Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

This book was pretty good – Matson is living up to expectations! I’ve always been a Matson fan since I started reading YA, with Amy and Roger being my favourite, so I couldn’t help but pick this one up.

I loved so many things about this book! It was so family orientated, which was lovely. I really feel like families take a backseat in YA and they’re rarely featured as much as family is in Save the Date. It made for a fresh feel, although I did want a little more romance in some parts. I flew through this book and finished it within a few days, mainly because so much happened!

“It seemed like the second you tried to tell someone why you loved someone else, it took the luster off it”

It’s crazy how this book took place over 3 days, and yet it span over 400. It was just so fun and hectic! So many silly things happened, that I actually ended up laughing at the pure craziness of it all. With the amount of things going wrong, the book ended up being really entertaining and just made me want to read on and on.

I had mixed feelings about Charlie, but I actually really liked her in the end. Some of her decisions and feelings really annoyed me – her focus on her family can be a little over-the-top at times and can cause her to just be mean to others. But these are just mistakes that teenagers make. All of the tiny things I didn’t like about her, she actually rectified before the end of the book. I loved watching her grow and learn from her mistakes, and make new decisions about her life.

“like pinning a butterfly down in a case—it never quite captured it.”

The only downside to this book was maybe the predictability of it. Maybe it’s just the extensive amount of contemporaries (and Matson’s) books I’ve read, but I kind of guessed at most of the plot, including the ending. Although this didn’t take much away from the enjoyment I had reading it, it made me rate the book…

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

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When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

I didn’t think I was going to read this book – I was just unsure that it was my thing as I’m getting older and my reading tastes are developing, but I’m so glad I did! It was a combination of loving The Upside of Unrequited and @bookish_and_proud (shoutout to Becky!) enjoying it that made me finally picking up, and it was definitely worth it.

“Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind.”

In some ways, this book was exactly how I expected it to be. It was angsty, cheesy and cliche, but I also loved it. I’m trying to be honest with myself here, and be honest with you guys too, so I’ll just come out with it. I really want to be cultured, and educated, and have an obsession with classics and other  books that will shape me as a person. But I honestly really love a good YA contemporary, so here we are. This book was my guilty pleasure in written form.

First of all, Leah. I loved her, she was so relatable and badass and I really found myself enjoying reading about her character. But I have to say, she was also incredibly…brash? I don’t really know how to describe her, but she really needs to learn to forgive and stop holding so many grudges. I get it, I can be like her as a person too, but sometimes it just annoyed me a little how she seemed to hate people for no reason (*cough* Wells *cough*).

“That has to be the best part of being in love- the feeling of having a home in some else’s brain.”

But that really has to be the only downside of Leah on the Offbeat, because I couldn’t help but love the rest. It’s cliche, but it also has a balance of deep, meaningful stuff which is really true about growing up. But what I really loved about these books was the laughter. I find it really, truly difficult to laugh-out-loud at books, but this one really tickled me. I kept having to stop and recite funny passages to my boyfriend.

On top of it being so funny, it was also so current! I found myself giving a little fist-pump when I saw Troye Sivan was mentioned. It warmed my heart at every single Harry Potter reference. I melted when I saw a reference to Six of Crows. I’m going to have to stop, because I loved this book so much I could go on and on about it, so I will say one last thing – I love how this book is in the same world as Simon vs. and The Upside of Unrequited. And I love how they’re not direct sequels, because there is no pressure to go back and remember what happened in Simon vs!

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Maggie Cassidy. Book Review #40

Hi everyone!

This weeks post is about a book I spoke about in last weeks! (that was a long winded way to say it)

Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac follows Jack Duluoz, a teenage athletic star who one night, in a cold New England town meets the plain and beautiful Maggie. The story looks at friendship, family, the value of education and the confusion of love.

I would like to start off by simply saying how confusing this book was. In my life as a reader I have never came across a book as difficult to read as this one – not just in terms of plot but even more so in terms of language.

Kerouac was a part of the Beat Generation of writers and poets and therefore the ‘spontaneous prose’ that the book is written was always going to be more poetic and abstract. Yet at times I would read whole paragraphs and pages and not understand at all what was going on. Books don’t have to lose meaning or plot just to ascend to ‘artistic complexity’. I think that entertainment is important for all fiction and that shouldn’t be lost to language that was too abstract in its vocabulary and form.

That being said the language was beautiful and did end up teaching me something new about reading all together. After finishing this book it became clear to me that Kerouac weaves a story not to excite via plot but instead excite via language on its own. What I mean is the book forces you to read it not to understand but to simply accept: whole pages were confusing but also I read some astoundingly powerful sentences that captured entire emotions in just a few words. It wants you to appreciate words detached from a wider meaning. It’s poetry.

From what I did understand which, to be fair, was a lot of the novel, the plot was well crafted. The pacing was perfect and it really did feel reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – one of, if not my favourite book! Make no mistake this novel screams youth.

I’ve tried to capture the ambivalence I feel towards Maggie Cassidy in this book but the best way for you to understand would be to read it.

I give this book a 3.6 out of 5 stars

Keep on reading!

And thanks again Beth.

Review: The Crown (#5) by Kiera Cass

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When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.
Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

So yay, this book is better? This series improved? I mean, looking back on my review of The Heir, not much could have been worse, but I’m very happy to say some of the better parts of The Selection series shone through once again in this book.

I’m very glad to say Eadlyn does improve, thank goodness. She loses at least some of her selfishness even though there were still many times when I rolled my eyes at her somewhat bratty statements that still pop up.

“He smiled. “You are always just Eadlyn. And you are always the queen.”

I guess I could say there was an element of surprise in this book, at least in some more ways than in The One. But saying this, I did know exactly how the book would end. Having spent 4 books getting used to how Cass writes, I kind of guessed what would happen even though the romance just wasn’t really developed. And that’s the disappointing thing, I shouldn’t have known what was going to happen. But it was so damn obvious anyway.

“You are everything to everyone. And infinitely more to me.””

But I have to say it, when Cass goes for the romance, she does it well. There was a few passages that touched my stupid romantic heart so much that I actually shed a few tears. And I couldn’t help but going back to how I felt with the first 3 books in some aspects…because this book is entertaining, easy to read and somewhat enjoyable. I wouldn’t say I liked it like the first 3, but it’s definitely better than The Heir!

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Heir (#4) by Kiera Cass

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Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.
But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.
Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

Oh my god. Why oh why did this series carry on? I was so happy with the end of The One. I cried for gods sake! We really didn’t need to see 20 years on with America and Maxon’s bratty daughter. Okay, I’ve always heard people complain about narrators being annoying etc, but Eadlyn was another level. She is SUCH A BRAT. She spends most of her time complaining, getting massages, and sitting at a desk. I say sitting at a desk because although this book repeatedly says she is ‘working’, all I know her to do is sit in her room looking through forms from the Selected. All of these books have been about the Caste system and how important abolishing it was, yet all Eadlyn does is talk about how beneath her everyone else is, and how she is the best person in the whole world.

“You can be brave and still be feminine. You can lead and still love flowers.”

She’s selfish, self-centred and she even tries to get her brother to choose between her and the love of his life because she doesn’t want him to go. And SHE IS OBSESSED WITH TIARAS. She’s a princess, she can have all the tiaras in the world, and yet she throws a stupid baby hissy fit when a little girl in the palace (someone who claims is like a sister to Eadlyn), borrows one. When this book claimed Eadlyn’s obsession is like a hobby, I actually snorted with laughter. It really sounded so bratty.

“Most importantly, you can be queen and still be a bride.”

So Eadlyn was definitely the worst part about this book, on top of the fact it wasn’t needed. But at least she kind of gets better, I guess. I mean I started seeing tiny spurts of her good side towards the end of this book, and I’m just hoping the next one will be better and more hopeful.

★★
2 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The One (#3) by Kiera Cass

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The time has come for one winner to be crowned.
When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

I started this book rolling my eyes, and I ended it with tears slowly leaking out of them. I found the first half of this book completely different to the second half, as knowing there was five books I didn’t know how much more I could take.

All I could think of reading those first pages, was I can’t have this repeated for another 3 books. I can’t keep reading about the bitchiness and the indecisiveness. Whenever Celeste was bitchy or the girls fought I just wanted it to all be over.

“Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like.”

But the fact I hated this book at the start made the turn-around even bigger than I thought it would be! And when I did fall in love, I fell hard. It turns out, this book turned out so perfect. It wrapped up all the loose ends, it endlessly surprised me, and it had a great ending overall. This book really sounds like the last one of a series right? More on that in my review of The Heir.

“It was only ever yours to break anyway.”

I can’t help it, this series ended up stealing my heart. Of course it wasn’t without it’s faults, which were many at times, but the faults were outweighed by my love. Yes, these books are predictable in a way, but I did end up surprised. And even though these can be a little trashy, they’re so poetic. And I’m embarrassed to say this, but I actually cried a bit when I finished it.

So that proves that even though I didn’t enjoy all of this book, the hopeless romantic in me can’t help but loving it a hell of a lot

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Jane Eyre. Book Review #38

It has been three months and about a million things have changed but I am back!

Although I find myself dropping in and out of these posts I’ve always felt that this blog has always been one of my favourite things about reading aside from the reading itself.

Today I would like to talk about a book I finished literally minutes before writing this sentence – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

This classic piece of literature, as I am sure many of you will already know, follows the life and love of Jane Eyre, an orphaned dependant who grows up first in the care of her uncharitable aunt, then the cold walls of Lowood school before becoming governess at Thornfield Hall. It is at Thornfield where Jane meets the sultry and sardonic Mr Rochester, the man who will change the course of her life forever.

I would like to start by simply saying – I enjoyed this book, although my feelings for it are far more complex.

Oddly the majority of classics that I have read were read when I was much younger than I am now and much less knowledgeable about books and literature in general. I find that, as a result of this, in my reading of Jane Eyre I have been able to appreciate some of the finer details of the narrative in much more depth.

Jane Eyre, unlike many classics, is not, thick, difficult or even confusing in the same way that the other Brontë sister, Emily’s Wuthering Heights is. Despite the novel’s thirty eight chapters the plot never feels boring or slow; in fact it feels quite the opposite – Jane Eyre turned out to be one of the most fast paced books I have ever read in the sense that something was always changing in the main character’s life whether that was physical or not. This is one of the books greatest merits – it is constantly exciting. I find that only after having finished it that I am able to step back and see the ridiculousness of the story as a whole and even in spite of this, love it even more.

It would be unfair not to dedicate a few lines of this review simply to the language of the novel. Charlotte Brontë is a weaver of words through and through – there is a reason why her books are still selling even today, centuries on. At times the paragraphs can feel uneccesary and a victim to a victorian preference to ‘overwrite’ but I never felt that this damaged my opinion of the book. In the case of Jane Eyre it only made the events more believable. The fact that the narrator was speaking in such an intelligent vernacular only gave more credibility to the fact that Jane herself was an intellectual woman. The precision of lexical field felt honest and realistic. Further than this, I felt simply that the prose was special in a way that I find very rarely in books. It read like prose but sung like poetry and there was a beauty in this that could not and cannot be ignored; even if you put the mysterious visions, country mansions and cross dressing aside, at the core of Jane Eyre is a beating heart of literary skill and sparkle.

The book easily talks about hundreds of different themes and so I could easily try to talk about all of them but instead i’m going to focus on one that really jumped out at me. The representation of women in this book is clever. Of course, the Brontë sisters are known to be powerfully feminist in their craftsmanship but until reading Jane Eyre I did not realise how empowering and subtle this feminism was. Charlotte Brontë creates what the masses will enjoy as a poor victim but then fashions her with an unbreakable sense of self worth and a body that is not fairytale in its beauty but instead plainly average. Brontë does not just show women that they are powerful, she shows them that they can be powerful in their own lives. When a book’s story moves past it’s pages, that is when the world gets changed.

This book was more than a pleasure to read. I recommend it to everyone of every age and every life.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.

Keep on reading

And thanks again Beth!