Wed, July 9, 2014

On the Fence by Kasie West Review

On the Fence book cover

On the Fence book cover

On the Fence
By Kasie West
Publication date: July 1, 2014
HarperTeen, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

— description

I’m a sucker for romance.


You probably know that if you’ve read, like, ANY post on this blog.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for romance, which is why I love Kasie West for her lovely YA stories.

For On the Fence specifically: Did I see a lot of the plot coming? Yeah. Did I care? Not too much.

I liked that Charlie is not traditionally girly and that that’s presented as totally okay. But when she does start to slowly embrace female friendships and girlish clothes…that’s okay too.

I liked her brothers. They certainly made some questionable decisions, but overall they were close-knit and loving, which I loved to see.

So. Plenty to like here, though it’s not my favorite from West so far (read my reviews of The Distance Between Us and Pivot Point). On the Fence is a book I just really enjoyed reading, and I hope you will, too!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, kasie west, romance

Tue, July 1, 2014

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern Review

Say What You Will book cover

Say What You Will book cover

Say What You Will
By Cammie McGovern
Publication date: June 3, 2014
HarperTeen, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

— description

For the most part, I liked Say What You Will. It was quite heartbreaking and insightful.

It’s about the friendship and love story between Amy, who has cerebral palsy, and Matthew, who has OCD.

In the sense that this is a story about two people who equally help and hurt each other…I could see the Eleanor & Park reference. Much of the book has that quirky vibe I tend to love. But my feelings are muddled because the latter half of the book took a dramatic, soap opera-y turn that threw me off bigtime. Things just spiraled a little TOO out of control and took me outside of the realm of believability.

That being said: I loved the insight Say What You Will gave me, as a reader, into Amy’s and Matthew’s medical conditions. I liked being inside their heads and seeing how their bodies’ betrayals have impacted their lives. Even more than that, I loved realizing that their ailments aren’t anywhere close to the most interesting things about them.

I’d be curious what people who have dealt with these issues think about the book — I don’t have a close connection to either OCD or cerebral palsy, so I’d be curious to read a review from someone who does!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: friendship, romance

Mon, May 26, 2014

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt Review

We Are the Goldens book cover

We Are the Goldens book cover

We Are the Goldens
By Dana Reinhardt
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Wendy Lamb Books, 208 pages
Source: Publisher

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

— description

We Are the Goldens is a short book — I read it in two quick sittings — but it’s also a powerful book.

Nell finds out her sister is in a relationship with one of their teachers. AHHH! Right? This big secret opens up a lot of really interesting dynamics in terms of their sibling relationship and whether she should keep her trust or tell her parents what’s going on.

The story is written as Nell addressing her sister, Layla, which made it feel really personal and intense. I thought the format was a brilliant choice.

I also enjoyed Nell — she struggled with her decisions, sure, but being in her mind showed what a really good sister and really good friend she is.

All in all, I was really impressed by Dana Reinhardt’s writing. The story really showed how doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Absolutely recommended.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dana reinhardt, family, friendship

Thu, May 22, 2014

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu Review

Life by Committee book cover

Life by Committee book cover

Life by Committee
By Corey Ann Haydu
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Katherine Tegen Books, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

— description

Was there cheating, aka the thing I hate to read about most? Yeah.

Will some of you have trouble stomaching the main character? Probably.

Did I have a major case of Old Lady Syndrome, both in terms of rooting for Tabitha to rise above the mean girls and in terms of going WHYYYY TABITHA WHYYYYY with every bad choice she made? Oh yeah.

Did Life by Committee work for me anyway? Totally!

The concept is beyond interesting, in a Post Secret-y way that made me feel simultaneously intrigued and woozy/uncomfortable. I found I could relate to Corey Ann Haydu’s characters, flaws and all. Tabitha, especially, is such a strong character as she learns so much throughout the course of the book. And the writing was lovely.

It definitely made me want to dig through my archives to check out Haydu’s previous work, OCD Love Story.

So, what do you guys think? Have you read this one yet? What about OCD Love Story?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: cheating, corey ann haydu, family, friendship

Wed, May 21, 2014

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes Review

The Art of Lainey book cover

The Art of Lainey book cover

The Art of Lainey
By Paula Stokes
Publication date: May 20, 2014
HarperTeen, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

— description

I weirdly NEVER get tired of people in books fake dating each other for revenge on other people. And then when, of course, they fall for each other in the process…I LOVE IT. Paula Stokes, you have my attention locked in with that alone.

Sure, I saw how it would all work out. But I enjoyed the journey thoroughly.

Lainey’s a tough cookie. She’s got a BFF I loved (and one I hated, but you know, can’t win ‘em all). She’s sporty — which I love in books and we don’t see often enough. And she has an extremely interesting, different love interest in Micah, which I so appreciated.

I think it would be hard to NOT enjoy The Art of Lainey.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Bonus factor! Blew my mind when I got to the acknowledgements and realized Paula Stokes = Fiona Paul. Whoa.

Posted by: Anna   •   In: friendship, paula stokes, romance, Uncategorized