Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes // AN EPIC BEAUTIFUL FANTASY

12954620Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1), by Morgan Rhodes                         Publication: December 11, 2012, by Razorbill                                               Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure                                                   Pages: 412                                                             Format: Paperback                                             Source: Purchased                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

 

MICHELLE’s Thoughts:

I’ve been hesitant with high-fantasy since Sarah J. Maas’s unstoppably perfect Throne of Glass series came into my life. I’ve been afraid that I won’t feel that way about a book ever again, specifically in the same genre. When I purchased this, it was mainly for the reason that everyone was talking about it, the hype and the assassin-like cover intrigued me. Morgan Rhodes’s books should’ve entered my life a long time ago, I’ll tell you that.

Falling Kingdoms is a read that hit me like never before. It’s enchanting, brave and heart-warming. Rhodes causes readers to fall in love with each and every one of the characters, even if a bad streak of evil is in their personality. Though I’ve never read Game of Thrones, it is highly compared to it which definitely shows that I’ll love George R.R. Martin’s world as well. Even though I’m on a book buying/borrowing ban, I can’t stop myself from requesting the sequel of this book to fly into my hands. I’ll be reading it soon. *smiles*

“If you want something,” Tomas had always said, “you have to take it. Because nobody’s ever going to give it to you. Remember that, little brother.” (27)

Every character in this novel is fighting for themselves and their kingdoms. There’s no extra, forbidden romance that brings everyone together. At least, not so far. If something does come up in the next novels, I’ll still be a hardcore fan because it hadn’t sprouted up in the beginning. Rhodes has created three kingdoms that all lay on one chunk of land, separated by controlling borders: Limeros, Paelsia and Auranos. In each, we have a main character who has some kind of role in the book’s plot.

Cleo: Princess Cleo is basically the new Celaena Sardothien from ToG. Cleo’s super badass and can fit the role of being the new queen of Auranos. And hey, she’s able to fight and kick people’s butts—bring them down, basically. Although some have noted that she’s completely annoying and eerie, I’d state otherwise. She impressed me from the start and when her perspective came around in Auranos, I looked forward to it the most. She’s there for her sick sister, trying to believe in magic although it might be kind of impossible for her in her situation, and she needs to help the people whom she loves. I ship her with Magnus, OR Jonas… somehow Rhodes will make it work.

Jonas: Here we have another character who fights for the people who he loves. Jonas lost his brother in a careless accident caused by Aron, the man who Cleo’s going to marry, and Cleo was a bystander. Jonas is one of those independent guys who stays by his words, y’know? He threatened Aron and Cleo, saying that he’ll kill them, and he tries to do whatever it takes to find them and bring Auranos and its throne down. Then he discovers that his land, Paelsia, as well as the north neighbours, Limeros, have signed a deal and they’ll start a war together. Our little teenager Jonas WAS PART OF THIS WAR. That’s a cute “prince” if you ask me.

Magnus: So this is the ladies’ man, and obviously everyone’s favourite. Some may feel that it’s kind of strange that he has an obsession with his little sister, Lucia, who has a secret that can bring his family down (that has to do with elementia magic) and he’s more overprotective of her than ever. That’s an adorable big brother, if you ask me. I fell in love with each of the male interests, by the way. I don’t care what’ll happen because it’ll all somehow work out.

“Magic will find those with pure hearts, even when all seems lost. And love is the greatest magic of all. I know this to be true.” (248)

Things kept getting messed up for each of the characters, though even as a reader, I felt like I was always kind of there for them? I mean I know it’s kind of strange, but I felt that I could relate to these characters, and it happened so easily. I felt like sobbing to the fullest extent many times while reading, and I had an impeccable reading experience throughout. It’s a slower read to get your mind into, as there’s tons of facts about the land and magic that you’ll need to understand to continue reading, but I loved every minute of it, from start to finish. If I could’ve, I would have finished it in one sitting, I promise you. I bet that it simply just depends on your reading speed and what you’re usually used to. Rhodes’ writing is fantastic, fantasizing and like a pinch of pixie dust; You’ll feel its power and magic.

So what am I, magical reader, expecting from the next book? More plot twists, suspense and hell-yeah-awesome action scenes. Rhodes’ interpretation of an action scene taken in a fantasy world is kickass. You must expect everything: the swords, assassin-like moves and hiding, as well as appearances of enemies. I already read a snippet of book two and I can’t believe what’s happening. Rebel Spring is going to kill me, once again.

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Falling Kingdoms ruined my life, but in a remarkable, grand way. It’s one of those reads that you’ll be reading other reviews of for hours, trying to see other people’s opinions and summaries so you can get that special touch again. And—get ready for a Morgan Rhodes book haul the next time you head out to your bookstore/library. YOU NEED ALL OF THE BOOKS.

so let’s discuss. would you rather be: a princess/prince who has to marry a murderer but has all of the jewels and pretty stuff, a person who is a great fighter and is loved by tons of people but who has gone through a horrible loss, or a person who can play with magic but is always at risk of being killed? morgan rhodes plays with my head and i can’t stop thinking about these possibilities!

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios // PTSD, Love and Being a Teenager

  I’ll Meet You There, by Heather Demetrios                       Publication: February 3, 2015, by Henry    Holt and Co.                                     Genre: Young Adult Fiction,    Contemporary, Romance               Pages: 388                         Format: Hardcover           Source: Borrowed                                   Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

I love dreamy books, books that make you feel like you’re the only reader in the world because it’s just fitting your style of reading. I’ll Meet You There was special, different, and had the right dosage of real-life issues and situations that many people, including teenagers like myself, face from day to day, night to night. It is a passionate tale that I cannot throw out of my head (and not like I would want to toss it out) and it is seriously recommended.

I’m glad that I am not the only person in the world who has not read this book. Heather Demetrios is an author who has always been on people’s favourites lists, and her writing supposedly always strikes people’s hearts. At the moment, I am sincerely grateful that I am one of those people whose hearts have been struck. This is such a witty, smart tale that I would never trade my experience for. If you enjoy unique but precious characters, writing that could make you bawl at any moment, and a lyrical, deep meaning, this is for you. But then again, who would not want that in a story?

“To wake up and know this is who I am, this is what I do, this is where I belong. To have tasks and accomplish them. To have some goddamn pride. And she needed backup, I could tell, and I wanted to, I don’t know, be her fuckin’ knight in shining armor, I guess, but I couldn’t get out of the truck fast enough.”

I’ll Meet You There focuses on an unexpected couple. Two teenagers, Skylar and Josh, are just trying to get out of their small home-town where not much goes on except for being stereotypical people. But when both of their worlds turn around, Skylar having to work for the whole summer and her dream of art school floating away, and Josh being injured in the Marines, they don’t have much hope left. The two “meet,” having known each other before but having their friendship grow could definitely start a gorgeous romance YA readers would not want to miss out on.

The hype that established itself around this book is real and meaningful. It absolutely makes sense that readers would go MAD for this book. Demetrios throws in a nice, realistic YA story that is different than the rest, still focusing on contemporary themes that many deal with at the same time. There’s romance, war struggles and finding a way to follow your dreams, as Skylar had. There could definitely be discouraging people out there who just do not understand what it is like to have big dreams and fall in love with life.

“Soon, the party was a distant murmur, the music and laughter already memories. I walked more slowly, feeling close to my dad as I looked up at the familiar bend in the creek and the trees that leaned over it. His spot. I wished he were there right then, to tell me why boys were such jerks. I wanted to ask him if it would always be this hard.”

Skylar could be your best friend. She is a character who seems like a real person—there are traces of her in every person and teenager. Ms. Demetrios spent a grand time making her be like readers and really show what it is like to be a teenager. Everyone has it hard and the teenage years could be the absolute bullshit years, and Skylar tried to make the best out of it which is truly magical. Josh too, I must say. They are a beautiful couple who WERE ADORABLE AND BEAUTIFUL AND MAGICAL AND ASDFGHIKL. They are the pure definition of love. And whoever says romance cannot occur in teenagerism is completely wrong, because it seems like the same story where two thirty year olds fell in love. It is absolutely believable.

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Heather Demetrios then threw in an end that whirled me around, threw me upside down… whatever you want to call “that feeling.” I was shocked, I could not believe it, and some inner tears exploded somewhere in my body. It sure is a wonderful book, I thought to myself later on. And now? I am trying to encourage you to pick this book up too someday, whether it be tonight, tomorrow, in a week, or in a few years. It is one of those spectacular, mystical stories that can hook you up at any moment and leave you aching for years later. Then again, it is not really that heartbreaking when I think about it. THIS BOOK WILL MEET YOU IN HAPPINESS AND GRATITUDE.

DO YOU EVER FEEL THAT A BOOK IS JUST CLUMPED WITH FEELS AND HAPPINESS? DO YOU ENJOY DARKER THEMES WITH A BRIGHTER ENDING? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT HEATHER DEMETRIOS’ WRITING? HAVE YOU GIVEN HER WORK A TRY?

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Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler // New Adult With a Twist

22719283  Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2), by   Dahlia Adler                                                                Publication: June 30, 2015, by Spencer Hill Contemporary                                                     Genre: New Adult, Contemporary,    Romance, LGBTQ                                                       Pages: 312                                                   Format: Paperback                                   Source: BEA/Publisher                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.

Michelle’s thoughts:

Sometimes it seriously is great to read a book that is hassle-free and just full of drama. Under the Lights is just a great novel that just made me laugh, giggle and want to gossip about each of the characters for days with my friends who haven’t even heard of this series since they’re non-readers. Dahlia Adler is an amazing author whose books I haven’t read before, but when I read this, I just wanted to add all of these books onto my TBR list for the future and fall in love again and again. There’s an unexpected romance, a nice crew of characters, and a story that could go either way for some.

There’s so much drama here. I just imagine this taking place in Hollywood or Miami, any party central of the world where the characters will spend time partying and just having fun. There’s friend-zoning (FOR REAL) and an unexpected romance that will have you wondering… WHAT?! It’s crazy, but pretty great.

The novel starts off with our protagonist, Josh Chester, who is a star of the TV show which this trilogy is named off of, Daylight Falls. He’s a bad guy, and basically rebels against everything that happens in his life. He parties hard, and finds out that he begins to start liking his costar, Vanessa, who has her mind on other things. It’s pretty crazy and everything is falling apart in their lives. THIS IS A GREAT, GREAT, GREAT STORY.

The plot is racing. This is a story that could be placed in The Hills or One Tree Hill and seem perfect. Everything came together quickly, formed a plot and Under the Lights just wow-ed me. I became so excited and hoping to read more, more of the series that was seriously awesome. The characters seriously became developed and I liked them all seriously. Josh was annoying, but arrogant at the same time that made me stay on opposite sides of love and hate. This is LGBTQ, I must admit, and it was formed in a surprising way. Vanessa realized her feelings in a surprised matter that was different than the regular books where we are introduced to characters who already are understanding their feelings.

Dahlia knows how to handle love. This isn’t a book where the romance comes quickly and characters spend time trying to run away. Josh felt feelings, so did Vanessa, and there was a love triangle essentially. I fell in love with the plot and it captured all of the feelings that I ever had about chick-lit. This was seriously intriguing.

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Under the Lights is racing, bright and a great read, though nothing special and not my favourite book ever. There are developed characters, those who are easy-going and made the story better, and it’s the perfect beach read. Adler’s books have been on my radar for years, and I am very excited to have given her writing a chance because the public was somewhat correct. I loved the racing-ness of how quickly the story came together and made me smile. I seriously recommend it to all contemporary romance lovers, enjoy and adore it.

do you enjoy new adult romances? what about those books that feel like they’re all about drama? have you read anything by dahlia adler?

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Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols // Tens of Thousands of Times Better Than the First Novel

Perfect Couple (Superlatives #2), by Jennifer Echols                                  Publication: January 13, 2015, by Simon Pulse                                                                 Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                          Pages: 336                                                         Format: Paperback                                       Source: Purchased                                         Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM½

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce left her wondering what a loving relationship looks like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been pushing her to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack female admirers, but Harper can’t see herself with him. He’s confused about the match too. Yet they find themselves drawn together—first by curiosity about why the class paired them, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re attracted to each other, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating well. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But they feel so changed from making the effort, they can’t forget each other. What if this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?

Michelle’s Thoughts:

Jennifer Echols’ writing just keeps getting more and more amazing, as this Superlatives trilogy continues. I’m obsessed with this book, I really am, and I never ever expected something like this to come out of it. You know how the first book contained a nerdy guy and a kickass, rebellious girl? This is the same, but a gender swap where things and much more sexier and adorable. I promise you that yearbook photographer Harper and football quarterback Brody are going to be your new favourite sexy couple. 

This book all begins with Harper and Brody getting nominated for Perfect Couple, but they certainly think that it’s a mistake. Besides, they are complete opposites and share no common interests. In Harper’s spare time, she helps her mother out with her B&B and takes photographs, while Brody plays football and is highly popular and has a “hot girlfriend.” They are both confused with the reason why they’re put together, but as they begin to spend more and more time together when they decide that they have to take the yearbook photo together, they realize that they have a connection.

“Another day, my heart would have gone out to him. He was my geeky soul mate, the boy I belonged with. So what if he wasn’t a muscle-bound hunk ready to challenge Brody when he brazenly eyed me? As an independent woman, I didn’t need a protector. I wanted a sensitive guy with a great sense of humor and a fresh view of the world.” (86)

This is a lightweight novel where its contemporary style is precious and easy-going. Yes, it’s that kind of summery novel that you’ll finish in a matter of hours and beg for more. I’d seriously run to the bookstore right now if I could to get the sequel and last book, even though I already have the third on my Kindle. The writing is cute, fresh and much better than the first book. I seriously love the way this series is formatted, with all three books being placed with different characters and storylines, though all being tied in with the same concept in a way. I loved it.

I must say that this could turn out to be one of the best books of the year for me. Yes, it’s heartbreaking when Brody and Harper realize that they’re having issues, but it’s heart-wrenching when they’re in love and find romance. The connection that they have is beautiful and I just giggle and “aw” every time I see the cover.

“With a last salute to me, he jogged along the sidelines to rejoin his team and finish his adventure. I brought up my camera and snapped a picture.” (301)

You know how a lot of people these days are beginning to think that they’re all photographers if they have one of those high-tech cameras? Harper wasn’t one of those people. Her life of photography was the reason why everything clicked together. It was a big deal for her, and the descriptions of the things she did with her natural talent was wonderful. I loved her character ten times more than Tia’s in the last book, as well as Brody’s. *falls in love* Brody is my new book boyfriend and he’s so adorable.

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Perfect Couple definitely expressed the perfect couple of modern-day cutesy contemporary literature, Brody and Harper. This book features the way they fell in love, got to know each other and dealt with many things that practically teared their hearts apart because they realized that they needed each other so much. I adored the characters, writing and beautiful easy-going writing that makes so much sense in a high school environment, though we don’t see it coming around often. If you hadn’t enjoyed the first book for some reason, forget about it and read this, because it’ll knock your socks off.

What do you think of books with different plots in every book? or should i say… different characters? please read this, everyone. have you read jennifer echols’ books before?

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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson // A Beach Read Incorporated With the Maximum Amount of Feels

Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson                                                    Publication: May 8, 2012, by Simon and Schuster BFYR                                               Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                           Pages: 468                                                     Format: Paperback                                   Source: Gifted                                               Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

I can’t take it anymore. I have to spill it out. I have to bawl, make fun of myself secretly since I’m SUCH A NERD, and fangirl. Fangirl until there isn’t anything else left of me. Morgan Matson, you have rocked my world for the fourth! time with this beautiful piece of art and literature that is too amazing to just call “a book.” Second Chance Summer is racing, mesmerizing and unlike anything I’ve read before. I hope you like to get hit with nonstop tears and sadness because she just did it. It’s marvellous.

Second Chance Summer is a wild ride that I am SO fortunate to have read about. Books like this don’t show up in people’s lives often, and I just can’t stop thinking about this “world” that the main character, Taylor, has us in. Her summer life in Lake Phoenix is like the dream I’ve always had—not the sad stuff, obviously, but the summer days by the lake, making friends that you’ll miss everyday when you’re not with them, and feeling like you’re in a different place for a little while. If I could pick any place in any book that I’ve ever read to visit, this world definitely would be one of them, just to be there for the characters and understand what it’s like to have a summer fling. Hah.

“What was the point of trying to run away if people were going to insist on reminding you of what you were running from?” (10)

Taylor Edwards, Morgan’s teenage protagonist, is a clear replica of many girls, including myself. When I read her story, I imagined myself in her situation and I promise you that I’m sure that I would do the exact same things as she did. We’re kind of connected, to be honest. *winks* Taylor was relatable, easy-going and just so awesome. She had feelings, not like as if she was some kind of clone who walked around and pretended to feel things. This is like a story of someone’s life, so realistic and inspiring. There’s loss, love and just about everything many people eventually feel in their lives when the right time comes. It’s a life lesson filled with themes that not every novel gets into, sadly.

I keep talking/typing about loss, sadness. Morgan wrote about that with so much passion. Taylor’s father has cancer, and her family is about to spend one last summer with him in the place that he loved the most, Lake Phoenix, where they have a summer house. I guess that you don’t realize how life can fly by until the moments where you need more of it the most, right? Taylor is instantly brought back into the times of hatred and memories that she wouldn’t like to get back into, but she’d do anything for her role model, her father. She has a former best friend there, Lucy, and her first crush, Henry, who lies behind.

I say that this is a beach read, but it isn’t at the same time. First off, you’ll look like a maniac crying on the beach in public where you should really be laughing around and giggling like the cute person you are. THIS HAS FEELS, FOR THE FIFTEENTH TIME. You have feels, everything has feels and your eyes will just water up and explode. You can’t help it. No other contemporary author other than Morgan will make you cry the same way, feel things the same way. It is pretty easy-going at times, but the cancer thing just made the mood way more intense.

“His arms were around my back, pulling me closer, and I looped my arms around his neck and ran my hands over his jawline, suddenly not able to stop touching him. And while we kissed, up there among the trees, the rain tapered off until, at long last, the sun came out.” (358)

Can’t you see how descriptive this novel is? The writing? The plot? Everything about it is perfection and 5/5 gazillion stars. No flaws, people. A second chance summer definitely beats the old first chance, first love kind of thing, because no in NO WAY was this any kind of instant romance between Taylor and Henry. In fact, it was magical and precious. I love romances where one of the characters will help the other in ways that are definitely not understood to the regular being. It’s a deep romance that is intense and crazy, but not in any ways that would make me frown. HENRY IS FICTIONAL BOYFRIEND #1. I say that in every review, but this time it means a lot. Agh.

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Second Chance Summer is the first and only chance I’ve given this book because it used it up and impressed me to the maximum. It’s one of those books that you’ll find yourself thinking about at the sweetest, easiest moments, like if you’re falling asleep at night or simply sitting in Math class on a Thursday morning. At first, when you look at it and read the summary, you may think that it’s a cliché, easy-going novel, but TRUST ME, it’s so much more than that and I’d need years to explain it. It also needs 1000 more pages because I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure about that.

who is your favourite contemporary author/writer? do they make your heart jump with feels as morgan does for me? do you enjoy stories about second chances and summer? (my favourite season of them all.)

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Conversion by Katherine Howe // Witches and Mystery Equals My New Thing

  Conversion, by Katherine Howe        Publication: July 1, 2014, by G.P. Putnam’s   Sons BFYR                                         Genre: Young Adult Fiction,                                Contemporary,  Mystery                                           Pages: 402                             Format: Hardcover                 Source: Borrowed                                   Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

Michelle’s Thoughts:

Conversion, despite all of the expectations I’ve ever had, turned out to be mind-racing. It’s a novel I’ve been meaning to read for ages, but I never had gotten the chance to head out and borrow/buy it, but now when I have read it and given it an honest rating based out of my opinion, I’m so glad that I gave it the change right at this instant. Not two months ago, not in another year. Today, this experience, was better, the most greatest.

Witchcraft? Ivy League? Freaking prestigious schools? That’s something I’m into. And if you have or haven’t been informed by the Salem witch trials before, this will be a new experience for you, alongside an epidemic that is mysterious and may or may not have the name “PANDAS.” Not those white and black furry animals who eat bamboo. It’s an illness that picks on random girls that seems to do crazy stuff, like making people bald or having some choke up metal. It’s a legit thing. And if you read the Author’s Note and where this came from… You’ll find yourself so inspired.

NOT INSPIRED TO DO MAGIC, IS NOT WHAT I’M SAYING. You’ll find yourself so enchanted by the story that you’ll have no other route but then to not be allured by it. Although Howe’s tale is quite difficult to get into at first, especially with dealing with two complete different perspectives told in different places, you’ll adore it eventually. I’m also quite excited to pick up Howe’s future works and read a whole new story, because hey—standalones are pretty awesome, too.

St. Joan’s Academy is prestigious, and a lot of young women find themselves getting accepted to any university they wish to attend. For Colleen, being the best at everything is all that matters, and she wishes to get into Harvard or Dartmouth. When some of her classmates fall dangerously ill randomly (and at the worst time), she strives to figure out what’s behind it all, because an illness that had absurd symptoms cannot just appear out of the ordinary. Does magic have to do with it?

Of course I’m not going to spoil the whole story for you, but I’ll tell you this: You won’t forget it. It’s pretty difficult to forget about a book that stood beyond the expectations, and beyond the ordinary. Howe’s writing is interesting, exciting and racing, my heart felt like it was going to explode at times. Flipping between contemporary and historical times with two main characters who basically saved and ruined the day, I’m sure there’s something to love in every single bit of the story. Katherine Howe isn’t your average storyteller: She’s a magnificent writer whose stories you’ll never want to get out of you.

Colleen, the contemporary setting protagonist, is a fighter. She reminds me tons of myself, with that overachieving attitude but someone who obviously has a good heart (not that I’m bragging, heh) but it was good to read about someone who you could relate to. She has so many issues in life and they keep piling up onto each other, as everyone periodically feels their lives become, and things can literally go upside down for them when they wouldn’t really like it to. She was the main highlight of the story. And there wasn’t too many hints of romance, either. It was like a ghost story that focuses more on the spooky aspect of things.

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Conversion will literally convert you into (A) a literary buff, if you already aren’t one and/or (B) someone willing to read anything by this author over and over again. It have a few cons as for story development and the way the story turned out in the end as well as the beginning part, but I’m sitting here with tons of compliments towards it. You’ll really love this, if you haven’t read it already. Pick it up, it’s already waiting for you to devour and enjoy it!

how much patience are you willing to give for a book? are you easy-going with boring plots or are you a tough bud like i am? do books usually surprise you with suspense and a rapid change of movement in the plot?

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Mosquitoland by David Arnold // Not As Good As the Ratings Promised

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold              Publication: March 3, 2015, by Viking Children                                               Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary   Pages: 336                            Format: Hardcover               Source: Borrowed                                    Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

Hype in contemporary novels are either: my thing or totally not my thing. David Arnold’s debut, Mosquitoland, initially seemed to be the perfect book for me, and one of those that deals with mental illness and NO ROMANCE! whatsoever. The thing is, I disliked it more than I would’ve liked to enjoy it. It’s more about what kind of book you usually enjoy in the contemporary genre. Maybe it’s just me, wishing that there was a cute romance in between the pages of the book that would actually last. Because this time around, it seemed that it wouldn’t ever show up.

It’s all about a road trip, people. What are some of the best road trip novels you can think of and put together? John Green? Morgan Matson? Yeah, those are the pros. These kinds of books usually give me the summer feel and give me that feeling to jump into the car and head to wherever the roads will take me to kind of relax and forget about all of the troubles and stress that hit us teenagers continuously, alongside the pressure. I WANT THE DESTINATION STUFF, not just the amount of miles left in the journey.

It was about that, and Mim’s journey to getting over everything she has overcome in the past. It is a compelling novel at first, but I actually did find that it turned out to be too much. Hmmph. I’ve been finding that I’ve been making horrible decisions when choosing the right book to read, and this is out of the more worse outcomes. I WISH I ENJOYED THIS AS MUCH AS OTHER READERS HAVE!

The thing is… I even already forgot what the protagonist’s name was until I reread the summary again. This book didn’t really give me any feels, except the rare giggle and smile. I liked the coming-of-age aspect of it all, but that’s just about it. Nothing else got me excited except for the fact that the beginning of the novel, about 100 pages, were fast-paced and racing. I probably would’ve given the book a 4 star rating if it ended up that way.

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David Arnold is a great writer, really. His choice of words are very lyrical and if he ever wrote a book of poetry, I would definitely go for it once more. Mosquitoland wasn’t really for me and I would’ve been better of DNFing it, but it might be fantastic for you, and I really do hope you pick it up, because it’s great literature. Maybe it’ll end up as a YA classic one day, who knows? This would be your first pick for a mental health month read for teenagers, and for anyone of any age.

what do you look for when you’re trying to find a good coming-of-age story? do you enjoy romance in every book you read? (because i kind of do, except instalove. take that thing out of writing, please. unless it’s necessary, of course.)

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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit // This Was So Weird.

  Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel        Savit                                    Publication: January 26, 2016, by Knopf   Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical   Pages: 240                                         Format: ARC                   Source: BEA/Publisher                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

Is it possible for someone to imagine reading a WWII-based book that is weird? I mean sure, we read eerie, peculiar books all the time. That is the reality of being a blogger and reviewer. A few times a month, I encounter novels that were boring, weak, stupid or the scary factor: all of the above. I went literally bananas for this book at BEA last year, and there were a few reasons why. I loved the idea of some kind of Swallow Man or spiritual literary guide for the main character, Anna. Little did I know that this would turn out to be one of the weirdest books in the history of books. It wasn’t bad, but extremely confusing, and I am still not sure if some poets or philosophers would be able to distinguish the hidden message between the lines that Gavriel Savrit implies. It’s either that I’m too dumb, or that this was written without any sort of clarity.

Sometimes when I write for English class, I realize that my main message is not clear. I have problems with that from time to time—I am a bright person who constantly has so much to say and it occasionally is difficult to put it into words. That kind of happened with Savrit’s debut YA story in this case. Anna and the Swallow Man is such a short book, too, which leaves me confused with what was the issue to write more? I would have loved more emphasis and more bizazz on the real themes of Anna’s story. This is not your typical WWII story either. I would call this story a mix of fantasy (think of the title, I don’t think birds really make any sense) and philosophy, but that’s just my take on it.

“It’s their failure, my little Anna, not yours. Men who try to understand the world without the help of children are like men who try to bake bread without the help of yeast.” (39)

I know that this story is not meant to be creepy whatsoever, but I kind of felt this confused, creeped-out vibe coming from Gavriel’s writing. To this very instant, I am still utterly confused with who the Swallow Man is. This book did not do any justice for me. Is he part of Anna’s imagination? Is Anna hallucinating or something? Is she violent? Is she mentally ill? (I wouldn’t deny it because she’s a kid in the midst of a terrorizing World War). Or do we take this in a literal context and just call the Swallow Man a creepy dude who decides to take Anna out from her ordinary society and go out on the run with her? This kind of does not make any sense, and you’re probably wondering and believing that the book was supposed to answer those questions for me. It did not, at all.

I loved the setting of this book, though. “YAY, POLAND!” I first exclaimed when I picked this one up on a gorgeous May morning in 2015. My heritage is Polish, so I have tried many times to understand its history from YA books, but it’s never really happened well. Most WWII books take place in Germany or in The Netherlands, which is just for the situation since a lot of the events occurred there, but Poland was terrorized as well. Sadly, we did not get much of a view on the war per se, but on an emotional journey of a character as she strives to survive on her own with the influence of some dude. That’s all. No biggie. *sarcasm*

I wouldn’t say that there is a reason that this book should be classified as YA fiction. I don’t remember how old she is in the book, but I know she’s not as old as I am. She’s around ten, am I wrong? Yeah, there are bombs, but I have seen/read worse. Maybe children would enjoy the light-fluffy theme of this story, but it kind was just strange for me.

“A friend is not someone to whom you give the things that you need when the world is at war. A friend is someone to whom you give the things that you need when the world is at peace.” (104)

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Anna and the Swallow Man stunned me. Not because of its gorgeousness or well-writtenness (yes, that is not a word), but because of how different it was compared to other stories I have recently read. It is not a favourite for me and I will probably forget about most of it, but there were interesting, smart phrases, quotations, passages and chapters that made me look at things a little differently than I am used to. Take weirdness, mix it in with a cute little girl protagonist, add a creepy man who has birds and there you go: Anna and the Swallow Man. I must say that it is a pretty complex formula.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the weirdest book you have read (recently or ever)? Would you take this one into consideration after I told you about its weirdness?

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon // My New Favourite Gorgeous Pretty

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon  Publication: September 1, 2015, by Delacorte Press                                                         Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                                     Pages: 320                                                                 Format: ARC                                                               Source: BEA/Publisher                                           Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Michelle’s thoughts:

This might just be the cheesiest and well-known way to start a review about this book but… Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything was seriously everything. I can’t stop thinking about it after putting down and there are millions and trillions things that I simply adore about it. You know how every bookworm has many favourite novels, not only one? I kind of now believe that this one may take that special spot, fellow friends. And that the most amusing, happiest thing that has happened to me in a while.

Everything, Everything took a whip and journey around your unusual, unique contemporary-romance plot. It’s compelling, different and flawless. Nicola Yoon’s writing is some of the best I’ve seen, and I just keep wondering: Where did that gorgeous premise and plot arc come from? Some may compare it to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a totally recommended novel that’s one of my favourites, but this takes its own compelling route and is more unique. No one can simply weave another storyline like this one.

“I keep picturing myself floating high above the earth. From the edge of space I can see the whole world all at once. My eyes don’t have to stop at a wall or at a door. I can see the beginning and the end of time. I can see infinity from there. For the first time in a long time, I want more than I have.” (80)

Maddy, our African American-Japanese mixed protagonist has SCID. It’s a disease where she’s basically allergic to everything. (What a coincidence with the title, right?) She’s beginning to get depressed onto why she has to have it and the fact that she can’t live an ordinary life. When a new family moves in next door, Maddy is compelled to watch them and imagine what a great life they must have. But they have issues, too. The teenage boy in the family, Olly, begins to talk to Maddy through IMing and over notes seen from each other’s windows, and slowly fall in love though they both know it’s kind of impossible to be with each other. What happens when the extraordinary occurs and all your life has basically been a complete lie?

I’d get pissed and raging, that’s for sure. NICOLA HONESTLY KILLED ALL READERS IN THE END. Our book-loving, reviewer protagonist used books and her lovely unique self to promote her message to the one she loves. Without spoiling, that was one completely messed up truth. Not that it was horrible or anything. I’ll just state that I was left shocked with my jaw wide open, not being able to even remember my name after this trauma that hit me. I seriously wanted to punch Maddy’s mother as well as her nurse, because that was kind of messed up. Okay, never mind, it was messed up, but when looking at the amount of enjoyment, it’s a good thing that it happened, because I never thought that it would.

Alongside All the Bright Places, this is definitely the most hyped up contemporary of the year, and I can totally see why. I SUPPORT THE HYPE THROUGHOUT AND THOROUGHLY. Let’s get Team Everything, Everything t-shirts and be the best bookish fangirls on this planet for bookish sake. Contemporary-romances are practically my most favourite genre and finding an unique one with a tall tale is difficult to find. I’d really like to promote an award to Nicola, for everything, and to the person in Penguin Teen’s department who decided to hand copies of this beauty out at BEA. You rule, friend.

“I think of Olly, decontamination-cold and waiting for me. He’s the opposite of all these things. He’s not safe. He’s not familiar. He’s in constant motion. He’s the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.” (69)

I’m this book’s Daddy/Mommy.

five (There Are More) Reasons Why You’ll Adore Everything About This Beauty:
  1. HAWAII. I had to note that extraordinary trip of a lifetime, right? I’ve always wanted to go, and Maddy has routes from there. She’s been there when she was a kid, back when “everything seemed to be okay.” She wanted to rebel, have an amazing life and be with the person she loves the most, as well as see the state fish. *giggles* That’s freaking adorable and I wish I could go on that trip.
  2. OLLY, DUH. Olly’s the cutest guy that you’ll read about for ages. HE TOOK RISKS, HE DIDN’T GIVE A SHIZ ABOUT WHAT DISEASE HIS GIRLFRIEND HAD. He acted like it hadn’t existed because Maddy wanted him to think about it in that way. It’s amazing.
  3. DIVERSITY. Woo for diversity! Maddy’s background is African American and Japanese, which is the strangest yet coolest mix I’ve ever read about. Yoon really did add everything in this book to make it perfect and stick out to all readers, readers of contemporary or not. Plus, many readers hadn’t enjoyed contemporary until this book popped out to them.
  4. SUPPORTIVE CHARACTERS WHO ARE THERE FOR MADDY. Maddy’s nurse, Carla, was always there for her when her mother wasn’t. It was like she was her only friend and that simply added thousands of tears to my eyes. She understood teenagers unlike any other parent or bookish character.
  5. THE WRITING. Nicola Yoon is my new favourite author. Her words are compelling, intriguing and I read this all in a sitting. Agh, I can’t stop thinking about that beautiful feeling, that’s for sure. The feels kept flying over me and I couldn’t stop myself from giggling or being afraid for Maddy, as she was a character who reminded me of myself in a way. Relatable main characters are always keepers. I’m this book’s keeper. 😉

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This is something special. You’re probably rolling your eyes right now, but I’d seriously like to say it once more because Nicola Yoon has changed my life with this gorgeous thing. It’s not just a thing, either. It’s a symbol of literature that wins all of the positive medals. I don’t know how Nicola has created this story, but I’d love to creep into her mind for a little bit and hear some of those other perfect stories, because this sure is. Every teenager needs everything that this book gives to readers. September 1, you’ll one day be marked as a special day in history where literature’s best novel was first released.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Wow. talk about life changing, huh? What’s one of those books that completely made it life changing for you? If you only could go one place in the world, where would you go? how would you keep yourself busy if you were stuck in maddy’s situation? thanks for listening to me fangirl and bawl.

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Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill // The Parent Trap Without the Sister Dilemma

Being Sloane Jacobs, by Lauren MorrillUntitled-1      Publication: January 7, 2014, by Delacorte Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance                                                             Pages: 352                                         Format: Hardcover                     Source: Gifted                                             Rating: Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 7.12.37 PM

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

Michelle’s Thoughts:

I feel pretty bad for my books. I treat them as real people, if you can believe it—not to sound weird or anything. I’m friendly, no stalker. But if I leave a book itching for me to read it for ages, I feel bad that I’m not picking it up instead of all of the other new books that are being released and those that I’m requesting and borrowing from the library. Being Sloane Jacobs by the awesome Lauren Morrill was one of those books that I’ve been waiting to read forever. It was pretty fabulous, if you ask me.

Have you ever watched the classic film The Parent Trap? This book is so similar to it. Minus the actual secret twin/sisterhood thing as well as parents getting back together, Morrill basically adds all of the quirkiness and entertainment that you ever have wanted in a contemporary-romance novel, with two different perspectives that’ll leave you giggling for ages, even after the whole story is over.

“Either you love it or you don’t. Either you can do it or you can’t. And, kid? I been watching you for years, and I know you can do it. The question you gotta figure out is, do you love it?” (4)

This features two distinct girls with the same name: Sloane Jacobs. One is a figure skater while the other plays hockey. When summer vacation comes, they decide that they’d like to go to camps where they’re able to do the talents and hobbies that they enjoy the most. When they meet in a hotel in Montreal and discover that they look pretty similar and both are able to skate, they decide to switch places. They fall in love with different people, learn new things and decide how they’ll actually be themselves when the time comes.

I adored the concept which Morrill handed to us. There’s no doubt about that. I can’t get the story and its events out of my head, including the cute picture-perfect romance and all of the things that made each character and perspective themselves. The writing is brilliant, though quick, fast-paced and interesting, leaving me unable to stop reading. As I’ve read the author’s other books in the past, I kind of already knew what to expect, but it all turned out to be more satisfying than what I already predicted beforehand.

“I, Sloane Emily Jacobs, am sitting in my pajamas on the handlebars of a boy’s bike, being whisked around a foreign city at midnight. I can’t even imagine what my mom would say. The thought makes me grin.” (139)

When I think about it, I don’t really have a favourite “Sloane Jacobs.” The girls were two different, distinct personalities who loved different things, behaved differently and had a different view on life and what you should do to be happy. Love isn’t all you need kind of felt like the motto by the end as well. Fame and fortune? Those don’t matter either, actually. All that mattered to me was the writing, plot, characters and pacing, as well as the meaning discovered in the end. At least, those things satisfied me. *giggles*

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All in all, Being Sloane Jacobs turned out to be one of those books that you’ll finish and enjoy in one sitting. It’s fast-paced, and unique, compared to the large selection of contemporaries that are found in YA lit today. Did you enjoy The Parent Trap films? Do you enjoy books about the theme of friendship and first love? What about starting over again once something bad occurred to you in life? This has that all.

do you prefer a fast or slow pace when contemporaries are written? have you read anything by lauren morrill before? Do you like similar cover schemes from one particular author and all of their books?

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