Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. – Goodreads
Oh hey, guys. Remember me? I read books sometimes and then review them here? Should I reintroduce myself? Hi, I’m Tina and I’m a bad book blogger. (Hi, Tina.)
I’m not sure what made me pick up the book. The summary was intriguing. Death, secrets, a family that doesn’t talk. Unreliable narrators abound. And it sucked me right in. I read half of it in a day. This is the story of the Lee family, and I do mean the entire family, as the narrative will weave in an out of different viewpoints while remaining in the third person POV. Lydia is dead at the beginning of the book, and we very slowly start learning the history of this family and being discovering all their secrets. It’s the 1970s, and women are newly liberated, so to speak, becoming doctors and scientists, but Marilyn Lee is a housewife. It’s a life she never saw for herself, and she struggles, but she makes do by pouring all her effort into showing Lydia she can have a different kind of life. Marilyn does this at the expense of her other children, especially Hannah. James Lee is the son of immigrants, and while he’s young all he wants is to fit in, but when he’s older, he seems to seek out similarity. There aren’t too many Asians in small-town Ohio in the 70s, and people frequently refer to James and his children as “Oriental” or “the Orientals.” Racism abounds in this novel, and even Marilyn had a pretty gross reaction when she first met James. (Oh, a Chinaman. He doesn’t speak like I thought he would. “So solly.” It was awful.) Marilyn’s mother disowns her for marrying James. James’ parents are dead. And these two are not great parents themselves. Pouring everything into one child at the detriment of the others. Hannah’s point of view is particularly sad, like when she goes to reach for her mother’s hand and Marilyn pulls it back, or when Hannah tentatively lays her head on Nath’s shoulder, because whenever she tries to get close, they move away. James is hard to like when thinking about his son, who, at seven years old, is obsessed with space and rockets. James can’t help but be annoyed by this, even hitting him once for it, and makes backhanded comments all the time. These people are kind of awful. They’re hard to like, but easy to empathize with, if you feel you can get past their selfishness.
Lydia is dead and the family is unraveling. James is locking himself in his office at the university, Marilyn is convinced that someone kidnapped Lydia and killed her, Nath is angry, Hannah is silent. They are all coming to terms with Lydia’s death, and they are all realizing that they did not really know her.
This book is about love, suffocating as it might be, loss, loneliness, and anger. Everyone is so angry, and everyone just tamps it down. They don’t ever talk about anything. They keep everything to themselves until it boils over and they self-destruct. More than Lydia’s death, this is a book about discovery. Every character goes through a major character revamp throughout the course of the novel, and I love how Ng gives us little glimpses into the future. This is a great one.
Sam Bennett falls for Hadley St. Clair before he knows her last name. When Sam finds out she is that St. Clair, daughter of the man who destroyed Sam’s family, he has a choice: follow his heart or tell the truth about the scandal that links their families. Funny and passionate, Suffer Love is a story about first love, family dysfunction, and the fickle hand of fate. – Goodreads
From the first page of Suffer Love, my heart was sucked in and left this book a different person. This book has been on my radar since Jen told me I had to read it and I’m so glad she did. Suffer Love is Herring Blake’s debut novel, and it is a star.
Suffer Love is the story of Hadley St. Clair and Sam Bennett, who in theory don’t have much in common. But they actually do, and it’s a life changing event that they have in common. Something that rippled through them a year ago and will continue to ripple through them. It’s the story of love, friendship, family and how things are messy and rarely perfect. Throughout Suffer Love Hadley and Sam make mistakes, they’re teenagers, but most importantly, they’re real.
I wanted to hug them, I wanted to tell them that everything would be okay, but it wasn’t that clear. Herring Blake wrote a novel that kept me on my toes. Suffer Love is a quiet, contemporary novel; however, there is not a clear path to the end. In those moments up to the end, Herring Blake wrote a novel full of small sweet moments that completely captured the mood of the novel. It’s what kept me going when it was almost too much to handle.
Since the moment Hadley found out her father cheated on her mother, she’s lived and extremely lonely life. The tension in her house is almost too much to deal with and no one knows what to do besides acting like everything is okay — when nothing is remotely close to okay.
“I do care, but I don’t know what to do or say anymore. Tell me what to do.” — page 321, ARC.
Of course nothing is that simple. On the other side, we have Sam Bennett, whose mother cheated on his father. While their family was never the happy happy one that Hadley had, it was still a family. Of course, what Hadley and Sam don’t know is that, that pivotal moment in their life set them on track for loneliness, heartache, but ultimately helped them find each other.
What I didn’t expect where the tears that fell from my eyes for these two lonely souls. With a title like Suffer Love you know that it’s not going to be a clean, neat and tidy ending, but it’s real. It’s heart achingly real.
Andie had it all planned out.
When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.
Important internship? Check.
Amazing friends? Check.
Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)
But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.
Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.
And where’s the fun in that? – Goodreads
The Unexpected Everything is Morgan Matson’s fourth book, and it is her star. My ARC is littered in highlighted marks of passages and even a few wet marks from tears. Because here’s the thing, Matson writes well. She is one of the masters of contemporary literature for a reason and Unexpected Everything is the book you hold up to the light to remind people that.
The Unexpected Everything is the story of Andie, a girl after my own heart. She has diet coke running through her veins and eats a small variety of very bland foods to the point when my friend read this book there was a passage that made her go “Oh. Hello Ashley.” Andie is methodical and has a list to make her life orderly and easy. Of course her mother dying at a young age wasn’t expected and losing out on an internship was also unexpected. Instead of getting that perfect internship for her college applications she’s instead walking dogs.
Morgan makes it work, while I felt sad for Andie, the growth she had throughout this book was heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time. While she has her friends for the summer she’s a dog walker, which was never on her plan. However, that is another thing that friendships and family. While I could easily focus on the romantic relationship Andie has throughout the book, the relationship she has with her friends and father was of almost more importance to me.
Since her mother’s death, Andie’s father hasn’t been around. He was grieving in his own way and completely dropped the father ball and at page 235, Andie calls him out at it. “I haven’t had a father in five years.” She dropped that ball on him and then, like adults, they figure it out. Their relationship isn’t perfect. It’s messy and rough around the edges but I adored it. It reminded me how much I love parents in YA literature and how I think there needs to be more of it in YA literature.
Another thing that Matson does well is write friendships. Andie has a group of friends who have nothing in common, but also have everything in common. It’s not a perfect group and there are painful friend moments in which I cry. Because if I have learned anything growing up, friendship break ups are often harder than romantic breakups and Matson wrote about it so real that my heart went out to these characters, multiple times. I wanted to hold them and make them laugh.
“What are you saying?” I asked, my voice coming out unsteady. “That we’re all just done? Friendship over?”
She took a long drink and then set her cup back down. “I don’t know.” –pg 439, ARC
Of course, Matson knows how to write romance. There is just something swoony about her romance, and Clark is exactly what Andie needed in her life. She didn’t even know she needed him. Clark pushes her, he makes her summer better, he has his own background story, he gets along with her friends. He made me have heart eyes.
It’s you — of course it is. There you are. –pg 263, ARC
Morgan Matson is easily one of my favorite contemporary authors, hands down, no questions asked. That being said, I worried about The Unexpected Everything, because what if I didn’t love it? Those fears were unfounded, because not only did I love it. I cried and I rarely cry at books. This book had everything I wanted and more. It really was the unexpected everything.
Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves.
Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.
That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.
Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken – Goodreads
I struggled with this book. According to goodreads, The Love That Split the World took me over a week to read this book, for most this is probably normal, but for someone who reads a book in about 3 days, this is very unusual and for as long as it took, I did note a lot of passages. Which would usually lead one to believe I enjoyed the book.
And I did? I don’t know to be honest. Months later I’m still confused about my feelings on this book. I found the Native American aspect to be inappropriately used and not needed. I feel that Henry could have made a better story if she would have stopped bringing up the Native American aspect, particularly because it was not used well, at all. There was also instalove and comments about how the other was just so pretty. For Henry’s debut book I feel like she tried too hard and threw too many things into this novel. From info dumping to mentions something once and never again it just…didn’t work.
Here’s the thing, I wanted to enjoy this book. I did. I even thought I was going to enjoy it until I sat on the story and realized the problematic aspects of the book bothered me too much. (Of course, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy problematic things. I do. I love many problematic things, unfortunately this was not a book that worked for me.)
Royal Wedding Disaster (From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess #2) by Meg Cabot
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound
You are invited to a Genovian Royal Wedding in this second book pulled FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS, a Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.
Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison still finds it hard to believe that she’s a real live PRINCESS OF GENOVIA. Not only does she get to live in an actual palace with her newly discovered family and two fabulous poodles (who all love her and think that she’s anything but ordinary!) but she also gets her very own PONY!
Of course, things aren’t going exactly like she imagined. Her half-sister Mia is very busy learning how to take over the country while trying to plan a wedding and her father is actually getting remarried himself-to Mia’s mother!-and spends most of his time “renovating” the summer palace, although Grandmere says he is just hiding from the wedding preparations. Olivia hardly gets to see either of them.
Fortunately, Grandmere has her own plans for Mia’s wedding, and needs Olivia’s help to pull them off. Just when Olivia starts to think that things are going to work out after all, the palace is invaded by a host of new cousins and other royals who all seem to be angry at Olivia (although Grandmere says they are just jealous).
As the day of the wedding gets closer and closer, Olivia becomes more and more worried. For such a carefully planned event, it seems like a LOT of things are going wrong… Can Olivia keep this royal wedding from becoming a royal disaster? – Goodreads
Meg Cabot’s middle grade books, to me, are like eating a cupcake. There is something lovely and nice to them and Royal Wedding Disaster is no different. Taking place right after Notebook from a Middle School Princess and Royal Wedding. Although one does not need to read Royal Wedding or the original series for this book to make sense. Much like the first book, Notebook from a Middle School Princess stands alone.
In Royal Wedding Disaster Oliva is dealing with multiple new things in her life. From a new school, with a frenemy to dealing with her sister’s wedding Olivia feels like she can’t keep anything together in her life. The stress is understandably getting to her. What Cabot does is use humor and everyday situations to make this work.
- A grandmother butting into wedding business? Check.
- A new school where you feel lost and out of place? Check
- A wedding where you don’t know what to give? Check
Throughout the novel the message is true and that is that Olivia is the same as she was in New Jersey, she just happens to be a princess with princess lessons. Princess lessons that are true life lessons even to the non-princess is all of us.
Some kisses come at a price.
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?. – Goodreads
To be completely honest, I struggled with this book. In part due to my mood — where every book I was reading was a struggle, but that being said, I’m so glad I read The Winner’s Kiss. When we finished the second book The Winner’s Crime Rutkoski left us on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. Arin was lead to believe that Kestrel lied to him and actually became engaged to the emperor’s son, not knowing it’s all part of a ruse. Because Arin was convinced that Kestrel has changed, and not for the good, he is now prepared for war.
Kestrel; however, is now a prisoner of war and what she quickly learns is the way everyone survives is to be drugged. I spent a good portion of this novel with my heart in my throat because I honestly wasn’t sure where Rutkoski was going to take the novel. You can tell that her craft is finely tuned and really at its best throughout The Winner’s Kiss.
“Nobody hurt her. This was very Valorian. Kestrel was here to work for the empire. Damage bodies don’t work well” –6%
Kestrel’s scenes throughout the prisoner period were extremely painful to read. What Rutkoski did was make me, as the reader, feel as if I was there in the jail with Kestrel. It was uncomfortable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The chapter breaks of Arin’s point of view was not helpful either, because he was not having an easy time himself. Although The Winner’s Trilogy has always been Kestrel’s trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss is really Arin’s time to shine. Although there was a very slow start to this book, by about 15% of the novel the speed begins to pick up and doesn’t stop until the final page.
A pivotal moment in the book is the moment Kestrel and Arin are reunited and one of them doesn’t recognize the other. It’s painful, harsh and cuts open a few wounds, but it was needed. It made The Winner’s Kiss an even stronger novel. Kestrel has obviously changed after her time in the worker’s camp and has extreme PTSD.
As well written this book was, I extremely struggled with The Winner’s Kiss, based on the fact that I’m a mood reader, I wanted to quit at about 40%. I understand that this sounds like sacrilege, but it’s true, I really struggled with this book. Ultimately for a final book, I expected more.
“The Breakfast Club” gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.
The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.
The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.
The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.
When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.
With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes readers on literary thrill ride.– Goodreads
Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah is the story of four people from the point of view of the Pariah. I went into the story thinking that it would be a four person point of view novel, but it worked for this story. Lange pulled it off. The only thing was, it was hard to connect with the other three since this story happens in approximately 24 hours.
The heart of the story is the Pariah, Sam, whose life goal is to stay invisible and survive. Her father isn’t in the picture, her mama is a drug addict who is trying to stay clean and after four years is starting to struggle. Sam knows her life isn’t perfect, but knows if she stays invisible she has a chance at survival.
What she doesn’t expect is to meet, Andie, our Rebel. Andie is clear from the first moment we meet her that she’s an asshole. She has this rough shell, she steals, she’s snarky. She’s the wild child of high school and loves it. She enjoys being this type of center of attention. Once popular always popular.
Then we have the Bully, York, who is a giant asshole, but from an adult point of view is also very clearly working through somethings. Including not being horrible to his brother, Boston, the geek of our story. Boston knows the only way out of this one light town is going to an Ivy League school by working his ass off. Something his brother York doesn’t do.
The four of these characters are the heart of a character driven novel that has twists and turns until the final page. In Lange third novel, she has me clamoring for more.
Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.
Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.
When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.
This novel in the deliciously fun If Only romance line proves that the best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script. – Goodreads
Not in the Script is another book I wish I would have read much sooner. It was happy, it made me happy. It was a good cleanser from the dark part I was in while reading it. That’s part of what I really enjoy about the If Only… series, the books just make me happy. Not in the Script is a dual point of view novel involving Emma and Jake while they film their upcoming TV Show: Coyote Hills.
What Finnegan, did well was create a feel for the setting (Tucson, AZ) and well fleshed out characters. I fell for Emma and Jake. Emma who is amazing and just wants to do her best and learn everything. Jake, who wants to do his best and feels Emma is so out of his league he doesn’t even know where to begin. Emma, who’s had a crush on another costar of her’s forever, seems Jake to just be a really good friend. Over the course of the novel though, an organic relationship is formed and it just made me sigh of happiness.
Of course, being a YA novel with a bit of romance, there is a lot of miscommunication. This book is the definition of fun. It’s a light fluffy read that I highly recommend (even if it takes place in Tucson.)
Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they’re back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.
Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It’s the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.
The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can’t have, and Mandy Hubbard’s hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love– Goodreads
My friend, Erica, recommend this book to me, years ago when we were at the baby stage of our friendship (legit three years ago) and I finally listened. Fool Me Twice is the story of Mackenzie who had her heart broken by Landon and refuses to let it happen again. It’s obvious that as much as Mack has tried to move on, she’s still annoyed that he moved on and then came back to her. One of the things I really enjoy about the If Only series, is the fact there is a focus on amazing female friendships. There has always been a need for this type of story and Fool Me Twice doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
Mack and Bailey are my type of girlfriends. They’re snarky, they push each other, but they also have each other’s back when it’s needed. Bailey is also the evil to Mack’s good side and makes Mack second guess when Landon gets hit in the head and has amnesia. Bailey puts Mack up to acting like her and Landon are still dating and this time she can break his heart. This is of course not a good idea. It has never ever been a good idea. Slowly Mack begins to fall in love with Landon again and it’s painful, because she knows she’s being evil, but she remembers why she fell in love with Landon the first time.
This time however they are more open and honest with each other and have a realer relationship than last time. Of course Landon still thinks it is a year previous and Mack is still pranking him.
Out of all the If Only books I’ve read so far, this is by far one of the stars and I only wish I read it sooner.
If only…he was the boy she’s been dreaming of.
Theatre girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she’s struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family—but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theatre’s dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball—not dance—is Jesse’s passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?
This fun, high school theatre romance in the If Only line is for anyone who has ever wished for that impossibly perfect guy.
What You Always Wanted is by far one of the cutest novels that I have read in quite sometime. It was exactly what I wanted in the moment: an effortless contemporary romance that cleansed my palette. Rae tells the quick paced story of Maddie, a lover of drama and theatre whose life has been uprooted from the North to middle of nowhere Texas. Maddie’s head is constantly in the clouds of classic Hollywood and doesn’t understand why her classmates don’t have heart eyes for Gene Kelly like she does. This has lead to some very high standards that she does not plan on budg-ing for. Then we have Jessie, who lives across the street from Maddie, who loves baseball.
What Rae did in this this book was create perfect tension throughout What You Always Wanted. Part of me never wanted this book to end because the magic between Jessie and Maddie was everything I wanted from a book. I mean, yes, you can easily tell what the end of the novel was going to be; however not once did that stop me from enjoying this delightful novel. Maddie is headstrong, she’s feisty, she has things thrown at her that no teenager should have to deal with, and she handles it all in a perfectly Maddie way. And Jessie? Helloooooo Jessie. I was very here for Jessie. I am not a fan of the phrase “book boyfriend” but I got it for Jessie. He was snarky and the perfect counterpart of Maddie.
This book also had one of my all time favorite things: Strong! Female! Friendships! Cannot recommend this book enough.