Review of Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

onceandforallOnce and for All
By: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating
star

Summary:
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

My Thoughts:
I haven’t read many contemporary novels and this was my first Sarah Dessen book! It was such a fun read and a really wonderful break from my usual fantasty/science fiction. This novel was fast paced, heart felt and really adorable.

I’m not a huge wedding type person- I’m a rare soul that doesn’t like attending them, didn’t really want my own and I’m just not all crazy for the entire thing. But, regardless of my none obsession with weddings this book had me early on. I loved the humor and Louna was so easy to read about. I was impressed with the depth of the characters early on and how much back story we learned.

The weddings we see in this book were actually so much fun and the entire atmosphere of the book was overall uplifting although there was some aspects that were heavy. The novel jumps back and forth from Louna’s past to present day. She has a very emotional past and first love. These bits were very well done and had me so immersed.

The characters had great chemistry and I loved the relationships we get glimpses of. I of course loved watching Louna grow to appreciate the cocky, flirtatious Ambrose. I thought they really brought out some great things about one another and their dialog was often very funny.

Where the book sort of lost me was in the ending. Things felt rushed to me and the last few chapters felt a bit disjointed and not nearly as developed as the rest of the book.

Final Thoughts:
I think fans of contemporary fiction will really enjoy this read especially if they want to see a bit more about what goes into wedding planning. I will try another Dessen novel in the future and I’m happy that I read this one.

DNF Review for The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

TheLovelyRecklessThe Lovely Reckless
By: Kami Garcia
Release Date: October 4th 2016
Publisher: Imprint
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

I DNFed at  64%

Summary:
I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My Thoughts:
The Lovely Reckless started out strongly for me-the writing was absorbing and it didn’t take me long to get invested in the story line. I felt for Frankie and for all she had lost and I understood her motivations (though I didn’t always agree with them). It frustrated me the way her parents treated her and her coping with the loss of her boyfriend. I felt this was a tad unrealistic (I hope) but it set the story up well for Marco to enter into her life.

I expected to really get behind the romance in this book and have all the stomach fluttering but sadly this was not the case. I never really felt the chemistry between these two characters. Honestly the more I read the less I liked them together. At first I got a Dirty Dancing vibe from them but this slowly dissipated and left me feeling sort of bleh about them. Once I stopped caring so much about this relationship’s outcome I started feeling the book drag and I honestly DNFed because I was bored.

I will be the first to admit that I am not typically a fan of issue books or contemporary so that could possibly be why this didn’t work for me. I had hoped for a book where the romance would move me and sadly that did not happen.

Review of Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

SummerofSloaneSummer of Sloane
By: Erin L. Schneider
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print ARC
Source: Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.

These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.

Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.

But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

My Thoughts:
Look at that cover–so summery, bright and beautiful. If you read my blog often you’ll know I’m not usually all that eager to read contemporary fiction but I was really drawn to this book because of that cover and because it was set in Hawaii. Overall, I found this novel to be immensely readable and was wonderfully inspirational to me to want to get out and enjoy the sun and water.

There were elements I didn’t love and that mostly revolved around the miscommunication towards the end of the novel. I’m sure it was completely plausible, and possibly likely, that these characters would act the way that they did but it didn’t make for the best reading experience for me. There was so much misunderstanding and lack of sharing that it was rather frustrating to me. The characters assumed so much about one another- which sadly is very true to real life (but this felt a tad exaggerated especially towards the end). I think the major reason I don’t read contemporary is that I don’t like the main issue in the book being so heavily based in reality! I prefer to escape outside of what is plausible so this is a me issue rather than a real issue with the book.

Sloane was very relatable and likeable. I felt for her very deeply and cringed, gasped and generally felt what she felt as I read. I was hurt at what happened to her and the betrayal she faced. I couldn’t imagine how awful it must feel to be hurt by two people you trust the  most. I was so sad for her and angry. I commend the author for giving me the ability to feel so deeply even at the start of the novel.

The secondary characters were developed but oh did I want to throttle the majority of them rather often. Sloane’s best friend, boyfriend and new love interest, Finn, all were guilty of making me want to pull out my own hair. I was so frustrated with each of them. I did love some of the less looked at secondary characters and felt that the novel was populated with real feeling characters.

Sloane’s parents were lightly present in the novel (I’d preferred them being around a tad more) and they have their own rather shocking (at least to Sloane) reveal. This novel really encompassed such a hectic and trying time for this character it was a bit hard to read at times. I felt so bad for her. I did love the scenery and having been to Hawaii myself it was very easy for me to be there again.

I was a bit disappointed that we only ventured into the most wealthy sections of the islands though. Sloane’s mother and the majority of the people she knows are incredibly wealthy to an extreme. This allowed for some really amazing settings though- apartments with full window’s on the beach, fancy hotels and pent houses. I must admit I didn’t see that side of Hawaii (or life in general) so can’t say how realistic that aspect was.

Final Thoughts:
I really enjoyed Sloane’s character and the summer sun and ocean atmosphere of Summer of Sloane though the heavy reliance on miscommunication between the characters frustrated me. The author was very capable of making me feel what her characters felt and her descriptions of Hawaii made me wish I were there. Overall I’d say this is a great summer read (especially if you can be on the beach somewhere).

SummerofSloaneBookPic

Review of Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake

SufferLoveSuffer Love
By: Ashley Herring Blake
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Hadley St. Clair’s life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone.

Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably “feels like home” to Hadley. Hadley and Sam’s connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything.

Funny and passionate, Suffer Love is a story about first love, family dysfunction, and the fickle hand of fate.

My Thoughts:
In the past I’ve not been a huge fan of the contemporary genre but lately I’ve been delving deeper into these books and finding that I do enjoy them. They are a perfect break from the fantasy and science fiction I typically read.

Suffer Love was a fast paced book that quickly grabbed my interest. It flips between Hadley’s and Sam’s point of view. Both of them have suffered recently with family troubles. I was impressed that Blake approached the family dynamics and the impact parents have on their children.

Both Hadley and Sam had poignant point of views and I felt that Blake did a great job of giving them distinct voices. Both lead characters were well developed and likeable though I did find myself preferring Sam a tiny bit.

I enjoyed his sections more I think because I preferred the people he surrounded himself with. The relationship between Sam and his sister, Livy,  was very special and well done. Hadley’s point of view was a little less interesting to me and I found her best friend grating at times (because of her constant disapproval of Hadley’s actions regarding guys). I could understand the rift in their friendship but it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable to read as other parts of the story.

Really though, the secondary cast was very well executed and developed enough that I was fond of many of them and not so fond of others. It’s always good when I have real feelings towards characters other than the main leads. I was able to understand the motivations that drove these people and even Sam and Hadley’s parents were looked into enough that I could understand though not agree with some of their actions.

Though the two leads fell for each other quickly it felt very realistic. I think these two brought out the good in each other and I really enjoyed their scenes together. This was the type of romance that you keep flipping pages just waiting for them to be together. I feel that the factors that pull them apart were well done too and really original. I completely understood any lack of communications between these two and the tension was great.

This book did delve into some deep topics-divorce, affairs, etc. These topics I feel need to be addressed and they were handled with care and realistically. Overall I think this book was very successful.

Final Thoughts:
I felt that Suffer Love was an original contemporary novel since it addressed topics I’ve not read about typically in young adult. I was pleased to see that family had a lot to do with this story and that what parents do affects their children immensely. The romance, tension, pacing and friendships were all very well executed.

Review of Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

BookishlyEverAfterBookishly Ever After
By: Isabel Bandeira
Release Date:  January 12th 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

My Thoughts:
I was drawn to this book because of that beautiful cover and summary- a bookish main character? Yes, please. This was a quick and fun read that I enjoyed though it read a bit too young for my taste. Admittedly, at 35 years old, I’m probably not the target audience.

The book was from the main character, Phoebe’s, point of view. She’s a junior in high school and hasn’t had much experience dating. Really she had zero experience even liking a guy that’s not found in a book. Her best friend, Em, gets her to realize this and so launches Phoebe’s crush on Dev, a boy she’s been friends with. Using her bookish inspirations she tries to figure out a way to get the guy.

This was a super cute read and had sweet relationships and some very nice moments between the characters. It was a lot different than my usual reads and had a very uplifting, innocent vibe to it. As you can guess the setting and story rely heavily on the character’s (lack) of experience in high school so some of the elements sort of grated on me. Such as, the lack of communication and understanding between the characters. I felt a tad frustrated here and there but I think others won’t find it the same way.

There are many, many book references that some will probably feel are a tip of the hat to them personally. I felt that these references veered on the cliché but it was still very cute and did tie into the story well.

The relationship was very cute and you can feel the chemistry between all the characters. I enjoyed that the friendships were also focused on and truly, this was such a sweet read that proved to be highly entertaining.

Final Thoughts:
I think that Bookishly Ever After will easily find an audience of readers that will adore the fast pacing, enjoyable characters and overall sweet vibe of this book. For me, personally, it was a bit too young though I did find it to be fun and engaging.