Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary

Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

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Goodreads Summary:

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them .

Review:

I am floored.

My expectations for TSoCM were met and then some. I’m a puddle of feelings and cannot function. Dear Lord. I need a minute.

I hope it is known how big of a Sarah Ockler fan I am. I have loved every single one of her books (except #Scandal because I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure I will love it too). When I heard the title of her new book, I wasn’t sure if it would be up my alley, but after seeing the cover I said, forget it. I will read this book.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is a story that explores so many things, but the number one thing it focuses on is the aftermath of shattered dreams. Elyse, the main character, loses her voice in a tragic accident and now has to face the world without her voice, without the ability to sing, even speak. Her Plan A, to be a singer, a performer, is not doable anymore. My heart broke for Elyse.

I still can’t seem to form the words to properly explain my feelings, but I will try.

Let’s start with Christopher Kane. Mr. heart-breaker. We get a glimpse of the old him, but I loved that none of his “playboy” ways showed up in the story which in turn could hurt Elyse. I really liked their initial friendship and how everything developed. It wasn’t a “oh we are both attracted to each other, let’s start making out” but a steady build throughout.

I connected to both Elyse and Christopher for different reasons. I saw myself in both characters and honestly, it helped me come to terms with some of the choices I’ve made in the past 6 years.

I loved that Elyse figured out the difference between loving someone because they love you, and actually loving someone for them. There is a big difference. One is on the side of lust and attraction, and the other on real love which is much more than just attraction.

The side characters are the best and not one of them felt forced. I loved Kirby and Vanessa, and Sebastian Kane is one of my favorite children ever (and he doesn’t even exist. *cries*). He reminds me a lot of my nephew Jacob. The enthusiasm, that sense for adventure. Now I miss my nephew.

Another thing I loved is that the entire story feels like a journey. There is no one part where I felt like it was a little boring, or I was being given filler information. The entire novel felt steady, grounded, full of life.

There are so many things I want to talk about like the brotherly love, Lemon, Elyse’s family back at the islands, and the accident but I don’t want to give this book away. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

As I close this review I will only say this. Sarah Ockler has a gift and her writing changes you.

Rating: 6 out of 5 (rating meter broken due to  awesomeness of book)

Disclaimer: Thank you Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

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Introduction:

I am kicking Contemporary Conversations first week off with Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler. I don’t really see anyone talking about this at all and after reading it I am very surprised no one is! It was an amazing coming of age story. One that left me in awe at the end that I even tweeted Ms. Sarah Ockler herself to let her know my FEELS. To my surprise she tweeted me back and I then had some fangirl feels, I couldn’t believe it, but there is proof that exchanged happened. 🙂

Goodreads Summary:

Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

Review:

Oh Delilah, my poor baby. I just want to hug you and tell you everything is going to be alright. For some reason I got all motherly over Delilah as I was reading Fixing Delilah. So much happened throughout the novel, yet it wasn’t overwhelming for us as the reader. Ms. Ockler paced it in such a way that I didn’t notice how much information I was given until the very end. Honestly, I think this book would be perfect to be translated into film. There is this epic story with another equally heart-wrenching story under it that the entire time you weren’t just rooting for Delilah, but also for her Aunt Stephanie.

This book was made to take you on a journey and at the end of the journey helps you realize something important about life. I tabbed several different parts of the book as I read because there were so many good moments and as I was reviewing those tabs and I came across this gem.

“I look over at Luna, wiping down the counter and the nuzzles on the steamers, chatting with customers, making the schedule, and I wonder how much we don’t see. How much of our lives we witness and accept as truth when the rest of the iceberg—the heaviest, bulkiest part—is buried and invisible.” (Pg.178 of the Paperback edition)

That quote is the only way I can sum up this novel in its entirety without spoiling you. I came into this book blind without knowing any details about it and I myself want you to experience this novel the same way I did.

There is a lot of mystery in Delilah’s life about her past, her father, her aunts strained relationships, and why her grandmother acted the way she did which in turn sadly ended up in her dying completely alone. Fixing Delilah isn’t a book about happiness, but about relationships and what can make or break them.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Other

Let’s Talk About… Most Owned Authors!

I was recently catching up on my YouTube subscriptions and I saw Katystastic’s (a YouTube Book Blogger) video talking about her Top Ten Most Owned Authors. She went into detail that the authors on her list were not just authors whom she owned the most books by, but also that they were on her auto-buy list (if you want to watch the video, click here!) So, I thought to myself, I should do that too. Why the heck not right?

So today I will be talking about my Top Ten Most Owned Authors that are also on my Auto-Buy list. Here we go!

 

1

 

If you know me really well, this is not surprising. I own 12 of her books. All of the “Vampire Academy” Series and all that is out of the “Bloodlines” Series. I also have in my possession both “Age of X Series” books, “Gameboard of the Gods” and “The Immortal Crown”. Anything this woman writes, I love. Whether it be her paranormal young adult novels or her new adult series that has Fantasy, Dystopian, and Science Fiction themes in it, I read it all. Her writing has the ability to suck me in and make me forget reality for a couple of hours.

2

Now this may come as a surprise to many because I hardly ever mention Ms. Ally Carter. Probably because I read most of her books before I started my blog December of 2012. I own all of the Gallagher Girls Series, and all three books of the Heist Society Series. Total of 9 books. She has a new series coming out soon and I have no clue what it is about, but you can bet I will buy it without reading the synopsis.

3

A lot of people think of her as the YA Contemporary Queen of the early 2000s. Her books were crazy popular with good reason. Although I don’t click with the characters in two of her books, I will buy any book she writes. Her writing is poetic and beautiful. Some of my favorite quotes come from her books. She knows how to write a coming of age story that will sit with you for years.

4

She recently became an auto-buy author for me. The first book I ever read by her was “The Disreputable History of Frankie-Laundau Banks”. That novel was eery and haunting. The emotion was raw and deep. I felt things I never had before reading this book and really brought to light the issues we have with romanticized rebels (or criminals). Two years later, I listened to her read her new book  “We Were Liars” at the LA Times Books Festival and it prompted me to buy it. “We Were Liars” left me breathless. After that I went and bought most of the books she has published. I have 6 of her books in my possession.

5

There was a time in my life where I wanted fun summer contemporaries that still gave me some substance, but I also didn’t want them to be too serious. In comes “The Daughters” Series by Joanna Philbin. She’s another author whose writing just sucks me in. I feel as if I know her characters personally and I am their friend. It’s that intimate. I own 5 of her books.

6

Isaiah & Noah. That’s all you need to know. Okay, okay, just kidding. I’m not ending it there. 🙂

I own 4 of her books because that is all she has published. If she had more books published, I would own them all by now. What I love about her stories is that her characters are real. Their issues are real. You could say she uses the same freaking formula in each book, but she writes it in a way that doesn’t feel like she’s using the same formula to tell the story, and I freaking eat them up. She writes grittier young adult contemporary and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty when it comes to writing her books. She learned how to drive stick just so she could legitimately write the car scenes in “Crash Into You”. If that is not dedication to your work, then I don’t know what is.

7

We now have Ms. Sarah Ockler. Gosh Darn her stories make me happy. Her stories aren’t really always happy per say (“Twenty Boys Summer” broke my heart), but she writes them so well that I will sob through her books if that’s the price I have to pay to read them. I say she falls in the same category as Katie McGarry’s books with the whole characters dealing with real issues, but Ockler’s characters are a little less rough around the edges. I proudly own 3 of her books (and I need to get my hands on #Scandal as soon as its out! *grabby hands*).

8

My lovely Morgan Matson. How I love her so. I know that sounds a little weird, but I have been a faithful fan of her writing since “Amy and Rogers Epic Detour”. I waited for “Second Chance Summer” for an entire year, and now I have “Since You’ve Been Gone” in my hands. Although the premise for SYBG doesn’t sound as intriguing to me as the other two, I still wanted it and got it (Thank you Kayla you are the best!). Her writing takes me a little bit longer to read, nonetheless it entertains me and makes me happy. Even though her books are seen as sad, I don’t feel sad when I see them or read them. I get all giddy and happy. Yes, I’m weird. Deal with it. 🙂

(proud owner of all three books!)

9

She’s actually a last-minute addition because I didn’t think I owned enough books to add her to this list, but alas I do! I own 3 of her books and a novella. Jessica Park wrote “Flat Out Love” which is one of my favorite contemporaries of 2013. I loved it so much that I went on and read “Flat Out Matt” and “Left Drowning”. I devoured them. I recently purchased “Flat Out Celeste” her newest novel in the “Flat Out Love” world. (Kayla I know you’re gonna be mad, but I bought the kindle version okay! It was only 3.99. I couldn’t resist!!). I think the reason I am so amazed by her is because she is an independent author. She does not publish her books through a big publishing house, but through an independent publisher. Her books are edited so well that I almost want to pee my pants at how happy it makes. She’s an indie author who got it right. It gives me hope for future indie authors and indie books.

10

Surprised to see this? I know I’m not. Why? Because I’m one of those few people who loved “Allegiant”. I loved the Divergent Trilogy as a whole. The world she created, the way she wrote it, the trilogy sucked me in and I never wanted to leave it for the real world. Sadly, I had to, but if she publishes something in the near or far future, even if it sounds boring, I will buy it. I don’t care. I love her that much. (And honestly how can we forget Divergent? That was one of the best first books in a trilogy I have EVER read!) I own three of her books (and soon four! haha get it?! Because the new book is titled Four and it’s the fourth book!!! No… I just think it’s funny… okay… *walks away shamefully*).

11

Lastly, we have an honorary mention because if this woman had published “Isla and the Happily Ever After” sooner, she would have been able to make it on the list officially. We all love Stephanie Perkins and we all know why. I feel like she is the recent Queen of YA contemporary and no one has come close to dethrone her. At least not in my book. Her books are all sugar, sweet, and honey. They make you feel all happy and bubbly inside. BUY HER BOOKS!

 

We have finally reached the end of this really long post for which I apologize, but I did have a lot to say and yet I feel like I didn’t say enough. I’m going to go ahead and tag Kayla over at The Thousand Lives and demand she do this because I want to see what she comes up with, and I think most of you might want to know too! If anyone decides to write a post like this, please let me know and send me the link. I want to read your posts and have discussions about our most owned authors that are also on our auto-buy list.

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Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Okcler

5231173Goodreads Summary:

“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Okay.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

What I Like:

First, I want to discuss the cover. You may think it’s pretty or simple, but it portrays 100% what the book is about. The title of Sarah Ockler’s debut novel may lead you to think that it is just another Young Adult chick lit book (there is nothing wrong with YA Chick-lit), but this novel has depth, it is deep, and it will make you reevaluate your life.

Throughout the novel we get to experience firsthand not just the grief Matt’s family is going through, but Anna, whom no one seems to acknowledge that she has every right to be hurting too. There are some beautiful lines written in this novel. For example:

Like the stars, fading with the halo of the vanishing moon. Like the ocean, falling and whispering against the shore. Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else. Something beautiful.

I’m not a person that sheds tears when reading a book. Some have even said I’m hard as a rock, but TBS opened up the safe within my mind and brought memories of someone that I loved that passed away several years ago. I teared up several times while reading it.

This book is a good portrayal of how grief can take control of someone’s life, and the process that we sometimes have to go through in order to heal.

I also want to point out that Sam was such a sweetheart. It must be hard to take a chance on someone knowing you may never see them again after summer ends.

What I Dislike:

If I am going to be super nit-picky, I wish we would have seen a little more of Frankie before Matt’s death. The only lens which we see Frankie through is Anna and that lens can be obscured.

Overall:

Twenty Boy Summer  is one of the best debut novels I have read. The well thought out passages and the full exploration of grief makes this one of the most heat-wrenching, beautiful novels I have ever read.

Rating: 5/5

Book Spotlight

Book Spotlight #9 Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

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This week’s spotlight is taken by one of my favorite YA contemporary books of all time, Bittersweet. Sarah Ockler has mastered the art of creating a hybrid YA contemporary book. Bittersweet is both deep and fluffy. The characters in this story deal with real life issues that we can all relate too. This is another book that made me want to eat lots of cake while I was reading it. I don’t know why I didn’t heed to the warning on the cover, a heart shaped puzzle pastry and the sprinkled sugar before it was too late. Trust me, you won’t regret reading this book or eating all the cake it makes you crave.

Book Title: Bittersweet

Author: Sarah Ockler

Originally Published: January 3rd, 2012

Goodreads Summary:

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life… and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

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Goodreads Summary:

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

What I liked:

I can describe this book in one single word… perfection. There is a reason why I bought this book without even glancing at the synopsis and just on the basis that it is written by Sarah Ockler. Her writing is phenomenal. I can just read and lose myself into the pages she has written. That my friends is a God given talent.

I was not expecting the ending because the new trend in YA is to have a unhappy ending or as some people call it, a realistic ending. Excuse me, there can be a happy ending in real life too. Its how you view it, half empty or half full. I loved all of the characters, especially the Holy Trio, or Jude’s three older sisters. Being the youngest girl in my family, I can connect with Jude with how difficult it is being the youngest.

I think a reason this book hit home with me is because of the use of the spanish language and hispanic boys. I loved the way hispanic americans were portrayed. A little bit of our past culture mixed in with the american culture. Just how we are in real life.

One more thing, where can I find an Emilio Vargas all for myself? 🙂

What I disliked:

I wish we had more Emilio and Jude moments. I also wish the book was longer.

Overall:

The Book of Broken Hearts deals with a heavy subject without making you sob uncontrollably (Can we all say The Fault in Our Stars?). It has romance, family, good advice, and it mentions amazing food that I wish I could be eating right now. Empanadas anybody?

If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, or just some good YA Contemporary, this is the book for you.

Rating 5/5

Rating System:

1/5: I hate it.

2/5: It had some redeeming qualities but overall, not a good book.

3/5: I like it /A fun read.

4/5: I really like it, but something is missing.

5/5: I love it! It’s as close to perfection as it can get!