“This is What Happy Looks Like”—A Book Review

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This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is a cute coming-of-age book…sort of. Not quite as awesome as her first novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but still an enjoyable read.

Perchance, two teenagers start swapping emails due to a small typo in the “send to” email address. Knowing nothing about the other originally, other than the fact that they both have a pet and have read Charlotte’s Web, the witty banter flows much too easily.

After a smidge of investigating from context clues gathered, the original sender discovers where his Internet Pen Pal lives. And because he just so happens to be no other than Graham Larkin (teen celebrity heartthrob), he pulls some strings and gets the production of his newest movie moved to small town Main.

Upon discovering that her mystery guy friend is insanely famous, Ellie wasn’t quite sure how to handle the news. Not one drawn to spotlight and drama, Ellie pulls away. But she can’t help how Graham makes her feel…the real Graham (the boy she spent several hours a day writing to), not Graham Larkin the movie star.

Figuring out what we think is important in life and what is truly important can be a hard truth to wrap your head around. A lot of the time, overcoming our own fear and learning to lower our personal self-preserving safety net is a difficult feat, indeed.

A pretty cute coming-of-age novel, with some pretty deep self-examination thrown in (not to mention coming to the realization that the whole world doesn’t revolve around you, no matter who you are, and you have absolutely no way of knowing exactly what other people are thinking, unless you happen to be telepathic), I would say This is What Happy Looks Like was worth the read. Three out of five stars!

 

“All that was left was the boy with a smile that seemed intended only for her”

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“The 5th Wave”—A Book Review

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All I can say about The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is “wow.”

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Let me start off by saying that I am totally not into aliens and planetary takeovers, etc, but even though this is exactly what this book is about, at the same time, it’s totally not. It’s about humanity and survival.

An alien mother ship looms in the sky, the power has gone out, tsunamis and plagues have hit, the majority of the human population is dead. Only a few remain, and here are the rules:

“The first rule: Trust no one. Which leads to the second rule: The only way to stay alive as long as possible is to stay alone as long as possible.”

Cassie’s mother and father are both dead, and her little brother, Sammy, was taken away by “soldiers.” Cassie made a promise to Sammy when the soldiers took all of the kids away on a yellow school bus…that she would find him and come back for him.

Cassie is alone in the world, fighting to keep her promise despite the fact that she doesn’t even know if Sammy is still alive. For all she knows, she is the last human being on Earth, amongst many who “appear” to be human.

“Using the ratio of infected to clean here at the base, we estimate that one out of every three surviving human beings on Earth is one of them.”

“If the enemy looks just like you, how do you fight him?”

This story takes you to the heart of the only thing that really matters in this f*cked up world—love. After all, love is what makes us human, separates us from “The Others.” Fans of Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds are sure to absolutely love this pulse pounding, harrowing tale.

I give this book five out of five stars!

 

 

“I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but I felt that, when it came to God, there was a broken promise in there somewhere.”

“Second Chance Summer”—A Book Review

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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson is one of those summer reads that sticks with you for many years to come.

Taylor has never felt “extraordinary,” growing up with a brilliant, scholarly older brother and an adorable younger sister who excels at dance. The one thing Taylor is good at? Running away when the world becomes too difficult to handle.

But this summer, she can’t escape.

Receiving the terrible news that her dad only has a few months left to live, her parents decide to spend one last summer together as a family in the lake house they haven’t been to since Taylor was twelve. That was the year her friendship with Lucy dissolved and she made a mess of things with a boy, Henry Crosby.

Stuck in close quarters with her family, having her childhood best friend live just across the lake, and having Henry live next door, Taylor has nowhere to run. She has no other option but to put on her big girl panties and confront life head on. Most importantly, she finally has to face the fact that her father is sick, and each breath he takes only takes him that much closer to leaving her behind.

“The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.”

I highly recommend this heartbreakingly beautiful coming-of-age novel that reminds us about love, hope, and the importance of family and second chances.

Five out of Five stars!

“13 Little Blue Envelopes” –A Book Review

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13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is a sensational summer read! This quirky novel is sure to bring out the adventurous side in everyone.

One day Ginny, a New Jersey native, gets a letter from her Aunt Peg (who died three months ago) containing $1,000 and instructions for her to buy a backpack and a plane ticket to London, then go to a Chinese restaurant in New York to pick up envelope 2.

The instructions for what to bring along to the UK are as follows:

Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don’t try to fake it out with a purse or a carry-on.

 Rule #2: You may not bring guidebooks, phrase books, or any kind of foreign language aid. And no journals.

 Rule #3: You cannot bring extra money or credit/debit cards, traveler’s checks, etc. I’ll take care of all that.

Rule #4: No electronic crutches. This means no laptop, no cell phone, no music, and no camera. You can’t call home or communicate with people in the U.S. by Internet or telephone. Postcards and letters are acceptable and encouraged.

Now all Ginny has to do is pick up envelope 2, go to London, and see what kind of adventure her (dead) whirlwind aunt has in store for her over the summer vacation. Of course it was hell trying to convince her parents to let her do this, not to mention that it goes against everything well-organized, practical Ginny stands for. But it’s her aunt, and the promise of these 13 little blue envelopes is the last thing on earth Ginny has of her. Thus, she strikes of for the UK.

The premise of this entire Teen novel is for Ginny to travel around the UK in search of these envelopes that her aunt has left for her. With each new envelope comes a new set of instructions: Places to go, people to find, things to do.

Along her journey, the envelopes send Ginny to England, Scotland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Greece, giving her whacky activities to complete throughout her voyage.

And of course, Ginny meets a peculiar artist along the way that she can’t stop thinking about, and who appears throughout her expedition. To give you a taste of the adorableness of this book, here is a quote from a letter she sends to her best friend back home.

“Keith was HERE. In PARIS. And HE FOUND ME. I know it sounds impossible, but it’s true, and it’s really not that magical of an explanation. But what matters is that we made out in a graveyard and slept on a park bench.”

This entire novel is not only charming, and adventurous, but it also gives you a window to the soul of a young girl dealing with grief for the first time. I cannot say enough good things about this tale. I give it five stars!

*And it does have an open ending, but thankfully she decided to go ahead and write a sequel. The Last Little Blue Envelope is equally awesome! 🙂 

“My Life Next Door”—A Book Review

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My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick is a great novel to enjoy any time of the year, regardless of its summertime setting.

Samantha Reed’s life is perfect…or at least it should be. Her life has basically been mapped out for her since birth. With rich, High Society, grandparents and mother, Samantha has always had the best of the best: the perfect modest wardrobe, attendance at the best private schools, and weekly dinners at the country club.

But perfect isn’t always as good as it seems. Samantha’s father left when she and her older sister, Tracy, were very young, and her politician mother is a bit OCD. Everything always has to be perfect. There is no room for error in Samantha and Tracy’s lives. Smoothies for breakfast, Cardigans for dress, homework completed exactly on time (if not early). Oh, and the carpet must be vacuumed in perfect rows, like, five times a day.

And the Reeds do NOT associate with the next door neighbors, the Garretts. But Samantha has a secret: she has been watching the Garretts with fascination for years from her rooftop balcony perch. With eight children, the Garretts’ household is completely chaotic, loud, messy, and wild. And Samantha is simply entranced.

Then, one fateful summer night, Jase, one of the oldest Garrett boys, climbs the terrace to Samantha’s window and changes everything. Samantha and Jase quickly embark on a whirlwind romance that with have your heart thumping and your breath catching.

The Garrett family quickly welcomes Samantha as one of their own, and she can’t get enough of the pandemonium. Each of the Garrett children captures Sam’s heart, and she finds herself voluntarily babysitting for the family any chance she can.

Throughout the summer, Samantha comes to the realization that no matter how hard we would like to believe they are, our parents aren’t always right. While her mother sneers at the size and behavior of the Garrett family, Samantha continually witnesses the unyielding love and passion, in spite of the financial hardships having such a big family causes.

And of course, just how it always goes, right when everything in life seems to be perfect, the bottom falls out, turning Sam’s life upside down in the worst possible way. Samantha must make the difficult decision of choosing which family to protect: her own or the Garretts’, who have basically become like her own family.  

 

Tantalizing quotes to enjoy:

“I’m not sure I can pull off being friends with someone whose clothes I want to rip off. Oh God. Did I actually just think that? I steal another look at Jase in his jeans. Yes. Yes, I did.”

No, because of instinct. You can tell who to trust. People can, just like animals. We don’t listen as well as they do, always, but it’s still there. That prickling feeling when something’s not right. That calm feeling when it is.” His voice is low and husky in the darkness.

“Jase?”

“Mmm-hmm?” He lifts up on one elbow, his face barely visible in the twilight.

“You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.

“Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.” –My Life Next Door.