“Unbreak my Heart”—A Book Review

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Unbreak my Heart by Melissa Walker was a fast, but thoughtful summer read.

Clementine is going to be stuck on a sail boat all summer with her parents and older-than-her years little sister, Olive. Normally the thought of losing an entire summer away from civilization (and internet) would make Clem squirm and possibly pitch a total bitch fit. But not this summer—this summer she can’t wait to get away.

At the end of Clementine’s sophomore year, she has no friends. She is in exile. She is a horrible person. She deserves to be completely miserable. Or so she thinks, anyway.

Throughout the progression of this coming-of-age novel, Clementine is battling some serious internal turmoil and self-deprecation. As the novel starts, all you know is that Clem somehow screwed up and now her best friend (since forever) hates her. When they first embark on their month-long sailing trip, Clem constantly locks herself in her small bedroom cabin, crying, listening to sad playlists, writing in her journal, basically just wallowing in self-loathing.

“Just because the tears have mostly dried up, it doesn’t mean I’m better.”

Clementine refuses to tell her family what happened during the school year, keeping her misery completely to herself, and only allowing readers glimpses of what unfolded during her sophomore year.

But as the summer sails on (pun intended), Clementine meets a happy-go-lucky redheaded guy, named James, who is embarking on the same sailing loop with his father. James and Clem end running into each other at almost every dock, and she can’t help but notice how happy James always is…it literally just radiates out of him.

After spending more and more time with James and learning about his not-so-easy past, Clem realizes that life is what you decide to make of it. Yes, sometimes it sucks, but bottling everything up and dwelling on it only makes it worse and makes you and everyone around you miserable. Sometimes you just have to let your feelings out and talk things through…often keeping things in and ruminating over the past make a situation seem a heck of a lot worse than it may actually be.

I give this quick summer read three out of five stars. It’s the perfect book for a lazy day and definitely has some thought provoking moments 🙂

#bookvacations

cheap vacation

Oh, how I would love to go to the beach for a weekend, visit Disney World (my favorite place on the planet), or hop a plane over to Europe to see London, Ireland, and Rome. But sadly, I cannot. Therefore I live vicariously through the characters in the books I read.

And that will have to do for now 🙂

“The Ruining”—A Book Review

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If you like psychological thrillers, The Ruining by Anna Collomore is definitely a tale for you!

Annie takes a nannying job for the seemingly perfect Cohen family on the outskirts of San Francisco.  This seems like the perfect start for her: get away from her drunk mother, repugnant stepdad, and leave behind the plaguing nightmares of the little sister that died while Annie “should have been watching her” (even though Annie was just a child herself and their mom was home). Now Annie can move far away, go to college (funded by her perfect new job), and maybe even start up a romantic relationship with the hottie neighbor boy.

Annie bonds instantly with the adorable three-year-old Zoe (her new charge) and she idolizes Libby (Mrs. Cohen). Libby immediately takes Annie under her wing, giving her hand-me-downs (which are practically brand new and expensive as hell), telling her she knows all about her past and telling her she can trust her; they will be great friends. And everything seems to be going fine…for a little while.

Annie tries to ignore Libby’s weird mood swings and the fact that she never really goes near Zoe, but never lets her infant son out of her sight. And she still tries to defend Libby and rationalize her mistreatments, such as when Libby starts asking her to skip classes to babysit, work on her days off, and not to mention her erratic tendencies to snap for no reason, accusing Annie of things she didn’t do.

But when Libby’s controlling behaviors start to build to a crescendo, even to the point of trying to keep Annie away from the neighbor (perfect gentleman Owen), she starts to question things a bit more:

“Why did Libby have her eyes trained on me? There was something odd about the way she took an interest in me, the way she vacillated from concerned and caring to cold and disapproving. And the way my happiness in Marin County hinged on her approval wasn’t right. I knew it. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it pathological, but I had to get a grip, to form a social life outside of the Cohen family.”

This book takes you through a psychological journey of manipulation and exploitation at its finest. It felt like I was trapped in a horror movie, right in the walls of my own head—I wanted to scream at the victim “No, don’t go up the stairs, you crazy girl! RUN!” This book is definitely a pulse-hammering, edge-of-you-seat kind of read that fans of Sara Shepard’s popular Pretty Little Liars series are sure to enjoy.

Five stars for making my head whirl and making me question my own sanity at times!

(No, but seriously, I could hear the *screech screech screech * noise from Psycho in my head while I read most of this book.)

“Pretty Girl 13”—A Book Review

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Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley is a haunting tale, indeed.

Angie was taken at the age of 13 while on a Girl Scout camping trip. Three years later she finds herself walking home with no recollection of what happened. In her head, she’s still 13 and is just returning home from said camping trip.

Through therapy, it is discovered that in order to cope with her situation, Angie’s brain has created alternate personalities to individually deal with certain situations—her physiologist refers to them as “Alters.” The insane part is, Angie has no idea who these alternate personalities are or how to control them. Certain situations and triggers cause one of her Alters to take over. When this happens, Angie basically blacks out and loses periods of time, having no memory of what went on when an Alter “took the wheel.”

Through hypnosis, her therapist helps draw each Alter out in turn to hear their story, unraveling the mysteries in Angie’s past. The ultimate goal is figuring out how to essentially make Angie whole again.

This sounds stressful enough to deal with, but on top of the whole “Alter” fiasco, Angie must try to rebuild her life again—a difficult enough task for any kidnapped victim, but doubly so for a sixteen-year-old still stuck inside of a thirteen-year-old’s head.

Assimilating back into to school proves to be a special challenge, taking classes several years lower than her peers, and having any given Alter take control without warning, causing Angie to do things she wouldn’t normally do and can’t remember afterward. The actions of one particular Alter even causes Angie to become the target of school bullying. This poor girl cannot seem to catch a break.

But Angie is strong. She is a survivor. One step and one day at a time, she slowly but surely begins to take back control of her own life. Angie is a literary heroine to be admired and applauded. I give this valiant tale five stars!

*warning, some of the descriptions from her time in captivity are pretty graphic and a little hard to stomach.

 

“She noticed that she’s automatically used the past tense, like she was getting a sense of time—a then and a now. She didn’t feel thirteen anymore. She felt—undefined. “

What’s your story?

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“Every story starts somewhere.” Such simple words, but resounding with so much power and truth.

I think it’s safe to say that every booknerd out there has, at some point, drooled over the library Beast gives Belle in the Disney animated classic, Beauty & the Beast. And what are the books in the library filled with? Stories. And who wrote these vast stories? Somebody.

That’s all it really boils down to, isn’t it? That somebody got an idea and took the time to write it down. And inspiration can strike you anywhere at any moment, if only your mind is open to it. Whether it be a realistic notion or something completely out of this world, all stories start from that one little brain spark.

And I recognize that not everyone has the creativity to be a writer—we can’t all be gifted with awesome right brain activity levels—but even the simple act of journaling can give you such an amazing outlet.

One of my favorite sayings that came out of the mass hysteria that is Harry Potter is: “It all started with a book.” Even Walt Disney’s insane world has the slogan, “It all started with a mouse.” All it took was someone to take the glimmer of an idea and water it until it blew up and grew into a worldwide phenomenon.

It is success stories like J.k. Rowling, Walt Disney, Stephen King and John Green, which give me the inspiration to keep at it. Because my story matters. And so does yours.

“Twisted”—A Book Review

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Twisted is another exceptionally thought provoking read by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Tyler was your average fade-into-the-background teenager, until he gets busted for vandalizing the school grounds with graffiti. In order to pay back the debt, he spends all summer doing manual labor, which in turn grants him with a killer smokin’ bod.

Back at school with his new physique, Tyler is now attracting the kind of attention he has only ever dreamed of. Most specifically, Bethany (his long-time crush) is noticing him.

Sounds like the perfect high school year, right? 

Perhaps it could have been, but not for Tyler. His home life still sucks, with a verbally abusive father, and a mother who pretends like it isn’t happening. And also, it turns out that the school hottie, Bethany, is still the stuck-up, pretentious, bitch that she always was.

Like things always seem to do in high school, a bad rumor—involving Tyler taking suggestive photographs of Bethany—quickly spirals out of control. So not only does Tyler become the object of high school bullying, but he still continues to take verbal assault from his dad at home.

Twisted does an amazing job of getting inside a troubled teen’s head, and showing the reader that even though you can’t necessarily see it on the outside, someone could be going through hell on the inside. A perfectly painted narrative urges you to ponder your actions of taking out your frustrations on others, because no one can guess at how damaging the side effects may be.

I give this book four out of five stars.

“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.