Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Weekly-Wrap Up (25): Bueller?....Bueller?

I really have no new excuses this time as to why it's been so quiet on the blog. Work has been absolutely insane - we're doing a lot of expansion, and yours truly gets to be at the helm of it all. It's awesome, but exhausting, and I find myself barely making it home much less able to blog. this past week, I didn't open my computer from Tuesday to Friday! How ridiculous is that?!

Regardless, I am still managing to squeeze in some reading and author events. It's pretty much the only time I feel sane, so I have to do it. This weekend I am scheduling reviews, and hopefully getting together some awesome event recaps.

In case you missed it...

So, I know there were very few posts. But there was a review of The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass, as well as another giveaway!
This one asks you to tell me your favourite book blog/gers, and you could win 2 signed books! Or at least one, if you're international.

Coming up...
A petite revue of Butter by Erin Jade Lange, regular reviews of How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler and Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard, and a fantastic Waiting on Wednesday post. I'll also tell you my surprisingly reasonable April reading goals!

Onto the books!
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

For signings:
Rootless by Chris Howard
Also Known As by Robin Benway (x2)
Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway

For Review
The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher - thank you Harper and Kristen! So excited!
The After Girls by Leah Konan - thank you Merit Press!

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan - thank you Penguin Teen and Shelf Awareness!

Around the World ARC Tours
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepya

The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance - thank you Macmillan!

And I know it's not books, but it is bookish/writerly! My brother's girlfriend gave me journals for my birthday on the 19th, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Look how hilarious! My other friend Kat also gave me bookends, and I adore them - how cute and rustic! Now to finally build the shelf that they'll sit on...

What books came into your possession this week?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass (ARC)

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
Harper Teen, 336 pages
Expected US Release Date: April 23, 2013
Format: Print ARC
Source: Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
----------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
"But," she continued to Gavril, "if there's one thing I've learned from being in The Selection, it's that some girls have a frightening killer instinct. Don't let the ball gowns fool you," she finished with a smile.

If you don’t follow me on GoodReads, you really should because you would have been treated to these gems:

And if you do follow me, a big thank you and you’re welcome.

If I thought I was frustrated after reading The Selection (for which you can read that entertainment here), the frustration after reading The Elite laughs in my face. It scoffs, even. I was so young, so naïve.

Basically, I found The Elite to be every bit as terribly riveting as The Selection, only a little bit more so since I carried over all my feelings already. There’s so much I can’t stand about Aspen and America, and none of it went away. It grew, even. And there were things added, and I just can’t even talk about it without getting worked up how idiotic I think they are and are being.

Maxon is the only one who saves me from DNF-ing the shit out of this book, and even that had its moments of weakness. He didn’t really grow to me in the novel, but it’s something I overlook since I love him so much anyway. Even though I don’t really agree with some of the things he did in this book, I get it, and I found it interesting enough where I still want to know what’s going to happen in Book 3.

Something I was very happy with in The Elite was how surprising it was to me in terms of plot and action. Nothing completely from left field comes through knocking you off your feet, but it doesn’t quite follow the line you thought it might. I knew generally what would have to happen, but it’s the how and the who that was unexpected and made the story all the better.

I enjoy how we get a little more of a look into the world they live in, and all the civic lessons going on as the girls are made to learn policy and politics, but I still wish there were a little more in terms of the rebels and their environment. Book 1 was definitely lacking in real Dystopian elements, and I have to say the same for Book 2. It tried, and it gets a little better, but it’s just not there. I sincerely hope Book 3, when everything comes to the culmination, finally goes there.

I know that having already stated how much I can’t stand Aspen will probably discredit what I’m about to say, but I had major issues with all his parts because I felt like the author was trying to manipulate me into liking him finally. She was selling him way too hard and explaining how brilliant/sweet/amazing he is, and I hated it. It came down to my usual “show not tell” complaint, in that she needed to make his actions speak louder, rather than a small thing and extend it into something America explained into how it made him a perfect boy. Would it have sold me on Aspen? No, but I would have at least been a lot less annoyed.

I’m going to end this on a happy note: continually the best parts to this series? America’s maids. I love them. And I know they’re one single function, but they do it fantastically and I really like the relationship between themselves as well as with America. There’s one scene with America’s sister May and one of the maids that just made my heart happy, and even though it was a miniscule, vaguely-unimportant one, that’s what stuck with me most.

If you hated The Selection, I don’t think The Elite will change your mind. It’s every bit as frustrating and lacking as the first one. But in the same vain, it has the same drama and intrigue and bad-reality-tv vibe that just makes you care and need to know. No matter how much I gripe and whine about Aspen and America and all the decisions they make, I can’t deny that I fly through the pages and am absolutely DYING for book 3 now. And maybe that doesn’t make it the next great literature legacy, but it does make it something.

3.5 stars

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blogger Love + Birthday GIVEAWAY! (INT, ends 4/21)

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /
Today I turn 26.

Depending on the second, I'm incredibly happy or depressingly sad about it. Which I kind of figure to work into a happy medium of accepting being this old/young and being at the point in my life that I am. It's not quite where I thought I'd be (actually, it's not at all) but I have to admit...I'm actually pretty happy. Maybe there are aspects of my life I'm still trying to change, but overall? I have the love and friendship of so many more people than I ever though I would deserve, and that's all that matters.

I want to spread that love through the book blogosphere too.

Lately it seems there's been a lot of negativity in this little corner of the web, and that makes me sad since my book blog is the source of so much happiness. I mean, it's about books and YA lit and swoony boys and gripping stories! You can't tell me that's not a recipe for happiness. So I want to bring a little positivity, and I hope this will do.

First, please read this post from Jamie, and this post from Jen. They are both brilliant.

Next, I want to list just a few of the book blogs and bloggers whom I adore to no end. For varying reasons: some I know personally and get along with so well, others I admire their honesty in writing and blogging, some I find their reviews to be thoughtful and thorough...some even fall under all of that. Some none of it. Just know that this following list, in no particular order, are some of the blogs that keep me going day in and day out.

Oh! Paper Pages | The Flyleaf Review | The Perpetual Page Turner | Rather Be Reading | Hobbitsies
Anna Reads | Alexa Loves Books | Kate's Tales of Books and Bands | The Fake Steph | GReads
FabbityFab Book Reviews | Music, Books, and Tea | The Broke and the Bookish | Yearning To Read
Makeshift Bookmark | My Not So Real Life | Good Books and Good Wine | That Artsy Reader Girl
Readaraptor | ARCycling | YA Highway | YA Book Exchange
The Prize
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

There will be TWO (2) winners!
One (1) US winner will get BOTH the above books! Both are hardcover, both are signed. (LTSF will be when I see her on the 27th!)
One (1) INTERNATIONAL winner will get to choose either Mila 2.0 or Let the Sky Fall! As long as The Book Depository ships to you, then you are eligible to enter this!

Why Mila 2.0 and LTSF? Because this post is about love and I loved both these stories; and I also happen to love the authors as well. Debra and Shannon are two of the sweetest, most awesome authors I've ever met and I jump for joy every time I get to see and/or hang out with them. They never fail to greet me with a smile and hug, and I want nothing more than to support them any way I can.

This isn't going to be your typical giveaway. Rather than make you do things like following my blog, tweeting, goodreads, etc., I want the focus to be on the LOVE and BRILLIANCE of this book blogging community.
In the comments, tell me a book blog/blogger you absolutely love and WHY. That's it!
Please don't just write "because they're awesome" - true as I'm sure that is, I want to know, for real, why you love this person/person's site. Don't be creepy of course, but tell me why exactly they stand out to you. Maybe you love their writing, or their review style, or their layout...maybe they posted the cutest puppy picture ever and you want it - it could be anything! Make sure you leave the link to their blog too, because I want to know!

(Don't forget to leave if you're US or International, and a way to contact you, too!)

It is my hope that this post will be filled with amazing words and uplifting thoughts. Periodically throughout this giveaway, I'll tweet or message the bloggers you guys mention too, because I think they should know someone out there loves them and what they're doing.

Sound easy? Sound happy and filled with love? Good! Get to commenting!

Extra Entries
Tweeting and/or Following my blog. While I'd appreciate multiple tweets to get more linkbacks to here, only one will actually count. I can't let non-tweeters inflate their chances! Make sure to let me know what option you've done in the comments, too!
[+1] Tweet about this. Make up your own if you want (make sure you link to this post AND tag me though! @italylove19), or you can use this: Celebrate @italylove19's bday! Tell her a book blog you love & win MILA 2.0 and/or LET THE SKY FALL (INT, ends 4/21)
[+1] Follow my blog. Via any way: GFC, Linky, RSS, email, etc - just make sure you tell me how and what name!

All my usual giveaway policies apply, please read them before commenting.
Ages 13 and up only.
May the odds be ever in your favor!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Weekly Wrap Up (24): So, I went to Alaska...

Did you notice I didn't have a wrap-up 2 weeks ago or last week? Probably not, but I'm going to pretend you were all desolate without me so I can tell this story :)

I didn't have great connection the weekend, so I couldn't upload pictures; I wasn't at my house to check my mail or get any books; and then when I did get back I had really busy days trying to catch up on work and general things that got pushed aside. Where was I?

My father lived there during his teenage years, and his sister (my aunt) is still there. When a cousin told us she was getting married and having the reception in Alaska, we jumped on the chance to have a reason to go. My brother and I had never been, and my parents hadn't been back in a long while.
It was AMAZING. It snowed on Saturday (I've never seen falling snow, so I was enchanted), but wasn't really too cold the entire time. For this Southern California girl, that means a lot! I became obsessed with the Totem Poles, too - but that's natural, since all totem poles are stories. Each animal/section is a representation of a larger story, so it became a game to figure out what each one was telling me. The city I was in also has the largest number of standing totem poles in the world, and it was fascinating.
And of course, I couldn't NOT find my way to books...
Even if it is a bit of an unorthodox place, I highly recommend going to Alaska. It's unlike anything I've ever seen, and I can't wait to go back one day.

In case you missed it...
Golden by Jessi Kirby (ARC)
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead (ARC)
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (eARC)
Une Petite Revue: Model Spy by Shannon Greenland
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (ARC)

Other Posts:
Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors
Waiting on Wednesday: The Harper Teen is Awesome Edition
Top Ten Series I Want To Start, But Haven't Gotten Around To Yet
Waiting on Wednesday: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

This honest, inspiring post from Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.

The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop kicked off! I'm giving away a hardcover of Shades of Earth by Beth Revis! US only, ends 3/22.

Coming up...
A petite revue of Butter by Erin Jade Lange, regular reviews of Unremembered by Jessica Brody and Reboot by Amy Tintera, and my birthday giveaway will kick off on the 19th!

Onto the books!
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Again, this is after 2 weeks and many, many book events to prep for!
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (NEEDED a finished copy since I loved it so much.)
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger (for her release party)
Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (for her release party)
for the Lauren Oliver event
Leisl & Po
Delirium Stories: Hana, Annabel, Raven

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis (signed!), from Beth.

Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

from the always amazing Heather @ The Flyleaf Review
Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway

Book Brats Secret Book Swap
Illuminate by Aimee Agresti - thanks Marla!!

Around the World ARC Tours
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard
The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston
The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

thank you Tor, Gallery Books, and Bloomsbury!
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos
Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

What books came into your possession this week?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis! US only, ends 3/22

Welcome to the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, Books Complete Me & author Cindy Thomas

For this hop, one (1) lucky winner will get:
a hardcover of Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis!

US only, ends March 22!
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Make sure to check out the rest of the linky list, there are some great prizes!
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza (ARC)

Mila 2.0 (Mila 2.0 #1) by Debra Driza
Katherine Tegan Books (an imprint of HarperTeen/HarperCollins), 480 pages
Expected US Release Date: March 12, 2013
Format: Print ARC
Source: Borrowed from friend (thanks Natasha!)
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge

Mila 2.0 is the first book in an electrifying sci-fi thriller series about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence.

Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past —that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Mila 2.0 is Debra Driza’s bold debut and the first book in a Bourne Identity–style trilogy that combines heart-pounding action with a riveting exploration of what it really means to be human. Fans of I Am Number Four will love Mila for who she is and what she longs to be—and a cliffhanger ending will leave them breathlessly awaiting the sequel.
------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
I felt that same tiny flare of hope from before...that same rise of breathless anticipation that maybe, just maybe, I'd come to the wrong conclusion, even though I knew better.
"I'm sorry, Mila."
Three words, I realized with a choked sob. That's all it took for hope to die.
Mila 2.0 is one of those books I went into with reservations, because I had wanted it for SO LONG. I had anticipated it so much, had so much hope and expectation, that I was like there is no possible way for it to live up to what I want it to be. I've known Debra for several months at this point (almost a year!) and I adore her, and I was like "can it be possible that this brilliant woman I know in real life translates to the page too!?" It seems impossible.

Oh, but it is not. She does it fantastically, improbably, and so, so amazingly.

If you were to look at my past in books, you'll see one thing in common: contemporary romance. I adore it. I am all about the love stories, the swoon and the emotions and feelings. Something not really there? Action. I don't not like it, I just...I don't gravitate to it at all. Sometimes I think it's hard to read about because I want to see it, sometimes I'm just not feeling it.

Mila 2.0 is 80% action, 20% romance AND I DON'T EVEN GIVE A DAMN I LOVE IT.

This is one action-packed, non-stop book. I swear every other page felt like we were on the run from something, or hiding, or fighting - and the pages that weren't were filled with the delicious tension of waiting for it to happen because you knew it was inevitable. The beginning does start out a little slow (and bitchy - anyone else want to slap Kaylee?!), but power through guys! Trust me that it will pick up, because we have to see the human side to Mila to understand just how difficult it is for her to come to terms that she's actually not one. And even though I do say it's 80% action and movement, the best part is how balanced this entire novel felt. Sure, you're speeding at a million miles a second, but I never felt rushed. I never felt like we were missing important details, and what was given to us is perfect.

I really loved all of Mila's Android capabilities, too - they're so much fun! I loved how she discovered or was told each one, and the part they all played. It was so creative, and her flaw of emotions were brilliant to see. There is one part that I'm not going to spoil, but let's just say we get to see what she's supposed to be versus how she's "too human," and it is fantastic. Such a great additional element to this story.

There's really not much else I can say about Mila 2.0, except this is an amazing debut from an equally amazing writer. You're immediately drawn in, and even though it is a hefty word count (almost 500 pages!), you won't even notice it. You fly through the pages because there's a certain ease to Debra's writing that just connects to you. Seriously, reading this is like watching a movie! There are so many fantastic scenes that have a great tension or emotion or feeling to it, and I can't recommend it enough.

And ok, like I could really do a review without talking about the love interests/boys (even if they are only 20% of the story)! They're not too big of a deal, but the scenes they are in? So good. I can easily fall in love with both of the boys that show up here, especially Lucas. He's got that nerdy scientist hot thing going - at least in my head, anyway haha. Their scenes are short, but meaningful, and I cannot wait to see what part they play in the rest of the trilogy.

5 Stars

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Waiting on: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
meant to highlight an upcoming release we're excited for!

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Bloomsbury Teen, 216 pages
Expected US Release Date: September 24, 2013

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.
----------------Goodreads summary

We all know how much I loved Something Like Normal by Trish, right? If you don't, you can read my review and you'll see. And while I loved SLN because of the military-related elements, I also love her writing and how strongly Trish can write a character's voice. Which is why I'm SO SO SO excited for Where the Stars Still Shine! I can't wait to see what she can write in a situation I'm not so deeply, personally involved in - and I know for a fact I will love it. She is fantastic, her writing is amazing, and this promises to be brilliant.

Also, MAJOR MAJOR COVER LOVE. I am obsessed.

What book are you eagerly awaiting?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Top Ten Series I Want To Start (aka, DON'T YELL AT ME.)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fab ladies at The Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Series I Want To Read...
But I Just Haven't Gotten Around To It.
In no particular order...
(and without fancy photos, as I'm in Alaska/Seattle while I type this and my internet is too spotty to upload those...)

1. The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver
2. The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
3. The Paranormalcy Trilogy by Kiersten White
4. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising)
5. The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
6. The Newsoul Trilogy by Jodi Meadows (Incarnate, Asunder)
7. The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout (Obsidian, Onyx, Opal, Origin)
8. The Raven Boys series by Maggie Stiefvater
9. The Unearthly Trilogy by Cynthia Hand
10. The Monument 14 series by Emmy Laybourne

Which series have you not gotten to yet?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Une Petite Revue: Model Spy by Shannon Greenland (e-ARC)

Model Spy (The Specialists #1) by Shannon Greenland
Penguin/Speak, 224 pages
US Release Date: May 10, 2007
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley - thank you JKS Communication!

Teen genius Kelly James is in a lot of hot water. A whiz with computers, she agreed to help her college RA, David, uncover some top-secret information. After all, she doesn't have many friends and David has always been nice to her. it doesn't hurt that he's supercute and irresistible, too. All she has to do is hack into the government's main computer system. but a few hours later, her whole life changes. she is caught and taken in for questioning, only this isn't your run-of-the-mill arrest. rather than serve a juvenile detention sentence, she accepts the option to change her name and enlist in a secret government spy agency that trains teen agents to go undercover. As if that wasn't overwhelming enough, she discovers that David works for this agency as well And before she even begins to understand what is going on, she's sent on her first mission as an undercover model. And who better to partner with than David himself?
-------------------------Goodreads summary

The Goods
Meeting the Team after Kelly gets her first mission. Hilarious.
The action once they leave the compound.
I love the idea of each one being brilliant in their own way.

The Bads
How cliche is it to have a blonde barbie model girl actually being a computer coding nerd?
Kelly kind of annoys me. She's just not very likable.
Predictable. If I tell you the premise, you can probably tell me the entire story.

The Consensus
A fun read, and I hope I can track down the rest of the series somewhere!

The Recommendation
Check it out from the library when you need a fast, light read.

3.5 Stars / 5

Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (eARC)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press, 320 Pages
Expected US Release Date: March 5, 2013
Format: e-ARC
Source: Publisher, via NetGalley
- thank you!

"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says."So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
------------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
"Did I ruin everything?" he asked.
"Every-what?" she whispered, as if listening might hurt him, too.
Less than halfway through the book, this is the post-it I wrote for it:
(If you can't read my writing, it says: I want to be at the receiving end of all their words.)

Because seriously. Everything Eleanor and Park say to each other are things I dream about having said to me one day. They are the cutest couple together, and I just want to squish them to me and hold them together forever.

I don't remember where I first heard of Eleanor & Park, but the moment I saw it up on NetGalley, I was on that request button so fast - and actual squealing happened when I was approved. And yes, I was at work, but that's ok! Totally worth it.

There's something that immediately draws you to both Eleanor and Park, even though the scene where they meet isn't necessarily a favourable one. It sheds light on what kind of life Eleanor is forced to endure, and it actually doesn't paint Park in the best picture. But still, there's something to both of them that immediately grabs your attention and refuses to let go for the entire duration.

There's a delicious type of anticipation throughout this entire novel. It's not that we're kept waiting, because the relationship isn't stilted or drawn out - in fact, it moves at a fairly regular, normal pace. But the words, the situations that both Eleanor and Park are forced to experience outside of each other; they make the time they are together feel that much more important and worthy of your attention.

I know I'm gushing about the romance here, and that's because I loved it so much - but there is a distinct darkness to this novel, too. Eleanor endures an emotional abuse that's absolutely terrible to read about - from her schoolmates as well as from her stepfather - and it isn't pretty to read about. There is especially one element that was just so adult and horrific that I wanted to weep for her and hold her and protect her. Not to discredit Park and what he goes through, too - while nothing as severe as Eleanor, he has his own problems to deal with, too. And of course, seeing the girl he's growing to love more than he thought possible go through these things can't be easy, either.

But that small line of darkness through the novel makes their relationship shine that much more, too. It's sweet and tender and beautiful and, once again, I just wish I had someone to love me as much as they do each other. It's brilliant to watch this first love grow, and just as heartbreaking when you see it struggle as all first relationships do. This relationship isn't all sunshine and rainbows, despite what I keep typing - there's ups and downs and difficulties and so many moments where I just wanted to yell "NO! YOU BELONG TOGETHER DON'T YOU SEE?!"

There's really no way for me to end this review. I loved this book, I loved this relationship, I loved these characters. They own a piece of my heart.

PS. While I'm a bit young to find a ton of nostalgia in 1986 (I was born in 1987!), I loved all the timely references and them trading tapes and walkmans and batteries back and forth. Kinda made me yearn for the simpler times!

5+ Stars
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