Monday, March 30, 2015

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Source: Library
Pages: 299
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: May 1st 2012
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryBig-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

Review: Let me just start off by acknowledging the cover. How cool is it? I mean, it's so pretty and just so cool. The font and glow just screams, "Read me!" And then there's the super unique placement of the author name. I almost didn't see it because I was staring at the glowing title. But still, pretty awesome. However, before I read the summary, or even looked at the title, all I could see was the microphone, so I assumed that this story was about a girl who wanted to make it big in the music industry. But then I read the title, read the summary and then read the book. Oops, not quite what it's about... Honestly though, if it had been about a girl on a quest to fulfill her singing dreams, I don't think it would have been as entertaining.

On the very first page, I was met with a burrito. Well, technically, I was met with the lines, "I LOVED BEING A BURRITO." Seriously, those were the first lines of the book. And all caps, mind you. How does one read that beautiful line and not continue? The answer is that one simply cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the main character of the book loves being a burrito. The main character, Chloe, is a super-happy-go-lucky-enthusiastic-word-vomiting-burrito-dressing-vintage-shoe-collecting-maniac. Did I mention that she collects vintage shoes? And she wears them, while she is a burrito. Holy smokes, let me tell you, what a whirlwind of a page to process.

Burritos and shoes aside, as I read on, I honestly couldn't help but love Chloe's character. She's super caring and optimistic, even though she can sometimes be ditzy and oblivious. Meanwhile, I slowly developed a severe disliking for her so-called best friend, Brie. Like come on, what's the problem? Along with her, I also developed some more dislike for the rest of the school who believed Brie's rumors. Because, yup, there are big fat rumors... about Chloe. At first Chloe is as oblivious as ever, and has no idea what is happening. But then she catches on, and cannot begin to even understand why something like this is happening. It's your basic high school drama, not that I'd actually know what high school drama entails specifically, since I never went to a conventional high school, but I get the gist of how it works, and rumors are high up on the list of things that cause drama.

While I didn't like all those rumor believers, I did like the radio station gang. Most were a bit tough to crack, but they were seriously cool people. And then there was Duncan, who was just so nice and sweet and shy and also confusing. His home life is what you'd call troubled. 

This book covers over some pretty heavy topics, some of which include bullying, rumors, secrets, and drug abuse. Yet the radio station characters typically always have such a positive outlook, no matter how tough things get. I really liked this aspect of the book, because it just goes to show that everybody's got something going on in their lives, but it's how you take it on that determines the outcome of how you live and act. There are certain people (ahem, Brie) in the book that don't do that, and they grow bitter. Seeing the characters, especially Chloe, take everything on in such a bubbly, lighthearted, and positive manner just shined through the pages, and I loved it.

The actual plot was interesting because it revolved around something called the "JISP Project" and a radio station talk show. I really enjoyed reading the parts of the book that featured the talk show segments because they were fast paced, filled with humor, and I could totally imagine what everything looked and sounded like. However, sometimes, the story line was a bit jumbled. I found that there were some loose ends at the end of the book. While the ending answered mostly everything, it wasn't exactly the ending I had expected nor one that I felt did the book justice. 

Although it had some areas that I felt could have been better, overall, Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe, was a book that was filled with personality and character. It's a fun read, even with all the heavier topics. For me, this is a one-time-read-only kind of book, but who knows? Maybe I'll come back to it, if only to hear the cheerful banter and interesting talk show segments. I'm definitely glad I picked this book up because it's unique. I never knew that vintage shoes and burritos could ever make a good combo, but now, I do. And I think it's pretty fantastic.

Really enjoyed

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Elevated by Elana Johnson

Elevated by Elana Johnson
Source: ebook
Pages: 300
Publisher: AEJ Creative Works
Release Date: February 14th 2014
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Pass

SummaryThe last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

Review: The concept of a book written in verse is what drew me into this book. I recently discovered that I actually like poetry, both reading and writing, because there's just something so cool about how the words flow together and paint a picture. But I'd never read an entire book that was written in poetry form. So I thought I'd give it a shot with Elevated.

The plot was created in a very unique manner, flashing back and forth from the present to the future in the form of Elly's thoughts and both her and Travis' real life communication. And all this takes place inside an elevator. 

The book dealt with some heavy topics about how tragic events, unideal decisions, and bad timing can create traumatic outlooks on life and people for an indefinite amount of time. To me though, I felt that there was just too much going on. There were so many huge topics being thrown around at once, and it became a tangled web of drama. Plus, there was the addition of another potential love interest, that I found to be a sort of random addition. (I must admit that I did like Jesse way more than Travis though.)

From the start, I wasn't a very big fan of the story line. I did, however, enjoy the smooth flow of the writing. I find that reading poetry has a certain rhythm to it, and this book was no different. This was a quick read, and I read it one sitting. I think that if I had put it down, I wouldn't have felt particularly compelled to pick it up again. That being said, because of its poetic nature, I couldn't help but want to know how it ended. In its poetic state, there's no room for chapter endings or dull moments. Every word and every line told something important about the characters and story, and because of that, every ending of a line was basically a cliffhanger. So, that meant, on to the end! 

While I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of its poetry base, the actual content just didn't do it for me. Still, I've discovered that I quite like books written in poetry format. The thing is, I just don't like it as much as I like the normal formatted books. I can't see myself giving Elevated another go, but I can definitely see myself delving into the whole books-in-verse side of reading.

Eh, it was alright

Monday, March 23, 2015

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Source: Library
Pages: 304
Publisher: Point
Release Date: April 29th 2014
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryNothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life and get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Review: Reading stories about small towns and people from small towns interests me because I am from a not so small city. It makes me wonder how things would be different if I were a small town girl instead of a big city girl. I've found that books with this sort of subject matter usually tend to be really cutesy. This isn't a bad thing because honestly, who doesn't love a cute book every now and then? Or in some cases, every now and every then. However, the content of this book wasn't just cute and light and fun. It was all of that and more. Delving into deeper matters and twisting all the odd ends together created an impeccable journey. It was a journey that I'm glad I was able to take, and in my pondering state, I not only mulled over the what ifs regarding a small town, I also discovered life lessons hidden in between the linings.

Of course, like anything with similar plot lines, many components are exaggerated and filled with moments that, one would assume, could really only occur in books or movies. I don't mind though, as long as it's a well-written story. So I guess it's a good thing that not only is this a book where the movie industry plays a huge role, but also one that is beautifully crafted.

I really fell in love with all the characters, even when they were grouchy and even when they were jerks. Their compassion, drive, and sincerity oozed out of the pages and into my very soul. I truly felt like I was apart of this momentous time of the characters' lives, and because of that, I was able to find deeper meanings in the words that built the story, whether the author intended for them to be significant or not. And there's just something about small town folks that I can't help but love. Even when they go crazy over stars, loved ones, gossip, pride, and everything in between, I am pulled to them, and the people in this book were no different.

Catch a Falling Star had its faults, but there were really very few. Perhaps I'm being picky. Perhaps my own opinions overrode the opinions of the voice of the book. Perhaps it was nothing at all. But while reading, I found myself getting a bit annoyed at Carter's decisions. Selflessness is good, but there is a time and place for everything, and sometimes the time and place doesn't call for selflessness, but for the good type of selfishness, the type that allows you to follow your dreams and aspirations. Overall, I truly enjoyed reading the story of how a small town girl's life is completely altered by dreamy stars, in more ways than one.

Wonderfully written and beautifully voiced, Catch a Falling Star is a book that I can definitely see myself reading again sometime in the future. This was a really enjoyable read, and upon completion, I can truly say that nothing is ever what it seems to be. 

Really enjoyed

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin

Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
Source: ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: December 1st 2013
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Buy

SummaryWhat if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart. 

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

Review: I'm not going to lie. After reading this, I did in fact read it again. No joke, I actually read this twice, back to back. That's how good this book is. The plot line was woven together so nicely and I completely fell in love with the characters. 

This is a story about a girl who is in a tricky situation in her life, experiencing familial, personal, and social problems. The social problems relate to a certain famous ex who got famous for writing evil songs about her. Okay, so maybe the songs weren't evil, but I'm just going to go with that, because it sounds cooler than describing them as over exaggerated, super popular, but still hurtful, songs. So basically, they're evil.

Anyway, it's been two years since all the conflict and heartache, but then Jared, the famous artist, and Claire, the conflicted subject, get thrown back together. And it's everything I could expect in this kind of a story yet also everything I never in my wildest dreams would dream to expect. To me, that's what makes this book so brilliant. I mean, come on. The plot line is seriously amazing, and from the first sentence, I was in love with this book. 

There was nothing that I didn't like. Everything and everybody had a purpose, and it became a story, one that I wished I was apart of. The huge presence of music, incorporation of realistic life problems, and the path to finding yourself created something more than just a story. It created an alternative world where anything is possible, and where everything can truly be done. 

Plus, the chemistry between Claire and Jared was just, oh my gosh... I honestly have no words to describe the relationship between the two other than oh my gosh, because seriously, oh my gosh.

If you want to have a book that you'll love forever, please, read Another Little Piece of My Heart now. Like right now. It's a quick and light read, and because of that, you can justify reading it again. Like I did. It's really that good.

So... Brb, I'm just going to go read this again, because, and I really can't say this enough, oh my gosh. 

Pure perfection

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Source: Bookshelf
Pages: 180
Publisher: Scribner
Release Date: September 30th 2004
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Buy

SummaryA portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, The Great Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--"Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.

Review: The Great Gatsby has been on my list of must read books for a long, long time. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I had to read it, and I had to read it immediately. Luckily, I already had a copy on my shelf. So I opened the cover, and two hours later, I was wondering why I waited so long, delaying a life filled with all Gatsby-related greatness. Because The Great Gatsby is seriously great. It's phenomenal, confusing, and because it needs to be repeated, seriously great. 

I found that this book was extremely straightforward but full of action. There were never any lingering sections, unnecessarily focusing on something of zero significance. Every sentence, every word, and every letter played an integral role to the making of the story of Gatsby. 

The characters were so intriguing and in my opinion, I thought they were all extremely well developed with an air of mystery. If that makes any sense...

Anyway, I thought the concept of having Nick Carraway telling the story was a unique one. He was a very important character, but he was not one of the main people. Yet without him, the story of Gatsby would not exist. With this in mind, all character thoughts were unknown unless spoken aloud, voiced to the others. Only Nick Carraway's thoughts were depicted in the novel, but even then, it was minimal. After all, the story revolved around Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.

And don't get me started on the setting. Holy smokes, everything sounded so posh and amazing, and I totally wished I was there. Good thing there's the movie, because that is something I definitely want to experience. Also, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jay Gatsby in the movie, and he is completely, 100% Gatsby material. So, I suppose there's that deciding factor; I'm watching the movie as soon as possible!

I must say though, that the novel could be a bit confusing at times. Everything is a whirlwind something. A whirlwind meeting, a whirlwind party, a whirlwind affair... The entirety of The Great Gatsby was fast-paced, filled with commotion and excitement. And the ending. Oh, the ending. It was so, so good. It was something I should have expected, but didn't expect, and then it just happened, and oh my gosh. It was at this part, in the ending, that timing was great for me. I had to leave, but I only had ten pages left, and I just could not put the book down. I honestly think that if I had, I would've just committed some kind of a crime. So I did the obvious and finished the book in the elevator, because Gatsby is worth that kind of commitment. 

Knowing what I now know, The Great Gatsby is a book that I truly regret not having picked up earlier. It's an easier read, and I found it to be extremely enjoyable. I will definitely be reading this again and again and again, because seriously, wow. This whirlwind of a book has caused a whirlwind of emotions in me, and all I can say is, read it, read it, read it. It's a classic and it is so completely and utterly great. 

Pure perfection

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace
Source: Library
Pages: 229
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: September 8th 2013
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Pass

SummaryMadelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennett. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured - and missed out on - in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.
There's only one problem. Bennett is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen - because she hasn't told him the truth.
The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennett - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.

Review: I normally don't read these kinds of books because of the nature of the content. The plot can be cliche and annoying. However, I decided to pick this up because the concept of the story being unraveled through a novel sized letter from Madelyn to Bennett was a unique one. 

From the beginning, it's already known that the relationship is doomed and done. Madelyn writes to Bennett as she's alone in her room, on house arrest after everything fell apart. She writes about the circumstances and how she met Bennett, who she refers to as "you," creating the rarely seen story told in first person point of view intermingled with second person point of view. She writes about why she lied, how she lied, how everything came together, and how everything fell apart. 

Personally, I couldn't grasp the plot line of the book. Within what seems to be a few weeks, Madelyn claims to be in love even though she knows the extreme predicaments of their blooming relationship. Age differences, positions of power, and secrets don't seem to faze Madelyn. 

While reading, I felt bad for Bennett, because even though what he thought he was doing was already bad, he never imagined for a second that the situation was actually so much worse. Madelyn's character was selfish through her actions. She never thought once of the consequences, but that just showed lack of maturity. But that was the case because although she was smart, she was naive and immature. I could understand her desperation and conflict, but as she tells her story, she comes off as whiney as she complains about her parents, her future, or lack thereof, and her life. 

The reality is that both parties acted rashly and without thought of the possible consequences, and because of that, everything was set to come crashing down from the very start. The story was interesting and unlike any other one that I've read because it wasn't as cliche as I thought it would be. There were moments where I was transported into the scene, reliving what Madelyn was reliving through her writing. Yet there were also moments where I just wanted to knock some sense into Madelyn, and into Bennett. 

I thought The Truth About You and Me was well written and beautifully told. Despite my disappointments with the context, I was happy with the writing. And much to my surprise, the ending was an enjoyable one, bittersweet and inevitable. 

But ultimately, the actual contents of the book—the plot line, the conflict, the portrayal of the characters—left much to be desired. If I could turn back time knowing everything I now know, I would probably skip this one. Since that's not quite possible though, I'm glad I discovered this book even though I won't be reading it again. 

Could've been better

Monday, March 9, 2015

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Source: Library
Pages: 310
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: October 9th 2012
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryBefore the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...) and a straight-A student, with two of the best friends a girl could ask for. 

When Sid finds herself on a ski lift with hunky local college guy Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled. "Come to a party with me," he tells her, but Dax isn't what he seems. He takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

After the ski trip, Sid is an insomniac and an obsessive late-night runner, unable to relate to anyone.

Caught in a downward spiral, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey "the Living Stoner" Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey—slacker, baker, total dreamboat—Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if only she could shake the nightmares, everything would be perfect...

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton's debut is a stunning story of moving on after the unthinkable happens. 

Review: This is the story of what happens when the horror becomes the reality. How do you move on afterwards? What happens next? It's a heartbreaking story that weaves multiple obstacles smoothly, cleanly, and beautifully.

In the beginning, Sid is the super bubbly and enthusiastic character. She has everything going for her, but then she goes and does something that's, quite frankly, pretty stupid. When I read the part of her becoming a bit obsessed with meeting up with an almost total stranger, I was just like, "Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it." But then she went and did it. Just because he was attractive and interested in her. Or so it seemed. And then the worst thing possible happens... and she can't remember any of it.

Getting in trouble and getting her friends in trouble is the least of her problems. People begin to think the worst of her, and this story really shows that nothing is ever what it seems. Confused, lost, and broken, Sid ignores her friends and breaks ties with them. She knows that she can just tell them the truth, but she can't bring herself to do it. Because to say it out loud would make it real. 

Besides the horror that has become Sid's reality, she develops other problems because of the incident. She can't sleep, but can't just not do anything. So suddenly, she's started running. She runs everything off, her emotions, her weight, and her sanity. The thing is, her runs aren't just short runs. They're long, sometimes five-straight-hours-runs. It gets intense, she gets obsessed with this newfound idea of control, and there's another hitch in her life. This one is her choice though, but she refuses to believe that she could ever be that girl, and yet, she also doesn't know how to stop. Then there's the question: Does she even want to stop?

Enter Corey, the delinquent of the school, supposed pothead, and... suddenly sort of sweet and sort of cute guy. The relationship between Corey and Sid was adorable and gradually created. There were just the right amounts of initial dislike between them, little arguments, and growing interest. He helps makes things better for Sid, and it goes both ways. The best scenes in my opinion were the ones that took place at the bakery. I absolutely loved those!

Colleen Clayton develops every character perfectly, and I loved each and every single one of them, even Starsha, resident mean girl. The ending really crushed me, in both a good and a bad way. I really felt for Sid, but truthfully, despite everything, I wouldn't have wanted the ending to be any different. 

I definitely plan on reading What Happens Next again at some point. Besides my annoyance at Sid's stupidity and recklessness in the beginning, her personality—her pain, her joy—bled through the pages straight to my head and my heart. This is a must read of what happens when your worst nightmare comes to life. It's a captivating book of what happens next.

Really enjoyed

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Source: Library
Pages: 256
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends 
Release Date: July 5th 2011
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Pass

SummaryPaisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music festival, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of Prosper County. It's what she's always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas.

With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, will change her forever.

Review: First off, I really think a different cover would have been better. I suppose there's romance in this book, but the main theme is music. Obviously there's the romantic subject of Paradise, whose real name is Gabriela (which to be honest, I found kind of funny, oops), but it's not the main thing. 

So, onto the actual book. I had been looking forward to reading this book for awhile because what's not to look forward to? Strong female character? Music? Cute guy enters scene? Intriguing storyline? Check, check, check, check. But when I read the actual book, it wasn't quite the same as what I had expected. It was a bit too fast paced. It was hard to follow at some points. I thought that some of the characters were somewhat underdeveloped. I would have loved to know more about Waylon, since he plays a big role. After all, Paisley is the drummer for the Waylon Slider Band. Besides that, Paradise wasn't bad. But then again, it wasn't exactly all that great. 

I was drawn to the sister duo of Paisley and Lacey. Right from the start, they both had to hide their true passions. Lacey was singing, following her mother's dream, and Paisley couldn't even tell her parents that she was a drummer in a band. Both of them struggled to find who they were and dealt with trust issues. I liked that I was able to see into Paisley's mind to find out that she truly did care about her parents' feelings, but just felt that she couldn't risk telling them the truth just yet. All the inner turmoil between both girls was a great conflict for this book because it was all part of finding who they were and discovering how to muster the courage to stand up for their true passions. 

Obviously there's the band. This story starts right off the bat with a scene with the band—the audition with Paradise. The relationship with the band gets kind of shaky when Paradise becomes the lead singer for many reasons, but in the end, they're a unit. Their camaraderie had its ups and downs, but that's what made it so real and so likable. 

And of course, there's Gabriela, better known as Paradise, the book's hunky country guy who has the voice of an angel, and possesses enough confidence to rock a man purse (aka a murse) and play an accordion of all things. In regards to him, I thought he was the character with the weird mood swings. He could be rude, cocky, careless, and intense at some points. But mostly, he was sweet, kind, and most importantly, caring towards Paisley. 

While Paradise has a great plot line, I don't think it was carried out to its full potential. There were too many characters to fully keep track of and really get attached to. Many places felt rushed to me, yet other parts flowed just right. It was a bumpy road to the finish line, but it was still good enough that I retained interest to the very end. However, I absolutely hated the ending. It was incredibly random, and completely unnecessary. Out of everything in this book, what I disliked the most was the ending. I mean, come on, really now? So not cool.

All in all, Paradise was just okay for me. I probably won't ever be reading this again, but it really is a hit or miss kind of book. If you like fast paced books, this is the one for you. But if you are like me and like fully developed plot lines and characters, I'd say to pass on this one. 

Eh, it was alright

Monday, March 2, 2015

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt
Source: Library
Pages: 384
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Release Date: October 2nd 2012
Series: Standalone
Verdict: Borrow

SummaryMia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.

Review: The thing about this book is that it's a cancer book, but it's also not. While the catalyst of this entire novel is cancer, this book is by all means not a typical cancer story. 

Mia is a popular girl who has it all... until she doesn't. After lots of random bruising and a trip to the doctor's, Mia is diagnosed with leukemia. What makes this book so great is that it is realistic. There isn't any pretending on Mia's part. Well, that's a lie. Mia pretends everything is fine and lies through omission by not telling her friends and sort of boyfriend for fear of them treating her differently. But getting into her mind and seeing her thought process allows readers to see the storm of emotions raging conflict that she holds in. 

Truthfully, Mia's decisions are spurred by her parents' reactions. Her father is a fact-spitting machine. He gets his comfort through knowledge, and after Mia's diagnosis, he throws himself into all the cancer books known to mankind. Her mother is this preppy and proud woman who loves her daughter's life. What's not to love, right? Her daughter is popular, a cheerleader, smart, and has a cute boy that's interested. But the way she reacts to the news is almost crazy, frantic, desperate. She's the one that convinces Mia to keep her secret, well, a secret. And Mia agrees because, really, who wants to be treated as the pity case? 

But then there's Gyver, who has been Mia's best friend since forever. He never clashed with her group because he's sort of out there. He's a musician, dresses differently, and just doesn't fit in with her other friends. Not to mention, he's completely swoon-worthy. He's the only person that Mia trusts with her secret, and through everything that happens in the book, he's the best possible friend out there. Mia and Gyver have this chemistry that you can't ignore. It's constantly there, and to be honest, at some points, I wanted to smack Mia because seriously, are you kidding me right now? Open you eyes and see what's right in front of you. Sheesh. 

Although this book is a battle against cancer, it's really a book about the battles we have within. Mia is the perfect example of someone who is fighting herself. She's in a state of denial at first, but then finally accepts the fact that she has cancer. She agrees with her mother to not tell her other friends about her cancer because saying it out loud makes it real. It's natural to be afraid and Mia's character shows the reality of what happens when one is overwhelmed. 

Beautifully written, Send Me a Sign is a gut-wrenching story of how to overcome the hurdles of life. The characters all realize something life-changing by the end, and despite the fact that the ending was great, I would have loved to read more about Mia's story. Even though there were parts of this book where I was seriously annoyed with Mia, I loved her quirky character. She was constantly looking for signs, and quite often, read into them too much. And of course, there's the surprisingly compassionate sort of boyfriend Ryan. And Gyver. Always Gyver. 

There were some things that I personally wished would have been different, but this book had me in my own storm of emotions. I laughed, I teared up, and I screamed with frustration. Send Me a Sign is definitely a book worth reading. 

Really enjoyed