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Book Review: If We Were a Movie

ifwewereamovieTITLE: If We Were a Move
AUTHOR: Kelly Oram
PUBLISHER: Bluefields
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: New Adult romance
PAGES: 269
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 2 (2016, 2017)
READ: 12/5/17 – 12/7/17
RATING: 4/5 stars

Another Kelly Oram book! And this one isn’t YA. I tend to stick with YA because I’m not into the gratuitous sex that seems to be in every mainstream book in any genre. Most of the time, I have to skip whole chapters to get past it then wonder why it’s even in there since it lends nothing to the plot. New Adult often goes that way as well.

But this one is a sweet romance that grows organically. No sudden love at first sight. Nate and Jordan are obviously attracted to each other, but their friendship grows first and Nate doesn’t have thoughts of cheating on his over-bearing girlfriend every five seconds. He’s almost oblivious to Jordan’s feelings until she practically hits him over the head with them.

What I love most about this book are the characters. They’re quirky but realistic. Nate is a triplet, and his brothers are severely co-dependent. Enough to follow him to a university they don’t even want to attend because they’re afraid of being without him. They’re both idiots but mean well. And he loves them unconditionally even if he can’t stand them half of the time.

Jordan is as obsessed with movies as Nate is with music which helps move their friendship along as they try to get the other to see their side. The titles of each chapter are movies that relate to whatever is going on. At least how Jordan sees things. I like Jordan because she seemed desperate to figure out her life but completely lost on how to do it. Nate grounds her.

Jordan also adds her friend Colin to the mix who was adorable. I loved how he related to Jordan and protected her when she didn’t realize she even needed the help. I even liked Sophie. At least as a villain. Until the end when she becomes super clingy. Talk about the psycho ex-girlfriend. And the stunt she pulls is incredibly cruel and immature which seems like a complete 180 from her character at the beginning of the book. It didn’t make sense to me other than to screw up Nate’s life just as it was getting on track.

The few things that got to me, besides Sophie’s antics, was the fact that everything turned out perfect. The “perfect” happy ending. Actually, there are a lot of conveniences in the book. Nate easily gets enough scholarships to afford NYU tuition-free. There’s some random scholarship just for triplets that makes it affordable to send two kids there and somehow manage to get all three of them into one room. What? Then Jordan just happens to have a beautiful condo. In Manhattan. That’s affordable to an NYU music student. Double what?? It just gets more unrealistic after that.

Despite that the book is cute. Lots of fluffiness with a touch of angst towards the end. I really felt for Nate as he struggled to be an adult. It’s been over twenty years since I was there, but learning to adult* is hard no matter what year it is. The book is worth it for the adorableness of Jordan and Nate together.

*I love the fact that “adult” is now a verb. Because adulting is hard.
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Book Review: By Your Side

byyoursideTITLE: By Your Side
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
YEAR: 2017
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 352
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 1 (2017)
READ: 12/4/17 – 12/5/17
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love Kasie West’s writing, and there’s something about every book that will bring me back for more, but I’m not sure where I stand on this one.

On one hand, I love the idea of two people that dislike each other locked in a library, but then everything else seemed super cliched. I’m still confused on how Autumn gets locked in. Are there no emergency exits in this building? Of course, that would have triggered an alarm, but she would have been long gone, and at the beginning, she didn’t even know about Dax.

The cliches start right at the beginning. Dax is the typical “misunderstood bad boy” kind of character. He’s standoffish but always around to help Autumn. But that’s about as deep as he goes it seems. Autumn is the flakey, overachiever that tries to be everything everyone wants at the cost of herself. And her friends are completely oblivious to her issues. They don’t even realize she’s missing for over a day.

I did like the way Autumn and Dax’s relationship grew. He slowly lets her in, I think mostly because she’s open about her anxiety disorder. It’s kind of hard to not want to open up to someone who’s whole tragic life is on miserable display. He’s obviously a super sweet guy stuck in a crappy situation. I just wish they had more personality.

The way mental illness as a plot device worked for me. Autumn has some pretty serious anxiety issues, but unlike other books I’ve read, she’s trying to deal with them. She avoids telling her friends because she’s afraid they’ll treat her differently (a common belief), but she takes her meds and tries to have a normal life.

Her big freak out, though, was over the top for me. It shifts the story from the library to everyday life, but it seemed excessive to me. But then again, my anxiety issues aren’t as severe as Autumns. The whole thing does lead to my favorite part–Dax sacrificing himself to save Autumn, doing the one thing he begged her not to do for fear of being arrested. And it screws up his life as much as he predicted.

It’s after this point that I have the most problems. The two of them go back and forth on whether they even want to admit they’re friends. It’s obvious they have a connection, but Autumn lets her friends’ opinion of Dax to control her relationship with him. Which was a big turn off at that point for me.

The book had a lot of potential, and I really liked the writing. The dialogue was a lot smoother than some of her other books. The excessive use of tropes and cliches that didn’t work or were way too predictable lowered my rating. It has its cute moments, though, and I’ll read it again.

Book Review: P.S. I Like You

psilikeyouTITLE: P.S. I Like You
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHER: Point
YEAR: 2016
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 336
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 1 (2017)
READ: 12/2/17 – 12/4/17
RATING: 4/5 stars

Yes, another Kasie West book. I must read them all. Every time. Expect more. *evil laugh*

P.S. I Like You is the You’ve Got Mail of high school except instead of email, they leave messages scribbled on a desk. Boy and girl hate each other in real life, but anonymously, they just click. It’s a trope and as tropes go, it’s predictable, but I still found it cute.

Mostly because I liked Cade. He wasn’t all what Lily believed. I think what I liked most (besides Cade being Cade) is how their viewpoints of events differed. Every encounter that Lily thought Cade was being an ass, he experienced a completely different way. He was always trying to protect her or get her attention, but she was so wrapped up in her belief that he was a jerk, she never saw it that way.

The whole set-up is extremely predictable. Cade is shown to be Lily’s nemesis. Then she discovers the writing on the desk. It’s obvious who the writing is from, but I still liked to see their relationship develop (in real life and through their letters) as they got closer. Once Lily figures out who her penpal is, though, things get a little annoying. It’s chapter after chapter of her angsting over liking her nemesis. It’s obvious he’s not a jerk and they have a lot in common, but she refuses to let anything happen. She pushes him away.

It’s ridiculous. I mean, once or twice with the indecision I could tolerate–I’d be the same way, but it goes on for half the book. But I give it a pass because I thought Lily and Cade were adorable together. Once she started letting him in outside of the letters.

Normally, I love all the angst and unresolved sexual tension. I love the flip-flop, fluttery heart I get when the main character realizes she wants to kiss the guy but can’t. But it got annoying in this one. Maybe because Lily ran hot and cold faster than my water heater. The whole enemies to¬†“lovers” thing is a big plus for me. I know a lot of people don’t like the trope because it’s overused, but I will take them all. All the tropes!

Otherwise, I liked the book. Not as much as some of her others, but I’ll be reading it again. Next time a new book comes out. ūüôā

Review: The Distance Between Us

thedistancebetweenus

TITLE: The Distance Between Us
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
YEAR: 2013
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 320
FOUND: OverDrive
TIMES READ: 3 (2013, 2016, 2017)
READ: 11/29/17 – 12/1/17
RATING: 4/5 stars

This is the first book I read by Kasie West, and it was good enough for me to want to read anything else she ever published. I’ve read it three times–every time I’ve gotten a new Kasie West book. I’m weird that way.

The story is a basic Romeo and Juliet set up without all of the death. And a happy ending. But not everything is as it seems.

Caymen¬†is poor. She works endless hours in her mom’s doll shop just to keep their heads above water. She’s been taught since birth to distrust anyone with money so she has little interest in getting to know Xander–the rich boy that comes in to buy his grandmother a gift. But Xander doesn’t take the hint. He keeps coming back until he wears down her resistance.

They begin a friendship based around helping each other figure out who they want to be when they grow up because they sure don’t want to be their parents. The problem is Caymen is sure their families won’t approve of them being together. She knows her mom will hate Xander because of his money. She assumes his parents will look down on her for her lack of it.

But things don’t end up that way which I liked about the story. The plot wasn’t complex. Lots of coming of age stuff–growing up, finding yourself, relating to parents, etc. I liked that the kids thought they knew their parents but really didn’t.

I liked a lot of the characters. Caymen and Xander are adorable together. He seems to be the only one that gets her dry humor. He also takes her ribbing in stride (although that eventually turns more judgmental than playful).

Some of them seemed to be there just to advance the plot though, like her best friend. She appears at the beginning of the book. Her boyfriend is introduced. And another friend. But by the end, they flitter in and out only when needed. At one point, I completely forgot there were other characters in the book besides Caymen, Xander, and her mother. The friends were interesting, though. Quirky but real.

The main things I didn’t like about the book were some clunky passages (a lot of those scenes where everyone literally says, “bye,” before leaving… ugh) and a bunch of loose ends. Also, everything is tied up way too easily.

Caymen finds out her mother’s huge secret when she meets the grandparents she didn’t know existed. They jump right back into her life when her mom gets sick. I loved her grandparents. They weren’t at all what Caymen¬†expected, and it becomes obvious where she gets her good humor. But it feels like nothing is resolved. They walk back in after seventeen years like nothing happened. And they never really explain why her mother was “disowned.” It feels highly illogical considering how nice they are. Obviously a lot more going on there. That is never touched upon.

Same with Xander’s parents. He makes them out to be these controlling, snobby monsters, but they turn out to be really sweet and understanding. They really just want Xander to be happy. I wish things were resolved with them, too.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this book. I’ve read it three times so that must mean something. It’s got a lot of cute moments and funny characters. And the angst of coming of age which is my bread-and-butter. If that’s your thing, too, you’ll probably like this and all of Kasie West’s books.

Review: On the Fence

onthefenceTITLE: On the Fence
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHER: Harper Teen
YEAR: 2014
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 320
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 2 (2015, 2017)
READ: 11/23/17 – 11/28/17
RATING: 4/5 stars

CHARACTERS

The characters were probably my favorite part of the book. I really liked Charlie even though she was a bit of a cliche and clueless. I still found her relatable on different levels. Mostly her awkwardness at being a girl and slowly learning to understand and love herself. She had a lot of character growth over the book which is always a plus. She went from being “one of the guys,” hating her feminine side, and oblivious to life outside her crazy male family to understanding that life is more than sports and being a tomboy, that she was likeable as she is, but there’s nothing wrong in expressing her feminine side. As someone that grew up a tomboy (even if I hate sports), I could completely relate to this.

Another thing I liked about Charlie is how she related to her friends and family. She grew up with three brothers and a neighbor that’s like a brother. You can see how close they are throughout the book. My favorite part, though, is how their relationships are shown through how they act around each other. They’re often antagonizing. Actually more often than not. They mess around and compete over everything. I liked how Braden–the boy next door–isn’t immediately a love interest, although seeing their interactions made me wonder right off the bat because they did treat each other like siblings.

I just found the way they all interacted pretty realistic. I only had one brother, but I remember us being pretty close. Never like Charlie and her brothers, though. And I have five kids of my own. Three of them are teenagers, but they don’t really have friends in common and don’t do things together unless forced. Still, I think close siblings would get along like Charlie, Gage, Nathan, and Jerom.

The stuff that annoyed me about them was how they sometimes treated Charlie–like she needed to be coddled in personal (girly) stuff. They didn’t hold back in sports and competitions, but with emotional stuff, they became super overprotective. Her father was ridiculously self-conscious and inept when dealing with a daughter. And they tended to do the whole intimidate all boys to keep Charlie safe routine.

PLOT

The plot is pretty typical tomboy finds her girly side. But it’s at least a little more complicated. The characters have some depth which effects the plot. It’s not all about Charlie finding her true love. In fact, her relationship status is such a slow burn, it made it much more satisfying in the end. I hate when the main characters hook up too early (and you know they’ll hook up eventually or it wouldn’t be a romance). The plot showed how Charlie was forced to confront all of the things that were holding her back in life–keeping her stagnant as the tomboy baby sister.

If you like the friends-to-lovers trope, you’re, off course, in luck. There are a lot of tropes going around. Falling for the boy next door. Tomboy girl finds her girly side. Just one of the guys. I’m sure there are many more. I’m a trope addict so all of these are pluses for me. And they’re actually pretty well done. There is a love triangle, but I thought it worked nicely without all of the blatant jealousy even if it was obvious that Charlie was with the wrong guy. It wasn’t over the top.

DIDN’T LIKE

The one thing I really didn’t like was the whole secret they’re keeping from Charlie because it’s so traumatic she has a nervous breakdown every time it’s brought up. It made Charlie look weak and ridiculous and her family patronizing. Braden is the only one that wants her to know the truth because he thinks she can handle it. Everyone else clams up. Plus, I found the secret somewhat unappealing.

SPOILERS…

The whole suicidal mother thing was fine, although a little triggery having been a suicidal mother myself. The problem I had is that Charlie remembered nothing of being in the car when her mother killed herself. She only has nightmares to go by and a vague memory of seeing a therapist. She was supposed to be six when it happened. Her brothers all remember the accident and their mother. Even Gage who is only a year older. This is explained by her blocking it all out. It’s pointed out by Braden that they tried to tell her when she was ten but she had a break-down. She doesn’t remember any of this either. Yet she’s not in any kind of therapy anymore and everyone avoids talking about her mother. It just makes her confused and feeling incomplete.

And if I’m honest, I was a little hurt by Charlie’s insistence that her mother didn’t love them enough to stay and was selfish. I can understand feeling that way, but it’s left at that. No one speaks up about how she was sick and did what she thought was best because of her illness. That she wasn’t trying to be selfish. It just contributes to the stigma of mental illness. And that bothers me. A lot. I wish there had been at least one person that told Charlie that it was okay to feel that way but sometimes things aren’t as easy as they seem–that her mother was in a lot of emotional pain and it was unfair to blame someone for an illness killing them.

I guess, at the least, they didn’t reinforce her convictions by agreeing with her. They just brushed it off. And at the end, they did all finally start talking about their mother. The whole secrets situation just bothered me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’ve become a big fan of Kasie West. I really like her style of writing and how her characters relate realistically with each other even if the plots are full of silly tropes and cliche situations. The dialogue comes off as natural to me and is full of lots of sarcasm and humor. I didn’t find many (if any) spelling/grammar mistakes and thought the book was really well written. The plot unfolded naturally. It didn’t feel forced for the most part, although there were a few spots I felt things were shoehorned in simply to push the plot forward. But it wasn’t too bad.

For me, this is another win for Kasie West that will be going in my “favorites” pile.

I recommend it to anyone that likes snarky characters, slow-burn romances, and clueless tomboy tropes. It’s a mostly light read, although the secrets kept from Charlie add a bit of seriousness that might be off-putting (especially to those triggered by mentions of mental illness).

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend

thefillinboyfriendTITLE: The Fill-In Boyfriend
AUTHOR: Kasie West
PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
YEAR: 2015
GENRE: YA Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 346
FOUND: my Kindle
TIMES READ: 2 (2015, 2017)
READ: 11/21/17 – 11/23/17
RATING: 4/5 stars

This is my second time reading this book, and I found it adorable both times. But fake dating is one of my favorite tropes. The Fill-In Boyfriend is about Gia who gets dumped in the parking lot at her senior prom. After talking-up her college boyfriend for months, she can’t go in empty-handed. Lucky for her, Hayden saw the whole thing go down and agrees to be Bradley for the night. Things work out well enough–at least her friends believe she has a boyfriend. But Gia didn’t expect to actually like her fake date.

What I liked about this book:

  1. Gia and Hayden being absolutely adorable together. They don’t have much in common–Gia is running for prom queen and Hayden is a big geek–but they click right away. The banter between them is natural and often hilarious. But even knowing each other only hours, Hayden is able to get past Gia’s defenses and glimpse the real her that isn’t trying to impress her friends. I liked that Gia feels she can be herself around Hayden But mostly, it’s just about Gia and Hayden being cute together.
  2. Slow-burn romance. This probably comes up in most of my reviews. Gia does start crushing on Hayden pretty early (but I can’t blame her when he shows up in a tux on the fly), but it takes them the entire book to figure out what they want. And that sets up some angsty moments that I crave because I’m crazy that way. I also like that when they finally did get together, things don’t change. They keep bantering and being silly with each other.
  3. The trope. I’m a sucker for fake dating stories. I don’t know why. They all follow the same basic outline, but I love seeing how each author does things. The Fill-In Boyfriend jumps right into the dating without them even knowing each other before that night. Despite being complete strangers, they have a great time at the prom. If they hadn’t been interrupted, I think they would have gotten even closer. But my favorite part is that the trope got a second run later when Bec sets Gia up to be Hayden’s fake date to save him from himself. There was a lot of angst and jealousy going around that party. I live for this stuff.
  4. I loved that Hayden was an actor which made it easy to slip into his role of Bradley without me worrying half the book that he’d slip up and ruin the cuteness. Plus it was adorable (there’s that word again) how he went all-in while playing Bradley. He didn’t “pretend” to be Bradley, he “became” Bradley. I guess I just love Hayden.

What I didn’t like about the book:

  1. I guess my main complaint was Gia was too cliche with worrying about being popular and impressing her friends. She was always worried about appearances. I get why authors do it–fitting in is a huge motivator for many kids and works well for the fake dating trope because things are all about appearances. I can say that Gia, at least, has some growth. Eventually, she learns that not everyone is who they appear, including herself. She finds Hayden who introduces her to Bec who teaches her to be herself and realizes she’s holding herself back by clinging to her friends even though she’s known for a while that she’s grown apart from them. Her other redeeming quality for me is that she does try to be friends with Jules. She realizes she’s being petty and selfish and really does try. She’s just not good at communicating with Jules. Of course, Jules doesn’t make it easy. But she tries.
  2. Gia’s family drove me nuts. There was supposed to be a contrast between Hayden and Bec’s family with their free-spirit mother and Gia’s more conservative parents, but Gia’s parents were robots with zero emotion. I guess you’re not supposed to like them, but it seemed to take forever before the family broke. And then they did a complete 180 which annoyed me more.

In the end, I know a lot of readers don’t like cliches and tropes and predictable plots, but I want cute and silly. I want things to go horribly wrong with lots of angst, followed by people finally getting their act together and fluffy sunshine and unicorns at the end. If that’s your thing, then The Fill-In Boyfriend is a great pick.

 

Goodreads challenge update final

Well, I didn’t get a chance to update my progress the last week because I was busy reading and celebrating the holidays. So here’s a what I read between the 22nd and 31st:

The last 8 are all novellas that I read on the 31st. In the end I was half a book short of my goal. If only there’d been 30 extra minutes to the year lol. But 37 (15 novellas and 22 novels) books in 30 days is impressive.

On to next year and another 52 books. Maybe I can convince myself to spread them out this time.

 

Yeah, right.

Goodreads challenge update #3

My kids had another four day weekend thanks to snow and now Christmas break is upon us. Having them home all of the time is cutting into my reading because they keep wanting my attention. Darn kids–don’t they know what’s important?!?

Goodreads challenge update #2

Two weeks have gone by. When the month started I needed to read 39 books in 30 days. A daunting task. The first week I made it through 9 books. The second week slowed a little with my kids having snow days on Thursday and Friday. I only finished 4 books and am mostly finished with the fifth. Hopefully next week will be more productive because I’m getting farther behind.

I now need 25 books in 17 days. I need to find novellas to keep up this pace. Read this week:

Goodreads challenge update

Well, it’s been a week and…

It’s not going too bad. I’m now 25 books behind schedule. That’s 29 books in 25 days. Totally doable, although Christmas might cause some problems. I’d like to thank whoever came up with the idea of adding companion novellas to series. They make for short reads that add to my book count.

In the last week, I’ve read 6 full novels and 3 novellas. 2,368 words.

Read this week:

Yeah, I’m a sci-fi kick this time. I’m rereading a bunch of series I read years ago. Mostly ones I never finished because their last books weren’t out at the time.

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