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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Five on Friday #5

Five on Friday

It’s been a hot second since my last Five on Friday post! Today I am finally back with another five things that I am looking forward to or thinking about on this dreary Friday morning.

  1. We leave for Arizona tomorrow morning to visit my grandparents! My mom, sister, Brett, and I are going down for a few days of relaxation and family time before my sister moves to Hawaii next month. I can’t wait to be back with the fam and have a few days off of work!
  2. I have five books packed in my suitcase ready to go for some serious pool time reading. I’m flying through books again so please send me your recommendations! I’m trying to read a variety of different genres this year.
  3. I’m in the process of redecorating my house for spring and it’s making all of this snow and ice much more bearable. Michigan went from -37 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the matter of a week. My body is confused about what season we are in.
  4. I’m working on changing my mindset towards weight loss. I’ve been really struggling since early 2018 with my weight after taking a medication that made me blow up like a balloon. I’ve had issues with food in the past so I know that I need to be careful with myself and try to keep this experience as positive as possible.
  5. Brett and I are trying to plan out our summer! Summertime in Michigan is my absolute favorite but I always feel so stressed to squeeze everything in my the time it rolls around because I didn’t plan ahead. This year I just want to spend as much time at my grandparent’s house on the lake as possible.

What are your plans for this weekend?

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Book Review - The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Hi friends!

A couple of weeks ago I read The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith. I had read the first two chapters online and really wanted to know what ended up happening to Eden. I knew this would be different than the other books I have been reading recently.

I will start off my saying that I didn’t completely love this book. It was tough to read at times but the message is so important. After reading this I feel compelled to have others read it too. It may not end up being your favorite book but it might give you perspective and understanding of what other’s are feeling.

Here’s the description:

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

If you have been through high school you can probably relate to Eden in some ways. High school is about finding yourself and Eden lost her way for a reason that was completely out of her control.

The book follows Eden through her high school career and gets darker as time goes on. I was mad at her for not telling her mom right after it happened and it hurt watching their mother-daughter relationship falter as the years went on. I wanted her family to understand how she was feeling so badly but completely understand why she felt that she couldn’t say anything.

The Way I Used To Be was a powerful book with a strong female lead. I actually hurt for Eden and it opened up my eyes to how people feel in her situation. It may not be based on a true story but it shows the victim’s perspective after being raped.

Have you read any insightful books that changed your way of thinking?

Thanks for reading!

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Summer 2018 – What I Read

summer 2018 reading list

Hellloooo!

I keep talking about books and reading on the blog. I have always loved reading but just didn’t have the time in college to read for fun. After graduating I really wanted to get back into reading and this summer I was able to fall back in love with books. I’ve been sharing a few book reviews but I wanted to share the whole list of books that I read this summer.

Just a side note, please let me know if you’d like full reviews on any of these books. I did review To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and 99 Days if you want more information on those. I have a hard time finishing books that I don’t like so I can honestly say that I would recommend every one of these.

  1. Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr.
  2. Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch
  3. 99 Days – Katie Cotugno
  4. 9 Days and 9 Nights – Katie Cotugno
  5. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
  6. P.S. I Still Love You – Jenny Han
  7. Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han
  8. I See London, I See France – Sarah Mlynowski
  9. Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum
  10. Wanderlost – Jen Malone
  11. My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick
  12. The Boy Most Likely To – Huntley Fitzpatrick

I think this is pretty good considering my goal was to read 1 book per month! I started a few other books but didn’t like them so I didn’t finish reading them.

What were your favorite books that you read this summer?

Thanks for reading!

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Five On Friday #2

Weekend - London Airshow

Happy Friday!!

I had a great response to my first Five On Friday post so I thought I would share another for this upcoming weekend.

  1. I took a half day at work today so I will be leaving work around 1 to drive to Canada with Brett. His sister, Mallory, lives near London so of course we had to visit her for the London Airshow.
  2. This is our fourth (and final) weekend in a row at an Airshow. I miss my bed! Air Show season is wrapping up and I can’t wait for some relaxing weekends at home.
  3. I will be reading The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I read My Life Next Door by Fitzpatrick last weekend and it was really good. The Boy Most Likely To continues on with some of the same characters and I am so excited to read it!
  4. Sunday we will be relaxing with Mallory and her boyfriend, Matt. Mallory lived in Michigan when I first met Brett so we are pretty close and I am really excited to spend some time with her. It’s been a year since I last visited!
  5. I also took Monday off work which means that Brett and I can have a pretty relaxing travel day back to Michigan. I hate feeling rushed while driving so I’m happy to have Monday off work!

I’d love to hear what you are up to this weekend!

Thanks for reading!

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99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days Katie Cotugno Book Review Summer Reading List

Happy September, friends!

This summer has been full of reading for me! I just can’t seem to get enough of the fun “beach reads” even though I haven’t actually gone to the beach to read them. 😉 I am a fast reader but I have been amazed at how quickly I have been getting through books lately.

99 Days by Katie Cotugno was a quick and easy read that I couldn’t get enough of! I found myself relating so well to Molly even though (thankfully) my life has been much less dramatic than hers.

Molly Barlow just graduated from her high school boarding school in Arizona. Before she can head off to college in Boston she must spend 99 days back at home. The home she ran away from when her mom wrote a book detailing her love life.

I don’t want to give too much away but I spent pretty much the whole book hating Molly’s mom for her decision to publish the book. Of course, Molly should have made better decisions in the first place but moms are supposed to help and guide you. Not write every single detail of your most embarrassing moments for the whole world to read. Plus, high schoolers don’t make the best decisions. Mistakes help people learn and Molly should have been able to leave her mistake behind.

Anyway, I will get off my high horse and continue on with the book. Here’s the details according to Katie:

Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly’s heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe wouldn’t quit till he got me to come to this party, and I’m surprised to find I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

Gabe is so sweet to Molly throughout the book and for a second he is the only one who will talk to her. I really liked his character. I thought he was funny, charming, and so down to earth. I never really understood what Molly saw in Patrick.

In my opinion, cheating is very wrong. Judging people when you don’t know the whole story is also wrong. And as Ross Geller from Friends said, “We were on a break!”

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Break ups can be messy and confusing. Maybe they weren’t really broken up? Who knows? Point is, people shouldn’t have been so judgmental. Molly should not have been shunned and driven out of her hometown.

This book was addictive. I immediately ordered the sequel, 9 Days and 9 Nightsfrom Amazon and impatiently waited for it to be delivered. I even scoured the internet looking for free chapters while I waited. And let me tell you, 9 Days and Nights did not disappoint!

Have you read any amazing books lately?

Thanks for reading!

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