Author: Nina LaCour

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We Are Okay Review

April 5, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

We Are Okay ReviewWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on February 14th 2017
Pages: 234
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, You Know Me Well
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two-stars
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Not going to lie to you guys, I desperately wanted to like We Are Okay. I liked Nina’s book Everything Leads to You. Though I wasn’t a fan of her recent book You Know Me Well with David Levithan, I thought I’d try this one anyway. Sadly, this didn’t work for me to say the least. I don’t know, I was just ridiculously bored. It was a short book, and I felt like nothing really happened. There was barely any character development, which made me sad. Nina LaCour is a great author, and her sentences are extremely pretty. I just wasn’t able to connect with this story on any level. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will like it, I’m not one of them.

Marin is an okay character. I totally feel for her as she struggles with grief over the loss of her grandpa. Her mom died when she was little and her dad was never in the picture, so her grandpa was her family. So yeah, I sympathized with her. Look, this might sound insensitive, but I didn’t really understand why she felt so betrayed by her grandpa. It felt like she was being a little selfish about what her grandpa went through. Like Cait said, maybe I just missed something, but it seemed like a weird thing to be so upset about. I also didn’t get why it was so hard to be in the town again. Like what did EVERYONE in the town do to you? Maybe it was the memories that she associated it with, but I still didn’t fully understand that. I was confused by the whole thing.

Another disappointment was the romance. I guess you could say the love interest was her best friend Mabel, but not really since nothing happens between them in the present. It all happened back before Marin’s grandpa died and she shut Mabel out completely. So she comes to Marin’s dorm over Christmas break because she hasn’t talked to her since she left and doesn’t know the full story. I guess she’s a good friend to Marin for the most part but I just didn’t care enough about it. I was really bothered by the fact that they’d been together in the past, but it was barely mentioned at all by the girls in the present. It would be okay if it was just a one time thing, but they seemed to really love each other, or at least Marin loved her. I’m fine with Mabel being bisexual and having a boyfriend now. I wasn’t alright with how she actually said that she wouldn’t have been with her boyfriend in Marin would have just texted her back. Realistically, it seems like it would have been difficult for them to be in a long distance relationship, she might have fallen for him even if they were still together. It just bugged me that she claimed to understand why Marin shut her out, but still basically blamed her for leading her to Jacob. I wasn’t a fan of how Mabel was pushing her at the end of the book to find a girlfriend. It felt like she was only doing that to ease her own guilt since she knows that Marin still has strong feelings for her. Mabel had very little character development as well.

I’ve seen pretty much all positive reviews about this book. For whatever reason, it didn’t click for me. I didn’t have a strong emotional connection to the characters or the plot at all. I think it could have been a bit longer and faster paced. I found myself very bored and just ready for it to end, which is never a good sign for me. Maybe I’ll eventually end up giving this author another chance, but this didn’t end up leaving a good impression on me personally. I see where people are coming from with all the nice things being said, but I simply don’t feel the same. If you like emotional contemporary reads, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I usually like emotional books, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters or the romance.

two-stars

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DNF Reviews: June Releases

June 27, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 DNF

DNF Reviews: June ReleasesYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 7th 2016
Pages: 248
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, We Are Okay, Every Day (Every Day, #1)
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dnf
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

So it’s very rare for me to stop reading a book. If a book is seriously dragging for me, I might skim it some or even jump to the end. I’ve never even written any reviews for books that I’ve given up on just because I have so little to say about it. In this specific case, I’ve recently tried reading these two books but stopped reading them for similar but also somewhat different reasons. Hopefully I won’t be writing many DNF reviews in the future. However, here are my thoughts on why I didn’t finish You Know Me Well and The Loose Ends List.

David Levithan and Nina LaCour are both really great writers who have created beautiful and memorable books. You Know Me Well is a pretty short book, so I was hoping to read it in just one or two sittings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the whole insta-friendship thing. I was sure that I’d find it more convincing with a few more pages and possibly chapters, but that didn’t seem to happen. Basically, Mark and Kate share a class together, but they’ve never spoken outside of the classroom. On one crazy weekend out on the town in San Francisco, Kate ran into Mark and began spilling out personal details about herself. I found it hard to believe that they’d both more or less turn their backs on some of their oldest friends in order to spend more time with each other. It’s hard to explain, it didn’t feel convincing at all to me.

I think the plot was a solid enough idea and I love that it includes friendship and two LGBT characters. With that being said, the general execution didn’t work for me personally. Another main reason why I stopped reading is a huge spoiler because I jumped to the end and didn’t like what I saw. This is simply my opinion, I think that it’s seriously important for others, LGBT teens specifically, to read You Know Me Well. I really wish I loved this one, but I still plan on reading books from both of these authors in the future.

DNF Reviews: June ReleasesThe Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
on June 7th 2016
Pages: 352
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dnf
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

The description of The Loose Ends List immediately caught my eye. I’m always curious to read books that deal with the death (or this case dying) of an important family member. Grief is a subject that I’ve personally had to deal with, so I think it’s interesting to read the different ways that authors address this terrible but realistic issue that a lot of teens have to confront.

From the very beginning, I could tell that I wasn’t going to like the main character. I hate to say it, but Maddie was a totally cliche character. She was a popular girl who had a steady group of friends in the same crowd who liked to party, and she was also dating the popular athlete who cheats on her. At first, I was thinking that her grandma was a cool character, but as the book went on, it was just extremely inappropriate to me. Look, her grandma openly talks to her granddaughters about her sex life and also talks (and touches) their boobs. I get that it was supposed to be funny, and it was to an extent, it just didn’t feel very realistic to me.

The worst part of The Loose Ends List for me was the romance. If you’ve read basically any of my reviews, you’ll probably know that I take romance very seriously. Truthfully, the romance here was not good at all in my opinion. I’ve made it clear that I’m not a fan of insta-love, but how it was portrayed here was something that I couldn’t bring myself to read. Maddie sees Enzo, and is instantly attracted to him, as you may have already guessed. So it’s the first time that they’ve talked, and all of a sudden they start making out. But it wasn’t some random hookup, they suddenly become a serious thing and Maddie can’t stop thinking about him.

I reached a point in the book where I didn’t care about the relationship and I didn’t have any desire to learn where they all end up honestly. That may sound harsh, but I knew that I needed to put the book down and not return to it again. I think this is one of those books that you either love or hate. Either way, you have strong feelings about what it makes you feel. In this instance, I’m sad that the book didn’t work in my favor.

dnf

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Summer Days & Summer Nights Review

May 25, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

Summer Days & Summer Nights ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, Jennifer E. Smith
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1), Flying Lessons & Other Stories, The Great American Whatever, You Know Me Well, We Are Okay
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three-stars
Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.
Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

I didn’t read the holiday anthology My True Love Gave to Me, which was also put together by Stephanie Perkins. However, I wanted to read this one because I was in the mood for some sweet summer stories to get me in the mood for this incredible season. Though I was expecting some light fluffy romances, what I really got was actually something much more deeper. Some of these stories are surprisingly sad and deal with some tough topics, but all of them are extremely realistic. If you read only one story, I highly recommend it being A Thousand Way This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith. Anyway, this was a fabulously diverse collection that featured a lot of different genres like: contemporary, science fiction, and fantasy. Unsurprisingly, I personally preferred the contemporary stories, but I’m sure that it will please fans of those genres that they were included here.

Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail by Leigh Bardugo – 3 Stars

I feel like I’m one of the only people on the PLANET who haven’t read anything by Leigh Bardugo yet. I’ve meant to, but I’m just not a huge fan of that genre and haven’t gotten around to reading anything by her yet. This story had solid writing, I personally didn’t connect too much to the characters like some reviewers seem to have connected to it. I thought that the romance was really adorable, but the twist kind of threw me for a loop and I liked it a little less because of that.

The End of Love by Nina LaCour – 4 Stars

This was an adorable story about a budding romance between two girls. Flora is going through a rough time with her parents divorce and so she decides to escape to a summer geometry class that she had already taken. There she runs into Mimi, a girl from another school who she always had a secret crush on but never pursued anything with. As you might anticipate, Flora finds a romance that she’d be dreaming about for a long time. I liked this one because of the diversity but also because of how well developed it was for a short story.

Last Stand at the Cinegore by Libba Bray – 2.5 Stars

So this one started out rather promising, but then it just got weird and I was ridiculously confused about the direction that it went in. I thought that the main character was funny and a bit charming, but then the plot changed. Besides, I wasn’t feeling the romance in the slightest. It all fell helplessly short, in my opinion.

Sick Pleasure by Francesca Lia Block – 2 Stars

This one was totally off to me. I’ve never read anything by this author before, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t used to some of the quirkiness of it all. The first really strange thing about it was that all the characters were only known by letters like M, J, L, and I. Did anyone else who read this find that straight up odd or was it only me? Aside from that, I absolutely couldn’t stand the ending. With that being said, the ending was the reason why I disliked the romance. The ending of it all was far from satisfying and just made me angry.

In Ninety Minutes, Turn North by Stephanie Perkins – 3.5 Stars

As I already said earlier, I didn’t read the Holiday collection, and Perkins features the same characters in both. I was told that it was okay to go ahead and read this story anyway. They pretty much recap all the events that already happened in the other story. I don’t think it’s possible for Stephanie to write a BAD story, I just didn’t feel all that connected to her characters as a whole. The story was rather predictable, but I did appreciate that the drama was kept at a minimal level. I enjoyed the story, it just wasn’t my favorite. I think fans of Perkins will be pleased though.

Souvenirs by Tim Federle – 4 Stars

Wow, I was surprised by how much I liked this one! It surprised me because this is a breakup story and I hate those, but somehow, Federale made this work. I felt very connected to the main character, Matt. He reminded me a little of Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, due to how witty and hilarious he is. I loved that he worked at an amusement park, and I loved even more that it took place in Pittsburgh. So Matt works in the souvenir shop at the amusement park, and his summer boyfriend Kieth works as an actor in the show that they put on. They have a breakup date because Kieth is moving away for school and doesn’t want to lead him on. This worked for me because it resembled a real high school relationship, it wasn’t a fairy tale, and I liked that more than I thought that I would.

Inertia by Veronica Roth – 4.5 Stars

Well, this story was definitely something else! In a way, it definitely reminded me of Four and Tris from the Divergent series. But I feel like Roth was still able to create two unique characters and build something real and memorable within these thirty some pages that she had to work with. I feel like some readers might feel differently about the story, but I personally enjoyed every second of it.

Love is the Last Resort by Jon Skorvon – 2.5 Stars

Some parts of this book seemed to have quite a bit of potential, but others seemed to be lacking. The narration style was one of the most unique ones that I’ve ever read before, and I did enjoy that, but some of the stories ended up running together. Meaning, the author tries to follow three different couples in this small amount of space. For me, it didn’t end up working so well. I did think some of the lines were rather clever though. All in all, I think that you might be able to skip this one.

Good Luck and Farewell by Brandy Colbert – 4 Stars

I thought this was a lovely story! It seems to be the theme here, but I haven’t read anything by Colbert yet. I was totally impressed by this one. The main character Rashida, is dealing with her cousin (who is like a mother to her) moving across the country to be with her girlfriend. She ends up meeting her girlfriend’s brother Pierre at the going away party and finds sparks fly between them. I loved how openly the two were able to discuss mental illness and their past experiences with it and also with grief. Both of them had experiences major losses in different ways. It was such a heavy but real thing, and I’m glad that Colbert portrayed this in such a classy way.

Brand New Attraction by Cassandra Clare – 2 Stars

Clare is an author who I’ve never read before, but her books are very popular. So I say that if you are a fan, you will likely enjoy this story because I’ve read from the reviews that it seems to have similar themes to her other works. If this isn’t your genre or an author you think you’d like, I say that you skip it. It’s basically about a terrifying carnival filled with demons. It wasn’t all that boring or anything, it just didn’t turn out to be my thing personally. The romance wasn’t for me either. It was basically about a slightly awkward yet pretty and cool girl who falls for the broody bad boy, who is her uncle’s stepson.

A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong by Jennifer E. Smith – 5 Stars

This is definitely my favorite of the stories. It could be that I’m a huge fan of the author’s, but this story just clicked with me on every level. If you’re not a major contemporary romance fan, this might not totally be your thing, but I loved it from the first page. It has the most adorable romance ever. Seriously, the last scene will likely make you melt. I want to read it over again for the first time, it was that cute. The main character, Annie, is a camp counselor to little kids, and one of them has autism and she isn’t sure exactly how to make him feel comfortable at the camp. She has an interest in a boy named Griffin, who turns out to know exactly how to handle the child. It’s difficult to describe, but just trust me, this story will make you feel so many things.

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things by Lev Grossman – 2 Stars

Sorry, but this book was pretty boring to me. It just seemed to drag on and on. The premise was like Groundhog Day, the main character lives the same day over and over again. About a month in, he ends up seeing a girl who is out of place and finds out that she’s in the same boat as him. Naturally, he ends up falling in love with her and carrying less about having to live the same day on repeat. This whole time thing just wasn’t for me at all.

 

three-stars

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