Book cover for Good For You by Tammara Webber

Magan: Good for You by Tammara Webber

Book cover for Good For You by Tammara WebberGood for You (Between the Lines #3) by Tammara Webber
Publication Date: December 15, 2011
Pages: 271
Target audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: celebrities, Habitat for Humanity, volunteering, faith, alcoholism
Format read: Purchased for my Kindle.
Review for Where You Are (Between the Lines #2) 

Summary: Reid is court ordered to work 30 days rebuilding a home for the family he’s displaced after he crashes his car into their home as a result of a full night of drinking and driving. Dori is assigned to be his overseer while he works on the house.

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the lovely Anna from Anna Reads. She does this series called Things I Like in Books and she recently did a post about how she loves when characters bicker before they fall for each other. That is exactly what I wrote down in my very first line of my notes for Good for You, the third book in the Between the Lines series by Tammara Webber. In fact, I compared Reid and Dori, our two main characters, to Pacey and Joey in season three of Dawson’s Creek. (Yes, I’m still re-watching and have recently moved on to season 4.)

Reid and Dori want each other. They don’t want to want each other. The chemistry is there, but they use their words as a defense against their feelings.

These two are about as different as red and blue. Good for You shines when we see that red and blue have something in common: together they make something new entirely, purple. Reid and Dori have polar opposite beliefs and live in completely different social spheres. Reid is an A-list celebrity who could have any girl he wants in a split second. Dori’s father is a pastor and she’s grown up living life between the lines (ha – an unintentional pun!), always striving to be better and to help others.

I assumed that Good for You would be about our good Christian girl, Dori, transforming bad boy Reid. I’m not sure why I doubted the complexity of Webber’s writing because the story was much deeper than I anticipated, resulting in a much less predictable love story. (Yippie!)

Reid certainly undergoes his share of transformations, and oh, thank goodness. After reading the first two books in the series, I have to admit I wasn’t Team Reid because this playboy had made one too many bad decisions for my taste. He had a long way to go to even become a likable character. He was a major d-bag in the beginning: a sex-crazed, conceited, spoiled brat of a 19-year-old. After he wrecks his car into a low-income family’s home, he is court ordered to work on a Habitat for Humanity site rebuilding a home for the family he’s displaced.

Enter Dori.

Dori is one of the head volunteers at Habitat. She’s a seasoned volunteer and is assigned to oversee Reid and his duties. Reid can tell Dori is a do-gooder and he easily gets under her skin, remarking on things that make her uncomfortable, forcing her to have thoughts of him outside of their Habitat interactions. Dori doesn’t want to fall for Reid; his reputation precedes him so she tries to guard her heart.

Dori’s parents don’t approve of her interactions with Reid. Meanwhile, Dori’s trying to figure out what she wants for her life – she’s examining and testing the boundaries laid out by her parents. Reid’s mother is on the brink of another breakdown and her drinking increases daily. He’s never had to prove himself worthy of anyone’s love before and Dori won’t accept that he’s just another pretty face; she wants to know about him and doesn’t fall for the celebrity facade.

The pacing of Good for You kept me engaged and anxious for the next piece of the story. I liked that Dori and Reid’s relationship was complicated and not cookie-cutter perfect. I didn’t always understand the decisions Dori was making or why she needed to so perfectly abide by her parent’s wishes, but realistically, the timing made a lot of sense to me. There were a few circumstances where I felt I could have used more closure. I don’t feel like Reid and Dori specifically ever discussed her faith and his lack thereof. This probably could have altered the story, but in real life, I think that conversation probably would have happened.

Overall, Good for You stands out as my favorite book of the Between the Lines series so far. I was extremely impressed by the growth and development of Reid, a character I strongly disliked (hence why I put off reading this third installment for so long). I’ve just confirmed via a tweet from Tammara that she is, indeed, writing Brooke’s story for the fourth and final book of the series. Oh, the anticipation!

Goodreads | Amazon ($3.99 for the kindle!)

Sweet Summertime Reads: A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger

Hey-a! It’s Magan with another summer beach read, A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger for our joint feature, Sweet Summertime Reads, hosted with Ginger and Tara!

A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger [website | twitter]
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Keywords: Re-marriages, Step-siblings, Family Drama, Drinking and Hook-ups
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format Read: Paperback from TLA (Thank you!)

When I read The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, I identified. I felt connected to the main character and really felt like I could tap into her emotions as she navigated her way through her life’s troubles. I thought I would feel much the same with Kody’s new book A Midsummer’s Nightmare, but I didn’t. I enjoyed the writing and the craziness of trying to figure out if Whitley would get together with her soon-to-be-stepbrother, Nathan, but overall I could not relate to Whitley in the way I expected to.

Whitley’s parents have been divorced for a long time. She lives with her bitter, self-absorbed mother, but she’s always wanted to live with her father. Since that’s not the case, she spends every summer with him. When she graduates, she is looking forward to her last summer with her dad before college – listening to good music, hanging out in the condo and at the beach, and drinking. That all changes when her dad pulls up to a new house where she’s introduced to the woman her dad is going to marry. The woman, Sylvia, is someone she’s never heard of or met before.

To make everything worse, Sylvia’s son, Nathan, is the boy Whitley randomly slept with at the graduation party she attended. How’s that for awkward?

There is a lot that happens in this story – Whitley deals with her issues by randomly hooking up with guys and drinking to extremes. She can’t talk to her parents – her mom is too focused on her own broken heart to see her daughter is struggling, and her dad is trying so desperately hard to make life appear perfect with his new family. Oh, and then there’s all the tension with Nathan. Should they just give into their feelings for one another even though they’re going to be step-siblings?

I felt at times that while the writing was good and Keplinger could tap into the emotions of an 18-year-old really well, it was lacking in some depth. There was a lot of build up and anticipation, but very few pages were dedicated to the story settling and all the aforementioned issues wrapping up. I don’t need for everything to wrap up in perfect little bows – my imagination can wander – but with so many big things, I just wanted more. Whitley’s feelings of invisibility didn’t really come full circle for me.

While I didn’t feel extremely connected to Whitley because of how she wanted to ruin herself to make her family notice her, I did enjoy Sylvia and Nathan’s characters very much. Sylvia was the antithesis of a terrible step-mother. She saw the destruction happening in Whitley’s life and wanted to step in. It was hard for her to navigate the boundary between caring for Whitley but not getting too overly involved. Though it is a little awkward that they were going to be step-siblings, I appreciated Nathan’s character. He was not one to hold back how he felt. While he had his moments of being a little too honest and come across as hurtful, I always felt his intentions were for the best.

I suppose my last observation is that I always knew what was coming next in A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I felt the overall plot points were fairly similar to The DUFF, and I sincerely hope that Keplinger’s books don’t become formulaic. Estelle went to a signing a few weeks ago in New York and told me about the new book Keplinger is working on. This one pertains to a very big issue, suicide, and I think Keplinger has the ability to really push the boundaries and go deep. I hope she does.

Goodreads | Amazon

photograph of zac efron laying on blue plastic chairs

My Nathan = Zac Efron. Who wouldn't want your step-brother to be a cute, hot guy, especially if envisioned to look like SEXY Zac Efron?!

Image borrowed from People.com