contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Title: Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Length: 464 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever in this new novel from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.

Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?

Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

Review:
I read this as a break between all the heavy fantasy and science fiction books I was reading (basically after Days of Blood and Starlight and before Winter). It was perfect to mellow out with before reading Winter. I finished it in a day because I just couldn’t put it down.

I really, really loved Emily. Seriously, you guys have no idea how much I love her. She’s just like me if I’m being honest. Super shy and kind of awkward. Unable to easily make friends. Paralyzed but doing things outside of her comfort zone. Where was this book when I was teenager to help me discover myself? I’m a little biased I realized. Emily did get on my nerves sometimes like her indecisiveness and another bit that I won’t spoil because it’s a big part of the book.

But still, even at 22, I find the message this book sends great and helpful. I found myself thinking if Emily can go outside her comfort zone so can I.
Sloane reminds me of a friend I had in middle school and most of high school and it made me really reflect on that friendship as well. I love when books and characters make me think and challenge my views and this book definitely did that. I found myself hating Sloane in some parts and loving her in others.

The friend group Emily falls in with is pretty great as well. I love how the relationships feel like the happen organically. They aren’t forced and I can see most of them occurring in real life. It was very fulfilling to read.

This is the best contemporary novel I’ve read in a while and it’s definitely making me rethink my choice to not read Second Chance Summer.

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chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book vs Movie: Austenland

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Ask and ye shall receive zainabshykh. Here is the (spoiler free) comparison of Austenland!

Overall, I enjoyed both the movie and the book even though the movie definitely took liberties. I understand why they had to but I do think it took a bit of the fun and quirkiness out of the whole thing. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Book

You can see my full review of Austenland here, but a quick summary of what I like and didn’t like about the book will follow if you don’t feel like reading it.

I definitely enjoyed the book. It was basically well written Jane Austen fanfiction and I will always love a good fanfiction. I do think aspects of it were completely unbelievable but they lended to the quirkiness and fanfiction-y feel of the book. Jane was relatable albeit a little silly and the other characters added nicely to the quirky, fun feel. It was enjoyable and light and just what I needed at the moment.

Movie

The movie didn’t quite hang on to the cute, quirkiness the book had. It was there sometimes but other times it definitely fell flat. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie, I definitely did, but I do think it could have stood by sticking to the novel a little more closely.

Comparison

My least favorite aspect change was how they completely changed Lady Amelia Heartwright’s character. She was definitely not nearly as annoying in the book. I preferred the version where Jane was cautious but eventually they became “friends” as much as anyone can in that environment. It also made the small twist at the end much more enjoyable. I knew it was coming while watching the movie but I know I would have more satisfaction from it if the relationship between Jane and Amelia wasn’t turned into a typical Hollywood girl relationship of competition.

One thing they absolutely got right was the casting for Miss Elizabeth Charming. I hadn’t mentally casted anyone for that role but as soon as I saw Jennifer Coolidge I died laughing and also knew it was absolutely perfect. She’s so good at being ridiculous and she definitely brought Miss Charming to life.

I also wish there was more obvious development between Jane and her love interests. I feel like they didn’t focus enough on it. I also didn’t like how they changed the ending. I definitely think the ending of the novel is much more convincing.

Verdict

I think it’s safe to say, that for me at least, I definitely preferred the novel to the movie. I don’t think this should surprise anyone since it’s incredibly hard to convert a book to a movie. You just can’t get all the details the book does and it generally leaves the viewer feeling like something is missing if they’ve read the book.

Either way, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It was a good adaption for sure and I understand why there are differences. I just wish the changes didn’t make it have less impact. But that could just be me.

What are your thoughts? They might be different if you watched the movie first or haven’t read both. I’d love to hear what you thought.

 

 

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Audiobook Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

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Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Narrator: Katharine Kellgren
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Length: 6 hours, 20 minutes
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Jane is a young New York woman who never seems to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Review:
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and after listening to Daughter of Smoke and Bone I needed something light and this was perfect! I actually finished listening to it in about 4 hours because I sped up the audiobook and I really enjoyed it.

Jane was both endearing and annoying but I tend to like my heroines with flaws so it worked for her. She was naive and a bit silly for a woman in her 30s but very believable. I enjoyed her character over all and thought she was really funny.

The beginning of the story was kind of hard to get into though. Her aunt understanding her just from seeing the DVDs and gifting her the vacation made it hard to suspend my disbelief but once I got passed it I was in the story just like any other contemporary.

I didn’t see the plot twist coming actually which is honestly such a good thing. Normally I can spot contemporary plot twists a mile away. There were two actually, but the one I did see coming.

I can’t really talk about the other characters without spoiling anything but most of them felt really 2D, which I found okay for a story like this. Because almost all the other characters were supposed to be actors I think it’s better that they didn’t feel real. I think it made the plot twist a lot harder to see actually.

 

The narrator did a great job as well. She had an American accent for Jane but was able to do the British accents for the other characters very convincingly. She read a bit slower than I normally like but thank goodness you can speed up an audiobook for things like that.

I definitely recommend giving this book a try if you’re on the edge about it. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because the book I read before it was so heavy but it’s definitely a perfect light read. I almost wish I had read it at the beach over the summer.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

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Title: Neanderthal Seeks Human
Author: Penny Reid
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Length: 401 Pages, Kindle Ebook
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
From the USA Today Bestselling author of ‘Truth or Beard’, this is a full-length, 110k word novel is the first book in the Knitting in the City series.

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

Review:
This was another book I started pre-slump and just now finished. In my defense, I read maybe half of the first chapter pre-slump so I feel like I can safely say I read the majority of this in less than 12 hours. I’m not sure if it was a right book, at the right time kind of deal but I really enjoyed this book.

Janie is a hard-to-reach-emotionally woman and finds herself somehow supremely attracted to a maybe criminal. It was too hard to resist. Janie actually reminds me a lot of Lucy London from Imperfect Chemistry and I think that’s part of why I loved it so much. I like it when female characters are the ones who are emotionally distant because typically that’s a male troupe.

Quinn was an okay sexy, leading man. I did find his controlling, jealous ways a little off putting but it made sense sort of with Janie since she was kind of oblivious and needed to be taken care of a lot because of it. I wouldn’t put him at the top of a list of fictional males I want to marry but their romance was cute and sizzlely.

I liked the way the characters and their relationships were built as well. Each relationship unfolded bit by bit in a really interesting way. I appreciated that.

I probably won’t be reading any of the sequels in this “Knitting in the City” series but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first one. Considering this is a free Kindle book, I think I’m really happy with how much I enjoyed it versus the time invested. Which I can’t say has happened with a free Kindle book before.

contemporary, romance

Book Review: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

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Title: Bella’s Christmas Bake Off
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Length: 316 Pages, Kindle Ebook
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 2.5

Blurb:
Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER.

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…

Review:
I finished this novel a few days after Christmas just because Christmas was so busy and it was cute. Honestly, I can’t say much more about it than that. It was cute and Christmasy.

There were some glaring flaws for me. The first being how childish sound the main characters all sounded considering they were supposed to be around 38. I swore half the time they were 16 instead. I understand that maturity is different for everyone but this was rather annoying.

The plot was also kind of haphazard but cute. I like what Watson was trying to do even if execution wasn’t very good.

I do have to say that Watson did the character development and relationships between characters pretty well. The characters and their relationship to each other were complex and changed as the novel progressed.

Overall, I’d recommend it as a Christmas read if you can’t find much else. It read like a hallmark movie and that was A-Okay in my book.

contemporary, romance, short story, young adult

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

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Title: My True Love Gave to Me
Edited by: Stephanie Perkins
Author(s): Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler, and Kiersten White
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: 12 Short Stories, 336 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

Review:
Originally I was going to write this review like I wrote my review for Let It Snow, going story by story. However, I think with 12 stories that would make this review a little too long. So I’m going to talk about the anthology as a whole.

I am a hardcore sucker for Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. Most of these stories felt like those movies but for a younger audience. I really enjoyed this anthology and it put me in the Christmas spirit for sure.

I do think some stories were better than others and there was a story or two that I didn’t like in the least but you’ll get that when you have a bunch of short stories in one volume. I think my favorite story in the anthology is “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor. I like the way she writes and the story made me wonder why I’ve never read anything by her before. The imagery is amazing and it feels like it’s own story that could stand on it’s outside of this anthology unlike a lot of the stories.

My second favorite is definitely “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell. I generally like her writing as well. Her story held good emotion and also felt like it could stand outside of the anthology. I actually wished it was a little longer so we could get more details but I understand the need of keeping short stories short.

I think my least favorites are “The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link and “Your Temporary Santa” by David Levithan. “The Lady and the Fox” felt very all over the place. It didn’t seem to have a clear plot and in a short story that just doesn’t work. The ending was satisfying-ish but I generally found myself just waiting for the story to end as I was reading it.

I generally don’t like David Levithan’s writing. It’s just not for me I think. I’m not sure why but everytime I try to read something he’s written I find myself just not liking it. I think part of it is how he words things and shapes his characters. It just doesn’t pull me into the story. That was no different with “Your Temporary Santa.” I also found the plot of the story boring.

Sorry this Christmas review is definitely late, but better late than never. 🙂

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

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Title: Let it Snow
Author(s): John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Speak
Length: 352 Pages, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Review:
This book is composed of three short stories each written by a different author. Maureen Johnson starts it off in her amazing way. I loved her short story from beginning to end and I feel like she kept throwing curveballs. It was super cute.

John Green’s story was kind of meh. It felt very like all of the other stories I’ve read from him. Even his characters felt very samey. I still really enjoyed the story though it was cute.

Lauren Myrcle’s story was less than ideal. I kept getting super annoyed with the writing and I feel like it could have been several pages shorter. The plot also didn’t make much sense. I liked that she ended it with all the characters from the previous stories meeting. That was cute but I skimmed the majority of this story.

To get further into detail, Johnson’s story had great characters. I truly felt for Jubilee and her situation. I wanted her to find a better boyfriend and make Christmas her own. I also really liked the guy she ended up with. He’s super sweet.

I found Tobin, Green’s MC, very the same as his other male characters along with the side characters he made. They were all snarky males, except the Duke, who were very wittier than thou. The Duke was a good character who found ways to point this fact out to the other characters but ultimately that was just a plot point for the love story. I would have liked this better if it veered from Green’s typical way of writing teenagers.

As for Myrcle, I found Addie to be the most annoying character I’ve read in awhile. I found myself skimming the paragraphs of dialogue and inner thoughts because I just couldn’t deal. I did appreciate that she had the biggest character development. But the way her character was written just annoyed me to no end. I think it may have been better for me if I were younger and still identified with the feelings she was going through but the me of right now just had a constant eye roll going.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book though. It was cute and fluffy, just what I want at this time of year.

PS I am back!!! I’m super excited to be back. Hopefully, this wasn’t a fluke and I’m finally out of my reading slump. We shall see. 🙂

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Diva by Alex Flinn

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Title: Diva
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 304 pages, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 2.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Diva, the companion to Alex Flinn’s YA novel Breathing Under Water, Caitlin is dealing with a lot. She’s living through the aftermath of an abusive relationship, she has a youth-obsessed mother who just doesn’t understand her, and she’s on a constant yo-yo diet to live up the standards of her nitpicking friends.

All Caitlin wants is to escape her not-so-glamorous life and pursue her dream of becoming a singer, but when she’s accepted into the Miami High School of the Arts, her life doesn’t magically become perfect. Yet despite some struggles to keep up with her competitive classmates and the distraction of cute new crush, Caitlin never loses her sense of humor and eventually gains the confidence to achieve her goals.

Review:
This was a disappointing reread for me. I remember loving this novel and connecting with Caitlin so much. I love to sing and I’m super shy especially when I was in high school. So I really related to her. But now, I don’t connect with her as much as I wish.

Now Caitlin annoys me. She’s childish. I feel like she acts like she’s 12 not 16. I think this might just be my age talking though. At 22, it’s a lot harder for me to connect with teenage characters. I almost wish I hadn’t reread it so it still held a good memory for me. This is a companion to Breathing Underwater (click to see my review of it), but Diva doesn’t hold the same depth or statement as that novel does and it’s saddening to see.

I can’t say much else. When the main character annoys me there’s almost nothing that can save the novel in my book. The writing was nice. I enjoy the way Alex Flinn writes and I love a lot of her books.

The side characters were interesting but because I saw them through Caitlin’s eyes I’m not sure I really understand or saw any of their real character. She has some moments of realization about them that are nice but a lot of the time the other characters are just flat because Caitlin can’t imagine more dimensions to them. Especially her mother and father.

This novel was a quick read at least which was nice. It has good memories from when I was in high school and for high schoolers I think I would recommend it but I’m not sure it’s a YA that translate well for older people.

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

breathing underwater by alex flinn

Title: Breathing Underwater
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 304 pages, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick’s anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn’t realize how far from perfect Nick’s life has become is Nick himself.

Review:
This book is scary. Not in a thriller, horror movie kind of way but in a real life, this could happen to me kind of way. I originally read this in some life course everyone at my high school was forced to take. The class was supposed to give you morals and lessons for life. Honestly I hated the class and thought it was a waste of time which means I totally dismissed this book. Oh, how I regret that.

This is a book I think everyone needs to read in high school and I’m sad it’s not apart of every high school curriculum. Despite dismissing the book, I still carried the lessons with me through school and learned to recognize when guys were being abusive to me.

This book is also scary because it puts you in the shoes of an abuser and makes you see his side of things. Makes you sympathize with Nick. I understand where he’s coming from even if he’s wrong and in the end I like Nick. He realizes he’s wrong and what he’s done.

I can’t really say more than this on the book. It was such an emotional read. This time around I read it in on 4 hour sitting, tearing through page after page. By all means, if you have abuse triggers don’t read this. But I think everyone should at least try. To learn the signs of an abusive relationship and be able to recognize if you or a friend is in one.

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: 448 pages, Special Edition Hardback
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review:
This was a reread for me. I originally read it in January of 2014. I had some spare time while driving from Illinois to Minnesota to visit my Grandma on winter vacation. I read it basically in a day then and I did this same this time around as well. I just can’t ever seem to put it down once I start. When I did have to put it down, I was thinking about when I could start reading it again.

Cath isn’t my favorite character but I also love her for that. She kind of annoys me and I feel like she needs to grow up but that’s part of what makes this novel so good because she does grow up and you get to watch it happen.

The side characters are amazing even when annoying. Levi is sweet but a bit naive and kind dense. I love the relationship between Cath and her roommate and I love seeing how Cath’s relationship with Wren has shifted over the years.
I think the book also holds a lot of good lessons about growing up, love, fandom, and thoughts about shunning those who “don’t” read. Things that a lot of people should read about and try to understand more of.

I love this story as much as the first time I read it and I’m glad I got the chance to reread it.