Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

  “I closed my eyes only to open them once more, and make sure it was all still there – the riot of stars above me, this whole other world existing just out of reach.”

Lets start with this. Morgan Matson is a brilliant writer, and just like her first two, Since You’ve Been Gone doesn’t disappoint. It’s about friendship, discovering you and all things summer, it made me feel warm and fuzzy and miss my own best friend.

 “But that was my best friend, the kind of girl your eyes went to in a crowd. While she was beautiful – wavy hair, bright blue eyes, perfect skin dotted with freckles – this didn’t fully explain it. It was like she knew a secret, a good one, and if you got close enough, maybe she’d tell you, too.”

Emily Hughes was shy and timid, and remained on the fringes of her own life, until she met Sloane Williams. Sloane was everything Emily wasn’t; she was loud, spontaneous, and a bit crazy. But having Sloane by her side got Emily noticed she was yanked out of her cocoon, and she dint mind being known as Sloane Williams best friend, it’s what she believed she was. So having Sloane disappear, no call, no note, nothing, shakes Emily’s world. Now all she has is a random to-do list, her last hope to find. And it’s a crazy list. Things, which even post-Sloane Emily, would never do. But she’s desperate, and desperate people tend to do crazy things. With unexpected companions, Emily takes a journey of self-discovery, with startling revelations.

The story, is both simple yet very gripping, following Emily as she tackles this impossible list, you see friendship. The real kind. And how we sometimes depend on people so much that we forget to find ourselves. When Sloane As the story develops and as Emily further discovers herself through the list, she begins to understand her friendship with Sloane better. The initial flashbacks are ones where Emily in a way idolizes Sloane, but as the story proceeds she begins looking at their friendship for what it was, all flaws included.

Morgan Matson has created strong characters, which are flawed in their own right and so believable. The way the friendships develop seems so natural and right, that you get sucked into the story and their lives wanting more. You will sympathize with Emily and feel her loss, you will want to be Sloane at one point, you will remember the time you were as talkative as Dawn, or as outrageous as Collins. And you will definitely want yourself a Frank Porter. He’s not your typical romance novel hero. He’s student body president always with a cause, he’s perfect and righteous and you can do nothing but love him because you know him, remember him in your very class with that calm confident smile and charm.

It was like swimming under the stars, like sleeping outside, like climbing a tree in the dark and seeing the view.It was scary and safe and peaceful and exciting, all at the same time. It was the way I felt when I was with him. “Like a well-ordered universe.”

There is so much to learn from this story and so much to feel. Since You’ve been Gone, sucks you in and when you get out on the other side a part of you has changed. The book was on my mind days after I put it down and inspired me to make my own list for my best friend.

It’s a brilliant read about friendship, identity, growing up and a summer of change, written in the most impeccable style, I can’t express how much this book moved me. It’s the kind of book you want to buy and re-read.

Breathe by Abbi Glines

“I relaxed. “I would imagine in your world, girls are much different than here in the real world. I’m sure if you spent some time with the everyday girl, you would find I am not unique.”

He grinned at me. “The everyday girl is who writes me fan mail and buys out my concerts. They are the girls who yell my name and run after me like crazed animals. You’ve not even tried to sneak into my room and squirt your perfume on my pillow.”

Breathe by Abbi Glinnes is a breath of fresh air that leaves you breathless. It was definitely not what I expected. Though the plot seems cliché, and it is, it’s the emotions that steal the show.

Set in Sea Breeze, Alabama the story follows Sadie White a girl who your heart goes out to from the moment you meet her. Struggling to make ends meet with a very pregnant yet irresponsible mother, she is forced to be the grown up which leads her to take her mom’s job as the house help in one of the posh summer homes of the rich. Which coincidently happens to be the home of teen rock star Jax17559253 Stone ( I wonder why such coincidents don’t happen to me!) It was love at first sight, sending you into their fantasy world romance. Sadie is everything you wish you were, out worldly beautiful, and not a clue of it. Whereas Jax is the incarnation of what you imagined your celebrity crush would be like in real life, sweet, charming, polite with a heart of gold and a face to beat it. He truly is irresistible.

“Just to make your eyes sparkle, I’d do anything. I could give it all up to know you were my girl. Just being with you and listening to your laugh is what makes up my other half. I was lost and cold inside when your heart called out to mine. Now I know you’re the only thing that keeps me hanging on, when the rest of the world seems to come crashing down.”

Abbi Glinnes writes a brilliant romance that touches your heart and pulls at its strings. I had not expected so much passion and love in the relationship, but it was beyond words and left me a bit teary eyed. It seemed like a romance that would last beyond its time and that’s where I found fault in the book. I wanted more. Breathe was a brilliant summer romance set perfectly in the backdrop of beaches and summer parties, but the end left me hanging I had so many un answered questions especially about the Sadie and Jax’s relationship. I couldn’t help wanting more and was utterly disappointed that the rest of the series don’t actually star the two lovers. I wanted to see them battle it out in the real world instead of their pretty little cocoon.

And though it unnevered me the things I felt were left incomplete, it left me thinking of the book much longer than I anticipated which could have been the goal all along.

Breathe is a simple and beautiful romance that leaves you tingly with hope. It doesn’t have a deeper meaning; it isn’t coming of age, it’s just a classic summer romance. I wholly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a sweet book to make your heart dance.

Amplified by Tara Kelly

“Do you have a name I asked?” I asked.
“Yes.” He stared back at me, blinking.
“What is it?”
“Clover.” He looked away and typed something into the computer. His mouth kept twitching, like he was trying to hold in laughter.
“Seriously?”
He pushed his sleeve up, giving me a view of a blue clover tattooed on his forearm. “I’m half Irish.”
And half shithead.

Amplified by Tara Kelly is simply raw passion. It’s new and exciting and rough around the edges but you love it all the same. It’s about dreams and the obstacles you need to face to get over them. It may sound cliché but it really is something else.

The story starts of on a cliché, Jasmine Kiss, a privileged girl from the other side of the hill is kicked out by her father, when she decides on not to go to Stanford and instead follow her dreams of being a musician. She is lost, homeless with nothing but her car, two guitars and amplifier, of which the first has given up on her too, leaving her with nothing but her dreams. In comes the band C- Side, is everything Jasmine waned room included, but she definitely isn’t what they wanted. A couple of lies and half her savings later, she is a part of a band with an ocean faced room. But the real challenge hadn’t started; because the question is now that she’s in will she make it? Or will she crash and take the band with her?                                                                                                    7362638            Amplified is an honest story, you feel for the characters, and want to be a part of their journey, its well paced and leaves you wanting more.

I expected, Jasmine’s voice to be more angst-y in a very typical rich girl way, but she seemed to have her head on her shoulders, walls thicker than stone and a belief in her dream that left me wanting more of her. Her past impacts a lot of what she does; especially how she keeps people an arm length away both physically and emotionally making her more realistic and believable. I love her sarcastic conversations with Sean filled with sexual tension. The romance is cute and not over the top. The other characters especially Veta Bryn and Felix are some of the most original and amazing personalities I have come across in books. They are fresh and so good you will instantly fall for them.

I love books with music in them; I find it enticing how writers entwine music with words, creating a song of a book. There were moments in Amplified where the music brought life to the book making it so much more, but there were others where the descriptions escaped me. It could be attributed to my lack of knowledge of instruments and their technicalities, but I did find myself lost at certain parts. And this wasn’t necessarily a good thing because through most of the book you have Jasmine playing and talking about “bridges, riffs, e-bows, synths” and many other such technical terms which though I got a sense of what they mean, I never really appreciated.

Still the book was a definite fun read with new and different characters, a strong storyline and a fluttering feeling in your stomach that leaves you filled with hope, and a smile on your face. A must read for music lovers, especially those who can appreciate details I dint, and also for those who find musicians irresistible (I mean they have charm and talent, there really is no question).

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson

Here’s the thing you need to know. Here’s a hint from Grown-Up World. There’s no right way. Not really. Just perspective. We choose whether we succeed or fail. We do. It’s all our own spin on it. We create our own definition of success or failure. You can’t hold yourself up to other people’s versions of things. Not society’s idea of things and not other people’s. Your own.

Confession, I love Hollywood romances, the famous guy who has everything on his feet but utterly mistaken, the average girl who can’t bother with celebrities, instant love story. It’s all very grand and romantic, and unlike other stories, it always felt larger than life. So my review may be a bit biased on this, my love for the larger than life celebrity romance, if you find entitled actors annoying take this review with a pinch of salt.

Catch a Falling Star was supposed to be a classic Hollywood romance, with the actor hero, small town indifferent g18527496irl heroine and a movie to bring the two together. So I anticipated that, I was looking forward to a sweet and cute romance with cheesy flirting an easy summer read. But it turned out to be so much more.

Set in Little, California, the story follows Carter Moon, and her little life in this small town, which has been invaded, by Hollywood, and its leading man Adam Jakes. The story follows his three weeks stay where Carter is offered a job to pose as his girlfriend, to clean up Adam’s image, but something happens between them, like it always does in good romance novels, and now it a question on whether or not its real?

Kim Culbertson writes a brilliant romance the chemistry is deep more than sizzling, and fits with the greater scheme of things. The characters connect on a more deeper level, which makes the bond stronger. But Catch a falling Star is more than a romance it’s a coming of age book which makes you take a hard look at your future, and the risk of taking chances.

The book is entwined with stars both real and fake. And the characters absolutely love metaphors especially ones about stars and sky. I loved the way the concept of something bigger than us is connected with the sky and how they seemed to relate everything to the space.

You see the characters grow as the story ensues, them learning about themselves and the world, I love the snippets of advice, creating the feel of growing up and going out there. Carter is a well developed character, who builds up as the story progresses and you slowly understand the world from her perspective. however i felt the same justice was not given to Adam, i had so many questions left for him, i wanted to understand him better but it felt like he wasn’t allowed his piece of justification, we constantly hear, Carter explaining herself but never Adam.

There are so many more things I’d love to say right now, about the characters and plot, but anything more will ruin the book for others. So I’ll refrain, leaving you with this, it’s brilliant, its more than your average romances, there’s something to learn here, there is something to see which is beyond you. We’re all scared of the future, and sometimes we need books to show us things we don’t like admitting to ourselves.

It’s a definite book for summer reading, even if you don’t like the depth, it’s still a fun and fluffy read for a hot day with an iced tea!

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

“It takes a long time to learn someone. It takes a long time to see a person as a whole spectrum, from worst to best—from the mismanaged heartache that lands them in AA to the pancake dinners, from the hurtful things shouted in a dressing room to the huge-hearted strength that only a best friend can understand. Once you get there, it’s forever.”

Open Road Summer is a simple book. The characters though famous, are relatable and easy to get though not always like and the story is as cliché as any other, you’d know the end before you even begin.

I’m not saying these things because I dint like the book on the contrary it was quiet amazing, but lets not be delusion16081202al, you’ve read the story before, Reagan O’Neill is broken on the inside and tough on the outside, Dee is a loveable country star, and Matt Finch is a charming singer with a million dollar smile. And the predictable story begins on a summer concert tour headlining Dee. In comes Matt Finch as the knight in shining amour, latching on to Reagan and Dee’s girl time, and with a boy like Matt summer romances aren’t far away.

It’s a book about friendship. Constantly giving references to past events we are subjected to how deep and genuine Dee and Reagan’s friendship is. We see how truly entwined lives can be with friendship so old and so pure, that one person’s pain becomes the others, and how sometimes the lines between your lives can be blurred.

“His eyes are somewhere between gray and blue, and his hair is somewhere between brown and blond, and I am somewhere between hostile and attracted.”

Then there’s Matt he’s sweet, charming, supportive and all round loveable. He creeps on you with his candor and cheesiness, and you can’t help falling in love. The chemistry between him and Reagan is adorable and leaves you giddy with a smile on your face. I love how kind he is to Dee (Lilah Montgomery) and how flirty he is with Reagan but still how his character has depth and seems to stand on his two feet.

The story is relatable, the friendship, the light and flirt romance, and the rawness of the characters emotions. There’s a lot to the story, but if you’re looking for something you’ve never seen before this isn’t the book. It’s a fun light summer read, easy to finish of in a sitting, you wont be disappointed but you will not be excited either. It’s a fun book, so give it a try on a day you just want to laze around with an easy book.

Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

“You know. I thought about that a lot these last couple of years,” she said in a chocked voice. “About who was there for you. Who held your hand while you grieved for all that you’d lost?”

Mia stays, fast forward 3 years, and it seems the worlds in mayhem because the two aren’t together. Where She Went is a grueling experience said in Adam’s perspective that reminds you why you loved If I Stay, and in so many ways makes the experience better. In the same style as If I Stay, we start of with the present and Adam has it all the rock star dream he always wanted but no Mia. A journey set in one day; it answers a million unanswered questions.

 “There are so many things that demand to be said. Where did you go? Do you ever think about me? You’ve ruined me. Are you okay? But of course, I can’t say any of that.”

8492825Everything is more in Where She Went. Unlike If I Stay where the emotional turmoil is subtle because that’s Mia, she’s subtle, Adam however isn’t. So you’re taken on a loud journey of extreme emotions. The snippets of lyrics help you understand Adam better, and understand the emotions, which he himself can never say. The two books are so similar yet so different, but both were equally brilliant experiences, though I can argue that Where She Went is somehow better. There are elements of mystery that keep you hanging but unlike If I Stay where it was a choice that could change everything, Adam doesn’t have a choice and I think that’s what made me feel for him, the helplessness of his character, he is so broken its almost bueatiful.

 

In Where She Went, Gayle Forman, succeeded in making you feel Adam’s hurt and pain, his loss, his anger and rage. She makes you cry over Adam’s broken heart and his bitter loneliness. She is masterful storyteller and her writing is as lyrical as her protagonist’s, you can sense the music in her characters. You can just feel the passion of their emotions. It’s absolutely absorbing. Her writing style is so unlike anyone else, it never feels too dragged, nothing seems unnecessary, in fact it leaves you wanting more.

 

Where She Went is a realistic portrayal of love and loss and the loss of love. The grieving process and the feeling of hopelessness. But it also shows you hope. In the midst of New York it takes you on a journey of self-discovery and forgiveness and gives you the closure you were looking for.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.

I sit up as much as I can.

And I listen.

Stay, he says.

If I Stay is the sort of book that reminds me why I love to read and why even though I am in tears at the end I still will pick up another heart wrenching book. It left me breathless, reconsidering so many of my life choices, so many of my decisions, quite like Mia Hall. Set in a series of flashbacks, Mia has been in a car crash prior to which her life was next to perfect after which she is left alone. And now all those choices she had to make, all those decisions that seemed so important are gone and all that’s left is one choice should 6564365 stay or leave.

The book reminds me of those personal patch work handmade quilts which people get made of all their special experiences and achievements, with tiny snippets of the person’s life that makes no apparent sense to anyone but them. But its special and even as a spectator, even if you don’t know the whole story it doesn’t matter because you understand its value without truly appreciating it.

It’s a book about choices and moments in life that make those choices, people or one person that can change all your choices. It’s a powerful novel, which leaves you in tears at so many parts; you see how death makes people breakdown but also make them stronger. It shows you how there will always be something to live for even if you think there is nothing at all. It is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make. It made me think about my own death, and not in the melodramic way but in a mature way. I believe in some ways it made me look at death in a different way, and also my life and what I have to make me want to stay.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving. There are a lot of blanks in the story a lot of moments you wished you knew but never did. There is no actual flow not chronological or any other. But just like the quilt only the important aspects are highlighted the ones that will in the end make the choice – stay or go?

 

If you are a part of the YA world, you would have by now heard of or seen the If I Stay movie trailer. At first I was shocked partly because I dint know it was being made into a movie something I usually am in tune with. But then I thought about it and suddenly realized how much injustice the movie would do to the book. The books like a patchwork pulled apart it looks like pieces of cloth put together its beautiful, but unlike a book which could move trough space and time just like your mind a movie couldn’t, so I was disappointed, not that the movie would not be good, but I don’t think it could do justice to the book, which is so amazing. And that was one of the main reasons I decided to write a review of this book despite having read it over 3 years ago, I realized that many people may think of opting out for the movie, and though the movie may be great, I don’t think it could do justice to the book, this isn’t the type of book you can put on-screen.

Gripping, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you’ve lost – and all that might be. So I hope you all opt for the book or at least give it a try before hitting the theatres, it’s a truly spectacular read that will pull your heartstrings and leave you wanting more.