Book Review | Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

I’ve never read an Abbi Glines novel before now.

In fact, I’ll be quite honest, I’d never even heard of Abbi Glines before I purchased this novel. I saw it, figured it would fulfill my Friday Night Lights needs, and we’d call it a day.

Nope.

I was roped into something and I see no means of escape.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…

Let’s start with the issues (Spoilers Ahead!!)

Okay, straight out the gates, West is NOT like my man Big Tim Riggins (i.e. RIGGO!) as far as I can tell. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what West looks like. He’s, in my mind, a nondescript white boy. Taylor Kitsch could not play him in the straight to TV movie adaptation of this novel. HOWEVER, where Glines lacked in writing a character description, she certainly made up for it in character traits. West is an arrogant, sad boy. He’s really going through it in this novel and, to be frank, I’m not surprised with his measures of lashing out.

Where Glines lacked in character description for West, she made up for it in her development of our other protagonist. I can vividly picture Maggie in my mind. I actually liked her character a lot, which I found surprising. She’s strong and sweet and has been through hell and back, but still survived. I admire that in characters.

Here’s my biggest issue with this book. It’s kinda… instalovey.

I mean, West basically shoves his tongue down Maggie’s throat on their first encounter and, her being mute for the first quarter of the book, she doesn’t stop him. But from her perspective, she doesn’t want to. I get attraction, but this girl literally makes no move to consent – no gesture that she’s okay with their first (her VERY first) kiss whatsoever. I think this sends the wrong message to young readers – the target audience for this book.

On top of this, I cannot condone the first sex scene either. It’s not that I didn’t find it believable; again, I just don’t like the message it sends young girls. For me, it felt like Maggie and West hooking up in his truck was made okay by the fact that he was hurting. However, I will give this much to Glines; in this scene, Maggie actually does give her consent so I can’t hate too much.

So what did I like?

It was not a difficult read. Much like Colleen Hoover’s writing, I found this novel to be un-putdownable. I mean, I did put it down to like, fold laundry and stuff, but it was so interesting. I was invested in the characters and the plot. I liked it enough to stay up late on a Sunday night, KNOWING FULL WELL that Mondays are my nemesis to finish the book.

I also enjoyed the dual POV writing. I don’t normally go for this, but Glines made characters likable enough for me to feel invested in all parties. I wanted to know Maggie’s thoughts as much as I wanted to know what West was thinking. This was a pleasant surprise to me.

I also really liked the plot. It was refreshing to see tragedy dealt with in the manner in which Glines chose. I liked the fresh outtake on having a mute main character. While Tiffany Jackson’s Allegedly discusses the main character being mute, Glines actually shows us the awkwardness of a mute main character. That’s why I consider it fresh. Sure we get her thoughts, but before she actually starts speaking to West, you can feel the tension in the characters who try to communicate with Maggie.

General thoughts

I liked this book. In fact, I’d probably read more of this series (Field Party, this is Book 1). I’d absolutely pick up a Field Party novel on Nash or Brady so Ms. Glines, if you’re reading this… maybe… consider my proposition? 😀

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

It met my needs for a cutesy contemporary. I liked the writing, but my issues with the book are still weighing heavy on my mind… so…

Let’s Chat!

Let’s take a different course of action this time! I loved the show Friday Night Lights. If you’ve watched it, leave me a comment telling me who your favorite character was. Mine is pretty obvious if you’ve read this post 😉

Or if you haven’t watched the show, leave me a comment telling me your favorite sport! (My favorite is hockey! I’m a Pittsburgh fan!)

Book Review | Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

I make efforts to read diverse books.

I especially like books with non-straight narrators or characters, but the selling point for me was not that the main character was bi-sexual. The selling point was the setting.

An amusement park in summer? I can’t think of a more perfect summer reading option than a book set in summer at an amusement park.

I mean, I live pretty close to a pretty large chain amusement park (this is a thing right?) but I grew up near a local amusement park and my days at this park were always some of the best.

Reading this book was almost like vicariously living through a character to live out my high school dream of being able to work at my local amusement parks.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places. 

Elouise and Seeley

They have the best version of best friendship. I loved Seeley’s character. She’s much more than her wild colored hair and I just loved her sassy, sarcastic attitude.

Elouise was not always my favorite but in all fairness, most leading ladies never are my favorite. There’s always something about the leading ladies in YA novels that makes me want to shake them and say “LOOK BITCH!” Elouise is no exception. She’s incredibly dense, but so lovable. I was rooting for her the whole time, even though I was rooting against what she thought she wanted.

A teensy tiny bit of cliche

There’s a fake relationship in this novel.

If you’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you know how this goes.

I’ll leave it at that.

Bi Girls Date Girls for Boys Attention?

This is something I’ve read a lot of on Goodreads lately, especially in regards to this book. I don’t see it that way at all though. If Elouise fake-dated someone for the attention of her crush, don’t you think she’d be walking around in all her PDA glory for said attention? Or is that just me? Spoiler alert: that’s totally not the case.

I don’t get some of the internet critics so if you are one, can you enlighten me please?

Overall thoughts

You all know I love a good debut. This one was decent. Totally a cutesy summer story about love and friendship and it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed and if Jennifer Dugan writes another book I’d read it. She has a really sweet writing style that I can’t stop thinking about.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

This was v cute (my goodreads review lol).

Let’s chat!!

What’s your favorite childhood summertime memory? It doesn’t have to be childhood, but a favorite summertime memory in general.

My favorite summer memory involves a trip to San Diego to visit my bestie when I was about 24. We went to Disneyland on that trip and it was one of the best days of my life.

Book Review | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

There’s just something about Rainbow Rowell’s writing that makes me so happy. I loved Eleanor and Park (can’t believe we’re getting a movie) and that in itself prompted me to pick up more works from the author.

Fangirl was not high on my list of Rowell books to read though. Fanfiction really isn’t my thing – I’ve read one fanfiction series and cringed hard – so I wasn’t really tempted to pick this up.

But I found a copy of Fangirl for a really good price at Half Price Books and thought “why not?” I couldn’t find any other Rainbow Rowell books while shopping, so I grabbed a copy of this and put it on the backburner for months.

And then I read (and disliked) The Spectacular Now and knew I needed to pick something that would quickly engross me. Fangirl had been sitting in my book cart since I purchased it and something about the cover called out to me.

I finally read it.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Levi + Cath

Since Cath’s relationships seem to be a forerunner of this novel, I wanted to talk about Cath and Levi first. From the moment we’re introduced to him, I suspected he would be a love interest. It was not an unexpected surprise that they ended up together to me.

Honestly, I felt like Levi was the perfect love interest for Cath from the moment we met him. He’s sweet and funny and so supportive of Cath. That she would believe he was dating her roommate was really funny to me because I thought it was so obvious he cared for Cath. I really, genuinely, loved Levi.

Cath + Wren

Ugh. Twins? Cool. Named Cather and Wren – WHY?

I didn’t mind the twin thing. Honestly, Cath and Wren might be my favorite twins since the Weasleys. I did mind that Wren was an absolute jerk to Cath for a large portion of the book. I get it, but I’m still mad about it.

Mental Health, Writing Relationships, and More!

As a young woman who has struggled with anxiety her whole life, it made me happy to read a book that centers around mental health – particularly mental health in college aged students. Mainly my anxiety started to manifest when I went away to college – change is especially difficult when managing my anxiety so reading about Cath and her issues with her mental health made her feel incredibly real to me.

Also, what the heck was the deal with Nick? I’m so confused about his character. He was developed and not important enough to get more about him, but I’m curious about why he is the way he is.

Regan was probably my favorite in how she dealt with Cath. Sometimes we all need an abrasive friend to get us out of our shells (Ryan, if you’re reading, you’re that friend!). I loved the dynamic between these two because the friendship seemed so unlikely – in the very best way.

Concluding Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell certainly is one of my favorite writers. Something about the way she writes helps the characters feel so real. She leaves me wanting more from the characters and I feel sad when her books are over and I know there’s no sequel. Honestly, I feel like as long as she publishes books, I’ll be over here devouring them. Her writing is so dang compelling to me.

In essence, I loved this. It was sweet, smart, and engaging. Relatable on a level I didn’t expect. Honestly, I am Cath, Cath is me.

I didn’t even mind the snippets of fanfiction…

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

Let’s Chat!

What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book? How about your favorite character from Rowell’s work? Let me know in a comment.

So far my favorite has been Eleanor and Park with Park as my favorite character. Cath is a close second!

Book Review | The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

I like a lot of books that fall into a series. I think I’ve been pretty open about that. Anyway, the Mara Dyer trilogy has been sitting on my TBR for well over a year and I decided I wanted to read something… paranormal – which is the category this trio is most often sorted into on Goodreads.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why. Sure I understood that Mara sudden developed powers over the course of the first book, but still… She just seemed so… normal, I guess. Or rather, as normal as a sufferer of PTSD can be.

Spoiler alert: I actually really liked this book, so let’s talk about it!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. 

She’s wrong.

Let’s talk about Mara

I went through a kind of tumultous relationship with Mara in this book – first I liked her, then I didn’t, then I did again. She annoyed me a lot – which isn’t unusual for a YA heroine, but at certain points I couldn’t bear how annoyed I felt with her. Honestly, I think one of the few redeeming qualities of Mara is that her family seems to keep her grounded.

Otherwise, she seemed like an average girl. There was nothing spectacular about her – other than the fact that she, you know, might have accidentally murdered some people.

Also, one thing I really didn’t like was the immediate hatred toward Mara simply because the “HoTtEsT bOy In ScHoOl” was instantly attracted to her. Jealousy isn’t cute – in real life or in fiction – so I could totally do without that. I get it. They’re teens, but I feel like the “I can only be friends with boys because there’s less drama” is so overdone and cliched. Give us some powerful girl on girl friendships, please.

Noah Shaw – The Bad Boy

Ask me if I know what Noah looks like – the answer is only kinda. He didn’t exactly leap off the page for me. Sure, I understand that he’s typical wonder bread and I guess that’s fine. I just can’t picture him in my head, but I sure can hear him.

Nearly every review I’ve read describes Noah as a jerk. It’s true. He is. But when it comes to Mara, it becomes very clear that he cares about her. A lot of reviews I read indicate a point in a restaurant where Noah orders for Mara. She seems annoyed then, but quickly changes her attitude when the food arrives and it’s actually delicious. It might be rude. It might be inconsiderate. All I’m saying is – I wouldn’t mind so long as the food was good.

I didn’t hate Noah and I actually refuse to hate Noah because he seems like a typical teenage boy. He’s an exciting love interest for a somewhat boring heroine. Nothing really stands out to me about Mara other than she may have a mind ability so it was at least nice to have someone interesting around.

General Thoughts

Overall, I thought Michelle Hodkin’s writing was addictive. Maybe a few mediocre points, but we all have those, right? The book had decent pacing and I was invested from the start. Like I said, I didn’t necessarily hate anyone in the book – except maybe Jude which is too bad because I like his name and Anna because I have no room for mean girls – and overall thought the concept of the story was interesting.

As I write this, I’m preparing to read the next book and if that’s as captivating I’ll continue binge reading the trilogy (and maybe even jump into the Shaw confessions!).

Rating: 4

It fit everything I was looking for when I decided to read it.

Let’s chat!

I know people either love these books or they hate them so I’d like to know your thoughts. Do you have a review that goes in either direction? Leave me a comment (and link your review if you have one!) so I can hear more from you!

Book review | The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

As a 28 year old lady, I understand when books aren’t written for me. That doesn’t stop me from reading them anyway. The Kissing Booth was definitely not for me in that it is probably more geared toward middle and high school girls, but I’d watched the movie (several times) and thought it was best if I also read the book.

Honestly, I wanted to read the book because I couldn’t decide if I liked the movie. Like I said, I’ve watched the thing several times and I still can’t decide if I like the movie! It was definitely time to give the book a shot.

I have some v opinionated thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular–and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile–and a total player. And also Elle’s best friend’s older brother…

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school’s Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer–this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak.

But will Elle get her happily ever after?

Thoughts on the Movie

I’d like to start by voicing my main issue with the movie. Elle, quite literally, brought Lee’s wrath on herself. She was whiny and annoying throughout the entire film. I get it; she’s a teenager and we’ve all be through our whiny teen phase, but this was over the top and a little extreme.

Also, if Lee was really Elle’s bestie, he wouldn’t have been mad that she fell in love with his brother. Disappointed? Maybe. But the level of pissed-offedness in the film was.. Overdone.

Lastly, my issue with Noah in the movie is that he hardly freaking attended school. He is a stereotypical bad boy who gave no indication whatsoever that he even cared about his grades. How in the heck did he get into Harvard?!

Thoughts on the Book

The movie definitely took some liberties in deviating from the book. It’s fine. Here’s my problem… LEE.

While Elle annoyed me in the movie, Lee absolutely pissed me off in the book. He literally gave Elle every chance in the book to fall for his brother by pushing her toward him every single time the opportunity presented itself! Like, “oh my girlfriend wants to go do this after the carnival, can you get a ride with Noah?” Or how about, “Is that going to take you long to clean up? I have to go be with my girlfriend now… maybe Noah can take you home?” How in the frick is Lee gonna be pissed at Elle when he finds out about her and Noah if he LITERALLY ENCOURAGED IT?

Aside from my major and obvious rage at Lee, can we talk about Elle? She literally could’ve just told Lee she liked his brother and saved herself so much drama. I get that it would be a boring book, but the sneaking around crap is just an overdone cliche.

Look, I get that Beth Reekles wrote this book when she was like 15 or something. I really do. And I didn’t hate it (I think). Honestly, I’m still on the fence. It was a quick and enjoyable, though rage inducing, read so I’d definitely recommend it to teens (like it’s meant for) and not really to my fellow 28 year old ladies.

Rating: 🌟🌟💫

Look, I can’t give it a three. I was too pissed off the whole time.

Have you read The Kissing Booth? Did you feel as ragey as me? Have you watched the Netflix adaptatation? What are some of your thorughts?