Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

A little side note: I didn’t know that Christina Lauren was two people! This was such a well written book knowing that two people contributed to the story. I kept trying to think about how they each contributed to both. Other books I’ve read written by two authors usually have two main voices. For this one, it was so consistent that you can’t even tell.

Continue reading “Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren”

Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

750fe6eb-b841-41fc-9bf8-6c8ddbd18498

I don’t know about you, but I need a break from the world. Sometimes the news or my life or even my reads get so heavy that I need to step away from everything and just enjoy myself. Self care is a real thing and something I try to always keep in mind. That’s why I chose to read this book. It felt like the right time for me to step away from all the heavier reads coming across my desk. I’m so glad that I did.

Here’s some more on the book:

Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He’s spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when a donor match is found for Jonny’s heart, that turns out to be the cruelest irony of all. Because for Jonny’s life to finally start, someone else’s had to end.

That someone turns out to be Neve’s twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo’s actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother’s heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change.

Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while also learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts.

As you may have guessed, this was definitely a sweet story. It’s filled with heartwarming love between two teenagers who are separated by one giant lie. And you may think that a book like this would just be a candy for my sweet tooth, it’s always good to step away from being serious and just relax.

I went into this thinking that it would be the story of a young person who was scorned in the past by someone and then fell in love again. However, I didn’t actually think the heart mentioned in the story’s title was a literal heart. When Jonny receives his brand new heart, you already know that it belonged to Neve’s twin brother, Leo, who had died in a weird accident on the beach. However, what you don’t know is the lives both Neve and Jonny lived before they met each other and after they met each other.

This story was definitely your typical outcasts falling in love with each other although the circumstances of how they meet are not your typical outcast story. Jonny basically stalks every victim that fit the profile of his new heart. All he knew was that it belonged to a 15-year-old boy and he died recently. Not a lot to go off of, but apparently enough for him to research online and possibly find some possible donors. I didn’t find this part of the story to be as strong. It felt like the search was a few short clicks and not a labored event for him. He didn’t visit any other possible families and he came out to this fundraiser Neve’s mother was running. It was too easy especially with the amount of info he was provided.

Tamsyn Murray is definitely a great writer too. She’s not the type of person to fuss over big words and the voices of both Neve and Jonny were pretty clear. The jury’s still out for me on whether I like books with interchanging POVs, but for Jonny and Neve it helped to move the story much faster.

I loved that the story also included some illustrations Jonny drew. He includes panels from superheroes he created. He outlines his favorite day. He even draws Neve and when Neve was seeing them for the first time, we were also seeing them for the first time. That was a nice little device to really draw the reader into the book.

When Neve and Jonny finally meet, Jonny does that one thing that happens in a story like this; he lies. He lies about his condition. He lies about how he knows Neve’s brother and he lies about being the heart recipient. Of course a story like this requires a big lie before the big reveal. It’s not the reason why you’re reading this story, but you end up waiting for it throughout the story. When does the truth come out? How will this affect their lives? Will their newfound friendship survive it?

I think the one big glaringly obvious issue with the story is the way they treated mental health, grief, and loss. For Neve, she handled it poorly. She didn’t go to her therapy sessions and she didn’t really cope with her brother’s death. However, she also hoarded pills and planned to kill herself because the lack of affection and attention she craved from her parents. This whole part of the novel is written in her point of view and no one takes the time to sit her down and speak directly about how she’s doing. She just struggles alone, which feels a little irresponsible of the author. And sadly, it all comes to a head at the end of the story.

For Jonny, I mean, I figured there would be much more talking to a counselor. He just received a new heart and things were just moving along like it didn’t matter. Wouldn’t there be an adjustment period? Shouldn’t he be talking to someone to process his emotions about receiving a heart? I just feel like these mentally exhausting moments from both of these characters were underdeveloped and the focus was more on the loving relationship building between them. It was nice, but I just wanted something a little bit deeper than this surface story. Perhaps I’m asking too much from a piece of candy.

I received this book from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the method I received this book and I was not paid to write this book review.

Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

IMG_3049

I love me some good old fashion young adult. No frills. No complications. The kinds of books that don’t surprise you with turmoil or unexpected struggles. It’s like reading a book about reality and sometimes in reality, there’s not a lot of drama for your mama.

Synopsis

30312860Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

My rating: 4/5 love letters

IMG_3062

My thoughts

Lara Jean and the three Song girls have been my favorites ever since I picked up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. You know me, I’ve always got to go for the diversity angle, so when I heard that the girls were half-Korean, I got a little excited to read it.

But the reason why I love the diversity angle so much is because there’s that small amount of resonance between the author and the reader. The way that the girls were raised with understanding and appreciating their Korean culture is exactly how I was raised. Even in a household when only half of the family is Korean, it was still important. I believe it’s important to always have that deep connection with your history and culture no matter what it is.

Getting back to the book though, this was such a lovely way to wrap up the entire series. It reminded me of a Morgan Matson novel in which there’s some real life drama for a 17-year-old to manage and it wasn’t earth-shattering, but it felt real. What do you do when you’re deciding on the next steps of your life? What happens after high school? All those thoughts about that post-high school life rear its head back up here.

IMG_3093

I loved that Jenny Han used her alma-mater as one of the possible schools Lara Jean would end up going. It’s always fun to know a little bit about the author and see how their personality is sort of injected into parts of their novel. As they always say, it’s better to write what you know.

But I think what I loved the most is that you’re transported back to being a high school senior. Not to get personal, but my life right now is pretty messy with not having a job and finding a new apartment and getting a new car. It’s all these adult responsibilities and Jenny Han’s novels have always been a nice escape from those things. I don’t have to be an adult for a little while because I’m wrapped up in where Lara Jean wants to go to college, what will happen with her and Peter, and finding yourself a bit better.

If you’re trying to find something not too complicated and just a really enjoyable read, then I would recommend this series.

IMG_3072

Next Year, For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson

IMG_2524

Imagine if you were in a relationship and completely happy. Blissfully happy in the same routines you’re always used to doing. You’re always sure you’ll come home to someone.

Then suddenly, your significant other tells you that they’re interested in someone else. How do you react?

This book is about the value of a relationship. How some people move from one partner to the next like stones skipping in a river and how other people enjoy that sinking feeling of being with someone you love.

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

30201150After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.

As Kathryn and Chris stumble into polyamory, Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily grows beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new romantic possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris will be forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.

Rating: 4/5 partners

My thoughts

IMG_2451

I have a lot of thoughts about this one. If you can artistically create a relationship with words, this might be the best example of it. At first, I thought this was some book about some dude who is bored with their current mate and looking for another. Granted, I don’t like Chris because he’s the type of insecure human being who can’t be with someone in a committed relationship. However, this book turns out to be the analysis of relationship all together.

When we first hear about Chris and his myriad of relationships, you think to yourself that he’s so womanizing jerk who drops one girl for another girl because of the way they look or their interest. But it turns out that he’s extremely insecure and doesn’t know what he wants for himself. It’s a tough lesson to learn especially when there are other people involved.

I think the entire story is an allegory on the types of people we tend to turn into in a relationship; those people who are completely dependent on the other. The people who don’t remember who they were before they fell in love. Being in a committed and long relationship myself, you can definitely feel a struggle to maintain a semblance of your “True Self” and also be with someone else.

Relationships are a shared life, not a single one. What you do may have cause and effect on your partner and that’s clearly what’s happening here with Chris and Kathryn. Chris finds someone else. They form some strange triad, not necessary a poly relationship but three people all involved in the same relationship. You see Kathryn peer off to someone else. You see Kathryn be happy. You see Chris miss all the little things about his relationship with Kathryn. Did Chris make a mistake? That’s the ultimate question.

IMG_2529

The writing is quite simple, but beautiful. For a debut novel, I’m surprised the author didn’t go full tilt on eloquent writing. But the story has got a bit of depth. You can’t take it at face value. This isn’t a story about a dude who has two girlfriends. It’s more about finding yourself in the niche of a loved one. It’s more about seeing yourself be with someone else. It’s beautiful and while not the most thrilling novel I read (hence the four stars), it’ll definitely leave you thinking, who am I? Is this the person I want to be?

2017 Valentine’s Day Reads

I don’t know about you, but I had a lot of fun watching 50 Shades Darker this weekend as my own little Valentine’s Day gift!

With the opening of 50 Shades Darker over the weekend and a very popular romantic holiday coming up, I figured I’d give you a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day reads.

Whether you’re spending the day solo or with someone you love, nothing gets you in the mood like a good old fashion romance novel. The idea of quivering members and heaving bosoms doesn’t really get me in the mood, but if you’re in the mood for love you should definitely check out these reads. I decided to go with the ones that have a little bit of complication, but in the end everyone gets that happily ever after.

Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey

33037374Lucas Thatcher has always been my enemy.

It’s been a decade since I’ve seen him, but our years on opposite coasts were less of a lasting peace and more of a temporary cease-fire. Now that we’re both back in our small town, I know Lucas expects the same old war, but I’ve changed since high school—and from the looks of it, so has he.

The arrogant boy who was my teenage rival is now a chiseled doctor armed with intimidating good looks. He is Lucas Thatcher 2.0, the new and improved version I’ll be competing with in the workplace instead of the schoolyard.

I’m not worried; I’m a doctor now too, board-certified and sexy in a white coat. It almost feels like winning will be too easy—until Lucas unveils a tactic neither of us has ever used before: sexual warfare.

The day he pushes me up against the wall and presses his lips to mine, I can’t help but wonder if he’s filling me with passion or poison. Every fleeting touch is perfect torture. With every stolen kiss, my walls crumble a little more. After all this time, Lucas knows exactly how to strip me of my defenses, but I’m in no hurry to surrender.

Knowing thy enemy has never felt so good. 

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

17788401When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

25486998While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

 

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

13132816Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

17838528Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

 

Also, you can just read 50 Shades of Grey if you’re not doing anything special and have a few hours to waste :/

 

Book Review: P.S. I Like You

 

25486998Summary (from Goodreads.com) – While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

 

 

Rating: 5/5

My thoughts-

Going to be honest with you, I didn’t really feel interested in this one. I’d received this book in my Owlcrate and I’ll be honest, I judged the book by its cover and to me, the cover read as cheesy and predictable. I didn’t have high hopes for it, but I still gave it a shot.

Living in the city and living on the subway line that I take everyday, I’m greeted with an abundance of readers enjoying everything from one of the books in the Harry Potter series to the works of Kafka. And to be honest with you, it’s downright intimidating to walk on the subway with a book cover the likes of this one.

“But Simone, you should be proud of the book you’re reading. You should be proud to be amongst one of the readers who actually read.”

You have no idea how many times I’ve tried to lift my head up from the intimidation, but then I get that glance from that one pseudo-intellectual that is book shaming me for reading YA and I crawl back into my introverted shell of shame.

But I persevered and I sat on my commutes to work and back completely encroached in this novel. Although you can argue that the story itself is overplayed and it’s just that old high school trope, but the reality is that sometimes you need to remember what it’s like to be a kid and what it was like to fall in love.

Lily Abbott is the kind of character I can resonate with. I was the girl that sat in class and instead of paying attention wrote poetry and thoughts in a journal I carried with me all the time. I was listening to obscure punk bands and sitting with the less popular group of friends. While I never exchanged letters and never really dated anyone outside of the occasional blind date, I resonated with her. I resonated with the entire story.

You can’t help but to feel good and even at the end when I thought everything was going to go south, it didn’t. My cold heart warmed up reading this book and I’m so surprised by every YA novel I pick up and how detailed and emotionally stirring they all are.