Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Julie Berry's All The Truth That's in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

My Review:

If you cannot handle books that are dark, and quite gory at times, then this really is not the book for you.  But if you like dark books, then I highly recommend this one.  It was really a fascinating look into a cult and into living life after a cult, as well as the gray areas between someone being a criminal and a victim.

The Kevinian cult was something that was quite interesting.  It was very oppressive to women, who were all basically controlled by their husbands and fathers, as well as being controlled by what the Prophet wanted them to do.  Men could marry many wives, and families were often large with many kids.  When I read the parts about their religion, so many parts of it did not seem real at all, and I couldn't understand how these people could be brainwashed into believing these things.  They all really believed that God was a guy named Charlie who kept on being reincarnated.  Yet they didn't have an explanation for who created the world before Charlie was first born, since his first birth supposedly wasn't until the 1700s, according to what they believed.  I did not like the Prophet at all, and I also did not like Minnow's father.  Minnow's own father cut off her hands because the Prophet told him to.  And I'm kind of curious about what was going on in the mind of the Prophet.  I think he was a vile person, but I wonder if he knew he was a liar, or if he had truly deluded himself into believing his own lies.

Minnow is a character with a morally gray background.  She is in a juvenile detention center for attacking a boy.  She did this right after she left the cult, and she was not at all in a good mental state.  It is really interesting to wrestle with the idea of how much she deserved punishment for what she did.  Attacking someone is not a good thing to do, and I am not at all condoning that, but Minnow had been in a cult since she was five years old.  She was not ready for life in the real world, and she was a victim of so much awfulness.

One character that I loved so much was Minnow's cellmate at juvie, Angel.  I would never have expected that I could love a character who was a murderer, but I loved her so much.  Also, while this creates another moral argument about whether there is such a thing as justifiable murder, the person that Angel murdered was someone who had abused and victimized her for years.  Angel was exactly the friend that Minnow needed and I loved watching this friendship develop.  Also, Angel does an incredibly sweet thing for Minnow, and says something very sweet too, and just, this friendship gives me so many feels.  Also, so much of these feels also come from how heartbreaking Angel's sentence is.  I will just say that it is so long, and it is messed up that a girl basically loses so many years from her life to prison after being abused and a victim.  Angel points out the injustice in this, and she is so right about it.  I think Angel deserves so much more for her life, and she really is a good person, despite whatever she's done in the past.

If you like YA dark contemporary, read this book.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

This is a feature on The Broke and the Bookish, and this topic is books with diverse characters.  I really like this topic since I personally try to read books with more diversity.  I'll try to include several that have intersectional diversity.

1. What We Left Behind by Robin Talley - This was the first book that I thought of for this list, since there is a lot of diversity in it.  Basically the entire cast of main characters is somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum, and not only that, but there are also secondary characters of diverse races (one is African American and one is Korean).  Within the LGBTQIA spectrum, this book explores some of the areas under that that are often underrepresented.  For example, one of the narrators is genderqueer, and this is the first book that I have ever read with a genderqueer character.  There are also several trans characters.  I have a lot of thoughts on this book, and it isn't out until October, which is when my review goes up, so read my review when that goes up to get more of my thoughts.

2.  More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera - This book has so much diversity, with its gay main character who is Latino and of the lower socioeconomic bracket.  I haven't read very many books with people from a lower SES, but the ones that I have read have been good, including this one.  Aaron lives in a small apartment with his mom and brother in the Bronx, in a rougher neighborhood that is riddled with street fights and violence.  The book doesn't gloss over how difficult it is to be gay in this neighborhood, and how Aaron has to deal with these challenges.

3.  Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler - One of the two narrators of this book is Korean American, and, as she discovers a bit later in the story, lesbian.  Her name is Van and she is an actress in Hollywood.  This book really shows how it is already difficult for her to get roles as a Korean American, and she worries that it will be even more difficult if she comes out as a lesbian.  There are a lot of things in Hollywood that are working against her.  Also, the girl that she likes, Bri, is bisexual, and she shows the difficulties of bi-erasure through one of her past experiences that she tells Van about.

4.  Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz - The narrator of this book is bisexual, black, and has an eating disorder.  This book deals heavily with issues of biphobia and bierasure through Etta's narration.  Etta used to be friends with a group of lesbians at her school, but she is basically kicked out of their group after she has a relationship with a boy.  It shows how people who are bi can have trouble feeling accepted by both the straight community and the LGBTQIA community. 

5.  Far From You by Tess Sharpe - This book has a narrator who is both bisexual and disabled.  She was injured in an accident freshmen year, and she still has difficulties walking because of it, and her back often hurts her.  Sophie's perspective also shows a good example of being bisexual.  One of the characters thinks that she is lesbian because they know that she liked a girl, but she explains that she is actually bisexual instead.

6.  Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - This book has a very unique story since it is about two girls falling in love during integration, and one is black and one is white.  Obviously, these two have enough difficulties stacked against them as a couple just based on their races alone, and then add in the fact that they are two girls, and clearly, you know as a reader that it won't be easy for them.  This book shows the difficulties of integration, and how awful people were treated during it.

7.  My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter - While the narrator of this book is straight and white, there are diverse secondary characters, and there are LGBTQIA themes central to the story.  The main character, Colette, starts the book as someone who has been shaped by the beliefs of her family and her mom, who is very homophobic.  When she finds out that her former best friend is a lesbian, she has to deal with this, and come to terms with the fact that it really might not be wrong.  And her former best friend has two brothers who are adopted from Haiti, so there is racial diversity as well.

8.  One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva - The narrator of this book is gay and Armenian.  I have never read a book with an Armenian main character, and it was really interesting to read about his family, and especially to read the opening scene with his family in a restaurant.  This book is a light and fun LGBTQIA romance as well as opening my eyes to another culture.

9.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - This book is a very light and sweet LGBTQIA romance.  There are also racially diverse characters in it.  Simon has a friend named Abby who is black, and there are also some other black secondary characters in this book.

10.  The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi - This book has a main cast that is almost all comprised of LGBTQIA characters, since it takes place at a conversion camp.  This conversion camp was absolutely awful to read about, and they did horrible things to the people there.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

My Review:

This is a book that has immediately become one of my all-time favorites, since it was just so amazing and absolute perfection.  I fell in love with these characters and with the story, and I am so glad I own the hardcover so that I can revisit this book sometimes, since I know that I will want to.  This book had a beautiful romance ship, friendships, and familial relationships, and all of these received pagetime and were explored with the correct amount of complexity needed.

I ship Emmy and Oliver as a couple and also as friends, so much.  First of all, the fact that he liked her when they were little kids is basically one of the most adorable things ever.  But also, I love the teenager Oliver as well.  Sure, he's been through a lot with being kidnapped by his father and now ending up back home, but he doesn't let things get him down too much, and he has a lot of fun with Emmy, even if he doesn't really remember her as a kid that much.  There was certainly no instalove in this relationship, and it wasn't necessarily one that was easy, but it was one that was natural and worked well.  Also, the first kiss scene was adorable, so I loved it so much.  One of the best things about their relationship was how they truly supported each other, and were there for each other.  

I also loved the other friendships that Emmy has in this book, aside from the one with Oliver.  At the beginning of this book, we find out about her two best friends, Caro and Drew.  They were also friends with Oliver when they were kids.  I loved the friendships between Emmy and both of these characters, and I loved how they each had their own part in the story, and a small character arc there as well.  Something that I liked about these friendships were that things weren't always perfect and without problems, but they were strong enough to withstand challenges.  They each have their own storylines.  Caro is the youngest of six children, and her parents don't really care much about what she does.  Also, she has to live in a room with her messy older sister Heather, and she can't wait to move out of living with her.  Drew is gay, and his family is theoretically okay with this, but not so much in practice.  They are afraid to even let other people in their extended family know that they have a gay son.  

This book also has a large focus on family in it as well.  After Oliver was kidnapped by his dad, Emmy's parents became super overprotective of her, causing her to hide parts of her life from him instead of telling them.  For example, she know that they would never agree to her surfing so she just doesn't tell them about it.  Emmy tends to get annoyed with them often, but deep down, she really doe love them, and they love her too, which is why they are so protective.  Oliver's family is also important in the story.  He spent ten years with his dad, and most of the time, until near the end, he didn't know that his dad was the bad guy since his dad had painted himself in a good light, and Oliver's mom in a bad light.  Oliver struggles to navigate a relationship with his mom, as he doesn't really know how to talk to her anymore.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

My Review:

This book has a unique story that leads to a very unique romance.  This was a great LGBTQIA book, and I really loved it, and found the story and the characters to all be very engaging. 

The romance in this book is one that I ship so much because the two characters are absolutely adorable together.  This romance is between Alix and Liana, who meet after Swanee dies and find out they were both dating Swanee.  So at first, they don't like each other too much, but it wasn't their faults that Swanee was cheating, and they that they are really mad at her and not at each other.  And Liana is so sweet to Alix at just the right moments, and it was all so cute how it played out.  I rooted for them to be together so much, and I hoped that Liana wouldn't be mad when she would someday probably find out the secret that Alix was keeping from her. 

I really loved the fact that Alix had a baby brother, and how she navigated that.  She was not very good with him at first, and it was cute seeing her trying to figure out how to take care of him, since she thought that he hated her because of an incident involving him choking.  Also, I loved how good Liana was with him, and how that helped her and Alix come together.

I was not a fan of Swanee because of all the lies that she told.  At the beginning of this book, she died, so we didn't get to read much that actually had her in it, but it was clear that she had built an entire life of lies from what Liana and Alix learned.  I didn't like how she hurt both of them since I really liked both of those characters.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

My Review:

This book was an interesting one with a fabulous hate to love romance.  It explored some issues in it as well, mainly illegal immigration.  

Carly Vega certainly does not have an easy life in this book, and I really cannot imagine having that life.  Her parents were deported 3 years before, and she works a late night shift at a convenience store to make money to help pay to smuggle them back in.  She lives with her older brother, who is working a lot as well to make money for smuggling them.  Carly wants to get an education so that she can make more of her life, but her parents and her brother, Julio, think that working is the most important thing.  It's a bit of a conflict of interest, since she has to keep working to please them, but she also has to get all her homework done in hopes of being able to get a scholarship to afford going to college.  

Arden Moss is the son of the sheriff, and he likes to prank people.  He needs a new "partner in crime," and he has his sights set on Carly.  Unfortunately for Arden, thanks to an incident at the convenience store, she wants nothing to do with him.  At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about Arden, because he did something near the beginning of the book that I did not like or approve of, but he really grew on me by the end, and I thought he was so sweet. 

As you can probably guess, the ship in this book is Carly and Arden, and I am totally on board this ship.  Hate to love is a romance trope that I love, since it typically causes the romance to develop slowly, as the characters really develop their feelings for each other.  I loved how much Arden cared for Carly, and how he did nice things for her because he wanted to, such as getting her a new job that had better pay.  I mean, he did have slightly ulterior motives of wanting her to go on adventures with him, but he also was just being a nice guy.  And he does something near the end that really risks himself for her, and I have so much love for him, and for his relationship with Carly.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

My Review:

This book was such a fun and cute and quick read.  It also has diversity, since the narrator is a lesbian with a Persian background, and there are also some diverse secondary characters, in both race and sexuality. 

There is a romance in this book between Leila and another girl, and it was adorable.  I won't say who it is because it isn't obvious right away.  This girl had had a crush on Leila when she was young, and how Leila found out, and the journey to them actually being together was so cute.  I rooted for them so much, and I loved reading about their moments together.  Also, there was a slow build to it when Leila had interactions with this girl when readers didn't yet know if this girl even liked girls or not.  Anyway, I shipped this so much.

I liked reading about Leila's background with her family.  Since they came from a country where being gay is illegal, this played into her fear of telling them that she was a lesbian.  I liked her parents, and how they did try their best to accept her as she was, even if it was a bit difficult for them to understand sometimes.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

My Review:

This was an interesting read that opened my eyes to another culture (the culture of Iran).  It was interesting to see how different many things were there.  In Iran, someone can get arrested for being gay, or for showing their elbows.  In that country, homosexuality is a crime that is punishable by death, which really seems like an absurd punishment that does not fit the crime.

This story starts with the relationship between Sahar and Nasrin.  Sahar has always dreamed of marrying Nasrin, and the relationship between them is mutual, but also highly forbidden.  Sahar is devastated when she finds out that Nasrin's parents have arranged for Nasrin to be married.  While I was originally rooting for them as a couple, I also knew that the situation was dangerous for them, and I ended up thinking that Nasrin was pretty selfish.  She basically strung Sahar along for the ride, expecting her to still be with her when she had a husband.  Sahar cared about Nasrin, but what she needed was a real commitment from her. 

Something that I found interesting about the laws in Iran is that while homosexuality is illegal, being transgender is not, and the government even pays for the surgeries for people who are transgender.  Sahar wrestles with the idea of whether or not being with Nasrin is worth becoming a person that she is not (a man).  It is a really interesting struggle to read about, and you can see how she was torn, though at the same time, I thought Nasrin wasn't really worth all of that.  I'm not going to say whether or not she goes through with changing her gender.

If you like YA books about another culture, read this book.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

My Review:

Speechless is a great book that looks at important issues like bullying and hate crime through the lens of a narrator who isn't the most likable and first, and who is real and flawed.  This book is really a journey for this narrator, and it is a great journey to read and experience.

Chelsea Knot starts off the book as a rather unlikable character, due to her inability to keep secrets.  When she catches two boys together at a party, she wants to tell her best friend, and she tells her in front of most of the people at the party.  What Chelsea does not know at the time is how her inability to keep secrets will end up putting a boy in the hospital, thanks to a couple of homophobic jerks hearing what she told the people at the party.  My favorite part of this book was getting to watch Chelsea learn from her mistakes and grow as a person.  She becomes a social outcast after she turns in the jerks to the people, and her old friends don't like her anymore because those boys were in their friend group too.  Because of this, she has to find new friends.  I loved seeing how she really felt bad about telling the secret, and that she knew it was wrong now.

Because of Chelsea being kicked out of her old friend group, she has to find some new friends, and she does find some great ones.  First, there is Sam, a boy who she sits next to in art class.  Sam is the best friend of Noah, the boy who is in the hospital.  You might think that Sam would dislike Chelsea because she told the secret that landed his friend in the hospital, but Sam is really a good guy, so he doesn't do that.  He instead ends up bonding with her through their art project.  He is so sweet and good to Chelsea, and I love him so much for that.  Chelsea also becomes friends with a girl named Asha that she meets at detention.  Asha is a freshman, and she is really nice and bubbly, and she is a great friend to Chelsea.  Unlike Chelsea's former friends, she isn't someone who is shallow and cares about popularity, so I liked her much better.  This friendship was great, and I liked how Chelsea slowly realized how great of a friend Asha was.  Another interesting character in the book is Andy, Noah's boyfriend.  His feelings are complicated towards Chelsea, because he knows that Noah wouldn't have been beaten up if she hadn't told, yet he also knows that she had no idea that that would happen.  The development of the tentative possible friendship between Andy and Chelsea is interesting to read.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

My Review:

Something that both of Katie Cotugno's books have in common is that she isn't afraid to give her characters real flaws, and have them be not necessarily "likeable" characters.  I think it makes the characters seem much more like real people, since they make mistakes, and I still end up usually liking these characters.

As a reader, it is easy to see how Molly is torn between Gabe and Patrick, since I wasn't really one hundred percent sure who I preferred either, though I did have at least a slight preference.  There were different things that made me like Gabe versus Patrick.  I personally thought that I read more chemistry between Gabe and Molly, while Patrick and Molly had more of a cute shared history that I didn't want them to completely leave behind.  Of course, the way Molly was torn between the two brothers was something that was going to hurt both her and the brothers' relationships with each other.  

Julia was the sister of the two brothers, and she had at one point been Molly's best friend.  She was completely awful to Molly, and she shouldn't have really been that involved in something that was between Molly and her brothers.  Even when Molly was dating one of the brothers and came over to the house invited by him, Julia tried to get her to leave and thought that she shouldn't be there.  Julia was a bully to Molly, and while cheating isn't good, she didn't deserve that.

Something that I liked in this book was the development of the friendships.  One of these friendships is with Molly's former best friend Imogen.  Imogen is still hurt because Molly left without telling her where she was going or telling her anything.  It was clearly hard at first for Imogen to be friends with Molly again, but she really does make an effort which I appreciated.  Imogen has a new best friend, Tess, who Molly befriends in this book as well.  It's slightly awkward with Molly and Tess since Tess is Patrick's new girlfriend.  Tess was really sweet, though, and I really liked her.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July Releases I'm Most Excited For

July 7th:
Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally - I've loved every Miranda Kenneally book so far, so I'm excited for this.  Also, it's cool that the main character is Sam from Catching Jordan's younger sister.
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes  - This one sounds like such a fun and quick read and I'm looking forward to it.

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)The Fixer

July 21st:
Damage Done by Amanda Panitch - This sounds like a really dark and interesting read.  I can't wait to read it.

Damage Done


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

The Night We Said Yes A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

My Review:

This book was one that I read through one day, and now I am writing this review on the same day that I read this book during.  I feel like it's fitting that this was a one day read for me, considering that this book takes place during two different one night long periods - one in the past, and one in the present.  I loved this book, and it was the perfect book to read in the summer, since it had a very summery feel to it.  It was a cute and fluffy book, with great characters.

I loved the relationship between Ella and Matt, even though they did have their challenges.  Matt made mistakes, the main one being that he disappeared with his family and didn't contact Ella at all.  Despite this, I thought he was a genuinely sweet and nice guy, which I loved.  They had immediate chemistry during the story of the first night that they met, and I was just waiting for something to happen between them.  When he came back in the present timeline, Ella had trust issues to work through with him after what he had put her through, but she clearly still liked him, and the chemistry between the two of them was still there and was still absolutely adorable.  I ship the two of them together so much.

There was another romance on the side that also got some focus in this book, since it was between two of Ella's friends, Meg and Jake.  I had more trouble getting behind this romance and supporting it for a while, since it seemed so unhealthy, and it seemed to be hurting Meg too much.  The two of them were constantly going back and forth between on again and off again, and they also had these passionate fights.  The thing was, though, Jake always came back to Meg after he had short relationships with other girls, because he really cared about her, and she took him back every time, even when he really didn't deserve it, because she loved him.  So, by the end, I was able to better understand these two, even if at the beginning, I thought I would never support their relationship.

Another great thing about this book was the focus on friendship.  Meg is Ella's best friend, and I liked seeing how much they were supportive of each other and understood each other.  They were both protective of the other when it came to boys, and didn't want to see each other get hurt.  Meg understood when one of the things from the night of saying yes would make Ella uncomfortable, and she remedied it, and Ella knew what things she shouldn't mention, usually in regards to the relationship between Meg and Jake when they were off again.  There is a scene in the present timeline near the end that I thought was very important and kind of cathartic for the two of them, but I won't say any more about it since I don't want to spoil it.

If you like YA fluffy and cute contemporary, read this book.