The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

Publication Date: June 7th, 2016

It’s a summer for first love, last wishes, and letting go.

Maddie has big plans to spend the last months before college tying up high school “loose ends” alongside her best friends. Then her beloved grandmother drops two bombshells: (1) Gram is dying. (2) She’s taking her entire family on a round-the-world cruise of dreams come true—but at the end, Gram won’t be returning home.

With a promise to live in the now without regrets, Maddie boards the Wishwell determined to make every moment count. She finds new friends in her fellow Wishwellians, takes advantage of the trip’s many luxuries, gets even closer to her quirky family, and falls for painfully gorgeous Enzo. But despite the copious laughter, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and laughter.”

Review:

This book broke my heart. Absolutely broke my heart. This was super hard to read for me because it brought back a lot of memories from when I lost a family member. If you recently lost a family member, this book might be triggering, or it might be very peaceful. It really is how you take it. I adored this book because it feels like it helped me heal some from the loss. If you a crier, have tissues ready.

Maddie is a girl who needs a reality check in life. She is living a life with her best friends that could send her in a spiral. She is supposed to be going to a party the night that her grandmother invites her entire family over. She thought it was going to be an engagement to her boyfriend, but she was very wrong. Going on a cruise where she is going to say goodbye to her grandmother forever? That’s not what Maddie planned for her summer.

This story did a wonderful job of showing the stages of grief. The heartbreak, denial, anger, sadness, depression, and hope really was prevalent throughout the entire book. Carrie Firestone made the reader feels like they are going through the same stages that the main character is feeling.   I am an emotional reader and there were a few times where I teared up, full on cried, and ended up smiling because she made it hopeful.

I was a little unsure about the romance part of this novel. However, going through and reading this from cover to cover, the romance was absolutely meant to be a part of this book. It made the story that much better. It wouldn’t be thought to have romance in a book where someone is dying, but it was very happy and really makes you think.

If there is a time where I go, I would love to be on this cruise. I wish it was a real thing. I would go and live my days happily and peacefully. This book gave me hope that there are people who live out their final days like that. Carrie Firestone really did a wonderful, wonderful job on this novel. This was probably one of my favorite books of this year.

Rating: ★★★★★

It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm 

Publication Date: October 25th, 2016

“One girl’s comedic examination of her dating past, as told by friends, family, and boys who were involved! Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she’s been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody? Post breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all the guys she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she’s learning about this method of record keeping called “oral-history” and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all the guys she’s ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history. Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she spent time with — just in time for prom night!”

Review: 

This book had a lot of potential and I liked the story. The synopsis sounded super cute and I was definitely intrigued. 

This book wasn’t totally for me unfortunately. I liked some parts and the characters, but there are definitely some things I would change.

The characters started out great and I liked them all. I really liked Avery’s attitude and how she was in general. However, throughout the book, there were just wayyy too many characters for me to understand and I really started to not like any of the characters. 

The only thing I really loved about this book was the ending. It was super cute and well thought out. I like everything about the ending. 

Overall, this book was good but confusing for me. There were too many characters and I had trouble understanding a lot. I’d recommend to readers that enjoy young adult and can keep up with multiple characters. 

Rating: ★★★

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Publication Date: May 10th, 2005
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world. ”

Review:

I’ve read David Levithan before, and  I have to say that this doesn’t feel like something he wrote. I read You Know Me Well, that David Levithan co-wrote with Nina LaCour, and that seemed very serious and real. Boy Meets Boy seemed a little crazy in the beginning. It seemed a little ridiculous and I was waiting for it to get better. I think it did, but not too much for a five star rating.

There were some things that just seemed absurd. I mean this was also released over ten years ago so I tried to remain neutral about how times might not be the same. The problems that this book had seemed adult, and I think that turned it off for me. When I reached about half way through this book, it really started to pick up. There was a specific chapter named “Tony” that really had me feeling like I was going to cry.

There were so many differences in this book and the last book I read. I’m not comparing those two books, I’m just saying that I noticed the differences. You Know Me Well definitely seemed stronger and well written compared to Boy Meets Boy. As this was his first novel, I feel like that was expected.

I think it’s important to show that not every book written by an author is going to be the same. I think that this book was a blurb of David Levithan’s imagination and what it would be like in high school if he had it his way. By the end, I thought this book was good, and I’m going to try another David Levithan novel.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: January 2nd, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown

“Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.”

Review:

I didn’t really know what to expect with this book. When I read the synopsis, I tried to keep a neutral feeling because I found this book to be over a twenty-four-hour period. Usually, I like when a book is spread over a longer time so I don’t feel like it’s rushed. However, that’s how I felt by the end of this book.

Hadley had to get to England for her father’s wedding. She met a boy on the plane. It seemed a little too much for everything that happened to all happen in a twenty-four-hour period. It seemed like a movie that was over too quick.

The characters weren’t my favorite either. Hadley seemed a little too desperate. I didn’t like Oliver that much, but that was expected. The story was cute, but I would’ve liked it more if the characters were written a little better.

Overall, I think this book was good, but that’s as far as it goes. It wasn’t phenomenal, or even great. I want to try Jennifer E. Smith’s other books because I don’t want to base this book on the others. If you are looking for a quick romancey novel, this is for you.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Publication Date: July 2nd, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

“Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.”

Review:

Caymen grew up with her mom and without a father. Her mother taught her as she grew never to trust the rich. Her mother owns a doll shop and they are struggling financially. When a boy who is everything her mother not to trust enters the doll store, Caymen’s whole life gets flipped upside down.

This was my first Kasie West book, and it definitely won’t be my last. This story was adorable from start to finish. This was the perfect beach read. It went super fast and there were a lot of things to love.

In today’s society, it’s extremely heard of to have resentment with income. There’s people that get rich and they think they are above all. Caymen and her mother were very relatable. They are struggling through owning a business and having to pay their bills. As a college student who is about to be thousands and thousands of dollars in debt, I could understand their struggles. Caymen’s mom made sure that Caymen would never allow a rich boy in her life. When Xander enters the picture, Caymen had all of these problems with trying to allow him in her life, not knowing how to react to him.

I think Kasie West did a great job with the characters. There were times where the angst made my chest hurt for the characters. I especially liked Xander’s character. Xander had so many conflicting feelings and it really showed in the writing. Since he had all of these feelings, it really had the reader feeling the same thing.

Overall, if you are looking for a cute, cheesy, quick read, this is the book for you! The characters were written really well and this story was absolutely adorable. This is definitely a story that will make you swoon. I can’t wait to read more Kasie West!

Rating: ★★★★

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…


Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.”

Review:

Wow. This was super, super sad. If you are an emotional reader, I would recommend having a box of tissues nearby. Marin is a girl who lost her mother at a young age. She was being taken care of by her grandfather and she doesn’t know how to cope when he doesn’t return home. Marin deals with grief and confusing feelings for her best friend Mabel. She up and leaves San Francisco to go to New York, leaving everything behind.

Marin is a young girl that shouldn’t have to deal with what she does. She is left alone and even though she has had many different people that loved her, she always felt alone all of the time. When her grandfather never comes home, she packs and heads right to New York, closing everyone off and not letting anyone in. Not even her best friend Mabel. Mabel, who Marin is in love with. Things get really confusing for both girls.

I think that Nina LaCour did a beautiful job writing how Marin goes through grief. There are seven stages, and I think that each stage was represented. Marin needed help and the author really showed her going through what she was. Things were really hard for her, and because they were hard for her, some parts were hard to read.

I feel like there was something missing at the end of the book. I felt like I was waiting for something, but it didn’t really take away from the book. This is my second Nina LaCour book, and I’m really starting to love her as an author. Can’t wait to read more.

Rating: ★★★★

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.”

Review:

I’m so happy I loved this book as much as I did since it was my 80th book this year and therefore, the end of my Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year! (Of course I’ll continue to read, but yay!). Jordan is a girl who is at a boarding school for performing arts who is struggling to receive parts in the musical for the last three years. Her mom doesn’t want her to be there if she can’t get cast in the musicals. When a spot in the boarding school’s most elite acappella group opens up, she does what she has to in order to get a spot. She dresses up as a boy and it turns out that Jordan, now as Julian, is exactly what the group was looking for. She goes through all of the measures to make sure that this works out. Of course, there are bumps along the way.

Okay but this book was amazing. There were so many great things! This was like Mulan (which is one my favorites) mixed with Glee (another one of my favorites) so it was just amazing to read. Jordan is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. The lengths that she goes through to make sure that she won’t get caught is unfathomable. She is so strong for dealing with so many things on her plate, but she doesn’t let it get to her.

Next, I love the different romances in this book. There were so many and it was awesome to see the straight, bisexual, and gay couples being so well loved. Riley Redgate really wrote these parts wonderfully.

The only thing that I thought could’ve been better were some of the characters. I understand that there are some people who are meant to be background characters and main characters. However, a lot of them were main and then background again, so there were some confusing parts that I had to reread. Other than this, I loved this book a lot. The writing style and story were something that I never really heard of so I was captivated from the start.

Rating: 4.5/5