Book Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

18879761Genre: 

Young Adult, medications  Contemporary

Pages: 

288

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

January 27th, purchase 2015

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

My Review:

I am blown away at how absolutely amazing Gayle Forman truly is. I find that the struggle to prove that young adult literature provides thought provoking, incredible, well written novels is all consuming. Its part of why this blog exists in the first place. But when I read books like “I Was Here”, I feel as if all I need to do is take a copy of this book and put it into the hands of those who doubt the entire spectrum of YA. Gayle Forman is an incredible writer, an unbelievable storyteller and a person capable of capturing the most human of emotions in a matter of a few thousand words.

Gayle Forman has managed to tug at my emotions in every single book that she writes and she doesn’t fail to accomplish the same thing with this book. As soon as it starts, I know I’m in trouble. This is a story of friendship, and friends have always meant the absolute world to me, but even more so in the past six months or so. Friends are those people that are even better than family at times, in that even when you’re at the very worst you can be, they still somehow find a way to love. Its incredible. The friendship we see between Cody and Meg takes place in the past, as we follow Cody through her grief and her attempt to understand, but it feels real, and raw, and genuine, and so the grief that Cody feels over losing her best friend, over not knowing that this could happen…its incredibly real.

Meg has committed suicide. I’ve been fortunate in my life to have never experienced something like that. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would feel learning that had happened to someone I loved as much as Cody loved Meg. The thought would be…devastating. Should I have known? Should I have seen? Could I have changed what ultimately had happened to someone I was supposed to know better than anyone? And these are core questions that Cody struggles with, as she fights to wrap up the hidden pieces of her best friend’s life.

Without getting too into spoilers, because I keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible, this is where the core of the story is. Cody struggles so hard with trying to figure out why her friend did this and her personal responsibility for it, that she sort of looks for another avenue. Its not her fault. Its not even Meg’s fault. Its someone else’s fault and she actively looks for someone to blame for it, and it only drives her to further heartbreak. Watching as she breaks apart Meg’s life and the things she struggled with, and the things she didn’t know about her best friend, its incredibly humbling and heartbreaking and just…so real. Gayle Forman manages to write the most real characters I’ve read in a book and that is what makes her stories so great.

I can’t wait for more from Gayle. I can’t imagine that she can get any better but every single time I say that, she manages to produce a book even better than the next. If there is ever a doubt that young adult literature is not good enough, or not producing books of literary value, I know without fail that I can hand this book (amongst so many others) and feel strongly in its excellence. Another total winner, Gayle. I’m mighty impressed :)

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars

January Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2015:

150

Am I On Track: 

3 books head

Books Read So Far: 

16

Total Books For January: 

16

This Shattered World

13138734

Suspicion

22533415

The DUFF (Re-Read)

6931356

Half-Blood (Re-Read)

9680718

Unleashed

23343587

Paper or Plastic

22249447

My True Love Gave to Me

20309175

Everything Leads to You

18667779

The Winner’s Curse

16069030

The Orphan Queen

18081228

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless

20646933

Inspire 

22824819

From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess ARC

22718809

Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys) ARC

18333999

I Was Here by Gayle Forman 

18879761

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107

*       *       *       *       *      *

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell and More!

20309175Genre: 

Young Adult, help  Romance

Pages: 

321

Part of a Series?:

Standalone Novel

Release Date: 

October 14th, cialis 40mg 2014

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author’s Website

GoodReads Summary: 

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

My Review:

When I met Stephanie Perkins back in September for the second time, she briefly mentioned this collection of stories and so I knew I would have to read it. Its chock full of stories by incredible YA authors and its all about romance and Christmas. Well, when Christmas came, it was too hard for me to read it. Christmas was rough for me. But I just got in the mood to read it about a week ago and I thought, well, let’s extend Christmas a little longer ;)

I really liked it! There were some stories that I loved more than others but in general, I thought it was cute. Its a great holiday read. I know Rainbow’s story was SUPER cute, and it made me want a full novel with those characters. One of them was kind of supernatural and was little weird, I can’t remember who wrote it, but that one was weird. But for the most part, I thought they were all kind of cute, and fluffy and it was the kind of book you read when you want to curl up by the fire (people do that right? Not in California haha) and drink tea and enjoy something that’ll just make you happy. And its probably a really great book to read during the holidays.

The only real problem I had with it was…it took me longer to read it than I would have expected, mostly because it didn’t have that…how do I describe it? It didn’t have that hook that kept you glued to the pages until the end, because you’re dying to find out what happened next. As soon as I felt like I was getting involved in the story, or attached to the characters, or that sort of thing, it ended! And then I had to read a new story. I liked the idea, and I liked the collection but I don’t think that short story books are really for me. I need a hook that keeps me frantically turning the pages until the end and this book just didn’t have that.

In general I really did like it though. I especially liked Rainbow’s story, and Jenny’s, Stephanie’s, Gayle’s, and David’s. Those in particular stories really sounded like the authors that wrote them so it was awesome to read these short stories from authors that I love so much. Some of those stories were just SO good that I wanted more!

Rating: 

3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday Top Ten – Most Anticipated Winter Releases!

Welcome to the new year everyone! Its a brand new beginning and all of that sort of thing. But the best part of the new year is this: NEW STUFF. All that stuff that was “next year” is now THIS year. And that includes books.

Now its time to talk about the top ten books that I’m getting excited for this winter! Check them out, troche and let me know what books YOU’RE excited about!

10. The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

17412895

The third installment of the series, price and I’ve been waiting for it for so long. I feel like I’ve been waiting for so so so long for this book that I absolutely need to reread the first two books to remember what the hell is supposed to be going on in the third book.

Release Date: February 10th, 2015 

9. Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

18460455

I am so excited for this debut novel…I think its my most anticipated debut novel of the year. I absolutely adore Mary, she’s a librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library and has always been a dear friend and supporter of me and this blog, and I can’t wait for her book. Its set in the 1940s, amidst the glitz and glamour of the film age and it sounds deliciously thrilling. I can’t WAIT.

Release Date: March 3rd, 2015 

8. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

22429350

I am so so excited for this new novel by Emery Lord. I had NO idea who she was until she was on a panel with…I think Stephanie Perkins at the Festival of Books and I just loved everything about her. Plus she was so cute and I don’t know haha, I wanted to read her book. I absolutely LOVED Open Road Summer. She has a fresh teen voice and a total knack for addicting romance and I can’t wait for this one. Max sounds amazing.

Release Date: March 31st, 2015

7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman 

18879761

Gayle Forman is a QUEEN of contemporary YA lit. She blows my mind with everything that she writes, especially Just One Day/Just One Year (which were optioned for film!!). I’m VERY excited for a brand new release from her, especially since the synopsis makes it sound like another emotional roller coaster. Oh Gayle.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015 

6. Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

Salt & Stone Hardcover

This one would be much lower on the list but I’m spoiled as hell and I already read it and know how absolutely amazing it is. But now that I know its great, I’m dying to get that book with that beautiful cover in my hands, and for everyone else who loves the first one, you’re going to love the second one even more. Its a truly heartbreaking.

Releases: February 24th, 2015

5. Fairest by Marissa Meyer

22489107

I know! A novella on the list. For those that don’t know me, I’m usually not a massive fan of novellas, and find most of them are unnecessary. But…but…I think Fairest is going to be spectacular. One, because Marissa Meyer is a fantastic writer. Two, Levana is SUCH a mystery and maybe some of this will shed a little light, and maybe it’ll open up new possibilities for Winter. Either way, I’m excited for it.

Release Date: January 27th, 2015

4. Invaded by Melissa Landers

17316770

This is another winter release that I’ve already read. And one that I totally absolutely love. But I think I’m really excited about this because I KNOW how good it is and I get to meet her this year! Plus, if I can have more Aelyx and Cara in my life, I’m totally okay with that! And maybe if we all show love to Invaded and buy it, we WILL get more!

Release Date: February 3rd, 2015

3. The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith  

22466277

I mean. Duh. I want my hands on this book so badly. I’ve been trying to get my hands on an ARC of this thing for MONTHS and have not been able to do that. I am dying for this book. Every single thing about this book sounds amazing and Andrew is an incredible author. When I interviewed him last year and he described the book as “It’s about a ship that gets stuck in ice, a fifteen-year-old kid, a schizophrenic who thinks he can speak to Joseph Stalin, a summer camp for kids who are addicted to technology, the de-extinction of a species of crow, and there’s a bigfoot in there, too. You know…the typical stuff.” Come on. I’m sold.

Release Date: March 10th, 2015

2. Unchanged by Jessica Brody

9791910

I’M DYING TO READ THIS BOOK. I need to know what happens next. Unforgotten left on such a crazy, heartbreaking, emotional note and I’m dying to see what happens next for Sera and Zen and Kaelen. It hurts just to even think about it because of allllll the crap that went down in the second book and I need this book in my hands. You hear me, Jessica? Give me the book and no one gets hurt ;)

Release Date: February 24th, 2015

1. The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead 

8709528

Yes. Please. More Adrian Ivashkov. Oh and of course Sydney too. But definitely Adrian. And after that ending in Silver Shadows, I basically wanted to scream, get in a car and drive up to Richelle’s house and demand that she tell me everything that was going to happen next. Luckily, I’m a patient girl (ha!) and its nearly upon us to find out the ending to this fantastic series! AND I’m finally going to meet Richelle! AGH

Release Date: February 10th, 2015

*      *     *      *      *

What are some the books that you’re looking forward to releasing in January, February and March? Make sure to share them in the comments!

Tuesday Top Ten-Favorite YA Contemporary Novels

Now this is something that I’ve done before. I did this exact post for the Tuesday Top Ten on April 30th, dosage 2013, so a good year and a half ago. In that nearly two year period, Ive spent a LOT of time reading new books. A TON of time. So, of course, my favorite YA contemporary novel list has changed.

This blog has been around for two and a half years now and so that means that I will be doing repeats of old Tuesday Top Tens because things change, because the beauty of this blog that I’m constantly reading new books and being introduced to new authors so I’m finding new favorites. When you get down to it, this list is probably going to chance in a week or two anyway.

But I digress. Here are my top ten favorite YA contemporary books.

Side Note: Can I just say how proud I am of myself for posting this? Seriously. I rock. Moving on…

10. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

38980

The first time I read this book was back in 2001, when I was 12 years old. I had seen the movie, thought it was cute and immediately went out and bought the book. Now, the book is SO incredibly different from the movie, SO different and I immediately fell in love with it. Mia felt so close to the person that I am: awkward, shy, failing math, in love with my best friend’s brother (it worked out SO much better for her than me), loving writing, etc. She felt awkward for being tall, with no boobs; I felt awkward for being really short with huge boobs. Because this entire series is written in diary format, you are in the mind of Mia the entire time. So it feels real and authentic and like reading a note from your best friend. It feels genuine and it always made me laugh and cry and feel relatively sane. Mia is constantly being paranoid and worrying and doing all these fun teenage things and it makes me feel relatively normal, especially when I was a teen!

9. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

9627755

For the longest time, Lola and the Boy Next Door was my favorite from Stephanie Perkins because I loved the quirkiness of both Lola and Cricket. But as soon as I read Isla, I knew this one had easily passed it up. What I love about this book is …well, a lot of things. First off, Isla felt closer to me than Lola and Anna. She was happy, she got the boy, but she doubted it, she felt insecure, she always felt like she might screw it up. That sort of insecurity has been with me for ages and even after a relationship, I still sometimes feel like that, like anything that I say or do can tip the scale, both with potential boyfriends/girlfriends and with just friends alone. Plus Josh was the dreamiest of the boys in all the books, his graphic novel drawing and writing skills were swoon worthy. But I think what I love about this book is that its not the beautiful happily ever after we always expect. It tells us that relationships and love is wonderful but it doesn’t come without work and struggle, which is SO true. I love everything about this book. Plus Stephanie Perkins is just plain awesome.

8. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

5664985

First off, I love the main character’s name, Auden. I love that this has the love story and the beauty of summer, as does most of her books, but I think I love that it focuses a lot on the relationship between Auden and her parents. I know what its like to be forced to grow up quickly and to have that reality that parents aren’t perfect thrust on you. I’ve dealt with parents who have run from their mistakes instead of facing them head on. I’ve dealt with that fear that things were my fault. I think Sarah really captures a lot here. A lot of her characters are growing up as a teenager, becoming adults, that sort of thing, but in this book, Auden is just growing up, period. She’s experiencing things that you learn from just being a child, like riding a bike and bowling and that sort of thing. And I think that’s beautiful. I think I like Auden transforming from this closed off person to someone who accepts that she’s imperfect, that she makes mistakes and that she can open herself up to new things and new people.

7. Between the Lines by Tammara Webber

11262424

The first time I read this book was quite a few years ago. I had just bought my first e-reader, and I was looking through top sellers, but cheap, and this one caught my eye. It sounded kind of juicy and I liked the premise of it, so I decided to buy it. And I’m so so glad that I did. Tammara writes a four part series following the story of Reid Alexander, an actor who is hot, charming, and totally full of trouble. These books are sexy, and fun, and kind of make me wish that Reid Alexander was real so, 1. He could play Jace Wayland in a City of Bones adaptation and 2. So I could just date him, period. But what surprised me is the emotional depth of these books. The characters were all real to me, and the character development of Reid over the course of the four books just absolutely blows my mind. I love these books SO much, I reread them all the time.

6. The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

4031193

The Secret Life of Prince Charming was actually the first Deb Caletti book I ever read, and I’m so glad I did because it turned me on to an author that just literally blows my mind every time she releases a new book. She writes so beautifully, against the north west coast of the United States. She captures the setting, the story, the emotions, the people, everything so well that it always sticks out in your mind. I don’t often have a hard time recalling her books because she’s just such a beautiful writer. I thought that this book was so unique in compared with other contemporary romance YA novels. I think that Quinn learns a lot about love, in that, its a great and wonderful and awesome thing but its also complicated and difficult and it has its ups and downs. That’s the beauty of this book. It doesn’t gloss over the hard parts, and it doesn’t glorify the hard parts. Relationships, love, breaking up, moving on, all of that is SO hard and its all in this book and I love every bit of it.

5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman

17623975

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love everything Gayle Forman touches. She’s an absolutely incredible writer and she writes stories that are so unique but real. I love If I Stay and I loved the movie as well. But the minute that I finished Just One Day, I knew I had read something that was amazing and I wouldn’t forget it. Just One Day is about adventure, about that incredibly rare idea of adventure and love and throwing caution to the wind, that sort of thing. And I just loved it. Who wouldn’t want to spend a crazy day around Paris, with a super charming and sexy guy? I know I would. But the book goes beyond that, beyond just the adventure. It follows Allyson for a year after this experience, seeing how it changes her, and her life and the way she views life and I think that’s just…incredible (even though I’ve repeated that word in this post about, oh, about a thousand million times). Its just…beautiful. Its full of SO MANY FEELS. And its nice to think that one day, just one day, could change everything.

4. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

7664334

I grabbed this book because it was on the shelf next to Sarah Dessen’s current release. I liked the cover, and it was next to Sarah and the back cover sounded pretty interesting. Now Morgan is one of my favorite authors and I love getting to see her as often as possible, because she is just an incredible author. The story follows Amy and Roger, as they go on this road trip across the US to new homes, to places where they don’t really want to go. Its supposed to be a straight shot to the destination until they decide…screw this, let’s have an adventure. Did I mention that I like adventures? I like the possibilities of adventure, the idea that you’re making up every step of the way on a whim, and I think that’s what Amy and Roger love about it, the idea that anything is possible, when things have gone so wrong in both of their lives. Plus, its a road trip books, and road trip books are fun and make me want to get in my car and have a road trip, and Morgan talks about all these cool food places to eat (god I love food) and she has playlists throughout the book and she has a great taste in music. Okay, now I want to go read this book again…

3. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

22205

This is my favorite Sarah Dessen book ever and I think it all boils down to that there was so much about Remy that I wanted to be, especially in high school. She’s beautiful, smart, in control, confident. She knows what she wants, who she wants and when she wants it and she knows how to get it. She’s brilliant. Of course, she has no idea how to love someone, and she has no idea how emotions help not hinder you and hold back. She has to learn that she can trust others and that trusting others is not the end of the world. But I wanted to be her. I wanted to be that confident and to hold my beauty (possibly) as a weapon, and to be as in control as she seems to be. I was always so messy and emotional in high school and I wanted so hard to be in control of all of that and I never felt like that. Plus I just love Dexter, the male lead of the book. He’s a musician and goofy and genuine and just hilarious. I want a boy like Dexter. Can someone find me something like that? haha.

2. Winger by Andrew Smith

11861815

There are so many wonderful things about this book that I am not even sure where to begin. This book made me laugh so hard I cried, and made me cry because I was so sad. It is one of those books that made me stop and think, this is a teen voice. This is completely the voice of the character. There are so many authors that write in the voice of a teenager but none of them ever seem to get it as much as Andrew Smith does when writing in the mind of Ryan Dean West. Andrew is an incredible writer, and I hadn’t heard of him before this book, to be completely honest, so when I did, I was just blown away by this book. I had never really read anything like it before so it has been stuck in my mind since then, and it easily became my favorite book. I’ve read it two or three times since then and it just blows my mind every single time. It makes me laugh so much and I wish I could write a book this good, one that I want to buy a million copies of and shove it into every single person’s hands.

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905

This has become one of my favorite books in the entire world. When I first heard of it, I thought that the title was super cute because being a fangirl is a huge part of my life, and Cath’s obsession with Simon Snow in the description of the novel sounded so familiar. What I didn’t know is that I would read this book that literally felt like it walked into my very soul and knew it. That sounded really cheesy, wow. Wow. But its true. Cath is exactly the way I have been and the way I still am. She loses herself into these books, escapes into them, because they make her happy, they make the bad things go away. She’s afraid of the world outside of books, she’s anxious about new things, she likes to be alone and fan fiction and the internet are her friends. There’s something about Cath being thrown into these new situations, solo, so outside of her comfort zone that just makes me feel so familiar. It makes me feel happy to know that, even though this is a fictional character, there’s someone who understands how I feel. Cath is so me, its scary. She says things that make me laugh and cry and literally reaches into me and makes me want to say “OHMYGOD YES”. It has become, easily, one of my favorite books ever.

**********

What are some of your favorite contemporary YA novels? Share them in the comments!

August Book Wrap Up!

Books Pledged to Read in 2014:

150 Books

Am I On Track: 

Yes! But barely so. I was in a slump this month.

Books Read So Far: 

100

Total Books For August: 

11 books: 5 rereads and 6 new reads

Remember, ampoule as always, search to click the book title in order to read the review!

Number the Stars (Re-Read)

47281

Falling Into Place

18163646

Opposition

13644055

This Lullaby (Re-Read)

22205

Love and Other Unknown Variables

20757521

If I Stay (Re-Read)

6990472

Where She Went (Re-Read)

8492825

100 Sideways Miles (Re-Read)

20493997

I Want It That Way 

20945757

Black Ice (ARC)

16059938

Isla and the Happily Ever After 

9627755

*     *     *      *     *     *     *     *     *

Movie Review: If I Stay

If I Stay

new-if-i-stay-movie-poster

Official U.S. Release Date: August 22nd, find 2014

Rated:

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material

Directed By:

R.J. Cutler

Cast:

Chloe Grace Moretz, this Jamie Blackley, Liana Liberato, Joshua Leonard, Jakob Davies, Mireille Enos

Find the rest on IMDB here.

IMDB Movie Synopsis:

Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate.

My Review:

The thing about contemporary novels is that a huge part of what they are is based on emotions. They don’t have the constant action that usually comes hand in hand with a science fiction, fantasy or dystopian novel. They literally have to carry the entire book with emotion, whether good or bad. If I Stay is perfect at doing that…and I had hoped so much that this emotional journey would carry over to the movie.

I was so please to find that it did.

First off, just a shout out in general for making a movie that actually is a good representative of the book. I had just recently reread the book a few days before seeing the movie so it was completely fresh in my mind and I loved recognizing so many scenes in the book. They really made sure to get all of them. Some were tweaked a bit but that was okay, because it made sense for the movie. But they really did a great job at adapting and I don’t often say that.

But what made me so incredibly happy is that I felt the same emotions when watching the movie as I did with reading the book. That book is an absolute emotional roller coaster. One minute, I’m laughing and the next, my heart is racing and I’m envious of the romance between Mia and Adam, and the next, I’m literally sobbing in the middle of the theater. All the characters in the movie felt so real, so genuine that it was so easy to connect with them and believe in their story.

If you’ve read the books, you know that the accident, the loss of her parents, even the loss of her brother, comes very fast and yet, you feel that pain. You connect with all of them so fast, and they accomplish that in the movie as well. But what is absolutely beautiful about it is that the flashbacks make you fall in love with the characters even more, so you’re torn between feeling the happiness at getting to know this extraordinary family and the gut wrenching sadness at the fact that they are already gone. The movie does that, and every flashback is so painful and you know why its so hard for her to stay. Every person who was cast, was cast so perfectly for the role. They played the perfect rocker parents, the little brother, the best friend, the boyfriend, they all did. It was incredible how much I believed every single one of them was that character.

But I think what really makes this movie stand out so much is the music. The music is something that we need to picture ourselves in the book, something that we have to imagine, but in the movie, the music is a character all on its own and I’m just so blown away by that. The music is there through all the emotions, the sadness, the joy, the love, family, friendship, loss, all of it, comes through in that. Music is magical that way and I think having the music that is so central in the book in the movie just makes it that much better. It captures the very essence of the film.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars