Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

18189606Genre: 

Young Adult, this site Contemporary

Part of a Series?:

No

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um..

My Review:

Putting aside the fact that I would read anything Morgan Matson writes, even a takeout menu, I immediately felt a connection to Emily just by reading the synopsis alone. For most of my life, I’ve attached myself to best friends who have been so…out there, so unique and outgoing and wild and memorable. Everyone always knew my best friend, everyone always loved her, no matter who she was at the time and I followed in the adventures that were her life, and got used to being “Amanda’s best friend” or “Vanessa’s best friend” or “Allison’s best friend”. It was something I sort of got used to until none of them were there anymore. They didn’t disappear in the way that Sloane does with Emily, but the feelings were incredibly familiar to me and this was a huge part of my desire to read the book.

And the fact that Morgan had written it. Did I mention that part? I would read anything and everything by her.

Moving on though, I fell in love with this book. It’s not short, just about 450 pages and yet I managed to stay up until about 2 am, reading it. I tweeted about it, because I was so overwhelmed with how fast I read it and the emotions that I was so full of, and she had the perfect solution to it all.

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Everything about this books feel so real and that’s why its so easy to get caught up in them. She’s such a beautiful writer, and an incredible storyteller but she’s also such a familiar writer too. All of her characters are memorable and real and genuine and they feel like they could be your best friend. That’s the way Amy felt in Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Taylor in Second Chance Summer and Emily felt such the same way. Whether you’re an Emily or a Sloane or just a you, you can feel so connected with Emily. Its fantastic to go on this journey with her, from where she starts as this incredibly shy and unsure girl and transforms into someone very different.

What really gets me about this book is the connections and the friendships. It starts off with just the friendship between Emily and Frank as they work their way through Sloane’s list but you also get Dawn and Matthew and Emily’s family and its all incredibly beautiful. I love that Emily is able to find friendships in the most unexpected places and I love that summer brings them all together. I love the possibility of summer and how its this vast empty space to fill with adventures and its perfect for Emily’s changes and the friendships she makes. I love the weird way she meets Dawn and how they become friends. I love that the friendship with Frank is incredibly unexpected to Emily but her friendship with Frank’s friend Matthew is even weirder. The story is about friendship and you get so many examples of different friendships and its beautiful.

Plus, I mean, come on. Frank. Frank Porter. One, the name Frank? Not sexy, but totally manages to be so in this book. Also, I knew a boy named Frank Porter in…middle school? Maybe high school? Also, not a very sexy guy. But Morgan manages to get past the name thing and the boy I knew in middle school thing to make another boy that I’m falling ridiculously in love with.

Morgan also brings back something that she did in her first novel that I absolutely loved and that was music playlists. In Amy and Roger’s, there were playlists scattered throughout the book because they were on a road trip and it made sense. Playlists were probably harder to integrate into Second Chance Summer so the return of the playlists in this novel made me incredibly happy. The first time I saw the name “Andrew McMahon” on a playlist, I almost cried in happiness. Andrew McMahon (known for Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin and most recently, himself as a solo artist) is my musical spirit animal. I have a Something Corporate tattoo on my ankle and so I found a connection even in just the selection of music.

Lastly, I cried. It was two a.m. and I was overwhelmed with emotions and I just let it all out in sobs. It was not a sad book, not the way that Second Chance Summer was or even Amy and Roger’s but it reaches and grabs your emotions so tightly. I felt so filled up with so many emotions that I can’t even begin to name and I cried. This book makes you feel so much and I absolutely loved it.

I’ve talked enough but the bottom line is this: Morgan Matson is a terrific writer and her third novel does not disappoint. She makes you laugh and cry and want to go skinny dipping on the beach and work in an ice cream parlor and drive a car with a broken sunroof. She writes a memorable, beautiful book and its one that you most DEFINITELY need to go and pick up.

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Ask the Passengers Book Review

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King    

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You Can Find the Books At:

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, approved but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, viagra order Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

My Review:

In 2013, at the recommendation of Andrew Smith, I read A.S. King’s new release, Reality Boy, and was absolutely blown away  by it. When I received a ton of Barnes and Noble gift cards for Christmas like I always do, I was wondering the book store and saw this book. I knew that this book was going to be a good one, based on the amazingness that was Reality Boy.

What I really loved the most about the story is that while it follows the typical path of a coming-of-age story, especially that of someone struggling with their sexual identity, its also unique too. Astrid is really confused, in that she doesn’t really know if she’s gay. She knows she likes girls, one in particular. In fact, she’s in love with that girl. But she doesn’t know if that defines her as gay. Her reluctance to label herself is fantastic. She doesn’t want to feel constricted by labels, or by the idea that she has to choose a gender. This felt so incredibly close to my heart. The idea is that she’s in love with a girl, she finds other girls attractive but she can’t rule out that she wouldn’t fall in love with a boy. I think that’s a beautiful thing. I’m madly in love with my boyfriend who is, obviously, a boy but I could never rule out a girl. Its not about gender, its about people. I think AS King really tackles that in this novel.

I also like the relationships between child and parent that she writes about in her novels. The one in Reality Boy made me feel sick to my stomach, and the relationship between America and her mother was so visceral and so real and so heartbreaking to me. It wasn’t abusive, like the relationship between Gerald and his mother in Reality Boy, but its neglecting and its hard for me to deal with. That’s how well that she writes these kind of relationships. They feel SO incredibly real. Everything she writes is written with such honesty and realism and its the kind of writing that makes the story stick with her.

The thing that really gets me about this story is that you could write it off as just another  “gay story”, or whatever, but its not like that. Its so very real, and I think a lot of kids and teenagers and hell, even some adults go through this kind of confusion. The fact that Astrid doesn’t feel the need to define herself, and that she’s going to love who she loves, labels or not, is beautiful and its a truly wonderful story. I think so many people could relate to Astrid, not just because of her struggle with her sexual identity but her struggle just to figure herself and feel important in her own home.

This story is addicting and compelling and deserving of every accolade bestowed upon it. A.S. King is two for two for me, and I am truly impressed with her novels. She is an incredible writer and a great storyteller. She really gets contemporary young adult literature, and I think even adults that are wary of YA would love her novels. She writes SO well. Ask the Passengers is on its way of being one of my favorites that I’ve read this year…and its only the fourth day of the year. Keep that in mind :)

Happy Reading.

My Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

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Reality Boy Book Review

Reality Boy by A.S. King

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This review is based on an advanced reader’s e-copy, physician acquired through NetGalley. This in no way, doctor shape or form had any effect on my honest review. Thank you Little, Brown for granting me access to this novel. 


You Can Find the Book At:

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Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

My Review:

This book was brought to my attention by Andrew Smith, the author of Winger. He kept talking about A.S. King, who I admit I had not heard of before this, and her brand new book, Reality Boy, which was just released yesterday. As soon as I saw it on NetGalley, I immediately bid for it and was excited when I got it. I already read Lauren Kate’s new book, Teardrop, and I went tearing through Allegiant yesterday. After taking some time to recover from Allegiant (which I still haven’t QUITE recovered yet), I was bored and needed to keep moving through my ever-growing list of book. I remembered that this released yesterday, and I sped through this book yesterday too. I was on a ROLL.

I had read the synopsis for this book but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the sort of story that King was going to tell. I was still reeling from Allegiant and my emotions were still going haywire and I went face first into this book, unaware of how this book was going to effect me.

This book was such an eye opener in two different ways. One, it really makes you think about the effect a camera can have on a child, whether its reality TV or just as a child actor. For Gerald, its reality TV, and it scars him big time. Every single thing he did as a child, all that bad, has been broadcast all over TV, and then with the spread of the internet, all over YouTube and all that. That is scarring, and its incredibly thought provoking to think of the effect of having a child’s life broadcast on television before they can even understand what is going on, before they even get to school. Can you imagine going into school and kids already know who you are, and have seen all your bad and embarrassing moments? They can judge you before you’ve even met them, and that’s exactly what happens with Gerald and its absolutely horrifying to watch.

But for me, its even more horrifying because of the way Gerald is treated by his mother and his sister. At first you think, its just a normal teenager, who has anger issues and has a passive mother and a cruel sister, but the story goes so much farther than that. As the story goes on, you learn of the mental, physical and emotional abuse that Gerald goes through at the hands of his seriously crazy and incredibly cruel sister, and the ways in which his mother ignores it. It sickens me. Every single time that something happens (or doesn’t happen) with Tasha or his mother, I just feel so sick to my stomach, and you keep turning the pages, hoping so badly that it gets better for Gerald, that someone does something, that people stop being so incredibly passive.

And I think when Heather, the girl who works with him, comes into his life, with her own set of familial problems, she is able to make him feel worthwhile and full of love, and she makes him feel happy, when he hardly ever feels happy. I think they both kind of embrace that idea that we can’t always excuse the things our families do to us simply because they are family. The whole idea of blood is thicker than water is not always true. I love that it shows we can’t always just deal with what our family dishes out because they are our blood and we are stuck with them for life, and they are the only family you have. Sometimes you have to speak up against the harm being done, and sometimes you have to fight that. I like that the two of them come together, and go on an adventure of friendship and love and self-discovery and escape and freedom.

This book is beautiful and I was so happy to be able to experience and I really have to give thanks to Andrew Smith for that, for promoting this book and this author so much. Its a heartbreaking but eye opening story of the effects that a camera and a neglecting family can have on a child, especially as that child grows up. Its a story of self-discovery and a story of escape from the childhood traumas that can hold us back. Watching Gerald, both as a child and as a burgeoning adult, grow into himself and gain some confidence, set goals and become determined for his freedom and his escape. Such a beautiful novel, and I definitely recommend it. Its a fairly quick read, I read it in about a couple of hours, and I was so glad that I did.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

A Little Less than Famous is On Sale!

Hey guys, ambulance hope you’re having a GREAT week!

I’m heading off to The Grove in Los Angeles to go to this SUPER awesome panel featuring two of my fave authors, sickness Leigh Bardugo (of the Grisha Trilogy) and Marie Lu (of the Legend Trilogy) and other guests, thumb Michael Dimartino (the creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra) and Seth Hoffman (brains behind The Walking Dead television show).

It should be super fun, and look for an epic contest coming VERY soon :)

But in the meantime, I am SO stoked to share that my second novel, A Little Less than Famous, a contemporary YA/NA novel, is on sale for Kindle for a WHOLE WEEK, for only 99 cents!

You can find it at THIS link!

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Definitely take advantage of this now because on July 5th, it will go back up to 5.99!

Hope you guys are able to check it out!

And stay tuned for a giveaway VERY soon!