Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts by Sara ZarrSweethearts by Sara Zarr
Published by Little on February 1st 2008
Pages: 217

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be -- but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

My feelings for Sweethearts are muddled. I simultaneously think this book lacked “something” and yet, was satisfying. Confusing? Very!

To start-off, this book is pretty short. My NOOK was showing me about 210 pages, but Sweethearts ended up only being about 150 pages. This book felt more like a short story vs. a full length novel.

Sweethearts is an emotional book that tackles tough issues, mainly; bullying and child abuse. Zarr did a great job of presenting these subjects with care and knowledge. On a personal level, I could really relate with some of the characters. Their tribulations and thoughts, really struck a cord with me. Zarr’s writing is simple, yet powerfully emotional, because of this I became captivated with the story.

As I write this review I’m stuck thinking that this book was too short, yet, still, perfectly numbered. On one-hand the story and messages come through with so little of pages. On the other-hand, I feel sad that things didn’t play-out as I secretly wanted. Basically, because this review isn’t confusing enough, I thought that this story was enough yet not enough.

Either way, if you like emotional stories, with good messages, that end bittersweet, you’ll enjoy Sweethearts.

Have you ever read a book that left you with confusing, conflicting thoughts?


Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated by Melissa LandersAlienated (Alienated, #1) by Melissa Landers
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 4th 2014
Pages: 344

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I enjoyed Alienated in the beginning. Cara was fiery and fierce. She really spoke her mind and stuck with her personal beliefs. Aelyx was cute and funny. His ways are so different than ours. His people are very formal, bland and unemotional. It was great following his explorations and budding emotions. I was really digging the slow building relationship between him and Cara.

Unfortunately, halfway through this book the storyline took a nosedive. It just really dragged and I found myself steadily losing interest.

Also, I appreciated that there was no insta-love but when the feelings were finally expressed between the two leads it was extreme (to say the least). They were ready to forget everyone else for each other. Cara is bitter and constantly remarking on the fact that her older brother, barely takes interest in her, or their parents. The moment that Cara falls in love with Aelyx she’s ready to ditch Earth and hop on a ship with him. She herself, quickly forgets her parents and sees only Aelyx. That was a huge 360 for Cara’s character. And a letdown.

I don’t know what else to really say. This book just ended somewhere completely different than it started. I’ve easily become bored with the Cara and Aelyx relationship. Given hints towards the end of Alienated, a love triangle might be on the horizon for book two. If anything, I might read the sequel to see what this new guy is like and if he can re-spark this story for me again.


Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoyBeing Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy
Published by Simon Pulse on May 1st 2012
Pages: 368

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl's perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys' band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free...until it isn't any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl...and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char...being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

Being Friends with Boys may be the first book I’ve read by Terra Elan McVoy, but I promise you, it won’t be the last. Besides it’s smooth and fast-paced writing style (which I loved) this is the first time in a long time that I’ve truly adored every aspect of a book. For one, the characters were fabulous. Every single one was well-thought out and interesting because of their individual personalities and the part they played in the overall story. The dialogue was easy to follow and very fun to read. Although at times there was a lot of humor, Ms. McVoy balanced the story out nicely with more thought-provoking ideas and situations. At it’s core, this book is about a teenage girl (Charlotte) whose life suddenly diverges from it’s comfortable and understood path. Like a lot of teenage girls, Charlotte is struggling with accepting and understanding the changes that inevitably come with growing up. I felt a tidal wave of emotions while reading this book including happiness, anger, pride, and confusion (along with Charlotte). This is one book that because I enjoyed so much, I’d definitely consider reading again at some point down the road.

Charlotte is 100% anti-drama. She’s had past incidents involving friends (who I don’t believe were truly ever real friends) who’ve caused her a lot of grief. In the past these “friends” have ignored and shunned her for stupid, non-reasons. Since most girls drive Charlotte crazy it makes since that her close knit group of friends would mainly consist of boys. Although she’s known Oliver since grade school, he along with two other boys – Abe and Trip along with Charlotte, make up a band called Sad Jackal. Charlotte is perfectly content with her life until one day, out of the blue, Oliver announces that Trip is out of the band. This announcement comes at a complete shock to Charlotte, simultaneously starting a domino affect. This is where life (as she knows it) begins to change.

Charlotte has a hard time adjusting. For one, she can’t understand how or why her perfect group of friends and beloved band have been teared apart. Trip whose friendship has been a constant, shining light in her life, this last year and a half, now becomes harder to hold onto. Although she has two stepsisters at home, her sister-sister, Jilly, who Charlotte has always relied on for emotional support, is now away and busy at college. This all together could make a great story line, however that’s not all. Add in not one but two cute, new boys and a quick rise to high school rocker-fame and you’ve got 368 pages of time-stealing awesomeness.

I am absolutely head over heels for Being Friends with Boys. I thoroughly enjoyed following Charlotte’s path to self-discovery. Through humorous, exhilarating, and sometimes, heartbreaking encounters, Charlotte not only learns more about herself but also who her “true” friends are, the ones that she can count on through thick and thin. It was easy to understand Charlotte’s character, feeling sad about a sibling living far away, not knowing how to repair a friendship that is slipping away, and most importantly, understanding what you truly want and then believing that it does matter that you want it.


The Crown (The Selection #5) by Kiera Cass

The Crown (The Selection #5) by Kiera CassThe Crown (The Selection, #5) by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen on May 3rd 2016
Pages: 278

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

Let me start by saying that I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the whole Selection series. I adored book one, read it in one sitting. But then the three that followed, including The Heir, were major let downs. HOWEVER, The Crown totally redeemed the series for me. I couldn’t put it down! I read it in less than 24 hours. I also teared up at some points because the emotions became too much.

One of the reasons that I didn’t care much for The Heir is because I despised Eadlyn. She was cold-hearted and entitled. She loved her family but made sure her needs were met before theirs. Eadlyn’s character finally began to evolve in The Crown. Not only does she admit that she’s taken advantage of many of the people in her life, but she actively tries to right those wrongs. She makes a lot of personal sacrifices in The Crown.

The Selection series has never been very dark. Yes, there’s a tad of violence and people do get injured and sometimes killed, but the series has never really focused much on those parts. It’s always been about the characters in a sort of soap opera way. This doesn’t mean it isn’t as compelling; it’s just a different type of dystopian than the others out there.

For instance, Eadlyn is a force to be reckoned with, but not in the way that Katniss and Tris are. She doesn’t kick butt with her hands or weapons, she kicks butt with her words and wisdom. It’s refreshing to have a strong female character who doesn’t physically beat up the bad guys to save the day.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with this last book…? I think it’s the last book/I hope it is because I’m extremely satisfied with how it ended. Sacrifices are made, but in the end Eadlyn makes decisions that end the series on a happy note. There’s some worlds that I want to keep revisiting like Mead’s Vampire Academy series *hint hint*, but The Selection is one that I really hope doesn’t get returned to. I think that it ended with a bang and I’d hate for another spin-off to reverse its progress.



Starling (Starling #1) by Lesley Livingston

Starling (Starling #1) by Lesley LivingstonStarling (Starling, #1) by Lesley Livingston
Published by HarperTeen on August 28th 2012
Pages: 341

Mason Starling is a champion fencer on the Gosforth Academy team, but she's never had to fight for her life. Not until the night a ferocious, otherworldly storm rips through Manhattan, trapping Mason and her teammates inside the school. Mason is besieged by nightmarish creatures more terrifying than the thunder and lightning as the raging tempest also brings a dangerous stranger into her life: a young man who remembers nothing but his name—the Fennrys Wolf. His arrival tears Mason's world apart, even as she feels an undeniable connection to him. Together, they seek to unravel the secrets of Fenn's identity as strange and supernatural forces gather around them. When they discover Mason's family—with its dark allegiance to ancient Norse gods—is at the heart of the mystery, Fennrys and Mason are suddenly faced with a terrifying future.

Set against the gritty, shadowed back-drop of New York City, this first novel in award-winning author Lesley Livingston's epic Starling Saga is an intoxicating blend of sweeping romance and pulse-pounding action.

It started with a broken window, a hoard of black-bluish beasties and a *hot* naked guy with a case of amnesia. Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning.

Starling caught my attention right away but unfortunately it couldn’t hold it. I may have started out with a high opinion but towards the end my happy feelings tapered off leaving me very let down. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot to love about Starling, but there was also a lot to dislike.

Mason Starling is extremely likable as the main heroine. She’s very gentle yet totally kick-ass. Mason can basically be your best friend or your worst enemy. When paired with a sword, you best hope that she’s your friend because she can be downright deadly. Heather was also a great female character. She starts out as Mason’s frenemy then quickly become one strong, loyal and protective “true” friend. Two other standout characters were Rory and Roth… two Starling brothers and two complete opposites. I REALLY hated Rory. (We’re totally meant to… at least I hope). He’s entirely self-absorbed, petty, and downright homicidal. If it would help advance his status, Rory would literally kill his own sister. As far as I know it there’s nothing reputable about Rory. Then there’s Roth, edgy and mysterious and regarded as the “golden” Starling child. He basically can do no wrong. Especially compared to Rory, Roth is placed on an extremely high pedestal. And finally the fifth character that I found rises above the rest is Fennrys Wolf a.k.a. Mr. Amnesia. It was hard getting to know him mostly because he doesn’t know himself (LOL). But his protective and sweet-natured ways do shine through the confusion and memory loss, especially around Mason.

There’s also quite a few other characters but I don’t feel they’re entirely worth mentioning. Many times I actually asked myself – Why do we need to meet this character or what purpose do they play?

Starling featured 3rd person multiple POVS. “Oi vey.” I don’t know if it’s because I don’t read many 3rd person POVS or it was Livingston’s style but half the time I was utterly confused, not knowing who was saying or doing what. I had a very hard time keeping track and distinguishing between multiple characters. Many times I had to re-read a section. I also found the sheer number of POVS overwhelming. Just about every character introduced was spotlighted either frequently or periodically. There was just too many people to keep up with.

The mythology aspect was pretty interesting and entirely unique. Before Starling I’d never read any book featuring Norse gods or myths. From the synopsis I figured we’d just be dealing with Norse, but surprisingly we also get some Egyptian and Greek god(s) interfering in the story. I personally love whenever an author features multiple mythological beliefs and paths because I’m a firm believer that all gods stand on equal footing.

I know very little of Norse mythology so luckily Livingston provides us with the inside scoop to get u
s familiar with the Norse “tales of old”. There was also a downside to these scoops. The majority of the time I found myself waist-deep in information overload. As a newbie I was fed a bunch information regarding Ragnarok (Norse version of “the end of the world”). Many times I was confused when a character would act a certain way because of Ragnarok, especially when it came to the other gods. I felt like I was given a lot of information but couldn’t actually utilize it fully.

Overall Starling was a decent book. It was an entertaining yet difficult to read. Although the story and characters we’re imaginative and detailed; I just found too much fault when it came to the mechanics.