Second Chance Sunday – If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Second Chance Sunday – If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: August 6th 2013
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five-stars

“Relationships and their dynamics play themselves out naturally and with satisfying complexity” (Kirkus Reviews) in this dramatic and powerful novel that explores the gray space between truth and perception.Cheater. Traitor. Slut. Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Shunned by everyone she knows, Quinn loses her friends, her reputation, and her identity. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s a Marine who’s serving overseas, and beloved by everyone in their small, military town. But Quinn didn’t cheat. She could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. So she stays silent, and she waits for Carey to come home. Then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Review
I’ve been on a run of really good books lately so I had high hopes for this debut novel but I was really worried based on the hype. I can proudly say this book lived up to my hopes. Simply put I loved it!!! If I Lie was full of emotion and truth that I couldn’t put it down. I felt like I was a part of the community that Quinn was living in and my heart shattered for her.

Basically the book is about Quinn, a 17 year old girl, living in a small military town in North Carolina. She has always been the perfect Marine girlfriend to the hometown hero Carey. That is until Quinn is seen kissing someone that isn’t Carey. In the blink of an eye she because a modern day Hester Pryne wearing a metaphorical scarlet letter on her chest. Not only is Quinn shunned by the people in town but she is bullied by the kids at school that were at onetime her supposed friends. The thing is, not everything is at it seems with Quinn. She is holding on to a secret so a life isn’t destroyed. But as things get worse for her she starts to question just how far she is willing to screw her own life pin the process?!

Straight up what I loved about this book was hands down Quinn. She made this book what it was because I felt everything she was feeling. I understood where she was coming from and what she was going through. She was so believable and relatable. The pain she was selling jumped off the pages and the loneliness she felt was palpable. Here there was this poor girl that had absolutely no one on her side. Every single person that was supposed to be on her side abandoned her and yet she stayed silent. That shows a massive amount of character to me. Keeping a secret that is your own is hard enough but doing it for someone else is an entirely different animal and the fact that she stood her ground no matter the consequence was remarkable.

I also really enjoyed the use of Blake and George in the story. The conflict of emotions that passed through Quinn in regards to Blake broke my heart. She was torn and it was evident why. I really enjoyed that struggle in the book. In regards to George, he was Quinn’s one and only sounding board. He was to her what her self centered parents weren’t. He was her support system, her only friend and her family. Their relationship was heartwarming and emotional and exactly what added to the strength of this book. George showed Quinn her worth and showed her she was then the small town wanted her believe.

If I Lie was the story of Quinn and the courage she found within to do what she thought was right even at the cost to herself. It was emotional, I cried more then once, and honest and truthful. It showed what secrets can do to someone and how rumors can grow out of control. I loved every single second of this book and read it in one sitting. This is a must read for sure. Don’t wait. Listen to the hype and read, read, read!

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Review: Just One Day – Gayle Forman

Review: Just One Day – Gayle FormanJust One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Published by Speak
Published: August 20, 2013
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five-stars

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left.

Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

I have been stained by Gayle Forman and this book. Completely stained from head to toe all over my body. For those of you that have read this amazing book then you know exactly what I mean. And for those of you that haven’t, stop reading my rambling words and go get the book ASAP. It. Is. That. Good. No, I’m wrong. It isn’t that good, it is that awesomely amazing that it needs to be read by everyone and read often!

Just One Day is a fabulous story of Allyson, an American girl that has graduated from high school and is sent to Europe by her parents because college starts. Allyson is the girl with the good head on her shoulders, the girl that always does the right thing, the girl that parents and teachers love. Well, when Allyson decides to bale on a planned group viewing on a Shakespeare play in order to see a street version of Twelfth Night, Allyson’s life is put on a path she never expected. Soon Allyson is headed to Paris on a train with a boy she just met and acting in ways she never thought she would. Sadly after her one day remarkably, unforgettable day with Willem, Allyson finds she has been abandoned by him and nothing is the same. Now she must figure out how to get along with her life even though she misses him desperately and would like nothing more to capture a time when she felt like she could do anything. Told from Allyson’s POV entirely, you are taken on a journey of self-discovery, standing up for yourself, and seeing just how important love is.

Did I mention how awesome this book was? In case I didn’t let me say it again…AWESOME! It is by far the best Gayle Forman book I have ever read, and this is coming from a girl that was insanely in love with her If I Stay series. Just One Day managed to put all my favorite elements into a book while giving me the same feeling I get when I watch the Before Sunrise/Before Sunset movies. Allyson and Willem’s story made me believe in the fairytale of love at first sight and that things aren’t always what they seem. And sometimes it is worth it to take a chance because you may just find out who you really are. And Allyson did exactly that in the year since she saw Willem. With an overbearing mother(really overbearing isn’t even strong enough of a word for that woman) planning every aspect of her life Allyson was able to figure out that even if she felt Lulu was gone, she was a part of her and always would be. She figured out that you can be the good kid but have faith in some adventures and that’s it’s okay for plans not to work out because unexpected things are the way of life.

Like I said, I have been stained by this book and will be forever. It was that awesome! Now get out of here and go read it. SO. GOOD.

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Discussion: Time Between Us – Tamara Ireland Stone

time

Title: Time Between Us[Amazon]
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone[website]
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: ARC/Paperback
Reviewed by: Andi & Michelle

Publisher Description:
Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Discussion:
Michelle: In reading some of your thoughts on Twitter and Goodreads it seems like I may have liked this one better than you.

Anna’s struggle to overcome her introverted and somewhat isolated life to befriend, then ultimately fall in love with Bennett grabbed me from the jump.  Ha ha, get it….jump…  Oh alright, lame.  Anyway, even though the story started a bit slow for me I was not at all disappointed with the progression of Anna and Bennett’s relationship.  Her confusion paired with the desire she felt for him add a definite tension throughout the story.  Add to that the fact that there were the three different secrets that were being revealed over time and I was pretty well hooked.

In fact, the pacing of the reveal of the three secrets did quite a lot to make this story a winner for me.  The onion layer metaphor definitely fits this story as it was so layered both from the plot and character standpoint that I was intrigued to find out what was going to happen next.

Andi: Yah, I wasn’t 100% crazy about this one. It was too much like The Time Traveler’s Wife for me and I really didn’t like that movie (no, I never read the book). I thought the movie was annoying and confusing and contrite and I honestly think that lead to my lukewarm feelings on Time Between Us.

I almost wish I never saw the movie because then I think I would have liked this way more than I did. Sure I thought the pacing was a bit off and slow, with nothing happening until like page 200, but I loved both Anna and Bennett and I loved how their relationship unfolded.

M: I saw that movie (didn’t read the book either) too.  I actually liked it so maybe that is another reason why Time Between Us was a winner for me.  I liked the concept of jumping through time and still attempting to maintain relationships.  There was that difficulty there but still no matter what time and place Bennett jumped to there was this bond between them.  The discovery of why and the exploration of how they could maintain it given the circumstances was enthralling.

A: I did like that part of the story, the reason why they could maintain a bond. That really kept my interest. I was fascinated by how it all worked and I loved how Anna figured it out in the end with Bennett’s help and that she finally started to live for herself. But everything else just fell flat for me and I don’t know why. I can’t pinpoint what I didn’t like the most and why I had no connection to any of it. Maybe I just don’t work with time travel. 🙂

M:  It was interesting how Anna’s independence at the end was what finally brought them together.  It was like Bennett was able to feed off her strength in order to materialize back into her life.  That was a fabulous way to end the story.  Usually I don’t like the ambiguous ending where you’re left to imagine what is going to happen in the future but it really worked here.  I could tell that no matter what they would be in each other’s lives in some capacity.

I did, however, struggle with the idea that Bennett’s family knew of his ability and proceeded to react the way they did.  I guess I think that was a bit unrealistic.  Not so much the father being a con artist and wanting to use it for profit (though even that seemed convenient) but that his mother would allow him to embroil his sister.  I have a hard time believing any parent would be keen on that.

A: OMG yes!! I get that you need to suspend reality in books like this since you know, time travel isn’t possible, but it still needs to be believable. Sure they had to get Bennett to Anna somehow, but the fact that it was because he lost his sister just didn’t really work for me. I didn’t buy it at all.

I also didn’t like Anna and Bennett changing an event to make it easier for Anna and her friends. I totally got why she would want to do it. That I didn’t have an issue with. What I hated was that Bennett did it and they made it into a game. As much as I hate it, things happen for a reason and part of growing up is dealing with them, even the hard stuff. By changing the tiniest of things she took something away from her friends and she had no right to do that. Can you tell that irked me?! HA

M:  LOL! I couldn’t tell at all. 😉

Also, I think that there could have been a bit more exploration of the problems that playing that game really caused.  It was certainly touched on but perhaps a bit more tension between Bennett and Anna.  Or a bit more infusion of how doing so threw things off just like Bennett taking his sister with him did.  There was a lot to this time travel theory that I enjoyed but some of it (mainly the scientific elements) felt unfinished.  Then again this wasn’t a sci-fi story or a book where the main exploration was on that science.  It was a primarily character based story and a good one at that.  That could be another reason why I liked it.  I could suspend the reality of the science because I knew it was more about Bennett and Anna’s emotions and character.

A: And maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy it as much, I just couldn’t separate the two. I had a hard time reconciling the logical part of my brain with the creative part. I just wanted things to make more sense and because it didn’t to me, I lost some of the feel of the romance and the emotion.

M: Understandable, not all books click with all people.  It’s kinda refreshing that there are a few books out there that we don’t agree on.  It’s so rare!

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Second Chance Sunday – Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Today’s Second Chance Sunday is brought to you by Trish Doller and her amazing debut Something Like Normal. Before I post the review let me tell you one thing: I read this book originally on Netgalley but loved it so much I went out and bought a copy just so I would have it always. You’ve been warned.

Second Chance Sunday – Something Like Normal by Trish DollerSomething like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Published: June 19th 2012
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five-stars

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Amazing!!!! Simply put this book was amazing! The story is told in such a way that it dragged me immediately. I wanted to be friends with Harper, hang out with Travis’ mom and date Travis. I wanted to be right in the middle of the action and at times I felt like I was.

Basically Something Like Normal is about Travis, an active Marine home on leave from Afghanistan for a month, and the adjustments he has to make to life back in the states. Before joining the Marines Travis was not the best of kids. He smoked pot, butted heads with his father over his lack of love for football, and had a girlfriend that was no good for him. Now back and bogged down with nightmares and guilt, Travis has to put the pieces of his life together. His once happy parents are anything but and his girlfriend is now with the last person Travis expected. Unsure where he stands in all of it or how to fit in Travis runs into the one person that could get to him. He runs into Harper, his first kiss and the girl he destroyed. Harper has the potential to make nothing the same for him again or to make him feel something like normal.

What I really liked the most about this book is the fact that it is told entirely from Travis’ point of view. I had read a military book previously that was told from the prospective of the female character and what happens while he was away. With Something Like Normal I got a look at what I really wanted to know, what happens when you come back, even if it is for a short period of time. Travis gave me that glimpse into what it is like to have everything feel off kilter and not to know which end is up. And it was done with humor and heartache and uncertainty. It is difficult to get the voice right for a guy. If you go too crass you can make the character come across as sounding, for lack of a better word, douchey. But Doller managed to make Travis sound genuine and loveable. No wonder Harper couldn’t stay away. I don’t think I could either. He kind of had a way about him that could just melt your heart.

Really, it is very rare that I will willingly give up sleep to finish a book in a full day, but this one I did and I don’t regret one minute of lost sleep. Doller’s debut novel is wonderfully done and should be praised. This one is definitely a keeper and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Oh and how do I get a Travis of my own?! ♥

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Review: Level 2 – Lenore Appelhans

level2

Title: Level 2 (The Memory Chronicles)[Amazon]
Author: Lenore Appelhans[website]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
Source/Type: Purchased/Hardcore
Stars: 5 of 5

Publisher Description:
Felicia Ward is dead. Trapped in a stark white afterlife limbo, she spends endless days replaying memories, of her family, friends, boyfriend … and of the guy who broke her heart. The guy who has just broken into Level 2 to find her.

Felicia learns that a rebellion is brewing, and it seems she is the key. Suspended between heaven and earth, she must make a choice. Between two worlds, two lives and two loves.

My Thoughts:
Since ARCs of this book started floating around I was dying to get my hands on this one. Every single person that read it seemed to have nothing but good things to say. All I heard everywhere was how fantastic it was and that made me nervous the closer it go to release date. I was scared that it may have ended up being in that category of just okay because of the all the hype I read. But I can very, very, very happily report that Level 2 isn’t all hype. It is a story, a great story, about love, loss and deciding when is the right time to move on when what matters most to you is gone.

Level 2 is about Felicia, a girl that has died too soon and is stuck somewhere between living and being a drone. She is trapped on what is known as Level 2 and only has her memories to help her get by. All the people around her are and even Felicia herself are content to watch endless memories on loop. That is until an anomaly happens and Julian, a guy from Felicia’s past arrives and nothing is the same. Suddenly Felicia has to decide which side she is on and if she wants to give up her memories of her happiest moments with Neil, her boyfriend left behind, in order to fight with Julian.

The book is told entirely from Felicia’s point of view which I liked because it let the reader get into her head and find out what kind of person her really is and decide if they wanted to root for her, which you will. It also allowed the reader to see why Felicia was so torn between Julian, who I ♥ by the way and Neil, who was great but kind of dull. I was able to understand her motivations in everything she did and why she fought to get her friend back and why she needed Neil so badly.  Felicia was definitely, excuse the pun since she is dead, a lost soul that was desperately trying to find herself and she needed Neil and Julian really to do that in both life and the afterlife and that came across the page perfectly.

Really. Appelhans wrote a thought provoking story with likeable characters and action to boot that didn’t seem inappropriate or muddled at all. She used memories to explain the back story but did it in a way that seemed new and different and not the tired old use of flashbacks that we have become accustomed to. This story was fresh and exciting and definitely worth the hype. Level 3 anyone?!?

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