Milka Really Likes To Read

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Book Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

Samantha Reed has been born to privilege. Though her father has left even before she was born, her mother's sizable trust fund and a rich family have guaranteed that Samantha never has had to pinch the penny. To be honest, it seems like Samantha has always got whatever she has wanted. She has worked for some of those things, but despite that, it seems like things come very easy for her. While living her perfect seeming life, Samantha has spent large amounts of time looking to the other side of the fence, to the Garrett family, who from afar seem like a bit of a mess. These are toys all over their yard, the car and the motorcycle are never in the garage, the pool is always occupied and the number of children is ever increasing. Then one day Jase Garrett, one of "those Garrett's" much despised by Samantha's mother, makes contact with Samantha thus changing everything that has been the norm before.

Samantha is an interesting character and one I occasionally had a difficult time to like. As I said, she is extremely privileged, and though she seems like she does not care about it, occasionally it feels like she really does. There is nothing wrong with being privileged, but when it clouds some of your decisions, especially ones that are not so moral or right in any way, I think there's problems arising. When she meets Jase and the rest of the Garrett family, she realizes that her way of life isn't the only one or necessary the best one. Unlike her family, which occasionally is very distant and formal, Jase's family is all over the place, but also extremely loving and comfortable. I liked to see Samantha integrated to that family, but occasionally is just felt too easy. The parents instantly love her, the kids adore her, she has never babysat and feels like natural right away etc. Due to this, I partly felt like Samantha is "too perfect", and that is never easy to identify with.

Jase is nice, honest and loving, but like Samantha, feels too perfect. He is amazing brother, good boyfriend, hardworking son, trustworthy friend... The connection between him and Samantha is there, but it occasionally feels a bit rushed and does not really take that much time to develop. I kept waiting for something to be revealed about Jase's past that would make him a bit more approachable character, but in the end, despite the fact that he is dreamy and all, I felt no connection whatsoever towards him, which kind of took away from my reading experience. 

The one character I desperately wanted to know more about and the one I found to be the most interesting character in the whole book is Tim. He is vulnerable, has a shady past, seems to cover his real feelings with humor and just in general seems a bit lost. Whereas Jase is the perfect boy next door, Tim really is the guy "from the other side of the tracks". He has a past, but it seems like he is ready to leave that behind and look to the future and better himself. You have no idea how happy I was when I realized that Huntley Fitzpatrick is writing the sequel to My Life Next Door about Tim (the book is called The Boy Most Likely). With Tim as a main character and Sam and Jase as side characters, I feel like I will like Fitzpatrick's story way more than I did now.

Don't get me wrong, I did not hate his book or anything. I just did not feel a strong connection towards it, which usually happens with YA contemporary titles I really like. My Life Next Door is cute, quick to read and deals with some real issues from the problems within friendships to problems within families. It is well written and funny and in general very easy to read. Unfortunately it just didn't give me the "feels" I expected it to give. But despite that, you definitely should check this one out and see what you think.

Book Review: Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C. Cherry

Loving Mr. Daniels -

For some reason I've always found the teacher-student relationship very appealing in literature and fiction in general. One of the main reasons I watched Pretty Little Liars in the first place was the relationship between Aria and Ezra, and books like Teach Me by R.A. Nelson used to belong to my favorites. So when I made the conclusion from the synopsis of Loving Mr. Daniels that is somehow dealt with a student-teacher relationship, I knew that I would have to give it a go, especially since I've been in such a new adult mood recently.

Ashlyn's twin sister is dead and she is forced to move to live with his father who has been out of her life for years. She is angry at her sister for leaving her, angry at her mother for letting her go and angry at her father for not being around. But she also misses her sister, does not see how she can go on and tries to understand her mother the best she can. On the train on her way to her new home, she sees a guy who looks just as lost as she does. He invites her to see his band perform, and when she goes, an instant connection is formed between these two. They both have lost someone recently. They both feel like they don't know what they're supposed to do next. And they're both extremely passionate about Shakespeare. Ashlyn wants to be a writer and loves Shakespeare's language and words. Daniel is a musician and uses the plays of the great playwright as inspiration for his songs. Everything seems well and perfect, almost too good to be true, until the moment the two meet at the halls of a high school in which Ashlyn is a student and Daniel is a teacher.

The first 40% of this book where like a drug. I knew that it wasn't good for me because the emotionality of the story was draining me, but I just couldn't stop. I felt for both Ashlyn and Daniel and more than anything I wanted them to get through this situation together. I couldn't put my Kindle down and I was reading the book with tears streaming down my face. Then something happened and I almost lost my interest in the story for a while. There were about 20% in the middle of the story that just didn't entice me at all, and though the book does pick up again towards the end, the relationship I formed with it during the first 40% was broken. Don't get me wrong - all in all I really enjoyed this novel. I DID! But there's just something that made me not like it as much in the end as I thought I would during those first 40%. 

The novel is narrated via both Ashlyn and Daniel, thus giving us a chance to really get to know the problems of both as well as the feelings they have for each other. I especially enjoyed Daniel's chapters because I feel like his narrative voice was very gentle and honest, raw and touching. There are some parts in this novel that are a bit cliche, but I feel like in general those fit right in. The ending is a bit cheesy, but hey, I did enjoy it, so I'm not complaining.

Book Review: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Going Too Far - Jennifer Echols

When I saw Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols at this secondhand bookstore over at Portobello Market at London, I knew that I was destined to buy it. There it was in the middle of several Dan Brown and James Patterson books, buried by the crime and mystery novels. I read Forget You by Jennifer Echols a couple of years ago and I knew that I was in for a treat with Going Too Far.

We are introduced to Meg, a girl with blue hair and rebellious spirit. She drinks, occasionally smokes pot and engages in casual sex. She's running away from past problems, and the only way she feels like she can do it is to defy the rules and her own limits. Then one night she and a group of her friends are captured from a railroad bridge, drunk and high. She is taken to the police station and soon she finds herself driving around with a young police office, John After, trying to learn about her mistakes. The more time she spends in the force, and especially with John, the more she starts to learn about herself and the consequences of her actions. She also starts to realize that John might not be quite what she expected him to be. 

I really liked Meg's narrative voice. She is funny and sarcastic, but also extremely unsure of herself. She has gone through a lot and it almost feels like she thinks that she does not deserve good things. John has also a past that haunts him as well as a future that has been planned ahead. But when he starts to spend time with Meg, he starts to realize that some of his plans might be changing. The chemistry and connection between these two characters is well established and occasionally SUPER hot. And oh my, John is so dreamy.

In a familiar YA contemporary fashion, Going Too Far addresses issues from familiar relationships and friendships to romantic entanglements. Echols does good job establishing the characters and creating the story. Going Too Far is fast-paced, romantic, funny and meaningful. The writing is beautiful and Meg's voice's original. I usually am a fan of nerdy, awkward female protagonists, but it was refreshing to read about a protagonist who seems very confident, even if that was partly only pretend.

I warmly recommend Going Too Far to all fans of YA literature, especially those who like contemporary that is not only cute and fluffy, but also deals with real issues and problems.

Book Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson

I knew that I was right when I decided to save this book for summer because it proved to be the perfect summer book - even though it was read during a cold, rainy day. 

Amy Curry's normal, somewhat boring life ends when her father dies in a car accident during a normal, boring afternoon. The life she has known - her parents, her brother, he friends and school as well as her home in California - all start to feel very distant suddenly. Her father is gone, her mother does not talk about what happened, her brother is sent to rehab, she does not know how to talk to her friends and on top of everything, her mother decides to sell their house in California and move the family to Connecticut. Amy is too sad and too numb to even complain too much. After a lonely month spent in California, her mother tells her that Amy won't be able to fly to Connecticut after all, but that she would have to drive from there to Connecticut. But since Amy is not ready to drive after the accident, her mother has asked Roger, her friend's son, to drive the car and Amy across the country. So now Amy is not only fatherless and forced to live in a new time, but also forced to take a road trip with a complete stranger. Yay.

Roger has promised to spend the summer at East Coast with his father. But that is not the only reason he wants to hit the road - there is someone he has left things open with, someone he really needs to talk with. When Amy presents him with the detailed plan for the trip, Roger suggests that they take a little detour. Even though Amy is used to being the one who goes by the rules, she agrees. That agreement leads to a wonderful journey filled with important places, several fast food restaurants, the loneliest road in America, new people and most importantly, new friendships and relationships. Both Amy and Roger have something they need to sort out, something they have to go through before they can open up for new possibilities and relationships. 

I loved this book so much. As someone who has also lost her father, I felt such a connection to Amy and what she feels and I honestly found myself crying several times while I was reading this, just because the feelings of Amy where so easy to relate with and they managed to bring up some memories. Amy feels like she hasn't quite been herself since her father died, but as more time goes on and as she opens up for new experiences and possibilities, she sees glimpses of her old self coming back while she is also introduced to a new, better side of herself. Roger is such a sweetheart and I pretty much instantly fell in love with him. Yes, he is hot, but he is so much more than that. He is kind, funny, kind of nerdy, easy to talk with and most importantly, he really seems to care about Amy. The relationship that develops between the two really takes its time, which I really liked, because it makes the story so much more realistic.

I instantly fell in love with Matson's style of writing. She has created characters that are funny and honest, raw and real. The dialogue flows well and you really feel like you're actually there, listening to these people talk. The road trip is well established and the text really takes the reader along on the journey with these characters. I have always wanted to do a road trip in US and it actually almost felt like I was on one, even though in reality I was in my living room in rainy Finland.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel where the little scrapbook segments featuring pictures, shop receipts, playlists etc. These little details add so much to the story and they just are super fun to look at. Also the chapter openings with quotations and song lyrics are really well chosen and fit so well to the story. I actually found the some of the playlists from 8tracks - you can access them for here if you are interested. 

I really don't have anything negative to say about this book. I talked about this with a couple of people who have also read it and they said they would have liked maybe a one more chapter to the end, but for me, the final scrapbook item at the last page felt like the perfect finish. This book definitely became one of my favorites of all time and I'm so happy that I own a copy of it so I can reread it whenever I feel like doing so. A wonderful, honest, romantic and funny summer read I want to recommend for EVERYONE!

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone - Laini Taylor

I was kind of wary about reading this one because I am not the biggest fan on angel books in general. I've never just found them very interesting and I feel like the ones I've have read have only been so-so (expect The Mortal Instruments series). But since everyone has been hyping about this on book blogs, goodreads and booktube, I decided to give it ago and see for myself whether I enjoy it or not.

To begin with, let's just say that yes, I quite liked this book. But I am still not a big fan of angel books either. Since she can remember, Karou has been leading a double life. For some, she is a 17-year-old art student living in Prague who tells stories about Chimaera in her art books. But for others, to her "family", she is a girl who has been raised by monsters, a girl they can trust to do their errands. She has spent half of her life in 'Elsewhere', a magical portal and now that she has gotten older she has become an errand girl for Brimstone who collects teeth. She has traveled around the world buying teeth from grave robbers and hunters without really knowing why Brimstone needs the teeth. But as events start to unfold, she starts to learn more and more about Brimstone, the world she has inhabited and the things war between the Chimaera and the Seraphim, the angels. 

Akiva is a Seraphim, a soldier for an army of angels. He has been bred and raised to fight and for most of his life his only purpose to live has been to participate in the never ending war between the Chimaera and the Seraphim. He once felt happiness and love, but all that disappeared a long time ago. Until he meets Karou, a human with curious powers that fell almost monstrous. 

I am used to reading books set in completely fantastical worlds or in English speaking places. So reading a novel set in somewhere else was actually quite interesting. I've wanted to visit Prague for years and this book definitely made me even more curious about the city. Taylor definitely has done her research well because while reading this book, it actually felt like I was walking on the streets of Prague, breathing in the history of the city. 

At first, I was very confused with this book. I had no idea what Karou was, what Brimstone was and what was happening in general. But once I got more into the story I started to connect things and see links between the characters and the events. I feel like for a fan for mythology and angels and all that, this book is a diamond. As I said, I am not a big fan of angels, but I still fairly enjoyed this one and definitely want to know more about the world these characters inhabit via the sequels.

I had been warned about this book including some instalove. And yeah, it kind of does. But the connection between the two characters falling in love is established quite well and it all makes sense in the end. I did enjoy the romantic aspect of the novel quite a bit and I really want to see how the relationship develops between these characters.

All in all, I found Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be an interesting, intriguing, well-written and established young adult novel with well-developed characters and world building. A definite pick for fans of angel novels!

Book Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated - Melissa Landers

Alienated is one of those books that kind of came out of nowhere, at least for me. I had not heard anything about it before it's publication. Then I started seeing it on book blogs, BookTube and Goodreads and the reviews for it were generally quite raving. I acquired a copy of my Kindle, thinking that I will give it a chance once I'm in mood for some science fiction.

Oh well, it did not really fill my graving for science fiction, but it did give me a load of high school drama and cute romance in a form of a quick, entertaining read. 

Two years ago, the aliens made contact with the earth. Sharing nearly identical DNA with the humans, the alien race called L'eirhs are like a cold, more intelligent version of the human race. They have been selectively bred and cloned and thus they are in general superior to a ordinary human being. Cara is the Valedictorian and the queen of the debate team, but her school year does not get quite the beginning she expected when she's told that she has been selected to host of the three L'eirh exchange students sent to earth. Though she is not over the moon about babysitting an alien for a year, the scholarship money the exchange brings seems tempting and eventually makes her say yes.

The moment Cara sees Aelyx, she realizes that she has never seen a guy quite as hot as her new exchange student. But the hotness is dampened by the cold and collective behavior of Aelyx who seems more like a robot than a human for most of the time. But when the paranoia of the general public against the aliens and people associated with them increases, Cara and Aelyx end up forming a bond that eventually could become something more than just a forced friendship.

As I said, this book is very DRAMA heavy. It is the general high school backstabbing drama that is oh so entertaining, but also, oh so unrealistic. Cara is the Valedictorian, but to be honest, she does not seem super intelligent or hard-working. When I hear the word 'Valedictorian' in description for a novel,I expect an awesome, nerdy, a bit socially awkward, hardworking character. Cara is not that. I feel like she spends more time drooling after Aelyx than actually working on school assignments. Aelyx, of course, is super hot, but at first does not seem to have the hots for Cara. But he gets more human side while spending time with humans and realizes that some humans might actually be not that bad. 

I found Alienated to be very entertaining, fast-paced and occasionally quite funny as well. Surprisingly, the author is able to avoid instalove, which was a definite bonus. I was kind of disappointed about the lack of detail that I usually am able to find from science fiction novels, but very quickly I realized that I should probably just treat this as a high school romance type of book rather than a scifi read. I did not really connect with the characters or the events, but despite that, I did find that Alienated was just what I needed - a bit silly, fast-paced romp for the weekend nights.

Book Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place - Amy Zhang

A popular high school junior Liz Emerson from Meridian High school has decided to commit suicide. She has decided that the world would be a better place without her. That the lives of those around her would get better if she stops to exist. Falling into Place delves right into WHY Liz Emerson thinks that she should die. And what happens when her attempt fails. 

The narration of this book is something I haven't seen before. I don't want to spoil the narrator for you, but all I'll say is that it's definitely something I did not expect. The story gives you little hints about it and I did figure it out myself pretty quickly, but despite that, I really enjoyed Zhang's twist to the narration. Zhang has bravely decided to use nonlinear narration in her debut, which luckily works well and gives the novel a puzzle like element - you have to keep reading to fill the gaps, to get more information, to understand why Liz has decided to end her life.

Though Liz is the main character of Falling into Place, she isn't the only character the novel focuses on. Through flashbacks, the novel highlights Liz's relationships with people around her - her friends, her mother, the boy who has liked her since 5th grade, the people she used to bully. Through these flashbacks, we get to see Liz through the eyes of other people - we see that to some she is special and loved; to some she is a threat.

Though the flashbacks show Liz as a bully and bit of a bitch, I felt for her. The regret inside her is so intense and she knows that she needs her, but she does not know how to ask for it. Zhang does not glorify her, does not glorify bullying, but shows the intense truth of it, proving that those who bully are usually a lot more troubled than those who are bullied. Liz feels bad for what she has done, but she does not know what to do - it seems like no one notices or cares that she is feeling bad, and eventually thinks the only way for her to stop tormenting others and also herself is to end her life.

Falling into Place is one of those books that I had to read through on one sitting. The story pulled me in from page one and the nonlinear, puzzle like narration made me want to keep turning the pages. The pacing is brilliant, with short and long chapters mixed together in perfect combination. Falling into Place holds its grip throughout and I wasn't able to put it down until I reached the last page. And when I did, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it again.

I immensely enjoyed Amy Zhang's debut. Her writing is poetic, flowing and fast paced. Her characters are interesting and extremely multi-layered- just when you think you know all about these characters, a new flashback takes you back in time and shows a completely different side to them. Zhang's approach to high school drama and bullying is honest and raw, which shows Zhang really knows what she is writing about. In a post on her blog she says that Falling into Place is everything she wanted to say during high school but didn't and while reading the novel, I went back to my own high school memories and started to wish I would have said a couple of strong words for several different people. If you have been in high school, I promise you that you can identify with at least one of these characters. I went to a very small high school and still found some familiar characters from Falling into Place. I have a feeling Amy Zhang will hit it big time with this one.

Book Review: How We Deal With Gravity by Ginger Scott

How We Deal With Gravity - Ginger Scott

Avery Abbot's life hasn't really gone as planned. She dropped out of college when she got pregnant. Then her son Max was diagnosed with autism. Next, her husband left her without saying a word. Since Max was born and her husband left her, her only priority has been to make sure that Max gets the love and care he deserves, despite the fact that he is not like other children around. The last thought in Avery's mind has been to fall in love, to find someone to rely, to find someone who does not mind Max, someone who understand and wants to help. Then Mason Street shows up.

Mason Street left his hometown with his guitar and big dreams, thinking that he would hit it big and become famous. Unfortunately the dynamics of his band did not work, and the only thing he gained was bad press and a failed record contract. He comes back home to ask advice and help from Ray Abbot, the man who first put him to stage. What he did not expect was to come face to face with Ray's daughter Avery, now very different than she was back in high school. He starts to feel a pull towards Avery and quickly learns that she used to have a crush on him until he broke her heart. Can Mason prove to Avery that he has changed? And can Avery let someone in and trust someone after getting her heart broken, first by Mason and then by her husband?

I instantly started to root for Avery. She is strong, kind and also kind of badass. She takes care of people she loves and isn't ready to take any shit about her child and her choices. She is also vulnerable and kind of lost, just trying her best to navigate the journey that is her life. Max, her son, is the apple of her eye and the most special person in her life. I loved how Max was not portrayed only as a "sick kid", but also as a child with incredible talent. Yes, he might be difficult, but he is also worth all the struggles. 

Mason has made mistakes, and probably will make them again, but he learns from his actions and through his relationship with Avery and his involvement in the life of Max, he learns to be responsible, understanding that loving someone means that you don't only live for yourself, but also for those you love. Usually musicians are not my weak spot (athletes are), but while reading this book I really did fall for Mason.

There are some kind of cliche seeming romantic scenes in the novel, but I liked how those gave balance to the very raw, real scenes dealing with Max and the struggles Avery goes through in her day to day life. How We Deal with Gravity was an extremely emotional, gripping read that managed to make me both laugh and cry (I think I cried through the last 20% of the book). It really opened my eyes about autism and made me want to do more research on it since I did not really know much about it before hand. Though I am not a mother myself and never wish to be, I was touched by the way Scott portrays motherhood and the love of a mother towards her child. I feel like for a reader who is a mother/maternal, this will dig even deeper than it did with me.

Book Review: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

In Honor - Jessi Kirby

Honor's brother Finn has died in Iraq. Three days after she heard about the passing of Finn, she received a letter from him, which she left unopened until the night of his funeral. The letter, Finn's last wish, includes tickets to a concert of a famous country singer/pop star Kyra Kelly in California and a task for her to tell Kyra Kelly about her handsome brother. Confused, grief-stricken and lost, Honor decides to honor the wish of her brother and decides to leave immediately. She only manages to exit the house once she runs into someone on the driveway - Finn's best friend Rusty. He is arrogant, a bit of a douche and at that moment, also wasted. And apparently planning to join Honor on her trip to California. He jumps into the car and instantly passes out. So the only option Honor really has is to just start to drive and try to avoid Rusty as much as possible.


While they drive further away from Texas, Honor remains confused about why her brother joined the Marines, and though she is heartbroken about losing him, a part of her thinks that it never would have happened if her brother would not have left in the first place. Rusty knows why Finn joined the Marines, but is not ready to talk about it, especially not with Honor. After Finn's deployment, Rusty distanced himself from Honor as well, but after hearing about Finn's destiny, he seeks her out because he knows that she is the only person who feels just as hurt about the dead of Finn. 


I felt for Honor and identified with her problems after losing someone close to her. All the things she has planned for her future don't feel right anymore and the only thing she can focus on is filling the last wish of her brother. But once she gets closer to California, she realizes that seeking the fulfillment of Finn's last wish is some much more to her than a journey to a concert. She does things she never expected she would do, she meets people who help her understand things about herself and she starts to feel a connection towards Rusty that she never expected she would feel. Rusty is the only one who knew her brother as well as she did and spending time with someone who misses him as much as she does helps. The more time she spends with him, the more attractive he gets to her and she starts to realize that she might feel more than just friendly feelings towards him.

From the first moment we are introduced to Rusty, I right away connected him to the wonderful Tim Riggins from NBC's brilliant Friday Night Lights. Like Tim, Rusty is troubled and the type that does not like to talk about his problems. He drowns his problems into beer and booze and avoids opening himself up. But he is also honest, trustworthy and extremely caring. And okay, he's also super hot.


Rating this book was difficult for me because Rusty is worth five stars, but I eventually decided going with solid three stars, just because I felt like the book ended a bit too abruptly. Just a one more chapter of Rusty would probably have pushed the rating to four, maybe even five stars. But all in all, I really liked this book - it even made me cry. If you love Tim Riggins, you will LOVE this one. 


Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson

After reading and falling in love with Amy&Roger's Epic Detour, I was definitely in the mood for more of Morgan Matson's writing. Amy and Roger managed to make me both laugh and cry and after reading the synopsis and some reviews for Second Chance Summer, I had a feeling I could expect the same.

The Edwards family hasn't been a very close-knit unit for years. For the past five years, they have spent the summers in Connecticut, the kids participating in their own activities, the father working and the mother spending time at the club playing tennis. When the father of the family is given bad news from the doctors - only about 4 more months to live - the family drives to their old summer house at Pocono Mountains in order to spend one more summer together.

Taylor Edwards is the middle child and not book smart like her big brother or talented dancer like her little sister. For years she has felt like she doesn't really fit in ad comes face to face with the problem again once she tries to figure out what to do during the summer. Her brother is already prepping for college and her sister is taking tennis lessons and keeping up with her dance practices. When Taylor ends up spending most of her time just wandering around the house and keeping her eye on her father, her father makes her to apply for a job at the beach. She gets the job and on her first day encounters someone from her past, someone she left behind without saying a word - her ex-best friend Lucy.

Lucy is not the only one who Taylor left behind - there's also Henry, her first boyfriend. Now her neighbor, Taylor notices that the last give years have been good to Henry - he has got much cuter than he was before. Taylor knows that it is inevitable that she has to see both Lucy and Henry, but is there a possibility that they could give her a second chance? 

The words "one last summer" in the synopsis pretty much give it away - the father is going to die. I'd been wanting to read this book since it was published, but due to personal reasons, I am very wary with books that deal with death/dying fathers. Knowing that it was coming, I had time to prepare myself for the devastation, just like the characters in this book. I loved how this was mostly story about Taylor getting a second chance with her father - she has been close to him always, but during the summer she realizes that does not know that much about him. With the time that she still has with him, she makes sure that she gets as much information as possible, making sure that when she has to say goodbye to her father, she is saying goodbye to someone she knew as well as possible.

Taylor is such a real and honest character. She is used to running away when she's faced with problems and situations she is not comfortable with, but once her father gets sick, she realizes that she has nowhere to run. Even if she would leave, the problems would follow her. She has to deal with the illness of her father and once she gets to Poconos, she realizes that she finally also has a chance to deal with her past - to ask for forgiveness from those she has hurt and left behind. It was so easy to identify with Taylor, to feel for her, to wish for the best for her. 

Both Henry and Lucy are such wonderful side-characters. Henry is cute, honest, caring and romantic. Lucy is strong, funny and a wonderful friend. I also really loved the family dynamics - the relationships between the siblings and especially between Taylor and her father.

Second Chance Summer was such an emotional read and one that I definitely want to reread at some point. It hit right home and I am not even embarrassed to admit that I cried through the last 10% or so. It was so easy to connect with these characters and the situation they are in and to feel for them. And I have to give bonus points for the appearance of some characters from Matson's previous writing. ;)

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline - Rainbow Rowell

Attachments, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl all managed to make me a Rainbow Rowell fan, all gaining five stars review from me. So obviously, I was really excited for Landline, Rowell's second adult title. Some of the excitement paid off, while a part of me was left a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Landline. Not just as much as I expected.

Georgie is a TV comedy writer, working on a writing team for a popular sitcom while dreaming about her own network show with her best friend Seth. When her dreams about the show she has been working on since college start to come through, she has to skip a family holiday to Omaha to stay in Los Angeles to work with the show. This means that her husband Neal and her two daughters travel away for Christmas while she stays at home, eventually ending up staying at her mother's place. 

After Neal and the girls leave, Georgie tries her best to contact Neal, but fails continually. Their marriage has been in strains for a while and though she loves him and her children more than anything, she feels like she's a fourth wheel in a vehicle that runs perfectly with three wheels - she isn't necessarily needed, or at least that is how she feels. Finally, when she calls him via the landline at her mother's house she gets a connection but quickly realizes that she isn't talking to Neal of the present day - somehow she has found a connection back to 1998 and the days they weren't married yet, to a time they were in love but quite unsure about their future. 

At first, the time traveling phone freaks her out. But once she talks to the 1998 Neal more, she realizes that she misses him more than she ever realized. Not the Neal from the past, but the Neal of the present time, the Neal that isn't answering to her calls. The works starts to pile up and she isn't able to concentrate - she knows that she has to do something to get her family back, but at the same time she isn't ready to let go of her career and her dreams. 

Though I enjoyed the whole time traveling, magic phone aspect of the novel, I was slightly disappointed about the fact that Rowell doesn't really explain HOW the phone works the way it does. Georgie tries to figure out the mechanics of the phone, but only very briefly (I think almost too briefly - like if I had a phone like that, I would probably only ponder about how it works and nothing else). Maybe I am just overly curious or something, but I really wanted to know more about this phone. 

Georgie is a bona fide Rowell character - funny, slightly troubled, ordinary, honest. I loved the fact that she is a comedy writer because some of my favorite people ever are TV comedy writers (Fey, Poehler and Kaling - I'm talking about you). I know this novel was not about her work as a comedy writer but as a wife, but I kind of wished there would have been more about her work and the world of television comedy writing. I also wanted to know more about Seth, Georgie's best friend. It is interesting because he's the guy who would be perfect for her, but she fell in love with someone else, someone who really isn't her match. I guess that's the whole "opposites attract" thing right there in action. 

I feel like Landline was very different from Attachments, Rowell's debut novel and her previous novel for adults. Whereas Attachments reads like a romantic comedy, Landline reads more like a romantic drama/modern woman's film - a film about a woman trying to figure out what to do with her life and her family while learning something new about herself. As mentioned before, Georgie is an interesting main character and definitely one I would like to see in film format as well. She is strong, loving and driven. Though she loves her family, she also loves her job and her career. For a different type of reader and one who has dedicated her life for family and children, Georgie might seem selfish for making her husband "suffer" in a life that he did not want, but I personally loved the fact that she wants to keep up with her work and realizes that thought she is a woman, she does not have to necessarily be the one who sacrifices everything. Pretty much, in conclusion, YAY FOR STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS!

Landline is entertaining, touching and well written. The story is well paced and constructed and the character development from the college aged Neal and Georgie to the present day was well established through flashbacks and the phone calls via the magical landline. The lack in explaining the workings of the phone left me a bit disappointed and thus made me give this one only four stars, but other than that, I really recommend Landline to everyone, especially the fans of Rowell's previous novels. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. 

Ps. If you are familiar with Rowell's previous novels, be in the lookout for some familiar faces from this one!

Book Review: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Fell Down - Sarina Bowen

Corey Callahan loves ice hockey. Since she was child it has been major part of her life - her brother used to play, her father used to coach and she herself also spent all the free time she had on ice. In high school she was the captain of the ice hockey team on her way to college hockey teams. Then she got injured and EVERYTHING changed. She had to switch her skates to a wheelchair and her dreams of playing college hockey went down the toilet. But she's not ready to give up her dreams of going to the school her brother used to go to, Harkness College.

Despite her fussing parents, Corey's college experience starts well. The room that she has at the dorm is big and beautiful and she instantly feels like she has won in the roommate lottery when she meets Dana, a girl who has spent her high school years in Japan. And then she meets Adam Hartley, her neighbor and one of the stars of the college's ice-hockey team, relaying on crutches with a big cast on his leg. Corey and Hartley connect instantly - they both understand how it feels not to be able to do something they love (play hockey). Hartley does not treat Corey like she's a cripple and completely helpless, but rather challenges her in more than one way. They play video games, watch films and confine in each other and very quickly Corey realizes that she is falling for Hartley... Too bad that he has a girlfriend who's doing a foreign exchange in France.

I really liked Corey. She is strong and independent and though she is in a situation she did not expect to find herself in she does not give up. Yes, she might whine occasionally, but who wouldn't? She's also funny and extremely likable, which made it easy to connect with her and to feel for her. I love ice hockey myself and though I've never played competitively, I totally got her love for the sport. Hartley is totally swoon worthy (duh, he's a hockey player) and though there were so things he did that I did not fully understand and support, I did end up liking him.

There's sort of a love triangle in the story, but it is clear right away what the "right" pairing is. Hartley's girlfriend Stacia is snobby, bitchy rich girl who mostly just thinks of herself. She's kind of a cliche and maybe a bit too much Corey's opposite. The author does not really give any humanity to Stacia, which occasionally feels like the easy way out; she makes her so unlikable that there's no way you could think that Hartley should stay with her. But her does, for a way too long and Hartley ends up doing something which I do not accept myself from someone who's in a relationship. Yes, he is with the wrong person, but that does not justify it, at least not in my opinion. 

Also, one little thing that kind of annoyed me was this "hope fairy" Corey keeps talking about. Basically, it is the voice inside her head that keeps telling her that maybe she has a chance with Hartley and that maybe he's as into her as she's to him. At first this did not really bother me, but then this weird "fairy" is mentioned again and again and I kind of started to feel like the author repeats it way too many times. I feel like this might be just me though and in no way did this little glitch take the enjoyment out of the story.

Despite the little issues I had with this book, in general I enjoyed it. It did not change my life, but it was entertaining, fast-paced and cute. The author does not shy away from the seriousness of Corey's incident and its aftermath, but she also doesn't dwell on either. The likable female protagonist and a hot love interest who's ready to admit his wrongdoings definitely make it worth a read for all fans of new adult fiction. 

Book Review: Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty - Christine Heppermann

I used to read a lot of poetry back in high school when it was a part of my English syllabus, but since graduating from HS I've been neglecting poetry. For some reason it has been difficult for me to pick up a book of poetry rather than a novel. I guess I've always found novels easier to get into, easier to understand and easier to read. When I read the synopsis for this collection of poems, I instantly felt like I want to read it since I am very interested in issues of female representation and how it is shaped by media. Also the blurb by E. Lockhart really made me interested about this one.

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty is a collection of 50 poems by Christine Heppermann, a poet, writer and a critic, that tackles issues that young girls (and women as well) deal with daily, ranging from issues of body and problems of love. The way the poems discuss the life of modern teenagers from eating disorders to self-abuse is touching, unique and hauntingly beautiful. Heppermann does not shy away from discussing serious issues, but tackles head on into situations that are occasionally scary and occasionally funny. 

Heppermann takes inspiration from fairytales, building the poems around characters like Ariel, Belle and Rapunzel in a modern context. The collection touches upon the society' expectations towards young girls and the problems they face while growing up in a world in which media repeatedly tells girls how they are supposed to look and act in order to see "respectable" and "normal". While some of the poems deal with serious issues like anorexia and self-harm in very serious light, others dealing with issues like fashion magazines and peer pressure have a dark, humoristic flair. 

In addition to the poems, the collection includes black and white photographs from a series of artists that brilliantly complement the words within the pages. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty is definitely a book that I'll try to acquire as a physical copy once it's published. It is one of those books I instantly wanted to share with someone, a book that I wanted to talk about with someone. My Kindle probably did not do justice for the photographs and I'm really looking forward to seeing them on print. 

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty is a fast read, but also one that makes you think, one that you will carry with you. It is one of those books you can always go back to and one you can discuss with your friends. A must read for anyone interested in gender representation!

Book Review: Kiss of Broken Glass

Kiss of Broken Glass - Madeleine Kuderick

I am always a bit wary to pick up a book narrated in verse because my experiences are that those books either blow your mind and make you think about them for days or really disappoint you and make you regret ever picking them up. Fortunately, Madeleine Kuderick's deput Kiss of Broken Glass fits to the first category. The story of Kenna, a 15-year-old girl who cuts herself, is haunting, realistic, beautiful and extremely touching. The verse flows beautifully, keeping the reader intrigued throughout, showing that sometimes you don't need a lot of words to make an impact. You just need the right words. 

Kenna lives in Florida, where the Florida Mental Health Act (known as Baker Act) allows the involuntary institutionalization of individual for up to 72 hours if it is determined that the person might be harmful to himself/herself or to others. When she's found from the school bathroom cutting herself, she's taken to an institution and locked up with other troubled youngsters. There's Skylar, a girl who also cuts and fights with other problems too; Donya, who's on suicide watch; and Jag, who instantly makes Kenna forget her crush from school. Through therapy sessions and Kenna's encounters with the other characters the reader is faced with issues that are difficult but not hopeless. 

The verse narrative jumps between the present day (Kenna at the institution) and the situations from her past that drove her to cutting. The reader gets to see how peer pressure and the desire to be included in something drove Kenna into her actions. In the contemporary society with social media, I feel like it is increasingly important that books like this are written and offered to young readers. Kuderick does not glorify the problems Kenna is going through but does not preach about them either. She writes realistically, showing both sides of the coin. There's no miraculous cure, no instant help. Getting better is a process, one that you have to work for. 

While reading Kuderick's words, I was constantly touched by the honesty and reality of them. I kept wondering whether the author writing from her own experience because it really felt like she knew what she was talking about. From the author's note I noticed that she actually got the idea for the novel from the experiences of her own daughter who started cutting during 6th grade and eventually was committed under the Baker Act. So though the novel is purely work of fiction, it does have a real-life event as an inspiration. Kuderick also mentions in her note that she did research on Tumblr and other sites in which young people dealing with issues of self-harm discuss their problems, which I think really shows from the text because the voice of Kenna is like a voice of a teenager, not like a voice of a mother who's daughter is cutting. 

Though you only know these characters for a while, you form a bond with them, especially with Kenna, and you start to wonder what will happen to her in the future. Will she get better? Will she relapse? Like some people in real life, she becomes a person you are touched by for a short period time and never hear about again. She's like a person you remember occasionally from your past and think about for a while, hoping that she/he is doing alright. You go on with your life, but once in a while, it's there - the memory of someone you used to know and the hope that that person is doing alright.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under The Never Sky  - Veronica Rossi
'Under the Never Sky' by Veronica Rossi definitely filled all the expectations I had. The start was a bit slow in my opinion, but once the action really started, I was hooked. The book was in a very unfortunate position in my so-called reading schedule; I started reading it right after finishing with 'Ready Player One' by Ernest Cline, which was incredible. I am happy to say that 'Under the Never Sky' was almost as good!
Aria has lived her whole life in Reverie, which an enclosed city where most of the time is spent in Realms, which are accessed with this device called a Smarteye. Through the Realms you can visit different places and time periods - they are artificial, but extremely well constructed - while you are in one of the Realms, you feel like you are in two places at once. 
Aria's mother is a scientist and has traveled out of Reverie to work on something she has not been able to tell to Aria. When Aria decides to go look for her, things go really badly and Aria ends up being forced out of Reverie to the outside known in Reverie as the Death Shop. 
Perry has been an Outsider his whole life. He knows hunger and panic. He survives better than most with his powerful sense of sight and smell. When he meets Aria, he right away realize that she is a Dweller, one from the enclosed cities. Despite the fact that he does not seem like to Aria, he decides to help her because she has something that could help him in saving someone important for him. As they embark on their journey, they get to know more about each other but also more about the lives they have not themselves experienced. And as they spend more and more time together, it becomes clear that there might actually be something between them, as much as they try to deny it. 
I loved the two main characters of this novel. Aria is strong and independent, but not flawless. When she is thrown out of the place she has called home for her whole life, she is scared and ready to face her destiny, most likely death. But as she spends more and more time Outside, she starts to learn new skills and realizes that she actually might have a chance to survive. Perry is fierce and strong, and despite the fact that he seems cold towards Aria, he is also caring. He has been through a lot, and his life seems to be an endless struggle. He also blames himself for things he had no control over. 
I kept rooting for these two characters throughout the whole book. Even though I knew they would eventually fall in love, I liked the fact that it took its time and it was not the type of instalove you see in many YA novels. The other characters were also interesting and the whole fictional world Rossi has created is fascinating with its little details from the Realms to the cruel Outside world. 

Love and Other Four Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler

Love And Other Four Letter Words - Carolyn Mackler

I read and reviewed Mackler's The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things back in 2009; I really enjoyed it and kept thinking about it occasionally afterwards. When I saw Love and Other Four Letter Words in a charity shop for 50 p, I instantly walked to the cashier and bought it. Finally on a cold night, while sipping tea and eating cake, I picked it from my book shelf and read the whole thing on one sitting.

When the parents of Sammie Davies, a 16 year old girl living in a small New York town separate and her artsy mother rents them a small apartment from New York City, everything changes for her. She has to leave her home and her best friend Kitty behind and move to a completely new city with her mother, who after the separation, seems even more unstable than she was before. But once Sammie gets familiar with New York City and meets Phoebe, which who she forms a friendship, Sammie starts to realize her life back home wasn't maybe as perfect as she thought - her family was falling apart and Kitty, the girl she has regarded as her best friend since 3rd grade does not really seem to get Sammie at all. And in New York there's also the hot neighbor who looks like Johnny Depp and of course Eli, a guy she has known for ages but has never really considered before in a romantic light.

Love and Other Four Letter Words might not be your best pick if you are looking for something cute and romantic. Don't get me wrong, there are some cute moments there, but it is more focused on the development and growth of Sammie and the realizations she makes while getting used to a new environment and new life. I was positively surprised of how well this novel was written - I did not have much expectations, other than that it will be a fast read, and I was really taken by Mackler's witty dialogue and the amount of research she must have done to quote the lyrics of folk bands etc. Sammie listens to. I also really enjoyed the supporting characters from hilarious Phoebe to shy Eli. This was so funny at parts I was literally laughing out loud.