book review: listen to your heart by kasie west

goodreads summary:

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend . . . until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

my review:

this book was such a delight to read! i can honestly say that i had a huge smile on my face the entire time i was reading it!

prior to reading this book, my reading experience with kasie west’s books had been 50/50. although i own all of her books in some capacity, i had only read two of her books so far, and while i remember loving the first book that i read by her (the fill-in boyfriend), i was not at all a fan of the second book that i read by her (love, life, and the list). so i was a bit hesitant to dive into anything else by her (in all honestly i reallyreally did not like the second book i read by her at all) but seeing as how i did enjoy one of her books, i still wanted to give her another chance, so i decided to download listen to your heart, and i’m so glad i did because i ended up finishing this book within a few hours because i was unable to put it down! this was the perfect lighthearted, fun, summery read, and i really cannot think of anything that i didn’t enjoy about this book.

i loved the main character, kate, and her love for the lake and wanting to be in the water whenever possible. i may not be a fan of summer (autumn girl all the way!) but one aspect of summer i have always enjoyed is swimming (i am a pisces after all!) i loved her big unconventional family, and the chapter with her cousins night put an even bigger smile on my face because it sounded like so much fun! i loved her friendship with alana, and the way in which the love triangle (of sorts?) was handled between them. speaking of love. the romance between kate and her crush was super cute the way in which it developed throughout the book, and was yet another reason i couldn’t stop smiling as i read.

my favorite part of this book was probably the podcasting class though. it just sounded like so much fun! honestly, i wish i would have had cool classes like podcasting back when i was in school (even though i don’t think podcasts even existed back when i was in high school. but still. wow do i feel old) because i’m pretty sure i would have enjoyed high school at least a little bit more than i did it classes like that had been offered! the entire aspect of the podcasting class itself was interesting and unique, and i love how it got kate to step outside of her comfort zone and i really enjoyed the snark between her and her co-host, victoria, as well as everything about their advice podcast in general. i’ve never been one for listening to podcasts, but this book has definitely upped my interest in them!

this book by far exceeded my expectations, and i’m so glad i decided to pick it up on a whim. my faith in kasie west’s books has been restored, as this was exactly what i was looking for when it came to reading her books! i was having a pretty bad day the morning that i started reading this book, but my mood was instantly lifted the moment i started reading. this was definitely one of my favorite books that i have read so far this year, and i highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a fun, lighthearted read this summer! my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Advertisements

arc review: i have lost my way by gayle forman

9780425290774

goodreads summary:

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

my thoughts:

Sometimes a book comes into your life at the exact time that you are in need of it, and that’s exactly what I Have Lost My Way ended up being for me.  I am currently going through something in my life that is incredibly difficult for me to handle, and I am struggling to regain a sense of normality and find my way back to wherever it is that I need to be. In a nutshell: I have lost my way.

I was originally drawn to this book when I first heard about it due to the fact that it was penned by Gayle Forman. I have read all of her previous books, and while I didn’t love all of them, I have so far at least liked all of them.  She writes about some incredibly deep topics, and I have definitely cried some tears over her books, specifically the If I Stay duology. (I’m still recovering from those books tbh.)

Admittedly, despite the fact that I felt that I Have Lost My Way was a book that I needed to read, and I am glad that I read it, as it did impact me in some ways, it also didn’t quite pack the emotional punch that I was expecting, and I didn’t find it to be quite on par with some of Gayle’s previous books.  Although I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, I just didn’t connect with the story or the characters as much as I had hoped to. But on the other hand, the overall theme of the story (aka losing one’s way) is something that I was able to connect to, and is the reason that I am glad that I read this book at this point in time.

This book takes place over the course of one day, and tells the story of three very different and diverse characters, Freya (an up and coming singer who has lost her voice), Nathaniel (a boy haunted by his past), and Harun (a closeted muslim teen who is afraid of disappointing his deeply religious parents). True to the title of the book, each of the characters has lost their way, and are struggling to make sense of their pain and in need of someone to help them find hope in life again.

Due to a chance meeting in Central Park in NYC, their stories become intertwined, and through their unlikely and sudden friendship with each other, they help each other to heal and feel alive again.  Despite the fact that this story takes place over the course of a day, we are also given a glimpse into the backgrounds of each character, and because of this, we as readers are able to gain a better understanding of their struggles and how they came to be at the point that they are in their lives when they meet.

This book was a haunting and moving story about life, loss, friendship, family, and finding your way back in a world that no longer makes sense the way it once did. Although I didn’t quite connect with this story as much as I had hoped to, I still found hope within the pages of this book and I feel that many others will too.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

***an early copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via First to Read in exchange for an honest review

arc review: top ten by katie cotugno

***a copy of this book was provided to me via the publisher in exchange for an honest review

top ten

goodreads summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

my thoughts:

As someone who has read and loved all of Katie Cotugno’s previous books, I naturally had a lot of high hopes for this book and expected to love it. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed by this one. The premise of the book seemed promising and right up my alley, but did not at all end up meeting my expectations. While there were some things that I did like about this book, I was ultimately left feeling underwhelmed by it as a whole.

This book tells the story of Ryan and Gabby, two best friends who formed an unlikely friendship after meeting at a party during their freshmen year of high school. The lines of their friendship become blurred when they decide to sleep together one night after leaving a high school graduation party.  This decision leads to a fight between them, as they wonder whether sleeping together meant anything.  The timeline then jumps back and forth between the past and the present, as they count down the top ten moments of their friendship.

While I liked the idea of the whole top ten moments countdown, I still had a hard time connecting with the story and didn’t feel any kind of spark between Ryan and Gabby.  I am a sucker for the whole best friends falling in love with each other trope when done right, but I just wasn’t feeling the connection in this particular story.  I found the relationship between Gabby and Ryan to be very bland, and I had a hard time caring about their relationship in general.

All of that aside, there were some important topics included in this book, as well as diversity, that I really appreciated, and which is what made me give this book more than two stars.  Gabby identifies as bisexual, and suffers from severe social anxiety. While I can’t speak for the sexuality representation, I am someone who suffers from anxiety, and I really struggle with it in social situations, just as Gabby does, and I really appreciate how her anxiety was portrayed in this story, as I could deeply relate to her on that level.

Ryan also dealt with some heavy-handed issues in this story, including struggling with some serious injuries, such as concussions and headaches, as a direct result of playing hockey.  There are many books that include jocks as the lead character, but often times the serious and all too real injuries that come with playing sports are overlooked, and I appreciate that Katie Cotugno included the serious repercussions that can come with playing sports that not many other authors think to write about. Student athletes are risking a lot by participating in sports, and I think that this is something that needs to be talked about a lot more in YA books.

Important topics aside, I thought that this book was just okay.  It definitely wasn’t the worst YA book that I have ever read, but I didn’t find it to be on par with Katie Cotugno’s previous books.  Even though this book was a letdown for me, I am still a big fan of Katie Cotugno’s writing, and I am looking forward to her next release!

My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 ‘s

 

book review: love, life, & the list by kasie west

love life and the list.jpg

goodreads summary:

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

my thoughts:

to say I was highly disappointed by this book is an understatement. while i wasn’t expecting this book to be something phenomenal, i was looking forward to it being a cute, swoon worthy, easy read, and it even failed to meet those expectations. before picking up this book, i had previously only read one book by kasie west (the fill-in boyfriend) and i really enjoyed it, but it pains me to say that i can’t say the same for this one at all. i had initially picked this book up not long after it released, and i expected to fly through it, but i found myself putting it down numerous times because it failed to hold my attention. in fact, i was bored throughout a majority of it, and honestly, i almost dnfed it multiple times. while i love the idea of the main character, abby, completing a list of tasks in which she faces doing things that she fears, that particular aspect of the book wasn’t enough to hold my attention. neither she, nor her best friend/love interest, cooper, resonated with me (in fact, i found pretty much all of the characters to be dull and forgettable with the exception of abby’s grandfather), and i found myself annoyed with their relationship, as i felt it lacked any chemistry whatsoever. their entire relationship felt forced, and definitely didn’t give me the kind of feels that i expect to get from a supposed to be cutesy contemporary novel. i really could not stand cooper and his character is one of the main reasons that i found this book to be so unbearable. despite my overall disappointment with this book, i still plan on reading more books by kasie west, as i do find her style of writing to be charming. unfortunately, this particular book by her just did not work for me whatsoever.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️

 

book review: a million junes by emily henry

a million junes

goodreads summary:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

my thoughts:

this book was absolutely fantastic & is, without a doubt, one of my favorite reads of 2017.  i fell in love with the cover the moment i laid eyes on it, & upon reading the synopsis, i just knew this book was going to be something special.  i have to admit, i wasn’t i huge fan of the author’s first book, but this book took my breath away. this book is so very special that i am having a hard time writing this review, as i’m finding it difficult to convey just how very special & meaningful it is. this story held me captivated from the beginning to end, & with each turn of a page, i was completely swept away by the pure magic of it all.

something that i really love about this book is how refreshingly unique it is. seriously, this book is unlike anything i have ever read before.  it’s a fantasy mixed with contemporary (is that a thing?) & the way in which magical realism was woven throughout the story was truly spectacular. i am a big fan of magical realism, & it was done flawlessly in this book.

emily henry’s writing was spellbindingly beautiful & haunting, & i eagerly breathed in each & every word on each & every page. there were so many passages that i found myself rereading several times, just because they resonated with me so much.

this novel explored so many important topics, such as grief, family, friendship, & love, & it was done in such a vivid & unique way.

the angle in which the author tackled the subject of grief was one of my favorite things about this book.  it was just so very real, & the magical elements interwoven with the storyline only helped to bolster just how powerful & consuming grief can be.

there is so much more i want to say about this book (& i will probably add more at some point) but i really feel that it’s best to just go into this story not knowing too much, & allow yourself to be swept away just as i was.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

book review: follow me back by a.v. geiger

***an eARC of this was provided to me by sourcebooks fire via netgalley in exhange for an honest review

follow me back.jpg

expected release date: june 6th 2017

goodreads summary:

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

my thoughts:

wow. just wow. i finished this book yesterday, and my mind has been reeling ever since then.  between the super intense police transcripts, & the twists and turns interspersed throughout the story, it didn’t take me long to become completely immersed in what what was happening.  the fact that the beginning did admittedly lag for a little bit was quickly overshadowed by the suspenseful build up of events.

this story is told from the perspectives of two characters, eric thorn & tessa hart. both of these characters are living two very different lives yet they are also very similar in a sense, & their similiarties bring them together in a very compelling way. tessa is a teen suffering from agoraphobia, made worse after suffering a traumatic event in her life, while eric is a pop star who, on the surface, seems to have it all but is suffering from demons of his own. as someone who is an introvert battling severe anxiety & depression, i found myself sympathetic towards these characters, particularly tessa, due to the extreme anxiety she suffers stemming from her agoraphobia.

both of these characters use twitter as an outlet for the stress in their lives, which eventually leads to their paths intertwining.  the story of two these characters is a great testament to the fact that you never know what is going on beneath the surface of a person, & the twitter perspective just goes to to show that you never know who you may be talking to on the other side of a computer screen.

i found eric’s story to be particularly enthralling, as it gives a glimpse into the dark side of fame. although he is a famous pop star that is adored by millions & living the kind of life that most people can only dream of, it’s clear that he is uncomfortable with his lavish lifestyle.  not only does he feel trapped by the image that his label has created for him, as he is unhappy with the fact that his fame seems to center more on his looks than his actual music, he is also haunted by the recent murder of a fellow musician at the hands of an unhinged fan, which causes him a great deal of paranoia and stress. it is all too easy to look at glamorous photos of celebrities on the glossy pages of magazines and forget that they too, have their own insecurities and may be secretly battling demons of their own.

one aspect of this story that i did find to be problematic was the portrayal of fandoms.  pretty much every fangirl within the story was painted in a pretty unflattering light, & depicted as being extremely shallow.

i don’t want to say much more about the story, & how it unwinds, but i will say that i was completely sitting on the edge of my seat the closer i got to the ending.  & THAT ENDING. i was completely blown away by the cliff-hanger to end all cliff-hangers, & i am now left very eagerly anticipating the next book.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: always and forever, lara jean

lara jean.jpg

goodreads summary:

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

my thoughts:

my heart is so very full.

i was thrilled when i found out that there was going to be a new (& unfortunately, final) installment in this series. as i sit here writing this review, i am a bundle of emotions; on one hand, i am happy, because this book was everything i wanted it to be and more, but i’m also sad that this was the end of our journey with lara jean & co. but what a delight ending it was! i am a huge jenny han fan, & the to all the boys i’ve loved before trilogy is by far my favorite of hers.  being reunited with lara jean & all of the characters was so bittersweet, because as overjoyed as i was to be reunited with them, i knew that i was slowly saying goodbye to them with each and every turn of a page.

i have to say that although i love & cherish all three books in this series, this one was probably my favorite.  lara jean experienced so much growth throughout this novel, as she had so many challenges to face, and i was rooting for her each and every step of the way.

i was filled with such a sense of warmth & nostalgia throughout the entirety of this book, & overall, this really was, in my opinion, the perfect conclusion to this series. i don’t want to say to too much, so as not to spoil anyone, but i will say that i was completely satisfied when i finished it, and i could not think of a better way for it to have ended.

i am still holding out hope for a spin-off series featuring kitty (hint hint jenny han!) but even if that never happens (sobs) i just want to end this review by expressing my eternal gratitude to jenny han for gracing us with one last chapter in lara jean’s story.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️