Review: The Edge of Falling – Rebecca Serle

Review: The Edge of Falling – Rebecca SerleThe Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: March 18th 2014
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five-stars

Sorrow can be seductive—but can hope triumph over heartbreak? A dark and searing novel from the author of When You Were Mine.

Caggie never wanted to be a hero, but some things are decided for us. Growing up among Manhattan’s social elite, Caggie always had everything a girl could want, including a storied last name. But after saving a girl from the brink of suicide, Caggie becomes infamous, and now all she wants is to be left alone.

After all, she’s still reeling from the death of her younger sister last January, the subsequent destruction of her relationship with high school boyfriend, Trevor, and the way in which her family has since fallen apart.

So when mysterious Astor appears on the Upper East Side, he just might be the rescue she needs. But what is he hiding? As life as she knew it begins to unravel, Caggie realizes Astor’s past may be as dark as her own. And in a world in which she’s been branded a hero, Caggie will soon discover that no one can save you…not until you save yourself.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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First and foremost I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of Rebecca Serle’s other novel, her debut, When You Were Mine. I seriously loved that book to pieces and have been dying for her to publish something else. So I was super super excited when I saw her next book show up on Edelweiss as an advanced copy. I immediately requested it and thanks to some help was approved fairly quickly. And thank goodness for that because the book was fantastic! It was everything that I loved about When You Were Mine but with more. Rebecca Serle has grown as an author (which I didn’t think was possible after finishing her other book) and has truly entered the world of young adult books with her sophomore novel The Edge of Falling. Between the characters and her use of New York as almost a character itself(more on that to come) she definitely has mastered the art of young adult literature.

The Edge of Falling is the story of Caggie, a privileged girl from Manhattan that is carrying around the guilt of her younger sister’s drowning. Wanting the pain of her sister’s death to go away Caggie does something drastic only it doesn’t go as planned. Instead she finds herself labeled a hero and has a whole lot of unwanted attention on her. Feeling trapped Caggie begins to self-destruct and in the process meets Astor, the mysterious new boy at her school. Soon Caggie is on a path that may lead her to more danger than she could have imagined and she has to make a choice if she wants to let the guilt take over or if she wants to live her life.

Oh Caggie! Caggie, Caggie, Caggie! Will someone please give this girl a hug! Man did she break my heart. I mean she was just so lost and so vulnerable and so…sad. She was plain sad and in turn that made me sad. But the thing about Caggie was even in her sadness she was so unbelievably likable. And that is a testament to Serle’s writing and how she makes the reader identify with Caggie. Instead of just wanting her to let go all of that emotion she was feeling and to get on with her life, I wanted to take the journey with Caggie while she figured out what her place was in this world now that everything she once knew was gone. She was the epitome of a lost soul when the book started and those glimpses of light she would have every now and then really brought her to a new level.

Now right from the start I knew Astor was bad news. I thought he was a creepster right from the start. He was too familiar too quickly and I’m not one to believe in those kinds of coincidences. He felt off from me from the start and that was without even reading the description for the book. What I didn’t expect was really how deep his darkness really was. I kept trying to figure out what his deal was and I never would have guessed it in a million years. That made his character kind of fascinating to read in a weird way. I knew I disliked him, but I also wanted to know more.

I also really liked Caggie’s best friend Claire and her ex-ish boyfriend Trevor. Both of these characters seemed to ground Caggie in their own way even when Caggie did everything in her power to push them away and get them to turn their backs on her. I often find the best friends in books to be overbearing and annoying but this wasn’t the case. Claire was there for Caggie and supported her no matter what. Even when they fought and didn’t see eye to eye she knew her best friend needed her and at times did the hard thing which really made me like her.  And Trevor was just the cutest. It was so obviously clear how much he still loved Caggie. He did everything in his power to make up for his past mistake and to be there for her even when she refused everything he had to offer. The way he worried about her made me completely swoon. He was basically awesome!

But truly one of my favorite parts of this amazing book was how Serle used New York not as a setting but as a character itself. You have all heard how Sex and the City(the TV show, not the book) made NY a main character to the series, how Central Perk was a 7th friend on Friend’s, how Buffy the Vampire Slayer wouldn’t have been Buffy the Vampire Slayer without The Bronze. Well Serle has woven NYC into The Edge of Falling in such a way that you actually feel the life of the city jumping off the pages.  Whether it is the Hamptons or the Upper East Side or the MOA, you can feel the energy of the city that never sleeps and in turn makes it an integral part to Caggie’s story. It really was quiet genius and it made me want to make a visit.

Serle’s sophomore novel is a story of pain and love and growth. It has fantastic characters, a great plot and fantastic writing. I had no doubt after reading When You Were Mine, Serle’s debut, that she would become an auto-buy author for me, and The Edge of Falling has cemented that. I can’t wait to see what comes out of her next. She has a fan in me for sure and when you read her books you will undoubtedly feel the same way.

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Second Chance Sunday – Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Sunday – Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonAmy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: May 4th 2010
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four-stars

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her dad recently died in a car accident, and her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut—just in time for Amy’s senior year. To escape from it all, Amy embarks on a road trip, driving cross-country from the home she’s always known toward her new life. Joining her is Roger, the son of Amy’s mother’s old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, but her feelings for Roger develop as the miles roll by…. Told in traditional narrative as well as through a unique visual format that incorporates scraps from the road, this is the story of one teen’s journey to find herself.

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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour wasn’t what I expected at all. Going into it I assumed it was going to be a funny, cutesy light story about road trip high jinx. Instead I found a funny, at times, cutesy, story with a lot of depth and heart.

The passing of Amy’s father really did a number on her. She was isolated and alone and had turned herself off from the world. She felt a lot of guilt over the accident that took her father from her and she had a lot of fears from that as well. When Roger was first in the picture she was so unsure of herself and life that she was awkward and uncomfortable around him. But as time passed and they hit the open road getting to know more about each other and themselves in the process they both grew and so did their relationship. They drove across the country together not really knowing what they were looking for, but finding what they needed.

Matson took us on a journey across America and to unexpected places. The description of Graceland alone transported me back to my trip there. Really loved this book and can’t wait for more from this author.

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Review: Fifteenth Summer – Michelle Dalton

Review: Fifteenth Summer – Michelle DaltonFifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: May 7th 2013
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four-stars

Chelsea isn’t looking forward to her summer at the lake. It’s the first time her family has been there since her grandmother died, and she can’t break out of her funk. But her summer takes a turn for the better when she meets a boy who works in the bookstore. Josh is cute, sweet, funny…and best of all, seems to like her as much as she likes him. As the days pass by in a blur of boat rides, picnics, and stolen kisses, she can’t believe how lucky she is. No one has ever made her feel so special, or so beautiful.

But Chelsea knows her days with Josh are numbered. She’ll be heading home at the end of the summer—and he’ll be staying behind. Will this be Chelsea’s summer of love? Or will it be the summer of her broken heart?

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Ever find a book that is the perfect book at the perfect moment? It may not be the deepest and most serious of books, but it makes you feel good and smile and makes you remember why you love to read. Fifteenth Summer was that book for me. When I picked up Fifteenth Summer I had just read a book I didn’t like and a book that was just okay so I just need something and it happened at the perfect time. Being a fan of Dalton’s over book, Sixteenth Summer, I had high hopes  for this one anyway and like she did before Dalton delivered.

Fifteenth Summer is the story a Chelsea, a 15 year old girl heading to the house she spent her summers at when she was younger, the house her grandmother lived in. What seems normal is anything but because this summer will be Chelsea and her family’s first time at the house since her grandmother passed away earlier that year. Surrounded by memories Chelsea seeks refuge in a book store where she meets Josh, a cute boy that constantly gives her mix signals. But as those signals uncross Chelsea and Josh start on an epic journey of first love and possibly a broken heart for one or both of them.

Like I said I adored this book. It happened that I read it at the exact right time that I need some adorableness in my life and now without a shadow of doubt I know that Dalton can deliver.  The realistic quality mixed with the likable characters of Josh and Chelsea not to mention the use of grief and responsibility all clicked really well. Well you felt sad for Chelsea you were excited that she had this thing blooming with Josh. And while you didn’t understand why Josh was taking on so much responsibility you understood his need to make sure his family succeeded. Add to that the undeniable chemistry between Chelsea and Josh and the lake/beach setting and you have a winner.

Dalton has such an ease about her writing that it feels like coming home after a cold winter. Her words seem to wrap around you and just make you feel good. Whether it was happy scene or a scene filled with sadness I wanted to read more and feel the impact it would have on me. Chelsea and Josh brought a smile to my face and an ache to my heart but it was worth it all because this read was exactly what I needed at the exact right time.

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Review: Golden – Jessi Kirby

Review: Golden – Jessi KirbyGolden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: May 14th 2013
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three-half-stars

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

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Golden was a different kind of book for me. I had been really excited to read this one and was thrilled when the library happened to have a copy laying around. But sadly I was disappointed to not like it as much as I had hoped to. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it a lot and thought it had a great message, but something wasn’t right for me. I don’t know if it was the main character Parker, or her over the top with all the fun BFF, Kat, or the romance of it that felt off, but something just didn’t click right for me to love this book like I loved In Honor.

Golden is about Parker Frost, a high school Junior that has done everything she was told to do. She has studied hard, had no social life and did everything her mom had told her to do. When she is selected as a finalist for the Cruz-Farnetti scholarship Parker thinks everything she has worked for is coming true. But as the scholarship gets closer and closer she starts to realize she never really lived her life in high school. She never missed a curfew, or went out on a school night. She never skipped school or missed an assignment. And she never got to kiss her crush Trevor. And when the deceased Julianna Farnetti’s diary ends up in Parker’s hands she gets to decide if she wants to stay in her safe comfort zone or if it is about time to take a chance.

I liked Parker…for the most part. I mean I got where she was coming from when it came to listening to her mother and scared to get off of her path. But I didn’t like how she was so back and forth. She never really made any kind of decision at all and when she had opportunity in front of her she was kind of whiny about it and that bothered me. I really did get that she was scared, but I think there was a better way to show that then all the back and forth, push and pull, especially between her and Trevor. It was fun in the beginning but by the end it was driving me a little crazy. With that said, I liked the message behind the story even if Parker did bother me sometimes. By reading Julianna’s journal she was able to learn that it is okay to take a chance even if you fail or if it doesn’t work out. Taking chances are what makes life life because things aren’t supposed to be easy or mapped out. That part of the book I really liked and is what I think Kirby got right.

Golden definitely wasn’t my favorite Kirby book that I have read, but it wasn’t a painful read that I would sway people away from picking up. It had a great story and good characters for the most part. It was also really well written. I just liked this book, but some loved it. Pick it up and decide for yourself where you fall on that scale.

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Review: fml – Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: fml – Shaun David HutchinsonFml by Shaun David Hutchinson
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: June 25th 2013
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three-stars

There’s more than one way to get the girl in this fun and fast-paced novel about one epic party and a kiss that could change everything. Tonight’s the night: Simon’s big chance to finally get with Cassie. Cassie, who he’s loved for ages. Cassie, who is newly boyfriend-free. Cassie, who just happens to be throwing the biggest party of the year. Simon’s plan is simple: He’ll go to the party, she’ll fall in love with him, they’ll make out like crazy, and the night will be a complete success.

But things don’t ever go as planned…especially when it comes to Cassie.

In two alternating plotlines, Simon goes after the girl of his dreams and stumbles toward his destiny. It’s one night, one party, and a thousand ways for things to go wrong…but a million ways for them to go right.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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A friend suggested this one after learning of my love for Parallel life books. When I saw it was up on Edelweiss I requested it pretty late and on a whim and was happy to be approved so quickly. Sadly though that is where most of my happiness ended because this book turned out to just be okay. I did enjoy the parallel life part and it was fun to read a parallel story from a guy’s POV, but the rest of it was just okay.

FML is the story of Simon. Simon has been in love with Cassandra Castillo for 3 years, a girl he had the chance to kiss on their one and only date and blew it. Since that fateful night he has pinned over Cassie while she was in a relationship never having the guts to tell her how he felt. But in one night that is about to change. On the last party of the year Simon decides he is going to tell the newly single Cassie how he feels and get that kiss he has been wanting for 3 long years. But like everything else in Simon’s life it doesn’t go quite as planned. He has two different paths he could take to get to the girl he is in love with and two different chances to change the course of his life.

First let me start by saying that the best part of his book was the Can’t Hardly Wait feel to it. I seriously love that movie and everything it stands for, so to get that vibe right from the start immediately made me like this book more then I probably would have. Because I have to face facts, Simon was whiny, Cassie was kind of rude, and Simon’s friends drove me a little batty at times. I also found a lot of the plot and side stories to be really unrealistic and farfetched. But with that said I will admit to finding it entertaining. I also found some of Simon’s dialogue funny so that aided to the reading process.

Really though FML was a bit of a stretch for me. It was a quick read and not painful to read to the point that I was rolling my eyes. I just didn’t find it 100% on the believable factor and even the Can’t Hardly Wait connection couldn’t help me like this one more. In the end it was what I said at the beginning of this review, just an okay book.

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