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Archive for the tag “romance”

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. 🙂

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: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
99days

Started: 10.1.15; finished: 10.5.15

Goodreads rating: 2/5 stars

my rating: facepalm

pages: 384

found: library

My main thought after reading this book is, “ow, my forehead hurts,” from all the times I facepalmed. Molly has got to be one of the dumbest, unlikable protagonists I’ve ever read bout. I liked the book enough, mostly just to see what moronic move she would make next.

In every situation, she chose the worst possible option available to her, and keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over, never learning until the end. At first, I felt sorry for her, because despite her responsibility in the initial incident, things were really crappy for her. More so than they should have been because no one in town would let her move on from her mistakes (also, they only seemed to punish her for something that took two people to do). As the story went on, though, I wanted to punch her in her face because everything that happens from that point on is on her. She made bad choice after bad choice.

About the best thing that Molly did was to finally stand up for herself against Julia and her idiot friends at the end–something she should have done a long time ago. Also, in the end, I felt a little sympathy towards her as she found out that Gabe’s intentions weren’t all that honest at the beginning of summer and Patrick also had ulterior motives in his feud with Gabe. They were both screwing with her head, and when you are bad at decision making, that spells disaster.

I summarized the book for my fifteen-year-old daughter who facepalmed about as hard as I did. It was a cautionary tale in don’t be a dumbass like Molly Barlow, and when your mom is a writer, don’t tell her your deepest, juiciest secrets, lol. Said to my fifteen-year-old daughter that likes to tell me all of her illicit doings and secrets. Fodder for my next novel, darling, fodder for my next novel.

Review: Epic Fail by Clare LaZebnik

Review of Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

epicfailStarted: 7.23.15; finished: 7.23.15 (read: 2013, 2014)

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: read again and again

pages: 295

found: in my library

Epic Fail has become one of my favorite soft teen romance novels. I love it for a quick read at the beach or to get me in the mood to write. I’ve read it three times now which is a record for me with any book.

I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice (I’m pretty sure I’m the only woman that hasn’t), but I’m a little familiar with the storyline. Maybe it’s because of that, I never got bored with Epic Fail. I didn’t know what to expect, having never read the original, so I was always surprised.

I loved the development of Elise and Derek’s relationship. As an adult, I laugh at all the idiotic things they do, but I understand that from a teen’s perspective, they all make perfect sense at the time. Hearing stories from my own teens… Well, I wish her life was more like Elise’s.

My favorite part was the slow realization that Derek is nothing like Elise expects and very much likes her, but is just as insecure as she is. It’s cute how they orbit each other, getting pushed and pulled from their mutual attraction, their friends, and enemies.

Elise was a bit of a dolt, not believing Derek like her–she was too wrapped up in her judgmental attitude. Juliana was a little too nice. I know a lot of teens, and I don’t think I know one that nice. I know ones that act nice around certain people (like adults), but when they’re out with their friends… not so much. I think it’s mostly because she doesn’t even get mad at her own sisters. She just accepts everything and always smooths over the disagreements everyone else has. I have five kids–three of them are teens–they fight constantly, even the “sweet and nice” one.

That leads me to Layla. If she were my kid I’d want to strangle her. I don’t think any of my kids are as annoying and spoiled. I get that she feels left out and hates sharing a room with her younger sister (who is ten and acts like a baby). My almost thirteen-year-old currently shares a room with her nine-year-old sister and five-year-old brother, and the only issues they have is the brother getting into their things and him needing to go to bed before they do. My nine-year-old acts nothing like Kaitlyn, but she has friends that do–most of them are only-children.

Chelsea also ticked me off–what a selfish, entitled brat, but I found her to be believable. There are kids like that–I’ve seen it among my children’s friends.

Anyway, Epic Fail will always be one of my favorite teen romance novels–my go-to book for a fun afternoon read. Maybe one day I’ll actually write a proper review.

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

 

leavingparadiseStarted: 7/20/15; finished: 7/20/15 (originally read: 2/24/13)

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: worth rereading

pages: 303

found: on my shelf (originally: library)

I picked up this book from the library in 2013. I love a good romance with a lot of teen angst. I know I’m weird that way. I read in a day last time.

Well, we were heading to the coast this week, and I needed something on the light side to read, so I grabbed this off of the shelf, having bought it used to keep in my collection (my Kindle has been taken over by my kids). I almost finished it between the three hour car ride there, a half hour at the beach (before the waves called me) and the three hour ride home. It was done before I went to bed.

What I like about this book is the development of the friendship between Caleb and Maggie. It seemed believable and real, if not odd. How many people make friends with the person that ran them over with their car and ruined their life? I think it worked because there was the basis of a friendship already there, from growing up together. I loved that they were able to talk open, freely, and honestly (well, to a point on Caleb’s part) about the accident. They don’t pussyfut around the topic like everyone else in their lives.

I also loved how Mrs. Reynolds went out of her way to get them past their issues. She knew they were meant to be together. I cried when she died. Especially when Maggie started babbling about the flowers. I just lost it at that point. Then Caleb goes to her house seeking refuge from the one adult he trusted only to find out she had died. It was heartbreaking.

This was one of the few teen books I’ve read that doesn’t end happily with the boy and girl together. I cried again at the end when Caleb refuses to stay. His attitude through the whole book rubbed me the wrong way, but I can excuse it since his situation with his family and friends was pretty messed up. His reactions to situations were annoying, but realistic in a way because teens do stupid things and say stupid things, often just to get a reaction. I know–I have three of them. I can’t imagine being in Maggie or Caleb’s shoes.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this book just as much the second time around. It’s a short book, perfect for a day trip. It might not be the light, fluffy read most people like when sitting on the beach, but it had just the right amount of sarcasm and angst for me.

Book Review: Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Review of Stargazing from Nowhere by Isabel and Marilyn Thomas

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00044]Started: 11/19/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 448

found: netgalley

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the premise about a small town girl, Kristen, who blogs about celebrities getting to meet one of those celebrities, one she thoroughly trashed on her blog but secretly has a crush on. I liked that Michael, the drummer of the band she used to like but then didn’t like, is actually just a normal guy under a lot of pressure. I loved all the unresolved sexual tension and the angst and the sweet little romance between Kristen and Michael.

But I had a lot of problems with the book. First, it just went on and on and on and on. It probably could have ended at about the halfway mark and still been a decent, sweet love story. But is just when on with the main character, Kristen, thinking the same things over and over. A lot of it self-pity and whining because she screwed up her life by keeping secrets and just being stupid. Okay, she’s fifteen, going on sixteen so some of it is forgivable and I can’t say I wouldn’t have done anything differently in her case because confrontation always scared me, but after awhile it got annoying.

Second, her mom… I wanted to strangle her at certain points. Namely when she invites Michael over only to insult him and make both of them feel stupid and hurt. What kind of person does that? She’s just as immature as her daughter and she gets increasingly selfish as the book goes on about her dancing thing. I have five kids of my own so I get wanting to do stuff for yourself but she was blaming her daughter for her potential loss at the competition. That’s messed up.

Third, everything was too perfect. Michael was perfect, the guys in the band were nearly perfect, Scott was perfect, Uncle Jack was perfect. Especially Uncle Jack. Even Maggie came off as perfect. Oh, and Colin. While I was reading this my thirteen-year-old daughter came in carrying on and on about One Direction and their fans and some mobbing in LA today. It wasn’t the first time I looked at the story and felt it kind of read like fanfiction, with the names changed. It sounds like some of the 1D fanfic my daughter and her friends write (not saying this is fanfic, just that it reads like it). Kristen is like the anti-Mary Sue where everything she does is bad and screws stuff up more.

Another thing that bugged me is we never do find out who hacked her blog or blew her cover. I would have liked to have known just for curiosity’s sake.

I did love the ending. It brought closure to Kristen and Michael. But in the end I gave it a gracious three stars. It would have gotten more if half the pages had been cut, Kristen had confessed or her cover blown at the midpoint and then they get back together shortly after that. There was so much subplot that could have been taken out at the end and so much internal dialogue that was just whining and rambling on about her problems that she created over and over.

Book Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Review of The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

thesummerifoundyouStarted: 11/18/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH

pages: 239

found: netgalley

Okay, so I’m trying to finish up the last 13,000 words or so of my NaNoWriMo novel and I’m just kind floating there with no motivation or inspiration. I need to read, I think. I need some good old-fashioned teen love drama to get me in the right mood to write my teen love drama novel.

And boy did I get it with this book. I gave it five stars probably because I was in such a mood for this kind of book. It just had me all twisted up inside. In a good way.

The book is about Kate, a senior in high school, who has been dealing with the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for a year. Or more precisely, not dealing with it. She’s got her parents and sister and best friend worrying about her constantly, making her feel closed in. Then her boyfriend breaks up with her. Here comes the teen drama. Oh, how perfectly this book captured the melodrama of being seventeen.

Enter, Aiden Connelly (which happens to be a name we almost chose for our last child). He’s living above the garage of Kate’s best friend, her cousin. Aiden’s trying to figure out his life after losing his arm in Afghanistan.

The two get set up, sort of, by Jen (the best friend) as a kind of distraction from their problems. Despite Kate saying just about every inappropriate thing you could say to a guy with only one arm there’s a connection between them.

The book is from both POVs so you get to see how confused both of them are as they wade through their ever changing lives and slowly fall in love. Okay, it wasn’t that slow, but it takes them awhile to figure it out.

 

I know a lot of people don’t like this kind of drama but I live for it. I loved the heartache and confusion and fears. Heck, I’m almost 37 and I still have a lot of that drama going on in my life—like finishing school and figuring out what I want to do with my life once my kids are all in school.

I did feel some of the book was predictable and Kate kind of annoyed me that she wasn’t taking things seriously but she’s only 17. I can picture myself at that age just wanting to ignore the problem instead of facing it straight on. I kind of did that with my own crippling depression.

I LOVED Aiden, though. Even Kate describing his shoulder and scars… it made him all the more appealing. And I loved how he was written, muddling through life trying to figure out how to live with only one arm. And not his dominate arm. I felt his frustration and anger. I remember in grade school we did this experiment where we all taped our thumbs to our palms and went around for the day without opposable thumbs. It was nearly impossible to do anything.

My only big complaint is they never say the words. They both say they really like each other but I wanted those three little words. Still, I thought it was a beautiful story.

Book Review: Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Review of Love Story by Jennifer Echols

lovestoryStarted: 11/15/13; finished: 11/16/13

Goodreads rating: 4/5 stars

my rating: AWWW with a touch of UGH

pages: 243

found: library

This book, at the title implies, is a love story. But not in the conventional sense. It starts with Erin in creative writing class at a New York university. It’s her turn to have her story critiqued. She’s used her own personal experience of growing up on a horse farm in Kentucky for the setting, the character modeled after her and the boy that worked in the stables with his father. A boy she’s always felt a connection with even though she rejected him as her equal when school started in seventh grade. She’s sure her dreams of becoming a famous author will begin this day after her classmates read her story.

And then her “stable boy” walks in to join the class. She’s mortified but no one knows they know each other. This sets of a chain of events where the two spin around each other, coming close only to be pushed away by one or the other. Their sparring reaches epic proportions as their stories for class get more and more personal and racy. Only their close friends know the truth. Things get harder as their feelings pull them closer and closer together. In the end all the pieces of their stories fit together to tell a love story—one still in the making.

Overall I think this book was sweet. I loved how Erin and Hunter play off of each other. Their friends are equally entertaining especially Manohar and Summer. I thought the book started out a little slow, though, and Hunter seemed way too cool and smooth. But even thought it’s slow it eventually starts laying out the history of the two and how the mistakes of their pasts of lead them to where they are—in the middle of a love story they are writing as they go along.

Both of them screw up countless times but it seems Hunter made the most effort to fix things. Erin just gave up or thought the worst of Hunter at every misstep which was kind of annoying. I really enjoyed the richly painted settings of New York City and Kentucky. I’ve never been to either (well I think we drove through Kentucky and Louisville when I was on a high school trip for orchestra one year) but I could completely picture these two places.

But I think what I loved the most was all the unresolved sexual tension and angst. I’m a junkie and can admit it.

The thing I hated the most was the end because it just… ENDS!!!! Maybe it’s just me but I wanted to see what Erin’s grandmother thought of the whole thing. To actually see Erin and Hunter work things out.

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