book review: bad romance by heather demetrios

bad romance.jpg

goodreads summary:

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

my thoughts:

this was such an incredibly important and moving (not to mention beautifully written) book. i want to shove this book into the hands of every teenager, especially those who are currently in, or have been in, a toxic relationship and feel that they are unworthy of being in a loving, healthy relationship.  this book moved me profoundly, and i found myself tearing up more than once while reading it.

heather demetrios’ writing in this novel was utterly compelling, and i was hooked on the story from the start.  the unique thing about this book is that the story is written like a letter from grace, the novel’s protagonist, to her ex-boyfriend gavin, as she chronicles the details of their destructive love story, as well as other things from her life, from the beginning to the end.  this allows us as the readers to experience it all with her first hand- the difficulties she experienced in her home life, her friendships (FYI her friends were amazing and i want to hug them for being so incredibly supportive of grace no matter what), the way in which she met and fell for gavin, and how that relationship ultimately came to its end.  being able to experience these things through grace’s eyes made her story that much more real and relatable.

grace was such a strong character despite her circumstances, and i was fighting alongside her for every step of the way.  her story is a sad one, as her family life is less than idyllic, and so it is easy to see how she would end up falling for a guy like gavin.  hell, even if she didn’t have the life that she did, it would be easy to be charmed by a guy like gavin (fedora wearing and all). i myself have been charmed by tortured bad boys in need of saving, and understand just how intoxicating it can be to be caught up in such a vicious cycle.  i found myself just as swept away by gavin as grace was, and my heart broke alongside hers when his true nature was revealed and everything began falling apart.

this is an incredibly eye opening and moving book that will break your heart and resonate with you long after you turn the last page. i can honestly say that this was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and grace’s story is one that i won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

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book review: 7,300 days by isabella mente

7300 days

goodreads synopsis:

this book holds my story, my odyssey, through twenty years of life. it shares my story through the darkness and the light. get comfy, put your favorite sweats on, boil some water, and make tea. crack open the pages and feel with me. hold my art upon your lap and let it become a part of you. because this story is not just mine, it is yours, too. all my love, me. [themes found within this text: femininity, mental health: depression/anxiety, self-love, sexual abuse, love, trauma, etc. a coming of age] xx

my thoughts:

wow. it’s poetry collections like this that make me remember why i love words so much, and why it’s important that we open ourselves up enough to share our words with others. this book spoke to my entire heart and soul; i connected with and saw myself in so much of what was written in here. this collection was so raw and so filled with emotion that it’s clearly evident that the author bled herself dry onto each and every page. thank you, isabella, for being brave enough to open yourself up and share with us the words that you have been holding inside for so long.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: i am more than a daydream by jennae cecelia

daydream

amazon synopsis:

How often do you daydream? For most, it is many times a day. We stare out the window instead of the task in front of us. We fantasize about where we would much rather be, the significant other we long for, our ideal job, the body we hope to see in the mirror, a healthier mindset, pure happiness in our lives and the lives of others, peace in this chaotic world. However, how many of us daydreamers believe these pleasant thoughts will truly turn into our reality? Daydreams are more than just short bursts of happiness that only our minds can see. I know I am more than a daydream; and you are, too.

my thoughts:

this poetry collection may have been short, but it was an extremely empowering read. i love how much it stresses the importance of self love and finding your self worth despite the struggles you may face in life.

as someone who has been battling an eating disorder and body image issues for many many years, i just want to say THANK YOU, Jennae. I have been working through recovery for a long time now, and it’s definitely not an easy fight, so it is always so nice to read things that both encourage me & remind me that my self worth is not based upon what my weight may be, and that self love doesn’t come from my pants size. so many of us struggle with the ability to love ourselves because of what we see in the mirror, and it is easy to lose focus on the fact that beauty and self love is much, much more than the numbers on a scale.

to anybody who may be struggling in any sort of way, and is having trouble navigating their way through the many obstacles that are a part of life, please do yourself a favor and pick up this poetry collection. words are a truly powerful thing, and they can go a long way in helping to change your life for the better.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: love, & you by gretchen gomez

loveandyou.jpg

goodreads synopsis: 

one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning

my thoughts:

i have been reading a lot of beautiful poetry collections as of late, and this collection is no exception. it is clear that the author opened herself up fully, and allowed her words and feelings to flow through the cracks in her heart and onto the pages of this book. in fact, i feel like she took shattered pieces from my own heart in the past and placed them alongside hers in this book. there was a particularly painful period of my life where i could have used a book like this, and i highly encourage anybody who has been through a toxic relationship, or is going through some form of heartbreak, to pick up this collection and lose themselves in Gretchen’s words. absolutely beautiful debut!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: the princess saves herself in this one by amanda lovelace

princess 2

goodreads synopsis:

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

my thoughts:

the princess saves herself in this one…& reminds us all that we can, too.

this poetry collection is as haunting as it is empowering, & i commend Amanda for having the courage to pour all of her heart & soul into her pen & letting it bleed onto the pages of this book for all of the world to see. it couldn’t have been easy for her to open herself up in such a raw way & entrust her story to us, but in doing so, she reminded all of the princesses of the world that no matter how hard life can be, and no matter how many dragons may stand in our path along the way, we are capable of slaying those dragons and finding the happy endings that we all deserve.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: fireworks by katie cotugno

fireworks

goodreads synopsis:

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

my thoughts:

well, first off, Katie Cotugno has done it again-she managed to simultaneously leave me annoyed & frustrated while still wanting more. i just finished reading this book earlier today, and i’m still reeling from the way it ended. it’s not the fact that the ending was left open ended, as this is Katie’s usual fashion & something that i’ve grown to expect (& not totally hate) when it comes to her books, but more so about the conclusion that was actually reached in regards to something major happening in the story. even though i saw it coming from a mile away, it still managed to not only sucker punch me right in the face, but left me shaking because i was so angry at one of the characters. (i actually kind of threw the book off my bed with a bit of force if that tells you anything) but even with all that being said, i didn’t actually hate the overall ending (as far as it being left open) because as much as the event that preceded the overall ending frustrated me, the story was very well crafted to make for an enjoyable read.

Katie Contugno is a great YA contemporary story-teller, and one of the things that i always admire when it comes to her books is that, despite how frustrating her characters are, (and believe me, they are frustrating) they are also very multi-dimensional and definitely not without flaw, which makes them feel very real.  I even appreciate her open-ended endings, as they too, help to make the story that much more real and authentic.  rarely in life are things tied up neatly with a bow, and i feel that a story doesn’t always have to be either, even if it’s merely a work of fiction.

fireworks, although irksome at times, was a great coming of age novel about first love, the hardships of chasing dreams, and the ups and downs of friendship. set in the 90’s, this story revolves around Dana (who is the narrator of the story) and Olivia, two life-long best friends, who, despite being from the same place, grew up under very different circumstances. Dana grew up in poverty, with an unsupportive mother who cared more about vodka than her own daughter, and because of these bleak circumstances, Dana had very little hope of ever leaving her hometown and making something of herself. Olivia, meanwhile, always dreamed of being a pop star and had a bright future ahead of her no matter if she managed to make her dreams of stardom a reality or not, as she had a more stable home life than her friend, both financially and in the way of supportive parents. both girls have the chance to make their dreams come true when they audition to join an all-girls singing group (Eden’s Crush, anyone?) and are chosen, alongside two other girls. for Olivia, it’s a chance to finally make her lifelong dream of becoming a pop star come true, while it’s a lucky break for Dana, (who accidentally auditioned) to change her circumstances and escape from the nothing town from which she came, and the bleak future thats in store for her there. although it starts off as an exciting new adventure for the two friends, the stress of the competition, along with jealousy and secrets, starts to take its toll on the girls. throw a boy (a cute boy who also happens to be a member of a boy-band) into the mix of it all, and you have a disaster just waiting to happen. it’s not long into the competition that the girls start to go from being the best of friends to near bitter rivals. i found the ups and downs of their friendship to be portrayed in a very realistic manner, especially considering the grueling and competitive circumstances they were put under. this story also gave an interesting insight into the world of fame, both the glamorous and ugly side of it.

despite the fact that both girls’ were flawed in their own way, and each played a role in the unraveling of their friendship, i felt that Olivia was more at fault than Dana, and at times it was really hard to find anything very likable about her and honestly i found myself siding with Dana for the most part.

although this story is very much about friendship, romance also plays a pretty central role. Dana ends up dating a boy named Alex who not only lives in the same apartment complex that she is staying in, but also happens to be a member of a boy-band.  (O-Town, anyone?) not only was their relationship really cute, but also a perfect depiction of what it’s like to fall in love for the first time.

before ending this review, i would like to issue an ed-trigger warning, as one of the characters (Olivia) has eating issues, and it’s heavily implied that she does in fact suffer from an eating disorder.  this is also one of the things that kept me from giving this book a full five stars.  although Olivia’s eating disorder wasn’t exactly portrayed badly, i do feel that it was glossed over a bit too much and i wish that the author had taken the time to go more in depth about it.  as someone who is working through recovery from an eating disorder and has struggled with food related issues for years, i am very critical about how an author handles it in a book, especially a book that is targeted towards teens. also: i personally did not find it to be extremely triggering, but as each and every one of us is different in what we find to be triggering, i gently urge anybody who is currently suffering from an eating disorder to take caution when reading this book.

overall, this was a solid contemporary that i really enjoyed (it was one that i finished within hours because i couldn’t stop reading, if that tells you anything), and i think that anybody who has an interest in ya contemporaries that focus on the power of friendship (with some romance and a lot of drama thrown in) will definitely take a liking to this book, along with the other books that Katie Cotugno has written.  I bought this book on release day and i’ll definitely be doing the same whenever Katie’s next book is released!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book Review: Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

everyone we've been

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you could forget your past, particularly a painful period of your past- would you do it, even if it meant erasing a part of what makes you who you are?

the above question is a bit of an overall theme in this novel, as it pertains to not only the main character, but gives us, as the readers, something to think about while reading the novel.

everyone we’ve been is the story of Addison Sullivan, a sixteen-year old viola player who meets a cute boy at a bus stop, and begins seeing him in various locations following the bus crashing. When it becomes clear that Addie is the only one who can see this boy, she seeks help at the overton clinic, a place that specializes in the removal of painful memories for its patients. Once there, Addie learns that she has been there before. Following this discovery, the narrative weaves back and forth between the present and the past, and reveals why Addie sought treatment at the clinic in the first place, and why she had the mysterious bus boy removed from her memories. Although it wasn’t hard to guess Addie’s reasoning for having him erased, the reveal still delivered a powerful blow and I definitely felt my heart shattering for Addie.

I loved this book. It was such a beautiful, emotional, thought-provoking story filled with so many themes and touched on so many different subjects such as first love and heartbreak, grief, depression, and ultimately, coping and moving forward even when you feel like you can’t go on any longer. Heartbreak and grief come in so many different forms and layers, and each and every one of us has our own ways of dealing with loss, and i love that this story really touched on that.

Loss is unfortunately a part of life, but it’s important to remember that no matter how immense heartbreak may be, it is survivable, and no matter how painful these losses may be, they help shape us into who we are.