Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: The Museum of Intangible by Wendy Wunder

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Goodreads Summary:

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.

Review:

This was such a difficult books to read. I had no idea what I was getting into except for what Kayla said which is that it wasn’t what she was expecting.

We start of with Hannah introducing herself and her situation, and then we come across her best friend Zoe. Right off the bat we know something is wrong with Zoe. We don’t know exactly what until Hannah tells us she has a bi-polar disorder and once was locked up. Zoe and Hannah had a system for dealing with the effects of the disorder until one day it couldn’t be helped any longer.

It was so sad to see the crazy Zoe got into once they went on their road-trip. It hurt even more to see Hannah see her best friend like that.

The ending was brutal as well as the epilogue. Zoe couldn’t deal with the disorder any longer which propelled her to jump of the Grand Canyon and killed herself. It was a little fuzzy, but it suggests that lightning did hit her and that she was burned up. What was more unbelievable was the fact that Hannah almost herself jumped with Zoe. Zoe was everything and if it meant Zoe would be better if she too jumped with her, so be it.

I was also bummed out that Danny wasn’t a part of her life in the future. She mentions in the epilogue that first loves don’t last and that she still looks at their picture. Honestly, Danny didn’t really do much for me, but he did mean a lot to Hannah.

The most heart-breaking part of this entire novel was the part in the epilogue where it is mentioned that she writes to Noah once a month and sends the letters to the NASA office where he works. What exactly is he doing in NASA? HE is searching for life in the universe. To me that is a little brother hoping that his sister was abducted by aliens, instead of thinking that she killed herself. Gosh it breaks my heart.

I don’t think I could ever read this again, but it is a good example of how hard it is for the person suffering a mental disorder, and how hard it also is for the people who love that love them.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Breathe Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind—and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

My Initial Thoughts:

I absolutely knew I was going to love it.

Review:

oh man, Oh man, Oh Man, did I absolutely love this book! It was everything I needed, wanted, and more! I think I will be using a lot of exclamation points the entire review!!!!

Let’s just start of by addressing the painful stuff first. Annie’s story about Kyle’s death and how it all went down was so sad…I was nearly in tears. I could imagine the guilt she felt. She was going to marry that guy. I seriously don’t know how she wasn’t a bigger mess. I think Kenneally did a wonderful job at explaining the importance of the marathon and Kyle to us, the readers, so that we could get it and understand why the marathon is so important to Annie.

Oh Jere. I remember you in Things I Can’t Forget and oh man I’m glad you’ve changed. What I really liked about Jeremiah is how honest he was with Annie. Jeremiah is exactly what Annie needed, and Annie is exactly what Jeremiah needed. Even though Annie was getting over someone who died, which I think is probably harder than getting over someone who is alive, she is able to stand on her own two feet and call out Jere out in his crap. I also love that Jere was there for Annie and waited for her to be ready. A man who can respect a woman. I like that. We need more men to be like that.

Breathe Annie Breathe didn’t just focus on Annie, but also addressed Jeremiah’s issue. I am a person that at times does somewhat risky things to get over a fear and likes to feel that rush of adrenaline that makes you feel like you’ve conquered the fear. I get why Jeremiah searched for that surge of adrenaline and how that road that led him to turning into an adrenaline junkie. He had to make some hard decisions throughout the entire book to change. The best part of each of the main characters were their interactions and how each could see through the other’s facade and actually address the issues and situations. Neither chickened out on each other.

The only reason I am giving this 4.5 stars instead of 5 is that the few pages before the ending were a little… weird for me and I felt like the story abruptly stopped. That ending was so not an ending.

Some of you might remember I had a few issues with Kenneally’s second book Stealing Parker for bad representation of certain groups of people, but I will say that I’ve loved every other books she’s written. So far I own all 5 Hundred Oaks books and hopefully I will keep owning more in the future.

I’m not done with the Hundred Oaks world yet Kenneally, and I hope you aren’t either.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Goodreads Summary:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new

My Initial Thoughts:

YOU ARE FINALLY IN MY HANDS. MUAHAHAHA. (If you were looking for something insightful, you’re not going to find it in this section.)

Review:

I just finished reading Isla a few hours ago and oh my is my mind still reeling. I can’t fathom coherent thoughts my friends, but I will surely try.

Stephanie Perkins has written another terrific novel, and I think it has surpassed her other novels, but at the same time it’s on the same level of perfection. That doesn’t make any sense does it? That’s something you’re going to have to make peace with. 🙂

I don’t normally read the acknowledgments page, but I’m glad I read this one. It literally left me with so many emotions. Stephanie Perkins is so honest and vulnerable in her acknowledgement, I almost cried and we all know I don’t really cry. And I think knowing she went through some tough times while writing this book just makes it that much more special to me. We have the finished product and that only means she pushed through those tough times in her life and conquered them. I am so happy for her.

Alright, let’s about the book.

Isla and Josh are by far my favorite couple (Don’t tell Anna/St.Clair and Lola/Cricket I said that!). There was just something so heartbreaking beautiful about them, their stories, and their struggles that I just have a soft spot for them. Like all fans of this world we can only hope Stephanie will continue to write more books about them (Can I get an AMEN for sequels!?!!), but I will say that this third book does give me some enough satisfaction as a finale. I know where my favorite characters are at in their lives and where some of my new favorites will be.

I don’t wish to spoil this for you, but I do want to say that their story is somehow much more grand then the other two. Maybe because I can identify with both Josh and Isla. Maybe because I know exactly what Isla feels when she says she feels like a blank canvas. All I know is that this book came into my life at the best time it could, and it has earned its place in my Top Favorite Books of All Time list.

Here is a word of advice: Read it!

Rating: 6 out of freaking 5

NA Romance, Reviews, ya romance

Book Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

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Goodreads Summary:

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all.

My Initial Thoughts:

If I am completely honest, I didn’t want to read DYT because of Beth. She broke Isaiah’s heart and I couldn’t forgive her for that. Kayla kept telling me, Come on you’re gonna love it, and I refused until I finally caved on my own.

Review:

Why didn’t I read this sooner?! Honestly I’m kind of mad at myself it took me this long to kinda get over what Beth did to Isaiah so that I could finally read it. I’m glad that it finally happened though.

Date You To is Beth’s story right after Pushing The Limits. We saw Beth in PTL, and DYT is her and Ryan’s story.

Since I just mentioned Ryan can I just say I need a Ryan in my life. He is perfect. For me at least. He is a writer to begin with. I’m a sucker for those, and musicians too… and mechanic dudes like Isaiah. OMG, okay, a lot of guys are my type. Haha.

Anyways, Beth’s story surprised me so much. I did not expect her story to go like this. I personally think it sheds a light on her, and her very “tough” attitude. As a reader, we finally get a in-depth view of the circumstances in her life that made her hard and bitter. The beginning made me cringe a lot because of the effort Beth’s uncle was making to try to make her life better, yet he couldn’t really do much. The entire book is about her journey and how both her uncle and Ryan little by little start chipping away those walls she has built around her heart. Towards the end of the story, her walls hadn’t all collapsed, but she we can clearly see she is on the road to recovery (by that I mean her heart and mental state), and for those who have read Crash Into You, we know she is doing a lot better a few months down the road after DYT.

Ryan’s story made me cry a little. Okay, my eyes just got a little misty. The home he lives in is horrible. Can you imagine living in that type of hostile environment and having to be exactly what your parents want you to be 100% of the time? It made me upset that his father wouldn’t support his writing career. If your kid is good at something, I say support him in that. Don’t make him something he isn’t. Okay, I’m getting off my soapbox now.

I think the most important thing I learned from Beth’s story is the importance of realizing that our loved ones are not always how we picture them. We can’t make excuses for their bad choices. Beth’s mom didn’t learn her lesson and wasn’t going to either. Beth couldn’t see the damage and danger her mother is to herself and to Beth. When she realized that at the end, I finally exhaled in relief. Her mother needs helps, just not Beth’s help. If Beth wants her life to change, she needs someone else to take care of her mother.

Overall, I thought it was a great book, and I’m glad I read it.

(Reviewer note: Sorry Guys! I meant to post this review up like 3 weeks ago, but the job training I’m going through in Utah is intense and doesn’t leave me time to read or even write reviews, but I made time today! The blog will be back to regular schedule the month of August!)

Rating: 5/5

 

Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

My Initial Thoughts:

I loved Catching Jordan, I hated Stealing Parker, and I liked Things We Can’t Forget. In my head, I didn’t know if I would love this book or hate it. What did perk me up was the whole ranching side and racing horses aspect of the story. That intrigued me, but apart from that, I really didn’t know what my reaction to this book would be.

Review:

I am going to be absolutely honest with you… I LOVED THIS BOOK. I fangirled throughout the whole entire book. I love the way Miranda Kenneally develops her characters, how we can see them grow. I love that this book takes place several years after the first book, Catching Jordan, and we are able to see what has happened to our favorite characters in the past 4 years.

The romance in this novel is believable. Jack, that lovable bastard, is it just me or did he remind you of Adrian Ivashkov a little? Anyone? Maybe just me, but man I loved him as a character. He has his faults, several at the beginning, but he sees his wrongs and changes. That’s why I love him. 

Savannah was also a character I enjoyed because she didn’t let a guy define her. She one knew her worth and did not lower herself to please a guy in a way that degrades her. We need more girl characters in YA that know their self-worth and fight for their life instead of letting a guy fix all of their problems.

Overall, I recommend this book. It is a quick read that will have you gushing and screaming of joy. I can’t wait for Breathe, Annie, Breathe which is Ms. Kenneally’s next novel.

Rating: 5/5