Review: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love – Sarvenaz Tash

Review: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love – Sarvenaz TashThe Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: June 14th 2016
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five-stars

John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author of Three Day Summer.

Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...Archie and Veronica...Althena and Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...

Archie and Veronica...

Althena and Noth...

...Graham and Roxy?

Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he'd be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.

But now they're sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever--moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.

When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year's New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He's got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

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.

I am smitten! Smitten with these characters; smitten with this author; smitten with this book.  I can’t really describe it. After reading Tash’s debut, Three Day Summer, I knew I would read anything she wrote. It was such a great story about human interaction at a time that seems so long ago. I loved the characters and the story telling and they heart behind it all. So when I heard about The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love it was a given I would read it. What I didn’t expect was how taken I would be by it. It was so fun and real and epic and wondrous.

The thing that I loved the most about The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, besides the characters (more on that below), is that it isn’t a coming of age book. It isn’t a book about comic nerds. It isn’t even a true love story/romance. The Geek’s Guide is a book that is real. Things in life don’t always go as planned. You don’t always win the big game, or get into the school of your dreams. You don’t always get the girl or get something you are hoping for. Life just doesn’t work that way. You have to adapt and move on and come up with a new plan or idea. Tash captured that to perfection with Graham’s story. Nothing went the poor kid’s way. Everything that could go wrong for him did, but he just kept on going. Whether he was mad or sad or hurt or happy, he just kept on going like we all have to do.

Actually Graham was the one character that made the book for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Roxy and co., but Graham was like a red headed Seth Cohen (and let’s face it Seth Cohen made geeky hot). He had this inner dialogue that just killed me. He was quirky and funny and charming. I liked him immediately and he truly made me giggle throughout the book. And his knowledge of pop-culture…OH MY GOD! So epic. Graham was the perfect kind of character to control this kind of story and I kind of love him (and the rest of them).

Basically this book was just what I needed to reminded me about the ups and downs of life and love and friendship. Sarvenez crafted a book that is so perfect (sorry Felicia) that I need everyone to read it and be smitten with me. To be honest I knew I would love it after Three Day Summer, but I didn’t know I would end up being as over the moon about it as I was. If Tash’s books are not on your radar you need to fix that immediately. She is one author that is doing great, great things. Now go and read her books!cohen

*On 6/16, I’m a stop on the Geek’s Guide blog tour. Make sure you stop by for a special ABCs that day. There will be a giveaway happening for both of Sarvenaz’s books.

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Review: The Unexpected Everything – Morgan Matson

Review: The Unexpected Everything – Morgan MatsonThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: May 3rd 2016
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five-stars

Andie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.

Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

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.

What can I say about Morgan Matson’s books that I haven’t said before? I was destroyed by Second Chance Summer, enthralled by Since You’ve Been Gone, and wooed by Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. She’s written herself so high in my list of author’s I love that I don’t think she can get any higher. And then she gives me The Unexpected Everything which made me feel the things I felt in the first 3 books she has written and changes my expectations again. I mean can she do anything wrong? This book was just fantastic.

The Unexpected Everything is the story of Andie, the daughter of a congressman that is currently being investigated. Andie has always had a plan. It was the easiest way to live life. If she knew what was coming she didn’t have to figure out what to do. But this summer is anything but typical for Andie. Instead of her plan she finds herself spending the summer in a way she never expected and maybe learning life is sometimes better lived when you don’t know what’s coming.

This book put me through a gamut of emotions. I laughed and smiled and cringed and cried. I was angry and upset and excited. I felt everything that was happening much like Andie did. I felt like I was part of Andie’s journey and I loved that. Because really that is what The Unexpected Everything was about, Andie’s journey. She was so certain she could plan and schedule things but life isn’t like that and she needed the summer she had to prove that to herself. She needed everything that happened with her friends to happen. She needed to have real conversations with people. She needed to see that life happens when you are waiting on plans unless you do something and live it. And she really needed Clark.

Clark, Clark, Clark. Nerdy and adorable and sweet and unsure. He is everything that is right about swoony book boys and he was the perfect counterpart for Andie. They were complete opposites but there was something magical about them together. And awkward. Man were they awkward at times. Eh, it just made them more endearing. But seriously Clark really helped Andie in her summer of the unknown by actually being part of the unknown. I just loved him. Oh and Andie’s friends. They were such a great unit. They too were real and some of their story arcs just broke my heart (I’m looking at you Morgan. Making me cry at jury duty!).

I don’t want to give too much away and take anything from this masterpiece. It was really just perfect. From the characters to a familiar location (!!!!!!!) to some familiar mentions (!!!!!) there wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this story and Andie’s growth. All I can say is if you are new to Morgan Matson, start at the beginning and read them all. If you are a Morgan fan…you are in for a reading treat.

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Review: Three Day Summer – Sarvenaz Tash

Review: Three Day Summer – Sarvenaz TashThree Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: May 19th 2015
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four-half-stars

Boy meets girl...at the most amazing concert the world has ever seen.
Michael is unsure about most things. Go to college? Enlist in the military? Break up with his girlfriend? All big question marks. He is living for the moment and all he wants is a few days at the biggest concert of the summer.

Cora lives in the town hosting the music festival. She's volunteering in the medical tent. She's like that, always the good girl. But there is something in the air at this concert and suddenly Cora finds herself wanting to push her own boundaries.

When Michael and Cora meet, sparks fly, hearts race, and all the things songs are written about come true. And all the while, three days of the most epic summer await them..

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.

Review

When I first heard about Three Day Summer I won’t lie, the cover is what intrigued me. I mean would you look at that thing? It screams 60s with those colors. And then I did some investigation and saw it took place at Woodstock. I knew I needed to read it after that. I have always been fascinated by Woodstock and what it would have been like to be there. And the good news after all that…the book lived up to the cover and my expectations.

Three Day Summer is about Michael and Cora, two very different people that find themselves both at the historic Woodstock festival. Michael is there trying to figure out what he wants out of life while Cora is there to further what she wants out of life. When the two of them have a chance encounter their days at Woodstock bring them on an expected adventure and to something they both really can’t fight, romance.

action

Much like the movie Titanic Tash did something that is difficult to do with the story. She took a real life event and based a fictional love story around it. It was a risk working with such a well-known place but it worked. Michael and Cora’s stories fit right in with the Woodstock vibe and with hippie culture in general. Was there a thing or two that may have been a little farfetched? Sure. But for the most part the plot moved as naturally as it could for something that happened over just three days.

backdrop

Three Day Summer has probably one of the most well-known settings (at least I hope it still is) in music history, Woodstock. The three days of Woodstock are memorable for so many reasons. Whether it was the music, the weather, the lack of food, or the sex and drugs, Woodstock tells a story. Tash incorporated her two main characters, Michael and Cora, into this setting flawlessly. Reading the pages I felt like I was in Woodstock. She nailed what I imagined it to be like from the sound of the music to the chill atmosphere to the party vibe. It was so vividly described I couldn’t help but wish I was born when Woodstock happened and would have been cool enough to go.

characters

I really liked the difference in Michael and Cora’s personalities. First you have Cora, headstrong female that doesn’t dream about being a nurse or housewife. She wants to be a doctor and won’t let stereotypes or her nasty father stop her.  She has dreams and goal and want let sexism stand in her way. And then you have Michael, typical hippie. Drugs, apathy, laid back thoughts in life. War is in the forefront of his mind yet he doesn’t know if he is made out for the service or for school. He has no idea who he wants to be so he stays stagnant with the wrong people. When Cora and Michael meet you know it is going to be epic and Tash does not disappoint.

final

I loved this book. There was one tiny part that I found farfetched and why it isn’t a perfect 5 rating wise, but everything else was so spot on. After reading it I immersed myself in 60s music and live recordings from Woodstock. I wanted to break out my wide leg jeans and pretend they were bell bottoms. I wanted to sit outside at a concert and get lost in music. Three Day Summer hit all the right notes for me and in the end I was just so happy to have found it. If you love romance and the history of Woodstock then you can’t miss reading this fabulous book.

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Review: In Honor – Jessi Kirby

Review: In Honor – Jessi KirbyIn Honor by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published: May 14th 2013
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four-stars

A devastating loss leads to an unexpected road trip in what Sarah Ockler calls a “beautiful, engaging journey with heart, humor, and just a pinch of Texas sass.”Three days after learning of her brother Finn’s death, Honor receives his last letter from Iraq. Devastated, she interprets his note as a final request and spontaneously sets off to California to fulfill it. At the last minute, she’s joined by Rusty, Finn’s former best friend. Rusty is the last person Honor wants to be with—he’s cocky and obnoxious, just like Honor remembers, and she hasn’t forgiven him for turning his back on Finn when he enlisted. But as they cover the dusty miles together in Finn’s beloved 1967 Chevy Impala, long-held resentments begin to fade, and Honor and Rusty struggle to come to terms with the loss they share. As their memories of Finn merge to create a new portrait, Honor’s eyes are opened to a side of her brother she never knew—a side that shows her the true meaning of love and sacrifice.

Review

In Honor broke my heart right from the very beginning. Honor and Rusty were so completely broken by Finn’s death that it made me so unbelievably sad for them. Grief and loss is a terrible thing and neither knew what to do with it. Not to mention the fact that there was a lot of resentment between the two of them without either knowing what the other was feeling. The story was real and emotional and completely heart wrenching, but utterly fantastic.

In Honor is about the death of Honor’s brother Finn. Well not really his death, but more how his sister Honor, who Finn essentially helped raise when their parents died, and his best friend Rusty who had a falling out with Finn before he left for the Marines, dealt with the grief of his loss. When Honor gets an idea to take a road trip to see a singer her brother had gotten her tickets to and somehow Rusty ends up on the journey, the two of them discover that sometimes it’s best not to deal with grief alone. As they drive the open road the see what is really there right in front of them and that it’s okay to be sad and to move on.

Honor made this book for me right from the start. I connected with her emotions and how she was reacting to things. I understood her from the get go so it was easy to like her and what great things for her. She even made me teary-eyed at the very beginning which is hard to do with me in a book when I barely know the characters. But I also really liked Rusty once you got past the hurt and the lashing out. We didn’t know his story or what truly happened between him and Finn until much farther in the book,  but it didn’t matter because you could still feel his pain and you could sense his pain was less when it was just him and Honor driving in the Impala. The two of them played off each other really well. And as everything from the past came forward they both dealt with their emotions in a way you would expect from two broken people that felt like they were missing a piece of themselves.  Everything just kind of clicked for me.

Definitely my fave Jessi Kirby book. It had all the elements of a great book and kept me reading and wanting to just give the characters a hug. I had been told for a while now to read this marvelous book and I’m so happy I listened. Fabulous!

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