Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on the Darker Side

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a freebie, so I chose..

Books on the Darker Side!

If you asked someone to describe me as a reader, I think the first thing that would come to mind, is my love for the light and fluffy. So, trying to come up with a list of scary books would be difficult for me. Therefore, I am going with books that are a little darker than my normal fare for this halloween top ten list.

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Lynn Weingarten
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse

This was a dark and twisted tale of obsession, and we all know that sort of thing never ends well. Weingarten's writing was right on point, deftly capturing the tone and keeping that black cloud hovering as we waited for the other shoe to drop.

The Accident Season
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: n/a
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Fowley-Doyle does a masterful job of creating atmosphere. All the trademarks of fall and halloween ooze through the pages of this tale filled with secrets, mystery, and a paranormal touch.

Book of Lies
Terry Teri
Series: n/a
Publisher: Clarion Books

Teri did a great job setting to mood, with the story opening during a storm at a funeral. The mood was well maintained from there, and the change of scenery really kicked it up a notch in this story of witches and a family curse.

Spellbook Lost and Found
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Series: n/a
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

This is Fowley-Doyle doing what I expect her to do. This story was haunting and mysterious, as we try to distinguish fact from fiction, the past from the present.

Haunting the Deep
Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch, #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

This book is not as dark as some of the others, but it has its moments. How could it not. Set in Salem filled with witches, ghost, curses, and spells, it was bound to be a little eerie.

When I Cast Your Shadow
Sarah Porter
Series: n/a
Publisher: Tor Teen

This was my second Porter book, and she puts out some really dark and twisted stuff. Between the ghosts, possessions, and visits to the fringe, I was pretty creeped out.

Tiny Pretty Things
Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton
Series: Tiny Pretty Things, #1
Publisher: HarperTeen

I know, this is a book about ballerinas. They were pink tights and tutus, this is true, but this is a look at the ultra competitive side of ballet. These are some demented little dancers, who will wage mental and physical warfare in order to keep their spot in the company. I thought they were quite terrifying.

One Dark Throne
Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns, #2
Publisher: HarperTeen

The whole premise of this series, is that these sisters must fight to the death for the throne. One throne, one queen, and the sisters were really out to get each other in this book. They were literally hunting each other.

The Graces
Laure Eve
Series: The Graces, #1
Publisher: Amulet Books

The Graces are a family shrouded in secrets and mystery, and River is a creepy stranger with a sordid past, who wants to become part of their circle. Filled with unlikable characters, and a little bit of magic, it's dark from beginning to end.

The Darkest Corners
Kara Thomas
Series: n/a
Publisher: Delacorte

As with any good psychological thriller, this one maintains a darker tone. This was a tense mystery, which kept me on my toes, throwing twists at us until the very last page.

Do you have a favorite dark(er) book?
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: My New Crush Gave to Me - Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me
Shani Petroff
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He s the school s star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he's exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie is determined to be Teo's date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper s Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He s easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he s willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

For the second time this year, I experienced this feeling:

So, I had just set aside two books that weren't working for me, and I was worried that I was falling into the dreaded reading slump 😲, and then along comes this wonderful book. Seriously, when I was done with this book, I felt so buoyant, my heart so light, that I wanted to dance atop a mountain while making a joyful noise.

Reasons why I wanted to hug this book
  • Charlie was my type of girl. She was all about schedules and planning and she abhorred lateness (my personal pet peeve). I could totally related to her and her little control freak ways, but I was also pleased to see her grow and change a little over the course of the book. 
  •  J.D. was probably one of my favorite things about this book. I wish I had had a boy like J.D. in my life in high school, because he was something special. He was smart, funny, a little goofy, and artistic. He was also so thoughtful and sweet. I adored his interactions with his little cousin, his parents, and his grandfather, and this boy totally won a place in my heart. 
  • Charlie and Morgan had such an awesome friendship, and I was totally jealous of them. I liked how they shared so much and had each other's backs. Everyone should have a friend like that. 
  • This book really put me in the holiday spirit. Christmas, Christmas everywhere! We got to share in so many holiday traditions, as well as see some old ones evolve with changing circumstances. It was also fun unwrapping all the secret santa gifts. One of my favorite things about the holidays is finding the perfect gift for someone. That was one of the things Charlie and J.D. were trying to accomplish in this book, and I was elated to get to tag along on their search.
  • I always enjoy a good enemies-to-friends-to-more story, and this one did not disappoint. The initial verbal sparring between J.D. and Charlie was quite amusing, but I really liked when their  relationship grew into a true friendship, where they could confide in and rely on each other. 
  • Baking! Charlie and Morgan have a little baking business, and there is a ton of wonderful baking going on in book. I really need to find me a Jim Dandy recipe, because they sound ah-mazing. 

Overall: This book was everything I was looking for and needed at the time. It oozed holiday charm, but also delivered a story filled with love, friendship, and family, which is something I associate with the holidays. I found myself with a severe case of the warm-fuzzies and a perma-smile on my face. 

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?
Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sundays with Sam - The Sunday Post

Sundays with Sam is a combination of Sunday Post hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

My Week in Review

Another week in the books. The weather is more autumnal, which is good. I am happy to have some sweater weather. I spent most of my week commuting, because of train and bus issues, but at least it gives me plenty of time to read. Lots of time to read, but not so much time to scour the internet, but I did read one notable story this week, which got me all excited. Kristen Bell confirmed that more Veronica Mars is coming!!! Let all the VMars fans rejoice.

On the Blog:

Pretty much bought a bunch of contemporary romances (I just can't help myself!), and I think almost all my ARCs are contemporary romances too. What can I say? I know what I like.



What I Read Last Week

My reading week started off great with The House at 758, but then I thought I had caught the dreaded reading slump, because I have two DNFs in a row. Then, I picked up My New Crush Gave to Me, and all was good in the world again. My top read was New Crush, but The House at 758 and Bad Girls with Perfect Faces were close behind.

  • The House at 758 by Katheryn Berla: I had zero expectations for this book, and it ended up melting my heart. Yes, another grief book, but there were so many great elements in this book, and I loved the way Berla used the grandfather's story as a parallel to what Krista was experiencing. ★ 1/2
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (audiobook): This book was hilarious. I laughed so much. It's so over the top, and I just need to get my hands on the next one, because my library only has book 1 and 3 on Overdrive (????). 
  • In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody: I liked this a lot more than I anticipated. Brody made an odd choice in how far she went with the cheating part of the story, but I still able to enjoy all the other parts. ★ 1/2
  • My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff: This book was so sweet, cute, and Christmasy. My heart was soaring after this one. 
  • The Midnight Star by Marie Lu: I finally finished this series, and although it was not the ending I wanted in my heart, it was sort of beautiful and poetic, and I can get behind a redemption story. 
  • Here We are Now by Jasmine Warga: I struggled with parts of this, but overall found the story quite heartwarming. 
  • Saving Red by Sonya Sones (audiobook): I am a Sones fan, so when I needed a book in verse for a reading challenge, I immediately thought of her. I liked this book a lot. Some very emotional stuff, but balanced out by a lot of fun, light hearted stuff. And that ending! Happy tears all the way. 
  • Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten: Kiersten was a fan of Weingarten's last book, so I jumped on this ARC when I saw the opportunity, and I am so glad I did. This ended up being a great atmospheric mystery, and Weingarten knows how to write an ending too. ★ 1/2

What I Am Currently Reading

I am reading Saving It right now. I was interested in it, because I had enjoyed multiple adult and NA books by Murphy. So far, it's cute, but a little superficial. I will keep reading, because I feel like Murphy will steer it in the right direction and it does have promise. I am throughly enjoying The Wright Mistake, because I love second chance romances, I love that Jules believe in Austin, and Linde always delivers a story that satisfies.

What I Plan to Read

Look at me, finishing series! I had some library loans come through, and am looking forward to finally finishing the Six of Crows duology. I have a few contemporary romances on deck too, because I need them like I need air. The Chaos of Standing Still was one of my CWW picks, so I am hoping it lives up to my expectations.

How was your week?
Let us know in the comments!

Friday, October 27, 2017

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

The Memory Trees
Kali Wallace
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Memory Trees is a dark magical realism novel about a mysterious family legacy, a centuries-old feud, and a tragic loss that resurfaces when sixteen-year-old Sorrow returns to her mother’s family orchard for the summer.

Sorrow Lovegood’s life has been shaped by the stories of the women who came before her: brave, resilient women who settled long ago on a mercurial apple orchard in Vermont. The land has been passed down through generations, and Sorrow and her family take pride in its strange history. Their offbeat habits may be ridiculed by other townspeople—especially their neighbors, the Abrams family—but for the first eight years of her life, the orchard is Sorrow’s whole world.

Then one winter night everything changes. Sorrow’s sister Patience is tragically killed. Their mother suffers a mental breakdown. Sorrow is sent to live with her dad in Miami, away from the only home she’s ever known.

Now sixteen, Sorrow’s memories of her life in Vermont are maddeningly hazy; even the details of her sister’s death are unclear. She returns to the orchard for the summer, determined to learn more about her troubled childhood and the family she left eight years ago. Why has her mother kept her distance over the years? What actually happened the night Patience died? Is the orchard trying to tell her something, or is she just imagining things?
  • Pro: The writing was so beautiful. Wallace's prose had this magical quality, that fit the story so well. 
  • Pro: I really liked the format. Flashbacks and vignettes of Sorrow's ancestors were intertwined with Sorrow trying to gain clarity about her sister's death. It was interesting the way the pieces fit together, and it added to the tension and mystery of the story. 
  • Pro: I really cared about Sorrow. I wanted her to get the answers she desired in order to get that closure she had been needing for so long. Her pain and frustration just made my heart ache. 
  • Pro: This is a grief story and I love grief stories. This one definitely put the grief and loss center stage, but there were so many other things, such as the way the town isolated Sorrow and her family, the way she lost a little bit of her childhood due to her mother's illness, and the way she had to shoulder so much guilt, because she could not remember the events leading to her sister's death. Let's just say, I felt a lot of feels. 
  • Pro: So many different ideas of family are explored. I was especially fond of the relationship between Sorrow and her step mother. It made me happy to know that Sorrow got to experience that type of relationship, because she had lost her whole world when she left the farm, and I was needed something positive came from that loss. 
  • Con: I could have used more closure with the ending. It was hopeful, but there were some things left open ended, that I would have liked tied up. 
  • Pro: I loved the whole concept of the trees. "Their only ceremony was giving the dead back to the earth and planting a new life to mark its passage." It was a lovely concept and combine with the idea that the trees held their memories, just worked so well in the overall story and enhanced the effect of the magical elements present. 

Overall: A magical journey towards healing after a great loss, filled with a rich family history and a little magic.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

The House at 758
Kathryn Berla
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult,
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Sixteen year old Krista is still grieving the untimely death of her mother when her father's new girlfriend moves into their home. He's already moved on and wants Krista to do the same, but she's not ready to resume a normal life yet. Distancing herself from those around her, Krista spends all of her time obsessively watching a mysterious house, the house at 758.

When a fellow classmate, Jake, takes a sudden interest in her, Krista feels excited for the first time in two years, but feelings of guilt consume her, and she ends up pushing Jake away. It isn't until her grandfather makes a surprise visit from Venezuela that Krista is finally able to confront her grief and begin to let things go.
  • Pro: Yes, it's another grief book, and the pain in this one was intense. We know Krista is still dealing with her mother's death two years later, but we don't have the full story, and I knew there was more to it, because Berla dropped these little breadcrumbs along the way. My heart cracked in half when I got the whole story. 
  • Pro: Krista was so wounded and consumed by her sadness. She felt alone, but also felt like people handled her with kid gloves, because of what had happened. I really wanted her to find an outlet for her pain, because it was eating her alive. 
  • Pro: Jake! This boy was special. Any guy, who can see past that "meet cute" is a keeper, but he proved himself worthy of Krista's friendship over and over again. I really enjoyed the scenes they shared together, and was keeping my fingers crossed that Krista would be able to escape her fog of grief long enough to enjoy Jake's company. 
  • Pro: I loved my grandparents so much, and am thrilled when they are featured in stories. Krista's maternal grandfather visited from Venezuela, and he really helped Krista with her healing process. We also got to learn about her grandfather's childhood, which caused some tears. I loved the way his story was used to help Krista too. 
  • Pro: It was awesome to see Krista's social circle grow as she started to heal. With each new friend, we saw Krista becoming more and more whole. 
  • Pro: I was really impressed with how much story Berla gave us in so few pages. This is a short book, but it's very complete. I felt like the characters and storyline were well developed. 
  • Pro: Berla didn't go with the miraculous healing angle. Krista suffered a great loss, and avoided dealing with it for two years, so her journey was not over when the book ended, but she was moving in the right direction, and I thought that was realistic. 
  • Pro: It was an interesting choice Berla made with the ending, and the very end. Well, let's just say I re-read it, and I am crying a little right now. It was very sweet. 

Overall: A beautiful and moving story of love, loss, grief, loneliness, family, and healing. I loved every minute of this book, and adored the way Berla had the story unfold.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

In Some Other Life
Jessica Brody
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Kennedy Rhodes turns down an acceptance to an elite private school, instead choosing to stay at her high school and jump at the opportunity to date the boy of her dreams. Three years later, Kennedy walks in on that same boyfriend cheating with her best friend—and wishes she had made a different choice. But when Kennedy hits her head and wakes up in the version of her life where she chose to attend the private school, she finds that maybe it’s not as perfect of a world as she once thought.
  • Pro: I am a fan of parallel universe stories, and this one had a little touch of It's a Wonderful Life in how Kennedy's alternate choice affected all those in her world. 
  • Con: I would have been fine with the cheating part of the book, if it had just served as the impetus for Kennedy rethinking her choice, but I just was not a fan of where Brody went with it. I appreciated how she tried to build a case for her decision and direction, but I could not get on board with it. That said, it did not ruin the whole story for me.   
  • Pro: Kennedy grew so much through this experience. She re-evaluated many things she thought were important and also recognized the things that were really important. 
  • Pro: The whole idea of how one decision can have a butterfly effect is quite powerful. 
  • Con: I thought the book could have been shorter. A few things felt unnecessary and at 464 pages for a contemporary, we could have done without them.  
  • Pro: Frankie was so fabulous. He was this little science nerd, and man, I was enthralled when he was talking nerdy to me. I also love strong sibling relationships, and was surprised by this one, because of the age difference, but I adored their interactions. 
  • Pro: I was a total Dylan fan. I liked the verbal sparring between him and Kennedy, and I liked how he challenged her. I greatly enjoyed watching their relationship bloom, and wish we had gotten more of it later on. 
  • Pro: I like most of the ending. If one thing had been omitted, I would have loved the ending. (I know, it's shocking to hear me say such things.)
  • Pro: This was a fun read, and I love fun reads. I enjoyed a majority of the story, and liked almost all the characters. The family focus was a plus too, because it's always great when we meet solid YA families. 
  • Pro: There are a lot of great subtle messages in the story: being true to yourself, doing what you love, forgiveness, looking ahead and not behind. Lots of good take aways. 

Overall: A fun and breezy tale, which asked if you should consider "what-ifs" or appreciate the "what-ares". 

Have you read any of these books?
Let us know in the comments!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Discussion: You Let Me Down in the End

This Week’s Topic: Endings that Let Me Down

If you have ever read any of my reviews (I know at least one of you must have), you may have noticed that I am super critical on endings. It's just that I invest my time and my emotions into a book, and then the ending lets disappoints me. 

There have been many times, when I've finished a book, and I just wanted to do this:

Maybe I expect too much, but I can think of a few reasons why an ending made me feel this way. 
  1. When the book was so powerful and action-packed, and then it ended with a whimper. For example, there was this one series, we are talking over 1400 pages read, just to find out that what was built up to be this major thing really meant nothing. Needless to say, my disappointment was amplified as I had read multiple books to get to this point. 
  2. As a YA blogger, I read a lot of YA, and I would say the main characters tend to experience a lot of growth over the course of the book. This makes me happy, I love when people grow and change for the better, but there are a few books that stand out in my mind, where I was so excited about the life changes the character had made, and then at the end of the book, they revert back to their old ways. That is just a letdown. 
  3. I am one of those people who need closure. It is so painful for me, when a book ends, and I am left with all these questions. I like my endings tied up, nice and neat, with a bow on top. I can't be left wondering FOREVER about what happened to that character, who I cared about and became emotionally invested in. It's just wrong. 
  4. Sometimes, it simply wasn't the ending I wanted. There were times, when I had an idea in my mind of how I wanted the story to end, and when it went in another direction, I got a little ache in my heart. I am going to be honest, I normally want an HEA, or the guy/girl to get the guy/girl. When this doesn't happen, there are usually tears for the future I thought they could have. 

Now it's your turn! 

Have you ever been let down in the end? 
Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Say You'll Remember Me by Katie McGarry

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I can't wait for Say You'll Remember Me!

Say You'll Remember Me
Katie McGarry
Series: n/a
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Waited on by: Sam
When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.

Let me start with my fangirling. I am a HUGE McGarry fan. I thought her Pushing the Limits books were great, but I was initially unsure about her Thunder Road books. Then, I heard her speak on a panel at UtopiaCon (2015), and I was so moved by her story, I knew I had to read them. You know what? I ended up loving an MC series. Who knew!

So, this pictures is from UtopiaCon, and the best part was, this was so random. We were eating lunch, and Katie McGarry came and sat at the big table where we were in the lobby. She was so nice and it was a big highlight for me. I was mad that I did not have any books with me for her to sign, but at least she took a picture with Sloth. 

Why I Want to Read This Book:
  1. So, I guess you know by now, that I want to read this book, because McGarry wrote it. 
  2. This book is about second chances. In my heart, I hope that we all get a do-over of some sort, and if one gets the chance, I hope they really take advantage of it. This sounds like a great second chance story. 
  3. I also love the idea of a reformed criminal getting involved with the governor's daughter. That right there will be a great source of drama. 
  4. It also seems that both characters will experience some significant growth during this story, which is a big thing for me when I read YA. 
  5. It sounds like there will be a little mystery in there too as Drix tries get to the truth about the robbery. 

Katie McGarry has never failed to deliver a solid story for me, and I know I will definitely be reading this one.

What are you waiting on?
Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tell Me Something Tuesday: Time Travel vs. Teleportation

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings where we discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging.

This Week’s Topic:
Would you rather time travel or teleport?

Let's start with time travel, which is when one moves between two points in time via a device, aka a time machine. My initial reaction, is that time travel would be fantastic. Think of the things we could do!
  • I could go back in to a time in my own life, and make better choices. 
  • I could use future intelligence to influence decisions we make in the past, which could result in a future windfall.
  • I could alter the past, so that major historic atrocities do not occur. 
  • I could point some very influential people in the right direction, so that the thing they are famous for happens sooner. This would be especially useful with medical and scientific discoveries. 
However, when I think back to all books and movies, which featured time travel, these are all NO-NOs. By altering the past, you could create an alternate future. You must also consider the butterfly effect, how that small change in the past may result in a myriad of consequences, and the possibility of creating a time paradox.  

Time travel books I have read:

Then, I looked at teleportation, which is the physical transfer of matter from one point to another without actually moving through the space between the two points. We have seen this in Star Trek, and think about all the ways it would benefit you to be able to just blink from place to place. 
  • I would no longer need time to travel to or from my destination. Therefore, I could sleep later and reclaim a huge chunk of my awake hours to do something I really want to do. 
  • I would no longer have to lose my stuff sitting in traffic. 
  • I wouldn't need a car, so no car insurance payment, no car payments, no car maintenance no need to buy gas. Think of all the money I would save!
  • No more mass transit in general. I could go on better vacations without having the cost of airfares eating away at my vacation fund. 
  • I could easily carry my groceries from my car to my house, no worries, since I am not trudging them from point A to point B. 
  • I would not have to worry about the weather impeding my travel, because I wouldn't be going through the weather. 
I know I have read books with characters who could teleport, but I cannot think of them off the top of my head, since it's not the basis of the story the way time travel would be. Can you think of any?

Although there are so many altruistic things I could do with time travel, there appears to be many things that could go wrong. Therefore, I think I would chose teleportation. Most of the benefits would be for my own personal gain, but I do not anticipate major drawbacks. 

Now it's your turn!

Time travel or teleportation? 
Let us know in the comments!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: Top Ten - Katie Cotugno

Top Ten
Katie Cotugno
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars
Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?
I really loved this book, and as an homage to Ryan, Gabby, and their lists, I will give my top ten reasons why I loved this book.
  1. Ryan, on the surface, appeared to be this happy-go-lucky jock, who was super popular, could have any girl he wanted, and thought life was a great big party. In reality, he felt alone in crowds and yearned for one-on-one interactions, he felt abandoned by his super-critical father, and he spent most of this book pining for the girl he didn't think he could have. 
  2. Gabby had to struggle every day with her anxiety. She was plagued by panic attacks, and they kept her from letting her true and awesome self shine though. I was beyond elated that she found comfort and solace in Ryan. He was one of the few people, who could talk her through an attack, and he accepted her panic attacks and all. 
  3. Friendship is the heart of this story, and it was a very beautiful friendship. It had it's ups and downs, and I like that the challenges particular to a female/male friendship were addressed, because  they were so realistic. I was just so happy that they found each other, when they really needed that "person" to count on. This friendship may have had a super awkward start, but it blossomed into something really special. 
  4. Family played a huge role in Gabby and Ryan's lives. Gabby's family was beyond wonderful. I loved playing Monopoly with them and couldn't wait to see what appetizer Dad made from his cookbook. They were open about most things, and the love just enveloped me every time we encountered a full family scene. It was no surprise why Ryan opted to spend his Friday nights with the Harts. 
  5. Romance was present throughout the book. Gabby and Ryan both explored serious relationships with other people. I won't lie, I was sort of sad that they were sharing experiences with other people and not each other, but I have to say, Cotugno did such a wonderful job with them. They were very special moments and they felt very special to me. 
  6. So many emotions! I actually have tears streaming down my face as I write this review, because I felt way too much as I read this book. There were so many ups and downs, which happen with long friendships, but there were also a million things that made my heart soar. I am crying, but I am smiling too. 
  7. Four years. We get to be part of Ryan and Gabby's lives for four years, and I go gaga for books that let me watch the characters change and grow over an extended period of time. 
  8. I loved the format of this book. Since this is essentially a list of the top ten moments in Gabby and Ryan's relationship, it skips around chronologically. I liked it, because things would be hinted at, which had not been revealed to us yet. It created a little bit of mystery and made me eager to find out more. The way Cotugno laid out the top ten was not random, they put in an intentional order and each vignette fit logically in its place. It also let me compare and contrast the Gabby and Ryan at different points in time, and I loved making note of all the changes they were experiencing. 
  9. Post graduation struggle. A lot of books hype graduation as the most marvelous thing ever. Everyone is so excited and ready to move on to bigger and better things, but I do not believe that is how every senior/new graduate feels. It's scary and a huge life change. For some, it entails moving away from the safety of their home and they have to start over from in a new place. I liked that Gabby and Ryan had these fears and shared them with us. 
  10. This near-perfect story of friendship, family, and love made me so happy. I was totally invested from the very beginning, and although the ending left me a little wanting, I still will sing its praises, because it delivered an incredible reading experience for me. 
Read these quotes and feel some feels with me:
"Celia called him the Great Equalizer. He was Gabby's social security blanket, her failsafe against miserable, crippling anxiety; she had no idea what she was going to do without him come fall."

"You're just embarrassed that all the most important moments of your adolescence include me."

"Two months. The thought of it gave Ryan that same uneasy feeling from earlier, like everything was about to change whether he wanted it to or not and he couldn't do one single thing to stop it."

"She was a really good question-asker. She remembered all the weird, random stuff he said. She had an opinion about literally everything.."

"literally no one there would notice if I fell of the face of the earth."
"I'd notice," Ryan said immediately.

"He was homesick, he realized. He was homesick for her."

"but the only person he knew for absolute sure he still wanted to be around after graduation was - Well. Gabby, actually."

"He was her most important person, the one she told things to so that they would be real. So that she would be. HIs friendship was the best thing in her life."

"She missed his loud, stupid laugh. She missed his hands and his mouth and the steadiness of his best friendship but worse than ll that's the undeniable fact that some very important, tethered part of her had shut down when they broke up and now she seemed to be hurtling off through space at a million miles per hour, her oxygen tank rapidly emptying out."

"He was scared too, to be honest: of who he might be now that he wasn't who he'd been planning, of the future and whatever it held. But sitting here with Gabby made him feel like he could handle it. Sitting here with Gabby made him feel weirdly brave."

"This is it," she said, swallowing her heart back down into her chest where it belonged. She wanted to reach into her rib cage and hand it to him for safekeeping, wanted him to know he had it no matter what else happened next.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

Do you make top ten lists?
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