Review: Just Like the Movie – Kelly Fiore

justlikemovies

Title: Just Like the Movies [Amazon]
Author: Kelly Fiore [website]
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary
Sources/Type: Netgalley/eGalley
Stars: 3 of 5

Publisher’s Description:
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.

My Thoughts:
I think this book was a case of me expecting the story to be something different than it was. That was the first thought I had when I finished Just Like the Movies. I had been super excited to read it and then when the reality happened it just fell flat for me. I mean I liked it enough and liked the potential, but I wasn’t wowed by it and I was bugged by it.

Just Like the Movies is a book about two girls that are having relationship problems. First there is Marijke. She has been dating her boyfriend for a year and has yet to hear the L word and is super insecure about his hotness and where they stand. And then you have Lily, a girl that has never had a boyfriend and has been crushing on the same guy for 2 years. When these two girls who have never really crossed paths run into each other in an unexpected night, they decide that they should work together to make their lives just like a movie with a nice happily ever after. Only as time goes by the girls start to wonder if happily ever after really does exist.

To be honest something just felt off in this story. I’m a pop culture junky so I was excited to see what movies these girls would use and what scenarios they would get themselves in. Only problem was it never seemed to happen. There were one or two scenes that they flat out referenced a movie situation, but I felt for the most part it was all subtle. I think that was the first part that threw me off. I also think this book suffered from a case of uncertain identity. I couldn’t tell by the end if it was a friendship book or a book that was about happily ever after’s and unrealistic endings? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, happy, love story like the next guy. But there was something about the end of Just Like the Movies that just didn’t work for me. I didn’t want Marijke to end up with her boyfriend and it bugged when at the last minute it went in that direction. I almost would have liked it better if she stood up for herself and realized she didn’t need him. Because she didn’t. She was smart and funny and a great athlete. She had a good head on her shoulders and that was all taken away when everything was said in done. I did like Lily’s side of the book but really I just wasn’t wowed by any of it which makes me sad.

Other Book by the Author:
taste

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Review: Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Review: Open Road Summer – Emery LordOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published by Walker Childrens
Published: April 15th 2014
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five-stars

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.
Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

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.

Very rarely do I call a book perfection. Even five star reads always have that something that irks me or that I dislike. But, there have been a couple that are pure perfection and I now have one more to add to that list, Open Road Summer. Bluntly put, it was EVERYTHING. It had all the highs and lows of a great contemporary book. I laughed and swooned and cried and felt those deep feels that only a truly great book can make you feel. It was exactly what I look for in a great book and to make matters better, it was a debut novel.

Open Road Summer is a book about friendship, boys and figuring it all out. It’s the story of Reagan(one of my favorite names by the way) and Dee, two girls that have been best friends since they were 8 and who couldn’t be more different. Reagan is the wild child, always getting in trouble while Dee is the professional with a country music contract. With a US summer tour happening for Dee and everything at home falling apart for Reagan the two of them embark on a road trip they won’t soon forget. But when a scandal happens and Matt Finch, a former boy-bander gone solo, joins them, what started out as a drama free girls summer becomes something entirely different. As the girls navigate broken hearts and healing and moving forward they also hold on to the one thing they both know matters most, each other.

I don’t even know where to start my love fest, because let’s face it, that’s what this review is going to be. I guess I’m going to start with the writing because without it you have nothing and Emery Lord gave a whole lot more than nothing. She gave this book everything. She wrote Open Road Summer not like a debut author, but like a seasoned pro. Everything, every single thing gave me the book feels and I’m still stunned by it. There were pages and pages of quotes I want to share but I’m going with just one: ‘I would like to know you for a while.’ That one simple sentence gave my tummy that flutter that I love getting when I read a phenomenal book. Lord has power in her words that made me believe what I was reading like I was a part of it as opposed to just looking in. She wrote pure magic whether she was describing the locations and the scenery or the feelings Reagan was having or the connection Dee and Reagan had.

Actually the relationship of Dee and Reagan was one of my favorite parts of the book. It is very rare in YA for there to be a tight bond between friends. I always find the frienemy is used more often than the friend. As a person that has had some of her closest friends for 25-30 years it has always bothered me. But Lord has fixed that. She wrote a true, real friendship between Reagan and Dee. They were just like all friends. They had each others backs, bickered, laughed, were jealous of one another, and even fought. That’s what friends do. But friends also are there for one another and Dee and Reagan were no different. Their bond was so strong and true and a complete joy to read. Some of my favorite parts of the book were when it was just the two of them being goofy or hanging out with Matt in the tour bus.

Oh and Matt! OMG, Matt Finch! Add another book boyfriend to the list because…SWOON! Seriously is it getting hot in here?!?! The boy is like Etienne St. Clair and Corey Livingston with a hint of Matthew McConaughey all wrapped in one. He had manners and sass and swagger. He was confident and boyish and charming. Basically the perfect package and Reagan’s perfect match. There was something just so right about their banter and Matt in general. GAH, I don’t want to give away too much of his awesomeness, but man is he awesome.

So flat out, I loved Open Road Summer like I haven’t loved a book in a long time. It’s one of those books that transports you to summer days hanging with your best friend. To those feelings you get when you first develop a crush. It comes to life while you are reading it and just gives you all the feels you can barely handle. It’s amazingly written, has great characters and a great plot. Emery Lord has now become an auto buy author for me after reading just one book and I think after you pick this one up you will feel the same. Thank you Reagan, Dee, Matt and Emery, thank you.

Bonus:
I sometimes like to dress the characters in books that I read and I was inspired by Dee and Reagan.

Open Road Summer Reagan/Dee

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The Dish: Wild Cards – Simone Elkeles

wildcardsTitle: Wild Cards [Amazon]
Author: Simone Elkeles [website]
Publisher: Walker Books for Younger Readers
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Netgalley/Digital ARC
Reviewed by: Andi & Michelle

Publisher Description:
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama.

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain–people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

Discussion:
Andi: By far my least favorite Elkeles book to date. I really liked Derek in the beginning and then I found him to be super annoying when he was around Ashtyn. She was so wishy washy and back and forth. I didn’t find the emotional connection at all and I found myself rolling my eyes a couple of times which bums me out. I had really high hopes for it too. I know you felt differently than I did though, right?

Michelle: That’s kind of a bummer!  I did feel differently but, like you I didn’t feel like it was my favorite of hers.  I wonder if we felt it was lack luster because we’ve read another book that focused on a girl football player that we really liked?

So, what did I like?  You know I always like a bad boy so Derek worked for me.  He could have been a little bit more “bad” though.  It felt like he lacked some of the grit that Elkeles’ male leads typically have.  He obviously didn’t need to be a criminal but making him more of a prankster felt a bit fake.  I also liked Ashtyn, probably more so as an individual character than as part of a couple with Derek.  I liked that she was strong (but still vulnerable) and stood her ground as she navigated being the only girl on the football team.

What did you think of the family focused storylines?

A: I found it to be a little muddled and not really resolved at all. I HATED the grandmother story. She was too over the top for me even for a fiction book and for Derek to just have a change of heart like he did just didn’t work. It didn’t make sense. And Ashtyn’s father was another piece of work. He was a horrible parent, but I didn’t understand the point of him. All he did was complain and then he was all better. I just didn’t believe it would be that easy. His wife up and leaves him with their two daughters, then one daughter leaves and he gets a massage and everything is A-Okay.  It took away from the whole point of the story if you ask me.

And I’m not gonna lie, I did think of that other book you mentioned the whole time I read it and that may have swayed me for sure. 🙂

What did you think about Derek and the football reveal? I found it contrived.

M:  LOL, I figured you were thinking of that book.  It was hard not to compare frankly it was so similar at least with the girl football player scenario.

The grandmother story was a bit over the top but I got it.  I think it would have been better if the character had been a bit more muted.  Like you, I think it would have made more sense and been more realistic if she was infused into Derek’s life a little more smoothly.  The initial meeting being abrupt made sense, even the blackmail, but ultimately the moving to the same town as Ashtyn and then infusing into her family was definitely out of place.  Even if she did have a change of heart she was awfully accepting of all the “lower-class” lifestyle super quickly.  I can’t imagine that anyone would uproot their life like that after knowing their long lost family member (and his friends?) for as little time as she did.

As for the father, he was just kind of there for me. Honestly, I think there was plenty of conflict in the story without his role.  It was just kind of there for me and I pretty much glazed right over it all things considered.

The football reveal wasn’t really a reveal for me.  I saw that coming a mile away so when it happened the way it did it was no surprise.  I actually did find the circumstances surrounding his having stopped playing to be very touching and realistic.  I think exploring a bit more of that connection and a bit more of a struggle as he built himself up to play again would have been a really good story.  Instead of “hey, I’ll jump back on the field because this girl I like needs me to”.  That felt a bit off.

What did you think of the story involving Ashtyn’s former boyfriend?

A: Not a fan at all of the boyfriend arc. It was just a plot point for me because I don’t think Ashtyn even liked him. He was written right off the bat to be unlikeable and he was. As a reader there was no conflict for me to decide if I knew where he was coming from. He sucked and it was as simple as that.

But I also didn’t really find Ashtyn all that likeable. I think I liked her football supporting cast more than I did her. Here she was saying that she was the football star that worked for her star status and how she didn’t care what others thought and then she was ready to give up captain to make a jerk happy. It just didn’t sit right with me and made Ashtyn not look like the strong girl she was supposed to be. I mean I know we all do stupid stuff for guys sometimes, but it just didn’t fit the character. It actually really bothered me. May have been the first time of many I rolled my eyes.

Did you like her? 

M:  To start, I don’t think she was the central focus of the story and I think that may have been part of the problem.  Elkeles has always made the male the center so this more evenly told story was a departure.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Ashtyn felt off?  I didn’t dislike her but I didn’t really connect too much to her either which was a problem given the fact that she was the central storyline.  I have a feeling the story would have been tighter and more open for connection if it was more centralized on Derek.  She definitely could have used more relatability and compassion.  Some of this disconnect could also have come from the fact that she didn’t have any girlfriends.  Maybe a girlfriend would have softened her up a bit and given her some more depth?

A: You know, it never even crossed my mind that she had no girlfriends. I didn’t even think about that, but you’re right, that totally could have softened her. She wasn’t close to her sister, her mother left, and I didn’t see enough of the friendship between her and the boys on the football team to even notice. She probably would have been more likable to me if she did have that one friend, even if it was a guy, that she went to and joked with. She was really just blah for me and that took away from the relationship between she and Derek. Something was just off for me between them, you know? I think I just expected more after the fun of her other books.

M: I agree, I liked it more than you but ultimately it lacked some of the oomph her other books have.  It just felt a bit more cliched and like I’d seen it before somewhere else.  The advantage of the Perfect Chemistry books was that there was definitely a lack of that gritty hard story (at least that I’d seen at the time) in contemporary romance books.

A: And that pretty much sums up what I thought was missing.

Other Books by Author:
perfectchemistry leaving summervacation

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