Mini Reviews: The Contemporary Edition

I have been reading a lot more YA contemporary lately, and wanted to share my thoughts on my four most recent contemporary reads.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

gr-distancebetween

I know this will mean nothing to most of you who read through your books much faster than I do, but I read this book in two days. It was just a fun, quick, easy read. It didn’t change my life and I had a couple minor issues with it, but overall I just really enjoyed getting to know Caymen and Xander and watching them interact. It was definitely worth the $1.99 I spent on it!

Rating: 4 stars

Content Advisory: Pretty clean. I don’t recall any language; some kissing.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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Believe it or not, this is probably actually the first really heavy issue book I’ve read, at least in the YA contemporary genre. I was hooked right away with Alexis’ voice as she wrote in a journal provided to her by her therapist, bemoaning the idea of writing out her feelings and comparing it to bleeding out with leeches. But the book definitely gets heavy, with Alexis constantly wishing she could go back and change the night she found out her brother killed himself, trying to deal with her mom and others in her life, and worrying that she is seeing the ghost of her brother. The ending was very emotionally satisfying, and I’m very glad I read this book to gain more insight about the aftermath of a suicide.

Rating: 4 stars (If I gave quarter stars it would be 4.25. I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s just not quite to 4.5, but almost!)

Content Advisory: Moderate language; some kissing.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Teresa Toten

gr-unlikelyhero

I impulsively borrowed this from the library because I knew it focused on characters with OCD, and there are secondary characters in my WIP with OCD. This was a very interesting read for me; there were many things I liked but many I wasn’t crazy about as well. First, despite the fact that he struggles with OCD at a level I doubt I will ever understand, Adam is the most realistic character in this book, aside from maybe his stepmother and neighbor. His dad, therapist, Father Rick, Ben, and the other OCD kids felt real sometimes, and Sweetie and Adam’s mom NEVER felt real. (Sweetie is for real the strangest 5 year old ever. I don’t think a single kid on the planet talks like that.) Sometimes the characters and the dialogue took me out of the book (Adam and some of the kids constantly say stuff like, “That’s superior!” and other things I have just never heard anyone ever say).

Yet the book is quirky and full of humor, and I really did feel empathy for Adam. I enjoyed Robyn too and enjoyed their friendship-turned-relationship. And also yet again, this book was often awkward and hard to read, which I think was part of the point, because these characters are struggling with very real issues and disorders and it does hurt, but the added layer of Adam’s mom’s craziness was sometimes too much for me to bear. The ending was very unsatisfying as there is very little finality, but I know that doesn’t bother everyone, and it doesn’t always bother me, but I didn’t feel I got the full arc from Adam that I wanted, though we do see it going in that direction.

Rating: 3 or 3.5 stars (I really can’t decide.)

Content advisory: Moderate language; some kissing.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

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I saved my favorite of the bunch for last. I mean, where do I even begin?! I ADORED Max. I loved him so much at first I couldn’t properly ship him and Paige because I didn’t think Paige deserved him. But when she starts to come around and really understand her feelings towards him, I felt for her and definitely got all aboard their ship! The last chapter was such perfection that I can’t even. I LOVED all the nerdy banter and just about everything really. The friendships were so spot-on!

My only complaint about the book really is at Max’s birthday party when they played Spin the Bottle and I was like, really?, but even the characters knew it was juvenile, and it was what gave Paige the push she needed to confront her feelings.

So seriously, READ THIS. I have never loved a YA contemporary to this degree.

[Side note: I’m terrified of Open Road Summer because the characters don’t sound as likable and this book was so perfect for me, but I think I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for future Emery Lord books.]

Rating: 5 stars!!! (I borrowed this from the library and then immediately ordered the hardcover from Amazon because I LOVED IT THAT MUCH.)

Content advisory: Sporadic and mostly mild swearing (though I believe there was one f word).

Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?

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Bookish Wedding Inspiration: Magnolia

I thought it might be fun to try creating themed wedding ideas based off of books, and how the main character’s wedding might look with our modern sensibilities, and thus, Bookish Wedding Inspiration was born! This is my first time to do a bookish wedding post for a contemporary, which was kind of nice for once because I didn’t have to worry about time period, just personalities and setting! If you want to read more about my thoughts on Magnolia, feel free to check out my review.

bookish-weddingBride and Groom Look

The Tux and Dress

bride-dressDress Source

I spent a lot of time narrowing down a lot of beautiful dresses, trying to find something that was classic, elegant, and had a touch of vintage. Ultimately, I felt this picture was really just the whole package for Jemma and Ryder. I think it definitely evokes the feeling of a classic Southern wedding.

Bridal Veil

bride-veilI feel that Jemma would refashion a vintage veil, and perhaps end up with something like this Juliet cap style veil.

The Bouquet

bouquet-magnoliaSource

I thought it would be fitting for Jemma to carry a magnolia bouquet, and I found this one simple magnolia that I felt would be perfection for her.

The Boutonierre

Lisa Lefkowitz, Snippet & InkSource

And of course, Ryder needs a magnolia too.

The Bridesmaids

Dresses

bridesmaidsSource

I felt that with Jemma’s taste for retro styles, these Alfred Sung dresses from Nordstrom would be a good fit. I figured with five bridesmaids, they could each have a different style, like above, but all in the same champagne color. (Yes, they’re all supposed to be the same color, but we all know after that blue/black/gold/white dress incident that the appearance of colors can be deceiving.) Anyhow, I love how these dresses have a classic look with just a dash of an early 60’s feel to them. Plus they look like they would be great for wearing at a Southern spring or summer wedding!

Bouquets

bridesmaid-bouquetAnd to go with their champagne dresses, I envision the bridesmaids carrying bouquets of champagne hydrangeas.

The Portraits

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www.sunglowphotography.comSource for bridal and wedding party portraits

The Venue

weddingSource

For whatever reason, I picture the ceremony at Jemma and Ryder’s home church, and the reception outside, probably at one of their family’s houses. These pictures really evoked Southern charm for me, I mean, check out those stained-glass windows, that willow, and those magnolia leaves on the table!

Reception Details

Lighting

lightingI love quaint lighting, and I thought this magnolia chandelier and these mason jar lights would both set the mood nicely for Jemma and Ryder’s wedding reception.

Place Setting

magnolia-leaf-place-settingSource

The Cakes

cakesMagnolia wedding cake/Groom’s cake

I loved how this cake had the same simplicity of the magnolia bouquet I chose for Jemma, and then how perfect is this cake for Ryder and his love of astronomy? Except the flavor would be caramel cake, his favorite.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of bookish wedding inspiration! What would you expect at Jemma and Ryder’s wedding? 

The Top 10 Books Contemporary YA Books I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books I Can’t Believe I Haven’t/Want To Read From X Genre. I don’t read a lot of Contemporary YA, but occasionally there’s one I hear about that I think I might enjoy… but it can take me a while to actually get around to them. Here’s 10 that I’m thinking I’ll check out one day, in no particular order…

1. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

gr-gallagher1I’ve been thinking of reading these for a while, but it’s always daunting to start series! But one day, I will, because they just sound fun!

2. Magnolia by Kristi Cook

gr-magnoliaSet in the South, Star Trek references, and the whole we-hate-each-other-oh-wait-never-mind trope? Yep, definitely interested.

3. Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

gr-faking-normalI feel like a broken record because I keep mentioning that Courtney is a local author who I have seen multiple times at local events and I feel I should read her book especially since Kayla talks about the boy in the book being like a contemporary Peeta but I have to admit I am terrified of the whole rape topic but ONE DAY I WILL READ THIS.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

GR-faultinourstarsYes, I still haven’t read this. Stop giving me that look.

5. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

gr-killerinstinctHey contemporary lovers, be proud! I read The Naturals and enjoyed it, so I would like to read its sequel!

6. The Law of Loving Others by Kate Axelrod 

gr-lawoflovingI will have to read more reviews on this before I know if I actually want to read it, but anything dealing with schizophrenia initially piques my interest. Ever since writing a paper on it my senior year of high school it has fascinated me.

7. Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

gr-dont=touchSummer raved about this one and mentioned there’s a nice guy (always a win for me), PLUS it focuses on OCD, which is actually featured in my WIP and I really need to read a little more about it.

8. If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

gr-ifyoufindmeThis one is highly regarded, plus it’s set in Tennessee.

9. Anything by Kasie West

gr-distancebetweenThe only Kasie West books I’ve read so far are Pivot Point and Split Second, which are contemporary with a paranormal/sci-fi sort of twist, and I think I need to read some of her straight-up contemporary I hear so much good about!

10. She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick 

gr-sheisnotinvisbleThis one just sounds very intriguing!

Which of these contemporary books do you love or want to read?