Timebound (The Chronos Files #1) by Rysa Walker

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When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Timebound (The Chronos Files #1) by Rysa Walker
Published January 1, 2014 by Skyscrape
Format: Kindle e-book; 366 pages

Young Adult/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: Time’s EdgeTime’s DivideThe Delphi Effect
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thoughts

You know when you buy a book because you have to have it but then for some insane reason you don’t read it right away? And then months or years later you finally pick it up and proceed to slap yourself because the book is everything you could want in a book and more?? This is basically what happened with me and Timebound.

Timebound is part 1 in The Chronos Files by Rysa Walker. It’s about Kate Pierce-Keller discovering she has the ability to time travel and the subsequent journey she takes to stop her sadistic grandfather from rewriting history and committing a mass genocide. There’s also a heart wrenching love triangle, conflicting alternate realities, the pain of your best friend never knowing she knew you, and well-researched and intriguing glimpses into the 19th and early 20th centuries.

I adore stories about time travel. There’s something captivating and heartbreaking about traveling through space and time that mesmerizes me. I remember watching The Time Machine when I was younger and being equally intrigued and devastated by the idea of being unable to return to your own time. I also have vivid memories of seeing The Time Traveler’s Wife in theaters with a bunch of my friends and then crying for at least 30 minutes afterwards because the ending was so beautifully heartbreaking.

Timebound made me feel the same curiosity and heartache that I love about time travel stories. Rysa Walker has created a wonderful world where science fiction and historical fiction blend seamlessly, and her characters deal with experiences and emotions that both young adults and older adults can relate to. I’ve already read the second book, Time’s Edge, so I can say that her writing gets even more intriguing and surprising as the story continues. I’ve been holding off on reading the final book and the related novellas just so I can get my reviews posted on the first two Chronos Files books because I really think this is a series more readers need to know about!

“Having your existence completely erased has to qualify as a life-changing event, by anyone’s definition.”

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy sci-fi, especially if it’s light on the technical jargon.
…you love suspenseful, captivating novels and don’t mind occasionally having your stomach in knots while reading a book.
…you’re a masochist like me who can’t help but pine after heartbreaking romances and relationships.
…you appreciate well-researched historical fiction novels.

Final Musings

“You cannot hide from your heart, Kate. It always finds you. And, sadly, I cannot hide from mine.”

I could honestly keep gushing about Timebound for hours, but instead I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book :)

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

the fill-in boyfriend

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published May 5, 2015 by HarperTeen
Format: library e-book; 344 pages
Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Also By This Author: The Distance Between UsOn the FencePivot Point
Goodreads | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

This book is about so much more than I originally expected. Yes, the majority of the plot revolves around the idea of a fill-in boyfriend, but it’s also about losing friends and making new ones, being vulnerable, and ultimately finding yourself. I connected easily with Gia as she tries to become a better person during her senior year of high school. Like so many of us, she feels like an absolute failure before she notices any improvement.

A lot of Gia’s life is centered on her group of best friends: Claire, Laney, and “frenemy” Jules. Seeing how these girls interacted with each other and with their other classmates reminded me of some of the best and worst parts of high school. I really enjoyed the misfit characters that interrupted Gia’s perfectly planned life and changed her perspective on everything.

I enjoyed the ending of The Fill-In Boyfriend because not everything is completely resolved. Some relationships were still messy and there were some unanswered questions, which made the ending more realistic, in my opinion. Sometimes I prefer a clean, “happily ever after” ending, but honestly, those books are usually more forgettable. When novels wrap up and leave a few minor ends unresolved, I tend to hold on to the story for a while after I’ve finished it, mulling it over and analyzing how it connects to my own reality. The Fill-In Boyfriend has had me reflecting on high school and the friendships that have dissolved or endured over the years.

Read This Book If…

…you like seeing characters get caught in their mistakes (and lies) and having to make amends.
…you’ve ever been a misfit.
…you enjoy venting your feelings through fictional characters (there are a few scenes involving angry screaming and throwing rocks).
…you’re looking to read a contemporary YA romance that is surprisingly more than surface-deep.

“We rarely find a depth by looking inside of ourselves for it. Depth is found in what we can learn from the people and things around us. Everyone, everything, has a story, Gia. When you learn those stories, you learn experiences that fill you up, that expand your understanding. You add layers to your soul.”

Final Musings:

One thing Gia focuses on in The Fill-In Boyfriend is being a better person. She fails, a lot, but it reminded me that self-improvement is a life-long journey and not an over-night process. Although it makes me extremely anxious when fictional characters act like compulsive liars (seriously, I have a major problem with second-hand guilt and embarrassment), seeing how Gia reacted to the consequences of her decisions made up for that.

This book was recommended to me by a couple of friends, and even though I had previously tried reading Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us (and put it down after a quarter of the way through), I’m glad I gave The Fill-In Boyfriend a chance because it’s been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. One day, with the help of two unexpected companions, she discovers a way in. Is everything in the garden dead, or can Mary bring it back to life?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published 1911 by Frederick A. Stokes
Format: audiobook; 331 pages
Classics/Young Adult
Also By This Author: A Little PrincessLittle Lord Fauntleroy
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

The Secret Garden is one of those novels I always assumed I had read when I was little, or I at least thought I had seen the movie. Having read the book now, however, I realize that I didn’t know the story at all!

Despite The Secret Garden being written for a younger audience, I still enjoyed it, especially the dreamy, poetic language Frances Hodgson Burnett uses. I found myself getting lost in The Secret Garden along with Mary Lennox and her friends. I connected with Mary and her friend Declan right away, but it took me a little while to start liking Colin (although I think that was purposeful).

The tone of mystery and suspense is so thick in this novel that I was constantly expecting something bad to happen. This is actually a pretty common reaction for me; while reading Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone, I thought Emily’s best friend Sloane had been kidnapped and/or murdered when really she had secretly moved.

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever…”

Read This Book If…

…you’re a daydreamer/adventurer.
…you enjoy strong-minded, stubborn characters.
…you’re looking for a book that will help you temporarily escape from the real world.
…you want to rediscover a childhood classic.

“I’ve seen the spring now and I’m going to see the summer. I’m going to see everything grow here. I’m going to grow here myself.”

Final Musings:

I read this book because of it’s web series adaptation, The Misselthwaite Archives. I’m a part of an online LIW (literary-inspired web series) club. Last month we watched The Misselthwaite Archives and chatted about it and I also read the book. The web series is a lovely adaptation of The Secret Garden. Colin was changed to Callie, which worked better for the modern version, in my opinion. The cinematography is gorgeous and the theme music is appropriately captivating. The acting is also wonderful!

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published May 3, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Format: e-book; 519 pages
Young Adult/Romance
Also By This Author: Amy & Roger’s Epic DetourSecond Chance SummerSince You’ve Been Gone
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥

I know I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but Morgan Matson is one of my favorite contemporary Young Adult authors. So I was stoked when I found out that Tiff at Mostly YA Lit was hosting a Morgan Matson event to celebrate the release of The Unexpected Everything! She’s already posted some pretty rad interviews, quizzes, and giveaways, so hop over to her blog to check them out! But first, here’s my own review of The Unexpected Everything as well as a fun little dare I was challenged to this week.

Thoughts:

Another heartwarming book by Morgan Matson! I just love how she writes coming-of-age stories and makes you laugh, cry, and feel every awkward situation along with her characters. I never have a hard time connecting with the characters in Morgan Matson’s books; they’re quirky, goofy, loyal, and fittingly enough they’re always trying to deal with the unexpected.

Andie Walker has everything planned. She’s going to be pre-med, she’s attending an esteemed college program the summer before her senior year, and her father is a well-known politician so even all of her social media posts are planned ahead of time. But suddenly all of her plans have fallen through and Andie finds herself hired as a dog walker, spending a lot of unexpected (and meaningful) time with her father after his campaign is marred by scandal, and crushing on a socially-awkward fantasy-nerd who challenges all of her preconceived notions of her typical summer fling.

Clark and Andie’s relationship was great! Morgan Matson sure knows how to create cute nerds (there’s one in each of her books). But my favorite part of this book was the relationships between Andie and her three best friends. During the entire book, this tight-knit group of BFFs is the only constant in Andie’s life, until suddenly it’s not. For me that was the best part of Andie’s journey. It made me reflect on my own relationships with former and current friends of mine. Besides unexpected circumstances, reconciliation is always a theme in Morgan Matson’s books and there’s something so powerful and deep about how it resonates with me.

Read This Book If…

…you love books that are centered on friendships.
…you appreciate characters who make mistakes and reconcile relationships.
…you enjoy contemporary YA romances.
…you’re looking for a fun, swoony, & touching book to read this summer!

“I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”

The Unexpectedly Epic Dare Challenge!

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This week I was challenged to an #UnexpectedlyEpic dare as part of the Morgan Matson event being held by Tiff at Mostly YA Lit.

Here was my dare:

Reply to 5 different people on any social media platform using only lyrics from Taylor Swift songs.

My initial reaction:

This is silly…
AND
I don’t know enough Taylor Swift songs!

Game plan:

Listen to every T-Swift song and read all of her lyrics, which means I analyzed* them and tried to be prepared for situations on social media where I could sneakily insert some Taylor Swift lyrics into the conversation. (*Yes, I’m aware that I’m a nerd. Can you tell that I was an English major in college who actually enjoyed research papers?)

Results:

  1. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.06.05 PM
    This was the easiest one to do. I actually think about my favorite web series Green Gables Fables whenever I hear Taylor Swift’s “Everything Has Changed,” but I couldn’t find a good post on tumblr to post those lyrics to. So instead I saw this gif set from one of my favorite episodes (when Gilbert is being a super encouraging friend to Anne) and reblogged it with lyrics from “Stay Beautiful.”
  2. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 9.59.15 PM
    Ok, I realized after I did this one that I was only supposed to use lyrics, but I wanted to be really encouraging to my friend Shakira so that’s why I added the last part after the lyrics from “Ours” :) This was probably my favorite part of the dare, realizing that doing something silly like quoting Taylor Swift lyrics could actually be uplifting to someone.
  3. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.10.26 PM
    Of course I had to find a way to quote Taylor Swift lyrics to Morgan Matson! She included “Stay Stay Stay” on this playlist for her Michigan book tour and when I looked up the lyrics I saw that they really fit with Andie and Clark’s relationship.
  4. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.01.07 PM
    Hahaha! This one was the hardest one to post. One of my guy friends was chaperoning Prom and I immediately knew that I could find some dance-related lyric to comment with. I was trying to avoid “Shake it Off” but hey, it fit pretty well.
  5. Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.46.50 PM
    My best friend Jae actually really dislikes Taylor Swift, so I wanted to post lyrics to one of her posts just to be funny :) But in all honesty these lyrics from “Never Grow Up” made me want to cuddle with my baby and this is a great picture Jae took of him.

Reactions:

Originally I thought this was going to be a really silly dare, and it was silly, but it was also a bit eye-opening for me. While it was fun to make a fool of myself online, I also realized that there’s more to Taylor Swift songs than love at first sight and heartbreak. As I was listening to a playlist on YouTube I found this video of Taylor Swift sending Christmas presents to some of her biggest fans (and in one case she even surprise-visited a fan). I thought it was incredibly thoughtful and sweet and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me want to cry.

Thank you to whoever gave me this dare! I enjoyed listening to Taylor Swift on repeat & being challenged to do something silly :)

A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings

A Grimm Curse

Long before Andi woke up in a world that was not her own, her grandmother, Cynthia was entangled in the palace’s circle of glitter and privilege. Explore the dramatic history of Elorium in this standalone prequel to the Grimm Tales series.

Lady Wellington’s obsessive quest to thrust a crown on one of her daughters’ head at any cost has ensnared Cynthia in a scheme that has her sidestepping the arrogant Prince Wilhelm who is determined to make her his bride. With a twist that could only transpire in a fairy tale, Cynthia rescues her own prince, Remington Landry III—cursed by a spiteful witch into the form of a frog.

In the search for a willing princess to lift Remi’s curse, things do not go as planned. The frog-prince disappears, leaving Cynthia wondering at the state of their friendship. Without Remi, Cynthia finds herself a pawn of the ruler of Elorium and imprisoned by his henchman, Prince Wilhelm, who won’t take no for an answer. Cynthia’s life in Elorium is upended as revelations of who she is and the truth about their world comes to light in this stunningly reimagined fairy tale.

A Grimm Curse by Janna Jennings
Published November 17, 2015 by Patchwork Press
Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 174 pages
Also By This Author: A Grimm LegacyGrimm Memories
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

I really like Janna Jennings’s Grimm Tales series. The world building is intriguing and the fairytale aspect is fun and exciting. A Grimm Curse is a prequel to A Grimm Legacy, and it follows Cynthia, who is the grandmother of one of the characters from later in the series. Cynthia was a lot like Cinderella, but a lot of her story also resembled The Princess and the Frog.

Even though this book is part of a series, it could be read as a standalone. It’s been about a year and a half since I read the original series, so I had forgotten some of the details about Elorium, but that only made me want to reread A Grimm Legacy and Grimm Memories!

I do wish there had been some deeper character development in this book. Although I really enjoyed Cynthia and Remi, I found myself questioning the motivations of some of the secondary characters. Prince Wilhelm started out charming and amiable when we first see him but in his next scene he’s suddenly a jerk, to put it mildly, and Princess Marcella started off rather snobby and disinterested but by the end she was helping Cynthia and Remi and we never really got to see a plausible explanation.

But despite my few issues with the holes in the character development, this was a fun addition to the world of Elorium and I’m really glad Janna Jennings gave us this prequel to her Grimm Tales series!

Read This Book If…

…you like fairytales and fairytale retellings!
…you want an adventure book that’s also a quick read.
…you enjoy intriguing and magical world building.
…you’re looking for a new series to start.

“What’s waiting for me on the other side?” Cynthia asked, her voice lower than a whisper.
Her mother smiled, leaned over and gave her a ghostly kiss on the forehead. “Freedom.”

Final Musings

If you enjoy retellings, especially fairytales, the Grimm Tales series might be enjoyable for you! It’s a Young Adult series, but I feel the writing is appropriate for Middle Grade, too. I really liked the characters, especially Remi, and I can’t remember if he shows up later on in the series (another reason why I want to reread A Grimm Legacy and Grimm Memories). The way his storyline ended surprised me, and I was sad about that twist in my expectations, but it’s also nice when books don’t follow my predictions :)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Published January 2, 2012 by Poppy
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover; library checkout; 236 pages
Also By This Author: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, This is What Happy Looks Like, The Geography of You and Me
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

So I’m officially a fan of Jennifer E. Smith now. This is the second book of hers I’ve read in two months that I really, really enjoyed. I guess I should probably give The Geography of You and Me another chance. Maybe I’ll like it better now ;)

About the book…
Yes, it’s a contemporary romance, but surprisingly that wasn’t the deepest part about this novel, and I wouldn’t say it was my favorite part, either. Hadley, our main character is going through a difficult period with her dad after her parents’ divorce. In fact, the only reason Hadley meets Oliver is because she’s flying over to London for her father’s wedding, something she’s dreading.

I totally understand why Hadley’s mad at and hurt by her father, too. He kind of skipped out on Hadley and her mom by moving to England and then having an affair with his now-fiancé. But each chapter Hadley confronts a memory or fear about her father that causes her to reflect on the deterioration of their relationship and what she wishes it would be like, and meeting Oliver at the airport on the way to London is what forces her to do that. Along the way she develops feelings for Oliver, but in my opinion this novel is less about falling in love and more about restoring relationships. There’s one heartwarming chapter in particular that really tugged at my feelings, but I don’t want to say anything more about it to avoid spoilers!

Read This Book If…

…you love stories about reconciliations.
…you enjoy novels that touch on darker emotions, such as grief, hate, heartbreak, and unforgiveness.
…you like characters who make you laugh (Oliver is an adorable dork).
…you like reading books about parent-child relationships.

“In the end, it’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s that tug of familiarity.”

Final Musings

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is definitely a re-readable book for me! I loved Hadley and Oliver and the journey they take together. They reminded me that being a teenager is tough and that everyone has complicated relationships with their parents, but that’s not a reason to give up on them because of a falling-out. And on a lighter note, Oliver and Hadley were adorable together! There were several moments in this book that gave me “heart eyes” :)

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts #1) by Katie Finn

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Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.

Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don’t hold grudges forever. Do they?

Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she’s someone else. As though the summer wasn’t complicated enough already.

Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn’s first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
Published May 13, 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover; 339 pages
Also By This Author: Top 8Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold
Goodreads Amazon Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

If I could summarize this book in one sentence it would say: LYING IS BAD!

Gemma Tucker is a big liar. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t go into too much detail, but when Gemma was 11 she did some really horrible things to a friend she made while vacationing in the Hamptons for the summer. I say horrible without explaining what she did exactly, but trust me, some of these things she did were cruel and had serious, long-term affects. I remember feeling really sad after we finally find out what happened.

Anyway, this book is actually fun, despite some of the sadder/darker backstory. Fast-forward 7 years and now Gemma, recently dumped and back in the Hamptons for the summer, is presented with a chance to “mend” all the wrongs she did…by lying.

Yeah, because that’s not going to end badly.

This book was well-written and the characters weren’t flat or boring. The only reason I didn’t rate this book a little higher is because of the lying. Lie after lie built up to the point that I was stressing out and feeling like was the one lying. (Side note: I have a problem, when it comes to appropriating fictional characters’ feelings as my own, especially guilt or embarrassment. It’s a big problem of mine) But by the time I reached the end of the novel and things took a huge twist, I was ready to read the sequel (which I just received for Christmas!).

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy books about second chances.
…you’re looking for a light but suspenseful read (that may stress you out like it did me!).
…you need a beach book even if it’s not beach season yet!
…you want to start a new series (the final book will be published in May so you wouldn’t have to wait years to read them all!).

Final Musings

If you didn’t know this, Katie Finn is also Morgan Matson, author of some of my favorite Young Adult books, Since You’ve Been Gone and Second Chance SummerBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend is a lot different from Matson’s books, but the writing styles and character developments are similar. I enjoyed this book even if 3-stars doesn’t seem like a great rating (it would have been 4-stars if I hadn’t experienced so much second-hand embarrassment).

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Hello Goodbye

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
Published September 1, 2015 by Poppy
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: Library Checkout; Hardcover; 246 pages
Also By This Author: The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThis is What Happy Looks LikeThe Geography of You and Me
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I loved this book! Before reading it I was a little skeptical because Jennifer E. Smith’s books tend to be hits or misses for me (I enjoyed This is What Happy Looks Like but I didn’t really care for The Geography of You and Me).

The premise of this book also seemed a little far-fetched: two high school sweethearts spending the last night of summer debating if they should break up or stay together when they head off to different colleges. At first it felt like the author added drama just for the sake of adding drama. But, as I continued reading, I started to see how logical Aidan and Clare’s arguments were at the same time they saw it. I loved growing along with the characters.

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between was a really entertaining read. Each chapter took place at a different location that held some type of significance to Clare and Aidan. It was almost like following along on someone else’s scavenger hunt.

The characters were very likable and they also felt real. They were awkward, indecisive, and they sometimes said the wrong things and got into bitter arguments. One argument in particular felt like a typical teenage fight: it was heated, a little petty, and both sides refused to back down. I actually really enjoyed seeing that fight play out because it reminded me of my silly fights with friends and boyfriends when I was in high school (but I’m definitely glad to have grown past that stage!).

I think the reason I enjoyed Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between so much was because the characters reminded me of my own experiences and relationships when I was transitioning from high school to college. I had a not so amicable break up with my long-distance boyfriend, I got into arguments with friends over not including them in my life enough, and I definitely went through periods of doubt when it came to my future. I really felt for Clare since she reminded me of myself as a high school senior.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending was perfect! I reread it several times because I loved it that much. Up until the last few chapters I was only going to give this book a 4-star rating, but when I got closer to the end I cried and laughed and completely fell in love with Jennifer E. Smith’s ability to weave all the loose ends together. 5-stars all the way!

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy coming of age stories.
…you’re in the mood to read a book that will make you feel all sorts of emotions: joy, sadness (I cried three times!), suspense (I stayed up until the early hours of the morning to finish this book because I had to know how it ended. That means a lot considering I have a newborn who won’t let me make up for lost sleep during the day!).
…you want to swoon! Aidan and Clare are adorably romantic :)
…you like contemporary romances that are fun but deep-feeling at the same time.

“Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as it’s full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.”

Final Musings

Even though I was hesitant to read this book at first, I’m so glad I gave it a chance because it ended up being one of my favorite reads from 2015. Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style is fun and unique and her characters are very relatable and entertaining. This is definitely the type of book I plan on rereading!

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…

The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Published April 7, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 334 pages
Also By This Author: Razorland Series, 2B Series
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I was immediately reeled into the premise of this book: two social outcasts helping each other heal from the past and find confidence in themselves.

Sage was such an easy character to sympathize with. Although she seems a little bristly on the outside, she has an altruistic heart and is the “queen” of acts of kindness. I loved how she posted words of encouragement on the lockers of her classmates. Whenever she noticed someone who could use a little pick-me-up, she would write a small compliment on a post-it-note and attach it to their locker. I wish I had done something like that in high school, but it’s never to late to be encouraging :)

This novel started out really promising for me; it wasn’t hard for me to get right into the story, and the only thing keeping me from giving this novel a higher rating is the pacing of it. After the first quarter of the novel it felt like things were progressing too slowly, and then towards the end of the novel it seemed that whole weeks were skipped over because nothing romantic was happening. I wish that the author had added a subplot to make Sage’s story a little deeper, but this book was still enjoyable.

Read This Book If…

…you love reading stories with positive-thinking, “do good” type characters.
…you enjoy novels about second chances and social misfits.
…you’re looking for a feel-good contemporary romance.
…you want to read a book that will encourage you to be a nicer, more encouraging person.

“If you want something bad enough, you do what it takes to make it happen.”

Final Musings:

This book started off really intriguing! And even though I wish the pacing was a little better, the characters and the major plot points made The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things an enjoyable, feel-good novel that will make you want to start handing out encouraging notes to strangers :)

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Trouble With Destiny

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens to be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published December 8, 2015 by Delacorte
Young Adult
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 272 pages
Also By This Author: Meant to BeBeing Sloane Jacobs
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, and especially if you’ve read more than one of my Top Ten Tuesday posts, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Lauren Morrill. Her freshman book Meant to Be is one of my favorite Young Adult novels and I haven’t hesitated to recommend it to several friends.

So I was especially giddy when earlier this year I received a review copy of her newest novel The Trouble with Destiny! I even held on to it until just last month so I could really rave about it before its release date :)

The Trouble with Destiny reminded me so much of myself in high school and in my first years of college. I was a lot like Liza: focused (but not always on the right things), a little boy crazy, and oblivious to a lot of the things going on around me. Reading this book made me laugh (and blush a little) in remembrance of some of the embarrassing things I did years ago.

I adore Lauren Morrill’s writing style. It’s funny but heartfelt at the same time. My two favorite things about The Trouble With Destiny were the communication mishaps and the friendships. The whole “not everything is as it seems” motif that Morrill uses often in her books is the reason she’s one of my favorite YA authors. I always want to reread her books right away to see how things really happened instead of how the main character perceived them. Also, if you’re looking for a book that values friendship over everything else, this one’s for you!

Read This Book If…

…you were a geek in high school (Liza’s a band geek, but I feel like all geeks could relate).
…you love stories where miscommunication plays a major (and funny) role.
…you want a book that will make you forget it’s currently winter (summer cruise ship? Yes, please!).
…you enjoy books that remind you of the fun (and lightly embarrassing) parts of high school.

“And after a week of false starts, miscommunications, and misdirected emotions, falling into a pool should be right up there in things that have gone wrong. But it’s perfect.”

Final Musings:

The Trouble With Destiny is a fun read that will bring out the band geek in all of us. It reminded me so much of my high school clubs and sports teams and the fun (and sometimes embarrassing) times I had with them. Also, there’s a sweet romance that’s cute but doesn’t overshadow the deeper themes about friendship and finding yourself. Definitely pick up this book for yourself or your best friend :)