Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

Nantucket Red (Nantucket, #2) Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.


My Review:

I really enjoyed Nantucket Blue when I read last year, and this sequel to it was just as amazing.  I really liked the characters in this, and the development that they experienced throughout Nantucket Red.  I think this is the last book in the series, though I would definitely read another if there is another one after this.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

At the beginning of this book, Cricket gets her acceptance to Brown University.  Brown is in her town, so she can live at home and commute there, since the dorms are so expensive.  That is her plan, until her step-grandparents say that if she makes money this summer they will match what she makes to help her pay for the dorms.  They think it is an important part of the college experience.  So Cricket decides that, to make enough money, she needs to go back to Nantucket and find a summer job there.  She grows a lot over the course of the story, especially when she makes a stupid mistake that comes close to jeopardizing her future.  She also learns a lot about what she really wants to do in the fall, and if Brown is really what she wants or not.

There is some sweet romance in this book.  Cricket and Zack, despite having said that they were in love, decided to put their relationship on pause so they wouldn't have to do long distance while she was at school at home, and he was at a boarding school.  Unfortunately for Cricket, pausing didn't work for Zack, and he moved on to a new relationship, with someone Cricket really dislikes.  When Cricket goes to Nantucket, she meets another guy, Ben, who is the bartender at the restaurant where she works, and she starts a relationship with him.  The question is, are any of them actually over their exes?  Zack is in Nantucket that summer too, and maybe he isn't really over Cricket.  And Cricket hasn't really gotten over him yet either.

The development with the friendships in this book is great.  Liz is awesome as always, and she is there to help Cricket, and to give her a room to stay in when she needs it.  Liz goes through some tough times of her in the book, and Cricket is there to be supportive of her when this happens.  I didn't really like Jules in the first book, since she shut Cricket out when all Cricket wanted to do was to be there to be supportive of her.  She had been going through a tough time in the first book, though, and she is much better in this sequel, so it helped to redeem her.  She is a good friend to Cricket in this book, and they spend some time having fun in Nantucket, when Cricket isn't busy working.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

My Review:

This was a cute and fun read that also had plenty of character development.  Also, I love when books have a close female friendship, and this book definitely had that.  The romance was adorable as well, so I loved this book.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

One of the best things in this book was the friendship between Reagan and Dee.  Everyone else knows Dee as Lilah, the country star, but to Reagan, she is Dee, the girl who has been her best friend for years.  Dee and Reagan are both there for each other when they need each other.  When Reagan has gotten drunk at parties in the past, Dee has been the one to make sure she got home safely.  When Dee experiences the bad sides of fame, such as bad things being written about her in the tabloids, Reagan is there to comfort her and tell her it will be all right, and to be mad at the tabloid writers for writing the article.  I think one good part about the friendship was that it formed before Dee became famous.  They were already best friends, and even once Dee became a music star, they didn't stop being best friends.  The friendship read as really authentic.

The romance with Matt was adorable, with some hurdles along the way.  He is originally added to the tour so that fans will think he is in a relationship with Dee, but he and Dee don't like each other like that.  They are good friends, though, who know each other through the music business.  When he meets Reagan, at first they seem to clash with each other.  Reagan seems annoyed that her summer road trip with Dee is interrupted by the addition of this boy.  Of course, that's before they start to fall for each other.  Their relationship is full of adorable banter, and lots of fun.  There are some issues in their relationship, mainly stemming from her jealousy when he talks to other girls.

This book shows what can happen when someone is famous.  The tabloids are always displaying all kinds of articles about famous people.  Even famous people who don't do anything wrong end up in the tabloids, and Dee is a good example of this.  She isn't a star who is into drinking and drugs.  She is innocent, and the tabloids write lies about her being pregnant.  Also, they like to speculate about her break-up, and they really wanted to figure out who it is that she broke up with.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

The Summer I Wasn't Me Lexi has a secret.

She never meant for her mom to find out. And now she's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

Lexi knows she can fix everything. She can change. She can learn to like boys. New Horizons summer camp has promised to transform her life, and there's nothing she wants more than to start over.

But sometimes love has its own path...


My Review:

I read this book in two days, and these were days when I had school.  The second of these days was a Friday night, so I was able to stay up and finish it.  That was good, because I was hooked on this story at that point, and I couldn't put it down until I finished.  The topics in this were interesting, and the camp was fascinating, though it was also horrible what went on there.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

The whole premise of this book is very interesting because it is about a degayifying camp.  I'm guessing there are probably some camps like this in real life, and it's strange to think that some parents think that sending their kid to a camp will turn them straight.  In the book, it's also interesting that several of the counselors claim that they went to New Horizons and are now "cured."  This means they are basically all lying, and they know the camp isn't going to turn the campers straight.  The head of the camp, Mr. Martin, was awful.  He made each camper find a Father Wound, which was the thing that supposedly led to them turning gay.  Then they had to do a role play to help fix their Father Wound.  What he made Lexi do in her role play was horrible and wrong.  Also, Mr. Martin does something to one of the campers near the end that is so completely awful that I can't even imagine it really happening.

Lexi's mom suggests that she goes to this camp after she finds out that Lexi is a lesbian and is unable to accept it.  Lexi's dad had recently died, and Lexi doesn't want to hurt her mother, so she agrees to go.  When she gets there, she does want the degayifying to work at first.  As the book progresses, she changes her mind.  She realizes it isn't working, and is never going to, but she plans on lying to her mom and hiding that her sexuality never changed.  I really liked Lexi.  She was happy being who she was, but she didn't want to hurt her family.  She also disagreed with many of the things the camp did.  The story from the past about Zoe was sad.  It was clear that part of the reason she wanted to change originally was that she didn't want to be hurt by someone like Zoe again.

The friendships is this book were well written.  The campers were split into groups of four with two people of each gender.  Lexi was put in a group with Carolyn, Matthew, and Daniel.  Matthew is a great character.  He was only at the camp because his father made him go there, and he didn't want to change.  He had had a boyfriend for two years, and he was happy being who he was.  He knew that the camp was never going to turn him straight.  Daniel was someone who really wanted the camp to work.  He hated being who he was, and he wanted to become straight.  I liked him until near the end, when he did something that made me dislike him.  The last member of the group was Carolyn.  She was the girl that Lexi felt attracted to when she first saw her at camp.  She did want to change, and she said the reason was that she wanted to get married someday.  Later in the book, it is revealed that she is hiding another reason about why she is at the camp.  Lexi and Carolyn form a friendship that may or may not become something more later in the book.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

Friday, May 9, 2014

Review: Far From You by Tess Sharpe

Far From You Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.

The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.


My Review:

From the beginning, this book hooked me in and didn't let go.  The emotional aspects of this book were spot-on.  The mystery was unpredictable, with a killer that I wouldn't have originally suspected, and some complicated motives behind the murder.  I loved this book so much, and I highly recommend it.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Reading this book through Sophie's perspective was sometimes a painful experience because half of the book took place after she had been through Mina's death, and it was obvious how much it had hurt her, and how much she missed Mina.  The complexity of the relationship between Mina and Sophie is showcased throughout the book, both in their interactions before Mina's death, and in Sophie's thoughts after Mina's death.  Mina and Sophie were best friends, but they both also wanted to be more than that. Despite this, it wasn't that simple, because Mina was more reluctant to begin a romantic relationship than Sophie was.  Mina worried about the reactions of the people in their small town, and her own family's reactions as well.  It didn't help that her brother, Trev, liked Sophie, too.  After Mina's death, it is clear that Trev wants a relationship with Sophie, but she is still in love with Mina.  

Sophie's drug addiction aspect was dealt with in an interesting way in the book as well.  Sophie had become addicted to OxyContin, which was prescribed to her after she was in an accident at the age of fourteen, and was injured in her leg and back.  She had to take the pills so often to keep the pain away that she became addicted to them.  One of the most horrible things about her addiction is that it causes people to blame her for Mina's murder, because the killer had planted pills on her.  People think that they were there so that Sophie could pick up some drugs, but at that point, she had already become clean.  She had spent time with her aunt to kick her drug addiction, and she had not used once since then.  She told her parents that after the murder, but even they wouldn't believe her, so they her to rehab to stop a drug addiction that she no longer had.  It clearly hurt her to have her own family not even believe her about that.

The murder mystery is well-written and an important part of the story without detracting from the emotional character interactions and development.  The night Mina was killed, she told Sophie that she was meeting somebody for a news story.  When she got out of the car, the person waiting to meet her shot her.  Officials in the town aren't really actively looking for her murderer, since they all assume it was Sophie's drug dealer, and Sophie isn't naming any names.  Of course, it's not Sophie's drug dealer, since she doesn't even have a drug dealer.   The murderer and the motives are revealed by the end of the book, and they are complex, dealing with many hidden secrets that people have.  These would all be spoilers, though, so I can't really delve into them.

If you like YA contemporary and murder mysteries, read this book.

Katie