I loved the first two books in AJ Pine’s If Only... series, If Only and What If. When I heardFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
I loved the first two books in AJ Pine’s If Only... series, If Only and What If. When I heard there was going to be another book in the series, I was ecstatic. I wanted to know what would happen to these couples I loved so much, plus I’d hoped for a story that involved Miles from the second book. I Do is a beautiful, fitting end to the series, and made me fall for these characters even more.
When I heard I Do was told from multiple points of view, I thought it would get confusing, but it was easy to keep up. Pine took something that could have been a mess and did a brilliant job with it. All the characters had such distinctive stories and personalities, I never got lost. It was actually the perfect way to tell the story, because we got to know the characters so well in the first two books, it was nice to be back inside their heads and see things from each perspective.
One of the things I loved most about this book (and Pine’s other books) was that things weren’t easy for the characters. In If Only and What If, we got to see Noah and Jordan, Griffin and Maggie, and Duncan and Elaina get their happily ever afters, but with I Do we see what comes after the happily ever after. Each couple was madly in love, but they still had struggles and fights and misunderstandings. It was wonderfully realistic, and it made me continue to root for them the way I did in the previous books. I absolutely loved Miles’s story; I adored him in What If, so to get him as a main character instead of a side character was great, and his story was beautiful (and sexy!).
Reading I Do was like being reunited with old friends. It was a perfect ending to a series I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It was laugh-out-loud funny, romantic, sweet, and full of feels. Noah, Jordan, Griffin, Maggie, Duncan, Elaina, Miles, and Alex will stick with me for a long time to come....more
In many ways, How to be Brave wasn’t what I was expecting. Despite the synopsis, theFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
In many ways, How to be Brave wasn’t what I was expecting. Despite the synopsis, the cutesie cover made me think it would be light and fluffy, so a lot of it really surprised me. It was more mature than I expected, while still managing to really capture the feeling of being a teen. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, sweet, funny, and ultimately hopeful.
I really liked Georgia. She had a great voice and she was easy to connect to. She was flawed, she made mistakes, she did stupid things, and she hurt and disappointed people - including herself at times. But she also went through a lot, learned a lot of important lessons, and grew a lot. One of the things that surprised me about this book was some of the things Georgia did. There were things that shocked me, but then I was like ‘this is what life is like for a lot of teens - drinking, drugs, experimenting’. It’s stuff I haven’t seen in a lot of books, so while I know it’s happening, it’s strange to read about. That being said, I appreciated the honest portrayal and the fact the author didn’t shy away from real life stuff.
Having watched a parent and grandparent/best friend die, many parts of the story really hit home for me. My dad wasn’t even fifty when he died, and he suffered so much, just like Georgia’s mother did. I can understand that feeling of wanting to do things to honour someone, do things they maybe didn’t get to do, and continuing to live even though part of you wants to just curl up and cry and scream and grieve forever. I liked the idea of the list being a way for Georgia to honour her mother, as well as getting her to try new things, keep going, and learn to be brave. She started out doing things for and because of other people and then learned to do things for herself. She learned that sometimes being brave is just living. Just getting by, surviving. It doesn’t have to be about grand gestures and occasions and milestones. It can be the quiet, everyday things that take courage. It can be realizing difficult things about yourself. Watching Georgia learn to be brave was a mixture of amusing, painful, and inspiring, and it was easy to cheer her on as she stumbled, fumbled, and succeeded.
When things related to Georgia’s crush took up a few spots on her list, I was worried it would be one of those books where the guy saves the girl, but it wasn’t like that at all. The romance was actually a very small part of the plot, which I actually appreciated because it suited the story. Daniel did help Georgia, and their interactions were adorable and sweet and completely believable (the awkwardness rang so true and made me laugh because I’ve been there), but all of that was a small part of Georgia’s overall journey. Their slowly evolving relationship was actually probably more accurate and true-to-life than a lot of other portrayals of teen relationships.
How to be Brave is a brave story. Kottaras took some chances, and they paid off, at least for me. This story was real and it was honest. It made me smile, laugh, and tear up. I think Georgia is a character a lot of people will be able to relate to and see themselves in. The things Georgia learned about being brave made me think and inspired me to be brave in my own life....more
The Complete Angel Island Series: all three books in the Angel Island companion series - Waiting for the Storm, After the Storm, and Take Them by St
The Complete Angel Island Series: all three books in the Angel Island companion series - Waiting for the Storm, After the Storm, and Take Them by Storm - in one box set. For this week only, you can get the entire series for just $2.99, which is all three books for the price of one! Meet Charlotte, Ella, and Sadie, and follow their adventures as they discover the importance of sisterhood, friendship, family, and love in its many forms.
“Marie Landry is a superb writer who knows how to create fictional characters that feel like real people.” ~ Jessica Sankiewicz, author of If Only We and Not Until Tonight
“Powerful, emotional, moving, and unforgettable.” ~ Jaimie Admans, author of Kismetology and North Pole Reform School
“Beautiful writing, memorable characters, and a well told story blend together to create something truly special.” ~ Kathy from I Write, I Read, I Review
“Marie Landry knows how to write a fabulous romance…If you're at all a fan of contemporary romance and stories that combine romance, friendship, and family, I can almost guarantee that you'll enjoy these books.” ~ Ashley from Book Labyrinth
When I heard about Of Metal and Wishes, my first thought was ‘A steampunk retelling of PhantoFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
When I heard about Of Metal and Wishes, my first thought was ‘A steampunk retelling of Phantom of the Opera? Yes please!’ Sarah Fine took a classic story that many people know and put a wonderfully original spin on it. It was everything you’d expect from a Phantom retelling - haunting, beautiful, bittersweet - but it was also so much more than that. Fine created a world that was fascinating, horrifying, and different from anything I’ve ever read.
Everything in Of Metal and Wishes leaped right off the page for me, from the setting to the characters. I could picture the slaughterhouse, Wen’s living quarters and her dad’s clinic, the Noor’s dorms, the underbelly of the slaughterhouse where the Ghost lived. It was all very vivid and real. The characters were the same - Wen was a great main character; I liked how strong and resilient she was. Her curiosity of Melik turned into friendship and then a slow burning romance that was easy to root for. They had so many obstacles to overcome. I appreciated that the romance wasn’t the main focus of the book, and that Wen wasn’t a damsel in distress who needed Melik - or anyone else - to save her.
Just like with Phantom of the Opera’s ‘Phantom’, I had a soft spot for ‘the Ghost’ in Of Metal and Wishes. His story was tragic in so many ways. He was lonely, but his brilliant mind and creativity kept him busy...while also getting him into trouble. Once he set his intentions on Wen, he was single-minded in getting what he wanted, even if it meant leaving a wave of death and destruction in his path. I knew I shouldn’t sympathize with him, but I did because of the things that had happened to him.
I loved how diverse the characters were. Wen’s people were the Itanyai, and Melik’s were the Noor - different cultures, different languages, different customs, different skin colours. It’s a timeless theme, and the author handled it really well without ever coming across preachy or like she was trying to make some huge point. The book was set in a completely different world than ours, and yet it reflected our society, and not only our current society. It showed how prejudice, misunderstandings, fear, and mob mentality can have disastrous consequences. Considering I read it during the terror attacks on Paris and the Syrian refugee crisis, it was especially poignant.
Of Metal and Wishes is beautiful, gruesome, heartbreaking, and unique. I’ve been obsessed with Phantom of the Opera since I was little, and I love how this book took a familiar premise and turned it into something that felt completely, brilliantly original. I’m excited to read the sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, and see what happens to Wen next....more
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