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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review. Most Likely To Succeed by Jennifer Echols

Title. Most Likely To Succeed
Author. Jennifer Echols
Published August 4th 2015 by Simon Pulse
From Goodreads. 
As vice president of Student Council, Kaye knows the importance of keeping order. Not only in school, but in her personal life. Which is why she and her boyfriend, Aidan, already have their lives mapped out: attend Columbia University together, pursue banking careers, and eventually get married. Everything Kaye has accomplished in high school—student government, cheerleading, stellar grades—has been in preparation for that future.
To his entire class, Sawyer is an irreverent bad boy. His antics on the field as school mascot and his love of partying have earned him total slacker status. But while he and Kaye appear to be opposites on every level, fate—and their friends—keep conspiring to throw them together. Perhaps the seniors see the simmering attraction Kaye and Sawyer are unwilling to acknowledge to themselves…
As the year unfolds, Kaye begins to realize her ideal life is not what she thought. And Sawyer decides it’s finally time to let down the facade and show everyone who he really is. Is a relationship between them most likely to succeed—or will it be their favorite mistake?

I'm always glad to be reading anything by Jennifer Echols. Even if this time it was bittersweet, the end of her Superlatives Trilogy. Nevertheless I composed myself enough to get trough this without slamming my head down on a hard surface and screaming 'Noooo!'.

I was really into the book from the start. After all this is about Sawyer, who we met in Biggest Flirts as Tia's Friend with Benefits. I loved Sawyer since I met him so of course I was thrilled about reading his story this time.

Turns out he liked Kaye, Student Council Vice President, Head Cheerleader and Overachiever, who would have never thought she'd end up with someone as *gasp* imperfect as Sawyer. At fist I thought she was a little bland but then I started to like her when she opened up about the struggles of being black in a society that still has a ton of misconceptions and traditions. After that I liked her a lot, even if she let her mother be so rude to Sawyer. I kinda hoped she would have tried a little harder to get her point across that Sawyer is a good kid. But you know, moms will be moms, they'd never understand.

Anyway. I loved that we got to see all our previous couples! And that we get to witness them be happy and still together and awesome. Specially Tia, I loved her and she was as wild and careless as ever, that was an extra plus.

I think I am pleased about how the book wrapped up, and the whole trilogy did too. It was fun, sweet, sexy and short. Perfect for the summer. But just like the summer, it ended. So I guess I will be moving on until the time comes when I get another Jennifer Echols book in my hands.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Title. Saint Anything
Author. Sarah Dessen
Published May 5th 2015 by Viking Juvenile
From Goodreads.
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.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.
First of all, let me get it off my chest,
I love this title!
Before I read it I thought it was a play on words about...

But it wasn't. But the reason why it is called this is even more awesome (if possible).


I've missed Sarah Dessen. 

That's what I first thought as I read the first few chapters. I've forgotten how she always manages to make a story seem easy, relatable. Her main characters are always so easy to like, to root for. Saint Anything was not different.

I can't pinpoint what exactly makes her stories so magical but that's undeniable. Saint Anything trapped me. In a world where Sydney was perfect on the outside (and pretty much on the inside too, I know I would have thrown plenty of fits if I were in her place) yet very vulnerable, it made you instantly love her. 

Then came the Chathams, especially Layla and Mac, who were the most amazing, most welcoming family Dessen has ever written (possibly). I loved them and their chamadery. I loved that they had a pizzeria. I loved everything about them.

I am trying to remember if there Dessen has ever written a boy as shy as Mac. I can't remember (it's been a lot of books and a lot of boys) but I absolutely adored that Mac was the shy one for once. He grew up being overweight his whole life and now with a recent healthier body he is kind of apprehensive of people (no blame). He was absolutely perfect and adorable.

And as much this is 2015, and this is a new, different story, it still felt familiar, like seeing your childhood best friend again and realizing you missed them more than you noticed. I loved to read this, Sarah, my old pal. Thanks for forever bringing me reading pleasure, circa 2007.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review: Dumplin by Julie Murphy

Title: Dumplin 
Author: Julie Murphy

From Goodreads:
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.


I thought I wasn't going to read anything else by Julie Murphy after I read her debut novel, then I read this book synopsis and I just knew I couldn't forgive myself if I missed it. I am so glad I got past my initial reservations because this one pretty much rocks.

Dumplin' is much more than a book about a fat girl entering a pageant. It's about all of us girls (and I'm guessing guys too) having the same insecurities. Like when you're perfectly okay with your body until you start to think what others think of it.

Murphy was eloquent and real, and she doesn't apologize for writing the truth and you and I probably have no idea how much that means for the world, especially the Young Adult world.

I'm trying to make you read it in the hopes you will find it as amazing and enlightening as I did but really, even if you just read it for the heck of it, you're in for a fun-filled day of Dolly Parton and Texas Unconventional but Every-Bit-Deserving beauty Queens.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Review: The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis

Title: The One Thing 
Author: Marci Lyn Curtis
Expected publication: September 8th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
From Goodreads: 

Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won't invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie's rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.
Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn't interested in rehabilitation, not when she's still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.
Then Maggie's whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she's ever met.Ben's life isn't easy, but he doesn't see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn't have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she's currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie's new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben's brother.
But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future... before she loses everything she has grown to love.

So what's your thing? The One Thing that makes you the happiest?
Mine is easy, it would be reading amazing books. And I am thrilled to inform you that this is one of them.

I had the most magical experience reading this novel. I don't even know what to say about it right now so I don't spoil it for everyone else, just that it was fabulous. I mean is not everyday you find a book that is mainly focused on the relationship between a seventeen year old blind girl and a semi-paralyzed ten year old boy. That alone makes me want to grab the book and read it again, to remind myself of how incredibly beautiful and funny and heartbreaking and uplifting it was.

To me, it is Maggie and Ben's relationship that completely made the book. They were the best pair of mismatched friends I have ever read. But that's not to say I didn't appreciate, and LOVED other aspects of the book. Like Maggie's grandpa, Gramps, who takes her granddaughter to Target and then abandons her at the Feminine Products aisle and talks to her about his swollen prostate. And Ben's mom, who welcomes strangers to her home with bear hugs and saves stray animals. And of course, Ben's brother Mason, lead singer of Maggie's favorite band, reformed bad boy and Ben's biggest cheerleader.

I loved everything about this book that even now writing this makes me want to go back and read it again. If only just for Ben, and his incredibly bright soul, his awkward question and his larger than life personality. He calls Maggie his girlfriend the first time he meets her, he was a ten in my eyes right in that moment. And Maggie, with her dark humor and sarcastic personality that doesn't hide her soft heart and her struggle to cope with her new vulnerability. She went from soccer goddess to a friendless blind kid. My heart swelled for her. That's why my favorite part was the first half, when Ben and Maggie's friendship blossoms.

The second half was harder. If only because of it deals with all the difficult issues that were swept under the rug before. Especially the twist. I found it hard to understand both Maggie and Mason's reactions after that, but I guess I wouldn't know what to make about it either.

In the end I think this was an excellent read. I haven't been so enthralled in a novel in months, and this one awoke me and shook me and practically kicked me out of my reading stupor and reminded me that YA is full of magical surprises.