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Harlequin Teen Double Feature: Two Reviews

Another Little Piece of My HeartAnother Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin ( web | tweet )
Published 12/1/2013 from Harlequin Teen
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: music, summer after high school, breakups
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Despite the strength of her feelings for budding musician Jared, Claire decides to break up with him to make things less stressful for her dying mom. She’s totally devastated but thinks it is the right thing to do. Devastation turns to anger when a song based on their breakup skyrockets Jared to stardom. And what are the chances that on a family summer trip to New Hampshire she bumps smack dab into Jared and a million feelings come rushing back? Pretty good.

I stayed up until 3 a.m. finishing this book.

I think that sentence says it all but here are a few more details about this reading experience. It sounded a bit like Audrey Wait, but unlike Robin Benway’s super funny book, the main character Claire is a musician herself and music is something that her and ex-boyfriend/current rock star always had in common. So not only does she lose Jared when she breaks up with him because her parents never seem to accept him and she’s done dealing with their constant jabs, but when the money for her college is suddenly all gone, Claire doesn’t have much to look forward to when she graduates and Jared seems to be getting everything.

I didn’t love that Claire broke up with Jared because of what her parents wanted, but teenagers make those kind of mistakes so I get it. In the aftermath of her mother’s death, her dad’s poor financial choices, and not letting anyone find out she is the girl in Jared’s song, she takes life into her own hands during a summer vacation to New Hampshire. She gets a job in a grocery store even though her father thinks its beneath her, and she starts to set plans in motion for making her own music dreams come true.

Of course, of course, of course, Jared ends up being in New Hampshire too and with her cousin totally into him, she cannot seem to get him out of her head and out of her sight. The tension here is great because Jared and Claire barely speak to each other but every now and then there’s a little moment where the air was buzzing and I just wanted them to make out already and talk about what happened.

Martin really develops Claire and her background well, and I love how we get bits and pieces of Jared and Claire’s relationship. I wanted them so badly to work it out because their time together was so ultra functional (what?! in a YA?) and they just always had a blast together. My one complaint was the ending: it wrapped up way too fast and all that tension fizzled so quickly. But I still had such a fun time reading it; my exhaustion the next day was completely worth it!

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Anything to Have You by Paige HarbisonAnything to Have You by Paige Harbison ( web | tweet)
Published January 28, 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young adult (FYI: drugs, alcohol, and sex)
Keywords: friendship, high school senior year
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary:  Best friends Natalie and Brooke couldn’t be more different. While Natalie would rather watch movies and cook on a Friday night, Brooke loves to be the center attention at every party. Things change for both of of them after Brooke drags Natalie to a party and old feelings resurface and life as they know it will never be the same again.

Opposites totally attract, and I could see why Natalie and Brooke were such close friends. Brooke’s enthusiasm for everything was super addictive, and Natalie’s thoughtful nature helped to keep her friend grounded. But one party starts to unravel this friendship when Natalie wakes up near Brooke’s long-time boyfriend, Aiden, and she has absolutely no idea what happened between the two of them. Silence and many unanswered questions slowly crack the foundation of Natalie and Brooke’s relationship and the consequences are bigger than either of them thought.

It’s super intense, especially when Natalie starts to remember how she was into Aiden first. She feels totally helpless when it comes to her feelings and has no idea who to turn to.

Harbison utilizes dual POV and I gave a little scream when the book went from Natalie’s story to Brooke’s. I really liked Natalie! Unfortunately, Brooke’s portions of the book were not as well-developed as Natalie’s and I could not hear her as a unique voice. So many of the scenes we had already read are flipped to Brooke’s experiences in them and I’m not entirely sure that was always necessary. It was also very difficult to empathize with a character who would not take responsibility for her own actions, and I did not agree one bit with the blame she placed on others. (I most definitely didn’t agree with those characters accepting this responsibility either.)

Anything to Have You was super fast-paced and I was able to read the whole thing in a few hours. I wish there has been more of a spotlight on certain scenes (especially toward the end) and less of a neat ending. It didn’t justify all the action we had experienced in the book. Plus, the title. I’m still not understanding what it has to do with the book or the friendship between these girls. I wouldn’t have minded a longer novel with a bit more fleshing out because Harbison’s dialogue is so refreshing and spot-on and the intricacies of female friendships are so discussion worthy.

Despite the weaker points, I’m glad I tired out Harbison’s work; I’m ready to dive into her backlist!

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January 28, 2014 - 6:54 am

Judith - Another Little Piece of my Heart sounds good! The fact that you stayed up all night finishing it really does say enough. I love it when books do that. As for Anything to Have You, I totally understand that the dual POV didn’t work out. I rarely like it when there’s more than one POV in a book, because it’s just so hard to get right.

January 21, 2014 - 7:51 pm

Alexa S. - I absolutely adored ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE OF MY HEART! It was such a cute contemporary read, and I really enjoyed watching Jared and Claire’s story play out. I haven’t read ANYTHING TO HAVE YOU yet, but it sounds pretty good too.

January 21, 2014 - 6:57 pm

Ellice - Oh, E. Another book you’ve made me want to buy. Another Little Piece of My Heart sounds like it will be right up my alley! (I’ve also got the Janis Joplin song stuck in my head right now.) So happy to see that you loved it. I haven’t read Audrey Wait yet, but I think I may just have to add that one to my radar. Great reviews.

January 20, 2014 - 11:00 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - You’ve got me excited about Another Piece of my Heart & excited about Paige having another book out.

January 20, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - When I first heard about ALPoMH, I immediately thought of Audrey, Wait! And since I adore that novel, I was hesitant on reading this one. You’d think that would make me WANT to read it, but in this case, I was very, very unsure. It’s good to know my hesitations can be ignored and that this novel turned out to be something you really liked. I’ll definitely check this one out (without reservations, hehe).

January 20, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Hi E! These both sound like really fun books and I agree – as soon as I started reading your thoughts on Another Little Piece of My Heart I was thinking AUDREY WAIT!!! But you mention differences aplenty. I’m like you, though, I would want the same things at the end.

I actually haven’t heard of Anything To Have You but it sounds really interesting. I love the books with the drama sometimes (not always) and I’m curious about Aiden’s role in everything. I haven’t read anything by Paige Harbison but I’ve heard good things! Great thoughts on both of these!

January 20, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - How have I never even heard of Anything to Have You? I don’t even remember seeing it on Netgalley. It sounds interesting, based on your review I’m not running out to read it, but I’ll keep it in mind. I liked Another Little Piece of My Heart, not as much as you did, but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the story and by how well rounded the characters were.

January 20, 2014 - 1:27 pm

Alexa - Another Little Piece of my Heart sounds like such a great story. I do like when authors make the characters take time to be with one another and I do enjoy the tension. I’m sorry the ending was a little fast but it still seems like a good book.

Thanks for the great reviews!

January 20, 2014 - 12:26 pm

Kris (Imaginary Reads) - Eek! Another Little Piece of My Heart sounds like an amazing read!! Anything to Have You also sounds interesting, but I really don’t like when scenes are replayed for us even if from another character’s perspective. It gets old fast. Also, Brooke doesn’t sound like a cool character. Lovely reviews, Estelle!

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