Sunday, May 31, 2015

That's What Chey Said: Maintaining a Blog While Struggling With Depression

I don't openly talk about this much, but I've been struggling with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager.  Sometimes it gets to be too much, and sometimes I have months where I feel completely fine.  In the past year or so, I've noticed that when I get down in the dumps, I get really down.  I wholeheartedly believe that part of the problem was that I wasn't reading much.  A good book can take your mind to a completely different place.  It can be a nice escape from reality.  

The problem do you maintain a blog when you don't feel like doing anything?  There are times where I can't even bring myself to get out of bed.  Blogging can be a lot of work, but normally, I enjoy it because it gives me a sense of accomplishment.  When I'm not reading, I'm not blogging,

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Wrap-Up and June TBR

This month started out strong, but after the first week, I strayed away from the list of books I had on my schedule to read and picked up a few upcoming fall titles and one book that just kept calling my name.  I didn't quite make it to 13 as planned, but I got more than halfway there, at least!

The books I managed to read in May:
-Paper Towns by John Green
-The Cage by Megan Shepherd
-Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
-The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
-The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman
-Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
-What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
-Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
-Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

The Wrath & The Dawn was by far the best book of May!  I was lucky enough to have dinner with Renee Ahdieh a few weeks back, and she's just the sweetest.  

The books I plan to read in June:

As you can see, I'm still feeling pretty ambitious.  Some of the books I didn't get to read in May have found their way into my June TBR.  I tried to make this month an even mix of review books and just-for-fun books.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #95

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it's bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it's just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season--when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17--is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think. 

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There's a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she'll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she'll uncover the dark origins of the accident season--whether she’s ready or not.

This book sounds so mysterious and unique!  I can't wait to find out more.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May Book Haul

Instead of posting weekly book hauls, as I was before my hiatus, I'm going to try posting monthly.  I've gotten a great stack of books since I've been back, as well as some exciting eARCs for review!

-The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

-The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
-Two The Wrath & The Dawn themed scarves

-Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
(Hardcover from Amulet Books)

-Love is Red by Sophie Jaff
(Hardcover from Harper)

-Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
-Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
(ARCs from Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


-The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
-Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George
(eGalleys from Bloomsbury)

-Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
(eGalley from Harlequin Teen)

-Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally
(eGalley from Sourcebooks Fire)

-Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
(eGalley from Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

-The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis
(eGalley from Disney-Hyperion)


-The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester
-Mirrored by Alex Flinn
-The White Rose by Amy Ewing
-A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
-A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
(eGalleys from HarperCollins)

-After Hours by Claire Kennedy
(eGalley from Simon Pulse)

The highlight of my month has definitely been meeting Renee Ahdieh this past Thursday.  The Wrath & The Dawn is an incredible story, and it's one of the best I've read so far this year.  I got my book signed as well as an extra copy to giveaway on the blog, so keep an eye out for that post soon!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

Title: Proof of Forever
Author: Lexa Hillyer
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: June 2nd, 2015
Pages: 352 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

BEFORE: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends. 

AFTER: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories. 

THEN: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed. NOW: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again. 

ALWAYS: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.

Although these four best friends have gone separate ways since camp ended, one mysterious photo booth will transport them back to relive the summer they'll never forget.  Proof of Forever starts with an introduction of Zoe, Tali, Luce and Joy, showing that they're all completely different people.  When they were 15-years-old, they were inseparable, but by now, no one could really remember what tore them apart.  Was it Joy, who fell off the face of the earth when camp came to an end, Tali who left her friends behind to become popular, or something else entirely?

These four girls try to recreate their last summer together in order to return to present day, but what happens when they do even the slightest thing in a different way?  Proof of Forever is a great summer contemporary mixed with a little time travel.  That aspect mixed things up and made this a refreshing read.  I loved learning the differences between each girl and seeing how they fit together like mismatched puzzle pieces.  They all had their issues, both personal and with each other, but this second-chance summer may bring them closer than ever before.

I'm very satisfied with the character development.  Each of them are going through so much internally, and the more they try to keep it a secret, the bigger mess they tend to make.  Zoe and Joy may have been my favorites of the bunch, but there were also pretty well-written secondary characters involved, as well, such as Tali and Joy's love interests.  When the girls realize that following that summer exactly as they did in the past is impossible, they learn to let go and enjoy the time they have together, even if it means having to live the past two years over again.  As far as they know, it may be their last summer as best friends.

Filled with hope for a new future and a bittersweet ending, Proof of Forever is a cute read that's perfect for the upcoming summer months.  The story itself can be a little predictable at times, but I still loved taking this journey with the girls as they discover more about themselves and each other.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #94

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Next Together
Author: Lauren James
Release Date: September 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Walker

How many times can you lose the person you love? 

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer. 

Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated. 

But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? 

Maybe the next together will be different...

Ahh, more love stories!  I can't get enough.  This one sounds like it'll be packed full of emotion, so I'm excited to dive in.  

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Science Fiction
Release date: May 26th, 2015
Pages: 400 (eGalley)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone. 

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans. 

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

The Cage will captivate readers from the beginning, with Cora waking up in another world, completely alone.  Soon she finds others her age, an even mix of boys and girls, if you include the dead girl on the beach.  Without knowing what happened or who to trust, everyone is kept on their toes.  As they get used to the environment, exploring each area for a way out, they realize that no matter what, each direction leads them directly to the town in the center of it all.  Eventually, the five of them realize that there is no getting out, but Cora never gives up hope.

I loved the premise of this one, and I was so intrigued to find out more.  It was unlike anything I've read up until this point.  The only complaint is that the characters weren't very likable.  Usually I can empathize with at least one, but out of the five people trapped in the cage, I didn't really care about anyone.  The rules were simple, according to the captor- or as he called himself, the Caretaker- they were to get along, maintain their health, and procreate within a certain amount of time or they would be removed with no guarantee that they would return home.  For the first few days, everyone put their heads together in order to find a way out, but as time went by with no results, some of them gave in and began to pair up just as the captors wanted.  While I didn't care for Cora, I did like her persistence when it came to trying to figure a way out, even when everyone began to turn against her.

This was one story I was hoping not to see a romance form, and that's saying a lot.  I just felt that the story was so good without one, but from the beginning, you could see a hint of attraction between Cora and the alien Caretaker named Cassian.  It actually made me a little uncomfortable, because the way I was picturing him isn't something that most people would typically find attractive, with completely black eyes and metallic skin.  There's also the fact that you never know who he really is, and while you get to read everyone else's perspectives, he remains a mystery.

Overall, The Cage was interesting and imaginative, but I still can't put my finger on what I'm feeling after finishing it.  It does end on a cliffhanger, which left me curious, but maybe not curious enough to continue with the series.  I suppose we'll see if that changes once a sequel comes out.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: October 16th, 2008
Pages: 305 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. 

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer Q gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is a mystery.  No one really knew her, and that's the way she liked it.  Paper Towns follows a teenage boy named Quentin- simply known as Q- who is just trying his best to get by.  When they were kids, Margo and Q were close because their families were.  Somewhere along the years, they grew apart, but Quentin's hopeless crush never faltered.  When Margo requests his help one unexpected night, he takes the offer with a little persuading.  He finds out what it would be like if they stayed friends, and for the first time in years, he gets a deeper look into the mind of the girl he thought he once knew.

Margo is your typical manic pixie dream girl.  There's something intriguing about her, the way she acts, how she thinks and speaks.  When she disappears from her home, no one thinks twice.  It's not out of the ordinary for her to run away for days at a time and make her own adventures.  Quentin gets a taste of this that night she asks for his help, and the clues she leaves him makes him think that her disappearance is much more than just another adventure.  I'm still not sure what to think about Margo.  She was a selfish character, but I also felt sorry for her.  Quentin proves to be loyal, because when everyone else wants to give up, he keeps going, certain that she wants to be found.

John Green is a master at telling bittersweet love stories.  His characters are so realistic, you can't help but feel for them.  Although Margo is only around in the beginning of the story, she's the one who brings everyone together throughout the book.  The mystery behind her disappearance allows Q and his friends to look deeper inside themselves and their relationships with each other.

I enjoyed Paper Towns a lot, but out of the three books that I've read by John Green, it falls short.  It's still a great book, just not the best I've read so far.  The author does a great job of wrapping up his stories in ways that you don't always see in YA fiction.  Nothing is perfect, and nothing happens the way you expect it to.  This book is full of humor and wit, but it's also enlightening and heartfelt.  If you enjoyed Looking for Alaska, this is a definite must-have.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Graphic Novel
Release date: October 14th, 2014
Pages: 175 (Paperback)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

Anda is just your typical teenage girl who happens to like video games.  When she gets the offer to join a guild and get paid for doing what she loves most, she doesn't hesitate to accept.  It's a fun way to pass the time and make friends, pretending to be someone you're not in real life.  Soon, Anda comes to realize that it's a lot more serious than gaming for some people.  For some, it's the only way to make a living.

I loved that this story went a lot deeper than I expected it to.  Paired with gorgeous illustrations, I was hooked on Anda's virtual reality.  When the enemy becomes a friend, she realizes that the people she's going after in the game are real people too.  They're not just bots trying to scam their way through the game in order to make money.  They have jobs, where they work until the early hours of the morning, struggling to keep their eyes open, barely making enough money to get by.

In Real Life was much more than a quick, light read.  It was beautiful and inspiring, and it showed us how different our lives can be from someone else's.  That even through those differences, you can still come together and feel compassion for another person, no matter how much you contrast.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #93

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Another Day
Author: David Levithan
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up. Until the morning everything changes. 

Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

I am so excited for this one!  I loved Every Day SO much when I read it a few years back, and I think it'll be awesome to read the story through another character's perspective.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: On the Fence by Kasie West

Title: On the Fence
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: July 1st, 2014
Pages: 296 (eGalley)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. 

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Charlie has spent her entire life surrounded by men.  She's strong and athletic, always competing to be the best and keeping her emotions locked deep inside her.  When she's forced to find a job for the summer in order to pay off a speeding ticket and learn responsibility, the only place hiring is a boutique where she sticks out like a sore thumb.  The owner agrees to help her pick out clothes, convinces her to model for makeup demonstrations and shows her a whole new world.  For the first time in her entire life, Charlie makes female friends and boys start to notice her as something other than "one of the guys".

Trying to keep her work and home lives separate, Charlie realizes that being two different people is taking a toll on her.  She gets tired of lying to her dad and her boss, especially because she doesn't even know why the lies have slipped out in the first place.  One late night, she goes to the backyard to find Braden, her next door neighbor, just on the other side of the fence.  They talk more than they have in years, and although they never acknowledge their conversations in the light of day, they return to the same spot many nights after that.  The fence becomes their secret, their place to escape.

I just have to say, I'm a sucker for boy-next-door love stories.  I love when the love interest is a part of the main character's every day life and you get to watch the romance blossom.  Braden is definitely the type of boy that I would develop a crush on, myself.  He had great chemistry with Charlie from the start, although she always thought of him as her fourth brother until the first night at the fence.  He's very passionate about showing her that she doesn't need too change herself for anyone, especially a guy.

On the Fence has to be my favorite book by this author so far.  There were even some returning characters from Kasie West's other contemporary novel, The Distance Between Us, which is always fun to see.  The romance was sweet, there's a lot of personal growth, and it was a great story about family and unconditional love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: July 2nd, 2013
Pages: 312 (Paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop. 

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company. 

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

Caymen's entire life is surrounded by the doll shop that her mother owns. It's where she lives, works, and plans to stay once she graduates high school.  All of her friends are going off to college, but she knows that's not an option-- not with the money they earn from the shop.  It's not even enough to pay the bills.  Her single mother is doing everything she can to keep them afloat while trying to give Caymen freedom in the teenage years she'll never get back.

When Xander walks right through the shop door and into Caymen's life, she can tell his type from the moment their eyes meet.  He's one of the guys her mother has always warned her about.  He comes from one of the wealthiest families around, and she doesn't doubt that she's practically invisible to him, but she couldn't be further from the truth.  Xander keeps showing up and to Caymen's dismay, she's actually enjoying the time they spend together, both getting to know parts of themselves that they've never shared with anyone else.

I loved Caymen.  She was snarky and intelligent, longing for her own independence.  Xander was trapped within his family's wealth, and he longed to be his own person.  They both find comfort in each other, taking turns to plan weekly activities, losing themselves in worlds that are so different from their own.  The romance was cute, and I really enjoyed watching the two characters grow closer while trying to keep their realities separate.

The thing I loved most about The Distance Between Us was the pacing.  Nothing was rushed, but the story was so interesting that I found it hard to put down at times.  Kasie West's writing style is perfect for contemporary romance.  The way she creates such relatable characters just pulls you into their world with little effort and keeps you hanging on until you reach the very end.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

That's What Chey Said: Other Hobbies

I've decided to bring back my discussion posts, because sometimes I'm just itching to talk to you guys about things having to do with books and blogging!  As of right now, I'm posting them every other week.  That being said, if you have any topic suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

This week I wanted to discuss hobbies, because as much as I love reading and blogging, I need a break from it every once in a while.  Here are some other things I love to do...


I've been writing for as long as I can remember.  It's my first love.  It's something I don't even think about anymore, I just do it because it comes natural to me.  When I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of fanfiction and I've always been embarrassed to admit it, but I still go back to it from time to time when I'm not feeling inspired enough to begin something original.  The ultimate dream is to have my work published.

Collecting Funko Pop Figures

If I could, I would splurge and get every single one on my wishlist.  I already have 12 of my favorite characters from some of my favorite shows, and there are so many more that I want to get.  It's an addiction and like any addiction, it will get out of control if you let it.

Binge-Watching TV Shows

Speaking of tv shows, have I mentioned how much I love watching a good one?  I can watch a full series anywhere from a few days to a month, depending how long it is.  Some of my obsessions are Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, True Blood, Criminal Minds, Gilmore Girls, Shameless...seriously, the list goes on and on.  I think you get the point.  I'm always watching something.

Going to Concerts

It's almost summertime, which means that many summer concerts are coming up!  Although I don't go to nearly as many as I used to, concerts are some of my favorite places to be.  There's nothing quite like being in the presence of a band you love, especially if it's the first time you're seeing them.

Video Games

Okay, so I'm not the biggest gamer, but when I get into it, I REALLY get into it.  Lately I've been playing Final Fantasy X, which is one of my favorite games ever.  It's been about 10 years since the last time I played and it's so easy to lose track of time.

There are so many other things I enjoy doing, but I'd say that these (including reading) are the top 6!

What are some of your other hobbies?

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review: The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine

Title: The Secrets of Attraction
Author: Robin Constantine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary Romance
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Pages: 384 (eGalley)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Madison Pryce thinks she's got everything figured out—she's working on a portfolio for a summer art program and hanging with her friends. Plus she has her hot boyfriend, Zach. But then a visit from a family friend turns Maddie's life upside down. 

Jesse McMann is still reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band. Then pride (and some goading from his bass player and fellow barista) forces him to find a new drummer—and the inspiration to write music again. 

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett, who tries out for Jesse's band, and whose girlfriend is BFFs with the cute girl who orders a chai latte after yoga every Thursday: Maddie. What Jesse and Maddie thought they knew about the secrets of attraction and the rules of romance changes once they start falling for each other.

Relationships don't come easily for Madison.  She has an attractive boyfriend, but it doesn't go much deeper than making out during study breaks.  Madison finds it difficult to let anyone in, and it's not too difficult to understand why with her family history.  Jesse is the opposite.  He let someone in and got his heart broken in the process.  These two lost souls manage to find each other and quickly realize that they're each other's missing puzzle piece.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading about each of the characters.  I generally love books that switch point of views with each chapter.  That way the reader can get a closer look into each of their lives; it's more intimate being able to know what they're both feeling.  Madison's dad has never been a part of her life, and for all she knew, he was a scumbag who left her mom before she was even born.  The closest thing she knew to a father was her mom's best friend who stopped by every so often with treats.  When she discovers the truth, her entire life is turned upside down.

Jesse was my favorite character.  He struggled to get over his ex-girlfriend and to forgive his best friend for betraying him, which is something I can personally relate to.  Driven by that heartbreak to start playing music again, this is where Madison crashes into his life.  They both help each other face their problems and move on.  The romance was a little predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  I loved that Jesse and Madison did things for each other that they would have never thought to do for anyone else.

The Secrets of Attraction was sweet, but there was nothing that made it memorable for me.  By the end, I found myself skimming the pages just to get it over with.  While it's a companion novel to The Promise of Amazing, it can be read as a standalone, which is what I did.  I'm not sure if reading that before starting The Secrets of Attraction would have changed my opinion, but as of right now, I don't plan to reach for the first book anytime soon.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Review: Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Title: Lying Out Loud
Author: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Scholastic
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Pages: 309 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
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Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go. 

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with— secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross. 

Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand—a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed. 

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

Sonny can't remember when her lying started and sometimes they just slip out of her mouth without meaning to.   Lying is just easier than letting anyone else in.  They've become who Sonny Ardmore is.  Although she's confident that she can handle just about anything on her own, just as she always has, these lies are bound to catch up with her.  In Lying Out Loud, we watch Sonny's lies unravel, stirring up trouble at work, school, and even those closest to her.

Ryder is one of those guys who looks down on everyone else around him.  He's the new kid and no one else can stand him because all he talks about is how his old school, friends and life was better than anything this town had to offer.  One thing was obvious, though, and it was that Ryder had an enormous crush on Sonny's kind-hearted friend, Amy.  She was too nice to tell him she wasn't interested, so when he asks her out via email, Sonny decides to take things into her own hands.

Sonny got on my nerves a little more than any of the other main characters in Keplinger's books, but when all is said and done, you realize why she acts the way she does.  She leads this double life, as does Ryder, which might be why they get along so well when she's pretending to be Amy in order to talk with him.  In person, every conversation just turns into a spat.  I wasn't particularly invested in the romance, but I was excited to see what would happen between Sonny and Amy in the end.  All the scheming and lying at Amy's expense makes it clear that their friendship is going to be put at risk.  I couldn't wait to see how Sonny would get herself out of this one.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sonny's story, which isn't much of a surprise, because I love all of Kody Keplinger's books.  The DUFF is still my favorite of the bunch, but it was great to see some familiar faces.  Since Amy is Wesley's younger sister, he had quite a bit of involvement in the story, and it was great to see where his romance with Bianca stood, even years after The DUFF was released.  In typical Keplinger fashion, Lying Out Loud is hilarious and snarky, yet ends with a good message.  If you enjoyed the author's debut novel, this is definitely the book for you.