Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Published: April 7th, 2015

“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.”

Review:

This was the perfect story. If you are a teenager struggling to come out, I think this book would be extremely beneficial to read.

Let’s start with Simon and how he is the cutest human being alive. I loved him from the minute I picked up this book because he’s very relatable. He is closeted (obviously) but it’s not because he’s ashamed. It’s because he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it. So when he gets caught emailing his anonymous pen pal about their situations, he knows he’s in deep trouble. It turns into a full on blackmail situation. The way Simon handles it is exactly how I would and how I would expect other people to handle it.

The characters in this story – Nick, Abby, Leah, etc. – are exactly how people are actually in high school. Their emotions are so high and everything is a big deal. This did the perfect storytelling.

I loved this book and the ending was absolutely wonderful. I thought it felt a little bit rushed like I was surprised to flip the page and see the acknowledgements. But when I went back and reread the last page, it really did end perfectly.

Rating: ★★★★★

Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Published: February 22nd, 2011

“Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods — Julia’s father is a compulsive gambler and Michael’s mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy – they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shortly after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar,Washington D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect – Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.
But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company’s boardroom — then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manages to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now – and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael’s company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience – or should she give in to her husband’s pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?”

Review:

Oh. My. God. What a great book. Sarah Pekkanen really made you feel the pain, shock, and love throughout this story.

From being small town nobodies to owning a business with a net worth of $70 million dollars, what is bound to go wrong? When Michael has a heart attack that stops his heart from beating, Julia’s world comes crashing down. When Michael’s heart is restarted, he wakes up a changed man. What happened while he was dead that changed his whole person from being a greedy businessman to being the devoted, thoughtful husband that Julia needed him to be? When he wakes up and wants to give away everything they have, can Julia stay with the man she loved since they were in high school? This is the ultimate test.

I loved this book a lot because it was spiritual. If you don’t believe in spirits and the afterlife, I’d suggest that this book isn’t really for you. However, since I am, it was so intriguing to hear Michael’s story of what happened to him. It was truly beautiful.

I think Sarah Pekkanen did a beautiful job of switching up the character’s emotions. I went from hating him to loving him, to hating her, to loving them both, to hating them both, and more. I kept switching how I felt and I think that is due to the wonderful writing that the author portrayed.

I don’t think you can go wrong with this book. Read it! If you are an emotional reader like me, have tissues ready!

Rating: ★★★★★

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Published: October 18th, 2007

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.”

Review:

This book was pretty heavy to read. I can’t even imagine having to listen to tapes from a girl who committed suicide. I’d be too much of a mess emotionally, especially if I was like Clay who was actually close to Hannah. That can mess with a person’s head just as much.

This book was extremely quick to read because I wanted to know what was going to happen with each tape. Who was going to be on it? Which one of her friends? Who bullied her? What happened? What caused her to commit suicide? There were so many questions that needed to be answered.

Thirteen Reasons Why mainly focused on Clay listening to the tapes. Unfortunately, I think that’s where I had to keep a five star rating from. I was a little confused. There were some scenes that I believe should’ve been more detailed but were left too vague. Where were Hannah’s parents? I know they own a store, but they never had any conversation in the book. It was Clay. Clay listening to the tapes in one night. I think that it should’ve been over a few days. Therefore, over a few days, the author could’ve added dialogue or more details about what happened.

I read the book right before the show debuted on Netflix. Honestly, I didn’t like the show at first. It strayed too far away from the book. However, when I got later in the season, the show became better than the book for me (which rarely happens). There was so much more detail and the act of “sitting on the edge of your seat”. The scenes that I felt were vague in the book were a lot more detailed and visual in the show.

I think this book should be mandatory to read in middle school and high school. Bullying occurs so much in today’s society, it’s disgusting. I live in New Jersey where the bullying laws are some of the strictest in the United States, and it still happens to kids in the school district every day. There was recently a boy that committed suicide in my town at the young age of 12. He was bullied every day. I think having this as a mandatory book would show kids that it’s not okay to bully and make others feel bad.

Rating: ★★★★

From Italy With Love Series by Tilly Tennant

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Book #1: Rome Is Where the Heart Is

Publication Date: March 9, 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Rating: ★★★★★

“Can a holiday romance ever have a happy ending? Escape with Kate to the sun-drenched city of Rome where a love affair is just about to begin …

When Kate’s husband Matt dumps her on Friday 13th she decides enough is enough – it’s time for her to have some fun and so she hops on a plane to Rome. A week of grappa and gelato in pavement cafes under azure blue skies will be just what the doctor ordered.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting and falling for sexy policeman Alessandro. But the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly – Alessandro has five meddling sisters, a fearsome mama and a beautiful ex Orazia. They’re all certain that Kate is not the girl for him.

Can Kate and Alessandro’s love last the distance? Or will she return home with the one souvenir she doesn’t want – a broken heart …

Fall in love with the colourful cafes and the cobbled piazzas of Rome and follow Kate’s dreams and her heart in this enchanting escapist read. Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Carol Matthews.”

Review:

The title of this book is what grabbed me immediately. I am a sucker for Italian contemporary romance!

One of my favorite things about this author is her writing style. Tilly Tennant did a beautiful job with the writing of this novel. Everything flowed so amazingly and made sense the whole way through. The drama in the beginning was so heart-felt that a few pages in, I was ready to grab tissues.

Next, the characters were great. They all had their own individuality and it was very awesome to see that. The sisters in this book were very funny as well. I have a sibling and I am definitely a worrier, but also pretty laid back. It was awesome to be able to connect to Kate’s sisters.

Lastly, the ending was great. I was extremely happy to see everything at the end. The ending left some things unsaid which I’m grateful because there is a sequel to this book and it will be just as wonderful as the first!!

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Book #2: A Wedding in Italy

Publication Date: April 14, 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Rating: ★★★★★

“Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to looking for love, there’s no place like Rome – but once Kate’s found her man, can she keep him?

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo.

All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material.

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?”

Review:

I love Kate. I love Kate. I love Kate. I love Kate. I love Kate. Have I gotten my point across?

This book was just as lovely as the first. A tale of love, desperation, and purely just wanting to be happy with life. Going through this book, Kate really shows that it’s okay not to be strong all of the time. I think that is a BIG lesson to learn. And Tilly Tennant displayed it perfectly.

The desperation of wanting to stay in Italy made my chest hurt. The longing to find a job, stay with her man, getting his family to like her, missing her family back in England: it was all too much. And that’s okay. Because there is always a rainbow after a storm.

The job scene had me screaming. When you read about Kate’s job, you will have that OH MY GOD moment, and your emotions will be all over the place. I know mine were.

The ending of this book is what solidified a 5 star rating from me. I was so happy, and it was exactly what I wanted to happen.

Tilly Tennant writes in a way that absolutely captivates me. I start with a chapter and say “I’ll stop after this chapter, I have to get some things done”. WARNING: YOU WILL NOT STOP UNTIL YOU HAVE REACHED THE LAST WORD.

 

 

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

Published: April 11th, 2017

“Confronted by a restraining order and the threat of a lawsuit, failed journalist Leah Stevens needs to get out of Boston when she runs into an old friend, Emmy Grey, who has just left a troubled relationship. Emmy proposes they move to rural Pennsylvania, where Leah can get a teaching position and both women can start again. But their new start is threatened when a woman with an eerie resemblance to Leah is assaulted by the lake, and Emmy disappears days later.

Determined to find Emmy, Leah cooperates with Kyle Donovan, a handsome young police officer on the case. As they investigate her friend’s life for clues, Leah begins to wonder: did she ever really know Emmy at all? With no friends, family, or a digital footprint, the police begin to suspect that there is no Emmy Grey. Soon Leah’s credibility is at stake, and she is forced to revisit her past: the article that ruined her career. To save herself, Leah must uncover the truth about Emmy Grey—and along the way, confront her old demons, find out who she can really trust, and clear her own name.

Everyone in this rural Pennsylvanian town has something to hide—including Leah herself. How do you uncover the truth when you are busy hiding your own?”

Review:

I flew through All the Missing Girls and absolutely adored it. “The Perfect Stranger” left me somewhat disappointed after my excitement was through the roof. I didn’t want to compare books, so I tried to keep “All the Missing Girls” out of my head until I finished this.

In my honest opinion, I was shocked to feel that this book took me nowhere until the end. I felt like my page number was increasing, but I read the same chapter over and over again. When I got to about 120 pages in, I actually shut the book, trying to decide if I should keep going. I’m glad I did keep going because it did pick up around halfway through.

The ending is the reason I gave this book 3.5 stars. I’ll admit after the book began picking up, I couldn’t put it down. I kept reading because they were finally getting to where I needed them to be. I was excited to see where things were going to end up.

Lastly, I just want to say: if you are reading this review and it changes your mind about reading this book: Don’t. You should read it. I love to see everyone’s different reviews of each book. Megan Miranda is an amazing author and I really think she does a great job with her books. I’d recommend this book, but I think you should read “All the Missing Girls” first.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Published: November 1st, 2016

“Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.”

Review:

Let’s start off with the narrator of this story: “Love”. This was the cutest idea I’ve seen in a long time when it comes to narration. Love is basically a emotion that makes things happen throughout the book. Whether it’s a chair getting pushed closer together or making one of them think about something, it’s her and it’s adorable.

Gael’s life is hard. He has this big relationship that ends in the worst possible way. His parents are divorcing. He doesn’t know if he has a best friend anymore. Things are really hard at the moment. On the way from leaving his own birthday dinner, his life gets even weirder when he meets Cara by smacking into her bike. Gael and Cara aren’t really that good for each other, but it seems that they really are into each other. What can Love do to stop it?

The story flowed very well and it was such an interesting concept to learn about. I’ve never read another book with a narrator like that. It’s like Love was a person and an emotion. Super great read. By the end of the book, I loved it, but overall I felt like there was just one thing missing, and it kept me from giving this book a five star rating. I’d recommend this book to anyone!

Rating: ★★★★

 

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Published: June 21st, 2016

“Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?”

Review:

This book was …interesting. Confusing, but interesting. It’s a book that you’ve never really heard of this specific story being told before.

In the beginning of this book, my attention was not grabbed. I didn’t really find anything that captivated me from the beginning. I pretty much felt the same throughout the book. I felt like I read the same chapter over and over even though the pages were ascending.

I ended up giving this book a higher rating than I originally thought I would based on the ending. The ending was totally unexpected for me and I felt like it had me questioning about the whole book from the beginning. Overall, it was short and quick, but confusing and not that captivating at all.

Rating: ★★★

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Published: September 1st, 2015

“My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.”

Review:

Maddy is extremely sick and is allergic to the outside world. She has a cleaning station in her front door. She has never left the house. Maddy has hit her 18th birthday without leaving the house. When Olly and his family move in to the house next door, all bets are off. Maddy must see if things will pan out.

This book was very, very quick to read. I read it in only a few sittings. There were so many good qualities about this book that don’t really get talked about. First, Nicola Yoon did a beautiful job writing it. The words flowed amazingly and made sense the whole way through.

The only thing that I didn’t really like was how a little predictable this book was. The ending definitely shocked me, but things were a little foreseeable. For some people, it might not be.

I would definitely read this book, and because it’s a movie now, there’s all the more reason to!

Rating: ★★★★

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

Published: November 1st, 2016

“From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

“Isn’t that the best of all life’s ages, an old man thinks as he looks at his grandchild, when a boy is just big enough to know how the world works but still young enough to refuse to accept it.”

Grandpa and Noah are sitting on a bench in a square that keeps getting smaller every day. The square is strange but also familiar, full of the odds and ends that have made up their lives: Grandpa’s work desk, the stuffed dragon that Grandpa once gave to Noah, the sweet-smelling hyacinths that Grandma loved to grow in her garden.

As they wait together on the bench, they tell jokes and discuss their shared love of mathematics. Grandpa recalls what it was like to fall in love with his wife, what it was like to lose her. She’s as real to him now as the first day he met her, but he dreads the day when he won’t remember her.

Sometimes Grandpa sits on the bench next to Ted, Noah’s father—Ted who never liked math, prefers writing and playing guitar, and has waited his entire life for his father to have time for him, to accept him. But in their love of Noah, they have found a common bond.

Grandpa, Grandma, Ted, and Noah all meet here, in this peculiar space that is growing dimmer and more confusing all the time. And here is where they will learn to say goodbye, the scent of hyacinths in the air, nothing to fear. This little book with a big message is certain to be treasured for generations to come.”

Review:

A novella based on the lifestyle of Alzheimer’s disease: very hard to read. I can’t imagine someone going through that.

This was very short and sad. However, I think that Fredrik Backman did a beautiful job of portraying what it is actually like to have this awful disease. He switched things up and sometimes it was a little confusing to keep up with, but the story was amazingly written.

Rating: ★★★★