This is why I Don’t Get the Flu Shot: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Book Review

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Don’t Even Think About It

By: Sarah Mlynowski

Released: March 11th, 2014 by Delacorte Press

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal-ESP

Rating: 3 Stars

Acquired: via publisher

Getting a flu shot was never rewarding…until 22 sophomores get ESP as a side effect. The results: funny, witty, and down right amusing. But, they already know that.

When the students of homeroom 10b at Bloomberg High School lined up to get their flu shots, none of them expected to get super powers. Sure, there was Pi who had the second highest GPA in her class; and, always wanted to be extraordinary. But, to get ESP after the shot a day later, now that was something. Told as a collective we, Don’t Even Think About It takes place over a week with around 22 floating main characters all trying to deal with their new ability to hear people’s thoughts.

There’s Olivia, who is constantly sick or afraid of getting sick out of habit living with a hypochondriac OCD mother. She now knows the school nurse used to be a stripper and has sex. A lot. Like go on a condom run doing school a lot. Olivia is also afraid of public speaking of any kind; even talking to Lazar, the cute boy who likes her until she can read his mind.

Then there’s Tess and Mackenzie, best friends forever. Until, Mackenzie forgets Tess can read her mind and let’s her thoughts slip to Tess needing to lose weight. And that Mackenzie cheated on Cooper, another ESP, the last one to get it.

There’s also BJ, who hits on Tess in every way possible– through ESP, in person, through text. Sadie, who is the center of Teddy’s mind who is not an ESP but the center of Tess’s mind. Plus, a pair of twins, a guy named Levi, and too many more.

The whole homeroom became a we. They would talk to each other through their thoughts. Cheat in class. Know more secrets, like about Mackenzie cheating on Cooper. Hear everything. And comment on everything. There were italics throughout the whole novel; so many scattered thoughts from too many voices.

Pi takes charge in this novel, but it is Olivia who shines for me. I just adored her. She had her issues with public speaking; maybe even a character flaw or two. But there was so much in her that was likable. She was quirky, adorable, and funny. Kind, considerate, and without even realizing she could, she could stand up for herself.

This novel was a cute and quick read. I’ll be honest. When I first got it, I thought it would be cheesy. The cover wasn’t very promising. The title gives too much away. But, this cynic liked it. Not a lot, but enough. It was funny, witty, and although had way too many featured characters, some of them, when given the time to develop, developed rather nicely; like Olivia, Tess, Pi, and Cooper. When they were given their own time, they showed maturity in situations and choices that were made. The side characters were good. The concept was original. The writing wasn’t juvenile. Although I believe it deserves a three star rating because I simply just liked it, it is a strong three stars. I think if I was at the targeted age, which I am not, I would give it a four, or higher star rating. For an author that writes a lot of series, or has written series in this past, this was a good standalone novel in my opinion.

Nora Ephron would be pleased: What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin Book Review

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What Nora Knew

By: Linda Yellin

Released January 21, 2014 by Gallery Books

Length: 336 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

One Assignment to write about love, channeling Nora Ephron. One cynic journalist. One love-enthused crime writer who kills all his main character’s girlfriends.  One story Nora Ephron would give her stamp of approval

 

Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine year old cynic, but don’t tell her that. Divorced from a high powered divorce lawyer, Molly knows she hasn’t found “the one”. Instead, she is dating Russel, the chiropractor. Russell is stable, a pragmatist, and lacks romance. Molly feels settled. When she is assigned to write about soul mates in the tone of Nora Ephron, Molly knows she is the last person who should be assigned the article; and the truth is, she was the last choice. When she tries to create a romantic dinner for Russell, it fizzles. They settle into each other, both knowing neither are the romantic types, but that’s OK.

Cue You’ve Got Mail. During Memorial Day weekend at the Hamptons, Molly meets her match in fellow writer Cameron Duncan. A famous crime writer, Cameron kills off every girlfriend in his Mike Bing novels; while still managing to make every woman reader swoon. Molly doesn’t believe he’s sincere as he says Sleepless in Seattle his one of his favorite films. Like Joe Fox, Cameron Duncan starts to appear everywhere, infuriating Molly; but slowly waking her up in the perfect Nora Ephron way. 

Does the article turn out great? Does she even write it? Well, you’ll just have to read the book because there may be some predictable surprises. I could definitely see this book being adapted to film. It’s a great homage to Nora Ephron, but it’s the characters that are so great. Molly is so much like Kathleen from You’ve Got Mail. The cynicism is spot on. The references to the movies. The way the plot moves; even the slight character growth. I read this book surprisingly in one day. I laughed a lot. And, I admit, cried at two spots. Cameron Duncan was a great character. And, so was Dr. Russell. How boring and simple. There is a scene in the book, a realization between Molly and Russell that I think many couples who have felt stagnant in their relationship can relate to. It is a very relatable book that truly reads like a romantic comedy movie. I will see it in theaters if it gets adapted into film. I hope it does. It would be a pity if it didn’t. The material is all there.

If you are a fan of romantic comedies; or, looking for a light, fun read this book is it. Spring is near. Summer, too. It’d be a great beach read. Yellin really nails the romance aspect. What it’s like to feel stuck in a relationship, in life. To meet that one person who drives you crazy.  To be closed then open. I hope you give this book a once over. It’s worth a read. 

Greetings from Lost Lake: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen Book Review

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Lost Lake

By: Sarah Addison Allen

Released January 21st, 2014 by St. Martin Press

Length: 302 pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Magical Realism

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

You can never the beginning. But you can always change the end.

That one sentence, said by a somewhat minor character staying for one last summer at Lost Lake echoes throughout the entire novel; although it is said closer to the end, it is true throughout the hole book. Each main character, newly widowed Kate, her daughter Devin, Kate’s estranged, great Aunt Eby, Kate’s old childhood friend she spent one good summer with, Wes, they all are stuck and looking to change their ending–they just don’t know it yet. Even the rather minor characters like Selma, who wears a charm bracelet that allows her to marry eight already married men and she’s on her last charm. And, Bulahdeen, who said that heavy statement; her husband has Alzheimer’s, and as many times as she has read novels, she has tried to change her endings.

This novel isn’t just about Eby selling Lost Lake; or Kate “waking up” after a year since her husband died; or Devin befriended an alligator no one thought was on the property, that could only be seen by her, leaving clues; or, each of the three guests at the lake; or, Wes who never stopped loving Kate. It is about creating your own ending that isn’t an ending after all. It’s more of a “in the mean time”.  A “happily ever right now”. Allen creates characters that are somewhat more than broken in many ways and puts them back together in only ways that she can.

Allen still has her Southern charm. And that magical realism that got me when I read my first Sarah Addison Allen book; and, never stopped. I loved the allegory of the alligator. I won’t give away the reason behind him, but the reason is touching, sweet, and really special. Brings the book together. I loved the theme and idea of creating a new ending for yourself. Not really rejecting the one you had, but doing a do-over. A second chance on our own terms. Allen proved, to me, once again, why she is one of my favorite authors. Her voice is so unique and offers something I don’t normally get from other contemporary authors.

I would highly recommend reading any of Allen’s fabulous books. She is so talented. This book is no exception.

When two girls change places, nothing can go wrong: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

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Being Sloane Jacobs

By: Lauren Morrill

To be released in January 7th by Random House Children’s

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Young Adult Sports and Games

Rating: 4 and a half Stars

Acquired: through Netgalley

Sloane Emily Jacobs is no stranger to the spotlight. She lives the life of a politician’s daughter in Washington D.C.; as well as a top figure skater in her age division. But, after a fall during a competition three years before, she hasn’t been on the ice much. Until she catches Daddy in the act. Whether to keep her hushed or not, she gets sent to an intense summer figure skating camp in Canada to prepare herself for nationals, and to be the top again.

Sloane Devon Jacobs has a habit of being too aggressive on the ice hockey field. Barely scrapping by, Sloane Devon’s only chance at going to college is by getting an ice hockey scholarship. But, when her aggression on the ice gets out of hand, her coach bans her for the next year, her senior year, of high school unless she goes to an ice hockey camp in Canada.

These two  girls may share the same name, but they come from two different backgrounds. Both on and off the ice. When the bump into each other, and discover they share the same name, that’s when it hits Sloane Emily Jacobs. It’s time for a switch. The girls’ adjustments to their new lifestyles won’t be easy. They each have something to prove, but can they pull it all off?

Lauren Morrill’s novel is one of those finds you can’t put down. Told in alternating voices, it’s easy to believe you are in Canada, too, living a double life. The girls were great. Sloane Emily wasn’t a prim and proper ice princess, she had spunk, attitude, and likability to her. I loved when it was her chapter; she was tough, while staying true to herself. Sloane Devon wasn’t an easy character to crack. She was much rougher around the edges than Sloane Emily, and a little bit harder to like. When I finally warmed up to her a little bit less than halfway, I quickly looked forward to her chapters, too.

Neither characters played the “poor girl” or “rich girl” card, proving their different classes didn’t mean anything. Instead it was about believing in themselves; on and off the rink. They had more to prove to themselves than anyone, and it was nice to see them succeed despite of themselves.

I am not a sports fan by any means. I don’t know the rules to ice hockey and need to hold onto bars if I go ice skating. Yet, I loved this book. It was more about believing in yourself, finding strength in the unknown, and taking personal risks than just about the two sports. The sports were prevalent, but used more as a soul searching device rather than a how-to device. I would recommend this book to all the sports loving readers and non-sports loving readers alike. There is something for everyone in it. Love, learning to be your own person, friendship, and sports. It’s all a winning combination in my book.

Some Books can’t be read: Waking Sleep Beauty Freak Book Review

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Waking Sleep Beauty Freak

Released June, 2013 by Winking Buddha Press

Length: 256 pages

Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir

Rating: DNF

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Waking Sleep Beauty Freak is about waking up and realizing you are on the wrong life path and married to the wrong person. Now what? It is a non-fiction inspirational tale about disillusionment, self-discovery and the universal web of pain and growth. Its “Girls-grown-up” style narrative addresses what happens when an ambitious, hard-working, world traveling girl-verging-on-woman wakes up from a seven-year relationship to realize she is on the wrong life path and married to the wrong person. The subsequent unraveling and reweaving is crafted and delivered in a clever conversational tone, sharing ‘just enough’ – in a fun, poetic, modern philosophical way – to hold attention while simultaneously allowing the reader’s mind to wander down its own self-reflective path. While hilarious and bawdy at times, it digs deep and across multiple continents to provide a unique inspirational window into a journey through divorce – parental and her own – and disease (diabetes). This is an ideal summer beach read, especially for women between the ages of 25 and 45 who have lived in New York and/or experienced any of the above. If candid, witty, seemingly gorgeous, ambitious and fun on the surface – she’s imperfect. She’s real. Raw. Rough. A little dirty. Growing. And wanting the reader to grow alongside her..

goodreads.com description

When I was looking through titles on netgalley, this book jumped up at me. I thought the title was creative and witty. Although the description of the book is somewhat lengthy, it is a little vague as well. The description isn’t the only thing that is vague, though. I couldn’t get very far reading this book. There were a couple pages that had funny analogies, or that I thought were insightful, but the majority of the pages fell short for me. Even at page 50, or so, I never got a true feel of what the book was about. Maybe if I tried to keep reading; but, it took me over two weeks just to get to around that page. I might have stopped half way. There just wasn’t enough substance in it.

The author, who does not have her name printed on the cover, gave nicknames to the people mentioned. These nicknames were not helpful, descriptive, or useful at all. There was creative ambition. I don’t know what he really looks like. I can’t tell you a single personality trait of his other than he must have some creative ambition. Then, there is her husband, Ferrari. Given that he is named after a fancy car, I am going to make a hypothesis and assume he is wealthy. Do I know his age? Occupation? Anything special? Not really, other than that he was a poor husband. I think he worked on Wall Street, and was an older gentleman. I didn’t feel anything for him, creative ambition, and the other creative ambition she later added. I didn’t feel much for her, either.

She is a well-traveled woman, used to fancy things, and more than slightly obnoxious in her writing. She seemed selfish, especially when she cheated. I wanted to like her, to feel something, anything, for her. I just didn’t. There was nothing but a slight distaste for her. Maybe she got better, I just didn’t have the patience or desire to learn more about her or her diabetes (I never got to that part).

I guess a good title does not mean the quality and quantity of the writing is on equal footing, or better. I am not one to not finish books, but I couldn’t continue. I needed to wake that sleeping beauty freak up.

What Can Happen in Six Months when you black out: Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards Book Review

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Six Months Later

By: Natalie D. Richards

Released October, 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire

Length: 326 Pages

Genre: YA Thriller

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired by Netgalley

Chloe was not the perfect or ideal anything. She was close to being a delinquent, had sub par grades, and a sub par social life until she woke up six months later from a routine nap to find out she wasn’t the person anymore. But, can’t remember how. 

A lot can happen in six months. Even more can happen when you wake up from a nap to discover you can’t remember the past six months of your life; and, you weren’t in a coma, hospitalized, or Rip Van Winkle. High School Senior Chloe can’t remember the past six months. The much better grades, the boyfriend she only dreamed about, new friends and social life, and her best friend not talking to her. She can’t remember the study group she participated in that changed everything. Or, why she is the only person a fellow student thinks has the answers. Her doctors say she is normal; all tests coming back clear. Her mother doesn’t understand Chloe’s new awareness of not being aware. Chloe is a mess. What starts to develop is even more so.

I have never really read a young adult thriller, or mystery novel. I didn’t realize this one would be it. I am happy to report, I am so happy I was allowed to review this book. There was a new twist, turn, and plot device thrown at me on every page. The end is not what I expected. Nor, the middle truthfully. I was shocked by everything that happened. I loved it! I loved guessing after each page and being wrong. Chloe was a great character. I wanted to be her crime solving sidekick as she slowly pieced her life back together. Back together isn’t entirely true. Her life would never be the same. That was one of the best parts, her character growth. She never just let what happen to her take its toll on her. She fought back. Proved to her mother that something was wrong.

This novel was extremely well-written. Something character growth can be hard, especially in a mystery/thriller setting. But, the way Chloe matured, both internally and with her interpersonal relationships, was really well-written. I didn’t feel confused with each turn and twist. There was nothing expected about this novel at all. I didn’t see certain turns of events coming. It is nice to read a book like this where I am just as surprised as the fictional character. My heart was beating with her.

Six Months Later is a real page turner. Even reading it on my Nook, I kept wanting the next page to come. I couldn’t swipe fast enough. In about two sittings, I finished this book sad it was finished. I couldn’t decide what to read next because this book was just too great to be compared to anything else. If you like suspense, a mini whodunit, or want to discover someone new, this book is for you. It makes you think. And, participate really. I am not a fan of thrillers, I passed on Gone Girl. But, with this book, I’m glad I didn’t. I will definitely keep an eye out for this author. I just enjoyed this book so much. If you read it, there will be no regrets.

Love is Neverending for the Believers: Endless by Amanda Gray Book Review

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Endless

By: Amanda Gray

Released September, 2013 from Month9Books, LLC

Length: 384 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal with a mix of Historical Fiction (Romanov Era)

Rating: Four Stars

Jenny Kramer was accustomed to seeing visions from just a simple touch, but when the visions start to involve Maria Romanov and becomes intertwined with her real life, Jenny has to find out what the connection between Maria and her is. And, why a boy from her visions seems very much alive next door to her. She’s can’t seem to stop herself from being drawn from him, either. Is it love? Is it Real?

For a majority of her life, it is just been Jenny Kramer and her architect dad since her mother died when she was young. Although she is close with her dad, the details surrounding her mom are vague. Jenny can’t remember anything about her. All she knew was her mother would disappear for periods of time without saying why.  Jenny never pushed her dad for details, but when a figure from her dreams not only sneaks into the paintings Jenny made for an exhibit, but appears in the abandoned manor next door, Jenny starts to question who her mother really was. Why did she have a ring that resembles that of a secret organization in her town that helps people out of time. And, what is out of time? There are so many questions Jenny needs to find the answers for. The first, why the man resembles a boy, Nikolai from the Romanov Era? And, why he calls her Maria, the girl she is in her dream? Is she related to a Romanov?

 There were so many layers to this novel that I can’t do them justice. So much intrigue. I loved the historical aspect. It brought anew twist to the paranormal/fantasy aspect in the novel. I enjoyed that the chosen period wasn’t that of the Tudors, or the like, but of the Russian Romanovs that have such a sad history. It made the book seem less cliche; Romanovs aren’t usually on the top of peoples radar. Gray was able to weave together the tragic end of the Romanovs, focusing on Maria Romanov, into a timeless love story. Jenny/Maria was a strong character. The love story between her and the mysterious Nikolai was great. It wasn’t a love that was forced down the reader’s throat because it is supposed to be true love. It was natural; believable in the intensity for once. The way Nikolai finds Jenny/Maria was awe-inducing. I didn’t cry over their love, but of all the true love YA books out there, this has to be one of the most original; and sweet, heart-warming, and not creepy in a It is Young Adult, but didn’t always feel like that which was refreshing. You didn’t think about how old the characters were. There was no High School moment. They were never in classrooms that would remind you you were reading a YA book. It all felt contemporary; and, the age irrelevant.  I am never a huge fan of reading soulmate books, but this one was one I would read again. It all felt more authentic than others.

The dialogue in this novel wasn’t the writers’ strong point, but it was enjoyable enough that I didn’t want to skip many pages. I loved the plot the best; the way it unfolded it a gradual pace that allowed me to hang on to my seat for a little while. I was definitely surprised, or shocked, at certain plot twists that I enjoyed. All the plot twists, or layers, were great. I really found this novel to be unique and original. Since Amanda Grace is a duo, I thought maybe I would read parts that belonged to one author and not the other, like some collaborations read. Not here. The novel was completely fluid, with no real style changes. The book may seem to be a little long at a little under 400 pages, but reading it feels like it is much shorter. I just kept turning the page as each twist appeared, an aw love moment would happen, and a funny line would appear. I loved this novel.

I highly recommend this book. Just read it. You will want more. There is a slight cliff hanger, but I couldn’t find out if it is part of a series. Makes me love it even more that it was so good I want a second one. I’m not even a real fan of series. It was that enjoyable for me. I want to find out more!

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