libraries newest additions.

I wanted to read this book because it focuses on a sexual assault–I wholeheartedly support any book that gets the conversation started about sexual assault and reporting it. The statistics about sexual assault are devastating to read and break my heart (you can read some here). I was looking forward to reading a book that tackles the notion of what happens when a sexual assault happens in a small community and how young people deal with it.

The Plot:

The chapters alternate between the past and the present. I found that this delivery keeps your attention and contributes to the suspense of finding out what actually happened to these characters. Learning about the past helps establish the characters and the setting, thus helping you decipher the actions of the characters in the present.

Because when the plot isn’t focusing on what has happened, it’s focusing on Kayla struggling to come to terms with what she knows…and what she doesn’t know. And knowing the community she was a part of helps understand why she is reacting the way she is.

The scary thing is, I can totally see this situation happening in real life. It feels very real and that can make it hard to read at times. As you read, you want these characters to do the right thing but because it is so realistic and because you read the statistics of sexual assault, you know that they may not do the right thing, making it frustrating at times to watch things unfold in the way that they do.

The Characters:

This is why I have labelled this book as mixed feelings: I didn’t like any of the characters (well, maybe Noah). And it isn’t because of how they react to the situation at hand. Kayla and her friends are the type of girls I would never be friends with in high school so it was just a clash of personalities with me. I just didn’t like her. However, I did understand her. As I said before, the altering between the past and the present really helps establish her character.

I do feel like these characters are a little cliché. They are your typical popular girls in YA contemporary but as someone who comes from a small town, I do see the realism. They straddle that line between realistic and extreme but I think it works well for this story overall.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance to this story and I like that what is there doesn’t take away from the main story at hand.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I think this book does a great job at tackling a subject that we like to shy away from. This is a great story about talking and reporting sexual assaults. While the characters aren’t my personal favourites, they worked well for this story overall.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, books talking about sexual assault
Avoid if You: N/A (I think everyone should read this)

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Single Sundays: The Mad Tatter by JM Darhower

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Mad Tatter (from Goodreads):
Reece Hatfield has just one rule when it comes to falling in love: don’t fucking do it. There’s no room in his life for another person. He can barely keep a handle on things as it is. A shadow of the man he used to be, Reece spends his days tattooing, the artist inside of him longing for the chance to do something different.

Avery Moore is all dance, all the time. Ballet is all she’s ever known, and she’s damn good at it. Her body is her art, a living canvas that captivates Reece the first time he lays his eyes on her.

He yearns to leave his mark on her body… in more ways than one.

The tattooed degenerate with a shady past. The beautiful ballerina with a bright future. They live in different worlds, yet somehow, they fit. But just because they fit doesn’t mean they belong together. Cracks sometimes form. Two pieces don’t always make a whole. The course of love never did run smoothly. Things get messy.

And Reece doesn’t do messy.

Not anymore.

breakdown

Author: J M Darhower
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single *Male POV*
Publication Date: April 12, 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, just look at the cover for one. Then look at the title (I love plays on words). And then I looked at the price ($1) and thought, why not?

I was looking forward to a book that had seemingly opposite people attract and fall in love. Tattooed bad boy meets a ballerina? Yes please!

The Plot:

I definitely thought this book was going to be more erotica based but I’m really happy that it wasn’t. Actually, the plot in this book really wasn’t anything I expected. The romance was more of a slow burn and the focus was mostly on Reese coming to terms with who he is.

Which was actually very refreshing for me to read. I enjoyed watching Reese grow as a character and man. I loved watching him interact with Avery. It was a very sweet story to watch unfold even if it wasn’t packed with action or a whole lot of drama.

The Characters:

Because it wasn’t told from Avery’s POV at all it was really cool to read and subsequently understand Reese more than you normally would if Avery was the one telling the POV or it was an alternating POV. I really enjoy male-only POV romances–they keep things interesting if you ask me. And what I really liked is that Reese is a genuinely nice guy. He isn’t some crude, alpha male who describes women like objects or simply wants to possess Avery because he can. You really fall in love with him and root for him to succeed.

I also really liked Avery. Even though she doesn’t get her own POV, I still feel like I had a good grasp on her character. And I actually appreciated the fact that she does take a bit of a back-seat to Reese’s development. She was a great leading lady!

The Romance:

Like I said earlier, it was definitely a slow-burn romance–which I really liked! It was great watching these two form a sincere connection with each other. They weren’t banging each other on every available surface or falling too fast. It was a great balance and they were a fantastic match, so I was rooting for them the whole way!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I’m glad this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be! It was a great slow burn, male POV romance. Don’t judge the book by it’s cover! There is so much more to The Mad Tatter than meets the eye!

Read if You Like: slow burn romances, tattooed leads, artist leads, male POVs
Avoid if You: want more “romance”, want more drama

similarreads

  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Dance for Me by Helena Newbury (Fenbrook Academy Series #1)
  • All the Pretty Poses by M Leighton (Pretty Trilogy #1)

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Movie Mondays: Love, Rosie

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern | Movie: Love, Rosie (2014)

Which did I read/see first? the MOVIE

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Cecelia Ahern
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Point of View: First Person, Multiple (Told via letters, texts, insta-messaging)

thoughts

This is one of those rare cases where I decided to watch the movie before I read the book. Mainly because I wanted to be surprised when I watched the movie–and truth be told I wanted to watch the movie more than I wanted to read the book. Sometimes with certain movies/books it’s better to watch the movie first so that you don’t know what is going to happen in a movie and that’s what I wanted when I watched Love, Rosie. (I know that you are probably going: “It’s a rom-com, of course you know how it is going to end” but if you watch the trailer you can probably see why I felt this need to be surprised).

My good friend read this book before I did and lent me her copy. She told me that it was a quick cute read but that Rosie really started to get on her nerves as the story progressed so I felt like I had fair warning.

And thank goodness that I did or else I would have quit reading!

I’m sympathetic to Rosie’s situation, don’t get me wrong. So I can understand where her selfish tendencies might arise. However, at the same time, I would expect a situation like hers to accelerate her maturity; and for a while it did. But then it (her immaturity) comes back and it just rubbed me the wrong way. There is no other way to phrase it other than that she is a quite selfish person and that makes her hard to like at times.

As for the plot: it is the ultimate second chance love story. As my new book BFF Ruby puts it:

“You know, you two have the worst timing ever…when will you ever learn to catch up with each other?”

And that is how the entire book goes. It is simply a collection of letters, instant messages and emails contributing to the final question: will these two ever get together? Which is cute but gets a little tedious over time especially when you have to deal with an annoying Rosie (and Alex for that matter too). I often found myself wanting to smack some sense into these two but thankfully there are a few characters who were willing to do that for me as I read.

overall

The ultimate lesson I learned from this book: just go for it! This book is all about taking a chance when you should have; never assuming anything and making the best of whatever life throws at you. However, I found it to be very tedious and long. If it was hundred pages shorter, I would have found it a lot more enjoyable.

Rating: 3/5
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Were My Expectations Met?

I’ve wanted to see Love, Rosie since the summer of 2014–only bummer part was that it wasn’t coming to Canada until February 2015 so I “patiently” waited until it arrived.

I really liked the movie! I thought it was charming and sweet and I laughed quite a bit throughout it. It’s everything you like in a rom-com. Sure, it was a little cliche at times but I mean really: the story is about two best friends who have always loved each other! The entire premise is a cliche! Still, I really wasn’t sure how everything was going to wrap up in the movie so that was exciting. Plus, I just loved watching everything happen and a part of that major reason is the acting.

How Close is it to the Book?

I actually read the book months after I saw the movie but they are vastly different. Many of the situations are similar but the order is different or the people involved have been changed.

I actually prefer the pacing of the movie mainly because it is faster but the events were also much more dramatic. I would say the book is perhaps more realistic while the movie is more “Hollywood” drama but I found the movie to be more entertaining in that respect.

What I also like about the movie is that it actually shows Rosie and Alex interacting. The problem with the letters/etc. is that most things are being described after the fact whereas with the movie you see everything happen in front of you. You see their relationship from start to finish, see how the events actually unfold and it just forges a better connection with the characters.

Did I Like the Cast?

Perhaps I’m biased because I love Lily Collins as an actress. I’m not sure why I like her so much, but I’ve always enjoyed her movies. She reminds me a lot of Jennifer Lawrence for some reason; probably because she can do awkward funny really well. Sam Claflin was also great as Alex! If you didn’t already have a crush on him, you will probably walk out with one after this movie. He does adorkable-sexy so well 😉 I thought they had great chemistry on screen as well which made it such fun to watch. The rest of the cast was awesome as well.

The characters are also much more likeable. I think that is a result of how the plot progresses and how they make the characters react to that. I actually rooted for these two when I watched the movie whereas when I read the novel, it was more of a “are they finally together yet?” and I just wanted them to be together to resolve everything.

thewinneris winmovie

The movie is the definitely winner for me! I just thought the execution was much better; the characters were more likeable and I prefer the format. Reading everything as letters are great but I like watching events unfold before me, not hearing about them afterward.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Love, Rosie (from Goodreads):
Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S.

She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She’s pregnant by a boy she’d gone out with while on the rebound from Alex.

Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn’t done with them yet.

Trailer:

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Single Sundays: My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for My Heart and Other Black Holes (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

breakdown

Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this one on someone’s blog–I’m REALLY going to start writing down where I find these books!–and was really intrigued by the premise. I’m all for any book that talks about mental illness, especially one that focuses on youth mental health. I really enjoyed 13 Reasons Why but I liked that this book was told from someone currently experiencing suicidal thoughts.

From the review I read, I was looking forward to a humorous yet sincere novel about teen suicide. My biggest fear–as is with any book that takes on a subject like mental health–was that it would glorify suicide or lose itself in the humour of the narrator; but the previous reviews I had read gave me the impression that that wouldn’t be the case with this one so I was hopeful.

The Concept:

I love how relateable this book is to current teens! While Aysel and Roman may have traumatizing events that very few people (I hope) will ever have to go through, their everyday lives are very similar to teens today. Problems at school, conflicts with family members and simply just growing up–I feel like these characters are approachable for the reader. Plus, they act like actual teens do, not how adults think they do and I really loved that.

The Plot:

The plot follows Aysel as she contemplates suicide due to depression; which can make it a sad read at times. Aysel really isn’t in a good place in her life, and I admire how the writing captures that.  It’s honest, real and easily elicits it’s emotions in its readers. I love how it challenges the stigma of mental health by never holding anything back and actually talking about it!

What I also adored was Aysel’s sense of humour. I loved her sometimes cynical and always witty rapport. The humour shines a light on the darker side of the book, giving the book a happier feel but still maintaining the sincerity of the situation at hand.

There really isn’t a whole lot of drama in this book and I think that really works to its advantage. It keeps the book grounded in the realism of the situation and doesn’t take away from the main focus of this book: talking about the mental health of teens.

The Characters:

Aysel and Roman are great characters and truly make this story! They are really what drives this book forward–Aysel especially! As I said before, she is hilarious, but she is also very real and I think readers will appreciate that.

The Romance:

I know this is the aspect that a lot of readers dislike and I can agree with them…to a certain extent. There isn’t a lot of romance in this story (ie it really isn’t a big focus; more a subplot).

**This may be a little spoiler-y but nothing is blatantly stated**

I would have been extremely satisfied if there was no romance between these two and they just had a platonic friendship. That may be because I’m all aboard the “let’s have more platonic friendships in YA between the sexes” train. BUT, I do feel like the romance takes away from the ultimate message of this book: talk to someone you love about what you are feeling. Does that person have to be someone you are having romantic feelings with? No. Is falling in love the ultimate cure for depression? NO! I personally don’t feel like this book is perpetuating that last message (I got the impression it was emphasizing the “talking to someone who understands you and will support you” message), but it is there and I know that it is a reason a lot of readers rate this book lower than they would have had it been a platonic friendship instead.

**end of spoiler-esque stuff**

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I really enjoyed reading this book! It is done in a thoughtful way that I think readers will appreciate and connect with. And I love that it holds nothing back when it comes to teens and mental health. It is fighting a stigma that has been around for far too long and I hope it starts a lot of conversations about discussing your feelings and not being afraid to seek help when it is needed.

Read if You Like: witty humour, books discussing mental health
Avoid if You: want a romance contemporary

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Single Sundays: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Wrong Side of Right (from Goodreads):
Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

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Author: Jenn Marie Thorne
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Politics, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this book one day when I was trolling the blogs I follow. The cover captured my attention, as did the positive reviews; but it was the synopsis that made me want to read this book right away.

Meg Cabot’s All American Girl is one of my favourite teen novels ever. Typical of all Meg Cabot’s work, it just had that great blend of teen romance and humour with a dash of realism, making it so much fun to read. So while I knew The Wrong Side of Right was going to focus more heavily on the realistic world of politics, I was hoping it would capture my heart like All American Girl would.

The Concept:

Don’t be turned off of the fact that this book may present political views you might not agree with. I didn’t find it preachy, pushy or biased in any respect. It focuses more on the world of politics in the sense of how politicians present themselves to the public rather than particular agendas/policies.

The Plot:

The plot mostly focuses on Kate throughout the campaign trail. I truly think this book could have been 50 pages shorter and still got its message across. Because the beginning was strong, as was the end, but somewhere in the middle it started to lose me. It’s interesting for the most part (especially if you like following campaign stories) but after a while it gets a little monotonous. Like, I got the point: she wasn’t sure she was in the right place–now what was she going to do about it?

What I did enjoy about this story was Kate’s interaction with her new family. I loved the approach this story took with that respect because it seemed so real to me. It wasn’t plagued with over dramatics and I could easily see the situation happening to any family–whether they are in politics or not–when an unexpected child enters their lives.

The Characters:

I have such mixed feelings about Kate. There is no doubt about it: she is an extremely naive girl. I can’t say that I entirely blame her either given the situation she finds herself in. Politics–especially American politics–is its own world and you truly don’t understand it, I’m sure, until you’re immersed into it. I get that. However, what frustrated me is that she was so campaign savvy–she knew she had to act a certain way while in public–yet she was surprised when she did have to act a certain way. It’s confusing I know, which is what bothered me the most while reading.

I suppose her naivety is used to show a non-cynical view of politics. She is that fresh voice on her father’s campaign trail. (Why they gave her as much power as they did within the campaign still baffles me.) But it shows her age that she just doesn’t get it-and hey, what 16 year old really does get politics? I’m 23 and I still don’t get it! I think it’s the fact that she gave me the impression she had a better understanding of how it all worked–when in fact she really didn’t–that made her seem wish-washy to me. She was so strong in her political convictions and quickly interfered on those matters, yet struggled with the simplest aspects of her daily life when it came to her family. Yes, it is a coming of age novel and I totally get the journey she has to go on–I just didn’t enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped when we were first introduced to her.

Also, I just have to get this off my chest because it frustrated me to no end:

Spoiler Rant of Frustration

Ok, so the whole deportation situation with her friend frustrated me to no end! Sure, I can get the initial assumption that her father ratted her friend’s parents out. HOWEVER, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that the family staring in a photo with Kate that is publicly released before her father’s apparent change in immigration are somehow linked. That just seemed like a MAJOR DUH to me and I guess I was the only one who saw it that way…

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The Romance:

For some reason, I really thought this was going to play a bigger role in the story than it actually did. I think it was my All American Girl bias–which is book that is primarily a romance with a side-story of Samantha’s growing up. I wanted more personally but I understand that it was never to be the primary focus of Kate’s story.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This book started strong but lost me along the way. I think Kate’s naivety may turn people off but I think you have to cut her some slack given the situation she is in. At the same time, this book helped me reaffirm that I am not the biggest YA Contemporary fan. I personally really struggle to connect with the characters in this genre so I think my rating may reflect this.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, the world of politics (especially American)
Avoid if You: don’t like naive heroines, want more romance

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Series Review: Thunder Road by Katie McGarry

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Thunder Road Trilogy

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nowhere But Here (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Favourite Read 2016
Series: Thunder Road Trilogy
Author: Katie McGarry
# of Books: 3 (Nowhere But Here, Walk the EdgeLong Way Home)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes

Originally planned to be 4 books, the publisher has decided to keep this a trilogy.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2015 – January 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I simply adored Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits Series. It is the standard for me when it comes to YA contemporary. McGarry’s writing just has a maturity to it that blows me away and keeps my attention.

I broke my no holds at the library rule (as per my Tackling the TBR challenge) to put this book on hold because Take Me On left me in such a book hangover–one that has lasted close to a year long.

What I Liked:

-The Backstory/History-

The mystery surrounding Emily’s family captured my attention from start to finish. There was just so much history and depth to these characters that I just had to know what happened, why and how they were going to move forward.

Which is really important, because this book is quite long page wise (375 eBook pages; the typical eBook is ~250) but it really doesn’t feel like it. I got so absorbed into this story that the pages were just flying by. McGarry has a great balance between the romance, drama and character growth–honestly, YA contemporary doesn’t get better than this if you ask me.

-The Character Development-

This goes hand in hand with the backstory because it really adds to the character development. I started this book not totally loving Emily (she’s a bit of a spoiled princess but she is supposed to be) but I really enjoyed watching her story unfold. And truth be told, she won me over by the end. Her character really grows, as does Oz’s, and I loved that.

-New Book Boyfriend-

All I have to say is: where can I find myself an Oz? Swoon <3

What I Didn’t Like:

Honestly, this book worked on all cylinders for me. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book.

Perhaps, the motor cycle club aspect was a little over-dramatic and perhaps unrealistic BUT the situations dealing with family and the like were extremely realistic and that is why I put the “realistic” tag on this book,

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There is one story that I CANNOT WAIT TO READ…do I make myself clear? I’ll probably have to wait until the very last book to get the story I want but that is OK. Given this explosive start, I can only imagine that great things are on the way. I’m stoked to see what is going to happen in the next book, Walk the Edge, because I didn’t expect the lead we get and I can’t wait to see the next phase of this series.

updates

–May 4, 2016– Book #2: Walk the Edge

Honestly, this book had me from start to finish and I never wanted it to end!

This novel just builds off the great foundation of Nowhere but Here. Some minor story-lines carry over and you start to see the overarching series plot but it keeps it focus on the two leads when it needs to. It’s fast-paced but well-developed and it kept me on the edge of my seat (pun intended) waiting to see what would happen next and it often surprised me in a totally great way.

I thought the romance was AMAZING. Not only were these two a great match for each other in every way possible but the sexual tension was palpable. It was by far the most addicting part of this novel and my favourite aspect. Sigh…it was just great. I also found it easier to understand these characters, especially our female lead when I compared her story to Emily’s. She isn’t as angsty as Emily but has the right and understandable level given her character background and I thought I worked really, really well.

I cannot wait to see what happens next!

–January 23, 2017– Book #3: Long Way Home

I’ve been dying for Violet’s story since book 1. This wasn’t what I expected but in a good way. I got sucked in by the plot and there were so many great twists along the way. I would have liked more romance though. I think the fact that we already knew these two loved each other stopped some of the great tension these books usually have from surfacing. I still adore them together and their scenes melted my heart, but I just craved more from them.

I had no idea that this book was going to be the finale for the series until after I finished it. But I started to suspect it by the end anyways and fans will be more than satisfied with how everything wraps up.

My Rating: 5/5

Nowhere But Here 5/5 | Walk the Edge 5/5 | Long Way Home 4.5/5

overall

This series steadily amplifies in all aspects as the pages increases. Fans of Katie McGarry will be more than happy with this next series and I have no doubt that she will pick up some new fans!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, realistic fiction with a dash of dramatics, balanced stories
Avoid if You: dislike motor cycle clubs

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Series Review: The Heartbreaker Chronicles by Ali Novak

Fresh Fridays: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1)

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Heartbreakers (from Goodreads):

“When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music.”

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Netgalley Read 2015
Series: The Heartbreaker Chronicles

This series is linked with her other novel, My Life With the Walter Boys

Author: Ali Novak
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Heartstrings is currently being published on Wattpad
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Romance, Music, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#2)

disclaimernetgalley
Copy only provided for Book #1, The Heartbreakers

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well of course, the cover drew me in, and it was a cover that kept popping up everywhere I turned. So, I read the synopsis and knew I IMMEDIATELY had to read it. Average girl falling in love with a popstar? That’s right up my alley (Rockstar romances are my favourite trend this year). But what really captured my attention was the ill sister–this was an aspect that promised a heartwarming (possibly heartbreaking) plotline.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I was a approved to read this and couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

– The Romance –

Boy, I was swooning within five seconds of meeting Oliver! He was charming and genuine–basically everything you want in your favourite pop-punk crush. Watching Stella and Oliver interact had me wanting more and I couldn’t put this book down! (It was torture being at work when all I wanted to do was stay in bed and read this!)

– The Family Dynamic –

Stella’s family situation was perfectly balanced with the romance. I enjoyed watching her grow as a person; learning what her fears were and how to conquer them. The situations she faces in her everyday life–a sick sister, a brother leaving home for college, herself leaving for college–really grounded this book in realism, making Stella relatable in an otherwise unorthodox situation. It added a depth to Stella’s character that I appreciated.

What I Didn’t Like:

– The required Romantic “Drama” Scene –

I was LOVING this book until this one romantic plot element that I could have done without. Now, because I don’t list spoilers, that previous statement makes it seem like some unfathomable event happened that ruined the entire book.

BUT That isn’t what happened!

I saw this particular plot device a mile away but I had really hoped that wouldn’t happen. I see why it was added but for a book that was pretty logical and flowing, it really put a not-so-great kink in things. It made my love for the characters diminish just a touch BUT, it was really just one small aspect in an otherwise great novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I didn’t know this was going to be a series when I picked it up so I am ecstatic! I loved the rest of the band and I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of the boys!

updates

–October 31, 2021– Book #2: Paper Hearts

It’s been a while since I read the first book in the series but you really don’t need to be overly familiar with the events of that book. I struggled with the pacing of this book. I feel like we spent most of this book listening to Felicity’s life struggles more so than the romance between her and Alec. Alec takes a backseat for most of the story but he also has a lot going on too so I felt like we missed an opportunity there.

For a series that revolves around the members of a band, we really don’t spend that much time with them or focusing on their character growth — which is very different from other series that follow this premise of following a band with individual books.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Heart Breakers 4.5/5 | Paper Hearts 3/5 | Heartstrings TBP

overall

These books are a nice blend of romance and coming of age but feature your crushes on pop-punk musicians as the heroes. I wish we got to spend more time with the band and got the boys’ POVs but if you want a sweet read, these books fill that need.

Read if You Like: coming of age stories, musicians, contemporary romance
Avoid if You: don’t like YA contemporary

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Single Sundays: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Fangirl (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

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Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Romance, Family, Realistic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: September 30, 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

If you don’t follow any YA blogs, I’ll let you know that there are two books that always get high praise: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and basically anything by Rainbow Rowell–but more often than not, it’s Fangirl.

So, I was curious and just had to pick up this book. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was up for anything and I tried to not let the numerous positive reviews cloud my judgement as I read.

The Plot:

This is probably one of the greatest examples of a coming of age story in recent times. This story is all about Cath adjusting to the many changes in her life: college, separation from her twin sister, navigating her relationships with her parents and basically anything that a young adult has to go through. Oh, and don’t forget first love!

What makes this story great is that everyone can relate to Cath in some way. I think the most obvious one is going to college but we all can relate in some indirect way. Sure, I don’t have a twin but I sympathized with the evolving sibling relationship–and that relationship could just as easily be with your BFF. I think lots of bloggers can relate to Cath’s need to write fanfiction. I know there were times in my undergraduate career where I told myself “just finish this assignment and then you can write your book reviews” just like Cath.

And the fandom part…I think we’ve all been there about something in our lives.

This is a slow journey watching Cath evolve but it touches on so many different aspects that it keeps the pace steady and true. While it was long for my personal tastes, I thought it was very thorough and well-balanced. Nothing is resolved immediately so in that respect, I found it to be very realistic in how the characters react and deal with various issues.

The Characters:

Cath can be a very hard character to like. I’m a very stubborn person so I find it hard to read about other stubborn characters. Cath is the very definition of stubborn and I think that can be off-putting to a lot of readers. She can make it hard to root for her when she says or acts a certain way when she knows it’s wrong. But I think that’s what makes this book so great; you watch Cath evolve and grow up right before your eyes. Does that make it very easy to read all the time? Of course not! But I can appreciate the journey.

I really liked all the characters in this book. They were really close to being clichés but they just had that little something that kept them grounded in reality. I think we all have these people in our lives to some degree which again, adds to the realistic element of this story because it is very character driven.

The Romance:

Yeah, that didn’t go the way I expected! I wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to the romance. I thought it was going to play a minor role in the story but it definitely had a larger role than I anticipated–not that it was a bad thing. I thought it was really well developed and I feel like it contributed in a very beneficial way to the plot.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I didn’t fall in love with this book. One part is that I’m not the biggest coming of age YA fan (which is weird because I love New Adult and that’s pretty much coming of age all the time) and I think part of the reason is because it is so hyped up. I was expecting this book to blow me away and put other coming to age novels to shame…and I’ll admit, it was great, but I just never got sucked into it. It just didn’t WOW me.

Read if You Like: coming of age, stories about everyday relationships
Avoid if You: don’t like stubborn characters, want a more romance driven novel

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