A Million Junes – Emily Henry

30763950Title: A Million Junes
Author: Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Blurb: In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

My Review:
This is the first book I’ve ever read from the First To Read program.  If you’re a blogger, you should check it out!   Anyhow, anytime I get a book that I am pretty much ‘required’ to review, I get nervous.  What if I don’t like it? What if it’s so bad I don’t want to finish it?  I pretty much enjoy being in a non-committed relationship with books; reading what I want and specifically NOT reading when I don’t want.  So I was a little apprehensive when I downloaded this book and started it.  Let me just say, my fears were 120% unfounded, from the very beginning I was absorbed into this book.

What I Loved:  A Million Junes is one of those books that in its own way, unfolds in multiple timelines while maintaining a consistent current timeline. It’s different than other books like it, because even on those multiple timelines, the time period can be pretty fluid.  You jump in and out of the story at a variety of points.  I’m hoping this isn’t considered a ‘spoiler’ because I wanted to bring it up to point out that there was not one point throughout this story where I was confused.  I find this pretty much amazing!

There is so much to really enjoy about this book, the friendship between June and her best friend Hannah for starters.  Their friendship seemed so real, and exactly how you would expect a senior in high school friendship to be.  It wasn’t too over-the-top teenagery, but they also behaved in a way that seemed appropriate for their age.  Again, I think that this is something that many authors struggle with, the characters tend to end up feeling too over the top in the rebellious teenage direction or way too mature for their age.

I enjoyed June and Saul’s relationship – the way it unfolded naturally, it wasn’t all heat and passion, but a slow moving thing that they felt around and pushed, pulled and formed it into something real.  It was perfect, specifically because of its forbidden element.  The blurb sort of compares it to Romeo and Juliet, but it’s not a retelling at all.  I loved that do not rush headlong into something, but really take time to evaluate each other and make the best decisions they can on their own.

So while all of those things are good, the best part of this book is the mystery, the curse, and the unwinding of information.  The flow of the words coming off the pages is intoxicating in itself.  This was a most excellently written piece of art!

Not So Much:  Some of the minor characters – specifically the creative writing teacher – and their motives I didn’t quite get, honestly.  I can understand, I suppose, needing another antithesis/pushing point, but at the same time I think that goal could easily have been accomplished without the additional character, or attempting to play up her importance.  She was a bit oxymoron-ish as a character as well, she seemed to serve a dual – almost conflicting – purpose in my opinion.  Anyhow, this is about the only kind of/sort of not wonderful thing I can say about this book.  I’d say that’s pretty good!

The Verdict:  I am in love with this book.  It was fantastic…if you couldn’t tell that’s what I thought already.  It’s a YA, very clean and tidy, and yet, nothing more was needed to make it…more.  If you like a lyrical style of writing, and settings that are kind of blurry in nature, very fluid and changing – this book is definitely for you, and if you don’t, I still implore you to give it a chance!

**This book was an Advanced Reader Copy from FirstToRead.com; other than the joy of reading – I was granted no compensation to review this book.**

Operation Prom Date – Cindi Madsen

33224662Title: Operation Prom Date
Author: Cindi Madsen

Series: Tactics in Flirting #1

Publisher: Entangled: Crush
Publication Date: March 13, 2017

Blurb: Kate ships tons of fictional couples, but IRL her OTP is her and Mick, the hot quarterback she’s crushed on since, like, forever. With only one semester left of senior year, it’s now or never if she wants to land him in time for prom. Since she’s flirtationally challenged, she enlists Cooper Callihan, the guy who turned popular seemingly overnight but who used to be a good friend.

Cooper lives and breathes rowing, but his partner just broke his wrist. When he remembers Kate’s good with a set of oars, he strikes a deal: help him train, and he’ll make sure her crush notices her. Only he didn’t know how addicting spending time with her would be. Or how the more successful the Operation is, the more jealousy he experiences.

The mission has been set. The troops have their marching orders. But what if the target is the wrong guy all along?

My Review:
Operation Prom Date popped up in one of the author Facebook groups I’m a part of, and even when the book was simply being talked about I just knew I had to have it!

What I Loved:  So there wasn’t much ‘new’ happening in this book that hasn’t happened before, guy helps girl land the guy of her dreams while girl is not realizing she’s actually falling for guy.  What makes this one a bit different is that the guy (Cooper) doesn’t already have a crush on Kate before they get started.  So watching them both get sucker punched with the reality was fun.

Cindi has written some major chemistry between Kate and Cooper, even from the beginning Cooper is pretty much swoon worthy, and you’re ready to leave whats-his-face in the dust.  As it should be.  But the first kiss…watch out for that one, its a dousy! 🙂  Cooper was so focused and determined, but I loved it when his jealous streak came out.  Kate was an intro-extrovert I guess.  She was kind of a loner, but at the same time had this great personality.  She is a fangirl, like most of us booknerds are, so there’s that too.

Not So Much:  I mentioned it above, but this book really isn’t new.  I kind of wish there were more un-redeemable qualities about Mick, besides his unfortunate name and just being a typical teenage jock.  But really that’s all I can come up with.

The Verdict:  This is a fun, sappy, super swoon-worthy read.  It took me…eh, a day to finish it (if you count 2am as the same day, that is).  It was very clean and appropriate for the YA genre, but does not skip out on the heat between Kate and Cooper.  I loved it!

Book Review: Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend – Becca Ann

Title: Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend
Author: Becca Ann (Cassie Mae)
Genre: Young Adult – Romance, Self Image

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B00AY6OT70

Blurb (from Goodreads.com):
It’s stupid to fall for your brother’s ex. It’s even worse to enlist another’s help to win the ex over. But Brody is desperate and Hayley, his partner in American Sign Language, is more than willing to lend him a few tips.

She’s the school’s matchmaker,’ and with her bizarre and positive personality, Brody finds her easy to talk to, even about the most awkward situations. Hayley’s tips seem to be working, but as Brody learns more about his matchmaker, he starts finding reasons to spend time with her, and not the girl he thought he was in love with.

But Hayley isn’t ready to fall for anyone. Labeled the “Funny Fat Friend” within her group, her self image makes it impossible for Brody to share his feelings without Hayley shrugging it off as a joke.

Convincing her Brody can, and did, fall for the “Funny Fat Friend” turns out to be harder than simply falling in love.

My Review:  
After being in the supernatural world for a bit, I decided I wanted something light and fun and normal to read. What better author to turn to than Mrs. Cassie Mae?

What I Loved: This book was exactly what I needed. It was a sweet romance with likable, real characters who were goofy and down to earth. I loved that this story was told from the guys perspective, which is always a little refreshing, despite me wrinkling my nose every time he talked about how badly his bedroom smelled (at least he was aware of it!). Hayley was pretty funny, and a lot cheesy, but I could tell the person she was meant to be right off. I’ve met those people who seem so incredibly self-aware and confident, who are easy to talk to and know how to keep conversations moving, yet have something going on underneath. I could see why Brody would have a hard time understanding her reluctance to believe that he actually liked her.

Not So Much: Part of me is happy that Hayley’s home life wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought, at the same time I kind of felt like that part of the story was a little underdeveloped. It could have been me wishing to get into Hayley’s head (since I’m used to the girls being the narrator) but I kind of wanted more there.

The Verdict:    

As always a great read! There is mild cussing, and there IS non-descriptive sex in this book, so older YA would be my recommendation.

Book Review: You Can’t Catch Me – Becca Ann

Title: You Can’t Catch Me
Author: Cassie Mae writing as Becca Ann
Genre: YA – Romance, Coming of Age, Self Image, Bullying

Buy Link:  http://amzn.com/B01C0SEWDA

Blurb (From Goodreads):
My body suuuucks. After lounging around on my butt all summer (okay, so maybe that was my bad), this body decided to become something completely foreign. So now I’m trying to make the track team and I feel like I’m a baby learning to walk again.

A couple pounds wouldn’t have been so bad. Work those off, run like a mad woman, no problem, yeah? But no. I’ve also developed a couple of things that I definitely didn’t have before. And now my guy friends are all sitting in a pool of drool as they not-so-subtly stare at my chest.

Combine all that drama with the fact that the new track coach is getting major flack for being a little chunky, and all I’m trying to do is convince the team that I’m not running slower because of her coaching style.

Oh, and did I mention that I’m totally falling face-first in “like” with some guy I met in a cemetery? And no one understands it just because he’s also a little chunky. But he’s also adorable and wonderfully weird and I don’t care what they say, his look sure does it for me.

But… I don’t know… how can I be in “like” with someone, when I have no clue how to like myself anymore?


My Review:
Cassie Mae (Becca Ann) is on my exceptions list for 2016, so naturally I couldn’t wait for You Can’t Catch me to be released.  I even pre-bought the book, but then was also given a ARC copy for review!  Part of the excitement I felt for this book was Cassie’s own excitement for it’s release.  Obviously, she’s excited about all of her releases, but the purpose behind this book, I think, made it just a bit more exciting, or at least that was my perception.

What I Loved:  A theme that seems to be reoccurring in the books that I’m reading this year is that they seem to have a bit to do with self image and bullying.  It’s not purposeful, but it just seems to be happening, and honestly I love it, because it means authors are starting to write about these things a bit more. I am one of those people who can be ‘spoken to’ via books, they become so real to me and there are times when the message shatters me as much as my own life experiences do.  That is why I love this growing trend, and hope that it continues and we see more and more books dealing with the hard things in life and that empower our youth and even adults to take action, or make a change.

I always love Cassie’s writing.  She is a pro at writing characters that I want to know in real life.  I especially loved both Ginger and Oliver because of their awkwardness.  The rambling while nervous, and goofiness of these characters is so perfect.  Ginger is so positive, even though this book deals with her own self-image issues, even in all of that she is positive.  She sees good in people that others can’t see.  She is an inspiration to be a better person.  She’s also real; there is nothing more real than someone who has trouble accepting things about themselves – even if they can easily accept those same traits in someone else without a second thought.  Ginger did what I did as a teenager, and probably most teenagers still do; she looked at others and wondered if they are going through the same things, if they are having the same self conscious thoughts.  (To any teenager who happens by this review – yes.  They are.  Yes.  They do.  If there’s anything I’ve learned as an adult, it’s that no matter how alone you feel in your skin – it’s so very likely that someone close to you is struggling with the same things.  Maybe not in the same exact way since we are all different, but they are.  I promise!)
Oliver, I could picture Oliver immediately from his dark hair to his freckles and tall robust build.  He was a bit self-deprecating and a Momma’s boy – and I loved him.  He was sweet and, yes, awkward.  But I loved his role in this book, and that was to provide Ginger with a place where she felt like herself, and not judged by her body or her abilities, or the expectations she felt she had to live up to.  
Not So Much:  Ginger had some friends, specifically boy friends, who took notice of the physical changes in her and reacted like…boys.  In the end, I kind of would have liked to have seen them realize how their behavior might have hurt Ginger.  I think it was eluded to, but maybe it just wasn’t as fleshed out as much as I would have liked.
The Verdict:         
Yet another book I implore you to get into the hands of all the teenagers around you.  I feel like this message on self image, and learning to love yourself for who you are is beautifully done.  The story is not bogged down with too much sadness, but there are parts that make you really hurt for the characters in this book, not just Ginger.  Mostly though you’ll be smiling and giggling at the antics and rooting for Ginger to win this race.  You Can’t Catch Me is a clean book – and appropriate for younger teens as well as older.