Leading Lines is the third book in the Pippa Greene series. Pippa is a young photographer navFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Leading Lines is the third book in the Pippa Greene series. Pippa is a young photographer navigating high school, family life, the death of her father, her first love, and family secrets. I adored the first book in the series, Rule of Thirds, and liked the second book, Depth of Field, but it was so different from the first it felt like reading an entirely different series. I attributed this to the fact Pippa’s boyfriend and best friend, who had featured prominently in the first book, weren’t in the second book. They were back in the third book, but this time it was Pippa herself that prevented me from loving this book.
I have mixed feelings about Pippa. On one hand, her voice feels authentic and the situations she’s in are realistic. I like flawed, realistic characters, and I get that teens are often driven by emotions and hormones...but Pippa is a bit over the top at times. I understand her hurt and anger over the secrets her mother kept, and I know from experience how hard it is to lose a parent, but if I’d treated my mum the way Pippa treats hers, I’d have had my ass handed to me. I was also really irritated by the stuff with her boyfriend, Dylan. I didn’t mind their instalove in the first book, but didn’t like or understand his complete absence in the second book. Then he’s finally in this book but he treats Pippa like crap and she just takes it for half the book. I could understand the reasons for them growing apart - or, more aptly, him distancing himself from Pippa - but Pippa’s behaviour and attitude rubbed me the wrong way a lot of the time. With so much changing in her life, she didn’t want her relationship with Dylan to change; she wanted them to grow together, but they were growing separately while growing apart, and it was painful and confusing for her. I felt for her there, and as annoyed as I got I could admit it felt realistic in many ways - hence my mixed feelings!
One of my complaints about the first two books was the cliffhangers endings and how nothing was wrapped up in the second book. Things were mostly wrapped up neatly in this book, although I believe the series is continuing. I liked that Pippa had some growth and eventually realized she needed to change things and carry on with life. I also liked that there were a few small unexpected things throughout the story. Again, this is where my mixed feelings come in - Guertin crams a lot of stuff into very short books (all of them are around 200 pages), and while some things irritate me, it’s more personal preference things that might only bother me, while the other part of my brain says ‘but you have to admit this is realistic for a 17-year-old’.
If there is a fourth Pippa Greene book in the series, I’ll read it out of curiosity. Even though I didn’t enjoy Leading Lines as much as I'd hoped to and had mixed feelings about Depth of Field, I really enjoyed Rule of Thirds, and I think Pippa has potential to grow into herself and become a well-rounded character. ...more
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is an absolutely gorgeous story. The only otheFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler is an absolutely gorgeous story. The only other book I’ve read of Ockler’s so far is Twenty Boy Summer, and I couldn’t imagine loving another book of hers more than that, but I did. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids completely enchanted me and stole my heart from beginning to end.
Elyse d’Abreau’s is defined by two things: the sea, where she was born, and her beautiful singing voice. Her identity is wrapped up tightly in music and the sea. Except that both have betrayed her in a way, leaving her with no voice and scars that are both physical and emotional. She leaves her home and family in Tobago and moves to Atagatis Cove, Oregon. She needs to figure out who she is without her voice, without her music, without her family, and what her future holds now that the future she thought she had has been ripped away from her.
I adored Elyse. She was smart, strong, and brave. The lessons she learns through the course of the book range from small, quiet things to huge lightbulb realizations. She learns so much about herself, as well as lessons about family, friendship, love, and life. I loved her relationship with Christian and that he was more than he appeared to be. Elyse needed someone like him - someone to see her, listen to her, and really be there for her. Their tentative friendship and then blossoming romance was a joy to watch. There were other stellar characters in the book, too - Elyse’s aunt and cousin, Lemon and Kirby, her new friend Vanessa, and my personal favourite, Christian’s little brother Sebastian. That kid was ridiculously cute, plus so intelligent. I loved his passion and excitement, and how easily he accepted Elyse and never seemed to notice her differences. All the side characters had a purpose in the story and added something special. They each had something to teach Elyse, and they helped her in many ways.
Besides the unique story and the fantastic characters, the writing was beautiful. This story was so full of emotion and made me feel so many things. I laughed and cried. I loved how sex-positive the story was and that Ockler didn’t shy away from portraying a healthy, safe sexual relationship. I also enjoyed the slow unfolding of what happened to Elyse to make her lose her voice. It, along with many other aspects of the book, was heartbreaking. I also loved learning about Trinidad and Tobago and what life was like for Elyse there. It was so vivid and descriptive, I could picture it all perfectly.
On a personal note: My brother is deaf, and while he has some speech, he won’t talk in front of everyone. Growing up with him and being surrounded by other deaf people, I can easily imagine how frustrating, saddening, and even maddening losing her voice must have been for Elyse. To not be able to speak, whether it’s a simple hello, or pouring your heart out, is huge. When some people realize you can’t speak, they dismiss you, assume you’re stupid, or don't want to be bothered trying to communicate. I’ve seen all of this firsthand. Unless you’ve seen or experienced it, it might be hard to understand, but I think Ockler did a fantastic job of showing Elyse’s situation and the effect it had on her.
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a beautiful story about conquering fears and finding your voice. These characters and their story will stick with me for a long time. This book is not only one of my favourite books of 2015, it’s earned a spot on my list of all-time favourites. ...more
Hot, hot, hot! I liked how there was a story within a story, and I also liked how Aubrey got her...inspiration. ;-) I need to read the second book prontHot, hot, hot! I liked how there was a story within a story, and I also liked how Aubrey got her...inspiration. ;-) I need to read the second book pronto!...more
Just Visiting is a book that does something rare and wonderful: it focuses on friendship in aFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Just Visiting is a book that does something rare and wonderful: it focuses on friendship in all its wonderful, messy, complicated, beautiful glory. The book has elements of romance, and the story deals with a lot of other real-life issues, but the main focus of the book is friendship, and I love that.
Victoria and Raegan are very different people. They have different home lives, different hobbies, different goals. They’re both sort of outcasts for different reasons, but when they befriended each other, they found something magical - true friendship, the kind that can get through anything.
The friendship between Vic and Rae was realistic and hit close to home for me in a lot of ways. All of Adler’s books have had some aspect that truly spoke to me on a personal level, and in Just Visiting, it was the main theme of the book: friendship. I'm going to get personal for a bit here...I had friendships similar to Raegan and Vic’s in high school. My best friend and I planned everything around each other and there were times when she practically lived with me because her home life was so crappy. But she was secretive and started doing things behind my back, and it slowly caused cracks in our relationship. We went to the same college, same program and everything...but more secrets, more lies, and she ended up dropping out before the first semester was even over. It was devastating, and things were never the same between us. My other best friend went away for college. We talked all the time and saw each other whenever she came home. Her college course was only a year long, and after that she went to university. She made new friends, had her first boyfriend, and this distance grew between us until we barely spoke or saw each other anymore. But then a couple years ago, we started talking here and there again, and ended up reconnecting and are now closer than ever. We even spent two weeks travelling through Europe together this past summer. Sometimes people’s differences can’t be overcome, and sometimes hurt feelings and anger can’t be overcome. I was glad to see Raegan and Vic work through things, even though it wasn’t always easy. They truly loved each other and wanted each other to be happy. They learned a lot about themselves and each other, and about friendship in general.
Other things in this book I appreciated: how realistic the romance was between Raegan and Dev. It was complicated and caused a lot of confusion, which sums up a lot of relationships when you're a teen. I also really liked how close Vic was to her family. We get something else that’s quite rare in YA: parents who are involved in their kid’s life. Vic loved her parents and they loved her; she actually enjoyed spending time with them and wanted to tell them things. They cared about her education, her hobbies, and wanted her to have friends. It was refreshing after seeing so many absent parents in books. One of my absolute favourite stand-out things about this book was that there was a deaf character. My brother is deaf, as are his in-laws, and we live in a town with one of the few deaf schools in the country, so I’ve been surrounded by the deaf community my whole life. Even though it was a side character who was deaf, it still made me really happy. I also grinned a few times when Vic and Rae said they signed to each other when they didn’t want people to know what they were saying, because I specifically taught some of my friends signs in high school so we could communicate ‘secretly’ when we didn’t want others to know what we were saying.
Another common reaction to Adler’s books: me crying at the end. With her last book, Under the Lights, I happy-cried through the last 10% because it was so perfect and beautiful. With Just Visiting, I cried in the epilogue because, again, it was perfect. It was bittersweet but realistic and I was glad to see the girls happy and doing what was right for them.
Just Visiting is a realistic look at the trials and triumphs in friendship. It captured that feeling of uncertainty about the future when you’re a teenager and getting ready to set out into the ‘real world’. I would definitely recommend Just Visiting to fans of contemporary YA. ...more
Taylor Jenkins Reid never fails to amaze me. After reading and loving her otherFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
4.5 - 5 stars
Taylor Jenkins Reid never fails to amaze me. After reading and loving her other two novels, Forever, Interrupted and After I Do, I put TJR on my auto-read list, and she’s definitely earned that spot again with Maybe in Another Life.
29-year-old Hannah Martin is a drifter. Her parents and sister moved to London while Hannah was still in high school, and ever since then, Hannah has felt a bit of a disconnect. Despite living with her best friend and being treated like a second daughter by her family, Hannah’s had trouble finding that sense of home and family. She moved around, worked in jobs that would get her through, and made some poor decisions in relationships. When her last disastrous relationship ended, she moved back to Los Angeles to live with her best friend Gabby, and Gabby’s husband, Mark. The three of them go out to celebrate Hannah’s homecoming, and Hannah sees her first love, Ethan, who she's stayed friends with all this time, but hasn’t seen in ages. They reconnect and Ethan asks if he can take Hannah home. From there, the story splits into chapters alternating between what happens when Hannah goes with Ethan and what happens when she goes back home with Gabby and Mark.
I loved Hannah. She was quirky and had tons of personality. She was flawed, relatable, and had a great voice. Her best friend Gabby was a stellar secondary character. She, along with many of the other secondary characters, were really well fleshed out and added so much depth to the story. Hannah and Gabby’s friendship is one of the best examples of a strong, healthy female friendship I’ve ever read. I love when characters learn that home isn’t always a place and family isn’t always just the people you share blood or grew up with. Sometimes home is a person or a feeling, and sometimes family is the people you collect along the way, the ones who are always there for you, no matter what. TJR explored that in a beautiful, poignant, believable way. Hannah was aimless, a wanderer with no true home, but she found a home in the people she loved and who loved her.
I’m one of those people who believes everything happens for a reason, so this story really appealed to me. I liked that while some things were drastically different between Hannah’s life scenarios, some things remained the same. It really made me think about how some things are meant to happen and some people are meant to be in your life, even if it’s not in the capacity you’d think or want. A lot of the lessons Hannah learned were triggered by different circumstances, but she often came to the same conclusion or learned the same lesson. Despite the feeling of destiny woven through the story, I appreciated that Hannah learned the importance of taking responsibility for her actions and learning from her mistakes.
Maybe in Another Life is a beautiful and thought-provoking story about second chances, family, friendship, love, and fate. As with all of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, I ran the gamut of emotions while reading. I laughed, I cried, and I rooted for Hannah every step of the way. If you're looking for contemporary fiction with humour, emotion, and romance, you can't go wrong with any of TJR's books....more
Dumplin’ is one of those books that's been so hyped, I was almost afraid to read it. For montFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Dumplin’ is one of those books that's been so hyped, I was almost afraid to read it. For months before its release, blogger friend after blogger friend read it and loved it. I enjoyed Murphy’s debut, Side Effects May Vary, and I was curious how a story about a ‘self-proclaimed fat girl’ would go. Because I get being the fat girl. I’ve always been the fat girl. I’ve loved and hated the way my body looks, and there aren’t enough books about fat girls, especially positive books. But that’s exactly what Dumplin’ was - a positive book about a fat girl.
I adored Willowdean. I thought she was hilarious, smart, and honest. She was realistically flawed, and she was so much more than ‘just a fat girl’. Even though there was an emphasis on her weight throughout the story, Dumplin' was mostly a story about a teenage girl navigating life and learning some tough lessons. I love, love, love that Dumplin’ wasn’t one of those ‘fat girl loses weight in order to find her self-worth’ stories. Willowdean went back and forth between confidence and insecurity, loving and accepting her body, and then hating it. She didn’t think she needed to change, even when her mother (not to mention society) thought she should. I wish I’d had this book as a teen when I felt invisible and like no boy would ever look twice at me because I was fat, even though I had a lot to offer. I wish I’d known it was okay to be confident, to look in the mirror and like what I saw, to not worry about everything I ate or every pound I gained or lost.
Besides connecting with Willowdean over her weight, I connected with this story because of the friendships. The issues between Will and her best friend Ellen really hit home for me. Will could see Ellen drifting, could feel the distance growing between them, and knew things were changing. I’ve been Willowdean and I’ve been Ellen. I’ve been the friend who wants to grow and feels held back, and I’ve been the friend who felt like I was holding someone else back. I could see it from both perspectives, but my heart broke for Willowdean. Feeling like your best friend is moving in a different direction from you, having experiences you’re not, making new friends - it sucks. It hurts. It’s hard. Especially when you’re a teenager and so many things feel so uncertain. So much of Will’s identity was tied to Ellen, and not having her in her life was devastating. I appreciated that even though it hurt, she did make new friends, she grew as a person, and she learned some important things about herself and about friendship.
I think (and hope) Dumplin’ will appeal to a lot of people. Anyone who’s ever felt different, weird, fat, ugly, or insecure will likely see themselves in the pages of this book. I loved the overall positive messages, and I laughed, happy-cried, cheered, and swooned my way through this book. Dumplin’ was much more emotional than I expected in a lot of ways, and I know these characters will stick with me for a long time....more
After staying up way past my bedtime to finish Fans of the Impossible Life, unable to put itFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
After staying up way past my bedtime to finish Fans of the Impossible Life, unable to put it down until I found out what happened, I felt like I’d been on a roller coaster ride. This book is unexpected. It’s beautiful even when it’s showing some ugly things. It’s funny and sad, heartbreaking and hopeful. It’s loud and it’s quiet. It’s a mass of contradictions, and when I finally set my Kindle down, my mind was whirling with thoughts. I still have Mira, Jeremy, and Sebby on my mind, and think I probably will for a long time to come.
I have a feeling Fans of the Impossible Life is a book you’ll either understand or you won’t. I could see how people wouldn’t click with it or connect with the characters. I clicked with this book almost immediately and spent a lot of it nodding along and wanting to gather these characters close and hold onto them forever. They were broken in so many ways, they’d all been through a lot, and yet they kept going, kept getting up in the morning and living even when it was the hardest thing in the world to do.
There’s not a lot I can say without getting into spoiler territory, but here are some of the things I loved about Fans of the Impossible Life: -It has a spectacularly diverse cast. There's a variety of queer characters, Mira is biracial and half Jewish, one character has gay dads, plus the story deals with depression and other mental health issues. -Scenes that were silly and beautiful and magical and encompassed what it’s like to be a teen, to be damaged, to love and trust people enough to open up to them and let them into the mess of your life. -The underlying theme that it’s okay not to be okay. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t really have to have any of the answers, you just have to keep living. -Unexpected sexytimes. I loved these scenes because they were kinda messy and real and made my eyes go wide like WHAT IS GOING ON IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING.
Fans of the Impossible Life made me run the gamut of emotions. It’s a bit of a mindfuck, but in the best ways. It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s painful, it’ll break your heart and also heal it. I love this book so much, and even though I know not everyone will feel the same, I highly recommend it. Go into it with an open heart and an open mind and no expectations, because this book will take those expectations and twist them along with your heart and mind. ...more
The synopsis for The Eternal City immediately piqued my interest, mostly because when I firstFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
The synopsis for The Eternal City immediately piqued my interest, mostly because when I first heard about it I was just months away from my first visit to Rome, plus I love books with foreign settings. While the synopsis sounds exciting and different, and I liked the premise of the book, the execution was lacking. The story felt like a series of random events and strange things happening to the main character, Laura, but the characters were completely flat and the attempt at romance seemed like an after thought.
Laura is on a school trip to Rome, the Eternal City, a beautiful city rich in history. The vivid descriptions of Rome are pretty much the only reason I gave this book 3 stars instead of 2. It was easy to picture the places Laura visited, and I really liked that. So Laura's trip is moving along nicely until Laura is almost mugged at the Trevi Fountain, and then odd things begin happening, all of which seem to be centred around her for some reason. We come to find out that she’s in possession of the Eyes of Minerva, and ancient gods are battling to retrieve them. As I said, the premise was good, but there were a lot of things that didn’t quite make sense. It didn’t help that the characters were completely one-dimensional, so there was nothing to connect to. I usually prefer character-driven books, or if the books have a lot of action and fantasy elements, I want to at least get a sense of who the characters are, what drives them, what they’re like outside the events that are happening, and I never got that from The Eternal City. The action scenes were good, but they weren’t enough to carry the story on their own. The romance was just sort of thrown in and wasn’t believable. They had no chemistry and didn’t get to know each other at all - they were just thrown together by circumstances.
Overall, The Eternal City wasn’t what I was hoping for. It had a beautiful setting, but the characters and story itself were lacking and fell flat. Despite not really enjoying this one, I bought Morris’s Ruined awhile ago and I’m still eager to read it. ...more
Ten books into the Passport to Peril series, and I still don’t know how Maddy Hunter managesFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Ten books into the Passport to Peril series, and I still don’t know how Maddy Hunter manages to write such fun, funny, unique stories. I’m always impressed, always amused, and always left guessing about the mystery until the last minute.
Every time I pick up one of these books, it feels like being reunited with people I’ve known forever. As soon as I started reading From Bad to Wurst, I was happy to have another chance to catch up with Emily, Etienne, and the rest of the gang from Iowa. By now, I can picture them all so clearly it’s like a movie is playing out in my head as I read. In fact, I’d love to see the Passport to Peril series turned into a TV show or movie. I think it would appeal to people of all ages with its smart humour, relatable characters, and the crazy antics of the seniors. Hunter has a knack for taking a story that should seem ludicrous and making it completely, hilariously believable.
As much as I love Emily - and I really do, I feel like she could be my best friend - the scene-stealing seniors really make these books for me. They’re a mixture of old school and teenage mentality in a way. Their obsession with (and knowledge of) modern technology is so amusing, and I love that you can expect certain things from them in each book, but they still always manage to surprise you. I also really enjoyed the parts with Emily’s mom and dad (I laughed so hard over some of the scenes with Emily’s mom and Nana), and was glad to see more of Etienne in this book. The new characters made great additions as well.
From Bad to Wurst is a laugh-out-loud funny (mis)adventure through Germany. Hunter’s descriptions of the places and history are so seamlessly woven in, I felt like I was right there with the gang as they travelled. This is a great addition to one of my all-time favourite series. ...more
Sugar isn’t an easy book to read. It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet and painful, but it’s alFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Sugar isn’t an easy book to read. It’s heartbreaking and bittersweet and painful, but it’s also powerful and ultimately full of hope. Besides breaking my heart, it made me angry, it made me uncomfortable, but it also reminded me that with faith, belief in yourself, and strength, anything is possible.
Sugar eats her feelings. Food, especially sweets, calm her down and help feed an insatiable need in her. Her weight, her mama, her brother, and her schoolmates are all part of the problem, and so she continues to eat to feel better, to fill that hole in her life, the ache that can only be satisfied by the one constant in her life: food. Her mother is so morbidly obese she’s bed-bound, her brother is a nasty piece of work with a hair-trigger temper, and the kids at school make sure she never forgets how fat she is, along with how stupid, ugly, and unwanted. Everyone makes her feel like she’s worthless, in the way, and will never amount to anything...until Even comes along. Sweet, gentle, kind Even, who doesn't seem to care that Sugar is an outcast or that she weighs hundreds of pounds. For the first time in her life, Sugar has someone who sees beyond her exterior and likes what they see.
The things Sugar’s mom and brother, along with the kids at school, say and do to her are absolutely disgusting, rage-inducing, and heartbreaking. There were so many times where I just wanted to take Sugar in my arms, hold her tight, and tell her that everything they said was wrong. She was so sweet and tried so hard to please everyone, but she got nothing but grief in return. She was such a good girl - she went to church every week (and not out of obligation), she took care of her horrible, cruel mother, did all the shopping and cleaning and cooking, and tried to do well in school. It’s rare to see a character who’s as good as Sugar without being a goody goody - she was just genuinely good, kind, and had a huge heart, and I loved that about her.
One thing I really appreciated about this book is that Sugar didn’t lose weight because of or ‘for’ Even. In so many books, a big girl gets attention for the first time and suddenly she wants to lose weight because there’s no possible way she could be beautiful or what a guy wants or needs or deserves if she’s fat. Or a girl does it for revenge against an ex, a bully, or whoever. But with Sugar, she didn’t even realize she was losing weight at first, it just happened because her life was changing - she was walking to school, she didn’t need to ‘eat her feelings’ as much, and she found the satisfaction she used to find in food from Even instead. It eventually became a conscious decision to become healthy, but it was through things she learned and through personal growth rather than for or because of someone specific.
While I did have a couple small issues with Sugar - namely the believability of some things, and the fact that the painful, awful things that happened to Sugar seemed like overkill at times - I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It deals with a lot of serious issues in a mostly realistic way that has the ability to touch you deeply. Despite being heartbreaking, Sugar is ultimately a story of triumph, strength, and hope. ...more
Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus is one of my favourite books of 2015 so far, so I was incredFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus is one of my favourite books of 2015 so far, so I was incredibly eager to get my hands on Focus on Me. From the very beginning of the book, I knew Erickson had done it again and I was going to love Colin and Riley’s story (almost!) as much as I loved Trust the Focus. This is an author who knows how to break your heart and then piece it back together, make you laugh, make you cry, make you swoon...and make you need a cold shower!
Colin and Riley are both complex, flawed young men. They each have their own demons and issues, and they’ve made mistakes that haunt them. Colin had a great voice and I connected with him easily. He was easy going, smart, and just an overall genuinely good guy. I loved his relationship with his younger sister an felt like we learned a lot about who he was through his few interactions with her and the way he talked about her.
One thing I really liked about this book - and all of Erickson’s books - is how different it was. There was nothing cookie cutter or predictable about it. There were situations and issues that you don’t often see in books, and they were dealt with in a way that was brutally honest and realistic.
I appreciated how the story dealt with male body image - something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a book before. We see girls dealing with body image all the time, talking about how they’re too skinny or they need to lose weight or have bigger boobs or smaller thighs or a prettier face or any other myriad things the media tells them. There’s so much pressure from society, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that guys feel that pressure too in their own way. I have two young nephews, one who’s just days away from becoming a teenager, and it put some important things into perspective for me and showed me things to possibly watch for in their behaviours or the things they say.
Body image wasn’t the only demon Riley struggled with. His erratic behaviour and some of the things he said left me guessing what exactly he was dealing with internally, and you could feel that confusion in Colin, too. Colin knew Riley was unhealthy and needed help. He knew they were enabling each other, but he didn’t know what to do. He was used to quitting everything and he didn’t want to continue his track record with Riley, who so clearly needed him. He knew what they were doing was unhealthy and maybe even dangerous, and you could really feel his inner turmoil and the mixture of emotions he experienced. I particularly liked the overall message that love and sex don’t or can’t heal everything. Sometimes you need more; sometimes you need professional help, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. Love can make you want to change or work on your problems, but it can’t always chase away the demons or heal the cracks in your heart or mind. There was no ‘sex cures all problems’ mentality in Focus on Me, and I loved that and respected Erickson so much for this realistic portrayal of mental illness, and how it not only affects the person suffering from it, but also the people who care about them.
Focus on Me was emotional and hard to read at times, but it was ultimately hopeful. Colin and Riley met in strange circumstances and thought they’d only be together for a short time, but quickly ended up needing each other. Their relationship was intense, and it gave them both the opportunity to learn more about themselves as they learned about each other. They had some major ups and downs, and I ran the gamut from heartbreak to anger and everything in between while reading their story. Focus on Me is a beautiful story about love, friendship, survival, and healing. If you haven’t read Trust the Focus yet, I highly recommend starting there and then reading Focus on Me. These stories, and these characters, are phenomenal. ...more
I had high hopes for The Name of the Star. It was one of those books I was ridiculously excitFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
I had high hopes for The Name of the Star. It was one of those books I was ridiculously excited about from the moment I saw it, mostly because I have a bizarre fascination with Jack the Ripper. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it, but when I finally did, I was slightly disappointed. Not like ‘Nooooooo, whyyyyyyyy?!’ disappointed - the book was good, and I liked the unique concept, but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I went into The Madness Underneath with no expectations. I was curious what would happen to Rory and the squad next, but I didn’t have high hopes like I did when reading the first book…and that’s a good thing, because this book was very meh for me.
It started out well. The initial scene was wonderfully creepy and intriguing, but after that it took forever for anything else to happen. The story had moments of excitement that basically went nowhere and were kind of pointless. Not much happened in the entire book, and when something did happen, it was kind of random, and again, didn’t lead anywhere. It felt like a bunch of things thrown together and tied loosely, but not much actual plot. I wasn’t able to get interested or invested until toward the end, but when I finally got emotionally invested it was because something drastic and awful happened (which I’ll get to in a minute).
As with the first book, I liked Rory for the most part. She had a great voice. She’s funny and kooky, and while some people might not appreciate the almost ‘stream of consciousness’ feel to her thoughts, I found it all believable, plus amusing. There was quite a lot of angst in this book, which was mostly understandable, considering a) Rory went through hell in the first book, and b) she’s a teenager. She was impulsive, self-centred, and made some horrendous mistakes, but it was mostly believable. I keep saying ‘mostly’ and that’s because there were some things she did that seemed really weird and out of character, and went beyond impulsive and into ‘what the hell is wrong with you?’ territory. There wasn’t much development or growth on her part, and the book was basically The Rory Show - all about her and very little about the other characters. In the first book I loved the secondary characters, but with the exception of learning a bit more about Stephen, the secondary characters seemed to just sort of…be there.
Then there was the ending. *sigh* An ending like that should make me absolutely itch to get my hands on the next book, but it doesn’t. I was upset (half sad, half pissed), but it was almost a ‘too little, too late’ situation for me. It took so long for anything interesting to happen, and then when it did it was like a simultaneous punch to the gut and slap to the face. I’ll read the third book, but I’m not dying to get my hands on it like I feel I should be after an ending that dramatic.
Overall, The Madness Underneath was just okay for me. I still like the setting (*goes all heart-eyes over London*) and the unique concept of the ghost police, and it had a few creeptastic moments, but that didn’t make up for the lack of plot or character development, or how the secondary characters, who were wonderfully vivid in the first book, seemed to get shoved aside in this book....more
I adored AJ Pine’s first two books, If Only and What If. She writes great, complex charactersFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
I adored AJ Pine’s first two books, If Only and What If. She writes great, complex characters with real life issues, and One Night was no exception. One Night is an emotional story about two people who were broken in their own way, but who helped each other learn how to heal.
Jess is haunted by many personal demons. Her life changed two years ago, and since then she’s kept people at arm’s length to keep her heart safe. She never fully let herself heal and recover from the trauma in her past, and it’s affected her entire life, even though she doesn’t realize it. Jess wasn’t always easy to like. I’m all for flawed characters, and while I sympathized with Jess and felt horrible for the things that happened to her, I went back and forth between really liking her and wanting to throttle her. In closing herself off, she became self-centred and almost all her actions had selfish motivations. She didn’t care about anyone else because she was so busy focusing on her own problems - or more accurately, avoiding her problems. That being said, I fully believe you don’t have to like or agree with everything a character does if there’s a reason for it. Jess learned a lot about herself through the course of the book and changed her self-destructive, hurtful, selfish behaviour. Her first inclination was always to push people away and not let anyone get close, but Adam and her roommate Zoe slowly took down her defenses and forced her to see some ugly truths about herself that made her want to change. I loved that Zoe wasn’t afraid to call Jess on her shit and tell her how selfish she was; sometimes it takes someone to point something out to you before you fully realize it and try to change the behaviour. I appreciated and enjoyed Jess’s growth, even though it took awhile and was frustrating to watch at times.
While I had issues with Jess, I thought Adam was pretty damn close to perfect. He was strong, patient, and determined. Being a basketball star, he had girls falling all over themselves for him, but he was focused on his career and overcoming his injury so he could keep playing through the end of college. He was sweet and funny and his charm and openness drew Jess in, despite her desire to keep her guard up. I loved the chemistry between these two and thought they were great together. Their interactions ranged from fun, funny, and flirty to frustrating to sexy. Despite Jess’s actions making me want to scream sometimes, I never stopped rooting for these two. It was obvious they really cared about each other, and that Adam’s love had a healing affect on Jess’s broken heart.
Other things I loved about this book: the side characters, especially Zoe and Regan. They were fleshed out well, and they each had something important to teach Jess. I loved all the little touches in the book that were like a running joke and kept me grinning, like the shitty coffee, the cake, the Chinese food, and Vampire Diaries. They made me feel like I was part of the story, like I was actually hanging out with Jess and Adam and Zoe. I also loved how depression and trauma were dealt with in a believable, compassionate, respectful manner, and that ultimately Jess wasn’t ashamed to get help and make sure she had the tools to heal completely and live a full, happy life.
One Night was a love story in every sense of the word. It was about learning to love yourself, learning to love others, and learning to let others love you, even when it’s not easy, and even when it hurts like hell. It shows that horrible, life-altering, agonizing things can happen to you, but if you have the strength and a great support system, you can overcome anything. Love and friendship really do have healing powers, and One Night explores that in a beautiful, realistic way. This was another great book from AJ Pine, and I’m eager to read whatever she writes next....more
Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger, aka, Noelle August, are one hell of a dynamic duo. The fiFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger, aka, Noelle August, are one hell of a dynamic duo. The first two books in the Boomerang series, Boomerang and Rebound, were fantastic. I completely fell in love with the characters, the writing, and everything else about these books. Having “met” Grey previously, I was excited to learn Bounce would be his book, and I quickly fell in love with his and Skyler’s story. In fact, I think it might be my favourite of the series.
I loved Grey and Skyler, separately and together. They were both really well fleshed-out and believable. Both were flawed, made mistakes, and did and said the wrong things at times, all of which made them feel very real. Grey has never really had to think about anyone but himself, whereas Sky is almost always thinking about her struggling mother and brother back in Kentucky, trying to help them however she can while still having her own life. Grey and Sky seem completely different, but they have a surprising amount in common...not to mention an instant connection, chemistry, and a bond that won’t seem to break, no matter how much they try to deny its existence. Their interactions ranged from funny to sweet to heartbreaking to swoony and sexy.
Both characters had amazing growth through the book, but Grey’s impressed me most. Watching him slowly morph from a screw-up kid who didn’t think about much other than himself and his music to someone who wanted to right the wrongs of his past, figure out his future, and prove he was worthy of love and respect, was incredible. He learned so much, and it all felt really natural and genuine. His family’s patience and Skyler’s presence in his life made him want to be a better person, and he worked hard at it. It didn’t happen overnight and there were no magical solutions.
There were fantastic secondary characters in Bounce, too. It was nice to see familiar characters again, like Mia, Adam, and Ali. I loved the strong friendship between Sky, Mia, and Beth. My favourite secondary character, though, was Garrett. When we first met him, I thought I was going to hate him, but he was absolutely hilarious, and for someone so scatterbrained, he noticed a lot more than you’d expect. His interactions with Grey were some of my favourite scenes in the book, and I loved the progression of their friendship from grudging (on Grey’s part) to something important and meaningful.
After loving Boomerang and Rebound so much, I didn’t expect to love Bounce as much as I did. For some reason, I didn’t think it was possible for Noelle August to hit it out of the park three times in a row, but that’s exactly what they did, and that’s so rare and wonderful and exciting for a reader. Bounce made me giggle, swoon, and tear up. It was sweet, funny, sexy, and ultimately a beautiful story about redemption, family, friendship, love, and life. If you haven’t read the Boomerang series, I highly recommend all three books!...more
The Distance Between Lost and Found is a hard book to peg down. I felt so many different thinFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
The Distance Between Lost and Found is a hard book to peg down. I felt so many different things while reading it. My mental rating of it went up and down throughout, but by the end, it was easy for me to give the book 4 stars. It was told in third person present tense, which I normally don’t like, and it had religious themes, which I tend to avoid. Something about this book made me curious, though, and I’m glad I gave it a chance because I ended up really enjoying it.
Normally, for me, third person present tense feels stilted and impersonal; it’s like reading a play, and it can be hard to get a sense of who the characters really are on a deeper level. With The Distance Between Lost and Found, I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were really well developed, and I felt like I got a good sense of who they were. There was also a surprising amount of character development, especially considering the book took course over such a short period. It felt very authentic to me, probably because of the characters’ circumstances, and I enjoyed watching the characters, especially Hallie, learn and grow. By the end, I felt a deep connection to her, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. I was proud of her, and I wanted the best for her.
The religious themes were handled well. I appreciated that Hallie was honest about her feelings regarding feeling God’s presence, wondering if and why he’d abandoned her, why it seemed like some people were never punished for things, and that maybe not everything could be attributed to God - maybe she should be able to take credit for certain things. Sometimes books with religious themes make me uncomfortable, and some of them have even made me see red (which is why I tend to stay away from them), but when religious themes are handled as well as they were in The Distance Between Lost and Found, I can appreciate and even enjoy them.
The story wasn’t necessary draggy, but there were parts that felt too long. I found myself wishing a few times that they’d just be rescued already, or that Hallie would just spit out her story and stop drawing it out. A lot of times when a character has this huge secret to tell and it takes them forever to spill, it ends up feeling anticlimactic. While I thought it took too long to get the whole story, I was pleased with the story itself - it was appropriately rage-inducing and made me really feel for Hallie and her situation and the unfairness of it. I liked that it brought her closer to Rachel and Jonah, and that by telling her story for the first time, she was able to heal part of herself.
Overall The Distance Between Lost and Found was a very enjoyable read. It was an interesting mix of contemporary and survival story. I loved the characters and feel like Hallie, Rachel, and Jonah will stick with me for a while. ...more