Thu, May 3, 2012

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker Review

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker book cover

Unbreak My Heart
By Melissa Walker
Publication date: May 22, 2012
Bloomsbury USA, 240 pages
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

— Goodreads.com description

There’s something you should know about me as a reader: I cannot tolerate stories about cheating.

It’s really important for me to have respect for a main character. Some authors purposely make their characters unlikable…and I just can’t do it. I need to relate to them, to cheer for them. So when a main character is a cheater? No. No way. Just something I personally have a hard time looking past.

And in Melissa Walker’s Unbreak My Heart, it’s pretty clear from the get-go that some type of cheating happened, but we don’t know what exactly went down. I mean, the book description says it: Clem fell for her best friend’s boyfriend.

So you’d think I’d hate it, right?

NO! I LOVED THIS BOOK.

What?! I know, right?

I think, for me, part of what I hate about books that tackle cheating is when they let me get invested in a relationship, then – wham! blam! – cheatfest. I HATE that. I feel emotionally manipulated.

I also feel this way when a book ends up secretly being about death. JOHN GREEN, I AM LOOKING AT YOU. I won’t name that book. But in his book The Fault in His Stars? Totally knew that was about death from the get-go, and I loved it.

Same rules apply here, apparently.

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker is not really about the cheating – none of it happens in the present tense. Instead, it’s about Clementine’s struggle to forgive herself and move on and about how her family relates to her during her resulting depression. And I felt myself rooting for her because of this. I also loved how Walker tackled the double-standard in cheating. Why is Clem the outcast one while the boy is immediately taken back and forgiven? Lame.

And, oh, sure, the love story bit and the fact that they were out yachting around America in the summertime helped. I love summer books! I love kissing books! I DOUBLE LOVE kissing in the summer books.

Anyway, cheers to Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker for getting me to step outside my comfort zone and, for once in my life, cheer on the cheater. It helped me grow as a reader, and that’s what good reads are all about.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: cheating, melissa walker, romance
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Fri, February 24, 2012

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith Review

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith book cover

Kiss Crush Collide
By Christina Meredith

Publish date: Dec. 27, 2011
Greenwillow Books, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

Kiss

What Leah did—only she really shouldn’t have—one hot night at a country club party.

Crush

What Leah has—only she really shouldn’t have—on the guy with the green eyes, the guy who is not her perfect boyfriend, the guy who does not fit in her picture-perfect life, the guy her sisters will only mock and her mother will never approve of. Not in a million years.

Collide

What happens when everything you always thought you wanted—having cool friends, being class valedictorian and homecoming queen—runs smack into everything it turns out you really do want.

Kiss. Crush. Collide.

— Amazon.com description

I usually really hate books that involve cheating or thoughts of cheating. And Leah has a boyfriend when starts to show interest in this “bad boy” from across town.

But the thing is that he doesn’t seem like that much of a bad boy, and her boyfriend is a total bore, soooo…who am I right now…but that was sort of enough for me to throw my morals out the window and root for the Cheaty McCheatersons.

WHAT?! I know, right?

Still, I never fully connected to any of the characters, so this book just didn’t work for me overall. I see why people might compare it to Simone Elkeles books, given the subject matter and the racy cover, but it just doesn’t stand up to her level. Still, I think it did make for an easy, summery read.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: cheating, christina meredith, romance
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Thu, February 2, 2012

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay Review

Love and Leftovers Sarah Tregay book cover

Love & Leftovers
By Sarah Tregay

Dec. 27, 2011
Katherine Tegen Books, 448 pages
Source: Publisher

My wish is to fall cranium over Converse in dizzy daydream-worthy love.

If only it were that easy.

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer—from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She’s left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “summer vacation” has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

— Amazon.com description

Last year, I saw the light when it came to verse novels. Lisa Schroeder’s The Day Before won me over, through and through.

Tregay’s writing — beautiful, easy-to-consume verse — confirmed that. I sped through this book, loving everything from the formatting to the flow of this story told in poems.

Unfortunately, it was the story that made things a little rough for me. A slight spoiler here, thought it’s implied in the book description: There’s a bunch of lying and cheating. This is a hard subject matter for me to read about, just because it makes me SO ANGRY. So, for me, that was hard to get past. Those who don’t get that riled up will definitely react differently because I do think it was handled pretty well, and the romance was still quite sweet, despite all that nasty stuff.

Either way you look at it, this is just further confirmation for me that I should give verse novels a go, and I would definitely check out more books from Sarah Tregay in the future. Does anyone have any non-Ellen Hopkins* recommendations?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

* Not that I have anything against Ellen’s or her books! They’re just a little too issue-oriented for me.

Posted by: Anna   •   In: cheating, family, romance, sarah tregay, verse
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Mon, May 9, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler Review


Playing Hurt

By Holly Schindler
March 8, 2011
Flux, 312 pages

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

— Amazon.com

Chelsea heads off to a summer away with her family, which separates her from her friends during the best months of the year. That sucks, right? But there is a hot older boy there who wants to spend the entire vacation with her, doing fun things like exploring waterfalls and going boating. Not so sucky anymore!

This setup is every teenager’s fantasy come true. And ooh-la-la is this book steamy.

I really love that the characters in this book are a little older as far as young adult novels go. And as much as I love the, um, steam…it was a little more adult in a graphic sense than most young adult books. Just warning, not complaining!

I had to put my grown-up cap on in a few places to look at things objectively. SPOILER ALERT: There is some cheating involved. And I don’t do well with books about cheating. I get very, very angry. But, you have to remember that the main character is a young, confused girl. And all young, confused girls are bound to make mistakes. Been there, done that. And — sorry to any of my ex-boyfriends reading this, but, dude, get a life and stop reading this — I certainly know how it feels to be in a teenage relationship that lasts WAY past its due date just ’cause it’s easier to stay together.

In all, this is definitely a book worth checking out for a beachy kind of read.

Many thanks to Holly Schindler for providing a copy of this book for the blog tour and to Tara for organizing.

Anna Reads young adult book blog
Posted by: Anna   •   In: cheating, holly schindler, romance, summer
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