Nov 19, 2017

Review: A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck


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Title: A Short History of the Girl Next Door
Author: Jared Reck
Publisher: Knopf Books
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Harcover, 272 Pages
Published September 2017


Summary: Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him. 


I received an advanced copy of this book at BookCon this past spring, and at first I wasn't sure what to expect. But I had heard a lot of good things about it, and once things started to wind down a little bit at college and I found that I had some free time to get some reading done, I decided to pick this book up. And let me tell you, I am so incredibly glad that I did, because this book took me on an emotional rollercoaster that I was not expecting and it left me shaken in the best of ways. 

As the summary explains, Matt and Tabby are both freshmen in high school. They're also neighbors, schoolmates, and longtime best friends. It's the type of friendship where an extra table setting is set for Tabby during the holidays, the entire family knows/loves her, and even Matt's little brother sees Tabby as a big sister. They have a really great, adorable bond that reminded me a lot of me and my best friends.

And then Tabby starts dating Liam, a high school senior, and everything goes wrong for Matt from there. She slowly starts to drift away from him and start her own life with her cool, new friends and popular boyfriend, trying to include Matt but unknowingly making it more painful for him every time that she does because Matt is hopelessly in love with her in ways that totally extend beyond best friendship. 

I absolutely loved this book. Matt was such a hilarious character and a lot of his comments kept me laughing so hard that tears were coming from my eyes. His narrative voice reminded me a lot of that in Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, with a main character that is so sarcastic and hilarious that you can't help but want to laugh along with them and share their experiences. This book started out on a really humorous note, and then it hooked me pretty quickly -- I read over 200 pages in one sitting because I fell in love with the story and just couldn't tear myself away.

I also really loved Tabby as a character. I appreciated the fact that she didn't just start dating a cool senior boy and cut Matt out of her life forever. Even though she started to drift apart and things started to change, Matt was still an integral part of her life and she tried to be around him the best she could, even if she was making things harder for him without knowing. Tabby had a lot of personality in this book and it was very, very easy to like her -- and to see why Matt would be drawn to her and fall in love with her in the first place.

(Major spoilers here, so please skip to the next paragraph if you don't want the story spoiled for you!) The entire time I was reading this book during the first sitting, I liked the humor and the relationships and I expected it was just going to be a cute, adorable, hilarious romance story. Nothing crazy and out of this world. But then...when Tabby's accident happened and she just died, I actually dropped my book in shock and started shaking. I had not been expecting the story to go in that direction at all, and Jared Reck caught me completely off guard with it in the best of ways. I even frantically texted my boyfriend because I was in such shock and just needed to vent to somebody. And then I started crying. A lot. It takes a lot for a book to bring out a reaction like that in me, and as soon as it happened, I immediately knew that this book was going to be bumped up to a five star rating. 

Yeah. This book seriously shook me that much, in the best of ways. If this book isn't on your TBR yet, it needs to be. Seriously. It's so incredible that I'm going to start pushing it on everybody that I know. I wasn't expecting to be blown away like this (mainly because I hadn't heard much about the book prior to BookCon), but now I am totally sold and will 100% be reading anything else Jared Reck produces from this point on. Seriously. 

Overall, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is equal parts hilarious, adorable, and even shocking. This book will take you on the kind of emotional ride that I personally haven't seen in a very long time -- I almost slipped a book reference in here but that would give the plot away! So, to make a long story short, if you're looking for a super quick read that will grip you and shatter your heart in all the right places, this book is the one to read. 

Hats off to Jared Reck for the incredible reading experience -- I'm looking forward to more of his work in the future!





Nov 16, 2017

NaNoWriMo Mid-Month Catch Up!

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Hey there, everybody! Jessica here with a brief little check-in. How has NaNoWriMo been going for everyone? We're officially at the halfway point (okay, we're a day over the halfway point, but we're doing to pretend that doesn't count) so that means you have two weeks left to reach 50K! Which is totally doable, so if you're ahead of the game, keep chugging along. And if you aren't quite there yet, keep pushing and getting in some extra words whenever you can find the chance! You can totally do this!

Now, as for my personal progress with my NaNoWriMo project. I actually wrote super hard and went crazy for the first two weeks, and I ended up hitting 50K and finishing the first draft of my manuscript earlier this week. Which is super great and all, and I'm so glad I finished early and can enjoy my Thanksgiving break home with my family, but that doesn't mean I'm done! I'll still be hanging around here and on Twitter to encourage everyone and keep you all pushing forward. 

How is your progress going with NaNo? Are you halfway there? Over that? Below it? What are some of your tips for getting your word count in, even when you're super exhausted and just not up to it? I love all of you guys and I'm also super nosy, which means that I really want to know what everyone's up to and how they're doing! And don't forget to follow our Twitter, where I'll always be hanging around and asking about NaNoWriMo!

Hang in there, grab those pens, and go tackle National Novel Writing Month. This community is filled with some of the strongest people I know, and I'm positive that we can all work hard and cross that 50K finish line together. So what are you waiting for? Comment your current progress down below and then get writing!

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Nov 15, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Love & Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine where we highlight some of the upcoming books we can't wait to read!

Emily's Waiting on:


Title: Love & Other Train Wrecks
Author: Leah Konen
Genre: YA Romance 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: Jan. 2nd, 2018

Summary: A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm
One train ride. Two strangers.
Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.
Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.
After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love...and the course of their lives forever?

I love YA romance's like these, although I'm not so into the insta love. Can two people really fall in love in one night? Maybe I'll change my mind though since they do seem to go through a sort of trauma together. I'm excited to see the outcome of this story and see how the characters will develop. Let us know your opinions on this book or others you're waiting on!


What are you waiting on this week? Leave your links so we can stop back!



Nov 14, 2017

Excerpt: Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Hi guys! We have an interesting little piece for you all on the blog today -- it's an excerpt of the new book Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson! We just read through the excerpt ourselves a little while ago, and we are already so in love with it that we just had to share. So without further ado, here it goes!

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Title: Not Now, Not Ever
Author: Lily Anderson
Publication Date: November 21st, 2017
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Summary: The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest. Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer. 1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest. 2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA. 3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards. What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time? This summer's going to be great.

EXCERPT

When we perfect commercial time travel, everyone in the past is going to be pissed at us. It’s not only that their quiet, sepia-toned lives will be inundated with loud-mouthed giants. And it’s not even the issue that language is a living organism, so all communication will be way more problematic than anyone ever thinks about.

It’s jet packs.

At some point, someone is going to ask about jet packs, and no amount of bragging about clean water and vaccines and free Wi-Fi will be able to distract them. Even if you went back before the In- dustrial Revolution, someone is going to want to know if we’ve all made ourselves pairs of Icarus wings.
Defrost Walt Disney and hell ask to be put back in the fridge until Tomorrowland is real. Go back to the eighties and everyone’s going to want to know about hoverboards.

Hell, go back to yesterday, find your own best friend, and they’d still ask, “Tomorrow’s the day we get flying cars, right?”

People want miracles. They want magic. They want to freak- ing fly.
Unrelated: Did you know that crossing state lines on a train is pretty much the most boring and uncomfortable thing ever?

Despite sounding vaguely poetic, the midnight train to Oregon wasn’t much for scenery. Unfortunately, running away tends to work best in the middle of the night, especially when ones cousins have a curfew to make and can’t wait on the platform with you.

Twelve hours, two protein bars, and one sunrise later, the view was rolling brown fields that turned into dilapidated houses with collapsing fences and sun-bleached Fisher Price play sets. Appar- ently, the whole wrong side of the tracks thing wasn’t a myth. Everything the train passed was a real bummer.

One should always have something sensational to read on the train, whispered Oscar Wilde, sounding remarkably like my stepmom. With my headphones drowning out the screech of the tracks, I reached into my backpack, pushing past the heavy stack of books and ziplock bags of half-eaten snacks, to the bottom. Tucked be- tween the yellowed pages of my battered copy of Starship Troopers was a folded square of white printer paper. I tried to smooth it over my leg, but it snapped back into its heavy creases.

Dear Ever,


On behalf of Rayevich College and our sister school, the Messina Academy for the Gifted, it is my great pleasure to offer you a place at Camp Onward. At Onward, you will spend  three weeks learning alongside forty-seven other accomplished high school students from all over the West Coast as you prepare for the annual Tarrasch Melee. The winners of the Melee will be granted a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to Rayevich College . . .

The page was starting to wear thin in the corners from my fin- gers digging into it whenever it stopped feeling real enough. The packing list that had once been stapled to it was even worse off, high- lighted and checkmarked and underlined. I’d had to put that one inside of an N. K. Jemisin hardcover so that the extra weight could smash it flat.

I ran my thumb over the salutation again. Dear Ever.

I shivered, remembering how my hands had trembled as I’d read those words for the first time, stamped to the front of an envelope with the Rayevich seal in the corner. It meant that everything had worked. It meant that freedom was as simple as a checked box on an Internet application.

The train lurched to a stop. I shoved the note back inside of Star- ship Troopers and popped out my headphones just in time to hear the conductor’s garbled voice say, Eugene station.

I staggered down to the platform, my laptop case and my back- pack weighing me down like uneven scales. I sucked in fresh air, not even caring that it tasted like cement and train exhaust. It was cooler here than it was back home. California asphalt held in heat and let it off in dry, tar-scented bursts.
Oregon had a breeze. And pine trees. Towering evergreens that could have bullied a Christmas tree into giving up its lunch money. We didn’t get evergreens like that at home. My neighborhood was lined in decorative suburban foliage. By the time I got back, our oak tree would be starting to think about shedding its sticky leaves on the windshield of my car.

As a new wave of passengers stomped onto the train, I retrieved the massive rolling suitcase that Beth had ordered off of the Inter- net for me. It was big enough to hold a small person, as my brother had discovered when he’d decided to use it to sled down the stairs.

I’d miss that little bug.

There were clusters of people scattered across the platform, some shouting to each other over the dull roar of the engine. I watched an old woman press two small children into her bosom and a hipster couple start groping each others cardigans.

In the shade of the ticket building, a light-skinned black guy had his head bowed over his cell phone. His hair was shorn down to his scalp, leaving a dappling of curl seedlings perfectly edged around his warm brown temples. He was older than I was, definitely college age. He had that finished look, like he’d grown into his shoulders and gotten cozy with them. A yellow lanyard was swinging across the big green D emblazoned on his T-shirt.

“Hey, I called to him, rolling my suitcase behind me. My laptop case swayed across my stomach in tandem with my backpack scrap- ing over my spine, making it hard not to waddle. “Are you from Rayevich?”

The guy looked up, startled, and shoved his phone into the pocket of his jeans. He swept forward, remembering to smile a minute too late. All of his white teeth gleamed in the sunshine.

“Are you Ever?” His smile didn’t waver, but I could feel him processing my appearance. Big, natural hair, baggy Warriors T-shirt, cutoff shorts, clean Jordans. Taller than him by at least two inches.

“Yeah,” I said. And then, to take some of the pressure off, “You were looking for a white girl, right?”

His smile went dimply in the corners, too sincere to be pervy. I’m happy to be wrong.”

Ever Lawrence, I said, hoping that I’d practiced it enough that it didn’t clunk out of my mouth. It was strange having so few sylla- bles to get through. Elliot Gabaroche was always a lot to dump on another human being.

“Cornell Aaron, the college boy said, sticking his hand out. He had fingers like my father’s, tapered, with clean, round nails. I spent the firm two-pump handshake wondering if he also got no-polish manicures. Ill be one of your counselors at Onward. It’s a quick drive from here.

He took the handle of my suitcase without preamble and led the way toward the parking lot. I followed, my pulse leaping in the same two syllables that had wriggled between the folds of my brain and stamped out of my shoes and pumped through my veins for months.

Bunbury.

It was a stupid thing to drive you crazy, but here I was: running away from home in the name of Oscar Wilde.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lily Anderson is a school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California, far from her mortal enemy: the snow.

We'd like to thank the lovely team over at St. Martin's Press for once again allowing us to take part in one of their awesome events, and for allowing us to share this excerpt with all of you guys! After reading this little snippet, it's safe to say that this book will be making an appearance on our TBR, as well as the first book in the series, which we also want to read! What about you? Will this book be making an appearance on your TBR?