Graffiti Moon

7863274Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

3_stars

Lucy is in love with Shadow through the art that he has sprayed all over town. Over the night of celebrating the last day of year 12, she and her friends embark on a mission to find him. When she does find Shadow he isn’t exactly who she had in mind, except that he is.

The Story– Okay, so despite this being a teenage romantic contemporary, it was far from the angsty stuff that we’re all used to. In fact, there are very few scenes were our characters were nervous about being near another, there insides getting all warm and tingly, or were there very few scenes where they boy has twinkling eyes of galaxies and smiles worth a million bucks.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a lot going to drive the plot to the end aside from the ramblings of artsy kids, who thankfully I can just slightly relate to (being married to an artist and all). I think for someone who isn’t very artsy or appreciates poetry might find the book a little convoluted. With that being said, I still think it sets itself apart from the rest since it isn’t the same dumbed down angst we usually get from YA contemporary.

The Characters-What made this book particularly special were that all these kids were from broken/poor homes, but weren’t exactly gripping about it either. They accepted where they were at in the social level without pointing it out. We had these kids that didn’t have any silver spoons, but still saw the world through gilded frames. Look, this book has me writing all metaphorically. Let’s stop that, because I don’t like to come off having feelings and what have you.

The Soundtrack– Elliott Smith – Twilight

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36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You

3422009436 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

2_stars

Hildy is doing it for the experience. Paul is doing it for the $40. When the two meet at a psychology study where all they had to do was ask a list of questions and answer honestly, Hildy and Paul didn’t expect the relationship they both desperately needed could be found in the other.

The Story-So this was pretty unique. Mostly told in the format of Q&A Hildy and Paul’s banter is pretty endearing. Unfortunately since the majority of it is in this format…it was like reading someone’s chat log >entertaining? yes, but a full story? not really. Thankfully the Q&A is broken up a little with real life story going on in Hildy’s life. However, the story felt unfinished. Through the questioning, we get that Hildy is having some family issues, but they were just lightly touched upon even though they were used as conflicts throughout the book. The book was short, so there was definitely room for this to be explored.

The layout was rather unique since it had some instant messaging intermingled. It gave a realistic example of how you can get to know someone through that channel despite not having any face to face interaction. This was used to add an extra element of humor as Hildy berated Paul on his grammar and use of words. It also helped keep the conversation light while they tiptoed around some pretty sensitive issues.

The inclusion of Paul’s doodles were also plus, it helped break up the monotony of the Q&A format that dominated the book.

The Characters– Even though the entire book was essentially used to learn some intimate opinions and stories out of each character, I felt like I still hardly knew them. I did really like Paul though with his no nonsense attitude, but still willing to just barely open up to Hildy. It took a while for him to warm up to her, which sometimes can be rushed in other books.

The Soundtrack
Elliott Smith – Say Yes
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

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Adorkable

28791088Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

2_stars

“He was my Huckleberry, my Han Solo, my one, but most of all he was my Becks and I was his Sal.” 

Sally Spitz hasn’t ever had a boyfriend, and her good friend Hooker is bent on playing matchmaker by setting her up repeatedly on blind dates – that go pretty bad. In an attempt to dodge more awkward moments with boys she’s not into Sal adopts the plan to use a fake boyfriend as her get-out-of-blind-date card. Fortunately, her best friend Becks would do anything for her. Unfortunately, she has been in love with him since they met in elementary school.

The Story– To start, I’d like to point out I think it’s stupid that her friend and mom are in cahoots to set her up over and over with boys. Like seriously? She’s just 17, let her meet boys on her own. The premise that started the whole book was funny yes, but I just wanted to push her friend down a very long flight of stairs (see below).

Anyway, if you are a cliché trope devourer then this book is probably for you. I love that stuff. But the entire time I was reading this book I was wondering, why did I pick up this garbage?. Super cute popular boy? Love triangle? Misunderstanding? Girl who melts at the touch of said cute popular boy? Happy ending? Yes, it’s got all this and more. I am totally okay with all of this, I especially love the hidden feelings best friend trope that it is centered on. Even though I am okay with all of it, I sort of feel like when you’re doing a same ol’ story you still have to bring something fresh to the table….also those characters. I am not sure how by the end though I thought, dang that was cute. I think it’s the grand gesture….it has to be, because who can get over that?

Another thing that just sort of bothered me on a really small irrational scale. Each character was introduced with a first and last name (except the brothers because duh, they have the same last name). I don’t even know why it bothered me so much why each character’s full name had to be pointed out.

The big problem I had with this book was how it took peoples names and made it a point to make fun of them. MAINLY SPEAKING when my name, Priscilla, was changed to Pisszilla. GTFOH! I’ll never get over that.

The Characters
Sal-So Sal was supposed to be a dork right? She as obviously beautiful without really knowing it, because she is repeatedly told she is good looking throughout the book, but at least she wasn’t Debbie-downer about herself either. But really, the things that made her a dork I didn’t personally think was dorky. Like really, I’m pretty sure guys think it’s pretty cool when a girl can be into things like Star Trek or Star Wars. Liking Harry Potter? Pretty sure that’s not dorky at all – there’s an entire theme park and franchise dedicated to its fan base, what other book series ever got its own theme park?!. This girl is sort of rude though. For example, she’s a Griffindor so she had to go and bash on Slytherin – not cool in my book at all.

Becks-Oh Mr. Perfect? He’s incredibly good looking and just so amazing at soccer. He’s pretty much the prince of the school. What bothered me about this book was that he was making out with half the school, and of course is spared the man whore card, all the while his best friend Sal is judging every girl for going after him. Like I know you’re jealous and all, but quit objectifying the girls vying for his attention.

Hooker-Can we just talk about how much she pissed me off? If I had a friend that acted like this I would bitch slap her to Antarctica where she can set up some penguins. Seriously, screw this chick. No means no doesn’t apply to just sexual situations….so when your “bestie” says to please stop setting up her with blind dates because she’s not interested and only 17…then you should probably stop. She had zero personality and added nothing but premise to the story. She could have easily been taken out of the story all together and been set up by guys her mom randomly bumped into. Really, half the guys that she was sending to Sal was her cast offs. What kind of friend does that? He wasn’t good enough for me, so you can have him. Hooker you are awful.

The Soundtrack-Okay, now since I wanted to punch a hole through this book, I have a few qualms about assigning some good jams to this book, alas, it cannot be helped.
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – Can’t Take My Eyes of You (because big gestures in stadiums make me think of Heath Ledge & 10 Things I Hate About You)
Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games with My Heart
Jimmy Eat World – Carry You
Civil Wars – Poison and Wine

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Just Friends

25876985Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock

5_stars

“Their past might be fake, but their future was real. It was theirs to build. It was real, unscripted and unplanned.” 

When Jenny and Chance are paired together for an assignment for Oral Communication, they end up winging the whole thing and making up lies about how they have basically been best friends forever. After the class is over, they just go with it, pretending to be best friends. As time goes on, they learn to trust and rely each other like it’s all true. The more real memories they create the closer they get until their need for each other by their side is undeniable to everyone.

The Story– Pitcock mentions in her acknowledgements that Reality Bites played a part of inspiration for the book, but I honestly have never seen it. However, the entire time I was reading this I had actually wondered if it was a When Harry Met Sally retelling. Which, I completely adore.

Let me be completely candid here. I started this book last night and read till 2AM, woke up and finished it in bed before getting up for coffee. If you knew anything about me there are two things important to me in the morning – washing my face & drinking coffee. So the fact that I just had to finish before marking these tasks off my morning routine has got to show how much I adored this.

I have to admit that the first chapter or two had me wondering if this was the type of book that would talk about how great Chance is with enough cheese factor to put Tillamook out of business. Fortunately after the initial meet-cute it tempered down a bit to a steady and consistent feel goodness. While the whole story wasn’t just cutesy scenes, I think it’s also important to point out that it did have some familial issues that are addressed though they weren’t a heavy influence to the vibe to the book. The issues were used as a way to reinforce the friendship that was so needed between Chance and Jenny. Other common teen issues are lightly used as well, including rumor mills, double standards, and relationship expectations.

I just loved how this book deals with friendship and how they were there for each other first before their feelings became an issue. That’s to say that sparks didn’t not fly from their initial reaction, it just didn’t quite take off in a steamy or confusing romance. Just read this, it’s a good balance of romance and comradery.

There was just one bit that I felt could have been done just a smidge better and that was how many 90’s or 00’s references that were used throughout the book. I think it really dated the Pitcock’s generation, which was okay, but probably could have been a more relevant if it also included some more recent references. Don’t get me wrong, it is the same era that I reference most, but just saying for the target audience that the book is for…

The Characters-Jenny & Chance were stinking cute. I seriously loved their interactions and the stories they came up for their fake past were super cute too. They made it super nostalgic for my childhood best friend. It was incredibly endearing how Jenny & Chance would put the other’s needs before their own over and over despite their own personal issue.

The Soundtrack– At the end of this book Pitcock had already supplied playlists from Jenny & Chance, so I’m not going to list a bunch here. You just have to get the book to see hers for yourself.
Taylor Swift – State of Grace (this was also on Pitcock’s Jenny & Chance playlist)
Rooney – If It Were Up to Me
Feist – Secret Heart

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Things We Know by Heart

17571215Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

4_stars

“As hard as we both tried, and as much as we both wanted to be otherwise, we are made of our pasts, and our pains, our joys and our losses. It’s in the very fibers of our beings. Written on our hearts.” 

Over a year after Quinn has lost her boyfriend to a tragic accident she is still hurting from the loss. She has reached out to all the organ donor recipients that his life had gifted and all has responded except for one, the heart. In an attempt to get some peace for her own broken heart, she goes behind the agencies back and researches until she finds the donor and sets out to see him. Just to see him. That is until circumstances brings their lives crashing (literally) together and she gets a glimpse at the boy whose life was saved by the one she loved. Despite her original plans to stay away from Colton, her life is slowly transforming from his vivacity for life.

The Story – I picked up this book because I wanted my feelings to get punched in the gut so hard I would about cry. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the feels full force till 90%. But that’s totally okay. To begin we spend the first part of this book with a broken Quinn. What I liked was that it wasn’t a lot of wallowing staring out a window. Like please, no, I don’t read these books to be depressed.

Quinn is merely trying to honor her dead boyfriend’s memory and is ultimately feeling guilty for moving on. I really appreciated how we got to see Colton slowly change her world. I loved how realistic it was for Quinn to slowly adapt and learn to be happy again. The way Colton helps her is just by showing her life. Like, hey there open your eyes there’s this bright world out here, come be a part of it. I love that nothing was rushed, it was a slow, slow burn.

Trent seemed to be such an idyllic first boyfriend. Despite the fact that Colton had his heart and Quinn wasn’t quite over her heartbreak, the book didn’t spend a lot of time comparing the two. Trent is mentioned as a part of her hurt, but never in a way where Quinn expected his soul or personality to be within Colton.

Even though I didn’t appreciate the slow budding feelings till almost the end this book had pretty much everything for me that I expected from it.

The Characters
Quinn-This poor girl! I just love how much love she has for her dead boyfriend and her family. Though her hurt is no way an excuse for what she does to Colton, I understand the desperation she would have had in those low moments. Her bond with her sister is really touching, especially when she reaches out for advice.

Colton-How cute is this guy? You know what I loved so much about this book? The fact that his smile or eyes weren’t repeatedly mentioned throughout the book, as if that is a legitimate reason for a romance. For a guy who has every reason to (now) be smiling it was so refreshing to have his actual reactions, his comments, and his thirst for life so evident without having him continually grinning like a maniac.

Soundtrack
Eisley – A Song for the Birds
Death Cab for Cutie – Your Heart is an Empty Room
Paramore – When it Rains
Banks – Waiting Game
John Mayer – Great Indoors

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The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

8591107The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

2_stars

“I didn’t know what was real, what was a nightmare, what was a memory.” 

Mara Dyer survives an accident where three of her friends die. She has no idea what happened or what is happening to her. In her recovery strange things start to happen around her and she can hardly handle the stress that is honing in around her life, including the attention of heartthrob Noah Shaw.

The Story-Okay, to start I was pretty intrigued about the plot. I just really, really wanted to know what was going on. At about 70% I had a major “why is this even happening” moment. It sort of felt like this story was jumping from scene to scene of Mara’s delusions. I’m not sure if it comes up again later, but there were a few things that I felt sort of just dropped off in the story line, and I am not sure if it’s for mysteriousness or…? I think my biggest issue with the book besides it sort of being jumbled was the fact that Noah would speed off in his Prius…I am pretty sure those go zero to sixty in about an hour, so it was really hard for me to imagine him doing that.

Truthfully, as a whole I didn’t care for the book, and I think a big part was also the characters. The only reason why I even went more towards a 2 star than a 1 was because I finished it so quickly. Despite its flaws I still kept turning the pages, and you know what? I actually want to read the next book…even though I almost want to hate this one.

The Characters-Guys, these characters made me want trap them inside a building where they can all die when it crumbles.

Mara-I really hate girls who know to stay away from a guy and then melt into a puddle when they come near. Like really Mara, just because a guy tells you to do something and is grossly charming doesn’t mean you have to do what he says or follow along. Get a back bone.

Noah-Can we just point out how awful this guy is? Somehow we get through the story with only Jamie telling Mara that it’s basically a bad idea to get involved with him. Honestly, great, he’s not perfect, but you know what? Maybe he could feel just a little bit ashamed about how he used the girls at his high school. Oh and his possessiveness was really not attractive, despite how often we are told that he is basically McDreamy. Hey Noah, when a girl says no, that means no. That doesn’t mean pursue her more just because you have some weird fascination with her as well as a disposition of getting everything that you want. Also, I really hate when writers point out how much someone is smiling. Okay enough already with the smiling, smirking, and upturned lips!
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Joseph-How can this kid be so smart but then just roll over and take Mara & Noah’s word for something that happened that was incredibly sketchy.

Daniel-What kind of dick big brother pushes his sister to spend time with a known playboy?

 

Eliza and Her Monsters

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

5_stars

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be the person whose color comes through even when standing still. To be someone so vibrant, others can’t help but notice you.” 

Eliza lives two lives. In person, she is a quiet introvert that spends all her free time with her head in her sketchbook, on her phone, or on her computer. Online she is the creator of a popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. It isn’t until Wallace, a Monstrous Sea fan, that she realizes that there could be more to her existence than just her comic.

The Story-I expected to like this book a lot, but not that much. I don’t think I can even write a review that can accommodate all the feelings that I have over this book, or even say something fresh that hasn’t already been aid. For my reader’s sake, in case they haven’t stumbled upon the awesomeness that is Eliza I can at least point out what impacted me most. Off the bat I expected a book about a geeky girl and her web comic. What I got was book that it all felt relatable even though I myself have may have never been in those situations.

RL versus IRL-One of the things I found so incredibly important was how it handled the whole life on the computer issue. It wasn’t until my generation particularly that found itself in a whole new world to live in. We were the first ones to grow up with a life that could be spent entirely in a virtual world. I’m not saying there weren’t ways for people to mentally check out before this, I mean it in a way that we were able to connect and spend time with people in a non-physical realm. With that being said, I think Zappia did a stellar job of incorporating both ends of the spectrum – parents who do not understand how being on a computer is a way of being social and a young kid’s perspective where there is life to be lived in the tiny little screen. While Eliza did eventually see the importance of a life outside of the screen, I think it is important that it was never disregarded that despite she never met them, Max & Emmy were still her best friends.

The fact that her parents didn’t actually try to understand her really hurt my heart. While they were concerned for her wellbeing it was incredibly upsetting to see them push her over and over into what they wanted her to be, rather than understanding her interests. While Eliza did make her own choices that may or may not hurt her, I felt that her parents played such a huge role in how she reacted to some scenarios, especially when they didn’t seem to listen when she did speak up.

I just love that Zappia not only wrote out the story of Eliza but also gave life to a story within it. The concept of Monstrous Sea is awesome, and I really hope Zappia makes a book out of it. Anyway, I am completely enraptured by Zappia and can’t wait to get another book of hers.

The Characters
Eliza-Zappia portrayed Eliza in such a way that really helped a reader get into her skin. I don’t personally like being in large crowds, but I have never really had any issues being social online or offline. Eliza had these tangible anxieties that made me want to curl her under her arm and say, “it’s okay, your big sister is here, and I will help you through this time.” Her passion for her creations was a great example that despite her antisocial tendencies there was vitality within her.

Wallace-Cannot get past how sweet and patient Wallace was. I feel like he could have easily been the type of character that really pushed Eliza to be outside of her shell. Rather he was the perfect compliment to her personality inviting her outside her norms while still staying within her relative comfort limits.

The Fandom-I feel like they had a real presence within this story, even if they’re essentially nameless. The fans of Monstrous Sea held a realistic aspect of how fans can be overbearing even with their affections and not when they are just trolling. I think their existence played a vital role in presenting a hurdle for Eliza as she interacts and does not interact with them. With that being said, even though she feels that being anonymous and strictly online is safe, she still felt the relative negative effects that can come from interacting with them.

Buddy read with the lovely and patient Katherine.

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Lies Jane Austen Told Me

34525559Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

5_stars

I received a copy from Netgalley for a fair review. 

Publish Date: November 7, 2017

“This was all her fault. If I hadn’t spent half my life wanting to be Elizabeth Bennet, I wouldn’t have held my own prejudices so dear. I wouldn’t have taken pride in my own clever snap judgements to like and dislike at a whim.” 

Emma has broken up with Jane Austen. Despite all the happiness her novels and movie adaptations have brought into her life, she has decided that Jane essentially was a fraud – being that she had ended up an old spinster in the end and not happily married to her own love of her life. Except Emma can’t just rid herself of Jane, and her personality that that has been derived from constant interaction with the novels can’t just go away – her pride, prejudices, assumptions, and expectations all get in the way of her life and quite possibly, her happily ever after. Emma is caught between Blake, who she thought was going to propose, and his brother Lucas who is doing his best to reunite the two all the while confusing Emma when she feels a connection to him.

The Story-I blew through this book in one day, and by the end all I wanted to do was pick up my Pride and Prejudice and devour that next. I definitely need a copy of this book to shelf next to the rest of my Austen novels and inspired novels.

pride and prejudice GIF

With inspirations from Jane Austen’s novels (and a quote, seemingly a lie Jane has told us all, to start each chapter) we are given a well-rounded novel that not only emanates the type of story Jane would give us, but also something modern and fresh. For me there wasn’t really much in wanting for this book, it delivered exactly what I expected – a story of a girl who had had enough of Jane Austen ideals, but still ends up having her own Austen style romance, full of misunderstandings and missed chances. Really, this was such a subtle combination of a lot of the best aspects of Jane Austen Novels.

The Characters– I am only going to talk about two of the characters (Emma & Lucas) despite the fact that Blake and her best friend are also great characters and the perfect amount of interaction to actually help the plot without taking away from the obvious main characters.

Emma-First of all, she loves Jane Austen, so she gets 100 points there. She exudes a strong character that still has wants and needs. She’s a successful and beautiful woman, but can still be a swoony romantic. So yes, you can be strong but still be incredibly vulnerable with your heart. I loved that she could be sure of herself, but at the same time question her own heart.

Lucas-To me, he was so much like Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility) – always doing right by his promises and for his brother. But then again, he just isn’t Edward either. I loved that everything we want to hate him for putting Emma through is nothing that we can really actually hate him for. He was noble without overdoing it. Which of course does nothing but make us expect men to be so valiant in our own lives, but who cares, that’s why we read this stuff.

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There’s Someone Inside Your House

15797848There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

4_stars

“Students were urged to stay home, or if their parents would be at work, stay in the home of a trusted friend. It wasn’t safe to be alone.” 

Osborne High has a serial killer, as seemingly random students are viciously killed one right after the other. The police department is severely understaffed for the case, and everyone is speculating over who did it and who is next.

The Story-Guys this book was so perfect for me. I am a serious scardy cat so I can’t really do any real horror books. But I grew up with some of those major iconic high school slasher films from the late 90’s early 00’s: Scream, I know What You Did Last Summer, Final Destination, etc. If you expect this book to be like those movies…that is exactly what you’re going to get.

The BEST part of this book is that you get to read the killing from their perspective. I know that sounds really twisted, but hear me out. You know the moments when you’re watching one of these slasher films and you yell at the TV (pun intended) “There’s someone in your house!” or something of that variation and you think to myself, I would so not do that, or I would be out of there so fast. That is what makes this book fantastic. Each character has their own rationalization of why things are different than how they left it – thus falling them into the trap of the killer.

At about the half way point the story starts to drag just a little bit, but is livened up shortly after. Aside from the stress of the killings each kid has their own life going on, own worries, and of course their own hormones. It’s this recipe of teenage-ness meets serial killer that really gives that “classic” high school slasher movie vibe.

The Characters-I’m not going to specify anyone in particular here, because I honestly feel like it might give away a little bit of the story if I specify on any one student. But let me just say this, if I was ever attacked by a knife wielding psychopath I would hope that I had friends as awesome as the crew in this book.

Final Thoughts-There’s a reason why I don’t read scary books, and for the next few days my paranoid butt is going to increase the amount of times I check that the doors or windows are locked.

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One of Us Is Lying

 

32571395One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

4_stars

 

Seemingly set up to land some detention time, 5 vastly different students find that their punishment goes farther than an afternoon when one of them doesn’t make it out alive. Now the remaining 4 students have their lives completely turned upside down as the investigation on the death hones in on each of them and the secrets that they all thought would stay hidden.

 

The Story- Maybe it’s because I don’t read any thrillers or mystery, but I had no idea who done it until the big reveal. It was at that moment though, that I wasn’t relieved for those who didn’t do it, but was devastated for the one guilty. Somehow this book takes the Breakfast Club recipe and turned it into a murder mystery. The best part was how it took the basic high school tropes and transformed it into a less superficial look at the challenges that each teen was facing.

The Characters-

 80s princess brain 1985 the breakfast club GIF

Addy-By far my favorite character of this bunch. Addy grows tremendously as she learns to break from her shell and be her own person outside the expectation that her family and boyfriend has built for her.

 

 movie film sunglasses deal with it brain GIF

Bronwyn- Not everyone can be perfect, and Bronwyn seemed to have just 2 faults. First, one that lead her to the conundrum she found herself in that ultimately led to the second (which, was mostly just a disappointment to her parents).

 

 80s princess brain 1985 the breakfast club GIF

Nate-Who doesn’t love a good-bad boy? The most expected thing to happen was for Nate to show everyone that there is a boy with feelings underneath all that bad assery.

 

 

 80s princess brain 1985 the breakfast club GIF

Cooper-Surprise! The jock isn’t stuck up! The cutest thing about Cooper was that he would get all southern-drawl whenever he got worked up or nervous.

 

 

It was Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick– I kid you not I loved Clue when I was growing up. So this book really had me wondering time and time again, well maybe it was so and so. Why don’t I read more mysteries/thrillers?

The most obvious moral to the story? Don’t be a jerk because one of your classmates might try to kill you.

 indie hipster the breakfast club subtitles GIF

 

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