Always forever maybe book cover

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life and the List by Kasie WestLove, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on December 26, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Audio book
Source: Library
Goodreads
four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.


*This review is for the audiobook version*

Love, Life and the List, like every other Kasie West book I’ve read, is filled with heart, smiles, tears, and a dash of laughter. These are all the things I’ve come to expect and look forward to in any book written by Kasie West, the queen of contemporary romances.

When I’m reading a book by Kasie West, I never feel like I’m meeting the same characters or seeing the same story being told again. Every character that this author has ever created, has had their own individual personality, with unique strengths, weaknesses, and an original voice.

The story in Love, Life and the List is told by Abby, a fun, smart, super-snarky girl, who has been head-over-heels in love with her best friend Cooper for a long time. I loved Abby and Cooper’s relationship, their hilarious banter, and the stories of the past mischief they’ve gotten into. They have such great chemistry, and I was rooting for them to take their relationship to the next level the entire time I read this book.

Abby is quite possibly my favorite Kasie West character to date, because she was deeply conceived, with a great character arc. When the director of the art museum Abby works at tells her that her paintings lack “heart”, Abby starts a heart-growing list as a way to expand her horizons, to gain a greater outlook on life, and to tap into the deeper emotions she’s being told she doesn’t express well enough.

I thought it was pretty shitty of the art director to say that Abby’s work wasn’t good enough, because “art is subjective”, but I also didn’t disagree that Abby would highly benefit from trying new experiences. She has a lot of insecurities, tends to avoid confrontation, and is afraid of change, and the list she created with the help of her mom, and grampa, helped her work through all of those things. The heart-growing list is full of things like face a fear, learn a stranger’s story, read a classic book, and other tasks designed to help push Abby outside of her comfort zone.

Luckily, besides Cooper, who works through the list with her, Abby has her hilarious and endearing grampa to encourage her every step of the way. Her grampa is incredibly smart, and snarky, and definitely gave Abby her snarky-ness. I really loved his character, because I rarely see books with grandparents who play vital roles. Abby’s dad is off in the armed forces during the whole book, so her grampa filled that absent fatherly role. He was Abby’s number one fan, and it was so heartwarming.

Audiobook narrator: She was perfect! Not only did she sound like an actual teenage girl (what a relief), she was able to put a lot of emotion into her voice during highly emotional scenes.

Love, Life and the List is a must read for lovers of contemporary romances!

four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

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
Always forever maybe book cover

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

The Distance Between Us by Kasie WestThe Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on July 2, 2013
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

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.

The Distance Between Us was quick, but still made an impact. Caymen’s dry humor had me smiling and laughing throughout the book. Though at times I complain that I’m sick of the West Side Story type plots, this book threw in a great twist at the end.

Caymen and her mother live above a doll shop her mother owns. Most of Caymen’s life revolves around the shop; she even leaves school early every day to work in it. The doll shop isn’t really hopping, so bills are always overdue. Caymen doesn’t always get paid for the work she puts in either. When describing herself, Caymen often uses the term “poor”.

On a regular day while Caymen is manning the store, a guy walks in, talking on his cell phone. He’s good looking, sure, with expensive clothes, but Caymen, judging him (Xander) pegs him as an arrogant rich-y. Through coincidental and purposeful meetings, Caymen begins falling for Xander. She realizes he’s sweet and thoughtful, but regardless, she still throws up her shields. Xander is the type of guy her mother always warned her about; the risky ones, the kind that could leave you high and dry like Caymen’s deadbeat dad, at least, that’s what Caymen is afraid of.

The Distance Between Us follows Caymen and Xander’s slow-budding romance with the issue of money “coming between” them. Caymen is set in her belief that “poor” and “rich” people are so different that they shouldn’t be together. I can’t really relate to Caymen’s situation because I’ve always been in a sort of middle class and around other middle class-types, but I still grew frustrated with her at times. She was very insecure and judge-y when it came to Xander. She was quick to think the worst of him and his family, constantly being surprised when Xander’s father and mother treated her kindly and with warmth. Honestly, throughout the novel I felt like the “distance” between these two teenagers was plainly Caymen and her skewed viewpoint.

Towards the end of the story the plot really sped up. There’s a couple matters that were never really resolved and left me confused. I liked that there wasn’t a big cheesy ending but I think we should have been given a little more clarity and resolution.

four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point by Kasie WestPivot Point (Pivot Point, #1) by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on February 12th 2013
Pages: 343
Goodreads
four-stars

Knowing the outcome doesn't always make a choice easier...

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through... and who she can’t live without.

Thanks HarperTeen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a honest review.

Watch out 2013 releases – Pivot Point is going to be one tough act to follow. Original, intricate, and surprising; Pivot Point is one of those great books that I will compare others to.

Pivot Point, much like NBC’s short-lived series Awake, which featured a similar storyline, focuses on one character (Addison “Addie” Coleman) and the alternating parallel lives she leads. In a tight-knit and secretive town, referred to as the Compound, a small population of humans with enhanced mental abilities, thrive. This society and its abilities have remained under lock and key for quite some time. You’ve got your run of the mill telekinetics, telepaths, mood-swayers, as well as, human lie detectors. In a town full of gifted individuals, Addie rises slightly above the rest with the ability to witness her future(s) which are all dependent on certain decisions she makes. When the book kicks off, Addie has just found out that her parents are divorcing and making her choose between which parent she wants to live with.

Unfortunately it’s a bit more complicated than just parental separation. Although her mom will remain in the Compound, Addie’s father has decided to leave and settle in a “norm” town. With some careful consideration, Addie decides to peer into each of her potential futures; life with mom and life with dad. In a matter of minutes, Addie experiences the next few weeks of two potential lives.

Pivot Point was brilliantly set-up. You have interchanging chapters between Addie’s parallel lives. One chapter you follow Addie’s continual day-to-day life in the Compound. The other – follows her attempts to fit into a norm high school and make norm friends. Even though it’s not your typical POV switch-off because Addie constantly remains the narrator, I was still skeptical in the beginning. I feared that I’d love one life more than the other. Then get discouraged whenever it’d switch to the less-liked one. Boy was I wrong! I ended up loving BOTH of Addie’s potential futures. It felt like I was getting two stories for the price of one.

Although Addie’s life drastically differs between D (dad) and M (mom) paths, you find out that there’s a lot of similarities. It was basically a case of “you can’t escape fate”. The murderer mentioned in the synopsis, is still a big problem regardless of the path Addie chooses, and certain incidents or meetings still occur in both. By Addie and the readers witnessing both possible futures, the mysteries are slowly cracked by pieces of information revealed in both paths.

I was so caught up in the suspense and romance; I didn’t want Pivot Point to end. It was fast-paced and intense with a great build-up. Bodies pile-up, secrets begin to overload and emotions run high. By the end of the book, Addie’s left with a tough decision because both paths lead to equally horrific and happy futures. No matter what decision she makes, Addie has something to precious to lose.

four-stars