Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Fill-In Boyfriend review

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Keywords: contemporary, prom, popularity
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Other books reviewed: On the Fence, The Distance Between Us, Pivot Point & Split Second (all of them!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.
Super cute. Love that it still fits with the other contemporaries in Kasie West's collection, and they will all look so pretty on my shelves (once I can reunite all my books).

Here's where it gets tricky. I absolutely love Kasie's style. I'm pretty sure she could write about a toilet and I'd be beaming at the end of the story. No matter who her characters are, she makes us fall in love with their story, and I always feel like the relationships are happening to me rather than the main character.
I also really adored Hayden and Beca's relationship. Seeing such a wonderful relationship between a brother and a sister that weren't the focus of the story was really great. The relationships Kasie writes are so real and so complex that it totally sucks me into whatever family has that dynamic, whether it be all the brothers in On the Fence or this dynamic brother-sister duo that bashes stuff in at a junkyard to vent when they're angry. They also pose for their mom, who is an artist who calls them "her muses," which is hilarious and weird all at once.
Literally every one of Kasie's books just give me happy happy feelings.

Here's the thing. I feel like I have a lot of reservations, but I still totally loved this book. That's the thing about her writing, though, is that no matter how much you don't like some characters, you still get totally invested and love the story.
The first thing is the amount of stuff you have to simply believe for this story to even happen. Random college guy dating a high schooler. Normally doesn't happen unless they were dating before older person graduated. But fine. Guy breaks up with girl at PROM in parking lot and doesn't have the decency to at least do it before the actual thing? Also he had to drive like three hours, stayed for a half second and said "see ya?" Fine. Also this other guy happens to be sitting in his car and girl happens to think it's a fantastic idea to take new guy to prom as old guy? AND there's ZERO chance NO ONE will recognize him? But it's fine, I believed it all.
Which brings me to my second really big problem. Gia's friends and the way they treat her, AND the way she treats them.

I've seen a lot of "Jules is a terrible person" lately when reading other reviews of this, and yes, I totally agree. This girl is very rude, clearly ignores and doesn't like Gia, and she's mad that Gia is friends with her friends, or vice versa. HOWEVER, I haven't really seen anyone talk about how Gia is also a terrible person right back.
I mean, in the first chapter, we're already told from Gia's perspective that we have to HATE this girl, but I haven't been given a reason to hate her yet. When Gia's other friends tell her Jules is going through a hard time, Gia doesn't really let up. I was very frustrated that I was supposed to like the main character and hate Jules when both girls were being incredibly rude to one another.
If you haven't read the book, move on to final thoughts. The next bit will talk about the end. You have been warned.
I was also incredibly frustrated that neither girl seemed to want to improve their relationship or make amends with their other friends, and that Gia would so willingly let them go if it meant never having to be friends with Jules. I didn't really see any character growth, and that bugged me a lot. I definitely know about toxic friendships, but both parties here seemed at fault, and I was not seeing eye-to-eye with either of them.

I don't know how she does it, but even if there are things in the books I have a lot of trouble digesting, I still come out smiling and super happy after finishing a Kasie West book. It's a magical power she has, and she'll always remain on my auto-buy list.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Book Drinks: My Best Everything

Welcome to the semi-regular feature Friday Book Drinks! This is something I created where I pair cocktails with books I'm reading because, you know, drinks are great! See more of my Friday Book Drinks posts. 

This week I decided it was time to buckle down and tackle some of my never-ending NetGalley titles, and I found this gem hiding on my Kindle! My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp.

It's definitely making me a little homesick (and a little glad I left) reading about stuff I grew up with. It's the story of a girl growing up in the backwaters of Virginia. She's just graduated and planning to attend medical school in California, when her dad breaks the news one of his "deals" went south, and all her college money is gone. Determined to not be stuck in Virginia forever and after a chance meeting with a guy she knows has done this before, she hatches a plan to make and sell moonshine to the locals. After all, how hard can it be?

This book is really resonating with me because I dearly love where I come from, and I love that I've been mudding and hiking and grew up playing in the woods in Kentucky, but it also reminds me a little bit of why I wanted to move to the city. I'll go into more detail in my review (to come in a week or so), but I'm really loving how different this is from quite a few "getting ready to go to college" books.

To go alongside this book taking place in the woods and the crick, I've selected swamp water as my drink of choice. Now, there are several ways to make swamp water, and if you order it in a club it will most likely be neon green. That is incorrect. The real thing is something you'd throw in a water bottle to have during a hot afternoon while you take a swim in the lake. And it's also super easy to make.

All you need is 1 shot apricot brandy, 1 shot lime vodka, 2 cups of lemonade, and ice. The murky look is mixing the brandy and lemonade, and the result is delicious. If you're under 21, it's still a delicious summer drink if you use 2 shots of apricot juice (make sure it's got a high sugar content for best taste) and a some lime juice.

Have you ever had swamp water? What's your go-to drink for summer time swimming?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pinteresting: Saint Anything

This is a (sort of not) regular series I do here on my blog to combine my pinning obsession (come be friends with me!) with my love of books! This weeks pinning obsession: Saint Anything.

I'm a few chapters into this book, and (DUH) I'm pretty into this book. I mean, it's Sarah Dessen, so you know it's going to be amazing because she's just a really great storyteller. But it's also got a different vibe than her other books—one I'm really liking. It seems darker and more real.

Following the life of a girl who's brother has been in and out of rehab, jail, and court rooms, she feels lost, isolated, and invisible. Money is tight after countless lawsuits, so she moves from the private school down to the public school, opening up a whole new world. She stumbles upon a grungy pizza joint, where she meets a family that immediately welcomes her and tries to show her how to be her own person instead of living in the shadows of her family members.

Here's my copy of Saint Anything in the wild! (aka some Instagrams I've taken)

A photo posted by Cassie P (@happybooklovers) on

What do you think of my collage?
Have you read this book (or Sarah Dessen)?

See other books I've Pinterested!

Let's discuss in the comments!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mini Reviews for Grown-Up Titles: Rabbit Back Literature Society & French Coast

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen
Release Date: January 20, 2015 (orig. 2006)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne
Pages: 343
Keywords: writing, winter, fantasy
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
A highly contagious book virus, a literary society and a Snow Queen-like disappearing author 'She came to realise that under one reality there's always another. And another one under that.' Only very special people are chosen by children's author Laura White to join 'The Society', an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips. But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, 'The Game'? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura's winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there another tenth member, before her? Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light . . .  In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.
I want to start by saying how much I love the look of this book. I will read pretty much anything, but I firmly believe that a book's look matters when picking it up or recommending it. This one looks awesome. You can tell it's going to be a literary sort of book, but that's it's also got an air of mystery about it, and you don't quite know what's coming.

The interesting thing about this novel was the storytelling. That's all it really was. Ella was invited as a tenth member of the town's famed literary society (basically an uppity club of writers who had a very strict set of rules and only talked with one another). She's working on a piece that's going to become an exposé of the group, however, so she institutes a long-forgotten rule of the group called The Game. It's a form of scary storytelling where you can surprise another member and force them to feed you information using various potions/weird drinks to make them tell the truth. Much of the story revolves around other stories, and learning about the past through memories of the members. It was interesting, and there was a good portion of mystery that interested me, but I wanted there to be more action in the book. It was very slow-moving, and it took me a while to finish this one because I wasn't that invested. Every few chapters, the narration switched to the view of another member, Martti Winter, who I didn't particularly like. I mean, he was a bland sort of character, but having the story from his perspective didn't seem to add anything, so I'm not sure why it was done in the first place.
As interesting as the premise was (the description is AWESOME), I was disappointed with the delivery. It was too slow for my taste, and I felt like nothing was really answered and nothing really happened through the whole course of the book.

French Coast by Anita Hughes
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 304
Keywords: France, seaside, romance
Format Read: finished copy via publisher (thanks!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Serena has the job she's always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.
Everything feels unbelievably perfect . . . until it doesn't. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she'll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette's who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate's generosity, but it seems that there's more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents' marriage, and it isn't long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new 
friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track.
Oh man, do I have some feels about this one. If there were NO ROMANCE plot, the book would be great. I was super into Serena's job and her interview with Renault, and I loved the friendship between Serena and Zoe and the mystery behind who Zoe really is and why she's pretending to be someone else. However, there had to be a romance.
This guy bumps into her randomly while she's engaged, and then proceeds to follow her to other places. It's supposed to be charming, but this is what STALKING is. Eventually, he tracks her down because she lost an object (no spoilers) and literally figures out her exact hotel room even though her name isn't on the room, and she's staying with a random stranger (Zoe). He proceeds to be super creepy by not telling her where they're going to dinner, various places, etc, and I could never actually like this guy because the whole time I was wondering if this was going to turn into a creepy serial killer novel.
It also didn't fit with Serena's character. She was this big, strong executive interviewing an awesome woman and she went to Cannes by herself to pursue this. And then she got plummeted in this weird "relationship" with stalker-man. It felt very forced and unnatural, and the book would have stood just fine without it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why Reading Articles About Books Makes Me FURIOUS

Okay, so it's not all articles. And I'm not (totally) furious. But I do get pretty worked up. I like reading articles saying how reading is helping communities, and that libraries are getting extra monies (okay, I'm making that up, but I think it should be a thing that happens more).

It's articles that say "Things You Should Know About YA" or "Why YA is Great/Not Great/insert adjective here" or "Why Genre Fiction isn't Real Fiction" or ANYTHING along those lines. These are the ones that really make me mad.
***(to clarify, not reviews of specific books. Those are important, and it's awesome that people express their love/hate for a book. It's the lists that justify why/why not to read a WHOLE CATEGORY or TYPE of book)***

I always click on the YA ones, ready to be excited someone is finally rebutting the horrible Slate article that happened that one time, and then I just get mad all over again by reading the comments and people trying to tell me that YA is a marketing scheme, or it's adults who don't want to challenge themselves, or that it's all fluff. I get so angry. And I hate that.
It's taken me a while to formulate exactly why I get angry though because my love for YA and kidlit runs so deep. But I'm going to [try] to muddle through an answer, and I sincerely hope this article will not make anyone angry. Because I hate being angry.

I don't like someone telling me what MY books are. Every reader is different. MY books are important to ME, and I know why they're important to ME. No one else should be able to tell me that MY books (the ones I'm reading) are a marketing scheme or dumbing down or less significant than any other type of book.


They are MY books and I will be reading them because I want to be. I'm tired of seeing argument after argument for or against a certain genre, category, type, or any other grouping of book. Because all books mean something to someone, and everyone has a reason for reading what they're reading. Even if I totally hate a book or a specific genre, I will NOT judge a person EVER for reading a certain thing.

My books are important to me. I have a lot of reasons I love the categories I do, and I don't need to feel like I have to tell everyone to justify why I'm reading what I'm reading. Some of the books I read when I was younger shaped who I am. My parents were huge influences on why I'm such an avid reader. My friendships I made in high school bonded over Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen books. I was a camp counselor, and I love working with kids. I have a huge family, and having fun is important to me. There are a million more reasons I read what I read, but the beauty is that they're MY reasons, and I don't owe it to anyone—an article, a commenter, or the guy side-eyeing me in the library when I'm checking out teen books—to explain why I'm reading what I'm reading.

In my past life, I used to judge. In high school, I judged the Twilight craze and all who followed it. I read it when it first came out and thought it was okay, but nothing great, and I didn't enjoy the writing. I thought it was boring and generic. And I TOTALLY judged all the girls around me.
It was so wrong.
Who cares? They're reading what they want to, and that's AWESOME!

In college, I was in a strict "no e-reader" phase. I was a huge advocate of the print book (still am) and kind of side-eyed people who preferred e-readers (especially in class. I mean, taking notes on an e-reader seems impossible to me, a huge annotating-the-books kind of person).
But they're reading! And it's right for them! So who cares?

I'm really going to stop clicking on atricles that claim "Here's Why You Should Love YA" even though DUH I agree and totally want to read it. But I get too frustrated at all the people trying to tell me what MY books should be and why or why not I should be reading them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

99 Days review

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 384
Keywords: first love, forbidden love, family
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
It's a little confusing, a little disorienting, just like the book and what was happening to Molly. I love the actual book much more than the ARC, and I'm glad it was switched to have no pink. It's much more realistic, and the end papers are beautiful!

This book had a different feel to it. It's a contemporary, but it felt like a thriller (and thrillers are TOTALLY my thing). It was a fast-paced read, and I was so scared for what would happen next because everyone (and I mean literally everyone) kept making terrible decisions.

I genuinely wanted to know what happened in all these characters' lives, both in the past and in the present. I wanted more of the story to unfold about what happened the previous year to cause all the hatred, and I wanted to see how Molly's decisions would affect her current life.

I also loved that it brought up the serious issue of slut-shaming. It was a difficult book to read (understatement of the century) because Molly was constantly at fault for the things she'd done, and the others in the town were not afraid to let her know what they thought of her. She was at fault, but she was not the only one involved in the issues, and she was not the only one to blame. Briefly, one of the brothers mentions that it's sort of not fair she is taking all the heat because there were two of them involved, but it kind of got brushed away very quickly, which made me angry. That's definitely the intent, and it's brought up again briefly at the very end, but I wanted that to be a bigger part of the story because it's an important issue. The double-standard in our society is huge, and it's only hurting women, and I'm glad the book brought this up. It's a thing that needs more discussion, and Cotugno is excellent at diving right into the really messy, confusing, and difficult things about relationships and life in general.

Molly, Molly. I just said there were two people involved in this scandal, and there were. But even after the fact, one year later, Molly's back and still making all kinds of decisions that are leading to situations like that, where things happen and two people should be blamed. After this whole thing happened, I would stay far away from the family and my former friends and probably everyone. Which she does for about 3 days, but then it's right back to where she was before, in with the same people and the same things happening, and I just don't understand why she wanted to fall back in when she was so desperate to get away.
I also really didn't care for either of the Donnelly brothers. Patrick was a scumbag, and in my eyes, he didn't have any redeeming qualities. He was manipulative and caused a lot of grief and stress for Molly, and even though she could have made better decisions, Patrick was largely at fault for pushing her in the wrong direction to begin with. Gabe was a little better, and at least he seemed nice. However, I just didn't get their relationship. I never felt like they had a true connection, and nothing was ever mentioned about them sharing interests or hobbies or liking the same things. Their only encounters were romantic ones, and I just didn't buy their relationship.

However, just because I didn't like the characters or understand their motivations, this doesn't mean I didn't like the book. Messy and complicated are a part of life, and sometimes feelings for multiple people happen. Sometimes you can't explain why you like someone, even if they do seem bland and irritating to other people. These were reasons the book was difficult to read, but I still am so glad I read it because it was difficult to read.

Like I said, I really wanted to know how it was going to end. Cotugno managed to keep me hooked even with characters I didn't like, and I didn't truly know what was going to happen (other than the inevitable explosion after tons of bad decisions from literally all the characters in the book). But I didn't know HOW or WHEN or WHAT exactly was going to happen, and that made this contemporary have the feel of a thriller. You knew something terrible was coming, but every page it didn't happen made you more and more nervous.

I'm going to be honest—I don't like reading about poorly done love triangles (if they're written well, I can totally be on board). But they DO happen in real life whether people admit it or not. They may not happen to every person, but feelings are confusing, and they definitely happen. This is an important book to showcase how influential one bad decision can be. It's also an important book because slut-shaming needs to be stopped. Because guys make dumb decisions too. I don't know how she does it, but I've never read a more well-written novel about messes and confusion and characters doing stupid things.

Have you read this yet? It made me feel lots of things, and I still can't quite work out my feelings other than that it brings up super important issues really well. 
Are there other messy books that I just haven't read?
Discuss in the comments!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Things I Miss From My Hometown Library

Some of you know because you read this blog, and some of you may not, but at the beginning of the year, I moved to New York to pursue my dream of working in publishing. Fast-forward through (a long) three months of endless applications, interviews, and rejections, and I'm sitting here in an entry-level editing job feeling like I'm on top of the world. But I definitely miss home.

One of the biggest things I miss that I didn't realize would be so obviously, horrifyingly different here is my library. I assumed I'd be able to figure out the libraries here with no problem because it's New York! They're famous for their libraries, right? Well, here are things I definitely miss about my small, hometown library.

1. It's actually not that small
A little backstory—my town is not a city. It's not a town, either. We actually belong to the unincorporated township of Lafayette in the smallest county in Indiana. It sits right on the border of Louisville (which is where I say I'm from to avoid confusion from anyone who doesn't live in the surrounding tri-state area). We're a bedroom community for Louisville, but there's also one small city in the county we pair up with (you know, for elections, post offices, etc. The city is down the hill, whereas my home sits about 700 feet above sea level). In the entire county, we have ONE library. Which seems a little sad because the whole two towns take up the whole county, so we cover a huge amount of space.
But the plus side to this is that the library is large. Especially for a small city. It's two floors and has entire distinct sections for children's, middle grade, YA, and half of one floor for adult fiction and all its encompassing genres. Which is good for me because the YA section has a TON of books that even though I've been going there since I graduated the kids' section, I still have not come close to reading them all.
The library here had two shelves for YA and no books younger than that. I was shocked. I know it may be a branch thing, but I feel like they should have had something, at least.

2. They're on top of releases
I don't know who at the library was in charge of monitoring release dates, but I can tell you for certain that they are excellent at their jobs. I found Rebel Belle, Great, and Breathe, Annie, Breathe there ON their release dates, ready to go. Plus a bunch of others, but these were the ones that really stood out because not for a moment did I think I'd be able to find these new releases at the library so quickly. Even if there's not something there, I know from experience that the "request a title" button on the website WORKS. Every single time I requested a title, I got an email about a week later saying it was on the shelves.

3. There's no one in line before my requesting
Here's a super small-town bonus — I almost NEVER have to wait for a book to check it out. Sure, HP and TFiOS and super popular books have a wait list, but anything else? I request it online and they pull the books, and they're ready to go by the time I drive down to get them.
When I went to the Queens library last month, they had a waiting list for EVERY book I asked about. And they were high-profile ones to people like me — bloggers — but not so much to tons of people everywhere. That was definitely a shocker that I would have to wait MONTHS to read a book.

4. They trust you can look stuff up yourself
This definitely may be specific to locales, but two of the Queens branches I went to had no computers available to people who wanted to look up titles and information. They had computers to sign up for general use, or the option of asking the librarian. And the librarians that I worked with seemed super annoyed with me that I knew what I was talking about and had a bunch of titles I was looking for. They were not at all happy with me, and I would rather have looked things up myself.
My home library had a ton interspersed with the different sections so you could find whatever you wanted.

5. There was only ONE branch
This is never a thing I thought would be an issue, but there was only one library at home. All the books went there. They got funding, it was used at the one library. Here, all of the YA books were split up between the 20(ish?) Queens branches, and anything I wanted would take a week to get from another branch, or I'd have to trek out to wherever it was. The library here gets funding, and it has to get split between all the branches, so every library can't have the exact same books. They all share, which was very weird to me.

6. They've got a HUGE audiobook/ebook collection
This is a thing I only recently discovered when I decided I wanted to listen to books or check them out for my kindle. It's so easy, and there are so many to choose from on the website. I couldn't wait for the sequel to a book I was reading and found out the library had it available for download! I got to immediately start the next book for FREE!

I love having tons of indie bookstores here (even though I miss Carmichael's dearly), and used bookstores are wonderful for my budget. But the library system is one I haven't quite figured out. I'm living in Manhattan now, and the actual NYPL I went to was a museum, and I can't figure out where an actual library is. (It was pretty cool to see the stuffed animals that inspired Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, but still...

Are you a New Yorker? 
Do you know how to use the libraries here?
Help me!

What do you like/not like about your own libraries?
Let's chat in the comments!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Heart and Other Black Holes review

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 302
Keywords: depression, friendship, suicide
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.
This is one with a dramatic cover switch between the ARC release and the publication, and I have to say, it was a decision well made. Not that I particularly hate the original cover, but the new one fits the theme and feel of the story much better than the original. The original didn't take the story seriously, I don't think, and I felt like I was going to be reading a teen angst story rather than a serious dialogue of depression and suicide.

Hometown shout-out for being set in Kentucky and close enough to Louisville that it makes a cameo! I often don't find books in the area, especially these types of books, that bring up serious issues for people living in this sort of lifestyle. Even though it's a small reason, I feel like I connected with this book immediately because I could picture the houses, the landscape, the drives, the characters, and the lifestyle because it's one I grew up in and will always remember well.

What really stood out was the perspective this book took on the topic. There was no leading up to the decision, there was no plummeting into depression: The characters were already there and already decided they were going to do this. The story was about the courage they were trying to muster up to actually kill themselves, which was heartbreaking to watch. We were introduced to their families, which made me feel so emotionally attached to these kids, and I wanted to join in on their family game nights and dinners. This was just so different than other books on this topic because it was taking place after the decision had been made, and the characters were just waiting until the correct day to do it.
I also loved it because it (subtly) brought up the importance of not treating people like shit in high school. The MC's father was in jail, and the entire school treated her like a pariah. She was pretty good at staying distant, too, but it all began with people being rude and horrible to her, so she rightly distanced herself as much as she could. It's so important to realize everyone has different experiences and that you never know what someone else could be going through or dealing with, and this book did a wonderful job of bringing that up without throwing it in your face to be an obvious theme or message.

There was a small moment when there was a physics photography assignment that had Aysel working with another student from her class, and even though he was a popular jock, he seemed nice and ready to work with her. I wanted to see a few more moments like this were she had interactions with students that led to her not totally hating the school. It seemed like they were pretty willing to come around and talk to her once she opened up a little in class, and I just wanted to see that actual development a bit more.

I honestly didn't know whether or not they would go through with it, and I was genuinely nervous the closer the dates got to April. I didn't want the days to tick down because I truly didn't know how it was going to end or what kind of decisions they were going to make. Even though it's made technically at the very beginning of the book, there is still so much that happens leading up to it that made me feel for them.

This is a poignant, real story of two regular kids just trying to live, and they lean on one another and learn to lean on others for support, and I think Warga did an amazing job of telling their stories.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Blog Tour & Spotlight: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Welcome to this stop of the All the Rage blog tour & book spotlight!

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 336
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 
I'd like to welcome Courtney Summers & her new book to the blog! She's a busy lady and has a TON of titles already out that you can check out! Below you'll find her information and where to find her, and just for visiting you can see an original image based on the book provided by the publisher!


Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Topics Time: Fake Relationships

Welcome to Topics Time, where I give you a few recommendations based on a particular topic for the week, including new releases and some older backlisted books you can find for cheap or at your library if you're on a budget. This week's discussion? Fake boyfriends/girlfriends!

This Topics Time is actually inspired by how excited I am to read Kasie West's The Fill-in Boyfriend, and I have the ARC, and I'm starting it this week and absolutely cannot wait. The main character in it has talked up her boyfriend to her friends, and at the prom, when he's finally going to meet them all, he DUMPS her. How rude. So she sees a guy in the parking lot and they strike up a deal to be each other's "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."

I feel like there's the obvious other ones like To All the Boys I've Loved Before and The Selection, but Topics Time is about finding those lesser known titles that are just waiting to be found in a used/backlisted section that won't hurt your bank account and still be something in the topic you want to read! I've scoured the internet and taken the hard work out for you, and here are four titles to tide you over (for the small month it is until the book comes out)!

1. The Truth About Faking by Leigh T. Moore
These kids have ulterior motives when they start fake dating. Jason wants to date Harley and Harley wants to date Trent and Trent is still hung up on Stephanie. Confusing, right? So Jason and Harley decide to fake date to make their crushes jealous so they'll want them even more. But there's a whole host of secrets to uncover, and some feelings may just turn out differently than these characters have planned.

2. Switched by Cassie Mae
Man, do the characters in this book have some confusing relationships. Kayla is the main girl here, and she's always had a crush on the hot jock of the school, which becomes a problem when her BFF starts dating him. Oof. So she and her other best friend (who's a guy and also madly in love with Kayla) team up to try and break the other couple up before the big dance. Sounds like a hot mess and like something I definitely want to see unfold. 

3. Under a Georgia Moon by Cindy Roland Anderson
This is a grown-up one that I discovered on a whim trying to find books in this topic, and now I'm very excited to read it. It's from a smaller publisher and looks super cute. Addie gets dumped by her fiancé, and like three months later he gets married to someone else, which is a dick move if you ask me. So she flees to Georgia to spend time with her aunt and clear her head. Chase is a guy who's in Georgia, and his ex-girlfriend is giving him equal issues. When Addie's ex shows up, she and Chase decide to hide from their exes by pretending to date. This sounds like such a fun southern story, and I'm all about southern stories, so it definitely got put on my TBR.

4. Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols
Jennifer Echols never disappoints in my book. I've owned this book combo forever, and I've never gotten around to it, and never really paid attention to what it's about, but now I totally wish I had it with me in my New York apartment instead of it living at home in Kentucky. Lori likes hanging at the lake, and she's always been one of the guys. But now it looks like she's interested in one (he happens to have an equally hot brother), and to make one jealous, she fake dates the other, and it sounds like a lot of complicated stuff happens and I'm totally into it. (I'm also reading 99 Days right now, and this sounds like one I want to read alongside Katie Cotugno's book about brothers and rival romances.)