Wed, April 16, 2014

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True book cover

What I Thought Was True book cover

What I Thought Was True
By Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Dial Books for Young Readers, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

— Goodreads.com description

Looooooved it. In fact: I liked it better than My Life Next Door and I think you will, too.

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s newest book has a million good things going for it: summer, romance, a kick-butt old lady and a Portuguese grandpa, complex family issues, misunderstandings, lies, friendship, class problems, a genuinely GOOD guy, a sweet little brother, humor…I could go on.

The story was equal parts light & summery and serious & layered. I loved the complexity and depth to the relationships depicted, from romance to family to friendship. They were all so incredibly engaging and well-depicted.

The setting too — wow. I could practically smell the salt in the air as I read.

Definitely a great book to kick off your summer reading. I see this one making its way to a lot of people’s favorites lists in the coming year (including mine)!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, huntley fitzpatrick, romance, summer
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Wed, April 9, 2014

This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

This Side of Salvation book cover

This Side of Salvation book cover

This Side of Salvation
By Jeri Smith-Ready
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Simon Pulse, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…

— Goodreads.com description

Hmm, This Side of Salvation wasn’t my personal cup of tea, but the plot and storyline sucked me in just enough that I couldn’t help but keep reading.

The story is a strong departure from other books I’ve read from Jeri Smith-Ready. It’s very philosophical and digs deep into religion and spirituality. That isn’t my thing, but as an outsider I could really appreciate that she tried something different and — at least from my uneducated perspective — seemed to have put a lot of time, effort and research into it.

I did love the cult angle. I NEEDED to keep reading to find out what the heck actually happened to David’s wacko parents.

If you are more into deeper books, philosophy and religious theory, this one will be for you. If, like me, you aren’t super into it, I’m not sure the fascinating cult bits were enough to make up the difference.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, jeri smith-ready, religion
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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, January 16, 2014

Scorched by Mari Mancusi Review

Scorched book cover

Scorched book cover

Scorched
By Mari Mancusi
Publication date: Sept. 3, 2013
Sourcebooks Fire, 352 pages
Source: Library

Trinity
Don’t leave me here… It starts with a whisper. At first Trinity thinks she’s going crazy. It wouldn’t be a big surprise—her grandpa firmly believes there’s a genuine dragon egg in their dusty little West Texas town. But this voice is real, and it’s begging for her protection. Even if no one else can hear it…

Connor
He’s come from a future scorched by dragonfire. His mission: Find the girl. Destroy the egg. Save the world.

Caleb
He’s everything his twin brother Connor hates: cocky, undisciplined, and obsessed with saving dragons.

Trinity has no idea which brother to believe. All she has to go by is the voice in her head—a dragon that won’t be tamed.

— Goodreads.com description

Look, I know it’s not “cool.” And the cover of this book might have totally embarrassed me in public. But I love dragon books, darnit!

And as far as dragon books go, this one’s on FIRE!

(See what I did there?)

Let’s see…time travel. Cute twins. Mind-reading. A lovable grandfather. Never knowing who you can trust as a reader — OMG what is not to love?

I’d heard a lot of positive reviews of this one, and I’m so glad I gave it a try. Have any of you read this one? Yes? No? Thoughts? Favorite dragon book?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Team Connor, right? Totally.

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dragons, family, mari mancusi, romance, time travel
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