Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: absent parents, intense romance, secrets
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss.
Summary: With her parents otherwise occupied with her adoptive brothers, Gannon is used to living pretty much on her own. Despite the support of her coworkers and a friend who really cares, Gannon detaches a lot until she meets Brooks. For the first time in a long time, someone is paying attention to her and wants to be with her. It’s not like her coworkers and friend. He’s fixated on her. Together, they jump straight into an intense, addictive relationship filled with secrets and deceit, as well as the overwhelming need to start fresh.
Christa Desir isn’t the kind of author to beat around the bush. I learned that when I read her haunting and real Fault Line. Almost a year since I first tried out her writing, Fault Line continues to be a book I think about a lot. Needless to say, I was anxious to see what she would have in store for me with Bleed Like Me.
If you are looking for intense and gritty novels out of young adult, I urge you to find Christa’s books. You will absolutely devour them, even as heartbreaking and painful as they are. Bleed Like Me tells us the story of Amelia (called Gannon) who is living with her parents and three adopted brothers. Until her brothers came along, she had been the pride and joy of her household but her brothers have never assimilated well to their home and the attention of her parents has shifted to them exclusively. Gannon gets lost in all the yelling between her parents about how to raise these kids, and all the scheming and disrespectful actions of her brothers. This situation in Gannon’s backstory is a difficult one to fathom; it doesn’t seem like there was a way out. Her mom continues to coddle the boys, the dad detaches himself from their home life, and Gannon is left to observe all of this from a distance.
It’s no surprise that Brooks’s attention intrigues her, except it kind of is because she has a girlfriend who seems to really care for her, and two coworkers who watch her back as well. But I believe years of her parents forgetting her and the breakup of the family she always knew really affected who she attaches herself to. Brooks is direct in an almost creepy way, but she cannot stop thinking about him or stay away from him. She needs him too quickly. He takes possession of her so swiftly, and it makes her feel something, like her cutting; two practices she can’t seem to give up. Desir does not shy away from the graphic cutting scenes either. I was, unfortunately, having lunch when I read the first one and I felt so sick.
In a book like this, readers are prone to realizing the danger the main character is in before she does. You want to warn her. You want to tell someone she knows. But you also know it doesn’t matter what you or someone else says. Gannon is one determined person when it comes to Brooks and time apart makes her dependence on him grow even more solid. Anything she sees in her future spells “Brooks”. Here’s the thing about him, though: as possessive he is, I didn’t think of him as the bad guy. He had his own baggage to deal with. Part of me blamed Gannon’s parents for not paying attention and part of me wanted Gannon to realize her life could not go in this direction and be okay. Obviously, a hurricane of emotions for this reader.
Basically, I sat back and let Desir take me on a ride I knew would come to a screeching halt in some way. This author has the power to suck you into the scariest of situations and keep you interested all the way through. Most importantly, without there having to be a lesson with a big red bow at the end. My biggest takeaway from this book was that sometimes the adults in our lives do not do well by us. When things get bad and they are forced to wake up, they still don’t. It’s up to us to decide what we do next and hopefully part of that conclusion, however shaky the ride is, includes acceptance.
Add BLEED LIKE ME to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Review of Fault Line
Did you guys have the best weekend? I sure hope so. I’m writing this early so I’m trying to predict the future. I am going to have fun catching up with Maggie on Saturday afternoon. I will read two of my library books and one of my actual review copies. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress because you are dying of curiosity, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?
As you will see in my video, I’ve spent a lot of time going to the library lately. That and the fact that my new job is VERY far away from the B&NI would frequent every month, my wallet is looking good in that department. I’ve also been getting a lot of exercise (as you will see in my video) and well, just watch the video, will ya??
Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley (Magan’s review)
Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
Wildlife by Fiona Wood
If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farzian
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer (Pop! Goes the Reader’s review)
In the mail!
Rain Reign by Ann Martin (this is actually out 10/7/2014…oops!)
Boys Don’t Knit (In Public) by T.S. Easton (out 3/24/2015 from Feiwel and Friends)
Last Train to Babylon by Charlee Fam
Five Summers by Una LaMarche
Only Everything by Kieran Scott
On the blog:
Buy It: Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian
Why in 5: Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan
Ten Fifteen Tuesday: Tough Subjects in Books
Buy It: Complete Nothing by Kieran Scott
September’s Big Kids’ Table with Leah from The Pretty Great Gatsby
So spill the beans! Whatcha reading? What’s new?
Hope all you have a super week! Thanks for stopping in!
In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins ( web | tweet )
Part of the Blue Heron series.
Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Target audience: Adults/romance fans
Keywords: old loves, new loves, small towns, California, cops, wine
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: When Emmaline gets an invitation to her ex-fiancee’s wedding, she lands a “date” with the most eligible bachelor in Manningsport — Jack Holland. They play hockey together, see one each other at the town bar, but it’s never gone further than friendship. Jack is dealing with the aftermath of his efforts to save some teenage boys in a horrible accident, and needs a break from being treated like a hero when all he can think about is the one kid left in a coma. Can these two overcome their pasts and look toward the future together?
Kristan Higgins continues to weave her magic spell on me, folks. I’m totally hooked.
In Your Dreams brings us Emmaline and Jack — two people who live in the same town and are just passing friends. Over the course of the book, we learn that both characters are thrown into situations where they are forced to see the rawest part of the other. For Emmaline, she’s the cop on duty when Jack saves teenagers from an accident, when their car plunges into water. Later, Jack agrees to accompany Emmaline to the wedding of her ex-fiance and sees for himself the tension caused by her family and her insecurities sparked by her ex-fiance.
This is another area where Higgins excels. It’s not all about the chemistry or pushing her couples together but she really creates a backstory for each of her characters. Jack’s heroic gesture connects to his past, and is also affecting his present. He’s having nightmares, some shady things are going on, and he can’t confide in anyone. Not even his clingy ex-wife who is back in town and hoping to make amends. Jack is just SO nice. Too nice. Even Hadley’s reappearance doesn’t bother him (on the outside). He’s so polite, and helpful that it’s pretty much a curse because she is not one to get a hint.
For Emmaline, her parents are constantly on her case about her job as a cop and how they know she’s gay, and why doesn’t she come out already? They’re therapists and very judgmental and so frustrating. I was continually flabbergasted by how heartlessly they treated Emmaline, and how quick they were to disregard how she really felt. No wonder she had so many walls built up. Her parents paired with her ex-fiance (now that was a story)? It’s amazing she didn’t move to Fiji and change her name. (Okay, that’s dramatic but still. I felt bad for her.)
Somehow Higgins makes Jack and Emmaline’s pairing as unexpected and natural as possible. Emmaline knows that Jack is going through some rough stuff, and he has seen firsthand what kind of crap she is trying to dig herself out of. But it’s the resistance from Emmaline that makes this relationship so freaking sexy. Jack practically has to beg for her to go out on a date with him, and it’s pretty adorable and delectable. I loved how sarcastic and funny Emmaline was amongst the town, but also in her own head. That’s the thing about Higgins’ books. You have to be prepared to be swooning one minute to giggling the next. I can’t think of another romance author who succeeds at both so well. Jack and Emmaline made me fall in love with her work all over again.
Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon | Review of WAITING ON YOU by K. Higgins
⇒ ⇒ GIVEAWAY! ⇐⇐
Hi! Little Bird Publicity has one copy of In Your Dreams for me to provide as a giveaway! Please leave a comment below to be entered. I will pick a winner on October 10, 2014 11:59pm EST. You must be 13 years old to enter and live in the United States. Good luck!!
Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Friendship, post-high school decisions, family life
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: After an intense summer romance, Sean is starting his senior year of high school single. He works at a thrift shop, reluctantly helps his future sister-in-law with wedding tasks, and sets his sights on joining the Marine Corps. Sean secretly gets the ball rolling, never thinking he has any reason to stay in town post-graduation.
After purchasing Carrie Mesrobian’s Sex & Violence back in February, I never imagined that Perfectly Good White Boy would be my first time officially reading her. (Though, I’m hoping by the time this review publishes I will have read my copy of her debut book.) But I’m glad this title finally got my butt into gear. For once, high expectations did not ruin my reading experience. Perfectly Good White Boy was that good.
Sean is a senior in high school, recently moved into a rental with his mom. His dad is off to rehab. His older brother is engaged to a bubbly girl and they are in the midst of planning their wedding. (The DIY projects peppered throughout the story made me smile.) Over the summer, Sean fell into an unexpected romance with Hallie, a older girl he knows from school who is off to college. I appreciated how Mesrobian crafted Sean’s character. He was a pretty normal teen who was dealing with the aftermath of his family torn apart, he was very open with himself about his sexual urges, and he was also incredibly sensitive. So it’s heartbreaking to him, after being attached to Hallie’s hip, that she decides she wants to start college single.
So Sean is without Hallie (but still missing her), hanging out at home, and also working his part-time job at a thrift shop. I worked so much retail in high school, and I loved how his job was such a big part of his social life. He liked people he worked with, while he disliked others. They all had their quirks, too. In another surprising turn of events, Sean finds himself getting into a friendship with Neecie. It happens by accident but she begins to confide in him about the guy she is sort of seeing. He starts to open up to her in a way he hasn’t with others, and they suddenly have this awesome friendship. Can it be more? Sean isn’t so sure.
Especially because Sean is determined to go into the Marine Corps once he graduates. He doesn’t tell his mother, or call a family meeting. He enrolls, not even wanting to see what happens with his senior year. I was back and forth through the whole book wondering if Sean would go through with it, and, of course, curious about the reaction of his family when they finally found out. I know I had to work through my own acceptance of Sean’s future so I could only imagine what people closest to him were feeling. But, sometimes, we have to make decisions just for us. We just have to.
Perfectly Good White Boy was like this snapshot of Sean’s life before it changed even more than it had already. None of his feelings or the things that happen to him and his friends aren’t necessarily groundbreaking but the fact that they are expressed so authentically on the page made all the difference. From depression to disappointment to the expectations of sex and beyond. I laughed, I teared up, and I wondered what would happen in a year’s time to these characters and their relationships. They all felt like people I knew, and that made the book even more effective for me.
All in all, a super refreshing voice in young adult combined with so many discussion-worthy elements? A winner, for sure.
Add on Perfectly Good White Boy on Goodreads | Buy at B&N | Buy on Amazon
Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (twitter | website)
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: best friends growing apart, life of an actress, filming a TV series
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Emma loves acting and knows there’s nothing else she’d rather do, but she wishes that people could look beyond her celebrity status to see the real her. Even her best friend, Rachel, seems wrapped up in her fame. When Emma begins filming Coyote Hills, she has an instant connection with Jake, her co-star, but she tries to maintain a friends-only relationship with him.
- Maturity. The characters are college-aged and Emma, the main character, is particularly thoughtful and mindful of how her actions will affect other people. I loved that she tried to think things through before acting on impulse, but there were times she still found herself in uncomfortable situations.
- Friendships. Two points here — Emma’s best friend, Rachel, revels in Emma’s success; she’s jealous and very passive aggressive. It’s clear, even to Emma, that their friendship isn’t working anymore. It’s never easy to make the decision to move on, but I think that was handled really well here. Rachel is also “in love” with Jake based on the modeling photographs she’s seen of him; Emma feels like he’s off-limits to her (though their connection is so strong) because she wants Rachel to have something since her own acting career isn’t working out. What this leads to is Emma and Jake forming this awesome friendship; yes, there’s amazing tension and yes, we see Rachel is terrible so we root for Emma just to GO FOR IT, but as I mentioned in bullet point #1, they’re mature.
- A not-so-cheesy look into an actress’s life. I admit that I’ve read a few books about celebrities and actors. And many of them have felt a little too inauthentic. They skimmed the surface, but didn’t dive into the details. Not in the Script shows how Emma battles with her mom-turned-manager, how misleading the gossip magazines can be, and how everyone is looking out for themselves. Emma seems like the most NORMAL girl who happens to be a celebrity. She’s good at what she does, but it doesn’t define who she is. (Except that this is how most people see her, as a celebrity, and she wants people to look beyond that.)
- Great secondary cast. Kimmi, Brett, and Jake are Emma’s other co-stars in the television show they’re filming, Coyote Hills. McGregor is their director who reads people extremely well, doesn’t handle drama well, and keeps them all in check. Kimmi appears to be the biggest drama queen, seems to maybe be the cause for paparazzi showing up in unexpected places, but often gives Emma solid advice. Brett chases Emma, but doesn’t pick up on the clues that she’s not reciprocating the love-fest. Perhaps best of all is Jake’s mom, who suffered from a stroke, and connects well with Emma. She doesn’t see Emma as a Big Celebrity.
- Perfect balance. Not in the Script isn’t a light and fluffy read, but it’s not crazy heavy and overwhelming either. One thing is guaranteed, you’ll be drawn to keep reading to see if Emma and Jake finally give into the feelings they both so strongly have for each other. You’ll want to know what happens with Rachel, and you’ll want to smack Brett because the poor guy just can’t take a hint. (PS — don’t judge this book by the cover, which I interpreted to be a lot fluffier than the book actually was.)
Add Not in the Script to Goodreads | Buy from Amazon | Buy from Barnes & Noble