Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson


Goodreads Summary:

he Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend.

Apple Picking at Night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a Stranger? Um…

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

Go Skinny Dipping? Wait … what?


Wow. I really did not expect to like this book. You might be thinking… Veronica what did you just say?! and I am rather surprised myself that I had those thoughts too. I am one of those people that LOVES Morgan Matson books. I tell people I don’t even know at the bookstore that they have to read one of her books. The thing is that when SYBG was released, I wasn’t too thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited, but the synopsis didn’t grab me. Kayla bought me the book because she is awesome and I started reading it and… it fell flat. I couldn’t get into it. It was boring. (Yes I know I committed blasphemy by saying that but keep reading please)

10 months later, I decide to give SYBG another chance because I HAVE to. I was at a different point in my life then and maybe my perceptive now will change since I am at a different stage in life. I decide to “read” the book a different way this time too. Once I received my credit on Audible, I choose to spend that credit on SYBG and listen to it on my commute to and from work. Let me jus tell you the wonders a good audiobook does to your overall experience of a book, it gave Emily a voice that I couldn’t have given her in my mind. I got so into the story that I regretted packing all of my books already, and not leaving SYBG out. As I was wallowing because I could only hear SYBG and not read it too, Ms. Matson tweeted that the kindle version of SYBG was on sale for 1.99. I snatched that baby up in no time and started reading it. A month of car rides and reading SYBG at night when I could muster enough energy to stay awake for 20 more minutes, I finished it and it ended up being exactly what I needed.

Emily is a very relatable character. I think my 17 year old self would have connected with Emily more, but nonetheless, I did too at 24. In February I started a new job and I had to be the new girl all over again and It’s easy to be the shadow of a new friend. I’ve done that my entire life, but an important lesson I’ve learned is that you need to have an identity all on your own and be proud of that identity. I came into my new job with this mentality and it has worked. I am my own person and I can also be somebody’s good friend without being their shadow.

This review is more of my journey and not information itself of the book because that is exactly how the book is. I recommend you read it at some point in your life. You may not be ready for it now (or you might be), but you will be ready for it at some point and it will leave you feeling good and content with life.

Before I close, let’s not forget about Frank. I’m not a fan of the name Frank, but this character has even made me like the name. He is the sweetest, most loyal, human character I’ve read in contemporary YA in a long time. Don’t get me wrong I am still in love with Isaiah from Crash Into You (that boy will be the death of me), but there is something so real and raw about Frank that I have to say Ms. Matson did a darn good job with her characters in SYBG.

Rating: 5 out of freaking 5

Reviews, YA Mystery

Book Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides— especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

My Initial Thoughts:

I’d read one of Ms. Barnes books before and I liked it….a lot! It wasn’t a murder mystery like this one, but it had to deal with spies and government operatives. I’m a sucker for those stories.


Now, let’s talk about The Naturals. I really like this book. The main character, Cassie, is very observant, or what the FBI would call a profiler only she doesn’t know it until she gets the attention of the FBI one day. She knew she was different because she never fit in wherever she was. Cassie gets recruited into the The Naturals program, where other teenagers also have a natural ability whether it is to tell if someone is lying, what their emotions are, or how to profile people.

When Cassie gets to the program, she meets what I call the “Fantastic Four”, soon to become the “Fantastic Five”. Each teenager has one specific talent: Lia can lie like nobody’s business and also detect lies, Michael can read emotions off a person and has a very good poker face, Sloane sees the world through a mathematical point of view and can hack any government program or database, and Dean is a profiler, just like her.

The “romance” in the story takes the back burner throughout the whole book, and sometimes its hard to pick up the subtle hints here and there. Some of you may be Team Dean or Team Michael, but what I loved the most was the case and how all five of them even though they are messed up, can do good in the world one case at a time. It’s like a teenage Bones/CSI crossover. I love it!

Ms. Barnes has a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science, and her knowledge is sprinkled throughout the book. I absolutely love it when authors add their area of expertise to their novels. It takes the books up another notch!

Rating: 4.5/5