Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: Canary by Rachele Alpine (ARC)

Canary by Rachele Alpine
Medallion Press, 288 pages
Expected US Release Date: August 1, 2013 (tomorrow!)
Format/Source: Print ARC, via Around the World ARC Tours
- thank you!
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete.

But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.
----------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
The desire to belong is stronger than the need to break free.
I'm not usually a verse novel kind of girl, but I have to say - Canary's verse blog entries were fantastic! Definitely my favourite parts of the book. There were some passages that I wasn't a fan of, but I really enjoyed the various ways each post was written and how many different styles the author employed. For an English lit geek like me, I was definitely loving it. And I have to say, she did them so well! They really enhanced the story, and I love how the blog posts tied into the story itself.

Canary was an interesting read for me, in both good and bad ways. The plot itself is fairly typical, and one of my biggest disappointments was how predictable this was. I had the entire thing plotted before I even picked it up, and while I had wished it would surprise me, it just never did. There is one where some people may not expect it, but it was never surprising; and I really missed having that "oh!" revelation with books. I felt like there could be so many opportunities for it in Canary, and it just never came through.

I have to say though, Rachele is fabulous at painting a villain. There are so many "bad" characters in this novel, and each one differs from the other in intricate ways. I feel weird saying I enjoyed the villains - but it's true! They're one of the better parts of the book, because they really make the reader feel something towards them.

I have to mention one thing, because it's me. The military is big in my life (obviously.), and I took some large offense to how ardently Kate and her father were against her brother's enlisting. I was seriously considering putting the book down when it kept coming back up and when they kept rehashing the reasons he shouldn't go. In my world, the military is an honor. It's something you aspire to be a part of; or even if it's not, you stand proud. So when Kate and her father kept saying it was a place for burnouts and losers who had no other future? I wanted to absolutely shred the pages.

But here's the thing, and it took me a few hours to come to terms with it. I have to face the fact that that stance is one that people do have. Even though it is so far from the truth in my world, I finally understand now that how Canary looks at it is also how others do, too. And once I could wrap my head around that idea, I accepted it into the plot and actually started to appreciate how it affects everything. I don't like it, of course - but the part it played was a good one and really brought out some great results. And even when I didn't like it, I did appreciate how they approached it and how each character handled the reactions to the brother's enlistment.

Canary was a struggle for me, at times being brilliant and captivating; and more often disappointing or frustrating. But it's an important novel about speaking up for yourself and learning to be someone - not just a part of others. While I can't endorse it to read for pleasure, I can say you should read it to enhance your heart.

3 stars

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review + Giveaway: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott (ARC)

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Harlequin Teen, 304 Pages
Expected US Release Date: February 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!
Challenges: Contemporary Challenge, Stand-alone Challenge

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
--------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
And still he pulled the pieces of who he is together. He is who he is because of who he is and nothing more and that makes him so special.
I’m not sure a book has ever broken my heart this badly before. And not in the sense of romance/boys are terrible breaking my heart – I mean in every sense, in every way. I wanted to cry so badly for Emma and I wanted to hug Caleb until he fused back together and I seriously just want to wrap this book in an eternal lovefest.

Here’s the brilliance of this book: everything here makes total sense. Which will really only sell it if you start reading, but what I mean is that this book is filled with fighting people who have different opinions on important, life threatening and heart changing decisions – and somehow, magically, every single person is right and simultaneously wrong. Even though you feel like one of them is overreacting, or being unfair to the other – you can’t argue it. It’s all just so true, and that’s what makes this situation so unbearable and hurtful and such a paradox.

The best part to Heartbeat was definitely the characters. There’s such a great strength to each one. Not just stubbornness or a spine to each (though that is also true), but a real roundness to their personality and who they are. There’s a great core to each person, and it really made me feel like each character was real and alive.

Of course, let’s talk the boy: Oh my God I want to love Caleb so hard for the rest of his life. I want to take him under my arm. I want to mend his heart and make him finally believe that he is not a bad person, that he is someone who deserves love. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a character that just made my heart continually shatter to pieces smaller and smaller each time, and is still somehow so loveable and likeable. He is the perfect example of a character who has done bad shit and seen bad shit, but is still not actually bad.

The other shining character for me was Olivia, Emma’s best friend. She was such a great personification of a best friend. And her entire situation is so amazing, because she is undeniably the best friend a person could ever ask for; and yet, sometimes a best friend just isn’t enough, you know? It’s a truth that’s hard to accept, no matter if you’re that best friend or the lucky one who has the best friend – and I love that it’s in a book.

There’s a saying in the American lexicon that says you can be “stuck between a rock and a hard place,” and I think Heartbeat is the perfect example of this. Nothing in this book is easy for any of the characters, and you can appreciate that as a reader and as a human being. The only easy part for me was loving the characters and writing and this entire book.
5 Stars
And thanks to the generosity of Cindy (The Princess Bookie), I've got an ARC to giveaway!
US/Canada only, ends August 14!
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna (ARC)

The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna
Philomel (an imprint of Penguin), 320 Pages
US Release Date: July 11, 2013
Format/Source: ARC, via Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!
Challenges: SARC 2013, Contemporary Challenge

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.
-------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
But Finny stayed right where he was. He didn't bundle me up and put me in the car in the middle of the night or pretend he didn't hear me. He held on and didn't let go. All so that I could.
I feel like there’s been a trend of “smart” books in YA, of books that really delve into the science behind certain phenomena. Some I’ve read I really love; others, it doesn’t quite fit. The Theory of Everything is one that definitely fits into one I absolutely LOVED.

One of my main notes I wrote down was: Chaotic. There is a certain amount of chaos that permeates this entire book, and sometimes it was a little odd or hard to track; but at the same time, it really works and reflects the content well. This is about String Theory and parallel worlds and traveling across time and dimensions – I’d be a little more worried if it were straightforward and clear! Still I should warn that there are some moments where I definitely had to re-read a few paragraphs to reorient myself to what was going on. It was mostly when Sophie was shifting into another world, but a few other times as well.

The entire plot of this novel was so funny and creative, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. I mean, how could you not want to visit a panda-verse and have a panda shaman?! I want a panda guide! Even if he was so frustrating with his riddles and letting her figure things out for herself (guides, man – so unhelpful until you realize how helpful they are). All the dimensions Sophie finds herself in are so much fun, and I love that they’re unique and adventuresome without being terrifying or too old for the novel. It creates this awesome playful vibe as you read, and I loved being in it. Even though at it’s core it’s about her missing father and her search for his love, there’s still a nice happiness and anticipation that moves through all the words.

A lot of that is probably thanks to Finny, Sophie’s new physics-obsessed friend. I LOVE FINNY. Oh my goodness. I have never wanted to snatch a friend out of a novel so badly and keep him as my own. He’s such a loyal, brilliantly funny friend, and he is perfect for Sophie. If I could hug him forever, I would.

One of the only things I had to keep doing was remind myself Sophie is only 14. I can’t figure out if I thought some of the things she was going through were a bit older, or if I thought she should be older to fully understand some of the things going on—but I definitely had to take a few steps back and say “she’s 14. She’ll get there.” It was most obvious when she was just getting to know Drew, since it’s her first real crush and possible-relationship. It was like she was just discovering what it meant to be the object of someone’s affection, and somehow it seemed a bit odd fitting into this whole story about love and how love is possible and cures all.

Can I just say though, there was a quote that I Instagram’d from this book because I LOVE IT SO MUCH:

There were so many things I loved about this book. The weird family and how they fit together even when they were kind of breaking apart. All the lists that Sophie made to get through situations. Even how we kind of know what may happen in the end was satisfying, and I wouldn’t want it to work any other way.

The Theory of Everything has a little of everything in it for everyone: friendship, romance, family, and the overarching lessons of love and how it can literally push things beyond what we know.  You’ll love the people you meet, the places you go, the musical numbers that surprise you, and the panda that guides you.
4.5 Stars

Monday, July 22, 2013

Top Ten Words/Topics/Looks That Are No-Nos

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

Top Ten Words/Topics/Looks
That Discourage Me From
Picking It Up

Obviously, this is a sweeping statement kind of topic. Of course there are exceptions to these - hell, there are so many that I've even linked you to some! But generally, these are the words/topics/looks that make me scrunch my nose and hesitate before I pick it up.

1. Religion/Faith
*Example Exception: Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith

2. Triangle

3. Time Travel
8Example Exceptions: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

4. Forbidden

5. Fae and/or Vampires
*Example Exception: all Shadowhunter books by Cassie Clare.

6. Non-Fiction
*Example Exception: Anything by Mike Sager.

7. Zombies
*Example Exception: Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

8. Steampunk

9. Titles Written in Bubble Letters
Because I am not 9 years old.

10. Covers that are a bright green.
I don't know why. I just really don't like the colour.
Yes, I am aware how unfair this one is haha.

11. Blurbs that call it "the next Hunger Games."
Because I've found every book to say that a liar.

Which words get a reaction from you?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren E. Morrill

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

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren E. Morrill
Delacorte BYR, 256 pages
Expected US Release Date: January 7, 2014

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
----------------------------Goodreads summary

Meant To Be was one of my favourite reads of 2012 (and EVER), and this one sounds like it will be just as amazing. I love this concept of switching lives to escape (loved it even when Model Behavior tried it - YEAH I JUST REFERENCED JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE'S FIRST MOVIE), and can't wait to see what happens with it. Also? I am totally a closet figure skate lover. I love love LOVE the sport, and you can bet your buttons every winter olympics that is all qeued up in my DVR. I also catch all the obscure competitions and love Johnny Weir and may still want to marry Evan Lysacek (stand aside, Vera Wang).

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Little, Brown Young Readers, 272 pages
US Release Date: June 4, 2013
Format/Source: ebook, via author's PR team - thank you!

Challenges: SARC 2013

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
-------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"Sometimes healing isn't about our bodies."
When You Were Here is an intense read, you guys. I have to be frank with you, because I feel like I need to warn everyone. You will cry. Your heart will get tugged and pulled and crushed right along with Danny. You will hope and learn to hope and open yourself up again, just like Danny.

I will say though that I personally have never gone through what he has (thankfully, and I know I’m so incredibly lucky to be able to say that). And I think because I couldn’t connect to these huge, tragic emotions on a personal level, it gave me a certain level of disconnect. Don’t get me wrong: Daisy’s writing is filled with things that made me feel every emotion ever. But there was still a certain amount of third-party syndrome for me, that gave me the feeling of being told a story rather than being a part of it. And I know that’s completely my own personal thing, but it did make me feel a little less towards this book.

However. Daisy Whitney’s writing and this story still made me feel SO many things, right to the very core and into my soul and the depth of my heart’s capacity. Reading this story made me want to tell everyone I’ve ever loved or had feelings for just what they meant to me, because who know when I won’t be able to. It made me want to reach out and connect and let myself love freely because it could all be ripped away or changed in an instant. And that’s a pretty strong reaction to a book.

I was a bit surprised at how quick of a read this was for me! Like I said, it’s heavy and intense and there’s such a range of emotions you go through that I feel like it would be one I have to set down, take deep breathes as I read through, give myself a minute to recover. But I read this in just over a day (factoring in work, commutes, that pesky thing of having to sleep and eat to live, etc.) and was super surprised that I was flying through it all.

I feel for Danny, so much. He’s kind of surly and very broken and so closed off to everyone, but I just wanted so badly to reach through all the walls he’s built and clutch him tightly to me. He felt so real, all of his pain and sorrow, and I honestly cried for him.  These characters are all written so well, so real, and I felt like I could know them in real life, too. Especially Kana, her personality just leapt right off the page and I felt like I could see all her colours and quirks right here.

I will say that the only character I felt a little lost with was Holland. I know what I’m supposed to feel towards her, but she was so pale compared to Kana and all the other characters. The others had such life to them, and Holland was just…someone I was supposed to take as part of Danny’s story. I wanted just a little more dimension to her. Even though…well, that’s a spoiler, but I know the thing that was supposed to. And it definitely gave her more – it just wasn’t enough for me.

Best part ever though? Sandy Kaufax, the dog. I don’t have a pet, but if ever to convince me to get one, it’s Sandy.
4.5 Stars
(PS. You can read an excerpt here!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

[Une Petite Revue] Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury Children, 404 Pages
US Release Date: August 7, 2012
Format/Source: Print ARC (via publisher at ALA 2012), and an eARC via NetGalley

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.
-------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
We each survive in our own way.
The Goods
Also, Chaol. Oh, Chaol. *fans self*
Oh, and Celeana's dresses.

The Bads

The Consensus
I rarely ever (if ever) read high fantasy, but I would seriously read Throne of Glass over and over for the rest of my life. The plot, the characters, the setting, Sarah's writing, absolutely everything is enchanting and brilliant.

The Recommendation
For anyone. Everyone. All. Even if you don't like to read, read it. You'll love it. I swear.

5+ stars
In the interest of full disclosure: (1) I read Throne of Glass last year. Months ago, before it was actually released. But I still wanted to post a "review" because it deserves a little recognition on my blog since I loved it so fucking much. (2) I do know Sarah in real life, we've met on several occasions and she is just as fantastic and amazing as her writing/characters. I adore her. And (3) I know this isn't really a review to contribute anything to her masses of fans, but I had to do it as I gear up to read Crown of Midnight (book 2). Also, I needed Chaol on this blog somewhere.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: September Girls by Bennett Madison (ARC)

September Girls by Bennett Madison
Harper Teen, 342 pages
US Release Date: May 21, 2013
Source/Format: Print ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Challenges: SARC 2013

When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.
-----------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"...I choose to believe it even if it's fake. Sometimes you can locate a truer version of the truth somewhere in a total lie."
When I first heard of September Girls (thanks to #TeaTime with Epic Reads!), I wanted to read it immediately. I’m not super into books that have a weird mystical element, but it sounded like it could be different, intriguing and worth it – plus, the girls kept saying Bennett had beautiful writing! And then reviews started coming in about how weird and odd it was, and I got a little scared. I’m already iffy on the content, and suddenly people I trust aren’t feeling it? This doesn’t bode well.

All those reviews that harp on September Girls and call it strange? Totally correct. This is a bizarre book, and I can’t even explain it fully as to why. The story itself is just so strange and out there, and a lot of the plot I was just staring at the pages thinking, “What?”

But truthfully? I didn’t not like this book. I walked away plenty confused, slightly disturbed, and wholly lost – but there’s still something about it that’s staying with me and appealing to me.

One of the blurbs on the back of the ARC compared the book to a Ned Vizzini one (and we all know how I feel about him), which is COMPLETELY accurate as well. The humor is similar, in that it’s a little crude, a little dark but also totally like a typical guy of that age. There’s a similarity in the character’s world view, and because I am a Vizzini fan, I found it really appealed to me. Maybe it’s weird to admit I’ve got the same humor as fictional 17-year-old boys, but there it is: it was right up my alley, and I was immediately taken with Sam. He had a clear voice, a very clear character, and I appreciated that. True, some of the dialogue and phrases are completely inappropriate; but I felt like some of it was necessary to the character.

Even though I really liked the writing and the technical aspects, I wasn’t quite sold completely on the characters themselves. I wanted Sam to grow up faster, I hated his brother and wanted to bonk him on the head most of the book. The Girls were so odd, and even though DeeDee was supposed to be “different” than all the rest, I just didn’t see it. And I put this as a status on GoodReads, but it still gets to me: what is up with the excessive use of ‘ho’?! Girl-on-girl shaming should not be done, and it was just a wreck in this book. Sure, Kristle is a pretty big slut for a whole hell of a lot of the novel (no matter how “justified” we learn she is at the end), but still – it doesn’t need to be listed 982389402834* times in one paragraph.

Here’s the thing about September Girls, and this is a big reason as to why I didn’t like it and as to why I always will: it seemed to me like a required reading in high school. You know: one that a teacher makes you analyze to death, break it down scene by scene and figure out what the symbolism of the sand is.  I felt like I was supposed to be reading this book on several different levels at the same time, seeing it for what it was while still trying to figure out what my thesis statement would be about it. And I don’t know if I’ve ever really read a modern YA that way. I vaguely felt like there was no point to the novel, but somehow at the same time I feel like I could write fifteen term papers about it, too. It’s confusing and strange and really, I just have to accept that it will always be that way.

One tiny thing that made me laugh though? The references to The Little Mermaid. So sneaky and so cheeky, Mr. Madison. I loved that.

*slight exaggeration. Slight.
2.5 Stars

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (ARC)

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Harper Teen, 320 pages
Expected US Release Date: July 2, 2013
Format/Source: Print ARC, via Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!
Challenges: DAC 2013, SARC 2013, Contemporary Challenge

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.
----------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"Because I'm afraid that once you catch me, the game's over."
When I read Pivot Point by Kasie West, one of the things I loved about it was how it read like a contemporary even though it was a little bit paranormal/supernatural. If she can make a genre that's not contemporary be like one, how amazing would a real contemporary be when it's supposed to be?!


It’s hard to describe how I felt while I was reading this book. I was just so filled with hope and love and terror that it wouldn’t work out and I went at it holding my breathe and just wishing with everything it would work out as I wanted. There are few books that make my heart feel both heavy and uplifted at once, but The Distance Between Us is definitely one of them.

There’s a certain flow to Kasie West’s writing that I just love. It was the same in Pivot Point – I fly through the pages and feel so swept up in everything. She has such a fluid writing style, I can go through half the book without even realizing I’m flipping pages.

I’ll put it out there that this book is kind of…cliché. I mean, rich vs. poor, oh no he’s too privileged and snooty to love me, etc…it’s pretty standard. The plot was never anything that surprised me – perhaps not how I expected it to go, but nothing that was out of left field or completely blew me off my feet. The love story was also kind of predictable, but at the same time I thought that was actually kind of a good thing. The way this book is written, it’s structure – it needs to have that predictable quality, where you know the two main characters will face some struggle and have to fight a little to try and be together.

Speaking of the main characters, oh my gosh I love Caymen and Xander. They were so, so adorable together and I wanted to have “career days” with them and good Lord I didn’t think I could love anyone as much as I love Trevor in Pivot Point but Xander may have stolen the show just a little bit. He’s so thoughtful and cute and creative and CAN HE PLEASE JUST BE REAL?!

Now that THAT’S out of the way…they really are fantastic together, even when they are just friends. Their banter back and forth is super cute, and I felt they fit well. A little too well, but not overbearingly, roll-my-eyes too well. I liked that she was so sarcastic and filled with jokes as a defense mechanism, and he just took it all in stride. He had just the right amount of tolerance mixed with patience and real interest in her, and I sincerely hope that my future relationship(s) will have the same kind of melding and respect there. Sure, Caymen had her doubts and insecurities when it came to Xander’s true feelings and why he would ever love “a girl like her” (aka, poor), but it was all reasonable doubts to have.

Characters I couldn’t stand: Caymen’s mom, and Tic. As people, I found her to be selfish and kind of disrespectful to her daughter, and he was just so icky and gross! Every time he came into the chapter I wanted to shove him out and tell him to take his wandering hands elsewhere. As characters in the book, I actually felt both to be a bit device-y and flat. I can immediately pick out how they’re going to influence the novel, and that kind of sucked.

But seriously, everything else about this book totally made up for it. I want to be a part of Caymen and Xander’s relationship (not in a weird way!). I want to hug them both and follow them on career days and clone Xander for myself. The Distance Between Us is one of those classic romantic contemporary novels that remind me why I absolutely love this genre so much.

4.5 Stars
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