The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen Review

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Published Penguin 2004

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback from the library

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998Sarah Dessen has never failed me. This is exactly my type of book with an excellent balance of romance and contemporary issues, I really enjoyed The Truth About Forever.

Macy is one of my favorite Dessen leads. She’s more firey and unexpected than ones I’ve read about before. Macy does have a slight tendency to lead toward the familiar, but she very quickly finds herself and starts breaking down her own boundaries. Macy is more captivating than the average YA protagonist and I really enjoyed her perspective. This book also features two male leads – Jason and Wes. Jason is really frustrating, even though we rarely ever see him in person. Most of their communications that summer are through email, but he’s a perfectionist and that is not what Macy needs. Jason was an okay character, but he was more annoying than anything. That’s why I was very happy when Wes entered the scene. He wasn’t one of my favorite Dessen love interests, but his relationship with Macy was really cute. Wes is a little more moody and secretive than the average Dessen male. However, I liked him just as much as anyone else. Wes has his own handful of problems, plus they are both in similar situations with their relationships before meeting each other.

The romance developed really well. I always prefer when couples become friends first and then begin the romantic side of their relationship, like was done here. They play a really cute game of Truth throughout the book which increases so many plot points. I loved their banter back and forth during the game and these moments made for some of my favorite scenes. Outside of the romance, Macy’s job with catering company made me really hungry and also even more interested in Macy! I liked the group of people that she works with, all with different personalities and stories. From the lady that runs the company, to her fellow employees, they all help Macy grow in an incredible way. Macy is also struggling with the loss of her father, balancing the novel out. There were so many touching scenes throughout the book as she looks back on the times with her dad, and also seeing the grieving process for her family. I liked the way that this was handled and how real the family felt.

Overall, I really loved this book! It was classic Sarah Dessen in every way, and I have nothing wrong with that! The story is real and true. This is the perfect summer contemporary.

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Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli Review

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Published Balzer and Bray 2015

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Library

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Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

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I wanted to like this book, I really did. But so many aspects of this book were just not working for me…This is yet another edition of ‘hype killed the book’ in my case.

Starting with Simon. I liked the idea of his character, but I think in general, it didn’t work well for me. I found his voice annoying and immature. Plus, there are too many cultural references for my taste. This is something I see more and more often, but I don’t understand why. It’s not something I am a fan of AT ALL. Simon’s character seemed really all over the place and I could never really get a good handle on any of his decisions. I wish his character was more developed or was cleaner in the development. Also, I didn’t really like Blue either. It was interesting trying to figure out who he was, and I did catch on pretty quickly. However, I never really liked his character that much either. The approach to his character – entirely through emails back and forth with Simon – was a nice idea, but I needed that extra something to make his character pop. In many ways, he felt like just a love interest for Simon. Overall, I wanted more out of both of these characters. The side characters were pretty flat as well, and I got them confused all the way until the end of the book. The characterization was not in my favor for Simon.

The writing was very Pretty Little Liars – esque. Because I’m seeing this more often, I should probably come up with a better word for it. It was quick and it kept my attention, but it wasn’t fulfilling by the end of the book. That is mostly what I got from this. And while the lgbt+ themes were interesting, I don’t think they were done the best I’ve ever read in young adult. In fact, I much prefer David Levithan and Nina LaCour. The plot moved slowly and I was bored for most of the book, until I got halfway in. But even then, the prospect of trying to find Blue was getting boring too.

I think this book could’ve used a heavy dose of description. Because overall, I wanted more. I wanted more action from Simon, instead of just waiting to find his Blue. I wanted to be more in Simon’s head as he tried to figure out everything – because when he finally proposed to Blue who he thought he was, it was totally off guard. I think that aspect should’ve been heightened. I wanted more from his friends, who didn’t really serve a purpose. I could have done without all of them. The family was really sweet, but they were mostly cut-outs of a family.

Overall, this book was mostly okay. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. My expectations were pretty high and they could have been fulfilled with a little bit less quirkiness and more detail. The characters did not pop off the page like is so necessary in contemporaries. However, I did appreciate the unique story telling perspective, the diversity in the story, and the meaning behind everything and I’m looking forward to reading more by Becky Albertalli.

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*probably closer to a 2.5

Armchair BEA: Character Chatter

abeaAnother day of Armchair BEA! I’ve been having fun the past two days talking about these discussion topics and meeting new bloggers. Let’s get on with today’s topic…

Character Chatter

It’s time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now’s your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who’s your favorite couple? What are the components of a well written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?

I talked a little bit about this on Twitter during the chat this morning, but some of my favorite characters I’ve read recently are the Sarah Dessen leads, Juliette and Warner from Shatter Me, and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door. I feel like all of these characters compliment the plot to further advance it and also take from the plot to grow themselves. They have a nice 50/50 balance between plot and characterization. Of course, sometimes (especially in contemporary), the plots are more about characters and their daily lives. This makes good characters even more important.

My pet peeves from characters are insta-love, when they make unrealistic decisions, or have a case of the Mary Sue. I want my characters to be flawed and make mistakes, without always having all of the answers right away. This is a little bit more prevalent in dystopian novels, but I have seen it in romances where the girl gets all of the guys or vice versa.

My OTP is Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I love both of the characters separately and then together, they make a really sweet romance. They both have their own problems and development paths, but they can also come together in a nice way. With any romance, that’s exactly what I’m looking for and this is my favorite example of how it worked well.

And to bring in a little bit of the theme for ABEA (diversity), diverse characters are becoming more well represented in books. Recently, I have really been appreciating it when their diversity isn’t a huge deal. An example of this is Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Lara Jean embraces her Asian heritage, but her story just is not focused on her background. As for LGBT characters, I think the girls in Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour were really well developed because of the emphasis on their relationships and the acceptance in their community. These types of stories really have a bigger impact on me more often. I still appreciate books where the characters are coming around to accepting themselves though, because that’s an important part of life as well. And another one of my favorites? When the characters are cookie cut-outs of their stereotypes, like the smart Asian or flamboyant gay boy. I like seeing diverse characters within their diversities.

What are your opinions on characters?

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Fairest of All by Serena Valentino Review

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino

Published Disney 2009

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: Hardback

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same–the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life.

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen’s true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King’s first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life.

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998It’s no stretch to say that fairy tale retellings are hot right now – from the ever popular Lunar Chronicles to Once Upon a Time, they are all over the place. But this one just might be a new favorite of mine.

Fairest of All takes place from the early life of the Wicked Queen as she first meets the King and becomes Queen, all the way to the end of Snow White’s story. The book is short, but manages to cover all this time in a really nice way. I did wish there was a little bit more during the time that we know Snow White’s story to start, but overall, it did cover so much for its short length. I love the twist that we get on the Queen (only ever referred to as ‘The Queen’). Her childhood past is really terrible and I felt for her. Although she does turn out to be evil (obviously), this book made me feel for her as a person. I felt bad for the Evil Queen – so I think this story did its job well.

I loved the writing of this book. It was intense and deep, although not so bad that I wouldn’t say it isn’t a young adult novel. I’m not sure if I would classify it as a children’s novel though, because of some intense themes. Anyway, everything felt creepy and mysterious as we developed the Queen’s history. Sometimes, everything would lighten up and the chapters would be really sweet, but then something would happen and it would somber back down again. There were multiple times reading this that I got chills from the story and how well we went into the psychology of the Evil Queen. For a seemingly unassuming book, this packs a huge punch. The writing tone was powerful and moving.

And on two fun side notes – if you can, BUY THIS BOOK. It is SO beautiful in person. I love the really soft cover and how everything is almost entirely black so you can’t see the title on the front. Plus, it has really nice chapter illustrations and the inside cover is almost as cool as the outside cover. I probably spent too much time just staring at the book. I had been looking to buy this one for a long time, but it was worth it. Also, I really liked how the story of Sleeping Beauty is alluded to. Fairytales tying in together is also another one of my favorite tropes.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this! I could have used a little extra length at the end to develop some of our favorite fairy tale scenes, but it did serve as a realistic backstory. The setting and tone was really creepy. I’m adding this to my favorite fairy tale retellings for sure!

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17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen Review

17 First Kisses

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

Published HarperTeen 2014

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Paperback from the library

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.

Until Claire meets Luke.

But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.

With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

In her moving debut, Rachael Allen brilliantly captures the complexities of friendship, the struggles of self-discovery, and the difficulties of trying to find love in high school. Fans of Sarah Ockler, Susane Colasanti, and Stephanie Perkins will fall head over heels for this addictive, heartfelt, and often hilarious modern love story.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998The amazing thing about this book was that I read it nearly a month ago (I finished it April 28), but because I’m so bad at writing reviews and I was really busy, I haven’t gotten around to writing this until now. Typically, I would struggle with a review left behind for that long, but this time – nope. I remember everything like I read it yesterday. Just after a quick glance over some notes and plot points, I remember reading this book like it was yesterday. That truly makes a good memorable book. So, anyway, let’s get on with this review!

One aspect of a book that I’ve been looking out for more and more often is the relationships. I really felt like all of these relationships were really on point! Claire and Megan’s relationship had a really intricate balanced, coupled with the flashbacks throughout their friendship and Claire’s 17 first kisses. Megan is more popular and well noticed than Claire, so there are some jealousy issues. They don’t have a very easy friendship and there is always a layer of competition between the two girls. I loved that this friendship was so relevant, but also kept its reality. Sometimes, friendships can be portrayed as really easy-going and sweet at all times, but friends do get in fights or get jealous. Plus, in the end, I love the way that everything turned out. No spoilers, but it’s probably one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a while. Everything felt true to the story.

Romance is a huge part of this book. I really had so many emotions in the book – toward Luke, especially. I can’t really talk about the romance too much because of everything that happens as a major plot point, but know that it takes you along for a wild ride. Between the two girls and Luke, the entire relationship felt real and emotional. I had so much fun reading the book and really being put right into the world.

Overall, I LOVED reading this book! I could not put it down and it was such a cute romance. I’m a huge fan of Rachael Allen now and I will be checking out more of her work (especially since this was just a debut). If you love contemporary romance in tune with Stephanie Perkins, I would suggest this one!

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Armchair BEA: Social Media

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Welcome to Armchair BEA day 2! While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed looking at the great times had by some of my favorite blogger friends at BEA on Twitter, I have been having a good time with all of y’all participating in Armchair BEA as well.

Social Media

I have a love/hate relationship with social media – as I’m sure many of you do too. Anyway, I have a Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram and I think that is enough for me! I have no idea how some of you manage all of that plus Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest? I just like to keep it simple with three platforms.

Twitter – I am on Twitter so much! I like seeing all the book pictures and the conversations going on around the community. It has been a great way for me to meet new blogger friends and discover new books that I want to add to my ever growing TBR pile. The two downsides of Twitter for me have been the amount of drama that can easily be commented on and the access to authors. Over the past year, there has been more drama on the book blogging community than normal, with everyone seemingly chiming in with their own opinions. I’ve taken some time to think before posting tweets, but it’s so easy to form an opinion and broadcast it to the world with social media. Plus, it raises awareness of issues both good and bad. I might never have known about some author scandals without Twitter and its involvement in my reading. And with that, interacting with authors has good and bad involved. It makes me build relationships with authors I love or whose books I am looking forward to reading – but it’s not always fun when I don’t like an author’s book and they follow me on Twitter. The balance between being a book blogger but also being professional is really heightened on Twitter. Anyway, I actually do love Twitter a lot. Especially the #booksfortrade hashtag. And book chats – like the one happening tonight for ABEA!

Goodreads – Maybe my favorite. It’s great to see what my friends are reading and their reading plans. I love it for trying to find people with similar opinions on a book you loved or hated without having to go through a huge blog archive. I also like it to keep track of my own reading – when I started or finished books, what books I want to read next, or suggestions for newer books. Recently, I have especially been taking advantage of the Goodreads list options to find a book close to something I’m in the mood for, and the ability to create plenty of new shelves! I love organizing my Goodreads page! Any downsides? Well, I’m still hoping for half stars.

Instagram – This is my newest and because of that, I forget about it a lot. However, when I remember to scroll through it, I love seeing everyone’s beautiful book photography. My problem with posting is that I don’t have too many physical copies of books and I read mostly from the library or ebook. I have been using it more recently to post TBRs of readathons I’m joining!

Anyway – I do love social media for all its ups and downs. Connecting with bloggers from all over the world has been a great experience and I’ve been able to make so many friends from there, and then find their blog, or vice versa.

What social media are you on? What do you think of your various platforms?

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Armchair BEA 2015 Day 1: Intro and Library Love

Armchair BEA Headquarters

Hello everyone! This year, I’ll be participating in Armchair BEA, because I won’t be able to make it up to New York for the real BEA. This event looks just as fun, and I’m really excited to join in.

Introduction Question

1. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what author would you want to bring with you? Why? I would bring either Amie Kaufman or Meagan Spooner, because after writing These Broken Stars, they would probably have some survival skills up their sleeves.

2. What is your theme song?

 

3. What is your favorite genre and why? I really love YA contemporary because the stories are really powerful, but they can also be sweet and romantic. It allows for so many different parts of life to be told.

4. What book are you reading right now? I’m currently reading The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison. It’s a road trip book, but other than that, I don’t know too much about the summary.

5. What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer? Kissing in America by Margo Rabb! This looks like the perfect book for me. 

Library Love

I love my library because most of the books I read are from my local library! We have branches all throughout my city, which makes it really easy to transfer books between or visit a different one for a change. I also love how technologically advanced we are, from an app to request books or pay fines, to all types of quick checkout services. Also, there are so many services rather than just books that I’ve been trying to take advantage of more often! But back to the books, my library has a great selection filled with new releases and backlist books. Everyone there is really nice and it’s a very welcoming place to get work done or read.

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