The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now by Ann BrasharesPrenna James comes to present day New York when she is twelve years old. She and a group of people have traveled back in time from the future, where the world is in ruin due to an epidemic spread by mosquitoes. Prenna is expected to follow a specific sort of rules, including the strict rule that she must never be close anyone that is not part of the community. But when Prenna begins to fall for Ethan Jarves, she finds it difficult to follow the rules she has always obeyed.

I was really excited to read this one because it is by the author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but I have to honestly say that I was extremely disappointed in this book. It was really hard to get through, which is saying something because the entire book is less than 300 pages. I came very close to adding this book to my DNF shelf, but I figured since it was pretty short I might as well power through.

Prenna herself was a huge problem for me. I hate to say it but her character was just…dumb. She made stupid decisions that would be obvious to anyone else, and these decisions lead to outcomes that are extremely predictable. Prenna constantly goes on and on about how her “community” was supposed to travel back in time to stop the plague from happening…yet she thought they would do this by attending normal school for the past five years? Why has it taken her this long to realize that nobody is actually taking any action?

Another problem I had was the insta-love. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and usually a deal breaker when it comes to a story. Ethan sees Prenna appear randomly one day, which happened to be the day she time traveled, and he is instantly hooked. Prenna is basically in love with him from the moment she meets him, even though there are no sparks between them at all. And Ethan is portrayed as being basically perfect. He’s good looking, super smart and nerdy yet extremely popular, invited to all the best parties at school, great with computers, and somehow manages to acquire a glass cutter and know how to use it. All very convenient–too much so.

There were some definitely plot holes also. A few things just didn’t make sense, and then there was this whole thing with a homeless guy that was obviously supposed to be a big twist but just seemed completely weird and way too convenient to the plot. What really bugged me also was that after Prenna and Ethan figure out how they are supposed to essentially save the world, they sit around for two days hanging out by the beach and playing cards? I don’t know if this was supposed to be the relationship building part of the story, but it just seemed odd.

Overall, The Here and Now was a huge disappointment that I almost didn’t finish due to the awful main character, insta-love, and plot holes. The premise behind it was interesting but overall the book was a big flop for me.

The Here and Now will be released on April 8, 2014.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergWhen Levi moves from California to Wisconsin in eighth grade, he and Macallan hit it off from the start. They bond over a favorite British television show and become fast friends. They begin to do everything together and even their families grow close. People constantly make the assumption that they are a couple, but they keep denying that, saying they are simply best friends and nothing more. However, as the years go by and relationships come and go, they realize that their “friendship” is getting in the way of other things. Dates accuse them of focusing too much on each other, boys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s dating Levi, and the two begin to wonder if something more is possible, or if they’d be better off staying friends.

This was a really cute story! I was already a fan of Elizabeth Eulberg because I loved her previous book, The Lonely Hearts Club, so I knew I would enjoy this one. Better Off Friends is basically a high school version of When Harry Met Sally, and equally as good.

I really liked both of these characters. Macallan is tough, and she isn’t afraid to stand up for people. She has an uncle with a slight mental disability, and she treats him like her second father. Whenever anyone even slightly makes fun of him, she is super quick to defend him no matter what, which shows how good of a person she is. Levi is another great character–he doesn’t push Macallan to talk about her mother’s death, but makes himself available in case she ever wants to bring it up. The two are really great friends to one another, which makes it easy to understand why they would be hesitant to change their friendship into something more.

What I loved about this book is how it followed Levi and Macallan from when they first met in eighth grade and continued on through the rest of high school. By doing this we’re able to see how they grow up together and how they change over the years. They each go through their own series of relationships and friendships with other people, yet they manage to stay friends through even the worst times. The only time they seriously begin to falter is when the hint of something more appears and they both get nervous about the possibility of ruining their friendship.

Overall, Better Off Friends is a really cute story about best friends with the potential for more. I loved the way each chapter followed with a conversation between the present day Levi and Macallan reminiscing about each memory.

Better Off Friends was released on February 25, 2014.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi“Ignite, my love. Ignite.”

WARNING: Spoilers for previous books in the Shatter Me series ahead.

Juliette has decided to take down the Reestablishment. In order to do this, she needs help from Warner, someone she never thought she would trust. As she works with him and gets to know him better, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about him was wrong. She has to figure out her feelings for Warner and Adam, and at the same time learn all she can about how to fight because she realizes the only way to win this rebellion is to lead it herself.

This was hands down the best book in the series. So good that I stayed up until all hours of the night reading it. Juliette finally turns into the girl we all knew she could be and decides that she is going on the offensive. After Warner saved her life, she starts to see him in a new light and decides to work with him to bring down his father. Warner begins to let down some of his defenses around Juliette, and she finds that he is much different than she had originally thought.

Warner definitely showed the most growth of anyone in this book. We finally get to see who he really is under that tough exterior, and he begins to show his true self to more than just Juliette. The more he helps her friends and the more he reveals about himself, the more Juliette finds herself drawn to him and the more confused she becomes about her feelings. I loved the moments between the two of them–they were beautifully written and so full of emotion.

But oh man, Adam? After Unravel Me, I was ready to just be done with him. But in this book? He turned into such a jealous, whiny little brat that I had a hard time figuring out why I even liked him back in Shatter Me. Like Warner, in this book Adam’s true colors began to show, but unlike Warner, it put him in a much more negative light. What was great about Juliette though is that she realizes that there is so much going on that is more important than her love life, and she is able to overcome the difficulties she faces emotionally and become a strong leader.

Juliette finally learns to control her ability and she learns the many different dimensions of it. Basically, in this book she becomes a super hero. She has grown so much from the first book and she has definitely become one of my favorite female characters ever. She is able to come up with a plan to not only get rid of Warner’s father for good, but to also take over the Reestablishment and change the world.

Overall, Ignite Me was one of the best final books in a series ever. I could not have imagined a better ending, and I absolutely loved every minute of this book!!

Ignite Me was released on February 4, 2014 and is the final book in the Shatter Me series.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi“Books are easily destroyed. But words will live as long as people can remember them.”

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Juliette and Adam have escaped to Omega Point, a rebel headquarters where there are many other people with abilities who are training to fight the Reestablishment. Juliette has to try to integrate herself into life at Omega Point, but is still fearful of her own power. She thought she was finally free from the Reestablishment and their plans for her, but when she finds out that Warner is still searching for her, she realizes that what she thought was over is only just beginning.

This was such a great sequel. I love every character in these books, but I’d have to say Kenji was one of my favorites in this one. Juliette starts off in Unravel Me by being super mopey, upset that people don’t talk to her and that Adam seems to be hiding something from her, and finally Kenji calls her out on it. She begins to realize that only she can make a change in the way people see her, and she starts to grow stronger and learn to use her ability for good rather than fear it.

But seriously, I went from liking Adam in Shatter Me to wanting to throw him across the room in Unravel Me. He became such a whiny baby in this book, and every moment with him was like a soap opera. When Warner finally came back into the picture, I was so happy because even though he had seemed like a bit of a monster, his character was so much stronger and intriguing than Adam, who was just draining.

And speaking of Warner. CHAPTER SIXTY-TWO. Oh my goodness. I was leaning towards “Team Warner” before this but that chapter definitely sold me there. Enough said.

What I really loved most about this book was the growth that Juliette showed from beginning to end. Like I said before, she starts off very emotional and depressed, and when Kenji kind of slaps her in the face with honestly midway through the book, she starts to become stronger both emotionally and physically. By the end of the book, she is such a strong person that it is hard to even remember how depressed and down on herself she was in Shatter Me.

Overall, Unravel Me was an excellent sequel that really solidified my love for this series. Juliette is quickly turning into one of my favorite female protagonists, and I literally had to download the final book thirty seconds after finishing this one because it was just that good.

Unravel Me was released on February 5, 2013 and is the second book in the Shatter Me series.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.”

Juliette is unable to touch anyone without killing them. She has been locked in an insane asylum for 264 days, and has not seen or spoken to anyone in just as long. While she is locked away for possessing an ability that nobody understands, the world is crumbling around her. The Reestablishment has taken over, claiming that they will be able to stop the diseases that are spreading, find food for everyone, and bring the world back to the way it was. When they come to get her from her cell and tell her they are going to train her to become a weapon, Juliette realizes she has to decide between being used or fighting back.

I seriously don’t know why it has taken me so long to read this series. On the one hand I’m mad because I could’ve been enjoying these books for years now, but on the other I’m glad I waited because I was able to read through the entire series in two days now that the final book was just released. Either way, I am so happy I finally picked this series up!

Juliette has basically lived a tortured life. Her own parents thought she was cursed and were only too happy to hand her over to the asylum when she accidentally killed someone with her touch. She hasn’t been touched by anyone or received any kind of affection from anyone ever. She has grown up lonely and depressed, without any real friends. When the Reestablishment comes to get her they expect to find an insane monster, but instead they find a lonely girl with no desire to harm anyone.

Juliette is taken to the headquarters of Sector 45, where she is introduced to Warner, the sector leader who is quite obsessed with her and her ability. He wants to train her to be a weapon, so that the Reestablishment can use her power. Juliette wants anything but this. She has never had any desire to hurt anyone, and the idea of being used as a weapon is the kind of thing she has been trying to stop people from thinking her whole life. Plus, she is distracted by Adam, the soldier Warner put in charge of her, who seems to be on her side.

I really loved the writing style of this book. The writing is beautiful and I felt like I was right in Juliette’s mind along with her. The book has strike outs throughout, as if Juliette is thinking something and then crossing it out and changing her thoughts. It was such a brilliant way to write a story and really gave Juliette a strong and powerful voice.

I was actually really surprised at the pace of this novel. I thought the whole first book would take place in the asylum or even on the military base, but the book progressed much quicker than I expected. I really loved Juliette and I have to say I was definitely intrigued by Warner, even though he seemed like such a monster at times.

Overall, Shatter Me was a fast paced, beautifully written dystopian novel that will leave you anxious to read the next book. I highly recommend reading this one if you haven’t yet!

Shatter Me was released on November 15, 2011 and is the first novel in the Shatter Me series.

Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon

Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s theme is Top Ten Books That Will  Make You Swoon, in honor of Valentine’s Day! Here are my top ten in no particular order:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins–Etienne St. Clair himself is enough to make you swoon: gorgeous guy with a British accent who also speaks French! Throw in a boarding school in the middle of Paris and Anna, who tries not to give in to her feelings for St. Clair, and you’ve definitely got a swoon-worthy book!

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick–I just finished this one last week (review to come soon) and loved it! It’s such a cute love story about a girl named Samantha whose mother is an uptight senator so she spends all of her time watching her next door neighbors, who have a huge and all over the place type of family but are surrounded by love. She falls for one of the boys, Jase, who is such a great guy–he can fix just about anything, it devoted to taking care of his younger brothers and sisters, and legit climbs a trellis to introduce himself to Samantha. Definite swoon!

Dare You To by Katie McGarry–Beth has lived a difficult life of taking care of her alcoholic mother and being beat up by her mother’s boyfriends, so she has always had a hard time trusting people. Ryan is the quintessential rich jock, with a father who runs half the town and a great baseball career in his future. Beth doesn’t understand how someone like Ryan could want anything to do with her, but as the two get to know each other they realize they have more in common than they thought. This was a great love story with some really great swoony moments!

Wait for You by J. Lynn–Avery is trying to escape her past by going to a college far away from home and the memories that still haunt her. She wants to do nothing more than focus on school, but she is constantly distracted by her neighbor Cameron, a gorgeous guy who keeps crossing her path. She has to learn how to overcome her past and trust someone again, and Cameron is the perfect guy to help her do it. Great love story from J. Lynn, andddd there is a companion novel that came out last week!!

The Selection by Kiera Cass–Not particularly just a romance book, but the love story that blossoms between America, a girl from a lower class and Maxon, a prince, is great and makes it impossible to put the book down. The story got even better in The Elite and I can’t wait to see how America and Maxon end up in the final book!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green–One of the greatest love stories I’ve read! Hazel and Augustus meet in their cancer support group, and though Hazel is hesitant to start a romance because she is not sure how long she has left to live, she can’t help falling for Augustus. This was a beautiful book that will not only make you swoon but will leave you in tears.

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins–A companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss about Lola, a girl with a quirky sense of fashion, and Cricket, the boy next door that she has tried to deny her feelings for. A cute love story with a bonus–we also get to see how Anna and St. Clair are doing!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith–Such a cute story about love when you least expect it. Hadley is on her way to her father’s wedding in London and would rather be doing anything else. She meets a cute British guy in the airport and it turns out he’s sitting next to her on her flight. They spend the flight getting to know each other but then lose each other once they go through customs. Hadley has to figure out if it was just chance that they met, or if it was fate.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner–A dystopian novel set in space, These Broken Stars is so much more than just a romance, but the love story between Lilac and Tarver is absolutely swoon-worthy. These two completely different people from different social classes learn to trust and care for each other as they travel across an unknown planet in search of rescue.

One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker–Livie is trying to live up to her father’s hopes for her: going to Princeton, graduating with honors, and going on to med school. But when she goes to her first college party and meets Ashton, the captain of the rowing team, her plan suddenly seems much harder to follow than she thought. The two have a whirlwind back and forth romance that makes Livie realize that she can’t live her life for other people.

What books made your Top Ten this week? What swoon-worthy books are you planning on reading for Valentine’s Day?

 

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire

A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire“And when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever.”

A Beautiful Wedding is a novella that gives a full account of Travis and Abby’s wedding in Beautiful Disaster. Following the horrific fire at the fight where Abby and Travis almost lost their lives, the two hop on a plane to Vegas to get married. The novella gives the reader more detail about Abby’s reasoning for the quick marriage, and also shows us a bit more of what happens after.

I was very excited to read this because I will never tire of these characters, but I have to say that I had mixed feelings about this novella. I loved being able to read about the actual wedding, but finding out Abby’s real reason behind the wedding ruined it a bit for me. In Beautiful Disaster, the reader is led to believe that Abby wants to get married so quickly and so young because she can’t imagine another day without Travis, yet in this novella we find out that there is actually an ulterior motive involved. I understood Abby’s motive, but at the same time I really felt like she was deceiving Travis a bit and that he deserved to know the truth about why she was pushing for this marriage.

I did like that there was more attention paid to the after effects of the fire–in Beautiful Disaster it seemed as though Abby and Travis brushed it off pretty quickly, but in the novella we learn that it definitely affected them more than it seemed. So many people died in the fire and Travis is left feeling extremely guilty and responsible because it was the fight that he was in that drew so many people to that building. Since the novella is told from both characters point of view, we get to see how upset Travis is and how nervous Abby is that he will be held responsible.

Overall, A Beautiful Wedding was a good follow up novella that gives the reader more insight into what really happened at Travis and Abby’s wedding. While I loved reading more of this story, part of me didn’t like Abby’s reasoning behind the elopement.

A Beautiful Wedding was released on December 10, 2013.