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trueWhat I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Source: Audio from library!
Rating: starblank_starblank_starblank_starblank_star (2.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti. – Goodreads

Review:

I love Gwen. I am Gwen. Most of my friends are Gwen. Gwen is snarky, she’s full of love, mistakes. She’s messy, but she’s real. What I Thought Was True is also full of family and family love. While Fitzpatrick’s novels take place in the universe they are not required to be read in order, they do however all convey the same feels.

What I Thought Was True is the story of the haves vs the have-nots. Gwen is a have not. She’s the daughter of a cleaner and a fisherman. She’s not embarrassed of this fact, she loves her family. But what she’s aware of is those who live on the island are those that have. What I love about FItzpatrick is the fact that she doesn’t shy away from sex or discussing sex. It isn’t taboo, it’s also realistically talked about and not frowned upon or shamed.

Unfortunatley though What I Thought Was True fell flat for me. About half way through the audiobook, I knew if I was reading this I would start to skim. It was going a tad too slow for me to really be involved. I just wanted more? I wanted it to end? I’m not sure. I wanted more of the magic I had in the beginning chapters. The spark died on me.

Huntley Fitzpatrick often gets compared to Sarah Dessen and as I’ve finished my third Fitzpatrick novel, I understand. I also want to make it clear that is not a bad thing. Authors all invoke certain things and this novel invokes those summer vacation feelings. What I Thought Was True is full of characters I love. It’s full of a snarky girl, it’s full of references to romance novels, it’s full of growth. I cannot wait to see what else comes from Fitzpatrick.


24611582The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Publisher: Dial
Source: ARC provided by publisher (THANKS!)
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han 

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns. – Goodreads

Review:

Ah Tim. Tim from The Boy Next Door who drove me crazy is back. In a short first chapter we learn partly why Tim is the way he is: his father is an impossible asshole. Tim owns the fact that he, himself assisted in the fucking up.

Yep, I’m an alcoholic high school dropout, but check out my backhand! —pg 7, paper ARC

I did enjoy that leftover questions I had at the end of The Boy Next Door were answered in this companion novel. It was interesting and even refreshing, to see Tim and Alice from their point of view, not through the eyes of their neighbor, their friend, their sibling.

We now see how much the Garrett’s depend on Alice, the eldest sister who is very much the mom while their mom is in the hospital with their father after the accident. We now see Tim and his sister Nan, who we only saw from the point of view of her best friend. I even relate to Tim and Nan’s relationship. My brother and my relationship is..strained to put it nicely. In a way, it always has been.

More than one boyfriend has said to me that breaking up meant breaking up with my family too, and that was the hardest. — pg 63, paper ARC

It’s an interesting companion novel because the previous characters are still present, just from a different perspective and while I understand that is what a companion novel is, I still enjoyed this interesting take.

I also enjoyed that this was more than a boy likes girl, girl hates boy, two make out story line. When this story starts, Alice is dating Brad. Brad is nice enough, there is nothing wrong with him per say, he’s just not Alice’s lobster (Friends shout out!)

I’m lying to both of them. Thought I was done with that garbage. — pg 148, paper ARC

Alice knows her family is loud, obnoxious, but it’s also full of love. Things Tim’s not used to. His father shows love by being an asshole, his mother doesn’t really know how to show love and his sister is a teenager. Plus, a fairly big curveball is thrown at him around 30% into the novel, a curveball which I didn’t really enjoyed. It seemed like a convenient curveball and I believe there were other plot devices that could have been used. I also think Alice had enough going on in her life that she shouldn’t have had to deal with said plot device. I actually came close to giving up because I was so annoyed.

Tim works on being a better human being, a better friend, brother, son. But then the plot device comes in (I’m calling it that to not spoil the event) and he starts to take multiple steps backwards.

“It is honestly like the guy makes a profession of messing up. As  if  he  wakes  up  and  the  first  thing  he  does,  before  he  even showers— if  he even showers—is write a punch list of all the many creative and moronic ways he can be more of a disaster.” –-pg 197, paper ARC

While Tim has taken these multiple steps backwards, Alice is dealing with her own problems. She has become the mom of the house while her father is still in the hospital and her mom is, understandably, taking care of her father. This is wearing down on Alice. Alice just wants to be Alice and it’s hard to do that while you’re taking care of a good portion of your brothers and sisters.

“Tell me something, Boy Most Likely To. Why is it you are the biggest sarcastic idiot when you are entirely and deeply in the wrong?” –pg 219, paper ARC

I love that Fitzpatrick writes real fiction. She writes sloppy, messy characters and sloppy messy scenes. From sex scenes to those awkward every day painful moments, it’s why I didn’t quit even when I wanted to. The little moments also made the novel for me. I loved the little moments. I was also surprised by the ending and how much said plot device actually grew on me.

““I was . . . wrong. You were right to call me on it, Tim. I don’t—apologize often. Or well. So . . . So . . . I thought . . . deeds speak louder than words and all that.” “ — pg 246, paper ARC

What also surprised me was how much growth the characters had throughout the novel but at the end, they are also the same characters. Tim still has that asshole in him and Alice still has this tough bit. They’re just softer and a bit more human to each other now.

“She called you on your bullshit and you ditched her. It’s not exactly an original story. I’ve starred in it a billion times.” — pg 375, paper ARC


17290400My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door #1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Dial Books
Source: Audio from Library!
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?. – Goodreads

Review:

What do you do when your family is perfect and you’re not? That is something that Samantha deals with on a daily basis, being the black sheep of her family and that is why the Garretts, her next door neighbors fascinate her. They are loud, messy, they all love each other, something that Samantha doesn’t know much about. Samantha’s mom, who is also a Republican State Senator, is very orderly, and her sister, Tracy, is the same way. They don’t understand the appeal of the Garretts, who are loud and numerous.

Samantha’s mom is extremely hard core. Sam was late one night, in the middle of summer, by a few minutes and her mom acts like it is the end of the world and reminds her that with an election coming up everything is on the line. Sam loathes the amount of pressure that has put on her, understandably. As hard as her mom is on her, Samantha still loves her, it’s her mom. She has no dad in the picture, her mom doesn’t bring many guys home. It’s always been her mom, sister and Samantha. Throughout this summer, Samantha begins to miss her mom. Her mom is running for election and her campaign manager has become close to her mother and her mom is slowly not the mom she remembers.

What Samantha doesn’t expect is Jase next door. Jase who’s completely different from her. College isn’t a guarantee for him. Money is tight with his family. Jase has a completely different life from Samantha and she loves it..and..him? Their relationship grows slowly, organically, and with constant interruptions they don’t move too quickly. But his family is completely different from hers. His house is always loud, hers is always silent. There is always left over food in her house, and his family makes sure food is on the table but not many left overs. What did surprise me from this novel was the character of Tim. A character who at the beginning of the novel I wanted to slap, to the end where I wanted to hug him from the growth that occurred.

This book should have worked for me. I logically know it should have but so many parts of it just fell a bit flat for me. While I enjoyed the family dynamics and the friendships (as I do), the book just fell flat for me. I did appreciate that Samantha realized that not everyone is as perfect as she thought they were. From her BFF who is going through her own shit, to her friends that judge the Garretts for being mid-to-lower class, to a very dramatic turn that occurs throughout about 70% of the novel. I also enjoyed how sex was handled in this novel. I found that aspect to be extremely realistic. Even with all of this love, My Life Next Door still fell flat for me. I wanted more resolution to the novel!

From an audiobook point of view, I found this interesting because as I just finished The Selection series, this had the same narrator and I was thrown by that. But it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of My Life Next Door and the Sarah Dessen/Stephanie Perkins feels that I had throughout this novel.


23168945The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Dial Books
Source: Library!
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable. – Goodreads

Review:

The Sky is Everywhere does not start off lighthearted, we quickly find out that Lennie, our narrator, sister has recently died. Lennie goes from being behind the scenes, and how she likes it, to being the center of attention. She also doesn’t know how to handle her feelings. Is it okay to go back to normal? Is she supposed to forever be smothered in grief?

…it feels both amazing and disconcerting to have someone in my arms shaking from laughter rather than heartbreak. —pg 25, eBook

Lennie isn’t a fan of love, if only because of the experiences her sister gave her when she fell in love.

I liked love safe between the covers of my novel, not in my sister’s hearts, where it made her ignore me for months on end. –pg 34, eBook.

Because of this the last thing she expects is to hang out with her sister’s boyfriend and be thankful that someone..anyone understands her. And for her, at this moment in her life, that’s Toby, the quiet boy that her sister loved. And Lennie feels horrible about this. She feels extreme guilt for essentially grieving the only way she knew how. And then there is Joe, the new boy who didn’t know her from before and only knows her as she is now, and is okay with that.

“I just want to be near you,” he whispers. “It’s the only time I don’t die missing her.”–pg 61, eBook

What I enjoyed more than Lennie working through her grief was the strong female friendship that she had in this novel. My friend Lauren and I were recently discussing how we love books that have strong female friendships and Lennie has Sarah. Lennie also has her grandmother. While her mother left Lennie and her sister, her grandmother has raised her and is a mother figure for Lennie. This also means that while Grams is grieving herself, she is worried about Lennie, because no one is really sure if Lennie is grieving.

Sending out a search party for our friendship–pg 179, eBook

It was nice to see that when Lennie was failing at part of her life, in this case friendship, her friend Sarah had no problem calling her on that bullshit, just like a realistic friendship. True, close friends, have a messy friendship. It’s not always neat and pretty, it’s often messy and ugly, but full of love, which is what Lennie and Sarah had though out The Sky is Everywhere.

Nelson also doesn’t hide from the awkward and the ugly side of grieving that Lennie faces, from kissing her sister’s to boyfriend, to being a hypersexual being and being not sure what to do with that. Throughout the novel, Lennie was a real teenage girl to me. There were painful experiences that Nelson told that hurt my heart and made me want to hug Lennie.

Told between poems that Lennie writes, and her point of view, Nelson takes the reader on an unforgettable journey. That journey makes me wish I would have read this before I’ll Give You The Sun because I believe I would have enjoyed I’ll Give You The Sun more.


7943654I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher:  Dial Books for Young Readers
Source: Gifted from Elise! Thanks Elise!
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. – Goodreads

Review:

Oh. Oh this book. I will openly admit that this article will be hard for me to review, this is in part because I’ll Give You The Sun too me awhile to get into. It dragged for me and I didn’t see why one of my bookbffs loved and adored it. Then, I got to a pivotal moment and I understood. This book became part of my heart and I could not stop reading it. Nelson’s ability to weave imagery with words is breathtaking.

Told via alternating POVs, the reader sees two sides to the story: past and present, Noah and Jude. For two twins who meant everything to each other, the reader quickly realize that the two of them quickly know nothing about each other and it’s heart breaking. As someone who is still trying to figure out her relationship with her sibling (we’re 13 years apart..bonding? What’s that?) it hurt to see how close Noah and Jude once were and how far apart they became. I wanted to warn past Noah that life was going to get tough and that he was going to need Jude, even if he wasn’t aware of it at the moment.

The two characters keep so much from each other that for the longest time the book seems very disjointed and by the end you realize its not. Nelson actually made this beautiful, heartbreaking story, work. What also worked throughout the novel is the fact that the two point-of-views are constantly clear. There was never once that I questioned who was telling the story. I’ve lately read a lot of dual POV books and I was constantly flipping back and forth to figure out who was talking. Not once did Nelson make me question who was telling the story at that moment and I enjoyed that. I wasn’t ever taken out of the story.

Nelson also made art work throughout this novel. While she is a master with words and I’ll Give You The Sun is proof of that. But what Nelson also makes work, is art and pieces of art and describing art. It was beautiful and haunting and I did not want to let it go. But it had to end, and it ended on the right note and also left me wanting more from Nelson.


12930909Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Source: ALA 2013
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch. – Goodreads

Review:

Hmmm. This book. I really feel like it was two books in one. The first half and the second half.

In the first half of the book we meet Violet. Violet, who was forced to grow up too soon while missing her grandma, the only person who really “got” her. Violet lives at a crumbling estate called “Citizen Kane” with her brother, who is a bit of a jerk. Their parents are off in Europe being artists who don’t have time for their children. This leaves Violet to be the adult in the family. She decides to rent out a small guesthouse to make some extra money.

And that is when things get weird. Violet rents it to a boy around her age name River West. River West, who charms her right away and there is then instalove. There is a reason for that as the blurb says, but it doesn’t mean I had to like it. Because of River and the instalove, this makes Violet an extremely unreliable narrator. Which, if I’m being honest, I often enjoy. It is nice and refreshing however to have a character know they aren’t being reliable.

Which brings us to book two, the second half. There comes a point in the novel which Violet knows that she is under this spell and understands the control that River was using and she’s still like OH OKAY YES I LOVE AND ADORE YOU. Dude. COME ON. THINK ABOUT THIS.

Plus the giant twist, which legitimately shocked me, annoyed me more than anything. While this is a solid book and will have its fanbase, it is just not for me.


15721669OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Publisher: Dial
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and “unique learning profile,” Danielle Levine doesn’t fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a “social skills” class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle’s resolve to keep everyone at arm’s length starts to crumble.

Review:
This is one of those books as soon as I started I couldn’t stop reading. It had been on my TBR list for awhile. I was lucky and got on the hold list at the library early and it came in just around the time a fellow blogger (and someone I harass a lot on twitter cause I want her to be my frand) Jamie. While I don’t always agree with Jamie, I see where she comes from when she reviews a book, this book it was easy to tell that she loved and adored it and that gave me hope.

Oh did I love and adore this book. Told from the point of Danielle in essay and journal form, one comes to find out we all have a fe0a1c64beba11e2a2ab22000a1fb84b_7bit of Danielle in them. For example, Danielle’s brain works a lot like mine does, where it gets fixated on one thing and doesn’t let go of that. My brain does that extremely well. Which I understand not only says a lot about Danielle, but says a lot about me. I also related to her essay writing because she very much writes the way she thinks which often equals word vomit, something her teacher doesn’t always approve of for formal writing.

Throughout her senior year Danielle goes through a tremendous amount of growth that is not only recognizable to herself, but to those around her. Danielle is hilarious, often without meaning to be, because she is so authentic and true to herself. As Danielle has OCD it is interesting to see how that affects her daily life, and it does, but at the same time she has a strong support system through Daniel, her aunt, and this hilarious elderly British woman.

This book is not all light heartedness, though. Danielle goes through a growing period with “the love of her life” while at the same time dealing with the fact she is getting memories back that she once forgot.

Roedy Vaughn has written a stellar debut novel. I cannot wait to see what more comes from her, because if it is anything like Danielle and her love of the Dude, I will be happy to read it.