I bought this book on a whim this past week because I was looking for some inspiration for writing...moreReview originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog:
I bought this book on a whim this past week because I was looking for some inspiration for writing a matron of honor speech. While I didn’t use any quotes from the book like I was originally planning to, it felt so fitting to spend some free time revisiting four friendships that really shaped my childhood as I prepped for the wedding of my best friend — a gal I’ve known since I was 5 years old. (Ironically my best friend has my original copy from when I lent it to her.)
I, first, read Sisterhood Everlasting when it was initially released in 2011. I remember I was totally frozen in place on my couch in our old house reading and reading until I got through the whole thing in one night. I just had to see how it ended. I’m happy to say that book was just as addicting the second time around, even if it is surprisingly sad.
Even though the girls (who I thought of as the next-gen Baby-Sitters Club) went through a fair share of drama through high school and college, I always thought the book boasted about the positivity of female friendships. So to experience such a change in Sisterhood Everlasting where the girls are all living in separate places, not getting together very frequently, Tibby totally MIA, and dating people the others don’t approve of — as a dedicated fan of the series, you feel genuinely gutted.
“Growing up is hard on friendships,” Carmen says in the very beginning.
I know with too much experience how true this statement can be but part of me was hoping for the happily ever after scenario for these four. But Brashares has the opportunity to showcase some top notch writing because of this choice — the grown up thoughts (Is this who I really want to marry? Am I really happy in this job? Why do things not feel like they used to?), the small nods to the past, and even the gorgeous imagery (I need to get to Greece) — that she wasn’t always able to use when writing for a younger audience. Like the girls, her writing most definitely matured.
With Carmen an actress in NYC, Lena teaching in Rhode Island, Bee unable to settle down in California, and Tibby off in Australia — the girls are unable to find the common ground they once had with each other (even after the pants went missing). When Tibby surprises them with a reunion in Greece, the three feel this is what they really need until they arrive in Greece and things totally spiral out of control. When the girls go their separate ways once again, it feels like all hope is lost until each of them embark on their own journey undoubtably leading them to answer the same question: can they regain what they had and move forward together?
While I didn’t always agree with Brashares’ characterizations (I don’t think Carmen could ever be a size zero or tone down her Latina pride; Lena just seemed way TOO sad and isolated), I do think she did well when it came to capturing the spirits of these characters we love and showing just how much time can change us — to the point where we might not even recognize ourselves. It’s tough to see on the page, but almost necessary, because there are so many factors that come into play when it comes to friendships, too many distractions, and at some point, friendship takes a little bit more of a push than it has to when you were kids hanging out in the same neighborhood every day.
Whether you remember reading the Sisterhood series way back when or you are looking for a book about female friendships that run deep, Sisterhood Everlasting provides a roller coaster of heartbreaking, sweet, and honest moments as so many realizations are made. For me, it was so nice to spend 300 more pages reuniting with some of my favorite girls with the added reassurance that fighting for friendships is so important.(less)
Just like The Gap Year, I can’t stop yakking my head off about how amazingly wonderful this book is....moreReview originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog
Just like The Gap Year, I can’t stop yakking my head off about how amazingly wonderful this book is. What is there not to love about a book featuring two people road tripping across the country with some awesome tunes on the radio. The book could have easily fallen into the realm of cliché, but Roger and Amy’s characters are both so well-developed and with every passing day in that car, the change in each of them is evident.
First of all, as a huge fan of theatre myself, I loved that Amy was an aspiring actress and fan of Sondheim. (I love him too.) It’s also awesome that she loves a good diner. (Being originally from Jersey, I understand this.) Second, I love that she doesn’t feel the need to “make friends” with Roger at first. She’s dealing with so much, and I think Matson does an amazing job of creating this internal Anna. She’s down to earth. She’s honest. She’s hurting and her emotions are raw. The flashbacks are smoothly woven within the present day story and I feel with each chapter, we get a better grasp as to the blame Anna is placing on herself for the end of her family as she knew it, and also this rebirth of hope for the future.
Roger, at the same time, is trying to figure out why his relationship just ended. He’s also stuck in the car with a girl he hardly knows and who just went through some traumatic events. He is a trooper, he is a rock, and he never pushes. For a change, it’s nice (well, you know what I mean) to see a boy who is constantly calling a girl who won’t call him back and is giving him vague answers to questions.
In addition, every character they meet up with has a hand in helping these characters discover the truths about themselves and push them closer together. I’m not dense. Even from the cover, you realize somehow, someway, these two are going to end up together. (Even if Roger and Amy had no idea.) Whether for an evening, or for something more meaningful. They need each other. And when we finally reach that point, it’s perfect even though their future together remains unknown.
There are some lovely, touching moments in this book. Particularly when Amy reaches Graceland and visits her brother in a rehab facility. The experiences that unfold when they are trying to track down Roger’s ex are also very unexpected but genuine and important.
I can’t say enough fantastic things about this book. I was truly sad when it was over, knowing it was going to take something spellbinding and absolutely groundbreaking to make me feel as complete and as changed as Amy & Roger did. One more amazing detail: I love when books use other mediums to tell a story – like the travel scrapbook and the playlists I have printed out and are waiting for me to make them myself.
Do you get what I’m saying yet? READ THIS BOOK. (less)
When I wrote my review of J.H. Trumble’s Don’t Let Me Go in March, I wrote about how I kept thinking of the main characters of that story like they were people I had actually known in real life.
Fast forward almost nine months later, and I’m standing in a store parking lot in the freezing cold, on the brink of what is going to be a difficult two days for my family, and I am thinking about Robert and Andrew in the same way. What are they up to? What are they thinking? If they lived in my hometown, would I be calling them to hang out right now?
I’ve wracked my brain trying to figure out how Trumble makes her characters so human — flaws and all — and I come up short every single time. Because it just happens. It is so natural how these characters live and breathe on the page, even when I disagree with their actions and especially when everything becomes right in their worlds.
For many of you, a little red flag is going to pop up when you see “student/teacher” relationship. I’m not here to talk about a moral code or the importance of maintaining boundaries. Because as soon as I started reading about Andrew and Robert, all of their labels seemed to dissipate and I was left with two young men who really cared for each other. Two men who needed each other in different ways, and two people who actively tried to keep themselves at a distance (time and time again).
One of the most fascinating details about these characters is just how differently they deal with their sexuality. Robert was very open, and frustrated with a boyfriend who would rather hang out with “his girls” and not bother to kiss him, while Andrew was very focused on keeping his private life private (those nosey teachers!), even if it meant allowing people to think he was attracted to women. As the novel goes on, this difference created many scenes of role reversal where Robert actually seems to be the older one and Andrew, the more giddy.
On the surface, Where You Are was this kind of epic love story but the author also developed complex and intertwining back stories that allow the reader to dig deeper into these characters and help us to understand who they really are. I really loved Robert’s relationship with his mother (even the messy parts) and Andrew’s ex-wife, Maya, who always kept me guessing. (This is a good thing.) Trumble also skillfully integrated the influence of social media in our lives — from the accounts Andrew chooses to follow, secret fan pages, and a partner in bullying.
I read this book twice before I wrote the review (and I’ve only done that one other time this year with Marisa Calin’s Between You and Me) because I had to relive it again. I had to make sure I didn’t miss out on any one detail. Trumble has officially spoiled me with rich characters, feelings that make me feel everything, intricate details, the cool balance of family and school life, and a controversial topic that is dealt with so delicately and so passionately.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Trumble is an author to look out for.
(And I apologize in advance because if you react to this book like I did, you will not be able to get much done before you finish it.) (less)
When I was in college I had a boyfriend who LOVED country music. He even had a cowboy hat and boots...moreReview originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog:
When I was in college I had a boyfriend who LOVED country music. He even had a cowboy hat and boots he would wear sometimes. (I’m sure it was just to taunt me.) But this freaking kid would listen to country music in the car all the time and I despised it. I would never like country music. Well, I might as well have shot myself in the foot because guess what? He made a country music lover out of me. That was 7 years ago and country music is still my tune of choice. (Much to my husband’s chagrin, I’m sure.)
So I get the whole quick to judge thing. I do this all the time. Even after my change of heart when it came to certain friends, my husband, and country music, I still do this. So I understood Quinn and her sudden judgments about her sorority sister cousin and the annoying cowboy next door, Russ. Sometimes people are stubborn (hi, me) and sometimes they need to be proven wrong (that’s me again). I loved this premise. Even more so because Quinn was an older character for YA, on the verge of starting college.
Now the setting. You may know by now that Magan is from Austin and I live in New York and I met her at a friend’s wedding IN Austin. So Lovestruck Summer practically felt like OUR story. (Well, sort of.) I have such love for Austin even if I’ve only been there twice and I was giddy when reading about certain locations I went to visit. (Thanks to my pal Carly and her husband David for being such awesome tour guides!) The novel was practically a love song for Austin and I came very close to booking my next trip out there multiple times.
I first discovered this title when April from Good Books and Good Wine listed it as a book with a deceiving cover. WAS SHE EVER RIGHT! This book is more than neon swim tubes and water. In fact, I thought it was downright IRONIC that Lovestruck Summer had this cover when the book was basically about reevaluating judgments and first impressions. Lovestruck Summer dives beneath the surface and introduces some unique main characters and a summer that brings about much change for many of its characters. It’s fast paced and entertaining, and gee, my only complaint is that it wasn’t a little bit longer.
Look no further for the perfect summer read. It’s funny, it’s sweet, and just like it’s cover — more than meets the eye.(less)
It's says a lot about a book when you are hooked just as much (or more) the second time around. I love Jase and Sam's love story. It's so re...more4.5 stars.
It's says a lot about a book when you are hooked just as much (or more) the second time around. I love Jase and Sam's love story. It's so real and sweet and natural. Fitzpatrick introduces a variety of lively supporting characters (it's so hard not to fall in love with little George) and even subplots so that are relatable -- how to help a friend who doesn't want help, finding yourself at odds with your best friend, and a mother who worries more about appearances and her future than her family and doing what's right.
This isn't just a sunshine and summer book, and I really appreciate the author adding so much depth to these characters and this story. There are many (tough) decisions to be made and also bravery to be found for so many of these characters.
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman is actually one of my favorite books from when I was a kid. I’m not...moreOriginally reviewed on Rather Be Reading Blog
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman is actually one of my favorite books from when I was a kid. I’m not sure when I initially read it, but if I had to guess I would say it was around eighth grade. I was really like Kate back then — I wore glasses, I wasn’t exactly Miss Popular, and I was pining away for the most unattainable guy on the planet.
I know it gave me hope that a girl like me — bookish and all — could have her love story too.
Now almost 15 years later (ack! I am having a mini heart attack typing that), my original copy is long gone (be careful about lending your books out, people!) and I am out of college, working, and married. When I saw this book mentioned somewhere last year, I was automatically hit by how much it meant to me back then and I ordered a used copy.
Did it hold up?
From the very beginning, we know that Kate has somehow reached her own happy ending. The fun part for the readers is piecing together how all of that came together, and Kate helps us out by using her handy-dandy romance novel-writing guide to tell us how it really went down. The style isn’t perfect (it gets a bit clunky at times) but it’s definitely refreshing to experience a new style in young adult every now and then. Kate is also sure to include “revisions” to further explain some of the characters and talk through some of the plot and characterization problems. This is where she was at her funniest, and we got to learn more about Kate as a character.
So basically it’s the most romantic time of the year, her best friend has a boyfriend, and Kate’s brother comes home from school with his wife (they married young), Richard (her brother’s best friend who she has loved forever), and Fleur (who she assumes to be Richard’s beautiful girlfriend but instead turns out to be pretty awesome). Will Richard ever see Kate than more than just his best friend’s kid sister? As a leading guy, we don’t get to know Richard all that well… in fact I kind of picture of him as a classic stud, sort of like a young JFK Jr. He’s smart, accomplished, handsome, and funny.
What I love about Kate is that she is completely real. She’s definitely self-conscious but she knows who she is. And while she watches Ashley repeatedly throw herself at Richard (despite that boyfriend of hers), Kate is also left to question the worth of their friendship and if Ashley has ever had her best interest at heart.
Like any teenage romance, there is plenty of drama to go around and while Louise Plummer may let some people off a bit too easily at the end, it’s nice to see the too-tall girl with the bad eyesight win out and not feel like she has to be big-boobed, overly made up to find happiness.
Even after all these years, The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman still holds up as one of my favorite holiday reads. It has the quirky family, the swoony romance, and the perfect dose of Christmas spirit. (less)
Quick note: Just completed my third read of this and I was struck mostly by the great family dynamics (Mike is a great older brother, even J...more3.5 stars.
Quick note: Just completed my third read of this and I was struck mostly by the great family dynamics (Mike is a great older brother, even Jordan's dad means well, and yay for a supportive mom who also has a voice in the household) and the strong friendships (JJ, Carter, Henry). Jordan is such a headstrong character who has a lot to learn about life, herself, and love and I think she makes a lot of mistakes in this book but I'm totally okay with it.
Original: Very unique and creative storyline. Took me a while to understand the jargon... but I got hooked ver...moreReread review on RatherBeReadingBlog.com
Original: Very unique and creative storyline. Took me a while to understand the jargon... but I got hooked very fast and can't wait to find out what happens in this series. Different from the Jessica Darling series -- it seems like it came from an entirely different part of Megan's brain. The story is disturbing, intriguing, and full of twists of turns. And now I have to wait until 2012 to read the rest. :(
I applaud Megan for writing this book. She definitely took a risk taking on such imaginative subject matter after writing something so "present" in the past. (ha)(less)
August 2014: #ISLAisCOMING reread. Is it possible to love a book as much as you did the first time you read it? Possibly even more. Even tho...more4.5 stars.
August 2014: #ISLAisCOMING reread. Is it possible to love a book as much as you did the first time you read it? Possibly even more. Even though I knew how it was all going to go down, I did not want to leave Anna & St. Clair's world. Perkins balances change, parental issues, friendship, and more. Plus, it's a love letter to Paris. I must go!
July 2011: Do not be fooled by this title. Well-written, addicting and starring one of the quirkiest characters I've read in a long time.(less)
I know a lot of people don't trust when celebrities write books but I do like Hilary's writing here. It's not the smoothest, there's a lot more tellin...moreI know a lot of people don't trust when celebrities write books but I do like Hilary's writing here. It's not the smoothest, there's a lot more telling than showing, but the story she has created is really intriguing + the chemistry between Sage and Clea is hard to deny.
I've heard the second book in the series is an improvement + I'm looking forward to it.(less)