“The Summer After You + Me” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. The real Jersey Shore, not the part that was broadcast on television that gave everyone from Jersey a bad name. She loves the smell of the ocean, how it permeates everything in town. She loves the bungalows and the shops. And every summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day her down gets infiltrated by tourists who take over the town. She mostly finds them amusing and doesn’t bother with them too much (the first rule of being a local is don’t fall for the tourists.) But then there is Connor, her summertime-next-door-neighbor. But after last year, after Hurricane Sandy changed so much about her small coastal town, after it brought people within reach she thought were just a step away… when the following summer comes sweeping in, Lucy has a lot to discover about herself, her town, and her relationships.

Okay, living in a tourist trap myself I can DEFINITELY relate to most of this outline. Memorial Day to Labor Day is my own personal version of hell. But luckily Hurricane Sandy didn’t strike us quite as hard as it did our neighboring boroughs and states. The novel, while being about romance and relationships, also definitely is about rebuilding after the storm, and persevering. I would say that is one of the main themes in the book.

I wish that I liked this book more. I liked the idea, I liked the feeling. The setting. The protagonist just irritated me so much. She was written really realistically, maybe that’s why she annoyed me. The book was easy to get through, despite my being annoyed at it the whole time. And the second half was a bit more redeeming after the first. There were just a few things in it that drove me crazy; but again, that’s what made it realistic.

Overall, not my top ten favourites but not that bad a read. Summer, romance, hard decisions, beach life… if that sounds up your ally then happy reading.

“The Fill-In Boyfriend” – Kasie West

It’s prom night. How could Bradley dump Gia on prom night? Now she has to go into the prom and try and convince her friends that her very real boyfriend (who they believe is very made-up) dumped her in the parking lot. Yea, they’re sure to believe that. . . Except that boy in his truck has been watching her the whole time. . . And he’s not that bad looking from far away. . . he could be Bradley for a night.
Gia convinces a random stranger to be her “fill-in” boyfriend, but it turns out their paths would continue to cross. Tangling herself up in a web Gia has to figure out how to get through the rest of the school year with her pride, and friendships, intact.

This. Book. Oh. My. God. I’m sorry, I need better adjectives in my life. This book was cute, fun, fluffy, emotional, ugh. The Fill-In-Bradley was one of my favourite male characters. (If him and Oliver from “The Heartbreakers” did a crossover book I may actually die).

At first I kind of hated Gia. She was very much a spoiled kid in the first chapter, but then you realize that she’s much deeper, and not at all who she comes off as and you just feel for her. You want to hug her. And the Fill-In-Bradley gets a back story that makes you want to introduce him to your parents. (Although I would really have liked even more development there but it was good for the point of the story).

I seriously want to live inside this book.

If you’re in the mood for frenemies, social drama, thoughtful characters without being over-the-top-cliches, then you have found your book my friends.

Happy reading.

“The Heartbreakers” – Ali Novak

Stella hates “The Heartbreakers” music. It’s sugar pop “rock” and can make your ears bleed. But for her sister, Cara, who is the ultimate fangirl Stella will do anything. Even stand in line for two hours to get her an autograph from the dancing monkeys. But she doesn’t expect to run into a cute boy at Starbucks. She doesn’t expect to flirt with a cute boy at Starbucks. She doesn’t expect that that cute boy is also the lead singer of the band she hates. Oy vey.

Honestly. I was hesitant to read this book. I was searching for a book that was “fluffy”, “light”, “readable”, “cutesy”. I didn’t want anything substantial or overly stimulating. Just something romantic and cute. When I read the back of the book I said to myself “ah yes, girl meets boy, girl is awkward, boy is famous. Perfect.” and I bought it. But part of me was like “WattPad sensation”?! “Boy band”!? Oh God. This is a published One Direction Fanfiction isn’t it!?! (don’t get me wrong, I fricken LOVE One Direction as much as the next fangirl, but I am always slightly bothered by the fanfiction-turned-book ever since E.L.James. I mean come on. My fanfictions are awesome. Why am I not published?!)

ANYWAY. Moving forward.

Even if this book were a secret One Direction (or perhaps the Wanted since they were “edgier” and had only 4 members to start with) Fanfiction I still think this book was lovely.

It had a lot of character depth. The themes of family and friendship were perfect. The story had both the weak cuteness of a love story and the deep rich heart of a family saga. Stella is dealing with things in her own life, in her family life, that are causing her to stand on the precipice of the unknown, not sure how to proceed (and not sure if she even can). The book follows her through a crazy whirlwind of self realization, big choices, and of course romantic interludes.

The book was everything that I needed at this moment. It was a good read. Good characters. It was tied up in a bow. But it was a very stylish bow. I’m going to check out what else Miss Novak has written.

“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” – Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen year old Virginia Shreves finds herself floundering through her youth. Her best friend has flown across the country, she’s struggling with body image issues, a family crisis has taken over her life, she’s stopped seeing her kind-of-sort-of-not-boyfriend… everything culminates in a series of destructive behaviours, bold moves, and attempts to find who she truly is.

I thought the book was good… Growing up chunky I could relate a bit to most of Virginia’s problems. Except the whole being super rich part, and scarfing down any food that came at me. (despite my hefty size I don’t generally over-eat.) Anyway, her list, “The Fat Girl Code of Conduct” was something I would have written back in high school:
1. Any sexual activity is a secret. No public displays of affection.
2. Don’t discuss your weight with him.
3. Go further than skinny girls. If you can’t sell him on your body, you’d better overcompensate with sexual perks.
4. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever push the relationship thing.

But I think that overall the novel doesn’t give itself enough room to grow. I think that everything in the book was wrapped up too simply. I don’t think that the struggles of the character were overall written out in a way that was realistic to most readers. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book. I just think that it was a bit too… structured. Like there is a script for “how to write a teen book for outcast fat chicks”.

I like that the message of the novel is positive. I like that it has a female power and energy to it. I like that it discussed healthy weight loss versus unhealthy weight loss. I like that it touched on self harm and eating disorders. But it didn’t really delve fully into any of these things, just the briefest of mentions. That’s also part of what I liked about it though. As a person who has had issues with: eating, self harming, depression, anxiety, overall bad juju I can say from experience that one day I would be bouncing around the room starting exercise regiments and the next day I would be taking paperclips to my skin and waiting for the pain. I mean, that’s a lot how Virginia is too. She doesn’t always have a consistent method of dealing with her emotions. And I think that’s valid of someone her age in her situation. That being said;  there were a lot of stereotypes in this book. Fat kid = unpopular. Popular kid = jerk. Plus, a lack of character development on some of the side characters. I understand that that’s how a lot of high school teen novels are so I’m not condemning it, just pointing it out. I think that the book was good, but it had potential to be great.

“The Girl Who Chased The Moon” – Sarah Addison Allen


“The Girl Who Chased The Moon” is the compelling story of the lives in a town called Mullaby. Emily Benedict is whisked away to this strange town after the death of her mother. Living with her grandfather, the town Giant, is going to be an adjustment, but when strange things seem to be the norm, and when her mothers blank past starts becoming written Emily begins to question everything she thought she knew. Looking for answers Emily encounters Julia, Sawyer, and Win; but the more she tries to find out about the town and her mothers past, the more questions arise…

I love Sarah Addison Allen. I read this book last weekend while camping. I had no internet signal so I couldn’t upload a review right away and then I was horrifically busy catching up on the chaos of life. Regardless, I read this book in about two days (as I do with all Allen’s books). I love the way she blends fantasy into realty, so seamlessly and believably. She has this way of just exploring the boundaries between what is happening and what could be happening. It makes for not only compelling story telling but for a way to look at the world around you in real life and get lots in the enchantment.

I highly recommend all of Allen’s books and this was no exception for me. It wasn’t the best book of hers (I still think Garden Spells takes the cake on that) but it was definitely enjoyable. There was one minor thing I wish she had gone into detail on (and I can’t quite say what without major spoilers) but let’s just hope if she ever makes a sequel she goes into the history a bit on this one thing. But even so, isn’t that most of the charm of these books? How there’s just enough fantasy that you start to believe anything is possible, but there’s enough mystery that you don’t get bogged down by logic? It keeps the atmosphere and the feeling of something bigger, greater, different it keeps that feeling of mystical and doesn’t lend itself to our trivialities.

Apologies. I rambled a bit.

But yes. Great book. Great author. Go read.

“A Hundred Summers” – Beatriz Williams


“Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.” – Goodreads

I literally copy and pasted the synopsis from GoodReads (credited) because I didn’t like the book enough to bother typing out something myself. I read this book about two weeks ago and was putting off even posting.

The book was okay. It wasn’t aggressively horrible. I mean, it had it’s good points. It was an interesting historical fiction. There was some historical accuracy which helped shape the story. My biggest complaint is that the characters were kind of one dimensional. I mean, overall it was okay. I just felt that there was a great idea, a good theme, and then it wasn’t executed all that well… I guess I was just hoping for something…. more. I’m not even sure what I was expecting.

As a bit of a spoiler the climax and ending were a bit trite and cliche too. But normally I am totally fine with trite and cliche. And I did still like it. I’m making it sound like I thought this book was the worst thing since “50 Shades” and believe me; it’s not. I just… maybe I wasn’t in the mood for it? Or maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea? But it might be yours? I’m not sure. I just know that at this time in my life it was not something that suited me.

“The Girl From The Well” – Rin Chupeco

Okiku is a 300 year old wandering spirit, seeking the destruction of those who wrong children. Tark is a 15 year old boy who holds the secrets to a mysterious family past. When their paths cross it is a swirling upheaval of past and present.  Told in a thrilling multiple perspective this novel has a quick pace and smooth flow.

I really liked this book. I read it on Sunday and I meant to post about it then. It’s a quick read (half a day or so). It flows very seamlessly so it’s easy to get lost in. It’s not scary (in my opinion). It is a bit paranormal-thriller. There’s definitely dark elements and upsetting material. It was sad. I found myself really caring for the characters. (Then again I tend to over care). But I was really invested in Tarks secrets and Okiku’s past.

Very well done story. I would recommend.