Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – I FEEL you!

amyandrogerAmy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson 

Genre: YA, Contemporary 

Published: May, 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Format: Paperback

Rating: Blew me away. 5 birdies.

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way 

 

  Such an adorable coming of age, grieving, healing, adventure, romance book! It was light, but serious. And I could totally and completely empathize.

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My first Morgan Matson book! Can I just say, I’m really happy that Kayla from The Thousand lives recommended this? Such an adorable coming of age, grieving, healing, adventure, romance book! It was light, but serious. And I could totally and completely empathize.

The book starts at the beginning of a road trip with college boy Roger, after a horrible accident splits Amy’s family apart. I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this book. I first thought it would just be a cute, fun romance. But oh, was I wrong. It was so much more and loved it all the same.

I’ll begin by saying that I was surprised at how much I could not only sympathize, but empathize. I’m lucky in that I have never had a close family member or friend pass away. Only a few pets, which I suppose is still traumatic. So whenever I read a book that deals with extreme grieving, I get a little wary. Because I almost never, ever quite understand. I can imagine it, but without ever having gone through it myself, I never fully understand what people must be going through.

This book was different though. I found myself crying uncontrollably and I felt like I understood Amy. The way in which she acted was totally believable. I feel like I might act in a similar manner if this happened to me.

Matson, what have you done to me?

I was so surprised by this. Especially since the rest of the book was so distracting. Like, I want to travel to America just so I can go on a road trip. I just don’t think it would be as fun in Aus.

Along with Amy, I really liked Roger’s character. I didn’t understand him as much, but he still felt real to me. Kind of like that elusive, but laid back, down to earth boy. Dreamy.

And I loved how little a role the romance played in the end. I was worried that it would be one of those cases where “love healed me”. But no – Roger certainly helped, yes, but it was not because they had some epic romance going on. He was just supportive. The detour is what really aided in Amy’s healing. All the people she met, places she had seen, state motto’s she recorded. She discovered life again through the simple things.

And I adored the scrapbooking parts between chapters. Such a cute addition!

SPOILER – highligt paragraph to view. 

I just wanted to add that the “accident” really resonated with me. Ever since I started driving, I have this fear of lights. I hate them. I hate coming up to a green one when it changes because I’m so bad at judging distances and if I have enough time to stop. I’m scared of being the one that runs the light. And I’m scared of leaving the intersection and colliding with someone else running the light. Maybe that’s one reason why I cried so hard. It was like, my worst fear come to life.

SPOILER End

My emotions are so mushy about this book. There isn’t really anything I can fault. I loved the characters and concept, and for the first time, can emphasize with grief.  And I now have a strong desire to road trip it. In America.

Thanks a lot Morgan Matson </3 >.< ❤myrating

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I beg all of you to read Ask the Passengers by A.S. King!

askthepassengersAsk the Passengers by A.S King

Genre: Contemporary, YA,

Published: October, 2012, by  Little, Brown BFYR

Format: Paperback

Rating: A big, beautiful gust in a storm! 

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

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This. This book. It’s just so perfect. I barely have words to describe how I felt after reading this.

Ask the Passengers is commonly labeled as an LGBT – which is true, but it is so much more than that. I guarantee, just about everyone will find something they can relate too in this book.

The story follows Astrid as she struggles with the fact she has feelings for a girl. The book is filled with cute, sad and humorous quirks, including the habit Astrid has of sending her love to people on planes, because she is confused about where her love belongs.

I’ll start with characters, because I truly love Astrid. She sometimes comes across as bland and boring, but I believe that is because of the unique way King has written it. This story is literally first person, as if Astrid herself was sitting down and relaying the story to you. In consequence, Astrid gets the attention off herself and makes her less interesting. That’s what most people who don’t want attention on themselves would do. When I realized this bit, it made me love her more.

I feel like the town and family issues were exaggerated, but I also feel like that has part to do with Astrid’s perspective. A.S King shows it to us as Astrid sees it. She focuses attention away from herself, exaggerates her parents and the small town atmosphere and creates imaginary friends. Despite this, It also feels very real – like even though some things are exaggerated, she’s telling you the truth; exactly what happened.

Even though I said that Astrid comes across as bland, she is such an interesting character! She’s smart, for one. High fives for intelligent characters. She idolized philosophers and questions their theories. She even has an imaginary philosopher friend. Her inner voice is intriguing. Her outlook on life and the place she lives is fascinating. She’s so relatable! She is a completely ordinary, teenage girl with family problems and trouble fitting in – even though she doesn’t necessarily want to fit in.

Moving on, I liked the representation of love in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Astrid give her love to the people on the planes, and how her view on this changes as the plot progresses. The story even goes the lengths to include what happens to the passengers she gives her love to. Though it’s slightly cheesy, it was a very acceptable amount of cheese and adds to the beautiful quirks of this book.

Even though I’m not a huge fan of complex metaphors and such; I loved them in this book! Not only did they add to Astrid’s character, but it really changed the overall feel of the book. It’s constantly making you think and question everything, and never has any solid conclusions.

This is such a beautifully written and amazing story. Everyone can relate to this. I’m not an LGBT teen, but I can so easily relate to the issues Astrid brings up. Labelling and boxing people into groups being one of them. So thoughtful, thought provoking, captivating and very, very special. I highly recommend Ask the Passengers!

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Schizophrenia at it’s best – A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

abluesodarkA Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Published: May, 2010 by Flux

Format: Paperback

Source: Bought from Booktopia  

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

 

A Blue So Dark is one of those books that stays with you. What really stood out for me the most is its honesty. Brutal honesty. It was thought provoking, insightful and beautiful. It explored so many issues – not only of schizophrenia; but the effects it has on everything else. It looks at loosing friendships, broken families, mending relationships, poor socio economic area’s, teen pregnancy, health effects, stress. There is just so much packed into 300 pages that I’m a little overwhelmed.

A Blue So Dark follows Aura as her schizophrenic mother descends into a dark place. Aura is striving to keep her mother’s condition a secret, while still look after her. In turn, Aura goes through things no girl should at her age. We see her develop and learn from her experience, and I loved watching her mature as the story progresses.

In fact, all the characters were just great. Every single one was layered, individual and Schindler does not turn the blind eye at the bad stuff – she embraces it and makes her character real.

In saying this, there is an exception. A Blue So Dark included romance, but it was the most minor part of the book, you can hardly notice it. This is a great example of where the main character gets their act together before going into a relationship. And the love interest is nothing more than just that – a cute guy that pops up every now and again to remind us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He gives us something to look forward to in Aura’s future. We really don’t know much about him at all.

Schizophrenia isn’t something I know much about, which is why I found this book really insightful. I had no idea what to expect or how the characters were going to react to the different situations posed to them. I found it really intense and I was shocked – actually shocked that some people live with this, like this. It was definitely eye opening.

I also enjoyed how art plays such a big part. I love reading about artists. It’s close to home. My Mum’s a painter, and I think my mind sways more to the artistic side at times. It’s interesting to see how Aura’s interpretation of art is tainted by her mother and her illness, and she begins to shun that part of her.

Not only does it talk about artists, but the whole book is an art piece. The way it’s written is beautiful. The descriptions were just enough to satisfy my need for visuals.

Plain and simple – I just really enjoyed this book. To the amount of issues it explores, to art, to descriptions, to being just a real, honest book that opened my mind to something that I once shrugged at.  I got really emotional towards the end, because there are still some loose ties. But otherwise, I was really blown away by this little paperback I bought on a whim. I highly recommend!

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P.S – I just learnt that Holly Schindler is releasing a new book called Feral, that’s tagged to be like The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan. GIMME GIMME GIMME. 

Outcast by Adrienne Kress = lots of tears, lots of snot, and a broken heart

Outcast by Adrienne Kress

Genre: YA, Paranormal

Published: June 4th 2013 by Diversion Books

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“After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.

Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is. 

He thinks it’s 1956.

Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass”

 

You know those books that just fill you with such emotion, such feels, you have to put the book down at the end, go outside, go for a walk, anything just to find your own reality again. Because if you don’t, you will forget yourself altogether?

This is how I felt when I finished Outcast. I actually cried. And I don’t mean the little sneaky tear, I mean full on snotty sobbing. It was just awful. I had to get out of bed at 11pm and take a backyard stroll in my jammies to calm down.

How many books can do this to me? Well, I’m certainly a crier, but not an all-out sobber. So not many. Which makes this book so special. Though the plot was fairly simple and easy to follow, I became so invested into the characters. I actually love them and cannot contemplate why this is a standalone.

Why, Kress? Why do this to me?

Maybe I should just get to the review, before I start crying again.

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Absolute captivating brilliance! Amazing layered plot and character development. I fell in love with everything from the relationships formed to our MC’s inner voice. The writing was intriguing – it had me at first sentence. Practically love at first chapter.

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I was absolutely captivated by the first chapter of this book. It was simply setting the scene – no action. But it was so wonderfully written and engaging; which can be said for the entirety of the book.

I really liked the setting of Outcast, and how it is never forgotten and incorporated into the plot. Our MC, Riley, lives in a small, tight knot community where everyone knows everyone’s business. This town is, uh “blessed” to be chosen by the Angels, who come every year to take people, who are never seen again. He story starts the year after her best friend and almost-boyfriend is taken by the angles. Riley rebels the next year, by shooting one of the Angels in the face.

One of the best things about Outcast is that Riley has such an engaging mental voice. She has this habit of thinking everything she wants and wishes she could say, but then says something else entirely. She’s so well developed; I feel like she gives voice to the quiet girl – she doesn’t have a huge amount of friends, she’s not considered popular, or fashionable. She’s not outgoing. She is close to her family and focusses on school. But she’s not the bore that everyone thinks, which is why I think Kress’ writing style works so well in this book.

I completely fell in love with Riley; she is so relatable but filled with depth and complexity. But I loved Gabe even more; the gorgeous bad boy.

Gabe. Gabe Gabe, Gabe! I think Gabe is just so utterly gorgeous. He’s the bad boy, but think 50’s bad boy. Think modernised/realistic Greece and Dirty Dancing – but better! Even though he has a reputation, we really get to see the other side of Gabe that only Riley can bring out of him. I just love his character.  He is all easy-going with his situation, but underneath, he is really complex. I love his drive to try and make the best of everything, no matter how tragic his situation is.

What I love even more is how these two character complement each other. Quiet, serious Riley and popular, fun Gabe. Gabe has never really known what it’s like to be loved and trusted. Riley has never really been able to trust herself and push over her quiet mental barrier. These two question what the other has always believed themselves to be. Their growing friendship is undeniably cute and I loved every single moment of it.

But Gabe truly is a heart breaker. Right to the very end.

What’s great though? This relationship is not all-consuming. It adds depth to the plot, which was really layered and well thought out, but romance does not control it. Riley’s goal is to discover the truth about the angels and find out what happened to her best friend. This made it really easy to follow. Even though there were always mysteries, and sometimes there wasn’t a lot going on, I was never bored for a single moment. Kress keeps it interesting through the flowing style, Riley, character tension and includes some pretty outlandish things.

Like, you know, freakish angels, naked boys, kidnapping, motorcycles, singing, shotguns, ect.

Overall, I found Outcast to be an amazing and really enjoyable read. There was a layered plot that included young love, second chances, growing up, discovery and sacrifice. There was the awesome character development and growth. There was Riley’s mental voice giving the book that extra something. I was intrigued, saddened, overjoyed, excited, torn and heartbroken. Without a single bad word from me, Outcast gets the gold on a very special place in my shelf.

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A Summer of Favourites!

This summer has been blistering hot, humidity has sky rocketed and my local beach has swarmed with weird looking jellyfish. 

On the other hand, this summer I graduated, started life as an adult and read a ton of great books! 

I know we are nearly a month into Autumn, but better late than never!

So lets’s take a looksie at my favourite reads this summer

Crash Into You by Katie Mcgarry

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I bought this because author, Jennifer L. Armentrout recommended it. This was so good, that it was better than the two before it. I can’t wait for Take Me On to be released! See my review.

These Broken Stars by Aimee Kaufman and Megan Spooner

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One of the best developed romances ever. This definitely lived up to my expectations. See review.

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

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I nearly gave up on this series, but Melissa Marr kicked bum in  Radiant Shadows! The best out of the Wicked Lovely series. I thoroughly enjoyed the happy ending, for once! See my review.

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole

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I was lucky to pick this one up for $5! Oh so dark and original. I wish it wasn’t so confusing, but I still likey very muchy. See the review! 

Terra by Gretchen Powell

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I just loved this. I loved everything about it. Haven’t read it? Go on, hop to it! See Breezy’s Review 

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Ah, I wish I read this sooner! So creative and different. See my review!

Of Stardust by February Grace.

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I don’t know what it is about this book, but despite it’s flaws, I loved it. I am so incredibly thankful to be apart of the tour – check out the review!

There are so many more books I want to add, such as Me Since You by Laura Wiess, Touch Of Power by Maria V. Snyder and Angelfall by Susan Ee, but I’ve already gone over the amount of books I said I would. 😦

What were some of your favourite summer reads? Or for those on the north side of the equator, what were your favourite winter reads? Any recommendations? 

Review: Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Published: January 2010 by Harper

My Rating: 5 thumbs up!
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Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

My thoughts 

I was weary going into this book. After loving Wicked Lovely and being sorely disappointed by the two books that followed, I wasn’t sure if I could continue. But I did. I loved it. This book provided me with a more in depth understanding of the faerie world and also gave clarity to the direction of the series. I think I could read those other books now with a fresh perspective and not be as disappointed. Radiant Shadows has outshone Wicked Lovely in my eyes!

This review will be short, sweet, and extremely unbalanced. I just don’t have anything bad to say about Radiant Shadows. I was disappointed by nothing. It’s like Melissa Marr has taken everything I didn’t like about the other books and corrected them here. Plus, the main character is just so lively – I love how we get to see the story from Ani’s perspective!

So let’s get to it, hey? First up, I loved how the romance part of the novel actually worked out for a change! Ani and Devlin’s coming together works and is brilliant. Devlin finally learns how to balance both sides of his heritage, while Ani brings about that change in him. Ani sees him as someone outside her family that trusts and likes her unconditionally. They just fit together. He doesn’t try to stop her from her urge to fight, in fact, he enjoys her as a fighting companion. They are equal. I love it.

Another great aspect is that all the characters are well developed, especially Ani and Devlin. I also find myself being able to understand other important characters better – such as Irial, Bananach and Sorcha. Plus, I found myself just falling in love with Ani, Trish, Rae and Devlin. There’s just so many good things about this book!

Radiant Shadows really brought to light questions and confusions I had. I feel as though I now have a better understanding of all the courts and their natures. I understand faerie politics better, the different types of faeries, their motives and how that is reflected by the nature of their court. It’s all coming together for me now, finally. I think this is a BIG reason why I liked this book so much. It finally has some clarity.

I also feel like I understand the purpose of the Wicked Lovely series better now because of Radiant Shadows. I was disappointed with Ink Exchange, because it no longer followed the story of Aislinn. Then In Fragile Eternity, when we do get the summer court, the story felt flat and nothing much happened. Now because of the huge shift in Radiant Shadows, I see that the series isn’t to follow the Summer courts royal dilemmas. It’s about dramatic changes that occurs within the faerie world, a chain reaction started by Keenan finding his queen. I now realize that their story is only a part of a bigger one that is so much more exciting!

Now I could be picky and say that the story felt a little disjointed, but I’m just grasping at slippery monkey bars. I really don’t have much to fault about Radiant Shadows at all. This, combined with the clarity and understanding it provided me, I’m going to give it rating of 5. How could I not with the review I just gave? If you are like me, and had given up on the Wicked Lovely series, read Radiant Shadows! This exciting and enticing novel brings out the best in all of Melissa Marr’s stories. It will not disappoint!

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Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Title: Crash Into You

Author: Katie McGarry

Published Date: 1st December, 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

My Rating: 5 Thumbs UP!

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See Goodreads Summary.

I can honestly say that Crash Into You has been one of the best reads this year for me. I picked it up after one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Armentrout, recommended it. Now I cannot thank Jen enough, especially since Crash Into You has out-rated the Lux Series! (I still love aliens though)!

Crash Into You is sort of like J Lynn meets Jennifer Echols (Hee hee, two Jennifers). It mixes their writing styles (though with a more serious undertone) with a romance plot that’s in line with J.E’s style. A very, very good mix. Plus, it brings up issues such as street and gang crime, the poverty cycle, homelessness, stereotype discrimination and foster kids ageing out of the system. Along with the effects of cancer, gambling and common teen medical and mental issues such as anxiety, it is a very diverse though relevant insight to modern day issues.

Maybe the biggest reason I loved this book is because it was mostly realistic. The romance, the relationships, the characters (with a few exceptions). A big aid to this was the writing style. The serious and realistic way this is written has changed a seemingly stereotypic plot into something new and original. It left me wondering if it would have a happy ending or if it would be sad (I was not disappointed). I also loved how this was both plot and character driven. Stories generally seem to sway to one side, but McGarry has found a balance that is hard to come by.

The characters were very well rounded and realistic (besides a few). They all had clear motivations and personalities. Even the multiple perspectives were easy to tell apart. In fact, Isiah and Rachel are up there with the best in developed characters. Every move they made fit their personality, I didn’t find a single “off” moment. Rachel is motivated by her family’s crazy expectations of her whist dealing with anxiety and bullying. Isiah is motivated by his need to stay strong to protect the ones he loves, because he never felt that love and protection in his fostered life.

Then there’s Rachel and Isiah’s relationship. Though it only took about three hours for a bond to form, the relationship feels real and not instantaneous. They represent what is good in relationships – understanding each other, trust, dedication and fitting each other’s needs. It wasn’t love at first sight, but definitely “like”. What was best is that they surprised each other by not living up to the others negative opinion of their stereotype. Rich girl Rachel is surprisingly modest; Bad street boy Isiah is kind and loyal. Both have car obsession. Both are crazy about each other. Perfect.

Let me just add – Isiah makes me swoooonnn!

“Isiah Shares the same rugged, strong build, dark hair buzzed close to his scalp and a 5 o’clock shadow lining his jaw. He’s muscular thick. Like a jaguar”. – Rachel’s first impression.

Yum yum. Not to mention tats, pierced ears and “liquid silver eyes”. I might faint.

Plus, he has a bit of a poetic heart. His first impression of Rachel is something along the lines of “Angel”. Awh Man!

Any who, here’s the important bit that made me really fall in love with Crash Into You – It opened my eyes to issues I was not fully aware of. Katie has done a good job of demonstrating the hopelessness of the situations the teens are in and what they have to deal with – though still makes sure there is a light out of the tunnel. To understand, see my Bookish Tribute to Paul Walker.

After a quick Goodreads search, I found out that Crash into You is actually the third book in a series called Pushing The Limits. I had no idea. Haha, well then. Looks like I may have another favourite series, which I will be reading backwards. 😀

Overall, Crash Into You was a very good read and I do not regret the money I paid for it ($12..). It’s suitable for any and all YA readers – you don’t have to like fast cars to get into this book. Hell, I can’t even drive and I like this book. I even gave it a 5 thumbs up rating!

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