Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Life Next Door - Review

My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, # 1)

By: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published: June 14th 2012 by Dial Books For Young Readers

394 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Borrowed from the library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

My Life Next Door wasn’t what I thought it would be. But that’s not a bad thing. Sam’s father left her mother when she was pregnant with Sam and Sam’s sister, Tracy, was 1 year old. Sam’s father came from a big family. When the Garretts move next door Sam’s mom, Grace, assumes the worst about them. They’ll be loud and messy. And she’s all about what she can control—neat and pristine and quiet. Grace was a pretty good mom for the most part, but she’s gotten distant lately due to running for political office. Grace has her shortcomings, that’s for sure. One of them is the prejudice she shows toward her next door neighbors. Because they don’t have the kind of life that she has (or wants) she looks down upon them.

But Sam is fascinated by the Garretts. Not only has her mom been distant but her older sister has as well. She’s either wrapped up in her boyfriend, off doing her own thing, or preparing for college. She’s basically just not there for Sam. Plus Grace has recently started dating a guy from her campaign. And this guy gives Sam the creeps in a way that she just can’t quite put her finger on. Regardless, the house that’s full of life has become an extreme fascination for Sam. Until one day, Jase Garrett climbs her trellis and opens her life to a whole new world—the world next door.

Jase is the third child out of eight. He loves his big family and resents those who remark on how bothersome a large family is. I loved the entire Garrett family. Joel, Duff and Harry we didn’t get as much from as Alice, Jase, Andy, George, and Patsy. But each and every one of the members has a great personality attributed to them. Alice is rough around the edges, but she has a soft spot deep down. She’s going to nursing school. Jase is great. He’s everything you hope for in a first love. He’s great at fixing things, and he dreams of going to college. It’s not so much that football is his dream as football is his means of getting a scholarship and thus going to college. Andy is fourteen and hitting her dramatic and boy crazy stage. George seems to be afraid of everything potentially harmful and boy does he have a vast knowledge of what all is harmful. But he’s still a very open kid. Just loveable. And poor Patsy just wants to be fed--breastfed.

A family of 10 has its financial burdens for sure. It doesn’t help that the hardware store Mr. Garrett owns isn’t doing so well either. Yet Sam has it made. Her mother’s family apparently had money and had a trust fund set up for her. Plus with her mother’s work in politics, Samantha has never really wanted for anything. But she doesn’t take that for granted either. Samantha works two jobs during the summer to make her own money and to stay busy.

The nature of the big conflict was not something I predicted in the least based off the description and the start of the book. Of course, some potential conflicts were obvious, but that big one kind of surprised me. How Samantha handled things right at the 80% mark was annoying to me as I felt like it was a bit of a cop out. But big things are at stake and real life would make the right thing to do very difficult. I loved how Jase responds when he learns the truth of what’s going on, and that almost redeems Sam’s stupidity.

Now that I’m typing my review for My Life Next Door I’m really seeing how many dynamics were going on with this book. Aside from the Garretts being great characters, Tim and Nan were great additions too. Nan truly annoyed the mess out of me. Utterly spoiled and self-centered. Tim, on the other hand, really worked hard to overcome who he used to be and change. It took him a while to get to that place though. Having just read My Life Next Door, I can’t say that I would be dying to read from Tim’s POV, but that’s what we’re getting with The Boy Most Likely To. And if that book is even remotely as layered as this one, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Tim, however, did contribute a large amount of f-bombs to My Life Next Door which I could have done without.

Favorite quotes:

-Our house contains all that’s high-end and high-tech and shiny clean. And three people who would rather be somewhere else.

-It’s so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I’ve seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say “I’m a huge fan.”

-“…This is not the time for your adolescent drama.” I cannot help but wonder if any parents ever actually schedule in adolescent drama on their day planners. Looks like a slow week, Sarah. I guess I can pencil in your eating disorder.

-“…, my Sam.”

I’d seen plenty of people say that they loved My Life Next Door, but it truly was better and deeper than I expected. The layers and the depth of each character was really well planned out and executed. And I truly can’t wait to read more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. My Life Next Door gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read My Life Next Door? What did you think? Let me know!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - August Wrap Up

Time for our eighth Monthly Wrap Up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Since posting the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - July Wrap Up, I finished two series enders: Deliverance (Defiance, # 3) by CJ Redwine and Sweet (Contours of the Heart, # 3) by Tammara Webber. Holly didn't finish any series enders this month.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the August giveaway runs from August 25th - Septemer 25th. On September 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Unbreakable - Review

Unbreakable (Unbreakable, # 1)

By: Rebecca Shea

Published: July 23rd 2013 by Rebecca Shea

343 pages

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library (freebie)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Re-edited and updated as of September 7, 2013

USA Today Best Seller

*This book contains mature subject matter and is not intended for those under 17 years of age.*

Jessica Harper is the epitome of perfection. She's a good daughter, makes excellent grades, and always strays on the safe side of life. The last thing she thought would ever happen was falling in love with her best friend's brother. But sometimes fate just has a way of bringing two people together.

Wide receiver for the University of Arizona, Gabe Garcia, seems to have it all. When his feelings for Jessica come to surface, Gabe will give up everything to be with her.

But what happens when a tragedy abruptly changes the course of your life? For Jessica and Gabe, everything they thought they knew about each other will be questioned. Sometimes, there are scars in life that are cut too deep to completely heal.

Will their love prove to be unbreakable, or will it shatter and prove fate is just another lie?

I picked up Unbreakable because Colleen Hoover said she read it and really enjoyed it. Plus it was a freebie! Can’t pass that up, right? I’ve had Unbreakable in my possession for months and just haven’t gotten around to it. Well I’ve been trying to make my way through Deliverance (Deception, # 3) by CJ Redwine and while I’m enjoying it, the progress is just slow. I wanted something I could pick up, get hooked, and not put down until I finished. So I decided it was time to crack open Unbreakable (see what I did there?).

Jess has grown up being more a part of the Garcia family than she has her own. Her mother passed away when she was child and her father hasn’t gotten over it. As a means of coping, he’s thrown himself into his work as a firefighter, working his way up the ladder to Chief. Jess is so close to the Garcia’s that she actually calls them Mom and Dad. So when she starts developing feelings for Gabe it’s a little awkward. And she’s unsure if he could ever see her as anything more than his almost little sister. But Jess and Gabe have a moment and after that time looks are passed, touches here and there, and a few hinting comments have them moving forward in an inevitable direction.

Jess and Gabe were a great couple. The progress quickly into a physical relationship which draws them even closer together. Gabe is thinking in his head things that he’s never thought before—marriage, kids, a future. Everything seems like it’s going just swimmingly. Except that it wouldn’t be much of a book if that happily ever after takes place 45% in. I was loving their relationship and how committed they both were, but I just felt this growing pit in my stomach. Something bad is coming. It had to. And well…it did.

Trauma strikes and leaves both Jess and Gabe reeling. Yet the two react a bit differently. Jess needs space. She needs time to wrap her head around things and that means escaping. She takes an internship and moves across the country leaving a very devastated Gabe behind. Gabe is trying to be open to giving Jess whatever she needs. If that’s space then he’ll give her space. If it’s time then he’ll give her time. But it is killing him in the process.

Unbreakable is told from alternating perspectives. About 60% in a new narrator joins Jess and Gabe and that threw me for a loop. A third party means the happily ever after that I dreamed of for Jess and Gabe may or may not be possible. They may or may not be able to overcome. What if the “happily ever after” is meant to come about in a different way than I expected? NO!!!!

Favorite quotes:

-“Don’t go,” I whisper. “Love me enough to stay.”

-“Live so that you may live.”

I was 100% hooked, but I won’t say I was as emotionally affected as I could have been. Jess made some decisions that weren’t my favorite even when I could understand why she made the choices that she did. Gabe had my heart as he stood loyal to Jess even through their time apart. I won’t say how things ended, but I’m definitely interested in checking out the other books in the series (which I didn’t know was a series until I finished Unbreakable). I will also say that Rebecca Shea definitely seemed like she knew her characters even when what she knew about them might not be clear to the reader. I can respect that. Ultimately Unbreakable gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read Unbreakable? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Post - 162

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

This was a super busy week. Monday night we had an infant CPR and safety class. With us having a pool, I've wanted to take a class on infant and child CPR anyway. So now was the perfect time to tackle at least the infant portion of that. Tuesday night was our regular birthing class. Only one more of those to go. Thursday, Husband and my Dad picked up our new recliner which will be used as a rocking chair. I love it! Friday and Saturday morning I spent the majority of that time cleaning for one last pool party at the house before baby gets here. We celebrated my sister's birthday. I have a feeling we'll be getting an early fall here, which as a pregnant lady is FINE BY ME! No new books this week.

THIS PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker (3.5 Stars)
Tuesday: Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors
Wednesday: Waiting on Built (Saints of Denver, # 1) by Jay Crownover
Thursday: Review of PS I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, # 2) by Jenny Han (4 Stars)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of Unbreakable (Unbreakable, # 1) by Rebecca Shea
Tuesday: 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge - August Wrap Up
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Review of My Life Next Door (My Life Next Door, # 1) by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Don’t forget to sign up for the 2015 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15, 2015 to sign up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

PS I Still Love You - Review

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, # 2)

By: Jenny Han

Published: April 21st 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

288 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Personal Kindle Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of makes it so amazing.

I wasn’t expecting To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to end in a cliffhanger or to have a sequel. I thought it would be a standalone book. So when I got to the end, I was desperate to know what happens next. And I’m so glad that PS I Still Love You was released for me to find out. I was really liking the Peter/Lara Jean dynamic of transferring from a pretend relationship into something real. And so that cliffhanger ending mixed with the description of PS I Still Love You, which indicates a love triangle, I was a little nervous about starting this book.

One thing is for sure, PS I Still Love You took me on a roller coaster with my emotions. I believe I went through every feeling possible in this book. Love, hate, fear, jealousy, insecurity, confidence, frustration, sympathy, betrayal, regret, heartbreak…I’m sure there’s more. Lara Jean is so real. She’s a young sixteen/seventeen year old. She’s very inexperienced with boys. While she’s had crushes, all of them until now have been unrequited. And Peter’s a lot more experienced than she is. This leaves her feeling insecure. Sometimes her immaturity (for lack of a better word) wasn’t always easy to read. Yet at other times, I completely, 100% remember feeling the exact same way that Lara Jean felt. I could bounce from being frustrated with her to completely supportive in very little time.

Lara Jean’s not just insecure about Peter’s experience, but she also has a really hard time getting over his past relationship with Genevieve. Granted, Genevieve makes this almost impossible for her. On the one hand, Genevieve is going through some family drama that she really does need a friend to help her through—she picks Peter as that friend. On the other hand, you can easily see that Genevieve is manipulative and downright mean to Lara Jean. This is compounded by the fact that Lara Jean and Genevieve used to be friends. But I’ve been in this situation before. I’ve dated the guy who can’t stop being friends with the manipulative ex-girlfriend. I’ve felt like her needs where more important than my own. I could totally relate to Lara Jean. While I didn’t find myself as angry with Peter as I might have 5 years or so ago, I still struggled with his decisions in this area.

Despite my frustrations with how Peter handled Genevieve, I was still rooting for Lara Jean to choose him. I wanted those two to work things out so bad. When John Ambrose McLaren shows back up on the scene and begins his pursuit of Lara Jean’s affections, I was not happy at all. I could just see this turning into one of those stories about the girl who falls in love but realizes that first loves usually don’t last and moves on to a second, more suitable love. While I usually am a fan of these stories, I just wasn’t rooting for that to be that case in this instance. John Ambrose was nice enough, and he probably would have been a decent boyfriend for Lara Jean, but my heart was still with Peter. I won’t tell you how this plays out. I will say that around the 70% mark I had no idea how this book could end in a way that I would be the least bit satisfied with, but by the time everything wrapped up I was satisfied.

One of my favorite aspects of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was the sister relationships that are explored. Lara Jean is the middle child so we see both an older sibling and younger sibling relationship. While the sister-love was present in PS I Still Love You, the dynamics weren’t as complex as Lara Jean is no longer in love with her older sister’s ex-boyfriend and Kitty is not acting out against Lara Jean. Things were much more simple for the trio. We don’t get to see Margot very much, but I think that’s essential for Lara Jean’s growth and progression. Kitty is just as adorable as before. She’s spunky. She loves her sister, but she is completely her own person. And I really enjoyed the two of them. While things might not have been as complex as the previous book, Kitty did complicate matters by being extremely close to Peter and thereby truly affected by the ups and downs of his and Lara Jean’s relationship. This reminded me of myself as well as I tended to get attached to my older sister’s boyfriends growing up as well.

Favorite quotes:

-What I really want to say is Peter will always pick Lara Jean over Genevieve.

-People say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I think they’re wrong: Proximity makes the heart grow fonder.

-Is a boy’s ego really such a fragile, breakable thing? It must be so.

-He doesn’t get it. Girls understand each other in a way boys never will.

-“I deserve better than that, you know? I deserve…I deserve to be someone’s number one girl.”

-I know now that I don’t want to love or be loved in half measures. I want it all, and to have it all, you have to risk it all.

PS I Still Love You was a book that had me hooked. I wanted to know what was going to happen and how it was going to end. But boy did it send me on a roller coaster. I think I felt every emotion possible while reading this book. The entire gambit. In the end, I was happy with what happened, the lessons that needed to be learned, and the end result. Yet, I feel like PS I Still Love is a better book to reflect upon than it was to read. Does that even make sense? I definitely enjoyed it, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. PS I Still Love You gets 4 Stars from me. Have you read PS I Still Love You? What did you think? Let me know!