Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

DODSBook Title: Daughter of Deep Silence
Author: Carrie Ryan
Published Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Books For Young Readers
Genre: YA Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.

Disclaimer: This is a library book.

Review
I’ve been in an epic book slump this past month or so. I’m not even sure how many (if any) books I read in July. Needless to say, I was worried Daughter of Deep Silence wouldn’t pull me out of it. I needed a really good book.

Thankfully, Daughter of Deep Silence pulled me in almost immediately. I was a little put off at first when I realized Frances was only 14. That is younger than most of the characters in YA books. I was worried she would stay that age throughout the entire book. I think that would have caused me not to enjoy the book, despite getting into it really quickly.

Thankfully, after a few chapters, the book fast forwarded four years. Once that happened, I was less nervous. I just didn’t know how I was going to handle the book being about a 14 year old girl. It would have felt too young for me.

With the time jump, I was able to enjoy the story. Enjoy how Libby/Frances handled things when she knew Senator Wells and his son, Grey had lied about had happened that night. It wasn’t a wave that took out the Persephone and the majority of it’s passengers. It was men with guns who took out the Persephone and it’s passengers.

Only a few people know the truth and Frances/Libby is determined to make sure the truth comes out. She’s tired of hiding, tired of pretending she’s one person, when she’s really not.

And then there’s Grey. Grey who fell in love with Frances on that boat. Grey who was still missing Frances just as badly four years later. What baffles me that Grey knew Frances only a short amount of time, and yet he never forgot about her. Not only that, he didn’t even recognize her when she was standing in front of him.

Grey’s father was creepy and he gave me the heebie jeebies. I never trusted him, I always suspected he knew more than he was willing to tell anyone. He was savy, smart and cunning. He knew what to say, what not to say, how to act, etc. He was not going to allow anyone to find out what he knew.

Yet, he knew Libby was dangerous. Even if Libby claims she can’t remember anything from that fateful night. Senator Wells tries everything in his power to keep his on Grey from associating with her. But Grey can’t stop.

He’s falling for her.

And she is falling for him.

A lot of the stuff I want to talk about, I really can’t because it’s pretty spoilery. I will say that I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend it to those readers who enjoy a good mystery with a compelling main character. I am giving it four stars.

Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

SA2

Book Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads
Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review
It’s no secret that I haven’t really clicked with Sarah Dessen’s books. I’ve tried several of them and except for The Moon and More, none of them have been to my taste for various reasons. I had heard this one was different, darker, and that made me curious. Everyone who knows me, knows that I prefer my contemporaries to be dark as opposed to fluffy.

That’s why Saint Anything really worked for me.

Yes Sydney really drove me crazy, but it was not unexpected given Dessen’s usual plot point of having a quiet female character who never speaks up for herself. Sydney’s older brother, Peyton is in jail after being involved in a drunk driving accident in which he paralyzed the boy. Sydney has always felt like she’s invisible and it gets even worse as she watches her parents deal with this.

Especially her mom. Wow, her mom was a tough woman to like. I mean, I knew it was probably hard for her to know that her son had caused such a serious accident, But she becomes so focused on trying to “fix” this, when there really is no such thing as fixing it. Even her husband, Peyton (yes there are two Peyton’s in this story, father & son) isn’t as obsessive as she is. As much as Julie Stanford believes that getting the whole family involved will help her son, this is jail, not the PTA.

Let’s not forget the creepiest guy in the entire book. Ames. He was Peyton’s best friend in prison and now he’s constantly around the Stanfords, sucking up to Julie, and creeping Sydney out. Does she tell her parents how much he creeps her out? Nope, and that really bothered me.

“It wasn’t like he had ever done anything to me, so I felt like it had to be my problem.” 

I wanted to strangle Sydney so much when she said this, because it didn’t matter if he had ever done anything to her. She had a right to feel however she felt about him, even if he never touched her in any inappropriate ways. That is such a teachable moment for girls, especially young girls. They need to know that it doesn’t matter if a guy never did anything to them. What matters is that they feel uncomfortable around a certain guy.

Case closed.

Peyton doesn’t tell her mom or her dad about her misgivings about Peyton. She doesn’t want her mom to lose him. Ames had been her mom’s rock during the latest crisis with Peyton.

“He hadn’t done anything except creep me out. And that wasn’t a punishable offense.”

Just being creeped out by him is reason enough to not want him around.

“Especially since I had nothing specific to point to, just a feeling. Everybody has those.”

Um, no Sydney, they don’t, and if they did, most people would speak up about them.

The Chatham clan really reminded me a lot of the Garrett clan from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I loved the Garretts, and I loved the Chathams just as much, maybe even more. Something about the chaotic family subplot really works for me. Maybe it’s because I have such a small family, and sometimes wish I had a bigger family.

Layla accepts Sydney even as she learns about Sydney’s family, and especially about Peyton’s troubles. Layla is no stranger to siblings who have troubles, as her sister Rosie has a drug past. There’s also Mac who has made eating healthier a priority, and their mom, who has MS and their dad who owns a pizza place.

I have never craved pizza as badly as I was craving it the entire time I was reading the book. Well pizza and fries.

I love stories about friendship, and Layla and Sydney’s friendship was golden. Layla is the one who Sydney confides in the most. About Ames, about Peyton, about her parents, about David Ibarra, but there’s one thing that Sydney can’t talk to Layla about.

Her growing feelings for Mac.

I loved the romance in this one. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of the romance Dessen writes, but Sydney and Mac were awesome. Mac was swoony and Sydney grew stronger with him, which I absolutely loved. She started to realize there are other people who want her in their life without expecting anything from her.

Mrs. Chatham was awesome. She provided Sydney with a mother figure when Sydney’s own mother was too busy with Peyton’s troubles to pay any real attention to her daughter.

“Why do you feel like you have to shoulder your brother’s responsibility?”

Totally valid point because Sydney felt a lot of guilt. Guilt over something that was never her responsibility to begin with. It was utterly maddening to see her feel guilt for something her brother did.

“Because someone has to.”

Um yeah, like your brother.  Sydney needed to realize that it was not on her to shoulder this burden. It was her brother’s responsibility. Not hers.

Because this book was darker than most of Dessen’s previous books, I really liked it a lot. I enjoyed Sydney’s story arc especially because it was so important for her to realize that she matters, and her voice matters. The Chathams helped her realize that.

I am going to give this book 4 stars because it is my favorite Dessen book so far and it was captivating and interesting.

 

Review: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

ATR

Book Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers
Published Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from St. Martin’s Griffin via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:

Oh boy, this book. I’m not even sure where to start with this review because I can’t say I enjoyed the book. Considering all the misogyny and victim blaming that happened in this book, to say I enjoyed it, sounds weird.

It evoked a lot of very strong emotions in me, and those are the books I tend to absolutely love. Yet I didn’t totally fall in love with this book. I’m still not sure why not. It had everything I could possibly want, but I still cannot say I loved it.

When I reviewed The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen last month, I mentioned how much I hate when boys are treated so much differently than girls. Bonus points if the boy is an athlete or the son of a prominent figure in a small town.

All the Rage features the second example. Kellan is the sherif’fs son, which basically means he’s protected by his father against anyone who would try to ruin his life. Romy’s father was fired by Kellan’s mother, Helen for calling the aformentioned Helen, a derogatory name.

Add that to the fact that Romy tried to tell everyone that Kellan raped her, and  you can see why Romy spends most of the book bottling up her rage.

Now Romy’s father is not in the picture, but her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, Todd are still very much in the picture. I loved Alice and Todd so, so much. Not only were they present in Romy’s life, but they both loved her and worried about her. They supported her when it became clear that sherriff Turner was out to get her. Todd was injured many years ago, and while he’s existing on pain pills and barely able to work, he shows his devotion to Alice and to Romy in both words and actions.

Romy’s mom was incredibly supportive of her daughter, and of however Romy wanted to feel about her dad who was terrifying.

“You feel how you want to feel about your dad. It’s not ever going to be wrong, you understand me?” -Alice-

That part really stuck with me as I have been woefully disappointed by my biological dad and by my ex stepdad. I understood why Alice said that, and it actually reminded me of something my mom said once.

What really made furious was how Romy was treated by everyone else aside from her mom & Todd.  Why the hell would anyone lie about being raped? I mean come on, this town was full of Kellan worshippers and it made me sick to my stomach.  The favoritism made me angry and it made me want to hit something.

And then there was Penny, a missing girl with a complicated past with Romy, and a connection to Kellan, It was obvious to me that the entire town preferred Penny to Romy, and that drove me insane. If Romy had met the same fate that Penny did, these people would be cheering. That realization infuriated me.

There was also Leon, a boy who doesn’t know Romy’s past, and Romy is determined to keep it that way. I felt badly for him because it was obvious that Romy wasn’t letting him in, and she was holding him at arm’s length. Leon was one of the good guys, but at the same time, he was a normal guy. He was kind, sweet and patient, but he also got frustrated with Romy, he questioned why she didn’t seem to want him around her small town,

He takes her to meet his sister Caroline and brother in law, Adam both before and after Caroline gives birth. That’s a big thing for a guy to introduce a girl to his family. Yet, when Romy meets Caroline and Adam the first time, all she can think is:

I hope it’s not a girl

Given how Romy has been treated since she told her small town about what Kellan had done to her, I couldn’t blame her for those thoughts.

After Caroline gives birth and it is a girl, Romy is scared for the infant. She knows better than anyone that  being a girl is hard. It’s hard because  in her world, boys are excused from awful behavior and girls who accuse the golden boys of something, are ostracized.

Because maybe it would be better if we got apologized to first. Maybe it would hurt less, expecting to be hurt.”

I did LOVE the writing.  It was raw, gritty and it totally fit the feel of the book. I am going to give it four stars because it was really, really good. I would definitely recommend it to those who like dark and gritty reads. I feel like it is a must read for high schoolers.

Review: Rebound (Boomerang #2) by Noelle August

Book Title: Rebound
Author: Noelle August
Published Date: February 10th, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Series: Book Two in Boomerang Trilogy
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Hooking up is only the beginning of the fun in this sexy and irresistible second installment of the thrilling New Adult series, Boomerang.
Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of the heap in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and knocks the tech wunderkind down, throwing his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.
Three years ago, Adam married his high school love—and then lost her in a tragic accident. Now, the heartbreak and guilt he’s tried to bury with work and women begins to take over his life.
Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. She’s got one chance to prove to her father that she deserves a place in his empire by grabbing control of Boomerang and taking Adam down.
But as Alison moves in on him, armed with a cadre of lawyers and accountants, she discovers there’s much more to Adam and Boomerang than meets the eye. Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? It appears so, unless Adam can forgive her for wrecking his life and trying to steal his livelihood. But Alison hopes that old adage is right. Maybe love can conquer all.
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.
Review:
You guys know that I am normally so picky about my NA reads and how rarely I read NA because they disappoint me so much. Yet last year, right about this time, I reviewed Boomerang, which is the first book in the Boomerang trilogy. I fell in love with this book because they didn’t follow a typical NA formula that I had become so used to.
When I heard this book was going to be about Ethan’s ex, Allison and Ethan’s former boss, Adam, I was a little nervous to see how it would all play out. I didn’t expect to like Allison given what we had learned about her in Boomerang. Surprise, surprise, I ended up really liking her. She was in a tough position as her father was very powerful and used to getting his way through manipulation. Allison also loved horses, and I loved reading about how she cared for the horses her father owned.
Adam was a difficult one for me to warm up to. I didn’t love him in Boomerang, so I was hoping I’d love him in Rebound. I ended up liking him more and more as the book went on. He complimented Allison quite well. Where she was weakest, he was strongest. Where she was strongest, he was weakest.
That Catwoman/Zorro scene at the beginning of the book was H-O-T.
We also learn a lot about Adam’s past, which I loved. I didn’t know what to expect with his past, but when certain things revealed themselves, it was clear to me that he was still struggling mightly, but he was hiding it from so many people. Hiding things is so unhealthy and I felt bad for Adam, and really wanted him to find that happy ending.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Boomerang. It took me awhile to like Adam, and certain other things kinda bugged me about this book. I do still recommend not only this book, but the first book in this trilogy. I’ll be giving it 4 stars.

Review: P. S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

Book Title: P. S. I Still Love You
Author: Jenny Han
Published Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Contemporary 
Series: Book Two in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Disclaimer: Library book.

Review:
I feel so conflicted about this book guys. I mean, I absolutely LOVED To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, so I had every reason to believe that I would feel the same about P. S. I Still Love You. I’m utterly conflicted because while I enjoyed a lot of the book, I didn’t feel the same way about this one as I had in the first one.

Lara Jean was maddening in a lot of the book this time around. Sometimes she would be really awesome and mature and then sometimes she would show exactly how sheltered she had been for so long. 

She seemed to not think very highly of herself as a person and that really showed when she obsessed about Peter’s ex, Genevieve and the fact that she had bigger boobs and the fact that Gen and Peter had had sex before. Lara Jean seemed so hung up on the sex thing even though Peter never even mentioned it until she did. It was obvious to me that she wondered why Peter was with her.

Peter wasn’t entirely blameless himself though. Look I have no issues with exes being friends as long as there are boundaries set in place. Peter clearly had issues establishing boundaries with Gen and it was infuriating and I felt bad for poor Lara Jean. She was trying so hard in the relationship, but it didn’t feel like Peter was trying as hard as he could have. Yes, as it turns out Gen was having family problems, but Peter shouldn’t have been her confidant anymore.

It was the adult characters that really struck a chord with me this time around. Stormy and Alicia and Mrs. Rothschild all had words of wisdom for the often naive Lara Jean.
“You’ll go about your day and you will miss him at first, but over time it will ease.” -Alicia

I think it was really important for Lara Jean to hear this because despite the fact the breakup was Peter’s fault, she was definitely hurting a lot and I hurt for her. She needed to know she wouldn’t always feel so sad.

Her dad was also very important in this book. While she was dealing with some craziness, she along with her older sister, Margot & younger sister, Kitty, were trying to set their dad up on dates. They didn’t want him to be alone. 
I do wish there had been more sister stuff, but I still loved Margot and Kitty to death. I loved how they were when some stuff happened and poor Lara Jean was freaking out. They supported her without question.

He also had some insights about love that he shared with his middle daughter.

“It’ll get easier, I promise. Peter Kavinsky isn’t the only boy in the world.” -Dad
“I just don’t want to hurt like this ever again.” -Lara Jean
“There’s no way to protect yourself against heartbreak Lara Jean. That’s just part of life.” -Dad

I actually really loved John, and I kept hoping that something would happen between Lara Jean and John. Not while she was with Peter of course, because cheating makes my skin crawl, but after they break up. Lara Jean was different with John, less aggravating, and I liked that a lot. They seemed to be a better fit.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t like Lara Jean as much as I did in book one, and I heartily disliked Peter in this book. I am going to give it 4 stars because there was a lot of friendship stuff in there which I loved. I would recommend this book only if you are patient because Lara Jean really drove me crazy through a good chunk of this book.

Review: The Remedy (The Program #0.5) by Suzanne Young

Book Title: The Remedy
Author: Suzanne Young
Published Date: April 21st, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA/Dystopian
Series: Prequel from The Program duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In a world before The Program…

Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill—she can “become” anyone.

Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.

Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
Oh my goodness, how much do I love this series?

I read The Program and The Treatment awhile back and reviewed them here & here. When I heard Suzanne Young was writing prequels to this duology I was majorly excited. I had loved The Program and The Treatment and couldn’t wait to get back into the world.

Then I read the synopsis of this book ans was even more intrigued. The idea behind being a closer like Quinn was, was heartbreaking and soul crushing. Grieving families would hire her to be the person who died and she would help them get closure. I suspected there would be lots of feels in this book. In fact, I had kleenex beside me so I’d be prepared.

But for some reason I didn’t feel the feels. I didn’t cry or even get emotional at all. It took me awhile to even get into the book. I considered DNFing it because I just wasn’t feeling invested in it or the characters. But because it was Suzanne Young and I loved this series, I kept reading and kept hoping that I would fall in love with this book.

A little past the halfway mark, it began to pick up and as it began to pick up, I got more invested in Quinn, Declan, Aaron and the other characters. I’m still not exactly sure what caused the shift. Maybe it was my mood prior to Friday night, I’m not sure. All I know is that in a span of 135 pages, my final rating of this book went up significantly.

Like The Program and The Treatment, this book was very character heavy and I generally love character heavy books. I like knowing what makes them who they are, how they got to where they are and what makes them tick. We got a decent chunk of those questions answered, but I was left with more questions. Usually I’d consider that a negative, but in this case, I was okay with it.

Yes there was a twist at the end of the book and it was a twist that absolutely shocked me. For a minute or two I thought it had broken my brain (nope, not kidding about that) It was a twist I never saw coming so I was excited. I love being shocked by a twist. It makes me happy. I am giving it 4 stars because the ending was awesome and it made me really excited for the next book, The Epidemic.

Review: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Book Title: Emmy & Oliver
Author: Robin Benway
Published Date: June 23rd, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story. 


Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I was taking a bit of a risk with this book as it looked fairly fluffy and I don’t usually go for fluffy. The premise looked promising and I thought there was a good chance of me enjoying the book. And I was right, for the most part. The beginning started off really well and I was pulled into the story almost effortlessly. Within the first 3% of the book I was full on sobbing, and I did in fact tweet the author about this very thing.

As the book went on though, I started to feel a little bored. I didn’t love Oliver right away and I wasn’t excited to pick the book back up at night. I trudged through it because while it wasn’t a bad book, I just wasn’t invested for a good chunk of the time. Now, as I look back on it, I’m about 95% sure that my mood was affecting my reading.

Right around the 60% mark in the book was where my feelings about the book improved significantly. I gobbled up the last 40% of the book in on sitting. I smiled, I cried, I even got a bit rage-y in certain parts. But I fell in love with Oliver and Emmy as a couple during this portion. I rooted for them, I grinned like crazy every time there was kissing.

The friendships were so solid and they had stayed that way the entire time Oliver was gone. Caro and Drew were awesome and I absolutely adored them. There was a time that I was frustrated with Emmy and how she put her new relationship with Oliver before her friendship with Caro. I could see why Caro was so hurt and I hurt for her.

The ending was emotional in the best possible way. I’m so glad that I stuck with this book. I ended up really enjoying it. I am giving this book 4 stars and I absolutely recommend it to everyone.

Review: A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

Book Title: A Matter of Heart
Author: Amy Fellner Dominy
Published Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by a fellow blogger.

Review:
My feelings about this book are really complex because I’ve had heart problems since birth and so I’ve always known I would never be able to do competitive sports or allow my heart rate to go too high with exertion. 

For Abby it’s different. She’s been the picture of health since she was born and now, out of nowhere, she has developed a potentially fatal heart condition called Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM. So she definitely struggles with the diagnosis. She struggles with the knowledge that she will not be able to compete at the level she has always competed at. She struggles with the fact that a medication called a beta-blocker must be taken every day to keep her heart rate low.

I know several people had issues with how she handled things and how much she fought her own body. I totally understood it though. She longed to control something that was out of her control. At one point, she chooses to stop taking her medication. That was her way of attempting to assert control over the situation. About ten years ago I began having issues with abnormal heart rhythms and had to stop drinking coffee and eating chocolate and that was tough on me. 

Eventually my cardiac team and I realized that my chocolate & coffee consumption did not effect my arrhythmias & that I was still having arrhythmias even when I was not drinking coffee or eating chocolate. I decided to make my own choice in the matter and I felt like it wasn’t a big deal for me to eat chocolate & have coffee. Should Abby have stopped taking her medications? Of course not, but as a teenager who once wanted nothing more than to be normal, I sympathized with her. 

Even when she makes the decision to keep swimming at a competitive level despite her doctors warnings, I understood. She didn’t want to quit. She didn’t want to be a failure and she was scared that if she did quit, she would be a failure to her coach and to her father. Her father was the one she was really scared of letting down, and her father wasn’t ready for the dream to be over. I do think her father realized his mistakes by the time the book ended though. He knew he needed to stop pushing her or the worst would happen.

I was so thankful that she had Jen. Jen was her best friend and she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. As teenagers, friends become more important & influential than parents. I hoped that Jen would be Abby’s voice of reason. Keeping friendships when you have what is often considered an “invisible illness” is so important and often overlooked.

I wanted to string Connor up on a tree. He was beyond repair and I found myself so angry with him. He basically showed that he was terrified of Abby’s heart condition and that was painful to read because I’ve been interested in guys who pretty much wouldn’t touch me when they found out about my heart. So I was pissed that he was too afraid to kiss her or be intimate with her at any level. 

I was relieved when that relationship ended because I loved Alec. He was concerned about Abby and Abby’s heart, but he wasn’t afraid to kiss her. He wasn’t afraid of her illness which really made me happy. Alec had his own stressors that centered around swimming just like Abby. He’s got a great sense of humor which was something I didn’t really see in Connor.

“I’ve always had a thing for girls on beta-blockers.”

Alec also reminds Abby of something else. The simple fact that swimming wasn’t always about winning. As children, swimming had been something they had done for fun. Abby still had a chance to remember that and to help the younger kids that she coached, remember that as well. She tells Alec of something she experienced during a near death episode, something that I wasn’t sure she’d ever express.

“Alec, listen to me. When I woke up in the gravel, I though of everything that I’d nearly lost. Everything that mattered. And I never once thought about a medal or the shelf or even a swimming pool. I thought about my parents and Jen. I thought about you.”

I didn’t realize how much of an impact this book had on me until I started writing the review. I think it was a really good book, and I think a big part of me liking it was that I understood where Abby was coming from. I too am very competitive and I cannot say I wouldn’t have done the same thing she did if I got the same diagnosis at her age. Her choices were questionable, but unless you’ve been in a similar position you will not understand her reasons for making these choices. I will be giving it 4 stars, and I will likely pick up a finished copy of this book.

Review: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Book Title: The Last Good Day of the Year
Author: Jessica Warman
Published Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s USA
Genre: YA Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author ofBetween.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Children’s USA, in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, I was excited for it, but I was also really nervous to read it. It was definitely slow in the beginning, and it took me awhile to really get into it. I actually picked it up and put it down a few times before I just read it all the way through. I am really glad I did this as it just got better and better as I kept reading.

We’re introduced to Sam’s family, including her older sister Gretchen and her younger sister Hannah. Hannah was born five years after Tabitha “Turtle” was kidnapped. Everyone knows that Hannah was conceived just to pull their mom out of her deep dark depression, and from early on, we learn that Hannah is already learning that being pretty makes things better. That, right there, gave me the creeps. She was a small child who really shouldn’t need to worry about that stuff. Not only that, but Hannah is still unaware of Turtle’s existence.

Steven was looked at as the prime suspect from the beginning. Not only did Sam and her best friend, Remy named him, but also because Steven had had arguments and disagreements with Gretchen’s father. Things between Gretchen and Steven ended abruptly when Steven was arrested for murdering Turtle.

I know Steven’s mom was standing by her son, but I gotta say, her derogatory language about her son’s girlfriend was definitely something that pissed me off. She clearly didn’t think her beloved son could have done anything wrong. She may have turned a blind eye to the truth because even if Steven didn’t kill Turtle, he was not totally innocent. As the book went on, I began to realize that even if he didn’t kill Turtle, he was still a creepy guy, borderline obsessive.

There was an odd little love triangle thing, Sam feels a connection to Noah because she met him at a support group for people whose have had a family member murdered. But she is also still connected to Remy. Remy represents her childhood and all the carefree things that happened before Turtle was kidnapped.

As the book continues, more suspects pop up, including an Amish guy by the name of Frank Yarrow and an old family friend. This is when things start to get a little crazy. Secrets come to light and we find out who was really a part of this whole mess. I guessed the twist before it was revealed, but I didn’t mind that at all because I didn’t figure out the entire story.


The ending was insanity, I wrote this review the day after I finished this book and I was still thinking about it. Still thinking about one certain part that I would love to talk about, but can’t because it’s massively spoilery. I do recommend this book, but only if you are patient enough to read it because the beginning is definitely slow, but it is definitely worth it. I am giving it 4 stars because the story and how everything is weaved together is done really well.

Review: Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot

Book Title: Royal Wedding
Author: Meg Cabot
Published Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Genre: NA Contemporary
Series: Book 11 in The Princess Diaries series
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, comes the very first adult installment, which follows Princess Mia and her Prince Charming as they plan their fairy tale wedding–but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from William Morrow & Company in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
Boy was this a major blast from the past. I was so excited to see this book on Edelweiss and I immediately requested it and crossed my fingers. Of course I was thrilled to be approved for it, and instead of waiting until April to read it, I tore into it as soon as I finished a book.

I didn’t realize how much I had missed these characters until I started reading, and it didn’t take me long to remember why I had loved these books as a child. Cabot continues to tell Mia’s story, although now there are “grown up” themes in the story. Other than marriage and her simply being a princess, there are references to sex, alcohol and other adult themes, so if you are expecting this book to still be be cute, awkward, and even naive Mia, you will be sorely disappointed. She still is cute, awkward Mia, but she’s also an adult now.

Ahhhh, Michael, I still love you. Michael is still very grounded despite having a princess as a girlfriend. They’ve been going out for so long, I was worried that things between them would feel stale and old. Nope! They are just as cute and adorable as ever. He’s supportive of her, and all she has to do, and she supports him in his endeavors. They really do have a perfect relationship. Well as perfect as it can be when they are frequently surrounded by bodyguards.

I had really missed Lily too. She had reminded me so much of myself all those years ago. She still reminded me of myself even though she had taken the path that I had walked away from. I loved how she was still Mia’s best friend. Sometimes things can get a little murky when a woman is dating the brother of her best friend. Not with Lily, Michael or Mia though, thank goodness.

My only issue was that the title was ill fitting for what actually happened in the book. We don’t even really get to see the wedding, which really annoyed me. We got to see the engagement and bits and pieces of the planning process, but most of the book was focused on the royal secret that Mia’s father has been keeping from her and the rest of the family for years.

So not actually getting to see the wedding was the only reason that I am giving this book 4 stars. It was such a fun book, but I think it was weakened by the wedding ceremony not even appearing in the story.