Hearts Made For Breaking

Hearts Made for Breaking

First Lines: Yesterday, my heart was “broken,” which is why today I’m sitting on a glossy but practical daybed with hidden drawers for extra storage. The mattress is firm, the spread is a bright floral pattern, and the throw pillows are wide and comfortable. Yep–IKEA on a Saturday morning. That’s me.

I’m a sucker for love stories. If there’s a moderately interesting plot idea there, I’ll probably read it. I think this comes from the side of my brain that is really fascinated by sociology/psychology, but I will also admit to just really loving the emotions in these stories. I’ve read one of Klein’s other books and this one sounded kind of fun, so I wanted to check it out.

Lark has a foolproof plan for dating in high school: date the guy briefly, let him down gently, stay friends, move on. No hurt feelings. Her BFFs Cooper and Kate think Lark keeps guys at a distance to avoid being hurt–and feeling real love. They challenge her to change up her system, to stay in a relationship long enough for either her or the boy to fall in love. Accepting the dare, Lark sets her sights on the new boy, Ardy, who has been labeled as “undateable.” Lark is curious about him…and then intrigued the more she gets to know him. Before Lark knows it, she might be in love with him–but whose heart will be broken?

So let’s be real, I knew going into this exactly what it was going to be: a simple love story that wasn’t going to win any awards but would probably still be pretty cute.

And that’s pretty much what it was.

Lark has “dated” a lot of guys–or at least she’s made out with them. She always keeps it casual and then finds ways for the guy to break up with her. Voila, no one has a broken heart. But her friends are tired of seeing her do this over and over, so they tell her she needs to find a different kind of guy, date for 3 months, and then have an Epic Breakup. Enter the “Undatable” Ardy Tate.

Ardy is definitely the heart of this story, despite the fact that Lark and her friends spend so much time kind of doubting/trashing him. I thought Ardy was just incredibly sweet and honest and yeah, a little weird, but that made him cute and quirky. The way Lark shines when she’s with him just helps to highlight how awesome he is.

Lark, on the other hand, takes a little getting used to. She spends so much time putting up a perfect façade that very few people every really get to know her. And she’s kind of manipulative, the way she’s dealt with guys before. And she tends to be pretty self-centered, not caring how her words or actions could hurt someone else. But Ardy seems to have had a big effect on her and by the middle of the book, I started to like her more.

There are some good messages in this, which I appreciated and liked. The most obvious of which is that you shouldn’t judge someone before you get to know them, as every judged Ardy based on a few stupid rumors.

The story itself was pretty entertaining. The beginning did take some time to really get going, but by the time I was about halfway through the book, I was reading for long stretches at a time to see how it all continued to play out. I like when that happens.

It’s a pretty average teenage love story, but if that’s your jam, this can be a fun read.

You Say It First

You Say It First

First Lines: “In conclusion,” Meg said brightly, standing at the podium under the harsh fluorescent lights of the PTA meeting room on Wednesday evening, “it’s the position of the student council that our school is already sorely behind in doing its part to combat climate change.”

I’ve never read anything by Katie Cotugno before this book, but this one caught my eye. There was obviously an influx of YA political stories in the last couple years and I’m always a little interested to see what they say and how they say it.

Meg’s life is perfect and has been perfectly planned out: finish out high school with her sweet boyfriend Mason, get into Cornell where she’ll room with her bestie Emily, and continue clocking in hours at a phone bank that helps register people to vote. But everything changes the night Mason breaks up with her and she calls someone in small-town Ohio who irritates her the moment he picks up the phone. Colby is stuck in a dead-end job, stuck in a family reeling from tragedy, and stuck in life. The last thing he needs is some uppity girl preaching the values of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up. Except, that’s not the end of it. That call leads to a series of calls that, while sometimes heated, turns into a long-distance friendship and then…maybe something more. But are these two just too different to work?

I’m very conflicted about this book.

On the one hand, I think the premise is still kind of cool. Colby and Meg have never met–Meg’s job at a phone bank in Philly has her calling people in Ohio to register them to vote. A horrible conversation between them leads to Meg calling back to apologize…and it’s history from there. The fact that most of their relationship is over the actual phone is…weirdly novel for this generation? (And I would throw my own generation in that as well.) Like, Meg and Colby text, but mostly it’s phone calls. I don’t know. It just seemed retro and current at the same time.

I also liked Meg and Colby individually. Meg is driven and modern in her views. She’s had a few personal setbacks, like her parents’ divorce about a year ago, but she has a Plan. And Colby is the exact opposite. Stuck in a dead-end job, living at home because he can’t afford anything else, he figures he’s going to live and die in this little town doing stupid stuff on the weekends with the guys he knows.

To an extent, Meg and Colby brought out the best in each other. Colby really did need a kick in the pants and Meg needed to stop being so judgy. That was fine. But man, did I not really like these two together. Arguing politics on the phone was one thing, but as soon as they met in person, things went nuclear. Not in a good way. These two really probably should not be together. And it was sad to see that, from characters we are meant to like.

My other problem is that everything in this book is a Big Dramatic Moment. Meg, Colby, their families, and their friends seem to blow things out of proportion all the time. A few times, yeah, it’s justified. I 100% see that. But other times I just kept wondering why this was such a big deal. Either the book was too melodramatic or I didn’t understand the characters enough to know why it mattered to them that much.

It had cute moments. I did get sucked into the book pretty quickly and it held my attention, but I’m still a bit disappointed.

Lucky Caller

Lucky Caller

First Lines: It was Christmas, and Dan was in the middle of proposing to my mom when there was a knock at the door.

So I love me some Emma Mills. She writes some of the most interesting, cute, and meaningful stories that I’ve read in a while. Like, she’s up there with Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen as far as depth and interest. So this was an easy call to read this. (But was I lucky? Hm…)

Nina is expecting her radio broadcasting class to be an easy A. That’s what everyone says it is, anyway. But when her broadcasting group of four misfits teams up, it quickly becomes clear this is going to be a disaster. They have nothing in common and, even worse, Nina’s estranged childhood best friend, Jamie, is in the group. Cue the horrible awkwardness. The show is a train wreck, internet fandoms could bring them down, and Nina’s home life is in turmoil. Everything is spiraling out of control. But…can everything still turn out ok anyway?

What I always love about Emma Mills’s stories is how real they feel while still being light and funny. Taking place in my home state (in locations that I’m familiar with) is an added bonus I’m starting to find with her work.

In this story, we’re introduced to Nina and Jamie. They grew up together, but as they started high school, they started to drift apart. Now, as seniors in their last semester at school, they’re forced to work together in a radio class as part of a group of four. Each character definitely has a lot of personality and I liked seeing Jamie’s constant vulnerability contrasted with Nina’s closed emotions. It’s not a dynamic I usually see and I really liked the reversal.

The plot is interesting as well. Each group in this radio class needs to produce their own radio broadcast through the school’s radio station. Seeing all four of them grow into their roles in this group was really cool and sweet. Joydeep is hilarious and Sasha is the responsibility that they needed to even Joydeep’s impulses out. The story is also written sometimes as transcripts of radio “links,” or the talking they do between songs. Those were really entertaining as well.

It’s hard to tell right now if this is a super memorable story that I’m going to be thinking about in the future or if it’s just another quick, cute read. I mean, it’s definitely the latter, but I think it has elements of the former as well. There was a brief reference in this book to another of Mills’s books and I immediately caught it…which says something for its memorability. I think this does actually have a lot of depth to it, so it could stand the test of time pretty well.

Sweet. Fun. I laughed a lot reading this and also maybe cried once. It’s good.

Four Days of You and Me

Four Days of You and Me

First Lines: It’s six in the morning and the sun is barely up, but I’m wide awake. Normally I hit snooze four or five times before climbing out of bed. This morning? I didn’t push it once. Today is the annual class field trip, and I am determined to have a real conversation with Jonah.

Miranda Kenneally has been a lock for me for a while now. I can always count on her books being cute while still sometimes being big hitters. (Am I mixing metaphors?) Anyway, I was excited to see what her first foray outside of Hundred Oaks would bring.

Every May 7th, students at Coffee County High School go on a class trip. And each year, Lulu’s and Alex’s relationship gets a little more complicated. From sworn enemies to more than friends after getting locked in an escape room, Lulu can’t seem to give Alex up. Through break ups, make ups, and dating other people, Lulu’s and Alex’s lives keep intersecting. As they journey from a science museum to an amusement park, from New York to London, they might discover that love is the greatest journey of all.

I really enjoyed this book. I love the premise. We get to see Alex and Lulu on the same day every year as they go through high school because their school does a field trip every May. We see their relationship grow and change. We also get snippets of what happens during other parts of the year as well, like Homecoming dances and over the summer. But the bulk of the time is spent on those class trips and that really is where the magic is.

I thought for the most part that Alex and Lulu were very realistic characters. Lulu is an artist, an advocate pushing for the world to be a better place, and a girl who knows how to get what she wants. Alex is goofy, a driven baseball player, and kind-hearted. I thought their relationship was also very realistic, even when things were bad. Maybe especially when things were bad because I’ve been in relationships where those arguments turn stupid and you’re just talking at each other instead of to each other. I feel like it’s very rare that we see that side of relationships in YA, so I appreciated that in this book.

I think maybe some people don’t like this book because it can be a little ridiculous or over the top at times, but I thought that just added to the charm. It’s about as over the top as any rom-com is, with worst-case-scenario things happening to characters for a laugh. It is what it is and I thought it made the book more fun.

I enjoyed this. I mean, you know what you’re getting with a book like this: a cute romance with characters that are sweet but aren’t too complex and you get a few laughs along the way.

Significance (Significance, #1)

Significance (Completed) - Shelly Crane - Wattpad

First Lines: I waited for this day, for this one thing to complete me. To wrap up seventeen and three quarter years of my life and set a pretty bow on it in the form of a graduation cap. I waited for this one sheet of paper to tell me that I had done something right.

This has been on my to-read list for years…and sitting on my Kindle for years as well. I’m at a point right now where I’m trying to get through some potential gems that I may have overlooked for the past few years. This was rated over 4.0/5.0 on Goodreads, so that was good enough for me to pick it up.

For Maggie, the last year has been nothing short of a trial. Her mom left, her dad became depressed, her boyfriend of 3 years dumped her for a football scholarship, and this former smart girl is just barely graduating. Life, it seems, is about survival. But that’s all before she meets Caleb. She knows instantly that there’s…something about him, but she’s supposed to be on her way to a date with his cousin. The moment they touch, the sparks fly. Literally. They imprint and Maggie sees flashes of their future together in her mind. Caleb is her soul mate, but even that is complicated by the fact that there’s a whole world she knows nothing about. A world in which she’s about to come into some powers and she very literally needs Caleb’s touch to stay alive through it all. To make matters worse, her dad has come out of his depression to be a parent again at the very worst time and Caleb’s enemies are after Maggie to destroy Caleb. Will they lose each other after just finding their soul mate?

…You know how like, two weeks ago, I did a Top Ten list about series I abandoned because I said I never really give up on a book?

Yeah, I gave up on this one. DNF at 33%.

Ok, look, frankly I could have kept reading this. This wasn’t like, horrifically bad and disgusting or anything (which is normally why I DNF a book). It was just that this was dated and cliche and awkward. I just didn’t see the point of continuing when there were other books I wanted to read.

So the premise here is that there are soul mates. BUT they only happen to this not-quite-human species called Aces (???) and when you find your soul mate, you come into your Super Powers. But like, not all Aces are friendly with each other and there’s a certain faction that are out to get Caleb. Maggie is just really along for the ride.

Basically, my biggest beef with this was that it just felt so much like Twilight. It was clearly an influence, especially since the book REFERENCES IT. A dog is named Bella BECAUSE OF Twilight. It felt like every page was just info dump after info dump as we have to try to understand this world and the weird things associated with it. There was something new for Maggie to discover/learn every day and she became family IMMEDIATELY. That was a little creepy. With soul mates as the premise, there’s obviously insta-love, which was kind of to be expected but it just felt lazy too.

Simply put, it reads EXACTLY how you’d expect a circa 2009 paranormal romance to read.

Actually, I take back what I said earlier. My biggest beef is how awkwardly this is written. The dialogue is unrealistic, for one thing. Maggie, at 17, sounds like what an adult thinks a teenager sounds like. Like if an alien was trying to describe teenage life. Also, all of the guys fight over her like she’s the last burger at a cookout. EVERY GUY who sees her is like, instantly in love with her and wants to be with her. In just 33% of the book, that was 4 different guys.

And even now, I can’t tell you how I would describe Maggie. White bread has more personality. She just didn’t do anything. Everything happened to her and she reacts. Well, sometimes she reacts. A lot of the time she does nothing. That’s her reaction.

I definitely had a few bones to pick, obviously, and it just didn’t seem worth finishing.

I feel weird giving this any kind of Rose rating because I only got 1/3 of the way through the book, but I think you get the point.

The Game of Love and Death

Amazon.com: The Game of Love and Death eBook: Brockenbrough ...

First Lines: The figure in the fine gray suit materialized in the nursery and stood over the sleeping infant, inhaling the sweet, milky night air. He could have taken any form, really: a sparrow, a snowy owl, even a common housefly. Although he often traveled the world on wings, for this work he always preferred a human guise.

I got this book at a library used book sale years ago, fully intending to read this. Fated lovers, Love and Death as characters. It has the hallmark of something I would truly enjoy.

For centuries, Love and Death have chosen their players in their ultimate game of, well, love and death. (And death has always won.) Helen of Troy and Paris. Cleopatra and Antony. Now, it’s Henry and Flora. Flora is an African-American girl who dreams of being the next Amelia Earhart while she sings in her family’s jazz club. Henry, born only a few blocks away, is white and has a secure future ahead of him with a wealthy adoptive family in the middle of the Great Depression. What happens next, even Love and Death may not be able to predict.

What a downer. I’m not really sure what I was expecting from this book, but this wasn’t it.

I liked the idea of Love and Death fighting with each other–does love really conquer all? Especially since it kept tying back to those great historical loves. So the concept was pretty cool.

I just thought the execution wasnt there. It reminded me a lot of A Series of Unfortunate Events. In order to ask the question does love conquer all, you have to throw a bunch of really horrible things their way. But that’s all the story was. Bad Thing 1 happens and they just start to get their feet back under them when Bad Things 2 and 3 happen and so on.

That in and of itself might not have been so bad except that I could not connect to the characters. They felt rather emotionless. Their “passionate” love was anything but. Henry was probably the one who got the closest to that, but he was so love at first sight that it was like the writing didn’t need to go into the emotion. It all felt so cold and calculated that I struggled. A lot.

I did like the idea of turning Love and Death into characters who influence the story. That was an interesting twist that brought some actual emotion and interest to the story because Henry and Flora weren’t doing it for me.

I just found the story to be so slow. I couldn’t get into it, nothing happened, and the main loves don’t even really talk to each other until about 100 pages into a 325 page book. It was a slog for me. It took way longer than it should have.