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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Life By Committee – Corey Ann Haydu

Life By Committee
By: Corey Ann Haydu
Available May 2014

Description:
Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

This Blonde’s Reivew:
Tab’s life isn’t your typical teenage life. Her parents had her young so aren’t like most parents. She calls them by their names. They get high and have had others over to get high with them, including someone who works at her school. Now that her mom is pregnant things are changing, she’s ready to grow up and do the right thing for the new baby. Except her dad isn’t quite there and Tab has to wonder what makes this baby different than her.

On top of the changes in her family Tab has also lost her friends. Tabs blossomed and her friends weren’t comfortable with the changes. Somehow bigger boobs meant she had changed as a person in their eyes. It didnt help that her best friend’s older brother had noticed the changes or that Tab didn’t hide the changes or act ashamed of her new looks.

Despite not having friends Tab does have Joe. She thinks he’s sweet, attractive, and really cares about her. He talks to her at night and they share all their secrets. The problem is that Joe has a girlfriend that everyone loves. As her ex friends spread rumors all Tabs can do is focus on other things. Like her feelings for Joe and the new site she discovered.

The concept of being able to share secrets then complete a task in order to keep them secret was something Tab couldn’t resist. Except the tasks given didn’t seem like the kind that were fun to me. They seemed like the kind meant to push your life towards something that can backfire. And while some characters seemed really involved in the idea of what was happening, the leader of the site just struck me wrong from the start. I was not a fan of his.

Tab has to deal with the fallout of some of her tasks, such as hurting her family and her remaining friend. For her last task she has to decide if she’s willing to ruin someone else’s life or not. When she finds out she knows someone who is also part of the site I loved the way that her first thought was for her instead of herself. She was finally able to see the way these things could change your life.

The decision Tab made next was fantastic. I loved seeing what she did and the way she took control of her own life and her own secrets. Clearly that wouldn’t have worked at most schools but the way the author set everything up for it worked out great. I had high hopes for how things would play out for Tabs and the people in her life after the book is over.

I didn’t get caught up in this one or have strong feelings about any of the characters. I’m not sure what it was that kept me from getting as into it as I prefer but it was still enjoyable. I wanted to see what would happen and how it would play out even if I didn’t have the connection I prefer.

If you like the idea of seeing how your life can change when you use a website that assigns tasks in exchange for keeping secrets then you’ll enjoy seeing what happens with this story.

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Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone
By Morgan Matson
Available May 2014

Description:
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

This Blonde’s Review:
When Emily met Sloane her life was changed forever. They became best friends by chance and ever since then Sloane and Emily have been a team. When people see her they expect to see Sloane right beside her. When Sloane disappears one day Emily isn’t sure what has happened. All she knows is that Sloane isn’t there and neither are her parents. When she gets a list she knows that if she completes everything on there somehow she’ll know how to find Sloane again.

Watching the way Emily slowly grows as she confronts the things on the list that make her nervous was great. Character growth is huge, especially since it wasn’t like these were huge revelations. It was something little, like being willing to accept help from someone new, that slowly grew to her being the kind of person who will go skinny dipping without being afraid.

Frank was such a great character. Watching their friendship grow was wonderful, and then seeing all of the signs that maybe there could be something more there made me hopeful. I couldn’t help but admire his responsible nature and that we didn’t have a typical misunderstood bad boy thing. I also liked that there were so many other options for her, despite feeling invisible there were guys who saw her and appreciated what she had to offer, including an ex and a stranger.

As we learned about Emily we also learned about Sloane. We see her through the eyes of the people who know her and see that she was just what Emily needed in her life. We also see that while Emily was content to live in Sloane’s shadow that it’s time for her to stand on her own. It became hard for me to know if I wanted her to find Sloane or not since more than anything I wanted Emily to be the stronger person she was turning into.

I do wish I had found out more at the end of the book though. There were certain relationships that were left in the air that I had hoped for more conclusion on. But it felt like the book was more about the journey for Emily than where it ended up so it almost made sense not to go back and find all the endings.

 
 

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 Around The World Tours, 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 Around The World Tours, 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.

 

(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.

 

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 Around The World Tours, Book Review