I don’t often re-read bookThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
I don’t often re-read books, especially ones I read before I started book blogging. Since I started the blog, my tastes have changed so much, plus I’ve become a much more critical reader. I’m always afraid books I loved a few years ago won’t hold up in my mind and it’ll taint the way I once felt about them.
When I heard Sarah Addison Allen had written a sequel to Garden Spells, a book I read and loved several years ago, I was excited. I remembered Garden Spells fondly, and decided to reread it before First Frost came out, despite my fear of it not holding up. I loved this book as much now as I did when I first read it. Beautifully written, romantic, bittersweet, and full of magic and whimsy, Garden Spells remains one of my favourite books.
Everyone in Bascom, North Carolina, knows there’s something strange about the Waverleys. They’re drawn to them as much as they’re repelled. Each Waverley has her own kind of magic, although most people don’t see it as magic, they see it as something peculiar. Claire has a special way with food; Sydney has a gift with hair; Evanelle has to give people things they’ll need, even though she doesn’t know why they’ll need them; and Bay instinctively knows where things (and people) belong. I love how the characters stories were woven together, and how we even got glimpses into other side characters’ lives when they were affected by the Waverley women.
Magical realism is still something that fascinates me. Garden Spells is contemporary - set in our world with real people going through real things - but there are these bits of magic woven throughout. And what’s amazing about that magic is that it’s done in a way that’s completely believable. I think it helps if you have an active imagination and an open mind, but I never questioned Claire’s gifts or Sydney’s or Bay’s or Evanelle’s. Sarah Addison Allen has a magic of her own with her ability to write things that are fantastical but also believable.
This book explores love in its many forms. It shows the gritty, painful side of family, but also the unbreakable bonds that come from truly understanding yourself and your kin. You get to see the triumphs and failures people experience, the difficult parts of life, as well as the good parts. Garden Spells is the perfect book if you’re looking for an escape from reality. This enchanting and unique book draws you in, tugs on your heartstrings, and makes you believe in magic. ...more
*Review originally posted in November 2011. I'm re-reading the book as part of Once Upon a Prologue's ANNA Read-A-Long, and I'll likely write a 'secon*Review originally posted in November 2011. I'm re-reading the book as part of Once Upon a Prologue's ANNA Read-A-Long, and I'll likely write a 'second opinion' review.*
There are some books that people rave about, and you have to wonder how good they can actually be. Anna and the French Kiss was one of those books. Every blogger and reviewer I came across gushed about this book. And with good reason. It really is as good as everyone says it is.
I hate to be a gushing, squeeing fangirl, but I really, really loved this book! It was simple but in the most beautiful, brilliant, perfect way. I finished this book almost two weeks ago and I’ve been putting off my review because my thoughts are so personal; it’s like I want to be greedy and keep them all to myself lol. But this book was too good not to share, so here goes...
I guess I’ll start with Anna. She was so likeable and easy to relate to. She reminded me a lot of myself in some ways - kind of unsure and awkward, wanting to fit in…I saw a lot of myself in her, right down to the gap in her front teeth. There’s this sweetness and innocence about her that I just loved.
As for Etienne…I lost count of the times I swooned over that boy! He’s funny, sweet, smart, protective, easy-going, and wants to make people happy. He seems perfect, but he’s really not, and I loved that about him.
Anna and Etienne’s relationship…I loved how they started out as friends, and I loved watching their relationship blossom. I thought the little observations they made about each other, and the fact that they knew each other so well was adorable. They talked about real things, and genuinely became best friends, even as their feelings for each other developed. I was rooting so hard for them to just get together already, but at the same time, I loved their friendship and the dynamic between them.
Another thing that really drew me in was the setting. I went to Paris when I was 17 (same age as Anna, go figure); it’s so rare for me to read a book set somewhere I’ve actually been. Most books are set in fictional places, or big cities that I’ve never been like New York or London or Dublin or Chicago. But I’ve actually been to Paris, and I got to see a lot of the stuff Anna saw. I came to think of Paris as an extra character in the book, and loved the parts where Anna, Etienne, and their friends were out in the city doing things.
I actually learned a few things too, which is always exciting for me because I love to learn, and I love to know seemingly useless little facts. My head is full of them. For instance, do you know the difference between a cemetery and a graveyard? I didn’t before reading Anna. Nor did I know the difference between a gargoyle and a chimera.
This book was just perfection to me. I laughed (and laughed and laughed and laughed some more), cried, swooned, fell in love, and felt like I was losing a best friend when the story ended. Anna was such an incredible character, and I enjoyed following her on her journey as she learned sometimes-painful lessons about life, love, friendship, family, independence, and courage. ...more
I didn't think I could possibly love this book as much as I loved Anna and the French kiss, but man...*bows down to Stephanie Perkins' awesomeness* RevI didn't think I could possibly love this book as much as I loved Anna and the French kiss, but man...*bows down to Stephanie Perkins' awesomeness* Review to come!...more
I loved this book. Loved.This review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
I loved this book. Loved. I can understand why some people don’t like contemporary women’s fiction/romance/chick lit - it’s a lot of dialogue and self-reflection on the main character’s part, but I love that sort of thing. It’s like getting a look into someone’s life and thoughts and dreams and fears, and sometimes seeing yourself there and knowing you’re not alone.
A Scottish Ferry Tale was unbelievably romantic, laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreaking, sexy, and so many other things. I’ve always had this secret fantasy (or not-so-secret to those who know me well) of going to Ireland or Scotland or England (I love boys with accents, what can I say) and falling in love. It just seems so spontaneous and romantic. In so many ways, I felt like this was my story come to life on the pages of a book.
I completely fell in love with Ralph. He was sweet and sexy and romantic and thoughtful, and not afraid to show his emotions or tell Cassie what he was thinking or how he was feeling. It was a refreshing change from guys in books who feel like they have to be ‘manly’ and keep all their emotions hidden. The relationship between Ralph and Cassie had me sighing and swooning. The romance junkie in me approved 100%.
Cassie was a great character, too - very relatable in her insecurities and self-doubts. Her inner dialogue was frank and often humourous, and I found myself relating to her very easily. There were fantastic secondary characters, too. Everyone just seemed so real, and I loved that. I wanted to know these people and be part of their world.
This was hands-down the best self-published book I’ve read. It was well-written and well-edited, which isn’t always the case with self-published books (and I am in no way bashing self-pubbed authors, since I am one myself…I’m just stating a fact). As a writer and editor, it kills me a little on the inside each time I read a book that clearly hasn’t been edited, or that has been written with no thought to plot or character development. That’s part of the reason self-published authors still get looked down on by some people. I found it hard to believe this was a self-pubbed book because it was of a caliber I’m not accustomed to seeing (yet) in the indie world. Well done, Ms Volkers....more
I don't know where to starThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
I don't know where to start with this one. There were so many things I loved about Wanderlove.
First of all, Bria was a great character. She was believable, relatable, and likable. I admired her bravery in traveling alone; it's something I've always secretly wanted to do, but have never had the guts to actually do. Bria wanted to temporarily escape her life and all the people who disappointed her and hurt her in various ways, and she succeeded in doing that while having the adventure of a lifetime, and learning surprising things about herself. Her thoughts, emotions, and reactions were so real. She grew so much as a character, and I loved taking that journey with her.
The secondary characters were great, too. Rowan, Starling, and all the other people who made appearances throughout the story. They added to Bria's journey of discovery, and to the story itself with their humour, insight, and knowledge.
I loved how the relationship between Bria and Rowan grew. Their friendship started off kind of rocky and had its moments, but it was enjoyable, whether they were arguing or laughing. They learned a lot from each other and about each other. I loved how the romance between them took time to blossom, and it wasn't the main focus of the story - this was Bria's journey, and in a lot of ways it was Rowan's journey too; it was about them becoming whole people, confronting their demons and their pasts, and figuring out how to move on.
I also really loved learning about the places Bria went. I've never had any real interest in traveling to Central America - nothing against it, I'm just not really a tropical kind of girl. Beaches don't do much for me, and neither does the heat. I'm the type who would rather go to Europe and see historical sites and museums and monuments and scenery. But after reading Wanderlove, I'm actually considering adding the places Bria visited to my bucket list. They were described so vividly - the good, the bad, the sketchy, and the beautiful. I was always excited to see where Bria and Rowan would end up next, and learn little tidbits about local culture and custom.
I try not to compare books to other books - "if you enjoyed *insert title here*, you'll enjoy this book". It doesn't really seem fair, since all books are different. But...I'm going to make an exception, and I mean this as the greatest compliment ever, because these are two of my favorite books. Wanderlove reminded me in the best possible ways of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. The relationships that start out as friends, those sweet, squee-worthy will-they/won't they moments, the witty banter, the developing feelings kept secret, etc. And of course, the travel. The exploration and discovery. The stories themselves are completely different and unique, but some of the elements are what makes these three of my favorite books.
Overall, I thought this book was amazing. Plain and simple. I loved everything about it, from the characters to the dialogue to the places to the writing style. Oh! And the drawings...how could I forget about the drawings? They were amazing, and added so much to the visual appeal of the book. Ms. Hubbard is multi-talented! Books like this are the reason I love contemporary young adult....more
I don’t really know what tThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
I don’t really know what to say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. So many things come to mind, and I’m not sure any of them can do justice to just how incredible this book is. It was unique, fascinating, heartbreaking, romantic, thrilling, suspenseful, captivating. Some of the many, many things I loved: Forbidden love. Prague. Flying. Angel wings. Giant marionettes. Elsewhere. Poison Kitchen. Wishes. Hope. I could go on and on, there were just so many things to love about this book.
Ms Taylor’s writing was so achingly beautiful and poetic, there were times it almost brought me to tears. I had to reread certain parts because they touched me so deeply, and as a writer myself I aspire to have a talent like that. I became so immersed in Karou and Akiva’s worlds, I never wanted to leave.
The characters in this book are fantastic. Karou and Akiva especially are so real - their emotions, their actions, their reactions. Karou was no-nonsense and kick-ass, but there was this vulnerability about her, too. Akiva was so intense and haunted, and despite the things he had seen and done, he had an innocence about him that made me love him.
I also loved the secondary characters. They made the story so much richer and more vibrant, whether you loved them or hated them. I loved the hilarious, sometimes snarky dialogue between Karou and her best friend Zuzana. It reminded me of the way my friends and I talked in high school, and made me feel like I was right there with them.
As for the romance: *swoon* I know some people don’t like forbidden love romances, but this one was epic. I loved that it didn’t happen right away, and that we got a chance to know Karou on her own first. Then we met Akiva, and things slowly started happening and the romance began to unfold. Wow. Their love was so beautiful and heartbreaking; I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.
It’s only February, but this is already one of my favorite books of the year, and I’m quite certain that at the end of the year it’ll be making my list of favorites for 2012....more
Hushed is a unique, beautiThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Hushed is a unique, beautiful, disturbing, haunting story that left me feeling a wide variety of emotions.
I have to admit that when Stacey from Entangled Publishing emailed me and asked if I’d be interested in reading Hushed, I was equal parts intrigued and wary. I’m not usually much for thrillers, and I hadn’t read any YA books that dealt with GLBT themes, and was curious how that would be handled - not because I don’t like those types of stories, but because any time I’ve read a book where there’s even a gay best friend, he’s always a stereotype and that makes me angry. I quickly discovered I didn’t have to worry about that with Hushed.
Archer was an incredible character. My heart ached so much for him. The things he did were so wrong, but he did them out of love and loyalty. He wasn’t a bad person, despite the bad things he did. I never thought I’d be able to sympathize with a murderer, but Archer’s character was so well-developed, I realized it’s not always black and white - there’s a lot of gray. To me, this entire story took part in a gray area.
Archer was so misguided, wanting desperately to be loved by Vivian the way he’d always loved her. Everything he did was for her - to keep her safe, to protect her, to get retribution for her. He had such a sick relationship with Vivian, and she had this seemingly unbreakable hold on him.
The relationship between Archer and Evan was one of my favorite things about this book. It was interesting watching their relationship blossom - from Archer’s initial resistance, even though there was something about Evan that captivated his attention, to them becoming friends and then more. Evan was the best thing that could have happened to Archer, and their relationship was so achingly sweet. They are one of my new favorite YA couples.
***Spoiler alert*** I had a feeling all along that Archer wouldn’t have to pay for his crimes. In the back of my mind, that bothered me because people should have to pay for their crimes, especially murder. But that’s when that whole black-and-white/gray area thing comes into play again. When it actually came time and Archer could have confessed, I was holding my breath hoping he wouldn’t. He paid in so many other ways - mentally, emotionally, and psychologically, I hated the idea of him ending up in jail away from Evan, who was the one person who kept him grounded. I was very satisfied with the ending, and thought it was fitting. ...more
Don’t You Wish waThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Don’t You Wish was a book that made me laugh, cry, swoon, cringe, fall in love, and realize how lucky I was in high school. This is another book in a long line of truly amazing, well written, and inspirational contemporary young adult books that has been released in 2012.
Annie Nutter is invisible, except when she’s being tormented by kids at school. She has a pretty normal family - her dad is a bit nutty, her little brother is extra annoying, and her mom is fairly ordinary. There’s nothing extraordinary about her life, and nothing that makes her special (in her mind), which makes Annie wish for more. She wishes she were pretty and popular and had a boyfriend and a bigger house. But when she magically gets sent to an alternate universe where she - as Ayla Monroe - has all those things and more, it’s not at all what she expected.
I could relate to Annie in so many ways. I wasn’t popular at all in high school, and although I had to deal with bullies on occasion, I wasn’t tormented the way Annie was. But, like Annie, I wished I was prettier, had more friends, a boyfriend, and more money. Even though I realized how lucky I was to have what I did have, it didn’t stop me from sometimes fantasizing about having more, just like Annie did.
I loved the progression Annie made throughout the book. She became stronger, smarter, more independent, and she realized that her very best qualities - her kindness, her honesty, her loyalty - were qualities to be admired. She was funny and quirky and I really connected with her.
Then there was Charlie. Oh, Charlie. He was so sweet, and I loved that the relationship between him and Annie/Ayla wasn’t easy. Even though she was Annie on the inside, she was still Ayla on the outside, and Ayla was a nasty piece of work. Together Charlie and Annie learned that things aren’t always what they appear, and the bond that formed between them melted my heart. I also loved Missy - the whole situation with her broke my heart, but her positivity and faith were inspiring.
This book was a nice balance between cute and light, and poignant and thought provoking. I felt for Annie/Ayla through the whole book - first when she was a geeky plain-Jane, and then when she was trapped in Ayla’s life trying to make things better, and also trying to decide whether she should find a way back home or stay. There were moments that broke my heart as I watched Annie/Ayla struggle. Part of her loved her glamorous new life - being popular and beautiful, having money and power - but she missed her old life, old friends, and her real family.
Something else I enjoyed about this book was that it was very honest and talked about some of the darker happenings in teenagers’ lives - sex, bullying, cheating, lying, shoplifting, etc. St. Claire didn’t shy away from telling it like it is, talking about real subjects, and exposing the ugly truth that a lot of books stay away from. Friends aren’t always loyal and loving with your best interests at heart; families are often screwed up; and sex isn’t always sweet and romantic. There was no sugar coating, and I loved that.
As an adult, I really appreciated the lessons in this book, and I know I would have appreciated them as a teenager. In fact, I wish this book had come out when I was a teenager. Sometimes we need a reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and that just because people are rich and popular doesn’t mean they’re happy. It’s also nice to be reminded that sometimes there’s a reason we don’t get what we wish for - it wasn’t meant to be, or what we thought we wanted might not really be what we wanted or needed at all.
Sweet, funny, and surprisingly emotional, Don’t You Wish was a book that reminded me why contemporary young adult is my favourite genre. ...more
The Near Witch was a uniquThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
The Near Witch was a unique, beautifully written, captivating story that had a little bit of everything - romance, intrigue, suspense, and a touch of creepiness. It was so lyrical and poetic, I was awed at Ms. Schwab’s skill.
Near is a small community where there are no strangers. Because of this, Lexi has lived a very sheltered life, although she’s much more independent and strong-minded - and open-minded - than many of the other people in Near. I really enjoyed her as a character, and found her easy to relate to.
The concept for this book was great. The wind, the witches, the disappearing children - it was all so creepy and suspenseful and mysterious. I loved the fairy tale feel to it, and it was all very skillfully woven together with other aspects, like Lexi trying to assert her independence, and the romance between her and Cole.
Cole broke my heart at first - he was so tortured and intense, afraid to allow Lexi to get close to him, but wanting to help her at the same time. He was so incredibly sweet and gentle, I completely fell in love with him.
I really can’t say enough good things about this book. I’m glad I own it (thank you Molli!), because I know I’ll read it again eventually. ...more
Catching Jordan is unlikeThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Catching Jordan is unlike anything I’ve ever read - for that reason alone, it gets major bonus points. And Jordan isn’t your typical leading lady - she’s the captain of her school’s football team, a tomboy, and her best friends are all guys.
Jordan is strong, independent, and focused. She works hard and goes after what she wants. She has her flaws - she can be a bit short-sighted - but it makes her even more believable as a character. I think it’s those flaws and her secret insecurities that make her relatable since it’s likely that the majority of girls who read this book might not necessarily relate to her on the athlete/tomboy level.
One of the things I really love about Jordan is her progression as a character. She learned so much, not only about herself, but also about life in general. Growing up is hard and sometimes painful, and you don’t always get what you want or what you thought you wanted, but sometimes it’s because there’s something even better out there. Jordan overcame a lot of obstacles and never gave up, and I love that she was a tough, fierce character with a lot of heart.
Jordan’s friends are also amazing. Books with standout secondary characters are quickly becoming my favourites. This book has made that list - not only is Jordan a terrific, multi-dimensional character, we also get to know her best friend Henry, her other best friends/teammates JJ and Carter, her love interest Ty, a couple of newfound girl friends, as well as her family. I love that her mom is always there, but in a quiet, understated way - she’s the type of mom most people dream of having. Her dad is made out to be a bit of a villain at first, but as Jordan develops and grows, she sees that he always had her best interests at heart, even if he had a funny way of showing it.
Another fantastic element of this book is the humour. Jordan’s inner dialogue and her conversations with family and friends had me cracking up. Because Jordan isn’t your ‘typical girl’, it’s hard for her to do girly things - wear dresses, fix her hair and makeup, act ladylike, come to terms with having feelings for guys. There was a perfect mixture of humour and genuine relatable emotion. But despite being funny, the story had a surprising amount of depth too, and more than once I actually got teary-eyed.
And finally, I thought the romance was extremely well done. It’s not instalove and it’s definitely not easy - but it’s sweet and funny and different. It’s not all hearts and roses and sunshine, because Jordan’s not that type of girl. It kept me guessing, and also kept me grinning.
If you’re looking for something that’s funny, cute, heartwarming, and real, with well-developed characters, a sweet romance, and a plot that’s different from the usual YA contemporary, Catching Jordan is a must read....more
Under the Never Sky is hanThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Under the Never Sky is hands-down one of my favourite books of 2012 so far. This book had a bit of everything - action, romance, and suspense, paired with an incredibly unique story and unforgettable characters.
The concept for this story was absolutely brilliant. I haven’t read that many dystopian novels, but so many of them are the same at the heart - the story may be a bit different, the characters vary, but the basic plotline is similar. That’s definitely not the case with Under the Never Sky. Right from the beginning we’re thrown into the action. It was a bit disorienting at first because there wasn’t much time to acclimate. I didn’t know where or when we were, or what was going on, but that sense of drama and suspense was there right from the very beginning, and I knew this story was going to be different from the others I'd read in the genre.
The characters in Under the Never Sky really make this story. Aria is strong and smart, but there’s this innocence to her because she’s led such a sheltered life. She adapts quickly and learns just as quickly, and she realizes she’s tougher than she ever imagined, and she’s a survivor. I loved watching her growth as a character.
Peregrine - or Perry - is this tortured character who’s haunted by his past, by his Senses, by his feelings. He’s intense, but he has all these different, surprising sides to him that he slowly reveals to Aria. There were times when he broke my heart, but he also made my heart melt.
Then there’s Roar. I can’t remember the last time I loved a secondary character this much. He’s this sexy rogue with a big heart, and I fell in love with him almost as much as I did with Perry. I can’t wait to see more of him and to learn more about him in the next book.
I loved the progression of Aria and Peregrine’s relationship. At first it was all about fear, hatred, misunderstanding, and misconceptions. When they started to accept each other, it was begrudgingly - they didn’t want to admit that they might need each other or might be able to help each other. Along the way, there were moments that were so achingly sweet I had to read them several times just because they gave me butterflies. There were also scenes that were sexy, but even those were so sweet they made my heart ache in the best way possible.
One thing I loved about the story was that despite the fact this book took place in a post-apocalyptic world, it sometimes felt more like an historic novel - something like Robin Hood that took place in the middle ages. I absolutely loved that. It was fascinating how the worlds were different - Reverie was unbelievably high-tech, while the Outside was almost primitive (which is when it reminded me of something historical rather than futuristic), and Delphi was a mixture of both. I thought that was brilliant, and it was one of the many things that set this book apart.
The pacing was quite slow, and it made the book feel much longer than it actually was. At times I thought that would affect my overall feelings toward the book, but by the time I reached the middle, I was enjoying every single word and every single scene, and I wouldn’t have wanted anything to change. There’s so much depth to the characters and the story itself, and it unfolds slowly with these little jewels of revelations and revealed secrets. The writing is so beautiful, and Rossi has such a unique writing style that sometimes I forgot I was reading a YA book.
Overall, Under the Never Sky is an extraordinary book that is a must-read in my opinion. With a storyline that is unique, engaging, and driven by emotion, along with characters that leap off the page, this book is the perfect start to a series that’s sure to be a favourite. ...more
My Life Next Door by HuntThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of many amazing debut novels of 2012, and in my opinion, one of the best YA contemporaries of the year. This book made me feel so much - I fell in love, I laughed, I cried, I swooned, it made my heart ache, and it made me happy and angry and everything in between. It was sweet, funny, sexy, romantic, and real.
I really connected with Samantha. I felt everything she felt - the disappointment, uncertainty, love, hurt, anger. She was such a great character - so genuine and relatable. And I absolutely adored Jase. He was so calm and unflappable and he really saw Samantha when so many other people - including her own family - overlooked her and took her for granted. I admired his love and loyalty to his family, and his willingness to do anything for them. The Garretts were the best thing to ever happen to Samantha - she fit in with them, and they loved her, accepted her, and needed her.
Besides Samantha and Jase - who are easily two of my favourite characters ever - the secondary characters really made this book, whether you loved them or they made your blood boil. Jase’s siblings were great, especially George and Patsy, the youngest two. They were absolutely hilarious, and whenever they were in a scene, I was laughing out loud. Although Nan, Samantha’s ‘best friend’ made me really angry, I loved Nan's brother Tim. He was proof that sometimes screwed up people just need a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) chance to get things right. I loved that he really came through for not only Samantha, but also for Jase and the Garretts after a rocky beginning, and a stretch of being a not-so-great friend. He’s someone I’d love to see more of…maybe in a companion novel? *hint hint Ms Fitzpatrick!* ;-)
I disliked Sam’s mother from the beginning - she was such a hypocrite, claiming in her political campaign that family was the most important thing, and yet she neglected and mistreated her own family. I literally felt my blood pressure rising through the last quarter or so of the book when things got really bad with her mom. I’m a slow reader, but I was zooming through the pages, hardly able to turn them fast enough to see what happened next. I couldn’t imagine how it was going to resolve, and I loved that added tension and depth.
My Life Next Door isn’t just about romance. It’s about friendship, family, loyalty, second chances, truth, and life. Lovable characters, a great plot and subplots, a swoonworthy romance, and excellent writing make this book a must-read for fans of contemporary young adult fiction....more
The Princesses oThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
The Princesses of Iowa wasn’t what I expected at all. It made me feel so much, I don’t even really know where to begin. I can tell you that at the time of writing this review, it’s been several weeks since I finished reading the book, and it’s still on my mind.
Paige is a perfect princess. Or at least, that’s the image she’s projected to people her entire life. She and her two best friends have worked toward being princesses for most of their lives - being pretty, being popular, and having people see them as worthy of attention and admiration. That’s all that really matters in life. But when Paige realizes how shallow and superficial she’s been, and that her friends are just as bad - if not worse - life changes completely for her.
Her mother’s obsessive need for perfection made Paige paranoid and self-conscious. I lost count of the number of times my jaw dropped at the critical things her mother said, or the back-handed compliments. As ridiculous as it may sound, there were moments when I wanted to cry, because I couldn’t imagine a mother actually saying those things, being so selfish, or putting that much pressure on her daughter.
I connected with Paige on a very deep level. Even though her life was completely different from mine, I could put myself in her shoes so easily. Nobody really saw her for her. Nobody knew the real Paige. Paige didn’t even really know the real Paige, but as she learned more about herself, as her character grew and changed, I was so proud of her for her self-discovery. Besides her own issues, and the tough life lessons she had to learn, she was surrounded by hypocrisy, racism, bigotry, and homophobia. She’d never realized that before, but she was able to learn the importance of taking responsibility for your actions and not only owning up to your mistakes, but learning from them as well.
The secondary characters were absolutely brilliant, especially Ethan and Shanti. I wish I had friends like them, and I also found myself falling for Ethan. They had surprising depth for secondary characters, and I couldn’t wait for more scenes with them. I also liked the progression made by Paige’s sister, Miranda/Mirror, and I loved Mr. Tremont, not only because he was a great character in his own right, but also because he was one of the main reasons Paige started to dig deeper and realize her true self.
An unexpected bonus of this book was that there were parts that were hilariously funny. The subject matter was so heavy that it was nice to have those moments where I would laugh until I cried (there was one scene in particular that involved Paige, Ethan, and Shanti). And yet, I would laugh and laugh, and then a minute later, Paige would think or say or do something so heartbreaking or poignant that I’d be ready to cry. And I will admit, I did cry several times. This book really did evoke a lot of emotion in me.
I only have a few small complaints about this book. The first is that it was incredibly long. There were these beautiful, elaborate descriptions that I personally enjoyed and could appreciate as a writer, but I think a lot of other people might see it as unnecessary or ‘filler’. I read a review where the reviewer said the book was like ‘a love letter to writing’, and that really stuck with me as being true, but again, as a writer, I enjoyed the descriptions. I also thought that for such a long book, the ending was rather abrupt. Everything was technically wrapped up, it just felt sort of rushed after so much story.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Beautiful, poignant, brilliantly funny, and achingly real, The Princesses of Iowa is a debut that should not be missed. ...more
In Lies Beneath,This review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
In Lies Beneath, debut author Anne Greenwood Brown weaves an intoxicating tale that is dark and somewhat disturbing, but also thrilling, romantic, and, at times heartbreaking. This was the first mermaid book I’ve read, and I can definitely tell you it won’t be the last.
There’s no wasting time in the beginning, the story jumps right in and we’re introduced to Calder, who is wishing he could avoid his yearly reunion with his mermaid sisters. I have to admit, there was part of me that didn’t want to like Calder. He was a monster and a murderer, but it didn’t take me long to realize he was so much more than that, and the ‘monster’ and ‘murderer’ in him were part of his nature. It would be hypocritical of me to hate him for that when I love vampires and other supernatural killers, right? Plus, Calder wanted so badly to separate himself from his inherent nature and not be like other merpeople, especially his dangerous and deadly sisters.
I really started to like Calder when he began interacting with Lily. It was a struggle for them at first, because Calder didn’t know how to act human, and he made Lily nervous with his forthright nature, and the fact that he always seemed to be around. At first, Calder did his best to keep things impersonal - he had a mission, and he couldn’t let anything get in the way. Only, something did get in the way - his growing feelings for Lily.
Lily was very different from a lot of other girls in books. I wasn’t sure I would like her at first, because she seemed so determined to be different, but then I saw that it wasn’t necessarily that she was trying to be different, she was different, and she just wanted to express herself. She was free-spirited and fearless with a touch of a rebellious soul, but there was also this sweetness and innocence to her that was refreshing, and that made me love her.
My favorite scenes were definitely the ones where Calder and Lily were together. Things built slowly between them, and I loved the anticipation. There were scenes that were so sweet, but also kind of sexy, where every little moment or touch held so much tension it made me sigh and silently cheer them on.
I enjoyed learning some of the back story of merpeople - how they were born or made, and what it meant to be part of a mermaid family. Calder’s sadistic sisters fascinated me, and I wish we had seen a bit more of them and learned more about them. One thing is for sure: I’ve always been afraid of open water, and I don’t think that’ll be changing any time soon after reading this book!
The pacing of the story was great - little tidbits of the puzzle were revealed throughout, and by the time the climax hit, I was shocked. I really didn’t see any of it coming, and I love when that happens. This book genuinely kept me guessing, and I was so desperate for Calder and Lily to be together, but no matter how many scenarios I played out in my head, I couldn’t see a way that would work.
Overall, Lies Beneath is a captivating debut that shouldn’t be missed, especially if you enjoy mermaid books, but more than that, stories about love, redemption, revenge, human (or inhuman) nature, secrets, and family ties....more
Stealing Parker had all thThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Stealing Parker had all the charm, humour, and originality of its companion, Catching Jordan. Miranda Kenneally has a knack for telling stories that are honest and real, and that evoke a wide array of emotions.
I absolutely adored Parker. She was one of the most relatable, authentic characters I’ve come across, and at times, my heart absolutely broke for her. She thought that being a good Christian meant being perfect and never sinning. Then when she did something wrong she was wracked with guilt, even though most of the time it was just normal teenager stuff. She wanted so badly to be a good person, and she was, but all she could see was how the church and God would see her. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and hug her tight and tell her everything was going to be okay.
I was aware of the religious aspect of this book going in, and I was worried it might affect my overall impression of the book. I’m not a religious person, and I tend to avoid books with religious themes, but after reading Catching Jordan, nothing would have stopped me from reading Stealing Parker. Parker’s Christianity is a big part of the book, but it was done in a way that didn’t bother me. Her letters to God, her questions, doubts, and anger were so achingly real it didn’t matter that I don’t have the same beliefs - I believed in her. I was angry at the hypocrisy around her, but thrilled and even proud when she learned to rise above it and realized that Christianity doesn’t have to be black and white, and it doesn’t have to be practiced in a strict, specific way. I give Kenneally huge kudos for taking a subject I normally stay away from and making it something that was enjoyable to read about.
Then there were the boys in the book - Parker’s best friend Drew, her rival-turned-friend Corndog aka Will, and Parker’s crush Brian, who also happens to be the new coach at school. I loved Parker’s interactions with all three guys - they were alternately hilarious, touching, maddening, sweet, and heartbreaking. I honestly couldn’t imagine how things were going to turn out, but I liked that. In the end, the romance didn’t come easy, it wasn’t insta-love, and I loved that Parker learned who she was and what it meant to be herself before she ended up with a boy.
Refreshingly original, bold, laugh-out-loud funny, sexy, and touching, with stand-out characters that won’t soon be forgotten, Stealing Parker has bumped Miranda Kenneally to the top of my ‘new favourite authors’ list. ...more
Until about two weeks ago,This review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Until about two weeks ago, I was only familiar with movie versions of Peter Pan - the Disney version and its sequel Return to Neverland, and the movies Hook, and Finding Neverland. When I heard about Tiger Lily, I knew I had to read it, but I wanted to read JM Barrie’s Peter Pan first. I honestly had very little idea of what Tiger Lily was about - I almost never read synopses of books, I was just intrigued by what I’d heard from friends, especially one of my good blogging friends, who loved the book. So after reading Peter Pan (you can read my review here) and discovering how silly and ridiculous (not in a bad way) and comical it was - although heartbreaking in many ways - I was expecting something lighter from Tiger Lily.
What I really got was a story that shattered my heart into a million pieces. Almost from the very beginning, my heart ached for the characters. Neverland seemed even more like the island of misfits than it did in Peter Pan - it seemed to be a land inhabited by people who didn’t belong, and who were broken in some form or another.
Tiger Lily is unlike any book I’ve ever read before. It’s so beautifully written, with vivid imagery and characters that are so real it feels like you’re right there in the story with them. We get to see inside the characters’ heads and learn their motivations - even the secondary characters. I never thought I’d feel sympathy for Hook, but this book made me feel bad for him. He was just as broken as all the other characters. Possibly the most brilliant thing of all is that this story isn’t told from Tiger Lily or even Peter’s perspective - it’s told from Tinker Bell’s point of view. There was something so intimate about the storytelling; at times I felt like a voyeur, but I couldn’t look away, and more importantly, didn’t want to look away. I wanted to see it all, hear it all, feel it all.
"To love someone was not what she had expected. It was like falling from somewhere high up and breaking in half, and only one person having the secret to the puzzle of putting her back together." ~ Tiger Lily, page 169
I loved getting to see the softer side of Tink. She’s always portrayed as mean, jealous, haughty, and conniving, and even though she admitted herself she could be all those things and more, we didn’t see much of that in Tiger Lily. She loved Tiger Lily so much that she was willing to give up a normal life and accept being pretty much invisible just to stay with her. Her devotion and unconditional love, as well as the way she loved Peter, tugged at my heartstrings. Those moments when she realized she wasn’t as invisible as she thought were so sweet and tender they made me want to cry.
Tiger Lily herself is fierce, independent, and courageous, but also vulnerable and afraid of so many things, especially her own thoughts and feelings. She’s a conundrum of hard and soft, hot and cold, sharp edges and sweetness. I absolutely loved her.
"Maybe all of her strangeness, her curse, her always feeling like an outsider, had all existed so that she could belong here, with Peter." ~ Tiger Lily, page 197
Peter is just as much a conundrum as Tiger Lily. He’s frustrating because he’s so scattered, but in so many ways he’s the same as Tiger Lily - there’s vulnerability and fear and longing in him that he doesn’t understand. Some of the scenes between them left me breathless, and I always yearned for those stolen moments where it was the two of them trying to figure out who they were separately and together. I’ve never read a love story like theirs - one that excites even while it sometimes disturbs. It’s innocent and intense at the same time.
There were other characters, but I feel like I can’t touch on that without going on and on and possibly giving away important plot elements. Just know that all the characters are multidimensional with incredible depth. I don’t think there was a single character my heart didn’t bleed for - they were all tortured or broken in some way, and I was moved beyond words on countless occasions.
If you’re familiar with the original tale of Peter Pan and you’re a stickler for retellings/spin-offs that follow along religiously, you’re going to be disappointed. Anderson sticks loosely to the original, but often puts a unique spin on something or gives an event or person a different purpose or meaning or history. You really need to set aside everything you know about Peter Pan and enjoy the story for what it is - a brilliant, beautiful piece of prose - separate from Barrie’s story.
Beautiful, bittersweet, surprising, sometimes dark, and haunting, Tiger Lily is a story that’s going to stay with me for a long time to come. These characters grabbed hold of my heart and won’t soon be forgotten. ...more
I’ve loved Robin Hood sincThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
I’ve loved Robin Hood since I was a little girl, so when I heard about Scarlet, I knew I had to read it - Will Scarlet as a girl? Brilliant. Despite my excitement, part of me was worried for several reasons - what if I didn’t like this version and it affected how I felt about Robin Hood in general? The synopsis hinted at a romance between Robin and Scarlet, but I’ve been in love with the idea of Robin Hood and Maid Marian since I first saw the Disney version at age four or five, so I couldn't imagine accepting a relationship between Robin and anyone else.
I needn’t have worried. Not only was Scarlet well written, it was an incredibly original, fascinating, compelling take on the Robin Hood lore. It captured me from the first page and held on tight, making me laugh, cry, fall in love, and yell at the pages. It broke my heart into a million tiny pieces then pieced it back together and healed it.
Scarlet has a bit of something for everyone - humour, action, suspense, romance. It’s full of unexpected twists, tension, and enough funny moments to balance out the serious ones.
As for the characters, Scarlet is quite possibly one of my favourite characters ever. She was so real, she practically leapt off the pages. Strong and tough, independent and clever, she was a fascinating contrast of hard and soft, fierce and vulnerable. More than once I wanted to wrap my arms around her and tell her everything would be all right. Underneath her rough exterior was a scared, damaged girl who didn’t think she deserved anything good in life. Just when I thought we knew everything there was to know about her, another layer was exposed, and it made me love her even more.
Robin made me fall in love with Robin Hood lore all over again. Younger than in most of the stories out there, he was just as complex and layered as Scarlet, and the interactions between them made me swoon, made me angry, made me laugh, and even made me tear up more than once. The rest of the characters, particularly John and Much added so much dimension to the story. John was fun and flirty (I have to admit, I kind of fell in love with him too) while Much was steady and loyal. The four of them were like a band of misfits brought together by Robin, and I rooted for each of them for different reasons.
Overall, I thought Scarlet was absolutely brilliant. These characters and their stories, while somewhat familiar, were also brand new in the best ways possible, and I know they’ll stick with me for a very long time. I would (and will) recommend this book to anyone, but particularly those interested in Robin Hood lore, historical fiction with an authentic feel, and stories with lots of heart....more
When I first heard about WThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
When I first heard about White Lines in July 2012, I knew I had to read it. New York City + 1980s + club scene = yes please! As time went on I was afraid it would be one of those books that I build up so much in my mind that the real thing couldn't possibly live up to my expectations. Thankfully I was wrong.
White Lines is a beautifully written, haunting, and dark story about a damaged club kid trying to find her place in life. I was immediately drawn into Cat’s world and the seductive life of the club, the drugs, the music, the people, the power. Cat felt like a freak and an outcast, but in the club she was somebody, and you could feel that heady power-rush feeling emanating from the pages. She had little control over her own life, but the club was the one place where she held the power. She was the guardian of the gate so to speak - she controlled the velvet rope - and she was in charge.
Cat was a character who, for me, was perfectly imperfectly. She made mistakes, her judgment was questionable, and she was certainly flawed, but I loved her. She was human, and I felt her hurts and her triumphs. My heart broke repeatedly for her. When she did drugs, she didn’t have to worry about anything - not her emotional baggage or her horrible childhood or the fact that her life was completely messed up. She was afraid of so many things - afraid of being touched, afraid of being hurt, afraid of being loved, and even afraid of feeling, because then she had the potential to get hurt, and all she’d ever really known was hurt. It was heartbreaking and at times so poignant I was left speechless.
White Lines is one of those books that is so beautifully written, it’s almost lyrical. No matter what was happening - even the things I couldn’t relate to - I felt like I was right there with Cat, living it all. I could see it, taste it, smell it, and feel it, and I loved that. White Lines is a book that will suck you in, grab hold of your heart and make it hurt, but also fill it with hope. With a strong, complex, and almost hypnotic narrative voice that gets under your skin and into your blood stream like a drug, Cat’s story is one you won’t soon forget. ...more
Pushing the Limits was anoThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Pushing the Limits was another in a long line of books that has been getting absolute rave reviews. Every time I see a book like this and it piques my curiosity, I wonder ‘can it really be that good?’ Yes. Yes, it can. ‘Good’ doesn’t even begin to describe this book.
This novel is a story about love - and not just romantic love, but all the different kinds of love we experience in life. This book made me cry, made me laugh, broke my heart, pieced it back together, made me angry, and made me fall in love.
Echo is scarred, physically and emotionally. Just months after losing her brother, she was brutally attacked, leaving her arms scarred and her memory of that entire day blank. Her whole world has been turned upside down - her family is a mess, she lost most of her friends when she became an outsider, and she has more emotional issues than she knows what to do with. But then there’s Noah. Badass, sexy as hell Noah who’s all wrong for her, but who she quickly learns has emotional scars, too.
I connected with Echo instantly. She had such a genuine voice, and right from the beginning it was obvious she was lost, broken, and haunted. I cried for her, I cheered for her, I wanted so badly for her to be whole again and to have the life she deserved. She was such a strong character, and I felt like I was right there with her as she evolved.
Noah is so much more than he appears. Smart, funny, and loving, he’s just as broken as Echo in so many ways. He’s full of anger and bitterness because of the way his life turned out, and when someone gets too close or too personal he knows exactly the right buttons to push to make them back off, even if it means making them hurt the way he hurts. All he cares about in life are his two little brothers - they were split up from Noah after their parents died, and while Noah went through foster care hell, his brothers were put in another home. Noah's entire life is about them, and his devotion and love for them touched my heart deeply and made me cry more than once. Then when he opens his heart to Echo and shows her that same love and devotion, there was no turning back: I was completely in love with Noah. He wanted so badly to be the man his brothers and Echo needed and deserved, and the things he thought and said and did alternately broke my heart and melted it.
The dual perspective of this book was the perfect choice. We got to see deep inside both Echo’s and Noah’s hearts and minds, and while most of us are probably used to books from female perspectives, I’m a fan of books from a male POV, and I think it’s quite possible that Noah had the most authentic voice of any male character I’ve read to date. I felt every emotion - every moment of anger, hurt, triumph, and love from both of them. Echo and Noah needed each other. They balanced each other out, helped each other, healed each other.
Noah and Echo weren’t the only amazing characters. Every single character in this book had their moment to shine or fail. We got a chance to really know each character, their habits, their fears, their personalities. Every character in this book was memorable.
Powerful, raw, emotional, and sexy, Pushing the Limits is full of ups and downs. There’s no sugarcoating, and no avoiding the hard and painful lessons that life often throws at us. Echo and Noah don’t only find each other, they find themselves, and in the process you’re given a story that is so beautiful, so heartbreaking, and yet so inspiring, you’re not likely to ever forget it. This book makes you believe that love - true, unconditional love, whether it’s for family, friends, or lovers - can overcome just about anything. It also cemented one thing I’ve known my entire life - family is not just about blood. Sometimes you create your own family from the people who love you and are there for you no matter what....more
Initial reaction after reading: My god this book was amazing. I'm glad I have a month to write my review; hopefully I can do it justice!
I reInitial reaction after reading: My god this book was amazing. I'm glad I have a month to write my review; hopefully I can do it justice!
I read Splintered several weeks ago, and I’ve been writing bits and pieces of my review without being able to complete it because I didn’t feel like I could do the book justice, no matter what I said. Quite simply, Splintered was brilliant. It’s not often that I call a book brilliant, but Splintered was brilliant. Not only was this one of my favourite books of 2012, it was one of my favourite books ever. It was enchanting, mesmerizing, sexy, disturbing, creepy, absorbing, twisted, funny, and beautiful.
This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me fall in love, it made me gasp out loud. It made me feel so many things, and often all at once. I absolutely loved Alyssa. It was her job to untangle the secrets of her family and its ties to Wonderland, and I thought she was strong, brave, genuine, independent, and relateable. Her actions and reactions were genuine, her voice authentic, and I absolutely adored her.
I also loved the interactions between both Alyssa and Jeb and Alyssa and Morpheus. This was one love triangle I had absolutely no problem with, and while I thought both boys were super sexy, I was Team Jeb all the way. He was loyal, steady, and protective - everything Alyssa needed in her crazy, messed-up life - while Morpheus was dark and mysterious, seductive and dangerous. Alyssa shared a history with both of them, but she and Jeb shared more than that; they understood each other's emotional and physical scars.
I’ve always been a fan of Wonderland in its many incarnations, but this could possibly be my favourite. Howard’s version of Wonderland is lush and vivid. I was right there with Alyssa, seeing it all, feeling it, tasting it, experiencing it. The way Howard took the well-known Alice story and turned it on its head, playing with little details to make them fit into the story was absolute genius, and made me more and more excited with each new revelation.
Full of twists and turns, action, romance, and beautiful writing, Splintered is an unforgettable story that will grab you and never let go....more
After having read and loveThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
After having read and loved Jessi Kirby’s debut novel, Moonglass, I was eager to read Golden. I’d been hearing nothing but glowing things about it, and how it was affecting people on an emotional level, so I couldn't wait to dive into it and experience it for myself. I'm glad to say that this book is worth every bit of the hype surrounding it.
Parker has lived her entire seventeen years doing what was expected of her. She’s been a good student, hasn’t gotten in trouble, and has tried to please her mother by living up to her incredibly high standards. When she finds the journal of a girl who died ten years before in a car accident and discovers that her perfect life wasn’t really as it seemed, Parker begins to question not only her own life, but the accident that killed her town’s golden couple. What follows is a story that encompasses all the best things about contemporary young adult - self-discovery, friendship, romance, adversity, change, a mission for the main character to focus on - as well as elements that make Golden unique, like its mystery.
Parker reminded me of myself in so many ways. While I wasn’t as driven as she was in high school, I was still the type to always try to do the right thing, make people happy, not rock the boat, not speak my mind. I understood Parker’s realization and then regret about letting things pass you by because you’re too afraid, too shy, too worried about the consequences or being embarrassed or getting hurt. Her personality, her inner dialogue, her reactions and revelations, all really resonated with me and felt completely genuine. I was invested in her story and in her success, and I wanted to see her burst out of her self-imposed bonds and really live, which is exactly what she did.
Golden is the type of book that quietly creeps into your heart and makes you feel every little bit of it. It poses questions - what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life - it makes you think not only about the choices you make and how each decision can affect your future, but it also makes you stop and evaluate your life, where you’re going, what you want. When faced with those big questions, Parker realized she wasn’t happy with the direction her life was taking, and she set out to change it, even if she didn’t quite realize at first that that was what she was doing. She broke rules, did things for herself, took chances, and I loved every minute of her journey.
Just like every good contemporary YA book, Golden is about change. It has this almost bittersweet feeling to it at times. Maybe it’s because I’m older than the characters and my high school years are far behind me, and even though Parker’s story was different from mine, it felt like getting a glimpse into the past and seeing your own life as it was at seventeen, with huge changes on the horizon. Parker’s changing relationship with her mother, her best friend, her love interest, even herself, are both beautiful and poignant, while also making your heart ache. I can remember my last year of high school and thinking nothing would change between my best friends and me, but nothing was ever the same after high school, and Parker’s best friend knew that.
I also loved the thread of romance throughout the story. It was understated but so well done. It almost took a backseat to the romantic element of the mystery Parker was trying to solve, but I enjoyed every one of Parker and Trevor’s interactions, the slow burn of it, the will they/won’t they feeling of anticipation. This was a love story in so many ways, and it left me feeling satisfied and happy. Plus Trevor had some pretty swoonworthy moments. In a way I wish we'd seen more of him, and yet the way it was done was perfect and I wouldn't change it.
If you enjoy contemporary young adult, read Golden. If you enjoy coming of age stories, read Golden. If you enjoy stories about self-discovery, read Golden. If you enjoy a good mystery that will keep you guessing while holding you completely captivated, read Golden. Basically you just need to read Golden. Beautifully written and engaging, with the ability to both warm and break your heart, I defy anyone to read this story and not come away changed in some way. ...more
Leila Howland has writtenThis review was originally posted on my blog, Ramblings of a Daydreamer. You can find it, and many more reviews at the blog.
Leila Howland has written a gem in the contemporary YA genre with her debut novel Nantucket Blue. Funny, heartbreaking, romantic, tense, and real, I fell in love with this book from the very first page.
Cricket was a very strong main character. She had a distinct voice, and I found myself relating to her easily. She and Jules were so close, she felt like part of the Clayton family, so when a member of that family died, she felt the grief in a very real way. As someone who has experienced grief, it rang very true for me, and my heart broke for Cricket. She learned a lot about herself that summer, as well as about family, friendship, and love. There were some hard lessons to be learned, and while she was scared and didn’t think she had the strength for some things, she surprised herself, and I loved watching her grow.
After the death in her family, Jules becomes a different person. Even though I was angry at the way she treated Cricket, part of me understood. Nothing about grief makes sense, and everyone grieves differently. I wondered if and how Cricket and Jules would make their way back to each other, or if it would be one of those friendships that you look back on fondly but that can never be repaired. I loved the way Cricket talked about her past with Jules and what they meant to each other. It was beautiful and genuine and made me alternately laugh and cry because I’ve had friendships like those. While at times it made me sad, I appreciated that there were no easy solutions, and that things weren’t always sunshine and roses.
I thought the romance was pretty much perfect. It wasn’t the main focus of the story, but I enjoyed the slow burn of it, the butterflies and uncertainty, the sweetness of it all, but also how sexy it was at times. Cricket and her love interest (no spoilers here!) complimented each other nicely and balanced each other out. I loved their scenes together and always looked forward to more.
Leila Howland has a way with words. This book was so beautifully written. I often found myself rereading certain passages because they were so lovely - descriptions of people or places or things, epiphanies Cricket had - it was all so well written, and it pulled at my heartstrings. Ms Howland also did a terrific job with the secondary characters. I love when secondary characters are really fleshed out and come to life, and Howland succeeded in doing that with Cricket’s family and friends.
While the ending was a bit abrupt and felt slightly incomplete, it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I felt like I knew the characters well enough that I could draw my own conclusions and imagine a future for each of them. I also thought maybe we’ll be lucky and there will be a sequel or companion (from Jules’s perspective perhaps?) and we’ll get to see these characters again! *hint hint Leila Howland!*
Nantucket Blue is the perfect summer beach read (or any time read) for anyone looking for a story with romance, self-discovery, and emotional depth. It’s an honest look at friendship, family, grief, and first love, as well as following your heart. This is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2013, and I can’t wait to see what Leila Howland comes up with next. ...more