One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

One Past Midnight by Jessica ShirvingtonSabine has lived two lives for as long as she can remember. She lives each day and then switches at midnight to her other life where she lives the same day over as a different person. She has the same name in both lives and lives in the same area, yet has a completely different family and set of friends in each life. In one life, she her family is wealthy, yet Sabine has to fake her personality to stay with her crowd at school and please her parents. In the other life, she hates her parents and the fact that they are poor, but loves her little sister unconditionally.

It had always seemed like a rule that if she got sick or injured in one life she would still be sick or injured in the other life when she switched over. One day, when Sabine sprains her wrist in one life and her wrist remains perfectly fine in the other, she realizes that the rules might be changing and she may be able to pick one life to stay in once and for all. She begins to conduct experiments to determine if it would be possible to kill herself in one life and remain in the other.

This book was really interesting! It reminded me of that movie Sliding Doors. Sabine is unhappy in both of her lives for different reasons. In one life she loves her sister but hates being poor and in the other life she loves her family’s wealth but hates her fake personality. When she realizes she may be able to pick one, it seems to her that the obvious answer would be the wealthy, privileged life, but she cannot bear the thought of never seeing her little sister again.

When Sabine meets Ethan in one life, he begins to seem like the only person who may be able to help her and the only one who she may be able to convince of her situation. He begins to help her to see the good things about each life, and that choosing between them might not be the best solution. Sabine begins to realize that her situation may be different, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

One Past Midnight was a great story that blended contemporary and science fiction genres.  It was very well written and is actually a standalone novel!

One Past Midnight was published May 1, 2013.

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into Place by Amy ZhangLiz Emerson is one of the most popular girls in school, and from the outside it seems like she lives the perfect life. However, she secretly is suffering on the inside and is afraid to ask for help. Instead, she decides to leave her life entirely and plans to drive her car off the road and make it look like an accident. What she didn’t count on was that she wouldn’t be killed instantly, but would instead survive and be taken to the hospital in critical condition, where the doctors say the only way she will survive is if she wants to keep fighting to live.

This was a really powerful story that reminded me a bit of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. However in this story, Liz was purposely trying to kill herself, and instead of the story being told from her point of view it is actually told by a narrator who isn’t identified until the end of the book. The narration jumps back and forth between the narrator watching Liz’s friends and family in the days after the accident and flashbacks of what Liz’s life was like before the accident and how everything led up to that point.

Liz’s father died when she was very young and her mother works a job that keeps her traveling most of the time so Liz spends most of her time alone. This is definitely a big factor contributing to her depression, and leads to her reckless behavior like drinking and driving erratically. It seems that Liz does things like that just to avoid being bored and alone with her own thoughts. What depresses Liz most of all is herself–she has an extreme case of self-loathing and feels that by killing herself she is making the world better. Liz’s hatred of herself comes from the way she treats people–she acts like a mean girl most of the time at school, messing up the lives of those who wrong her even in the slightest way, and then once she realizes how much she hurts people she regrets it and hates herself for what she has done.

The sad thing is that you can see how much Liz is trying to hint that she needs help, especially during the last week of her life. Everyone is so consumed with their own lives or they think that because Liz is rich and popular her life is therefore perfect, and this blinds them to what is really going on. The only one who watches Liz and seems to care about getting to know the real Liz Emerson is Liam, a boy from a different crowd at school who is the first to see Liz’s accident and call the police.

Overall, Falling into Place was a powerful story that was difficult to put down. I am still in awe of the fact that Amy Zhang is still a high school student and she was able to write this amazing book!

Falling into Place will be released on September 9, 2014.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle FormanWARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD FOR IF I STAY

Where She Went takes place three years after If I Stay and is told from Adam’s point of view. Adam and Mia have been apart for nearly three years now and their lives have gone in different directions. Adam has used their breakup as the driving force behind his music, which subsequently led to his success as a rock star. Mia went to Julliard and is now playing concerts at all the biggest venues. Right before Adam is supposed to leave for a tour in Europe, he and Mia run into each other in New York City for the first time in three years.

This book had a very different tone from the first book. Adam is very angry and depressed after all he has been through with Mia. He still loves her and is upset at how their breakup went, and he is depressed because even though he achieved everything he wanted to career-wise, he absolutely hates his career. He has fought to keep Mia’s name out of the press but unfortunately he can never get her completely out of his own head.

Where She Went is told in a similar fashion as If I Stay, alternating between current time and flashbacks. Through the flashbacks we learn what happened after Mia got out of the hospital and how their relationship began to decline when she moved to New York, and we also get to see how Adam’s career took off and what he has done since Mia left. What is hard for Adam also is that he constantly had to be there for Mia after she lost her family in the accident, but what many people didn’t realize was that he loved them as well so he was also hurting badly after their deaths and had nobody to comfort him.

When Adam and Mia meet up after all this time, it is awkward for them both at first. Adam is still angry with Mia for how she left things and isn’t entirely sure what spending time with her will result in. They are both leaving for different countries the next day–Adam to England and Mia to Japan–and know that they have only this one night to fix whatever went wrong between them and have closure. The direction that this book took was very interesting and I was definitely surprised at the way it ended.

Overall, Where She Went was a great follow up to If I Stay. I liked getting Adam’s perspective and it was interesting to see how much Mia’s family’s accident affected so many lives.

Where She Went was released on April 1, 2011 and is the second book in the If I Stay series.

 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”

Mia and her family decide to go out for a drive on a snowy day. When their car is hit by a truck, Mia is separated from her body and watches as she is taken to the hospital in critical condition. As she watches her life happen from outside her own body, she realizes that she has to make a choice: to return to her life after all she has lost, or to let herself die and move on.

This was such a beautiful story. Mia is such a rare teenager–she has a really wonderful family and she knows it. Most teenagers are constantly fighting with their parents but Mia absolutely loves her family and enjoys spending time with them and isn’t ashamed to admit it. This just makes it so much worse for her after the accident because she knows how much she has lost.

The story is told from Mia’s point of view from outside her body. She’s almost like a ghost–nobody can see or hear her; she’s just able to watch what is happening around her. The story jumps between what is happening in the hospital and flashbacks of Mia’s life growing up and her love story with Adam. I really liked how Forman did this–it allows the reader to get Mia’s story gradually and by the end of the book you’re just as torn as she is about the choice she has to make.

Mia probably wouldn’t be as torn about her decision if it wasn’t for Adam. She and Adam are completely different–he is into rock music and plays in a band and she is quiet and plays classical music on her cello–yet they balance each other out perfectly. They were already having problems in their relationship because their music careers were going in different directions, but they were fighting for a way to stay together. When Mia realizes that moving on and dying means also leaving Adam behind, she becomes even more unsure about her choice.

This book really makes you think about life and death, and what you would do when faced with a choice like Mia’s. Continuing on and living despite all she has lost is definitely the harder choice, especially since medically Mia will face a lot of challenges, but taking the easy way out and dying is the harder choice for the people she leaves behind. Mia begins to realize that her choice doesn’t only affect her, but instead will have an impact on everyone close to her.

Overall, If I Stay was a beautiful and powerful story that makes you realize how quickly our lives can change. I loved how the story was told in a back and forth way from Mia’s point of view, and I was literally unable to put this book down.

If I Stay was released on January 1, 2009 and is the first book in the If I Stay series. It is also being made into a movie that will be released on August 22, 2014.

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Take Me On by Katie McGarryHaley Williams was a championship kickboxer until one night changed everything. Since then, she refuses to fight or train in her grandfather’s gym, even though it upsets the rest of her family. However, when she meets West Young, things begin to change. He accepts a mixed martial arts fight with her ex-boyfriend in her honor, and she is forced to either train him or watch him lose. West begins to form a new life for himself, one in which he isn’t just a Young, and he regrets the day when Haley will find out who he really is and where he comes from.

I’ve been a huge fan of this series since the very first book, and three books later Katie McGarry does not fail to disappoint! Haley is great character–she is super tough and able to defeat guys twice her size, but unfortunately she loses her will to fight after a tragic event. She also deals with her horrible living situation in the best way she can and continues to suffer in silence so that she can put the rest of her family first. Her family had to move in with her uncle’s family after her father lost his job, and her uncle constantly demeans her and orders her around. Instead of complaining about her situation she tries to do whatever she can to find her own way to pay for college and works part time after school to help her family with money.

West’s life is completely different–his family is the richest family in town. He has his own car, a huge mansion, and his own credit cards, all paid for by his parents. When he gets kicked out of school and his parent’s home and is forced to enroll in the local public school and live in his car, he realizes how much he takes for granted. For the first time, he is responsible for himself and has to get a job in order to pay for his own food and gas. Once he meets Haley and realizes how resilient she is even when faced with the problems she deals with every day, he is worried that she will never see who he really is if she knows where he comes from, so he hides the fact that he is a member of the Young family.

West gets involved when Haley’s ex-boyfriend’s brother causes trouble for her one night, and because he steps in he is challenged to an official fight in the ring. West agrees, both because he wants to defend Haley and he wants to prove that he isn’t weak, but he doesn’t realize this isn’t just a regular fistfight. He will be fighting against a trained mixed martial arts fighter and is entirely unprepared. Haley agrees to train West so that he can stand a chance in the ring, and tries to keep herself from falling for another fighter.

I loved Haley and West’s story! They are both struggling in their own way and are able to help each other get through a really rough time. Haley is such a strong fighter yet she has to learn how to stay strong where her uncle and her family are concerned. She also has to learn to accept help from others. West has to learn that proving himself doesn’t necessarily mean proving himself physically, and he has to realize that getting his father’s approval may not be as important as he thought. I also loved how we get to see characters from previous stories in this book–there are appearances by West’s sister Rachel and her boyfriend Isaiah, and their friend Abby as well.

Overall, Take Me On was a great romance about two great characters. I loved this story and I’m hoping that the next one will be about Abby!

Take Me On will be released on May 27, 2014 and is the fourth book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelWendy Darling’s brothers Michael and John disappeared one day, and her parents have basically decided that they were killed in a surfing accident. Wendy doesn’t believe them and decides to go and look for them herself. What she finds is a hidden cove inhabited by runaways where the waves are always perfect and everyone is always surfing. She becomes torn between two of the runaways–Pete, who has his own band of runaways that he protects, and Jas, Pete’s nemesis and a drug dealer on the other side of the cove.

I was excited to read this because it was the first retelling of Peter Pan that I have come across. Unfortunately, it was also really disappointing. First of all, Wendy is the most blah main character ever. I felt absolutely no connection to her and she made the dumbest decisions and then wondered how she ended up in such bad situations. After months and months she just decides to go out looking for her brothers, who she still believes are alive. This didn’t make sense to me–if she was so sure that they were alive, why would she want to find them after they’ve put she and her parents through hell? Anyway, she goes out on her own and thinks for some reason she can do better than the entirety of the California law enforcement, and when she comes across the hidden cove called Kensington, things begin to get really bad.

She meets Pete, who is obviously the reinvented Peter Pan, and who is nothing like the original. He’s kind of a jerk who keeps secrets from Wendy yet for some reason after knowing her only a few hours can’t bear to have her leave. Wendy of course develops her own insta-love for Pete, even though they have basically no chemistry and barely know each other. Belle, who is obviously the reinvented Tinkerbell, was the only character who seemed to develop a bit throughout the book, but her character was still very cliche–the typical jealous ex-girlfriend who wants to make Wendy’s life miserable.

But it gets even worse: Wendy develops insta-love for another character–Jas, who is basically the Captain Hook of the story yet personality wise is a much better guy than Pete. Wendy goes from being head over heels for Pete to being head over heels for Jas so quick that it is obviously she has no idea what she really feels for anyone. The story then takes a twist near the end that I’m sure was supposed to wow the reader but basically made me angry because it was so ridiculous.

Overall, Second Star was a huge disappointment due to too much insta-love, underdeveloped characters, and a horrible ending.

Second Star will be released on May 13, 2014.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickFrom the outside, Samantha Reed seems like the perfect rich girl. Her mother is a politician, she goes to private school, works at the country club pool during the summer, and never gets in any kind of trouble. The Garretts next door however, are quite the opposite. They are loud, affectionate, all over the place, and there are just so many of them. Samantha has spent most of her life watching them from her balcony, until one night when Jase Garrett climbs up to meet her and brings her into his world.

This was a really cute story! Jase and Samantha’s families are totally opposite–Samantha’s mother seems to want nothing to do with her half the time and is only concerned with her own career, but Jase’s mother is constantly surrounded by her children and is always putting them before herself. Jase’s father owns a hardware store and is still affectionate towards his wife, but Samantha doesn’t even remember her father because he left when she was very young. When Samantha becomes involved with Jase, his family welcomes her with open arms, yet Samantha still hides her relationship from her mother because she knows she wouldn’t approve.

I really loved both Samantha and Jase. Jase expects Samantha to be a spoiled rich girl but she is definitely not like that at all. She is strong and independent and when Jase’s family needs her to help babysit she jumps in and does her best despite not having any experience. Jase is like the perfect boy–he works at his father’s store to earn money for his own car, he practices sports early in the morning so that he can get a scholarship to a good college, he loves all of his brothers and sisters and has no problem taking care of them all the time, and he is really respectful and loving towards his parents. He treats Samantha really well also, and the two seem to fit together perfectly.

There were definitely some heavy issues dealt with in this story as well–drug and alcohol addiction, drunk driving, and parenting issues–and Fitzpatrick did a great job of handling these. This is definitely a story about first love, but it is also so much more. Fitzpatrick did a great job of developing each character throughout the story, and even the youngest Garretts had their own distinct personalities that allowed them to leave an impression on the reader.

Overall, My Life Next Door was a cute story about first love and the many issues that come along with it. It’s a quick read and something that I really enjoyed.

My Life Next Door was released on June 14, 2012 and is the first book in a series. The second book, The Boy Most Likely To, is set to be released in 2015 and features Samantha’s friend Tim.