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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
By: Jenny Hahn
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Book 1
Available Now

Description:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

This Blonde’s Review:
Lara Jean’s life is different than most girls. She adores her older sister and loves spending time with her. They get along and she’d much rather spend time with her than almost anyone else. She gets crushes like other girls but she won’t acknowledge them. The only acknowledgement they get is a letter that she’ll never send. When her sister goes off to college Lara Jean isn’t quite sure what to do with her days. She feels that she has big shoes to fill but isn’t quite measuring up. It doesn’t help that one of her first loves was her sister’s boyfriend, Josh. The boyfriend that her sister broke up with before she left. The same guy who keeps coming around.

When her letters go out Lara Jean doesn’t know what could have happened. She doesn’t know how they got out or how the guys who receive the letters will react. As these guys confront her about what she said in her letters Lara Jean has to figure out how to respond and deal with the things that come up from these letters. She soon finds herself in a fake relationship with someone to keep from having an embarrassing conversation with Josh. Who does she really have feelings for, the guy she’s with or the guy she wants? And what happens her sister comes home.

This book was cute, watching Lara Jean realize what she really wants and who matters to her was great. We see her realize things about herself and decide what is worth keeping. When I started this book I didn’t realize there would be a followup book. I was so happy to see that there is and can’t wait to see what will come next. I’d love to see what kind of impact her family has on the rest of the book and if we get to know her sister more as a person rather than this impressive figure.

If this book sounds interesting to you then definitely give it a shot. You’ll see Lara Jean find out things about herself she didn’t consider before and the way that sometimes things can happen that aren’t in your plan.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Book Review

 

Wish You Were Italian – Kristin Rae

Wish You Were Italian
By Kristin Rae
If Only… – Book 2
Available May 2014

Description:
Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

Part of a three book three author series, this does not have to be read in any particular order.

This Blonde’s Review:
Pippa’s life is really rather great when you look at it from the outside. She gets to go to Italy for the summer! Except that instead of going for fun she’s supposed to be part of an art program she has no interest in being a part of. It’s something her mom is forcing her to do. So instead she decides to take a chance and do what she wants to do. She’s in Italy! For the summer! Luckily she meets some nice people right away. A cute boy who shows her where to go, except he seems to have a girlfriend. Then a really nice Italian girl who invites her to stay with her family. Soon a friendship is made and PIppa’s summer seems made.

This does have that magical thing where everything works out, no finding herself homeless or hungry for Pippa. She has friends, she has two cute guys, and she is living someplace beautiful. But nothing can be too perfect of course. One guy she likes seems to have a girlfriend and doesn’t fit the criteria of falling for an Italian guy. The other is Italian but doesn’t seem to be entirely honest. Her new friendships are blossoming but the guys in her life keep throwing things off too.

Watching Pippa navigate her summer was so fun. It was light hearted and adorable. I liked that almost everything worked out. Nothing was perfect but that made all of the perfect moments even better. Pippa’s summer was life changing for her and the people around her. I know exactly who I wanted Pippa to end up with and what I hoped to have happen. There was a tragedy that was unexpected and sad. I almost want to say that it was unnecessary but sometimes tragedy can be the needed catalyst for change and I can see how the author chose to use that moment to change everything around.

As is the way in these books it is clearly a happy ending with the right things happening to her. We know it will when we pick up the book. But reading how she gets there was still entertaining for me. If it sounds good to you then I bet you’ll like it too.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Book Review

 

The Things You Kiss Goodbye – Leslie Connor

The Things You Kiss Goodbye
By Leslie Connor
Available June 2014

Description:
Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

This Blonde’s Review:
Bettina was amazed when her father allowed her to start dating Brady. He’s a sweet football player with popular friends. The friends never accepted her or their relationship, they say it as something temporary. As time goes on Brady stops being sweet and starts to mistreat her. When abuse starts slowly it is easy to think maybe it isn’t that bad. Except when seen from the outside it’s clearly wrong.

Thanks to Brady’s abuse and her need to get away Bettina meets a guy she calls Cowboy. He’s kind and allows her to be without criticizing her. Their friendship grows and she starts to find it harder to resist spending more time with him. Bettina tries to maintain their friendship without her family or Brady catching on. Her family isn’t very supportive, her father is very strict and treats her like everything she does is an inconvenience to him.

When Bettina realizes that the way she feels for Cowboy is bigger than everything else, she decides it is worth being together even if her family will be against it. I didn’t really feel the connection. It seemed to just happen without feeling like we had gotten to know him well. It’s like we were told about a few things and those few things were supposed to endear us quickly. I wasn’t feeling it though.

When something huge happens Bettina is devastated. Watching her struggle to get through is sad. I didn’t connect very strongly with most of the characters, there were a few side characters who had more passion and life to them that I’d have rather known more. Seeing the way people treated her after that kind of blow made me so angry with the people around her. I hated seeing that but at the same time, it was more realistic than if everyone had suddenly become supportive.

I liked that not everyone came around in the end, some characters slowly came to realize that they were wrong while others made excuses. I didn’t care for the way they wanted to push of the blame on others. I also didn’t like that not everything came out when I felt that it should have, some secrets shouldn’t stay hidden.

I didn’t connect to the characters the way I like to. I also wanted more relationship building. The tragedy was sad but it wasn’t something that hit me. It really was like a sad thing that happened to someone else. But that was the thing that made the rest of the book worthwhile.

This would be a good book for someone who wants to see a character recover and become stronger after something turns their life upside down. You’ll appreciate the character growth at the end most.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Book Review

 

(Don’t You) Forget About Me – Kate Karyus Quinn

(Don’t You) Forget About Me
By Kate Karyus Quinn
Available June 2014

Description:
Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except…
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

This Blonde’s Review:
Skyler lives in a town where people don’t get sick. Life threatening diseases like cancer have no power there. Sounds perfect. Except for the part where every four years the teenagers in town turn deadly. Skyler’s sister lead her classmates onto a bridge to jump and 16 died. Following that Skyler has turned into the kind of person who is drugged at all times, her life is flying by and she doesn’t know what is happening. Except that now Piper has to wake up. She has to find out where Piper is and why no one seems to know what happened to her.

This one was actually pretty interesting. I didn’t care for Skyler and couldn’t understand her desire to drug herself into oblivion. As the book goes on we see that her family life is troubled, her father didn’t care for her and would ignore her existence. Her mother loved him to distraction and allowed him to use her and cheat on her so wasn’t there for her daughters. The only person Skyler had was Piper. They were both gifted, Piper could get people to do things while Skyler could pull their secrets.

I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. Skyler wasn’t a character I connected with at all, but I felt bad for her and couldn’t help but hope she would find her sister. As the story went on there were more things that didn’t add up and made it clear there was more going on than Skyler was aware of. I liked watching as things slowly revealed until everything opened up.

If the book sounds interesting then you should definitely give it a try. The characters aren’t strong enough that we get attached to them, but the stories in the book and the secrets that reveal themselves were great.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Book Review

 

Just Like The Movies – Kelly Fiore

Just Like The Movies
By: Kelly Fiore
Available June 2014

Description:
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

This Blonde’s Review:
This book is one of those easy fun reads where nothing plays out quite like it should. It is a typical fluffy girl book. Take two girls, one popular and one invisible, their love of romantic chick flicks, two hot guys, and prom approaching. It was adorable.

Lily and Marijke build a friendship based on trying to get the guys they want to want them back. Sure, Marijke has the guy but he’s not really there. Her boyfriend has other priorities and puts her last no matter how often she puts him first. She will do whatever it takes to get him to say he loves her. Lily is invisible and has no idea how to get her guy to notice her. Working together they use the best romantic movies they know to win their guys over.

The best part of this book in my opinion was the way nothing worked out the way it did in the movies no matter how they tried. They find themselves in situation after situation and no matter how great it looks, somehow it doesn’t play out the way it should. But the other best part is the friendship they find with each other.

Of course the girls end up with their best possible endings, but they don’t necessarily get there quite as easily as they would have hoped. The character development for Marijke and her boyfriend were great because they had to learn a few things before anything between them would grow. Lily and her guy had a few things to realize themselves but may have had an easier path of it since theirs was something new.

This book is relatively predictable. Once you know what’s coming you know what will happen. But this isn’t supposed to be a big deep and unpredictable book. It’s supposed to be a fun and enjoyable read and it fits. If the idea of two girls trying to use scenes from a romantic movie seems like your kind of book then you’ll enjoy this.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Book Review

 

Free to Fall – Lauren Miller

Free to Fall
By Lauren Miller
Available May 2014

Description:
What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness? What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

This Blonde’s Review:
We are a society dependent on our phones. We don’t remember phone numbers anymore since our phone has them. We don’t have to wait patiently without anything to do because we have games, books, texting, and any number of things on our phones at all times. In Rory’s world there is also an app called Lux. Lux will help you make the best decisions, it knows the restaurants you like and the best drink choice at a coffee shop. It knows who you should date and what school you should go to. If you follow Lux’s instructions your life will be wonderful. Just don’t let Doubt, that voice inside your head that could tell you differently, sway you from the path.

Rory has been a good girl, following Lux and doing everything she should her whole life. Until she goes away to school. Suddenly she starts hearing the Doubt. She finds herself in situations where the Doubt tells her things correctly, people refer to things she doesn’t understand, and she meets new people who open up her eyes. Is North, the new guy she met, right to avoid using Lux? Is the secret society she’s being introduced to going to shed light on the things she doesn’t know? And does she have a teacher out to get her? There are so many things that cause questions in what used to be her very clear and obvious life.

I enjoyed this. There were so many great characters supporting Rory, even if some of them didn’t start off on the right foot. The choices she makes aren’t always perfect, but seeing her go from good girl who uses her app to order a drink to rebel who wants to change everything is great. Rory learns things about herself and the people around her that she never would have expected. Some of those things seem like they were unnecessary and easily moved past, while others were great ways to build on the story.

While there were several points to the book that didn’t seem necessary the general idea was still an entertaining one. If the description sounded good to you give it a try. It isn’t one of my top books of the year partly because of the parts that felt unneeded, but it was one that had me wanting to see where the author would take it. I finished this book pretty quickly because it kept me looking for the end.

 

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road Summer
By: Emery Lord
Available April 2014

Description:
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

This Blonde’s Review:
I really enjoyed this book and a big part of that is because Reagan is an imperfect character. The more the book goes on we see that she isn’t just moody and protective, she has good reason to be that way. She has made a practice of bad choices and putting herself at risk. Watching her work on getting her life straight while being there for her friend was great. Her dedication to her best friend was fantastic.

Matt Finch is the cute guy who comes into the picture as Lilah’s opening act. The press thinks he’s involved with Lilah but something about him draws Reagan. She doesn’t want anything to do with it though. He’s a charming ex boy band guy so she thinks she has his number. Until she starts to learn some new things about him. She starts to see that his life isn’t as easy as she thought it was. And she starts to fall for the guy Matt, not the star.

Reagan’s best friend is a big country music star and is considered a big sweetheart. She’s loved and looked up to. Except the world doesn’t see the part where her heart has been broken thanks to her big love setting her free to go live her dreams. All Reagan can do is be there for her. They still love each other but want different things, so man bashing isn’t even an option. Instead it’s just getting by day by day and being there for each other. Reagan’s friendship with her is seen in the now and with memories that show that their bond is stronger than what many are able to find. Seeing their love for each other and the lengths they’d go to is so great. The friendship is not just some side piece to the romance. The friendship is what matters more than the romance.

I loved that this book was about more than just falling for the guy. It’s about friendships making it through everything, being there for each other, and learning to love yourself way more than it is about any guy. Though watching the way she learns to care for him and trust him was so great as well and still made it about learning to be herself than going for the cute guy.

I really liked this book and look forward to reading more by Emery Lord. If you enjoy the idea of seeing a damaged character learn how to love herself again then you’ll enjoy this book. Everything else was great but secondary to Reagan finding herself.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Book Review

 
 
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