Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List
By: Kasie West
Released: December 26, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances. Which is where the list comes in. Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself. (Goodreads)

Love, Life, and the List was such a sweet story that I didn't want it to end. I love Kasie West's books because they always make me feel happy and this was no exception. It is definitely towards the top of the list of my favorite West books. I quickly got wrapped up in Abby's world within the first few pages and I couldn't put this book down.

Abby was a realistic and well developed protagonist. She loves to paint and she wants to be in an art show at the museum where she works. After being turned down though, she makes a list of things to do to push herself to experience more in order to become a better artist. Some of the things on her list are small while other things are much bigger and riskier. I loved how much Abby learns not only about herself through the course of the story, but also about the people she loves. She has her flaws and makes mistakes. However, I admired how Abby pushed herself and put herself out there, even when it didn't necessarily work out the way she wanted.

Cooper was a well developed character as well. I loved the friendship that Abby shared with Cooper and it was obvious how important they were to each other. They've been best friends for years and know each other better than anyone else. However, Abby has also been in love with him for over a year and it's getting harder to be around him so much when her feelings are unrequited. 

There were several great side characters introduced throughout Love, Life, and the List that I loved as well, such as Lacey. I loved the friendship that developed between her and Abby. However, my favorite side character was definitely Abby's grandfather. I adored the relationship that Abby shared with her grandfather and it was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Abby's grandfather lives with her and I loved how close they were with each other. He is just as sarcastic as Abby and I loved when they would banter. 

The plot was paced and developed well. There were also several really interesting sub plots that all tied into the story well. I especially liked the storyline surrounding Abby's mom and her anxiety. West sent me through so many emotions while I was reading this one though. I would find myself laughing at Abby's sarcasm one moment and then felt my heart breaking for her at other times.  

Overall, I loved Love, Life, and the List. This is a must-read if you're a fan of contemporary books or any of Kasie West's previous book.

My Rating:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Top Ten
By: Katie Cotugno
Released: October 3, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:
10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

The premise for Top Ten sounded so good and I couldn't wait to read it, but it fell short for me in several ways. I did really like some aspects, but I felt like I didn't start to enjoy this book until the last half.

Gabby and Ryan have been friends since freshman year of high school and now they have just graduated. Their friendship has had many ups and downs through the years and now they are about to go their own separate ways. I loved that both Gabby and Ryan were flawed and realistic characters. Gabby has anxiety and feels really uncomfortable in social situations. Whereas Ryan is the complete opposite and loves parties. The relationship between them was realistic and their differences do cause problems between them at times. However, I felt like I had a difficult time getting a grip on who these characters were and their relationship because of the way the story was told. For more than the first half of the book, Gabby and Ryan came across as flat characters to me.   

The plot was difficult for me to keep track of because of the jumping around to count down the moments of Gabby and Ryan's friendship. I thought I would love the way this story was told, but in reality, I felt really confused while reading. I had trouble piecing together the timeline and I had to keep turning back to see which year the moment I was reading was even taking place in. For the first half of the book, I just struggled to feel invested in the story and almost gave up on this book several times. However, there were a few moments in the last half of the book that I did really enjoy reading and those were the reason that I kept on reading. It was during the last half that I finally felt like the characters and their relationship were starting to click together.

Overall, I liked Top Ten. I felt like I would have probably enjoyed this book even more if it was told in a different style. This storytelling may work for others, but for me personally, it didn't.     

My Review:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Wavehouse by Alice Kaltman Cover Reveal

I'm so excited to share the cover for Wavehouse today! Personally, I love this cover and the way it pops. I also love the coloring, especially all of the blues, and seeing Anna out there surfing. This is definitely a cover that I feel like matches the feeling of the story really well too.
Take a look at the cover for Wavehouse below and be sure to add this one to your list, especially if you're a contemporary fan!
By: Alice Kaltman
Release Day: Early Summer 2018
Purchase the Book: Regal House Publishing

About Wavehouse:   
Sixteen year-old Anna Dugan is a super surfer who feels most at home when taking off on a ten-foot wave. But surf culture bores Anna big time. While other surfers follow trends and speak the lingo, Anna harbors a secret desire to be an artist, drawing houses made of waves. It’s not the most practical dream for the daughter of a single mom living in Kendall’s Watch, a beach town where most kids are so surf-centric they think ‘Current Events’ have something to do with ocean tides.
Anna is not only the best surfer in Kendall’s, she’s also the shyest. When a surf scout comes to town to gage her talent, Anna freaks out and refuses to let him watch her. To protect herself from the pressure and the panic, Anna decides to only surf at her private break, Secretspot, for the rest of the summer. But Secretspot becomes treacherous in ways Anna never imagined, and the danger has nothing to do with waves. When a gorgeous stranger paddles out, smiling a bewitching smile and surfing like a god, their chemistry is impossible to ignore. A series of events are set in motion that will change Anna’s life forever; events that raise difficult questions about love, honesty, betrayal and family ties.
In the end, is it worth it? Dive in to Wavehouse, life-preserver recommended, and the decision is yours.
What does the author, Alice Kaltman, love about the cover: 
I’ve been a huge fan of Alison Seiffer’s artwork for years. When it came time to choose a cover for Wavehouse there was no question in my mind who my dream designer would be. How lucky an author am I that the folks at Fitzroy Books were equally smitten? With enough left to the viewer’s imagination, the Wavehouse cover says SO much. Here’s my girl Anna charging a massive wave, experiencing surfing’s ultimate thrill with the sparkle and ever-changing texture of the ocean ahead, and a foamy curl forming a roof over her head. Anna’s hand trails the face of the wave, her stance is rock solid, her confidence and connection are obvious. Whatever complications of life and love reside on the distant shore can wait. In this special moment Anna is with her wave-friend, and she’s having the time of her life. 

About the Author:

Alice Kaltman’s life has always been ocean-centric. Every night before bedtime when she was a kid, Alice squeezed both legs into one side of her pajama bottoms and shuffled around the house pretending she was a mermaid. Now when she’s not in the water she writes about surfers, mermaids, and other odd balls. She is the author of the short fiction collection Staggerwing and the much anticipated Young Adult novel Wavehouse. Alice’s writing has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and fiction anthologies. She splits her time between Brooklyn and Montauk, New York. Alice now wears her pajamas regular-style…most of the time.



Monday, September 4, 2017

If There's No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If There's No Tomorrow 
By: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Released: September 5, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She's ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. 
Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. 
Now Lena isn't looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.  For what she let happen.  With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn't even guaranteed? (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed If There's No Tomorrow and I had a difficult time putting this book down. This emotional story and its message on making a mistake and finding forgiveness will definitely stick with me for a long time.

Lena was a well developed and realistic protagonist. When she's not working or practicing for volleyball, she loves to read. She also spends her days worrying about her upcoming last year of high school and trying to avoid her dad, who she hasn't spoken to in years. Her whole life changes in one night though with one decision that has awful consequences. She makes a mistake thinking that nothing bad would happen and now she has to live with that guilt. I could relate and empathize with Lena in so many ways. She didn't trust her gut in the moment that it mattered most because she genuinely didn't believe that anything could happen. She learns a lot about herself as the book progresses and I believe that Lena's story is an important one to read.

If There's No Tomorrow also had several great side characters. I loved Sebastian! Lena and Sebastian have been neighbors and best friends since they were kids. I loved the relationship these two shared because it was obvious how important they are to each other. I also loved Lena's other best friends Dary, Abbi, and Megan. I loved the friendship that these girls shared with each other. 

If There's No Tomorrow made me smile and cry a lot while I was reading. I felt like this book definitely made me more emotional than some of Armentrout's other books. The plot was paced fairly well and I really liked how the story unfolded. However, I felt like it did drag on a bit towards the end. I also really loved the subplot about the relationship between Lena and her parents though. Lena and her father haven't spoken in years and Lena blames him for leaving.  

Overall, I really enjoyed If There's No Tomorrow. It was a heart-wrenching story about making mistakes, finding forgiveness, and moving forward. If you're a fan of Armentrout's previous books or enjoy contemporary books, then this is a must-read. It's a story that I will be thinking about for a long time to come.         

My Review:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Lucky in Love
By: Kasie West
Released: July 25, 2017
Source: Purchased
Purchase the Book: Amazon

Can’t buy me love…Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment— She wins! In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.
Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

I really enjoyed Lucky in Love! Kasie West is an auto-buy author for me and I couldn't put this one down.

Maddie's whole life changes when she wins the lottery. Her family is struggling financially and her parents are always fighting. The money seems like the answer to all of Maddie's problems at first, however, it also creates new problems for her. I really liked Maddie a lot and thought she was a well developed character. When she's not working at the zoo, she spends her time studying with her best friends. She is focused on getting into her dream college and her future. Her priorities start to change though when she wins the money. She's realistic and she makes mistakes.

There were several interesting side characters as well. I liked Maddie's best friends, Blaire and Elise, but I felt like I never really got to know either of them that well. My favorite was Seth though. He works at the zoo with Maddie and I especially wanted even more of him in this story. I loved the relationship between Maddie and Seth. Most of my favorite moments in this book were the scenes when Maddie and Seth were working together.    

The plot was paced well and I finished reading it rather quickly. There were plenty of fun and sweet moments throughout the book, but I also liked that West touched a bit on some more serious topics as well. I would have liked to see some of those more serious issues developed more though. However, I especially loved the setting at the zoo where Maddie worked. It was such a fun and lively setting and I loved how much of a role it played within the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Lucky in Love. It wasn't my favorite book by Kasie West, but I could still see myself rereading this one again. It was a sweet and fun story that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys contemporary books. It will also make you wonder how you would spend all that money.

My Rating: