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Magan: Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

book cover of through to you by lauren barnholdt

Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt (twitter | website)
Previously Reviewed: One Night That Changes Everything / Sometimes it Happens / The Thing About the Truth / Right of Way / Two-Way Street
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 256
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: choreography, roller-coaster relationships
Format Read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!)

Summary: Intrigued by a note left on her desk and a few convincing words by the note-writer, Penn, Harper decides to ditch school to learn more about him. Penn is a closed-off guy and Harper desperately wants to strip away his tough-guy exterior to learn more about him.

 

Good golly, Miss Molly. I really dread having to sit down at my computer to write a review about a book that just didn’t resonate with me. But alas, I want to be as honest and transparent as possible so unfortunately that means I have to suck it up.

Through to You was my third novel of Lauren Barnholdt’s to read. My complaints in the past have been that there wasn’t enough depth and character development before the final page was turned. I wanted a higher level of believability. However, those continue to be two of my biggest complaints after completing this novel.

Harper is a girl who flies under-the-radar; she has one best friend, is a good student, and is going to audition for a spot in a prestigious choreography program. Penn randomly walks by her desk in the one class they have together and drops a note on her desk that reads, “I like your sparkle.” This is the introduction to Harper and Penn’s very roller-coaster-esque relationship. Harper doesn’t know why Penn would leave her the note. Penn doesn’t know why he left the note for Harper. I immediately felt disinterested in Penn. What were his intentions? Did he want to lead her on or was he really interested? Prior to that one moment, the two of them had never spoken. My gut told me that Penn wasn’t to be trusted.

After an awkward hallway conversation, Penn convinces Harper to ditch school. She’s intrigued by this boy and seeks to know why he would leave her the note. They have very little to discuss, not knowing much about the other or what common interests they have. She was such a gullible character to blindly follow this boy she knew so little about. As she learns more and more about him, as he proves that he’s unstable, moody, and hard to relate to, Harper takes on a savior complex. Though she knows she should back away, she repeatedly falls victim to his half-hearted apologies. Penn was confusing and angsty, and while he would make Harper feel useless and seemed disinterested, she continued to push aside her anger and was too easily swayed by her need to fix him. (Though he rarely shared information about his personal life, so she was never quite sure what needed to be fixed.)

Ideally, I would have liked for Harper to have had more of a backbone, more strength. For all these other interests she had, choreography per se, there’s very little of her actually working on those things that she’s passionate about. The girl I got to know tossed all of those things aside and became fixated on the unobtainable boy. Overall this would have strengthened the flow of the story so that when the day arrives for Harper to audition, it doesn’t seem out of place for the sequence of events to occur.

While Through to You is a very casual read, it doesn’t exhibit the type of relationship I’d like to see teenage girls (or anyone for that matter) pursuing or idolizing. I want to read strong stories about girls who are chasing boys that aren’t disinterested and stringing them along. I want to see girls who are still able to stay true to themselves and boys who make an effort to do better for that girl, not encourage them, repeatedly, to skip class and cast aside all responsibility.

Unfortunately, Through to You wasn’t a hit for me. If you’ve read it and you saw things through a different perspective than mine, please share your thoughts below. I’m always, always curious to know if I missed something when I didn’t connect with a book.

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July 22, 2014 - 4:02 pm

Magan - Nicole, I agree. Don’t start with this one. It didn’t feel like the kind of relationship that I want to be promoted. I know they exist, but I guess I’d like to see a bit more of a positive example.

Alexa, warning bells for sure! I say if you’re already alarmed, then it might not be the book for you.

Thank you both for your comments!

July 4, 2014 - 9:12 pm

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - I’ve been meaning to give Barnholdt’s books a try for a while but just haven’t yet. If I do, I don’t think it will be this one I pick up. This doesn’t seem like the type of relationship I’d root for either.

July 3, 2014 - 8:03 pm

Alexa S. - Oh dear. Oh my. Reading your review of Through to You made me a little sad! It sounded like such an interesting story when I read your summary. But your thoughts on how this relationship (and the two people involved) were portrayed definitely raises warning bells for me! This isn’t the type of relationship I’d want to read about either, personally.

Estelle: In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

In Deep By Terra Elan McVoyIn Deep by Terra Elan McVoy web | tweet )
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon Teen
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: swimming, competition, grief, addiction
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: School work, friendships, family, romance — nothing is going to get in the way of Brynn’s swimming. Living for practice and not caring too much about everything else, all Brynn wants to do is best her times in the pool and land a scholarship for college. But is her training and focus a bit out of control?

A theme in many of more effective books I’ve read this year lately is complicated main characters. I like to remind myself that I am never going to agree with or understand why any one person does something. Not even some super close to me. That’s just about how I felt about Brynn, a supporting character from Terra McVoy’s 2011 novel, The Summer of First and Lasts, who steps to the forefront in the addicting and complex In Deep. (Note: I didn’t much remember Brynn from an earlier reading of TSOFAL but, FYI, In Deep takes place before it.)

Brynn is a risk taker. She loves to egg on her best friend, Grier, and, in turn, loves to do stupid shit herself. She basically fills up her time with anything she can before returning to the place she feels the best — in the pool — working to perfect for times and feel like a winner. With her dad suddenly dying a few years ago and her unhappiness with how her mom handled the entire situation, she has basically shut everyone out. Sure, she says hi and bye and allows herself to play silly games with her stepdad in the car but, despite the title, it doesn’t go deeper than that.

It’s hard for me to explain why Brynn acted the way she did. Was she jealous when Grier met a new guy and completely ditched her? Why couldn’t she let Charlie be good to her and accept that he wanted more from her than just sex? All of this work focusing on swimming, not caring about schoolwork, not being honest with Grier — it was all bound to come to explode at some point, right? I mean, that’s the thing. In Deep felt like a ticking time bomb. I was on the edge of my seat wondering what all of this debauchery was leading up to, but, at the same time, completely charmed by Brynn sometimes too. Like the way she dispensed useful advice to her school friend, Kate. Or how admirable her work ethic was when it came to swimming.

But that’s the thing. Our life can’t be just one thing. No matter how good it makes us feel, balance is key to our well-being. I worried that Brynn was filling up her time with some very damaging habits because she was hiding from her mom, hiding from the death of her father, and never truly dealing with any of it. Just like McVoy did with Criminal, she completely immersed me in a world that felt dangerous: emotionally and physically. But there were also so many layers to Brynn’s behaviors and routines, so many shades of gray, that I found myself wanting so badly to be able to discuss all my thoughts with someone. My mind was all over the place — in a good way.

I love to be challenged in my reading, and I’ve grown to love McVoy’s writing with every book I experience because not one of them is the same. She is constantly stretching my limits as a compassionate reader, and introducing me to characters and situations that make me consider possibilities  in my reading I never have before. Sure, there is something to be said about knowing what to expect from an author, but being surprised and satisfied? There’s nothing like it.

In Deep is dark and messy; it’s a story about how we can abuse control and routine, using it to shield us from the moments that catch us off-guard and what we do to fill an impossible void. Terra Elan McVoy continues to deliver memorable, authentic characters (leading and supporting) and moments that cause you to question your own convictions and press pause on just about everything in life until you reach the last page. (And then you won’t be able to stop thinking about it so… it’s never ending — in a good way.)

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July 3, 2014 - 8:26 pm

Alexa S. - Let me just get this out of the way first: WHY MUST YOU BE A TRIAL TO MY WALLET? Okay, ahem, this review is amazing. I love how you were able to convince me within 3 paragraphs to want this book, stat! But seriously, 2014 has also been the year of difficult, complex, real characters for me – and Brynn sounds like one I could appreciate. This book is now on my July books to buy list!

July 2, 2014 - 2:34 pm

Cassie (Happy Book Lovers) - Ooo, this looks really intriguing and I haven’t heard anything about it! I absolutely love complicated characters and characters that don’t have the most likable personalities. I’m definitely putting this on my list to read!

Big Kids’ Table: Books Equal the Best Accessories

 

big kids

It’s Monday so I’m feeling rebellious. That’s right. I chose books by their covers. NO ONE THROW THINGS AT ME. Basically, I was in the bookstore last week, checking out the New Fiction table, and stumbled upon some beautiful looking books. Not just beautiful but bright and eye-catching. When it comes to summer, I am about bright sundresses, nail colors, lips, sunglasses… everything! I love love color. So today I want you think of these books as some gorgeous piece of clothing in a shop window or even the best looking umbrella on the beach…

Because regardless of what we are taught, a good cover is a HUGE reason why we pick up a book in the first place, right?

Let’s see what we have today…

For Once in my Life by Marianne Kavanagh

This image doesn’t do the book cover justice. It’s so so so bright!

Description from GoodreadsMeet Tess.  A vintage clothes–obsessive, she’s trapped in a frighteningly grown-up customer relations job she loathes. Still, she’s been dating the gorgeous accountant Dominic since university, and has a perfectly lovely flat, which she shares with her best friend, Kirsty. But if her life is so perfect, why does she tear up whenever anyone mentions her future?

Meet George. He’s a brilliant jazz musician who spends almost as much time breaking up fights between his bickering band mates as he does worrying about his ailing father and living up to his stockbroker girlfriend’s very high expectations. For a guy who has always believed in romance, the grim practicalities of twenty-something life have come as something of a shock. Seemingly always on the verge of a big break, he’s looking for something more…something special.

They just might be two halves of one perfect whole. Now, if only they could manage to cross paths…

(I actually chatted about this book in my Shelve It from this weekend.)

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

Great font and colors, right?

Description from Goodreads: In a one-bedroom-hall-kitchen in Mahim, Bombay, through the last decades of the twentieth century, lived four love-battered Mendeses: mother, father, son and daughter. Between Em, the mother, driven frequently to hospital after her failed suicide attempts, and The Big Hoom, the father, trying to hold things together as best he could, they tried to be a family.

Bonus: I’m seeing a ton of 5-star ratings on Goodreads.

Mood Indigo by Boris Vian

Oh gosh. I realized I was so blinded by these colors that I fell for a movie tie-in cover. Can you blame me? As soon as I saw that sky, I imagined doing a NAILED IT based on it. Anyway…

Description from B&NFirst published in 1947, Mood Indigo perfectly captures the feverishly creative, melancholy romance of mid-century Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Recently voted number ten on Le Monde’s list of the 100 Books of the Century (the top ten also included works by Camus, Proust, Kafka, Hemingway, and Steinbeck), Boris Vian’s novel has been an icon of French literature for fifty years—the avant-garde, populist masterpiece by one of twentieth-century Paris’s most intriguing cultural figures, a touchstone for generations of revolutionary young people, a jazz-fueled, science-fiction-infused, sexy, fantastical, nouveau-decadent tear-jerker that has charmed and beguiled hundreds of thousands of readers around the world. With the help of Michel Gondry and Audrey Tautou, it is set to seduce many, many more.

A Girl Walks Into a Wedding by Helena S. Paige

Not only is this cover fun but this book is one of those “choose your own adventure” books…

Abbreviated description from B&NYour best friend is getting married and she’s asked you to be a bridesmaid. You have so many decisions to make. . . .  You also have to navigate through the bachelorette party, the bride’s wedding jitters, the dress from hell, and more. Perhaps the most tempting option is to flee the entire affair with a tall, dark stranger . . . or maybe an old friend who could surprise you with a sizzling encounter. You make the decisions—a wild ride is guaranteed.

Ten Things I

It’s interesting how many of these book started out with a toned-down cover and released a second, more vibrant one!

Description from GoodreadsAbout to turn thirty, Alice is the youngest of three daughters, and the black sheep of her family.  Drawn to traveling in far-flung and often dangerous countries, she has never enjoyed the closeness with her father that her two older sisters have and has eschewed their more conventional career paths.  She has left behind a failed relationship in London with the man she thought she might marry and is late to hear the news that her father is dying.  She returns to the family home only just in time to say good-bye.

Daniel is called many things—”tramp”, “bum”, “lost.”  He hasn’t had a roof over his head for almost thirty years, but he once had a steady job and a passionate love affair with a woman he’s never forgotten.  To him, the city of London has come to be like home in a way that no bricks and mortar dwelling ever was.  He makes sculptures out of the objects he finds on his walks throughout the city—bits of string and scraps of paper, a child’s hair tie, and a lost earring—and experiences synesthesia, a neurological condition which causes him to see words and individual letters of the alphabet as colors.  But as he approaches his sixties his health is faltering, and he is kept alive by the knowledge of one thing—that he has a daughter somewhere in the world whom he has never been able to find.

So what do we think any keepers in this group? Four out of the 5 books are strong contenders for me. (Not sure “choose your own adventure” is something I want to try again.)

What about you? What’s the last book you picked based on a cover?:)

Thanks for checking out this month’s Big Kids’ Table! ♥

July 3, 2014 - 9:00 pm

Alexa S. - I’ll admit to being suckered in by pretty covers! My favorite of this post is For Once in My Life, because the cover is so bright and has the same (ish) color scheme as my blog. Plus, the story sounds fantastic ;)

July 1, 2014 - 10:01 pm

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) - I have never been ashamed about judging books on their cover! I support this! It only rarely bites me in the butt!

I love these covers so much. I love that they are bright and colorful and cohesive. They would have drawn my eye too! (:

July 1, 2014 - 7:54 pm

Casee Marie - I could definitely go for more tie-in editions if they looked like Mood Indigo! It’s so pretty. I haven’t read the book, but I want to. And the film has me excited – LOVE Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris. :)

June 30, 2014 - 5:33 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I really love that cover for For Once in My Life. And it’s better in person? Amazing.

I’m always picking books up because their covers interest me.

Shelve It: A Pre-July 4th V-Log

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

Hello! I know, two weeks in a row of Shelve It? What?!? I find it motivates me more when I do these + it’s been forever since I’ve done a v-log. (Don’t ask me about Instagram videos though… I am a wreck at those. How how how do you say anything in just a few seconds? M is my hero.) Anyway…

Good weekend, so far? I can’t believe it’s Sunday evening. I did so much walking yesterday, did a little reading, and I’m excited to settle in for the evening and also share what’s been hitting my mailbox this week. Some very exciting details that are making me wish for a reading vacation. Do those exist?

Before you check out the v-log, we wanted to wish Rachel (you may know her from Hello Chelly) a very very very happy birthday! She’s one of the sweetest, loveliest people in the world! Yay Rachel! xo

Bought:

Summer of Yesterday by Gina Triana
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

From Atria Books:

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Out 7/1)
The Price of Inheritance by Karin Tanabe (Out 8/5)
Charlie Glass’s Slippers by Holly McQueen (Out 8/5)
For Once in My Life by Marianne Kavanagh

From Harlequin:

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Out 7/29)

From Scholastic/Chicken House:

Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais (Out 8/26)

From Random House/Crowne:

Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

On the blog this week:

The Promise by Robyn Carr: lovely small town + sweet romance!
A favorite of 2014: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker: Nashville, country music, families, oh my!
Fan Art by Sarah Tregay — not exactly what I was hoping for.
A collaborative country music OPEN ROAD SUMMER playlist for your enjoyment!

Thanks so much for checking out my Shelve It v-log today! I actually did that one in 2 tries! Woo hoo!

So now it’s your turn. There’s ONE question you can answer from my vlog and now here’s another: what did you buy this week??

July 3, 2014 - 9:16 pm

Alexa S. - YAY, YOU GOT BRUNETTE AMBITION! (And yes, I know that this makes my Lea Michele fan status clear to the world, but I LOVE HER.) I haven’t read it yet, but I plan on possibly doing so during this long weekend ;) I’m also going to be reading After I Do soon, which will be my first Reid book, and I’m very much excited to do so. And The Good Girl, and Charlie Glass’s Slippers too! Looks like we’ll both have a happy reading month :)

June 30, 2014 - 9:01 am

Big Kids' Table: Books Equal the Best Accessories - […] (I actually chatted about this book in my Shelve It from this weekend.) […]

June 30, 2014 - 8:43 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Oh my gosh, your bangs are sooo cute, Estelle! I’ll have to check out Lea Michele’s album. Also, Summer of Yesterday! I definitely need to check that one out, even if the Disney details are small.

June 29, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Leah - First things first: flawless hair is flawless. I’m seriously loving your bangs. haha, mine are in DIRE need of a trim – they’ve got this awful Farah Fawcett flippage going on. (& are we nail twins?? That looks a lot like Julep’s Harriet!)

I looove Atria! When I made that post a while ago about my go-to imprints, they were my first thought. I have fantastic luck with their books! Okay, so when you first showed After I Do, I instantly thought of Forever Interrupted. TOTAL DERAIL HERE, but I just added AID to GR & saw that Hannah gave BOTH books 5 stars and I basically have the exact same taste, so I need to get on these STAT.

The Price of Inheritance caught my eye the moment I first heard about it. I’m a biiig fan of art/artist/art-related things in books, so I cannot wait to see what you think!!

So according to GR, For Once in My Life is already on my To Read list and, reading the summary again, yes yes yes! It sounds cute and summery and fun.

Shelf Awareness kept advertising The Good Girl and it sounded great. What has me even more intrigued is that GR’s Readers Also Enjoyed has Dear Daughter listed and I plowed through that. YAY THRILLERS. I’m a little confused though – GR lists DD’s release as July, but my copy says August. ??? Either way, definitely one to keep an eye out for!

I’ve been curious about Wiggs for a while – ladies buy her books by the armload at work! – and this one immediately appealed to me (I’ve got this crazy dream to become a beekeeper & lucky for me, Pittsburgh has lots of classes!).

Estelle: The Promise by Robyn Carr

The Promise by Robyn CarrThe Promise by Robin Carr web | tweet )
Part of the Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 363
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, medical practices, single parents with children, big families
Format read: ARC paperback from Little Bird Publicity. (Thanks!)
We last reviewed: The Chance by Robyn Carr

Summary: Peyton hopes to find a little reprieve in Thunder Point, after feeling dejected and unappreciated by the man she thought she loved for the past 3 years. She takes on a short-term job at a clinic with a widowed doctor, Scott, who goes above and beyond his call of duty in this small town. Peyton has sworn off guys for awhile, and Scott hasn’t seen anyone seriously since his wife died. Is there something between the two?

Remind me to visit the Pacific Northwest soon, okay?

Thunder Point books always get me revved up about small towns near the water, cute bars to catch the sunset, paddleboarding, nature, and some of Carrie’s fine foods. (Okay, I know this part is just fictional but I can assume there’s an adorable locally-owned food spot there in real life, right?)

Robyn Carr skillfully welcomes readers back to Thunder Point while comfortably ushering in the new ones in the tale of Scott Grant, widowed father of two and town doctor. If you’ve read a few of the books in the series before this one, you might know him a bit already. Since his entry into this beloved community, he’s popped up here and there — never digging deep enough into his story. So I was happy to finally get a chance to know the guy, and, my gosh, is he a total saint or what? He singlehandedly cares for the all the people in town, even if this means not making a ton of money. You see, Scott’s not concerned about that. He came to Thunder Point to give his children a safe, happy life and he doesn’t mind giving back.

You can’t blame him either. The town is a family within itself. You see it in how everyone cares for the other, and how easily they welcome brand new Peyton into the fold. (Okay, sure, they are a little gossipy but it’s charming! None of it is out of malice.) I think Peyton is a little taken aback by this altruistic little town and who could blame her? She spent the past three years being treated like a permanent maid to her boyfriend and his ungrateful children.

It takes some time and a very funny misunderstanding for Scott and Peyton to wake up to how perfect they might be together. As always Carr balances out the sweet romance with some fantastic side stories — truly rounding out how just lovely this town is. Lovely and constantly changing. Some of my favorite parts of this book were meeting Peyton’s huge family who run a super successful farm and treasure hard work and each other so much, and an absolutely adorable campfire scene. Best of all, Carr makes Thunder Point feel like a real place with every book in the series; I liked how this one touched on how dedicated the townspeople were, working two jobs to make ends meet.

So if you are looking to take a trip to the West Coast this summer where the people are always ready to lend a hand and share a smile, I suggest you jump on the Thunder Point train as soon as possible. As Peyton says at one point in the book: “This is a nice place to fit into.” She couldn’t be more right about that!

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July 3, 2014 - 9:56 pm

Alexa S. - I so, so agree with every single thing you’ve said about The Promise, and the Thunder Point series overall! Seriously, it’s one of my favorite contemporary romance series. The setting is stunning (and I would love to visit Cooper’s beach bar!), and the characters have just wormed their way into my heart. LOVE IT!

June 29, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Rather Be Reading Blog Shelve It: Pre-4th of July - […] Promise by Robyn Carr: lovely small town + sweet romance! A favorite of 2014: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker: […]

June 28, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Leah - WEEPING and KICKING myself right now because I’m slacking with this series!!

June 27, 2014 - 11:54 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - I’m behind on this series! I need to catch up pronto.

June 27, 2014 - 10:40 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I know what you mean about the Pacific Northwest. I’m not usually that interested in visiting the west coast. California I could leave or take. But the PNW – yest please!

I haven’t read any of Carr’s books, but I adore romances and small towns. I will definitely have to look into this one.