A Midsummers Nightmare

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Pages: 330
Goodreads
four-stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I tend to start drafting reviews in my head while I’m reading a book. Obviously the final outcome changes because a story can get better, or in some cases worse. For instance, a few chapters in and I was already planning on giving P.S. I Like You a 2-3 star rating – the lowest ever for a West book! Why you ask? Well…

This story revolves around my new #spiritanimal Lily. Every word out of her mouth is hilariously sarcastic and so well timed. Most of the time her family, peers and even best friend Isobel, have no idea what Lily’s talking about. She truly lives in her own little indie-rock world. 
 
One day Lily scribbles music lyrics on her desk in Chemistry class, and then the next day some mysterious person (who we quickly find out is a boy) writes the next verse. Eventually these two start passing notes back and forth, first discussing how awesome indie-rock is, and then sharing personal items about their life. Isobel may be Lily’s best friend, but there’s parts of Lily that she doesn’t share with anyone, that is, until her mystery pen pal comes along. Both Lily and “he” are able to say in writing to a complete stranger, more than they’ve ever been able to share with anyone else. 
 
West tries to trick us by throwing in three different guys who could be Lily’s mystery pen pal, but the moment “he” was introduced I knew immediately it was him. I became angry because I was loving P.S. I Like You so much and I felt like West had let me down by making it incredibly too obvious.
 
So how did I end up giving this book 4 stars? Because the story became even juicer once “he” was revealed! When Lily finds out whom her letters have been going to, she freaks out. She’s afraid that once this individual realizes its her, he will be disappointed. For someone who wears whatever she wants and says whatever she wants, Lily has low self-confidence in herself and how the world perceives her.

This story was cute. Not the best West book in my opinion but maybe the best character building in terms of Lily? Not sure. I think West needs to write many more books so I can get a larger sample to compare. 😉

four-stars

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah DessenThat Summer by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 6th 2006
Pages: 208
Goodreads
one-star

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She's nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley's reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

With such a low rating you’re probably wondering why I didn’t DNF this book. Well, because of my own damn stubbornness, that’s why. Being my first “Sarah Dessen” book, I was determined to read it through. Dessen books seem to be very popular and well-known so I thought That Summer would be a sure thing. As they say: there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

Contemporaries are my least favorite YA genre type. I find that I quickly lose interest unless one of two things occur; epic romance and/or fantastic characters. I get the sense that That Summer is geared towards Middle Grade readers, which excuses this book from having no romance(s) to root for.

So then there’s the characters. What can I say about the characters? Well…. SNOOZE. I couldn’t connect or relate to a single one. That Summer follows Haven, a 15 year old girl who’s trying to stay the same while the rest of her world changes. She’s hitting puberty at a fast rate and she’s having trouble accepting it. This sounds like an interesting, albeit, usual coming-of-age story, unfortunately, the characters (including Haven), are lackluster, making the story even more sluggish and agonizing.

My own stubbornness saw me through to the end of That Summer. I really wanted to quit this book about 40 pages in. The only reason I gave this book one star is because the last 20 pages of That Summer was actually pretty good. The story finally went into hyper-drive and the climax supernova’d. I think if the characters had been quirkier and that more significant moments had occurred, I would have liked That Summer a whole lot more.

one-star

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Sweethearts by Sara ZarrSweethearts by Sara Zarr
Published by Little on February 1st 2008
Pages: 217
Goodreads
four-stars

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?

four-stars

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
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

five-stars
A Midsummers Nightmare

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody KeplingerA Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Published by Poppy on June 5th 2012
Pages: 291
Goodreads
four-stars

Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorcé dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancée and her kids. The fiancée's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her stepbrother...at least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.

A Midsummer’s Nightmare was fast, fiery, and fabulous! My first Kody Keplinger book, but mostly certainly not my last. I applaud Keplinger for creating such a rich and believable storyline and pairing it with deep and intensely emotional characters.

Whitley is pretty much the perfect example of strong book heroines. In the beginning although part of me felt sorry for her, a larger part really disliked her. She made a lot of foolish mistakes like staying out late, drinking a lot and hanging out with practical strangers. Whitley had one of those glass half-empty point of views, always overlooking the good things and people in her life. Luckily as the book progressed she started to open her eyes. However, unfortunately, it does take one or two really bad and emotional situations to get her to wake up and basically smell the love. I found her journey towards self-realization to be practical and very-well paced. She didn’t immediately realize the error of her ways, it took a lot of bad decisions and consequences to get through to her.

Nathan a.k.a. Whitley’s one-night stand a.k.a. Whitley’s father’s soon-to-be stepson is basically a sweet heart. He’s caring and uber-protective of both his little sister *swoon* and Whitley. What I found so remarkable was the fact he never gave up on Whitley. Every step of the way Whitley fought Nathan’s kindness, but that didn’t stop him. I think Nathan’s just generally a good person that recognizes Whitley’s pain and doesn’t plan on giving up like others seem to have.

At the time that I read this book it was still summer and therefore I was declaring it the perfect day at the beach or day by the pool read, however now that it’s Fall and pretty frigid outside that perfect reading location doesn’t really work. I’m now declaring A Midsummer’s Nightmare the perfect all-around book to relax and escape with. It’s perfect for snuggling up in a comfy chair with a fuzzy blanket and cup of cocoa and maybe a snack or two because like I said, this is one book you will not be able to put down!

four-stars