Tag: Speak

Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Posted June 29, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-BrokaReviewer: Rowena
Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka
Published by Speak
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

I’m not reading nearly as many YA books as I used to but when I came across this book, I was anxious to read it. This book is surrounded by the Romeo and Juliet play but it features a main character that is more Rosalind than Juliet.

Megan Harper has always been the girl that guys date before they find their meant-to-be partners. She’s become a flirt, the girl that keeps things casual because of her status as the girl before but when she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring writer who teams up with her to write a play and hook her up with the guy she wants to hook up with.

I normally don’t have any trouble jumping into a contemporary YA because things happen sort of fast in those books but for me, this book started off really slow and it was hard for me to connect with Megan. I didn’t hate her or anything like that, I just didn’t really care for her and what she was going through. It took me a little bit to warm up to Owen but once I did, I really warmed up to him.

When Megan gets cast as Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo & Juliet, Megan freaks out because she wants to be a director, not an actress. She was hoping for a small role to add to her college application and now, she’s got to deal with the pressures of acting and acting alongside her ex-boyfriend who dumped her for her best friend. Sure, she’s over the ex but not over how the ex made her feel when she dumped her for someone so close to her.

This story was a character driven story and because I wasn’t that invested in Megan’s character, the story moved slowly for me. I did end up enjoying the book but it took too long for me to care and that was a bummer. Megan is written to be that fun protagonist who has a rep of being the school slut, which I thought was pretty unfair but she didn’t let that stop her from living her life and I liked that she was okay with the person that she was. She made no apologies and she was out there living her best life. My issues with her character was I wasn’t that logged into what was going on. I didn’t really care about the play, the secondary characters weren’t fully fleshed out characters that I could get behind and the love interest, well it took a while for me to like him because I was low key bored throughout the first half of the book.

I did warm up to both Owen and Megan, more Owen than Meg and the book ended on a high note for me so overall, the story was decent but not a favorite of mine. I will be willing to try out more from this writing duo though.

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Posted November 27, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 4th 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 435
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

I always look forward to reading a Sarah Dessen book because let’s be real, she’s pretty awesome.  I’ve always found something to love in every single one of her books and this book wasn’t any different.  I really enjoyed getting to know Emaline.  She wasn’t the easiest person to connect with but her issues were real and I connected with that.

When we first meet Emaline, she’s dating Luke and they seem pretty happy but when a new guy comes onto the scene, I thought that he’d be the love interest and while he was….I found myself curious over the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of his.  I never warmed up to him, the way that I usually do to Dessen boys.  I liked him okay, but I didn’t fall in love with him.  And there were even times when I didn’t even like him.  I kept wondering what the heck Em’s problem was that she would dump Luke for…Theo.

Em’s story unfolds pretty slowly but not in a boring way.  This book takes place in the summer and it’s very character driven so of course, I was a happy camper.  I really liked getting to know Em and her family (even when they were freaking crazy) and I thought the whole thing with her father was interesting.  And then of course, there was the drama with Luke.

There were times when Em frustrated me but Dessen did a good job of keeping my frustration at a minimum and making me understand why Em was thinking or doing the things that she was thinking.  As enjoyable as this book was, it’s not a favorite of mine.  That book still belongs to The Truth about Forever.  But this was a solid read.  One that I’m sure fans of the author will enjoy.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Viking Juvenile.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Posted October 18, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Keeping the Moon by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin, Speak
Publication Date: September 1st 1999
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 228
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

There is an alternate cover edition for this ISBN13 here.

Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast -- first for being fat and then for being "easy" -- Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

This is one of the very few Dessen books that I haven’t read yet and I finally picked it up last week. While it wasn’t my favorite Dessen book, it was still a very charming read.

This book follows Colie, who used to be fat as she spends the summer with her crazy Aunt Mira in the town we’ve all come to love through Sarah Dessen books, Colby. Colie is used to being bullied as she’s been bullied all of her life at school and because of this, she doesn’t let very many people close to keep from getting hurt when they inevitably do. The summer in Colby changes Colie for the better and as much as she drove me crazy through the book, I was so glad when I finally finished the book because there was growth and there were lessons learned and a boy that I came to adore throughout the entire book.

Colie’s Mom is a fitness guru who used to be big and transformed her and Colie’s life with a diet and exercise plan that changed their lives and made her an instant success story. Colie and her Mom used to live out of their car at times, move around all the time and that kind of lifestyle didn’t really help one stay healthy and so Colie and her mother were overweight for a good portion of Colie’s life and now that they’ve taken control of their health, they’re no longer big girls and yet Colie still doesn’t have the confidence in herself and in her looks the way that one would think after shedding so much weight.

Colie is distant and she’s reserved and for good reason. She’s been through things that I wouldn’t wish anyone to go through and my heart hurt for Colie as I got to know her because there were reasons for the way that she was and when she started to step out of her comfort zone and let others into her life, I cheered because she deserved the very best that life had to offer her and she shied away from everything because of the way that her peers treated her at school. She learned some very hard lessons early on in life and those lessons stayed with her and I loved when Isabelle and Morgan came into her life. I loved that they were older and wiser and were there when Colie most needed her. They were there to help her blossom into the young woman at the end of the book and boy did I really enjoy the way that they stepped into her life and made her accept them and then in turn, accepted her.

Then there was Norman. Oh, what a cutie patootie that guy turned out to be. I really liked getting to know him through Colie’s POV. He was mysterious and studly in a nerdy way and I adored him. I adored the way that he lived his life. I adored the way that he was always there and accepting of Colie, through all of her different looks. I loved the way that he was with Aunt Mira and how good he was to everyone around him. He was such a good guy and when Colie finally figures this out, I was a happy camper.

There were times when the story dragged a bit but it didn’t last very long. Leave to Sarah Dessen to write a complex story about one character with not much happening…and yet so much happening. I adore Dessen’s books and this was another winner for me. Great story.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Speak. This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://goodreads.com

four-stars


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Review: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen.

Posted June 19, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments


Rowena’s review of The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen.

Main Character: Ella
Love Interest: Alex Bainbridge
Series: None
Author: Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

“Pretty in Pink” meets “Anna and the French Kiss” in this charming romantic comedy. Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends – the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art – and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

I’ve been itching to read this book for quite some time now and when I finally made the time to read it, I wasn’t as wowed as I thought I was going to be. That bummed me out some but still, this book had its moments.

Ella isn’t popular at school but she has friends and that’s good enough for her. She has a thing for Edward Willing, the dead painter but she’s also got a thing for the most popular guy at school, Alex Bainbridge. He doesn’t know she’s alive until she picks up one of his textbooks and gives it back to him.

He’s dating the queen bee at school and she’s not real friendly. Ella used to be known as Freddie Kruger because of a burn scar that takes up her upper torso on her body and when Alex calls her Freddie (thinking that was her name), Ella knows that her crush isn’t and probably won’t ever be returned.

That should have been that but Ella is close to failing French and her French teacher has assigned her a tutor who just so happens to be, Alex freaking Bainbridge. Ella’s not at all happy about it because she just knows that Alex wouldn’t want to do it but when he is serious about tutoring her, she gives in and lets him tutor her.

As their tutoring sessions start and they get closer and closer, Ella realizes that maybe Alex does want to be with her…but them coming together isn’t without a whole lot of drama. Ella’s friends aren’t fans of Alex and Alex wants to keep things between them a secret from everyone else. What else is Ella supposed to think when Alex doesn’t want anyone to know about them? If he would have explained his reasons for wanting this to happen, I think it would have done wonders to calming Ella down but because he didn’t, I didn’t blame her for thinking the way that she did.

The relationship that blossomed between Alex and Ella wasn’t filled with fireworks and what not, it was one of those relationships that just works. They were good together and I got the feeling that Alex was a lot more into Ella than she thought. Her insecurities that stemmed from her burns was prevalent in their relationship and while she flipped out and every little thing, I understood it and wasn’t as annoyed as I probably would have been with anyone else. What I enjoyed more than anything in this book was the friendship between Ella and Frankie. I loved that he was the complete opposite of Ella, in that he was confident in himself and in his friends. He loved Ella and accepted her the way that she was. To have her keep her relationship with Alex a secret from him, hurt him and I loved that even then, he was a good friend to her.

The whole talking to Edward Willing threw me for a loop because I just didn’t see why she did it. I thought it was weird and didn’t see why there was a need for her to do it since I didn’t think it added anything to the storyline. Aside from that, this was a pretty decent read. It’s a good choice for the beach and Alex Bainbridge is just swoonworthy enough to keep this book interesting.

..and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Speak.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com


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Review: The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland.

Posted June 6, 2012 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments


Rowena’s review of The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland.

Main Character: Elizabeth Margaret
Love Interest: Cade
Series: None
Author: Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

A great summer beach read filled with sunshine, cooking, and—of course—romance!

Elizabeth Margaret—better known as Em—has always known what her life would contain: an internship at her father’s firm, a degree from Harvard, and a career as a lawyer. The only problem is, it’s not what she wants. So when she gets the opportunity to get away and spend a month with the aunt she never knew, she jumps at the chance. While there, Em learns that her family has some pretty significant secrets. And then there’s Cade, the laid-back local surfer boy who seems to be everything Em isn’t. Naturally, she can’t resist him, and as their romance blossoms, Em feels that for the first time ever, she is really living life on her own terms.

I’m a sucker for a good summer romance book and this was one of those. I haven’t seen too many good reviews for this book but that didn’t stop me from giving this book a shot and I’m glad that I did because I liked this book.

Elizabeth Margaret aka Em has had her life mapped out for her by her parents. She went to school, got the best grades, was valedictorian and was a good daughter to her parents. She lived to please them and if her own desires fell by the wayside, so be it. So it wasn’t a surprise that she was following in the footsteps of her father by going to an ivy league college, becoming a lawyer even though what she really want to do was cook. Her parents were hoity toity and they were the kind of people that had “help” and their kids were not to hang out with the help or help them with their work. It didn’t stop Em from cooking with the family cook in secret and when she knew she could get away with it and because she did all of that, she was a damn good cook.

Just before finals, Em receives a letter in the mail from her mother’s sister that she never knew existed. Of course she’s curious so she goes to her Mom and wants to know why she never knew about her Aunt Tilly. In the letter, Aunt Tilly invites Em out to her place for a visit and Em wants to go really bad. Too bad her parents don’t want her to go and neither does her unbending grandmother. But with the help of her younger sister Gwenny, after graduation, Em is on her way to visit and meet her long lost Aunt Tilly.

This was an interesting read because it wasn’t the light and fluffy read that I was expecting. Em learns so many things over the course of her time with her Aunt Tilly and I was too caught up in all of the secrets she was learning to put this book down. And she learned a lot of secrets. I ate it all up.

I thought Greenland did a great job of making me come to care for Em even when it was hard. There were times when I wanted to smack her a good one because she snapped at Cade or she assumed things before she asked any questions but in the end, I liked Em. I like the person that she grew to be in this story. I loved that she made a life for herself that was hers and hers alone and kept fighting for her family when they turned away from her. She was strong and she was good so I was a fan.

I was also a fan of the romance that blossomed between Cade and Em. I loved Cade. I knew that there was more than met the eye with him and even though he was hot, he was also a good person. He wasn’t always the perfect guy but he was perfect for Em and I dug the way that they came together.

As I was reading this, I really enjoyed getting to know Gwenny. I wanted more from her. I kept thinking, “I would totally read a book from Gwenny’s POV.” She was so different from Em but she was a great addition to this story. I so hope that Greenland decides to write Gwenny’s story. I’d so love to read it. I loved that she was honest and so loyal to Em. She supported Em’s decisions and she was a fantastic sister to her. Loved her!

Overall, this book was full of great stuff and I’m glad that I read it. The characters were great, the storyline was easy to follow along with (even with all of the secrets) and it was a good time reading it. I would definitely recommend this book.

…and that’s your scoop!

This book is available from Speak.
Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com


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