Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Red, vintage, neon motel sign on blue sky; Shutterstock ID 95002717

Goodreads Summary:

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

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

Review:

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That’s exactly how I feel right now after just finishing I’ll Meet You There. I am floating in the stars happy. Gahhhhhhh I can’t seem to form coherent thoughts, but I shall try!

Skylar and Josh. They are both the perfect match for each other if there is such a thing. When Josh needed someone to put him in his place, Skylar was able to do it, when Skylar needed someone to be her friend, Josh was there. The other was always what the other needed. It is amazing to see such a perfect balance. Of course there were some issues Josh had to work through and Skylar as well, but at the end of the day, I really loved their relationship from friendship to something more.

What I really appreciated was the fact that a YA novel was able to marry a coming of age story with the aftermath of war for the soldiers that are lucky enough to come home. The difficulty to be a civilian again after seeing horrendous things. Reading stories like this make you appreciate even more the freedom that we experience in our day-to-day lives and the sacrifice the brave men and women who serve our country have done so we can be safe and sane. Please read the Author’s note at the end. You won’t regret it.

I will leave you with this quote which summarizes Skylar and Josh’s relationship.

“I had to tell him we were like a collage. Pieces that could be put back together in a new way, a better way. If I didn’t say it now, I never would.”

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ComtempConvos: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything

GoodReads Summary:

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Liz’s Review:

This was my first book by Sarah Dessen and I really enjoyed it. It is a classic of what I always assumed high school novels should be- uncomfortable interactions, personal growth, loss of innocence (not sexually), betrayal, tragic vanity, illusion vs. reality. These play out in the different relationships Sydney has- with her parents, brother, friends, love interest.

Dessen does an exceptional job at asking, and answering, questions that as teens we all have at some point. What meaning does my life have? Am I significant? Can I handle the events taking place? Do I have my best interest at heart? Are these people truly my friends? What do I want for my future? And even the simple questions- do I like this boy? Am I comfortable?

We are taken through the story by Sydney, who asks these questions, and has to evaluate what would be best for her, given the situation with her brother, and the lack of anything significant from her parents- emotionally and physically. Through out the book, she grows as a person- from a girl who just went along with her parents and didn’t ask anything of, because her parents have made her brother the center of their universe to a person who finally does what is best for herself, standing up to her parents, taking control back from her mother. Sydney is a complex character. Her friends are perfectly written as well, but are not without their own flaws and tragic backstory.

Side note about the mom- I really hated her. Once Peyton went to jail, it was all she thought about. Basically forgetting she had another child who needed her. And because she refused to acknowledge that what her son had done was wrong, Sydney was forced to take on that guilt. And when she finally did notice her daughter, she was a helicopter parent, afraid Sydney would make the same mistakes as Peyton.

This is a wonderful coming of age story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Coming of Age Intro (and Week 1 Wrap Up)

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And the first week is done with! This is going by much faster than I anticipated it to. I don’t know about you, but I certainly thought I had much more time to read all the books. Gah!

For this week, we shall be reading and celebrating all things Coming of Age

If you aren’t sure what classifies as Coming of Age, think  along the lines of Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, Heather Demetrios, Abby McDonald, etc. You get the picture.

Week 1 – Thriller/Spy – Wrap Up

Let’s have a great week 2!

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ContempConvos: Why is the YA Thriller/Spy genre underrated and underdeveloped?

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Disclaimer: So this past weekend was my birthday and I may have taken a day or two off. Sorry guys! But here is a discussion post that will make up for my silence this weekend! And yes, I am now 25. SAY WHAT?!

It is time I talk about a very important topic… and that important topic is Why is the YA Thriller/Spy genre underrated and underdeveloped? In other words, Why is it not as BIG as other YA sub-genres?

Think about this. You walk into a bookstore and beeline directly to the YA section. You see YA fantasy, YA paranormal, YA contemporary, YA dystopian, etc., but you don’t see a special section dedicated to the YA thriller/spy novels. Why is that?

First, we all know that there aren’t many YA spy/thriller novels out there to begin with. If we think long and hard about YA authors writing books for this specific sub-genre, there aren’t many. We have Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Ally Carter, Abby McDonald, and Lauren Oliver. But if you try to think even harder, you may come up empty-handed like I do.

I’m a big fan of the spy/thriller genre. I love me a good spy/con-man story that has you constantly at the edge of your seat. And the thing is those novels are not badly written, they are good, but why are they not as big as others from other sub-genres?

It just makes me sad that not many authors explore this sub-genre as much and that might be part of the problem. There are only a few household names when we think of the Thriller/Spy sub-genre.

I personally think it is because not many people want to take the risk of writing a thriller/spy/con man novel without the paranormal or fantasy element. It is much easier to go down the route many have gone than one that many have not passed through.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with me? Are there more YA thriller/spy novels out there that I haven’t discovered yet?

Talk to me! I want to know what you guys think!

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, YA Mystery, YA Thriller

ContempConvos: Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

Review:

Oh my gosh.

I am dead. No pun intended.

I was a huge fan of The Naturals, but Barnes just went ahead and blew me away with the sequel.

Killer Instinct is everything you’ve wanted. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and addicting. You have the action, the sick twisted mindset of the killer, and the relationships between the naturals. I wish this were a tv show.

In Killer Instinct we have the gang in the aftermath of what happened with Cassie and “agent” Locke. As Cassie deals with the aftermath, a copycat shows up, but it’s not just any killer he is copying, but Dean’s dad. MO right to the t. The entire time we are dealing with the team trying to solve who is the copycat, if the naturals program will be dismantled with Agent Sterlings presence now in the mix, and Cassie’s inner turmoil of Michael or Dean.

Now don’t be turned away because we have love in the mix. Ms. Barnes does it in a very tasteful way which actually adds to the story and doesn’t take away from it.

At the end of the day, if you haven’t read Killer Instinct (or The Naturals) please do so. You will not regret that decision.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ComtempConvos: We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

We'll Never Be Apart

GoodReads Summary:

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half of the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

My Review:

We’ll Never Be Apart is quite an interesting book and the twist and turns I definitely didn’t see coming. Emiko Jean’s writing is on point and satisfying.

Jean addresses the serious issue of mental illness and how a person copes with traumatic experiences. She does it through the lens of twin sisters and the death of a loved one.  Alice has taken her experiences and tried to see the good in them. Celia (Cellie) is more the rebel and only causes destruction. When they end up at Savage Isle, Alice meets Chase, a boy who has his own troubling background. Through Alice’s writings in her journal and the help of Chase, we come to understand the traumatic experiences that put Alice in the mental institution.

I found this book quite intriguing. Mental illness is something that we look down upon. If people aren’t able to get their stuff together, then, as a society, we believe they aren’t capable of anything. And looking at mental illness through the lens of a thriller novel is even more exquisite. You watch the story unravel to this big ending that I definitely did not see coming. This book made me realize what your brain is capable of doing when coping with traumatic experiences.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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The Beginning of Contemporary Convos Round 2 – Week 1 – Thrillers (& Spies)

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EEEEEEKKKKKK! IT HAS BEGUN! *hits gong*

First of all, add your name and a link to your blog to our linky at the bottom of this post. We would also be forever grateful if you made a post that announced your intention to participate, and spread the word! The more the merrier!

Second, plan your books! Liz and I will be previewing the books we will be reviewing at the beginning of each new week if you would like to read and discuss them with us!

Third, have fun! We’ll be reviewing and writing discussions, but anything and everything goes.

Last, but not least, use #contempconvos on Twitter. It will help everyone find your posts from the month!

*drum roll*

This week’s theme is thrillers/spies

I feel like this subgenre of YA Contemporary is overlooked most of the time, so we must bring light to it!

Posts to come this week:

  • Review of We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean
  • Review of This Is Where IT Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • Review of Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Review of Holding Court by K.C. Held
  • Discussing why the thriller/spy/con-man genre is not BIG in the YA contemporary world?

Don’t forget to link your initial participating post down below and let the fun begin!

 

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Contemporary Conversations #2

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The time has come to start preparing for the 2nd Contemporary Conversations!

This year things will be the same for the most part except for one major thing, it will only be hosted at The Talking Bookworm. You can expect to see posts both from myself (Veronica) and Liz throughout the entire month of March.

Start making the reading lists and coming up with ideas you want to discuss with your fellow book-loving peers.

The following is to refresh the minds of those who participated last year [and probably forgot everything there is to Contemporary Conversations] and also if this is your first time seeing this *waves* you can learn what Contemporary Conversations is all about.

The Down Low

For the entire month of March (2016), starting Tuesday the 1st and going through Thursday the 31st, we will be reviewing, discussing, and talking about all things contemporary. Our goal is to saturate the web with all things Contemporary!

The young adult contemporary genre has quite a range of sub-genres, so we are here to make things a little bit easier for you. We have attached a sub-genre to each week to help book planning a bit smoother.

  • Week One (1st-7th): Spy/Thriller
  • Week Two (8th-14th): Coming of Age
  • Week Three (15th-21st): Romance
  • Week Four (22nd-28th): Re-Reads
  • Week Five (29th-31st): Wrap-Up Posts, and Announcement of Giveaway Winner

And just as last year, we will be doing a giveaway and all participants will be able to enter for up to $15 to either Amazon or The Book Depository. To answer everybody’s question… it will be international!

The How

If you will be participating in Contemporary Conversations in March of 2016, this is what you must do.

First, add your name and a link to your blog to our linky at the bottom of this post.

Second, plan your books! We will be posting our reading lists in the next week or two so you can join into the discussion if you may like so come March!

Third, have fun! We are mostly focusing on reviews and discussions, but one of us may or may not be hosting a 24-hour ready-a-thon! If you would like to host one yourself, be our guests!

Last, but not least, use #contempconvos on Twitter. It will help everyone find your posts from the month!

We would love it if you wrote a post on your blog announcing your participation this year and helped spread the word.

 

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ContempConvos: Giveaway Winner!

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It is time to announce the giveaway winner!

First, I want to thank every single one of you one more time for participating either via posting, reading, tweeting, and any other way. You guys made this a really fun event and even though it was a lot of work for both Kayla and I, I think we would do it again in a heartbeat!

Now, what you have all been waiting for… drum roll please… The winner is:

NARA LEE

Congratulations! *throws confetti*

We have already contacted the winner. If the winner doesn’t respond within 48 hours, we will be picking another winner.

THANK YOU ALL AGAIN!

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ContempConvos: Week 4 Wrap Up

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We did it! Week 4 is over! I am so excited we did it and at the same time I am really sad because Contemporary Conversations is almost over. We have two days left.

Below is a list of the posts that were a part of “Conspiracies/Spies/Drama” week. If we missed your post or discussion by any chance, go ahead and leave it down in the comments below and we will add it to the list accordingly.

Reviews:

Discussions and Fun:

I want to thank each and every one of you who participated in some shape or form in Contemporary Conversations. We couldn’t have done this without you! I want to apologize as well because I had so much planned for week 4 in the review department, but the books that were going to be featured (which Penguin kindly provided) ended up going to a wrong address. Penguin kindly resent the books, but they arrived halfway through week 4. Such a bummer. But either way you will be seeing reviews of those book shortly so stay tuned for those!

We will be announcing the giveaway winner through both Kayla’s blog and mine on Tuesday! (Kayla thinks it’s Wednesday but I checked our shared calendar 🙂 )

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