Mon, April 7, 2014

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

The Last Forever book cover

The Last Forever book cover

The Last Forever
By Deb Caletti
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Simon Pulse, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Endings and beginnings sit so close to each other that it’s sometimes impossible to tell which is which.

Nothing lasts forever, and no one gets that more than Tessa. After her mother died, it’s all she can do to keep her friends, her boyfriend, her happiness from slipping away. And then there’s her dad. He’s stuck in his own daze, and it’s so hard to feel like a family when their house no longer seems like a home.

Her father’s solution? An impromptu road trip that lands them in a small coastal town at Tessa’s grandmother’s. Despite all the warmth and beauty there, Tessa can’t help but feel even more lost.

Enter Henry Lark. He understands the relationships that matter. And more importantly, he understands her. A secret stands between them, but Tessa’s willing to do anything to bring them together—because Henry may just be her one chance at forever.

— Goodreads.com description

One of my biggest delights as a reader is when a book genuinely shocks me. And oh boy, did that happen with The Last Forever.

It was one of those instances where something about a book just isn’t feeling right and something is niggling around in the back of your head when — aha! — it all adds up and you are equal parts mad at yourself for not thinking of it earlier and so very pleased that the author was able to pull one over on you.

Ahh, good times.

Okay, so clearly I enjoyed that feeling. But I can’t say I loved what it was about. *Tries to be vague*

Pros: I loved how Deb Caletti starts each chapter with a factoid about a plant. I was thoroughly impressed with how well she was able to tie this in with the story.

Cons: I also had some issues with the latter half of the book, when certain problems were resolved quickly and others were resolved totally unrealistically…but for that “WHOA” moment alone, I have to say I enjoyed this one.

Has anyone else read it? Without spoiling — did you have a similar experience or am I the only slow one out there?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, deb caletti, family, friendship
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Mon, February 17, 2014

Me Since You by Laura Wiess Review

Me Since You book cover

Me Since You book cover

Me Since You
By Laura Wiess
Publication date: Feb. 18, 2014
MTV Books, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

— Goodreads.com description

WARNING: Do not read this book if you want something light and fluffy.

Me Since You is a lot of things, but it’s not that.

What it is: A really sincere book about grief, guilt and depression.

The book description indicates something awful is going to happen in this story — there’s no disguising that. I was just surprised by the author’s pacing and decisions on this (not in a bad way), so I am going to keep this review vague to not mess with your reading experience.

What you do need to know: Based on early reviews I read, I excepted to sob my eyes out. I did not — perhaps because the book felt less surprisingly, shockingly upsetting and more dully, realistically painful. So I didn’t have the intense emotional connection other people did, but I still really appreciated how this book made me think.

I think Rowan’s story is a powerful, important one that will stick with me for a while. If you think you’re in the mood to handle it, I highly recommend it.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, family, friendship, laura wiess, romance
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Thu, February 13, 2014

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor Review

Maybe One Day book cover

Maybe One Day book cover

Maybe One Day
By Melissa Kantor
Publication date: Feb. 18, 2014
HarperTeen, 400 pages
Source: Publisher

Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend’s life-threatening illness.

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn’t sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia’s crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

— Goodreads.com description

If you read Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor and don’t want to immediately go hug your best friend, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Watching Zoe and Olivia deal with Olivia’s cancer – ughhhhhhhhh I can’t remember the last book that made me cry so consistently from start to finish.

Like, I had an ACTUAL PUDDLE OF TEARS on my Kindle. I was worried it was going to short out or something.

Beyond the sobfest, there was a lot for me to like in the story: That it didn’t shy away from technical medical explanations, the girls’ hilarious banter and how – if you know what it’s like to go through this – how honest and real a betrayal it was of being with someone in their final hours.

But, there were a few things I didn’t love: Secondary characters who weren’t as fleshed out as I’d like, a so-so romance and a few offhand remarks from the main characters that bordered on offensive but mostly just served to take me out of the story.

A mixed bag, but truly, if you need a good cry, hit this one up. Just have the Kleenex close by!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, friendship
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Wed, January 15, 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott Review

Heartbeat book cover

Heartbeat book cover

Heartbeat
By Elizabeth Scott
Publication date: Jan. 28, 2014
Harlequin Teen, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

Life. Death. And…Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

— Goodreads.com description

Oooh, Elizabeth Scott, you’re getting so dark and twisty lately and I have to say I love it.

Don’t let the short page count fool you: Heartbeat really jammed a lot of feeling into a few pages.

This book is one big ethical dilemma: Emma’s mom is brain-dead. And pregnant. Without discussing it first, her stepdad decides to keep her on life support. Emma thinks that was the wrong choice.

The beautiful thing about this book is that you might have your own personal feelings about the matter, but you can totally “get” why each character feels the way they do.

It’s a tough read, for sure, but it’s balanced out by a sweet romance. Emma and Caleb both need to heal, and they can help each other do that. There’s some friendship issues, too, but three cheers for Olivia for being a book bestie who doesn’t suck.

I’m a longtime escott fan (as I think of her in my head), but I have to say she’s really kicked it up a notch with Miracle and now Heartbeat. What’s next? Whatever it is, it’s on autoread.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, elizabeth scott, family, friendship, romance
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Thu, October 31, 2013

How to Love by Katie Cotguno Review

How to Love book cover

How to Love book cover

How to Love
By Katie Cotguno
Publication date: Oct. 1, 2013
Balzer + Bray, 389 pages
Source: Publisher

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

— Goodreads.com description

How to Love is definitely a book that grew on me.

I started out this book with a major case of Old Lady Syndrome. I wanted to swoop in and help Reena and Sawyer sort out their oh-so-messy lives. But there was no one to swoop and a little mess turned into a big mess and then an even bigger mess and…you see why it was maybe a little frustrating at first. They kept making poor decision after poor decision.

But the flashbacks between “before” and “after” were so fluidly and compellingly written that a little frustration didn’t eclipse that fact that this is a freaking juicy, drama-filled, awesome story.

And, by the end, I actually felt like there was a lot I could learn from Reena and Sawyer, especially in terms of forgiveness. I see what you did there, Katie Cotugno, and I love it!

How to Love pulled me in so deep I had a hard time putting it down for work and ended up reading it in 24 hours. Definitely check this one out — even if you’re not into books about teen pregnancy. It’s about so much more than that. Trust me!

Oh, and bonus factor: Shelby. If you’re into books with best friends who are amazing, beautiful support systems instead of backstabbing biotchs, you’d going to love her so. I know I did!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, family, katie cotguno, pregnancy, romance
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