Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I love summer reading! I’m always looking for a book that I can relate to that’s not too serious. Something that I can get lost in for a little while. I had read a few other reviews for Love and Other Words and added it right away to my TBR list.

Summary:

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Review:

I started reading this book on one of the nights where we had a bad storm and our power went out. I read for about an hour and decided that I didn’t really like it. I was disappointed because I really thought I’d like it. My friend encouraged me to keep reading it and I’m glad they did!

I fell in love with Macy and Elliott. I loved their story and their characters. I cried with them, laughed with them, and cheered them on throughout the book. I loved the flashbacks to when they first met and fell in love. There’s just something so magical about falling in love and this book was special because you get to see it happening twice.

Macy’s story was rough to read but so powerful. I loved that she was fiercely independent but didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do with her life. This book shows her struggles and you get to watch her overcome so many things from her present and her past.

Favorite Quotes:

“I give myself three more seconds to look at him, and it’s like another punch to the gut. He’s my person. He’s always been my person. My best friend, my confidant, probably the love of my life. And I’ve spent the last eleven years being angry and self-righteous. But at the end of the day, he tore a hole in us, and fate ripped it wide open. “I’m going to go,”

“Sometimes it feels like I think about you every minute,” he whispered.”

“Tell her you love her. Girls need the words.”

“Admissions make feelings intensify simply because they are given space to breathe. Admissions lead to love, and admitting love is like tying yourself to a train track.”

“Don’t spoil her with toys; spoil her with books.”

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Again, I didn’t think I would love this book after reading it for a little bit. But in the end the powerful story and brilliant characters won me over. Macy’s family dynamics broke my heart but her love with Elliott sewed it back together.

Love and Other Words was a cute read but felt more meaningful than my normal YA romance book. It brought me back to my first relationship and heartbreak. It made me feel for these people who are really just characters in a book. It made me wonder if maybe these characters are based off of real life people?

I haven’t rated a book so highly yet in my book review series. I thought long and hard about this but honestly I think Love and Other Words deserves 4.5 stars. It was almost perfect in my eyes.

Have you read any good books lately?

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What I Thought Was True By Huntley Fitzpatrick

what i thought was true by huntley fitzpatrick

I haven’t done a ton of reading lately. I’m trying to make my way through the piles of books I already own before adding more to my overflowing library. I bought What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick in February before going on vacation to Arizona. I finally got around to reading it and I devoured it in two days. Two working days!!

Summary:

17-year-old Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners to her island’s summer population. Gwen dreams of getting off the island, and a summer job working for one of the elderly residents might just be her ticket to the good life. But what will it mean for Gwen’s now life? Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to come to terms with what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—and figure out what really is.

Review:

Like I said above, this was a super quick read for me and I really enjoyed it! I love fluffy YA reads that make me glad I’m no longer a teenager. Gwen was fierce and opinionated and I honestly loved that about her. She went through her phases of self-doubt that made her easy to relate to. Cass was sweet and charming, everything you could wish for in a boyfriend. There’s issues between Cass and Gwen that make for a cute and funny storyline.

Many times when reading YA books you tend to see the same kind of characters over and over again. What I Thought Was True had very unique characters and location. I enjoyed learning about Gwen’s lifestyle and her family dynamics. It made for an interesting read!

Favorite Quotes:

“I remember…watching that separation of sea and sky…and for the first time I realize that none of us are seeing the same thing. That all our horizons end in different places.”

“Dressed-up Cass is like a creature from another planet. One I want to colonize.”

“If there were an Olympics for kidding yourself, I’d take home the gold.”

“You need to come with a goddamn YouTube instructional video.”

“When she’s worried Vivien gives herself pedicures and facials. Nic lifts weights. I bake. So, Vivien ends up looking more glamorous. Nic gets fitter. And I just get fat.”

“That what you’ve always had doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll always get. That what you’ve always wanted isn’t what you’ll always want”

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Huntley Fitzpatrick is one of my favorite YA authors and I haven’t read anything so far that I don’t enjoy. What I Thought Was True is such a heartfelt book that made me want to hug my family a little tighter and enjoy the little things in life.

Sometimes YA books can be easily forgettable but I know I’ll be imaging the seaside that Gwen sees everyday for awhile.

Have you read any good books lately?

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro book review

One of my favorite Youtubers, Abigail’s Cup of Tea, recommended the Charlotte Holmes series awhile back and I added it to by TBR list. Abigail is a huge Harry Potter fan and an avid book lover and we usually have the same taste in books. A Study In Charlotte is currently free on Kindle so I downloaded it and got to reading!

Summary:

Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Review:

I lived off of Baker Street when I studied abroad in London so the Sherlock Holmes series is associated with a really happy time in my life. As soon as I heard about this book I knew that I had to read it not only for the Baker Street reference but also because it sounded like a really unique twist on the original idea of Holmes and Watson.

First of all, I loved the gender swap with Charlotte Holmes playing the strong, unemotional, and intelligent female lead. Jamie Watson was just as devoted to Charlotte as the original Watson was to the original Holmes. I also liked that they moved the characters from England to America. You still get all of the British lingo and culture with the American culture thrown in as well.

When a fellow student ends up being murdered this duo has to pair together to solve the mystery. Details from the Sherlock Holmes books are brought in to try and frame Charlotte and Jamie for the murders. It’s suspenseful and entertaining.

Favorite Quotes:

“Four girls went by here last night in a group, She said finally getting to her feet. You can tell by the stampede of ugg boots.”

“You think you’re defending my ‘honor,’ but you’re just as bad as he is.”

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

“I began wondering if there was some kind of Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses.”

“I don’t need someone to fight for me. I can fight for myself.”

“I have a rainy-day fund, you know,” she said, not quite looking at me. “Until recently, it was raining…rather a lot. But I…I’ve been trying to use an umbrella.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you,” I said to my Holmes, in a low voice . . . “I meant to say that I won’t doubt you again.”
“You won’t,” she said with flat surprise. “You really won’t, will you?”

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I really did enjoy A Study in Charlotte but I’m only giving in 3.5 stars because I ordered the next book in the series, The Last of August, right after finishing this book and still haven’t brought myself to read it. Usually if I love a book I read the next book in the series ASAP. In this case, something has been holding me back.

If you like a good mystery but nothing too dramatic then this is the book for you. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this book cover? I’m a sucker for a good cover design!

Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Have you read any good books lately?

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Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

2019 has been a great year for reading so far! I discovered the world of YA literature last year and fell in love! I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven earlier this year and was it really impacted me (seriously, go read it if you haven’t already). Jennifer’s writing style is powerful and I knew I had to read more. I already have a third book lined up by her to read in the near future.

Summary:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Review:

I needed to read this book. For the past year I have been beating myself up about gaining weight and Libby made me want to love myself again. Libby is the definition of a strong female lead who picks herself up off the ground and makes big things happen. She is brave, resilient, and unstoppable. I also love how she is so supportive of other girls in her class. I love when girls support girls instead of ripping each other apart.

And then we have sweet Jack Masselin who so badly wants to be a good guy but his undiagnosed neurological condition makes it hard for him. The common theme with Jack is peer pressure to do things he wouldn’t otherwise think to do. The “shitty” thing he does actually brings him closer to Libby which in the long run may save him from himself.

This was another quick read for me. I just couldn’t put it down! If I was reading it on a weekend I probably would have read it in under 24 hours. The characters, the plot, and the message were so good and made me want to keep reading. The ending was perfect too.

Favorite Quotes:

“I want you to know I’m rooting for you.’ Sometimes we need to hear that, even from a stranger.”

“We never know how long we have. We’re never guaranteed tomorrow. I could die right now, right here.”

“One of the worst things a pretty girl can say to a fat girl is You look really pretty.”

“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time on yourself instead? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you’ve got insecurities too, ones that would keep you from stripping down to a purple bikini and modeling it in front of everyone.

As for the rest of you, remember this. YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise not even yourself.

Especially not yourself.”

“Everyone in my life is a stranger, and that includes me.”

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

“People are shitty for a lot of reasons. Sometimes they’re just shitty people. Sometimes people have been shitty to them and, even though they don’t realize it, they take that shitty upbringing and go out into the world and treat others the same way. Sometimes they’re shitty because they’re afraid. Sometimes they choose to be shitty to others before others can be shitty to them. So it’s like self-defensive shittiness.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Libby and Jack may not be real but they can teach you a thing or two about life. I am giving Holding up the Universe 5 stars because it made me think, feel, and opened my eyes to other’s thoughts and feelings.

I love reading books that make me want to take action when I’m done. This one motivated me to put myself out there again and try to be the healthiest version of myself. It motivated me lose weight because I love myself and not because I hate my body.

Once again, Jennifer Niven is a brilliant writer. I’m pretty positive I will love anything Jennifer writes and am already looking forward to reading the next one.

What’s your favorite book at the moment?

Lifestyle Blog, Life of Hayley

 

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Top Ten by Katie Cotugno - YA Book Recommendation

Last summer I reviewed 99 Days by Katie Cotugno and I really enjoyed it! If I like a book by an author I always make sure to check out other books that they have written. Top Ten has been on my Amazon wishlist for months and I finally purchased it when I was looking for a quick and fun read.

Summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of best friends. Prickly, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ultra-popular Ryan is a hockey star who can get any girl he wants—and frequently does.

But somehow their relationship just works; from dorky Monopoly nights to rowdy house parties to the top ten lists they make about everything under the sun.

Now, on the night of high school graduation, everything is suddenly changing—in their lives, and in their relationship. As they try to figure out what they mean to each other and where to go from here, they make a final top ten list: this time, counting down the top ten moments of their friendship.

Review:

If you want a book that will take you back to high school, this is it. I hated 98% of my high school experience but I do really enjoy YA books. This book was so relatable because it explored friendship, first loves, breakups, tense family dynamics, and mental and physical health.

I really enjoyed the perspective from both Ryan and Gabby. Their characters were developed really well throughout the book. The timeline was a bit hard to follow because it kept jumping back and forth from the past and present. But overall it was cool to read about how their friendship developed and changed over the years and it made me miss my high school friends.

What I loved most about this book though was Gabby. I loved her introvertedness and how awkward she always felt. I loved when she explains her anxiety and her fears. I loved her sisters and her family. And I really loved reading about how she finally overcame her fears.

I did not enjoy the ending of the book. It feels unfinished and I still have so many questions. I enjoy having everything tied up in a neat little bow and that didn’t happen this time. I was also left thinking about my own high school experience which is never the most fun thing to think about.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I’m a quick reader so if I like a book I can fly through it in one sitting. This book took me a couple of weeks to finish. I’d read a couple chapters each night before bed but honestly I wasn’t super invested in the book itself. I still give it 3 stars because the characters were so well developed and I did enjoy the plot. I think Katie wrote about some tough topics that are important to read about and understand.

There’s just something about high school that makes everyone a little mushy on the inside. Whether you enjoyed it or hated it, there are still so many memories associated with that time period of your life. For me, I had a best friend turned boyfriend who I dated for the first two years of high school. We had been friends for years before that so he just felt like such an important piece of my life at the time. He was nothing like Ryan from this book though and it was a blessing in disguise when he broke up with me. But still, the memory of my ex-friend/boyfriend is one of the main things that ruins my high school memories.

I’m already finished with my next book so hopefully I’ll have another book review up soon! Have you read any good books lately?

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This book was not on my 2019 reading list but I read a review and knew that I needed to read it ASAP. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is one of those books that makes you believe in love and happiness but also allows you to experience heartbreak that feels so real and raw. By the end of the book I was crying and felt like my heart was in one thousand little pieces but in a good way. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it’s okay to feel all of the emotions at once.

But the main reason why I loved this book was because of the message. Reading through Finch and Violet’s day-to-day struggles with mental illness is SO important. Understanding is important. In the book they talk about how no one brings flowers to funerals and no one bakes casseroles for the family of suicide victims. That suicide is selfish. But it’s not and this book will explain why.

Summary

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

Review

This may actually be the best written book that I have ever read. I finished it about two weeks ago and still think about Finch and Violet daily.

I felt everything as it was happening and it took me back to moments in my life and made me realize that maybe I didn’t grieve as thoroughly as I thought I did. A couple of years ago I lost someone close to me who died in a “selfish” way. People tried to understand but they really couldn’t and it was devastating. I don’t think there will ever be a point in time where a book about mental illness and suicide is no longer relevant and important. It’s a hard read but incredibly important.

When we first meet Violet she is struggling to grieve for her sister who died in a car accident. Finch is all over the place with his mood when he sees Violet on the bell tower. They are both thinking about jumping and that day Finch saves Violet’s life and she gives him something to live for.

This book follows their friendship and eventual romance. It’s cute and fluffy with a side of seriousness. I love that the chapters switch back and forth between Finch and Violet’s point of view and I enjoyed being able to read both sides of the story. Finch’s chapters were really informative especially when you later hear the probable diagnosis from his school counselor.

The ending of the book is bittersweet and I actually did not see it coming. I really don’t want to give anything away so I won’t say much about it but these things happen in real life. It’s scary and crazy and it feels like there isn’t anything we can do about it. What I love most about this book is that Jennifer Niven brings to light all of the things we feel we can’t talk about when it comes to suicide and mental illness. Not only does she talk about it, she also gives resources for readers who feel similar to Finch and Violet.

Favorite Quotes

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

“You make me lovely, and it’s so lovely to be lovely to the one I love.…”

“You have been in every way all that anyone could be.… If anybody could have saved me it would have been you.”

“No more winter at all. Finch, you brought me spring.”

“What if life could be this way? Only the happy parts, none of the terrible, not even the mildly unpleasant. What if we could just cut out the bad and keep the good? This is what I want to do with Violet – give her only the good, keep away the bad, so that good is all we ever have around us.”

“Listen, I’m the freak. I’m the weirdo. I’m the troublemaker. I start fights. I let people down. Don’t make Finch mad, whatever you do. Oh, there he goes again, in one of his moods. Moody Finch. Angry Finch. Unpredictable Finch. Crazy Finch. But I’m not a compilation of symptoms. Not a casualty of shitty parents and an even shittier chemical makeup. Not a problem. Not a diagnosis. Not an illness. Not something to be rescued. I’m a person.”

“You saved my life. Why couldn’t I save yours?”

“I was here. TF.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Once again, this book is incredible. It’s raw, powerful, and extremely informative. I pride myself in being empathetic to others in situations very different from my own. Gaining perspective from All The Bright Places has helped me become more understanding, especially towards survivors of suicide. I would 150% recommend adding this to your reading list.

Apparently All The Bright Places is being turned into a movie in 2019! I’m looking forward to the day that I can watch Violet and Finch’s stories come to life. Also, it’s being directed by Brett Haley which is pretty much the most perfect name.

Have you read a book lately this you just can’t stop thinking about?

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Book Review: Meet Cute by Various YA Authors

Meet Cute YA Authors Book Review

I began reading Meet Cute before I published my New Year, New Reading list post. Brett got me this book for Christmas and I was so excited to start reading it! Some of my favorite YA authors are featured including Nicola Yoon, Huntley Fitzpatrick, and Katie Cotugno. I fell in love with the writing styles of many of the other authors and have already added some of their books to my TBR list. I can’t wait to read more!

Summary:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. Meet Cute is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
 
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.
 
This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Review:

First things first, the format of this book is incredible! I was skeptical of the short story format but really fell in love with being able to read a whole story in under 30 minutes. It was a perfect before bed read because I’m one of those people who have a hard time just reading one chapter. I tend to stay up way too late reading at night if I’m really into a book. The short stories allowed me to read one or two a night and then go to bed happy. 

I don’t want to give away too much about the book by reviewing each and every story. However, I can say that there wasn’t one story in this book that I disliked. Each one was unique and the endings left much to the imagination yet I was disappointed at all. I love when books have clear endings that leave everything tied up in a neat little bow. Even though many of these stores did not have clear endings I still loved them! 

I also love that these stories feature more than just your traditional boy-girl love story. Emery Lord’s story about two girls meeting in an airport was one of my absolute favorites! It was so cute and charming!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Let’s be honest, I’ll probably only ever write reviews for books I love because I can never seem to force myself to finish reading a book that I don’t enjoy. I’ll keep trying but in my opinion life’s too short to read a bad book.

Seeing each author’s writing style and unique take on first impressions was such a cool experience. It fueled my love for my favorite authors and helped me find new authors to add to my favorites list. 

Have you read any amazing books lately? How do you feel about short stories? 

Until next time! Thanks for reading!

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