Monday, September 22, 2014

Pinteresting Isla & the Happily Ever After

All right, it's no secret that Isla and the Happily Ever After kind of swept me off my feet. It even trumped Lola for me, I think because I related so well to Isla and you know, the whole art factor. That really got me. I loved Josh in book one, so I was absolutely starry-eyed with him in this book.

Instead of doing a proper review for this one (because it'd basically be just me flailing in all caps saying GUYS I LOVED THIS BOOK AND JOSH AND JUST GO READ IT), I wanted to create a Pinterest collage of images that I thought of while I was reading (and rereading) this book.

The first one that I fell in love with for this collage was the sketch of the girl. I imagine this is what Josh's sketchbook was filled of, portraits of Isla when she wasn't looking (in the least creepy way possible). Just really raw, lovely, black and white drawings.

Moving to the right is a view of Barcelona at night time (for reasons you'll know why this is important if you've read it), a coffee shop in NYC I imagine where Isla peeked in and saw Josh during the first chapter of the book, and at the bottom, a really cool artsy rooftop that I could totally see Isla and Josh hanging out and creating some cool murals.

What do you all think? Do you like this Pinterest collage? What other images stick out to you that you would include in an Isla collage?

Images via, via, via, via, and via

Friday, September 19, 2014

Out in the Open: Wildlife review

Wildlife by Fiona Wood
Release Date: September 16, 2014 (orig. June 1, 2013)
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Pages: 294
Keywords: exploration, wilderness, camp
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads | Book Depository
During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.
New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living.
My first complaint is going to be WHAT SCHOOL HAS THESE PROGRAMS AND WHY DIDN'T I GO THERE? Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'm going to talk about how refreshing and interesting this book was to read.

The cast of characters was excellent. Getting to know the entire class out in the wilderness semester seemed a little intimidating at first, but Wood introduced them slowly and in a way that wasn't overwhelming at all. I feel like I was in the middle of all the students interacting, and I couldn't wait to see what Annie would be afraid of next or what Shakespeare project Michael would get really into. And those people are only minor characters. Each had their own distinct personality that made them feel like real people. There were sweethearts, and there were jerks.

Let's talk about Ben Capaldi. While reading the beginning, I wanted to like him more. I mean, it's like Wood sets it up from the beginning that everything is inevitably going to go wrong, and I kind of hated that. I wanted to be surprised by certain characters' choices, but Ben Capaldi had me hating his guts from page 1. Every interaction he had with Sib left me feeling anxious and eager to see what would happen next. I was missing the swoonworthiness that I wanted in a wilderness semester book. But he wasn't even my most hated character.

Man, did Wood create an awesome character I loved to hate. Holly was well-written, dynamic, and I never really knew what she was going to do next. Though, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to like it. I questioned a lot of Sib's choices around her, but totally understood them if that makes any sense. By the end, when Sib is having a lot of her revelation thoughts and life-changing realization from the semester, it managed to transport me to my very own study abroad semester. I was in England, learning a lot about the people I had been friends with, and realized they were not very nice people. So while Sib seemed to make stupid decisions, looking back, they were very real ones that I, along with I'm sure, lots of other people, have made throughout their lives.

There was really only one thing that bugged me (other than the fact that my high school didn't have a wilderness semester option). It was told in a dual-POV, which I had no clue until I read that in a synopsis online, at which point I was about 15% of the way through the book. So I had to click the button all the way back to the beginning. Lou and Sib's voices are not distinct from one another, and while I really enjoyed Wood's style, I wanted to see more variation between the two girls. Once I got the hang of figuring out the journal entries, it was fine. But it did take me a while.

Wildlife was a very real, honest, and a bit of an emotional read for me. I think because I had a lot of similar experiences I was more invested in wanting Sib to work out her problems. I was very pleased with the end result of the book, and I'm really enjoying this new cover for America's book.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Not a Snowflake: Winterkill Review

Winterkill by Kate Boorman
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 319
Keywords: family, dystopia, society
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.
When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.
The whole premise behind this book sounded extremely interesting, so when it showed up on my doorstep, I knew I would give it a shot because 1. winter is my favorite and 2. the mystery aspect intrigued me.

To start off, much of the book takes place in the lead up to winter. In fact, I'm pretty sure we didn't see a single snowflake during the whole book. It was mostly people in the town talking about the scary winter storm that loomed ahead, so they had to get all their stuff done before then.

But seasonal confusion aside, it started off pretty interesting. There was a good cast of characters I was looking forward to getting to know, and there seemed to be so much suspense and sadness surrounding Em's desire to explore and her fear to venture too far out. But then I reached about 45 pages in and immediately. the. book. slowed. almost. to. a. stop. Grinding halt. It seemed like nothing was happening for pages and pages, and some men appeared like one named Kane that was close in status and age to Em. I didn't really know where he came from other than that she talked about him all of the sudden. And a member of the council became interested in her for literally no visible reason whatsoever? He was very eager to court her, but really provided no proof he was interested other than saying she was interesting. Which, how would he know? He's never spoken to her...

Finally, the book picked up again in the last 75 pages or so, and I flew through those. I wanted that action to be spread out a little bit more and developed moreso than it was. There were so many questions I had and still have about what happened with Em's family, what was the history of the town, why it's a crime to go anywhere. None of these were really answered, and most of them just seemed to exist as laws to not question in this book world. Which I wasn't okay with.

For a book with a really exciting premise, for me, it fell short on delivery. Flat characters, confusing plot, and too many questions by the end make me steer clear from wanting to pick up another (because there may? be a book 2? I'm not really sure how this could have been an ending, but I can't imagine reading more about this weird and nonsensical town).

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Steampunk Sorcery: Magic Under Glass Review

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 225
Keywords: steampunk, magic, forbidden love
Format Read: hardcover via publisher
Other Books Read: Between the Sea and the Sky
Goodreads | Book Depository
Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. 
Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.
The beginning of this book had me thinking it was going to be beautiful. Dolamore built this incredibly elaborate world, and for the first few chapters, I felt like everything was unfolding nicely and I was being introduced to this strange, interesting, new world.

Then once Nimira made it to Hollin's estate, things began to get confusing. He's got a robot-man that plays the piano with whom he wants Nimira to perform. There's immediately a mystery surrounding the myths that the robot is haunted, and once Nimira begins practice, she begins to hear the noises. Turns out, he's an actual man trapped inside the robot body. Once we discover this (not that far into the book), there's this whole complicated back story that I feel like the reader should know about but doesn't. The book was not very long, so this, for me, was a thing that could have been included to explain more to the reader and add some investment.

The descriptions were interesting, and I loved the Jane Eyre-esque story line the book seemed to follow. I feel like there was a lot of un-tapped potential in this book. But a lot fell short, and I just wasn't in love with it. Too many characters that had interesting back stories fell by the way side, and too many things had already happened that I just needed more information on to fully be clear. If you're really into the high fantasy genre, this may be an interesting read, but otherwise, it was too confusing and not enough development to really be worth it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Book Drinks: College Summer Parties

Welcome to Friday Book Drinks, where I pair up a drink with a featured book for the week! This feature rotates every other week with Topics Time.

This week I wanted to pick something I'd already read and reviewed instead of previewing to what I am currently reading. And since a ton of my friends have just begun their new school year (undergrad or grad school), I thought I would feature a book that takes place at college and a very college-y drink to go with it!

I absolutely LOVED Roomies. It's got a diverse cast of characters, which I haven't found too often yet in YA. It's got realistic situations, stories that remind us all how scary our freshman roommate experience was in college. It's got new friends, old friends, friends falling out, and new romances. There are so many good things to say, but let's move on to the drink!

Grab a big giant bowl because this is a punch-style drink. Pour in the following:
12 oz of cherry soda (7-UP has a great one)
12 oz tequila
12 oz Corona
Mix these all up and then add to the bowl 12 oz. frozen limeade concentrate. Once you've mixed this in, it should sort of look like a punch with a little froth on top. Serve in mason jars for the ultimate college look with a lime wedge and a maraschino cherry for a little pop of extra flavor.

It's perfect for the winding-down summer and a big last hoorah before we'll have to start looking at warmer drinks because, you know, it's cold outside.

What do you think? Have you read the book? Tried the drink? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Costumes & Cricket: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 29, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Pages: 338
Keywords: love, friendship, growing up
Format Read: hardcover (gifted!)
Other books reviewed: Anna and the French Kiss
Goodreads | Book Depository
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
So I literally just sped through Isla in one sitting and realized I never reviewed Lola when I finished it a couple of weeks ago. And I loved it too much not to review it. I realize at this point, most people will either have read the series, know they're going to read it and are starting with Anna, or hated Anna and won't continue.

And I'm going to say right now, Anna is my least favorite of the series.

Lola and her family were so much more developed and so much more real to me. I mean, I love the setting of the American school in Paris, and I love the study abroad aspect. But I related so much more to Lola, even with the costumes. She's urban, she has a job, she deals with heartbreak and friendship issues and strict parents unlike the other characters. I just felt like she was so much more real. And her family? I was in love. I love that Perkins manages to always keep characters fresh and interesting and includes all kinds of different people (she has two dads). It makes me so happy because that's what the world is like.

I also want to talk about Cricket. While I'm not a fan of the tall and lanky look, I absolutely adored him. More than St. Clair. Who I never really loved in the first place (prepares for backlash). I had some issues with him (like he didn't break up with Ellie soon enough, and he was flaky, and indecisive). I mean, I still loved him. But it wasn't the same as Cricket. He was dynamic and interested in other people (St. Clair only seemed to worry about Anna, but Cricket was good to his sister, helped out Lola's dads with pies, and genuinely wanted to be around people). I loved that he was an inventor. That part of his character was so wonderful to read about.

The minor hiccup I had was the beginning. When Lola finds out they're moving back to the house. I was very confused why she had always been kind of expecting this when she'd been living next to strangers for years. Were they subletting? Was she aware they'd move back? I wanted just a teeeeeny bit more on how this worked because it seemed to move too fast and just be a plot-mover moreso than an actual thing that happened in the world.

Other than that, the story moved very well, and the characters developed in such great ways. I could not wait to see more of them (which I did!), and Cricket totally moved up the radar for me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reshelved (5)

Welcome to Reshelved! This is the fifth installment of books I didn't finish. I don't like to do full posts because it's not fair to the book for me to not like it and review it if I didn't finish it. So these just weren't for me, but I still want to give them publicity because maybe you all read them and thought differently or they sound spectacular to you. Let's discuss in the comments what you thought about these if you've read them, or why they sound good to you!

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 300
Keywords: revenge, high school
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
Other Books Reviewed: Taste Test
DNF at: 35%
Goodreads | Book Depository
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 
Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 
While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?
Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.
I was skeptical about this one even though I adored Kelly's first book, Taste Test. I felt like the cover didn't really look professional, and it looked like it was trying too hard. But, since I loved her debut, I still kept it on my radar, and a lot of positive reviews started coming in, so I decided to give it a go. But from the very beginning, it didn't go well. It was all extremely circumstantial and incredibly opportunistic. The point of view changes with each chapter, which isn't my favorite, but I can deal with it if it's done well. And if a book was going to revolve around movies, I wanted it to be big monumental classic movies. Not Pitch Perfect. I mean, it's a fun movie, and I really like it, but really? Titanic was in there, but that was it up until then, and then the girls start setting up this whole scheme and it got to be so ridiculous and unbelievable that it wasn't even fun to read about anymore. I just got bored and irritated.

The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Athenum
Pages: 448
Keywords: Russia, royalty, war
Format Read: hardcover via publisher
DNF at: page 60
Goodreads | Book Depository
Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia. Like the fingers on a hand--first headstrong Olga; then Tatiana, the tallest; Maria the most hopeful for a ring; and Anastasia, the smallest. These are the daughters of Tsar Nicholas II, grand duchesses living a life steeped in tradition and privilege. They are each on the brink of starting their own lives, at the mercy of royal matchmakers. The summer of 1914 is that precious last wink of time when they can still be sisters together--sisters that link arms and laugh, sisters that share their dreams and worries, and flirt with the officers of their imperial yacht.
But in a gunshot the future changes for these sisters and for Russia.
I've been stuck on this one for a long time, and just recently I've decided that I need to decide. I've got a stack of books started that just didn't appeal to me, and this is one of them. However, I do want to iterate that this is mostly of an "it's me, not you" case. What I read was beautiful, it just read more like a history book than a work of fiction. It was very detailed, very expository, and so much information to process in only a few pages. And it's not a small book either. The story alternates points of view between all the sisters, and I constantly was forgetting who was narrating what chapter because their voices weren't different. It was clear Miller worked hard on this book and researched her ass off, and I totally respect her for that. It's got a lot of excellent reviews on Goodreads, and I think if you're a hardcore historical fiction reader, this one may be right up your alley. I used to be, but I've shifted from that a while ago, and it was way too heavy for me to process in my post-college brain state.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pinteresting: Bikes & Beaches

I've really gotten into Pinterest lately. I mean, I've been on it for a while (come be friends with me!), but now that I've graduated and don't have to do homework once I get off work, I have all this free time. Most of it is Netflixing Parks & Recreation and looking on Pinterest for how I'll decorate my apartment (you know, if I ever get my own when I move).

So I wanted to combine my recent pinning obsession with books!
My inspiration for this collage was Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. She's one of my favorite authors, and I always feel nostalgic when I read her books because they take me back to my high school days when I first starting reading them (woah. that was EIGHT years ago).

Eli, the boy in this book, rides bikes, and has a clan that does like actual tricks and things on them, and he teaches Auden how to ride a bike. So it's a pretty significant little point in the book. He's also an insomniac like Auden, so they spend a lot of time at a 24-hour diner, and what better to order at a diner than some freaking delicious pancakes?

Auden also gets a job in a little boutique in the new town she's moved to, which is a beach side, small town with not very many people in it or with-the-times things, hence the other images.

What do you think of this post? Any suggestions for what book I should pin next? Let's talk!

The image of the pancakes is mine. They were the most delicious pancakes from this adorable brunch place here in Louisville I go to a lot called Wild Eggs. If you're in the area, highly recommend.

Images I used via, via, via, via, and via.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Young Love: A Match Made in High School

A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker
Release Date: February 4, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 272
Keywords: high school, friendship
Format Read: ARC via author (thank you!)
Goodreads | Book Depository
When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can't get any worse. Then she marries her "husband": jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona's long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer.
Pranks, fights, misunderstandings, and reconciliations ensue in an almost Shakespearean comedy of errors about mistaken first impressions, convoluted coupling, and hidden crushes.
Another one off of the bottom of my TBR! From the first page of this book, though, I was already yelling at the ridiculous, unrealistic happenings going on. The first page opens with the principal of the school telling all the seniors that in order to graduate, they had to take a class on marriage and were partnered with a person of the opposite gender to plan out their year. This would never ever work in a school system 1. because America is an idiot and enforces the strict math, science, nothing creative (okay, there are some creative things, but a lot of schools are relying on test results and not actual education, and that's a whole other topic for another time) and 2. because a school board would have to pass something like this and it would never be a surprise. It would be in the works for months, if not years, before it could actually be a thing.

That being said, Fiona's mother actually brought up interesting points about students who are gay or who don't want to get married or who are religiously against something like this, and she ends up leading a protest. So that part redeemed the first part (only a little bit. I mean, really. Marriage education?) They also tell the students that they must get jobs to earn money for the marriage, and that would REALLY never work in today's schools. When I was a senior, college applications took top priority, and I was involved in honor society, taking AP tests left and right, as well as being involved with about 7 school productions (we were a super theatre school) and choir concerts out the wazoo. There is literally no time for a job unless the student has worked it out ahead of time and doesn't have it sprung on them last minute. It can be done, but not in a day.

That being said, once I put the main topic behind myself and got over it so I could actually read the book, it was only okay. I really liked the dynamic between Todd and Fiona, but Fiona was so wishy-washy as a character. I realize she was supposed to be unlikable, but she swung back and forth so quickly that it was difficult to truly get a grasp of what her character actually was. It was hard to see the antagonist (mean popular girl) as an actual antagonist because of Fiona's crazy swings everywhere. She didn't seem so bad because Fiona was always yelling (and then crying and then making her best friend feel terrible and then stalking after a guy she didn't know). There was also quite a bit of slut shaming (not hardcore, but built into dialogue) that stood out to me as really awful. I hated that girls were treating each other like that, and it was supposedly the good characters shaming the mean girl. Which doesn't make it okay.

Johnny Mercer was the redeeming character. He was funny and kind and had a hell of a lot more layers than anyone else in the story. He was into music and had such a cool personality and kind of a secret life that came into the open slowly as it should have, rather than some instantaneous craziness that other characters were experiencing. Fiona's stalking of Gabe, her long time crush, was a little alarming as well. She'd never talked to him ever and was literally talking about him all the time, no wonder her friends started to hate her.

A Match Made in High School had a few good qualities, but it was too many crazy, unrealistic situations and not enough character development to make this a good read for me.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Topics Time: My Old Kentucky Home

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? Books that take place in Indiana or Kentucky!

So, for some reason, a lot of the books talk about horses. Because yes, we have a lot of those (we also have a lot of cows, donkeys, and BUFFALO). But Kentucky is known for a lot more (i.e. bourbon, invention of hamburger, gold mining, etc). And I live across the river in a tiny town that has a lot of wineries, orchards, and a ton of independent coffee shops.

1. Love Story by Jennifer Echols
It's no secret I love Echols. She's my go-to author when I really need something awesome and swoonworthy to read. Now that I look back on my review of this book, it's reminding me a bit of Fangirl. It's a series of stories within the original story, and the main character is a writer from Louisville. She goes to school in NYC, but a lot of things follow her there from home, including some things from her past she'd rather not deal with. She pens stories for her creative writing classes that have similarities to things that have happened at home, and a whole lot of steaminess comes from this.

2. When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot
This was one I read before I blogged, and it's actually the first in a series (called 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU). As always, Meg Cabot delivers. In a typical Indiana fluke storm, she's struck by lightning and accidentally winds up with the ability to locate a missing person when she sees an image of them. Super cool and unique if you're looking for an original realistic-paranormal series. There are only 4 books, and they FLY, so it's not a big time commitment. If you're up for the challenge, you could really read a book a day. And of course, in traditional Meg style, there's a handsome man that plays into the story. This is one of her underrated series that I think is one of her best. (Also, cheesy 90s cover alert! I kind of love it)

3. The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker
First, I want to say how adorable and sweet Alecia is. Second, her book is awesome. It follows Ricki Jo, who no longer wants to be called by her farm name, moving to the high school and reinventing herself. She wants to be popular, on the cheerleading team, etc. It's pretty realistic as far as life at a small-town Catholic school goes. You're either popular or you're virtually invisible. There's really no in between. And while occasionally her actions made me more than angry, just because she wasn't that smart doesn't mean the book isn't written well. I loved Alecia's writing more than anything, and the storyline flowed smoothly and seamlessly. Also, I really loved Luke a lot. It always helps to have a great boy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Portrait of Growth: Starry Night Review

Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Pages: 336
Keywords: New York, first love, friendship
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads | Book Depository
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep? 
This was one of those covers I adored from the moment I saw it, and I knew I'd push it up on my TBR and make sure to get to it because it was just so beautiful.

The book is told in past tense, and the narrator is clear from the beginning that she's grown a lot from the moment that the story happens, and she's telling it to us with more knowledge and experience down the line. Starry Nights has this intriguing nostalgic personality reflecting back on past decisions and mistakes everyone can resonate with during their first experience with love.

Wren and her friends' group dynamic was wonderful. They didn't always get along, they didn't always tell each other everything, but they truly cared about one another, and I thought that was wonderful. They'd been friends for forever, and they all had their own battles as they got older and realized more about themselves. Wren had a difficult time keeping in touch, Farah distanced herself and kept secrets, Reagan lied and snuck around, and Charlie fell out of the loop a lot. I thought this was so realistically done, and it wasn't sugar coated. This has happened to my friends when they started dating. My single friend and I began to stick together in high school because the rest of the group was off doing other things with their new partners, and it's true that they didn't really have time for us. It made us sad, sure, but we weren't perpetually angry. Like the Turtles (what these characters called their group), we knew we were friends in the long run even though we went through some rough patches.

This book really just has an incredibly honest voice that made me feel for Wren. I was happy for her, then I was mad at her, then I wanted to hug her. She told the story so well that we knew what was going to inevitably happen, but it was still shocking to finally read the truth, even though you know what it's going to be all along.

One of the biggest complaints (okay, only from a couple people, but still) was that they didn't understand how Wren could just drop things. Like her friends or her plans, and she took off without a care in the world for anything. But this is a story told from the point of view that she knew it was wrong after the fact. It was her first love, and she didn't know what else to do. At the time, it seemed right because her friends were making similar decisions. I got angry, but I never hated the book for what Wren was doing. In fact, that made me like it more, because it was spot on to decisions people make in real life and screw up.

This was a really wonderful story of growth, companionship, and sticking by your friends no matter what, and I think it's perfect for the fall school season as it kind of takes place over the course of a school year. The characters are its stand out quality, and the book is predictable in a good way. It's Gillies' narrative style that draws you in, and you don't care what happens because you feel tied to the characters no matter what.