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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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, March 31, 2014

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It book cover

Don't Even Think About It book cover

Don’t Even Think About It
By Sarah Mlynowski
Publication date: March 11, 2014
Delacorte Press, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have).

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.
So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

— Goodreads.com description

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski was super enjoyable: fun, quick and lighthearted but surprisingly thought-provoking.

I can’t think of any other book told in first-person plural, and I loved how different it made the storytelling. The book follows a group of teenagers with ESP, and because they know ALL of each others’ thoughts, they tell the story together. How smart! I usually hate multiple points of view, but this twist was so clever I couldn’t help but like it.

Fair warning: This one definitely skews a little young/predictable (perfect for middle schoolers reading up or early high school, for sure). But Sarah Mlynowski is sooooo funny that it still worked for grownup me. For something quick and easy but still unique, check this one out — especially if you fit into the REALLY A TEEN age group.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: friendship, paranormal, sarah mlynowski
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Tue, February 25, 2014

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg Review

Better Off Friends book cover

Better Off Friends book cover

Better Off Friends
By Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication date: Feb. 25, 2014
Point, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

— Goodreads.com description

Okay, Levi and Macallan are pretty adorable.

They’re best friends — the type that speaks in their own language and pretty much annoys the crap out of every else around them. But, because they are a guy and a girl, everyone wants to know: When are you two gonna get together?

And it’s cute watching these two grow up from junior high and into high school, to see their friendship evolve and their feelings for one another grow. You can’t help but root for these two kids to just make out already!

It’s short and sweet and the writing reflects that. I found myself wishing for some more depth in Levi’s point-of-view sections and a little more complexity and more of an emotional twinge in the writing…but that being said, I really wanted to pick up the book again whenever I put it down. So it pulled me in regardless.

I’d recommend this one for the younger YA crowd and anyone looking for a simple, sweet story.

Bonus factor: WISCONSIN. Loved the bubbler, fish fry, Culver’s and fried cheese curd references, as a Born in Wisconsin Girl myself! Mmmm cheese curds…

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: elizabeth eulberg, friendship
26

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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