Book Review of Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Magan: Just Like Fate by Suzanne Young and Cat Patrick

Book Review of Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne YoungJust Like Fate by Cat Patrick (website | twitter) + Suzanne Young (website | twitter)
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 304
Target Audience:  Young Adult
Keywords: different life scenarios, death of a grandparent, divorced parents
Format Read: ARC received at TLA from the publisher. (Thank you!)
Other Books I’ve Reviewed by These Authors: The Originals

Summary: Called out of class, Caroline finds out that her grandmother is in the hospital. She’s been Caroline’s rock since her parent’s divorce and in two different scenarios, Patrick and Young explore what life would be like for Caroline if she chose to go to a party instead of staying with her grandmother at the hospital or if she stayed by her side.

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One reality: Caroline’s grandmother is dying. No one knows how much time she has left.
Two scenarios: Escape the sadness and family drama to go to a party with her BFF, Simone, or stay with her grandmother.

STAY vs. GO

Have you ever thought about a pivotal moment in your life and realized that if you had gone down another path, absolutely everything might have ended up differently? For me one of those big moments is if I had actually dated my long-term crush/best guy friend in high school. Or maybe the moment when I liked this other guy and he and his dad made a bet about how many phone numbers he could collect while we were at camp. (Let me add: it was church camp.) Thanks to social media, I have been able to keep up with where both of those guys have ended up throughout the years, and let me just say, I’m really glad things have worked out the way they are. (And yes, I do realize I sound stalker-ish.)

Just Like Fate is a beautiful exploration of how Caroline’s choices and decisions in the past have shaped how she moves forward. One particularly excellent portrayal is in regards to her family. Her parents are divorced, and both are remarried. Caroline barely speaks to her father, and her mother’s remarks always seem to be a little underhanded. She remained close with her brother, Teddy, but is somewhat estranged from her older sister, Natalie. Her youngest sister, Juju, is too young to grasp the majority of what’s going on. Natalie and Caroline have a ton of friction between them since Caroline decided to move in with her grandmother during the divorce because she couldn’t handle the change. Natalie feels like Caroline always runs away from problems and never sticks around to solve anything. Caroline sees Natalie as a goody-two-shoes who is judgmental and stuck-up. Teddy is the glue that tries to hold everything together, but as a college student he’s got his own life to live.

When the situation arises with her grandmother in the hospital, Caroline is once again faced with a tough decision. Does she do the hard thing and push through all the family drama to be by her grandmother’s side, or does she go to a party with her best friend, Simone, and forget about about her problems? Both scenarios and outcomes are laid out before the reader in alternating Stay and Go chapters. My reading time was a bit spotty when I first began Just Like Fate, not allowing me a good chunk of time to get into the flow of the story. Once I was finally able to push aside my responsibilities and focus, I felt like I could really connect with Caroline and the flow of the story.

With the two different scenarios comes different obstacles and characters. Joel is the boy that Caroline’s always wanted to date; she’s loved him from afar for quite a long while. Then there’s Chris, the college guy who is incredibly funny and sarcastic. Both seem appealing in their own ways until Caroline is confronted with having to make some decisions. (This seems to be a common theme, doesn’t it?) There are some pretty big ups and downs with Simone as well that felt very realistic; they have to figure their way out of some uncomfortable situations and Caroline has to learn how to talk through things instead of turning inward. While I definitely loved the guy aspect that strung my romantic side along, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the bigger questions: Was it possible for Caroline to mend the broken relationships with her father and sister? Could she become a stronger woman if she had to confront life instead of always fleeing? Despite how we react to a situation, do we arrive at different conclusions?

Just Like Fate was an engaging, fast-paced read. I’ve very much enjoyed Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young’s individual work in the past, but I certainly hope they’ll consider writing more together in the future. For now, you should definitely be pre-ordering this book so you can gobble it up as soon as possible.

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book review of When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Magan: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

book review of When You Were Here by Daisy WhitneyWhen You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (twitter | website)
Publication Date
: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: 264
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: loss of a parent, grief, Tokyo, relationships that don’t end well
Format read: ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley. (Thank you!)
Other Books Read by the Author: The Mockingbirds (a joint review)

Summary: Just a few short years after the loss of his father, Danny’s mom dies a few weeks shy of his high school graduation from the cancer she’s been battling. Danny is lonely and seeking answers; he goes to Tokyo to learn more about his mom’s last few months, treatments, and to seek peace after his unexplained break-up from his girlfriend, Holland.

Very, very thankfully I haven’t had to work through a parental loss. I can’t imagine what Danny must have been feeling when at 18, he finds himself without both parents. His father passed away after a freak accident in Japan a few years prior. Present day he’s reeling from the loss of his mother who passed away after a long battle with cancer, one month shy of his high school graduation. Further complicating his family dynamic, he and his (adopted, older) sister aren’t necessarily on good terms. Understandably, Danny is feeling very alone and lost.

He would turn to his best friend Holland for help and a listening ear, but Danny started dating her last year and then she completely cut off communication shortly after leaving for college. Even though she’s back home for the summer, things just aren’t the same. Danny and Holland can easily slip back into their witty banter, but Danny feels guarded because he’s still deeply in love with Holland. Without answers and a huge helping of honesty, he just can’t let things go back to the way they were.

To clear his mind, let go of Holland, and seek answers to burning questions he’s got about his mom’s passing, Danny takes off for Tokyo. His parents owned a house there and they frequently visited as a family. Danny’s mom visited Tokyo often throughout her last months for treatment and he feels speaking to her doctor will give him peace about why she couldn’t make it one more month to see him walk across the stage. He also must decide what to do with their family condo now that he’s inherited it. Kana, daughter of their property’s landlord, becomes his tour guide as he follows in his mother’s last footsteps.

When You Were Here was full of absolutely all of my favorite things — a deep, emotional story, shocking twists and turns that left me needing to collect my thoughts, and a journey to a new place that made me want to catch the first flight to Tokyo. Whitney’s writing was as beautiful as ever, and Danny’s voice was so spot on. He was full of humor that he used to protect himself from feeling all the pain he was going through. He was confused and in need of someone to protect him from more bad things happening.

There’s a major, major plot twist that made me gasp when I read through the scene. HOLY CRAP! — I was so stunned and silenced. I needed time to walk away and think about how I felt. Guys, that doesn’t happen often. Whitney made me feel like Danny’s life was real and I was being asked to lend a helping hand or offer advice. Hopefully you’ll feel the same protectiveness over Danny that I did; after I closed the book, I felt this spoke volumes for Whitney’s writing — she has an uncanny ability to make me want to take care of all her characters. (I felt the same way when I read The Mockingbirds.)

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Goodreads | Amazon | Why I Want to Visit Tokyo Now | Nail Polish Selections for the WYWH Cover

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BONUS: Daisy Whitney has another book coming out this fall, Starry Nights.
Don’t forget to add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads!

Sweet Summertime Reads: Wonderful, Cute + Kind of Perfect (Dates)

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature

Hi, friends! Today we are sharing one of the books we both adored this year: Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt. Main character Payton does not react well when she accidentally finds out her dad has MS. She stops talking to her parents, and when the school counselor gets involved she asks Payton to choose a focus object. Enter Sean Griswold’s head — a staple in her school life since forever.

So why is this title so underrated? It has a supportive family, a sweet love interest, and a great best friendship. Seriously — the two of us have been secretly crushing on Sean Griswold since we “met” him and decided to feature unique and romantic summer dates inspired by his relationship with Payton.

A bike ride.

It turns out that after years of staring at Sean Griswold’s head… Payton doesn’t actually know anything about him. Turns out he is majorly into bike riding, and one of their first hang outs includes this very activity. I know, I know… it doesn’t seem super romantic but it’s DIFFERENT and totally Sean sharing one of his passions with Payton.

date idea inspired by sean griswold's head by lindsey leavitt

NYC Engagement Session found on CycleStyle Australia

You might make a total fool out of yourself in front of the other person, but you know what — it’s fun to let your guard down and do something totally out of the ordinary. Plus a bike ride could include a trip to the park, and a picnic and stargazing. This sounds pretty awesome to us!

Basketball.

Before Payton finds out that her dad has MS, basketball is HER sport. This doesn’t exactly turn out to be a romantic moment in the books but the idea of friendly competition with your main squeeze? So cute. You are outside, the weather is gorgeous, and you are hoping your partner just doesn’t LET you win because you want it to happen fair and square.

Basketball Engagement Session by Joshua & Co. Photography

Plus, it’s a great excuse to get a little bit closer.

(Estelle note: I remember playing basketball with the boys in middle school and it was the best way to flirt. Really.)

Ice Cream.

We know our friend Novel Sounds is going to appreciate this one. Sure, it’s simple and not the most groundbreaking idea but there’s nothing like sharing ice cream on a warm summer’s day. Maybe after a bike ride or that neck-and-neck basketball game? Ice cream is pretty perfect in any situation and we recommend you have as much as possible with that special one. (We can’t give away when and why this happens in the book but we’ll put it this way: Payton challenges herself many times in this book and everyone needs a sweet reward.)

Ice Cream Engagement Session by Tanya Malay courtesy of Weddings Illustrated

We hope you and your significant other can try out a few of these date ideas inspired by Sean Griswold’s Head. And definitely, definitely pick up this book by Lindsey Leavitt. The sweet romance is oh-so-perfect for these long summer days. Enjoy!

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Add Sean Griswold’s Head on Goodreads
Purchase on Amazon
Read Magan’s Review

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For more Sweet Summertime Reads, check out:
Ginger’s post about Ingredients for a Summer Romance or enter to win a copy of Along for the Ride
Check out Tara’s summer-y post at Fiction Folio on Thursday!

Book Cover For You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Magan: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Book Cover For You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle {website | twitter}
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: documentary, realistic fiction, strained friendships, teenage reality movie
Format read: ARC received via Edelweiss from the publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: At 16, Justine, Rory, Felix, Kiera, and Nate are soon to begin filming another documentary. Beginning when they were 6, a film crew followed them around for a few months to document their lives. They’ve followed up every five years and plan to continue doing so until they’re 21. Oh, how things have changed since they were 11. Justine thinks she’s already lived through the best part of her life and she’s going to let down viewers.

Have you ever misjudged a book? Maybe just thought it would tell a different story than what you read? When I began reading You Look Different in Real Life, I expected something a bit more light-hearted that I would breeze through. I stopped reading book summaries a few months ago because I felt like they were spoiling so much for me, but in this particular case, I think maybe the cover eludes to a different story. (Thoughts?) But I digress… — WOW! — am I so glad I was so misguided. What I read — what Jennifer Castle wrote — is absolutely phenomenal.

In a nutshell, You Look Different in Real Life is deep, engaging, so meaty and full of story — there’s past and present stories that makes everything flow effortlessly. I laughed, I cried. I couldn’t put it down.

Justine, the main character, is uncertain of who she is. When she was six years old, she partook in a documentary film with four other six-year-olds (Rory, Nate, Felix, and Kiera) that followed them throughout the course of a few months. When they turned eleven, the film crew popped back into their lives to begin filming again. At sixteen, Justine is expecting a phone call. She knows they’ll return because the intent was to follow them until they turned 21. She’s hesitant of their return because at 6 and 11, she was somewhat the standout kid — she was quirky and full of personality. She won the hearts of thousands. At 16, she feels she’s digressed because she peaked at 11. Justine now feels like she’s lost herself — she has no hobbies and no particular talents. Everyone who loved her in the previous films will be disappointed with who she’s become.

To make matters more interesting, Justine, Rory, Nate, Kiera, and Felix aren’t really a close group of friends. They’ve all, in multiple ways, hurt one another. Rory is Justine’s ex-best friend; she’s odd and blatantly honest. Justine has things she wants to say to Rory, genuinely, but is afraid that they will come off as being timed for the film. Nate has made the biggest turnaround of the group; he used to be a misfit who got teased endlessly, but now he’s a popular jock. Justine resents him because she thinks (but doesn’t know the details of the exact encounter) he did something to Felix, her present day best friend. Felix wants to be a star; he’s always felt overshadowed and wants to have a bigger role in the next film. And lastly, there’s Kiera. She and Justine orbit in different worlds and don’t particularly get along. Kiera is friends with Nate and she’s pretty/popular.

What the film crew expects to find is the complete opposite of the reality they stumble upon. So much so that they have to intervene and begin to manipulate situations to get these very hesitant-to-interact teenagers together. What really makes the story feel like a fresh breath of air are the many, many details put into aspects of who these kids are/were. Everything feels completely believable and realistic. We aren’t always given all of the details upfront, but I trusted Castle would carefully lead us to the end of the rainbow where all the answers awaited. There’s not a moment I felt like she, Castle, was providing unsubstantial information; each sentence was flooded with supportive details and full of character-building. Every progression in the story felt natural and made so much sense.

But maybe my most favorite aspect was how well-rounded everything felt. Castle set the scene and created a whole picture throughout the book by including a barrage of family and friendship moments. With all the transitions, growth, uncertainty. I find it impressive that a story based on the “reality” of five teenagers being filmed and documented could ironically feel so flawless and full of life; maybe because reality TV has conditioned me to believe only 5% of what’s being aired, I assumed Castle’s story would take the same over-the-top approach since it tackled a familiar situation. But I just couldn’t have been more wrong.

You Look Different in Real Life turned out to be one of the happiest surprises of 2013 for me!

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book cover for Reboot by Amy Tintera

Magan: Reboot by Amy Tintera

book cover for Reboot by Amy TinteraReboot by Amy Tintera (Twitter | Website)
Publication Date
: May 7, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: science fiction, dystopia, broken society, survival
Format read: ARC from Edelweiss via Publisher (Thanks!)

Summary: Wren is a Reboot; she died and her body came back to life after being dead for 178 minutes. As a dedicated soldier for five years, she suddenly finds herself questioning her livelihood and well being when she’s given an ultimatum and her best friend, also a Reboot, begins to go crazy.

Wren, or One-seventy-eight as she’s referred to in the Reboot facility, died from three bullet wounds. For 178 minutes she was dead. Then her body rebooted and became a stronger, faster, less emotional version of her human self. She awoke as a Reboot.

For five years, Wren has lived in the Rosa Reboot facility, going on assignments to kill or capture humans, rebels, or other Reboots. She is HARC’s (a government organization) token soldier. When humans die and reboot, they are referred to and categorized by the number of minutes they were dead. Wren is one of the only Reboots to have been dead so long. The longer you take to reboot, the better the soldier you make because you lose your attachment to your human self, your memories, your emotions.

Since she’s one of the very best, Wren is a trainer of new Reboots that enter the facility. Upon meeting one of the newbies, Callum, who asks her to train him, she begins to wonder if it’s possible to train the lower numbers to be better soldiers. Callum is a twenty-two; she’s never trained anyone so low — in fact, it’s rare for someone to reboot so quickly. Intrigued by the challenge to make him into a better soldier, she chooses him as her trainee. Callum is slow and weak, he questions absolutely everything, isn’t shy about his attraction to Wren, and definitely isn’t much of a fighter.

Wren has her work cut out for her. Especially when she’s given an ultimatum by the head of HARC to whip Callum into shape … or else. When her roommate, Ever, suddenly stops sleeping and becomes a vicious version of herself in the night, Wren, the girl who follows all the rules and never questions assignments, suddenly begins to feel trapped. She realizes she has no control over her life, but also realizes that if she fights back, she might be choosing to return to the slums of Austin where bad memories of her childhood haunt her.

Reboot by Amy Tintera is a quick and fast-paced read; she pulls you into the story from the first pages where you meet Wren as she’s out on assignment. As someone who had trouble breaking the rules, I could easily relate to Wren. Everything fit inside a nice, neat box and operated according to plan. Always. Until Callum came along. Maybe you guys were more prone to question than I was, but I specifically remember a class I had in college that made me think differently. I was pushed to discuss things I believed, but didn’t want to argue about. Wren’s connection with Callum felt so much like my college class. Why did she trust HARC? Why was she okay with killing people? Was there a better life for her out there?

And, of course, the Callum love doesn’t stop at his ability to open Wren’s eyes. This may sound odd, but before Callum, Wren is basically an asexual being. She has no interest in being kissed or having sex or doing anything with anyone. Her gunshot wound scars are her biggest insecurity and she’s not sure why anyone would want her. When Callum waltzes into her life, she’s not quite sure what to think of all her feelings and attraction to him. It definitely makes for some great inner dialogue and delicious sexual tension between the two.

Reboot is Amy’s debut novel. And friends, it’s so worth the read. It’s a great new take on a broken down society with a fantastic female character that will make you want to be a little more bad ass, a boy who will make you laugh at all the ways he just doesn’t fit in, and heart pounding build-up that won’t allow you to put the book down without finishing.

And hey, guess what? Reboot hit bookstores yesterday, so swing by your local bookstore on your way home this evening!

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book cover for The Originals by Cat Patrick

Magan: The Originals by Cat Patrick

book cover for The Originals by Cat PatrickThe Originals by Cat Patrick (website | twitter)
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: sisters, clones, scandal, hiding
Format read: ARC received via Edelweiss (Thank you!)

Summary: Lizzie, Betsey, and Ella split each and every day into thirds. They’re allowed outside their house to spend their third of the day acting as one person, Elizabeth Best. No one knows their secret, but they’re tired of pretending they aren’t clones and desperately wish for individuality.

Imagine this:

Two other girls look exactly like you. Your mother has you pretending to be one person. Your days are broken into thirds, very scheduled, and you each only spend your portion of the day outside your home. No one knows the truth about you and your sisters. Why?

You’re clones.

Lizzie and her sisters Betsey and Ella have been pretending to be one person since they moved to San Diego when they were nine years old. Due to a huge scandal and to protect the girls, their mother devised a calculated plan and schedule to keep their secret hidden. No one can know the truth.

But what happens when the girls begin questioning their reality?
What if all the questioning reveals that your mother has secrets of her own?

The questioning begins when Ella and Lizzie begin to fall for two different boys and their mother makes the executive decision about who they (yes, they) will “date.” Lizzie’s heart is broken that Sean isn’t chosen and Dave (his repertoire looks much better on paper than  in person) is. She has to pretend to be into Dave during her afternoon hours at school when her heart is pining for Sean, the boy who is a talented writer and photographer and makes plans to meet up with her during half time.

There’s so so so much that unfolds in Cat Patrick’s The Originals. First of all — cloning? what? — such an interesting and unique storyline. The concept alone fascinates me. Personally I don’t think I could ever clone something; I would be so let down if this re-created person/animal weren’t exactly the same as the original. What if it had completely different idiosyncrasies? And then there’s the whole psychological aspect of cloning that really weighs on me. What does it feel like to be the replacement? (For the record, I think Patrick tackles the psychological so brilliantly in both of her stories I’ve read — The Originals and Forgotten.)

For Ella, Lizzie, and Betsey, I found it bewildering that they hadn’t really questioned their mother’s decisions very much. There’s this whole element that will really have you reeling from how much the girls are afraid to dive into the truth. Maybe they’re suffering from something like Stockholm Syndrome? More and more, as they dug deeper for answers, I found myself crazily going through the pages. (My kindle couldn’t keep up!) I had to know why their mother would isolate them so much. To trust her or to turn her into the cops? — that was the ultimate question.

It felt so amazing to experience another Cat Patrick book. She sets the scene so well and really makes sure you’re getting a sense of the entire scope of the story while leaving a nice dose of intrigue to keep you glued to the pages. Bonus points also go to The Originals for being a standalone. I loved that nothing was drawn out and the action was continually moving forward to wrap up nicely in one book.

Cat’s other book, Revived,  is on my bookshelf, glaring at me, waiting to be read. I might just have to abandon everything else to continue reveling in another of Patrick’s books.

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