Book Review: Something Real by Heather Demetrios

First thoughts: Ugh…you guys there were times when I wanted to throw this book across the room. Let’s be real, I absolutely loved this book, it’s AMAZING, but I absolutely hated the main character’s mother. Thankfully, my hatred for her desperate attempt at fame was totally overshadowed by my admiration for Chloe and my love for one Patrick Sheldon.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Published February 4th 2014 by Henry Holt BYR
Pages: 416
Source: Paperback ARC generously dontated by Estelle of Rather Be Reading
Purchase this book

Publisher Summary

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

***

When we first meet Chloe she’s in the midst of her senior year of high school and finally feeling like things are falling into place after the cancellation of the reality show that brought her family fame and notoreity. She’s managed to stay under the radar and made a few close friends who have no idea about her infamous past. For the first time in her life she’s feeling cautiously optimistic but still struggles with trying to keep her famous upbringing  a secret. Unfortunately, all that changes in an instant when her mother announces that the cameras are coming back for a second round.

Click for source

Click for source

Throughout this whole novel, I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Chloe’s mom. The woman had literally NO redeeming qualities and what she makes her children endure was beyond redemption. She never once considers the mental health or happiness of her children, and continues to push them further and further in the world of reality television. No privacy, no genuine quality-time together and certainly no lives outside of the confines of their 24/7 broadcast home.

Chloe starts off as a victim of circumstance but as the book goes on she finds strength from the loving and supportive relationship she has with her brother and the people she is closest to at school. It was so heartwarming to see how they rally around her to give her the strength she needs. Chloe has seen some dark days in her past and they help her to stay positive and move forward as she tries to overcome her (pardon my language) shitty surroundings. I absolutely adored the relationship Chloe had with her brother. The love and concern they had for each other made me connect with the characters even more…if I were in the same situation I’d be totally protective of my siblings too!

So we need to just take a moment to discuss Patrick Sheldon, Chloe’s long-time crush who turns out to be so much more than she ever imaged he could be. Throughout everything Patrick remains her constant and faithful friend. Unfazed by the cameras and constant attention, he connects with Chloe in such an honest and open way that allows her to truly explore what she wants out of life for the very first time. Patrick is one of those guys who just knows exactly what to say or do in the most awkward or tense situations. He’s such a perfect balance to the craziness that is Chloe’s life and I want to thank him for being exactly what she needed. You go boy!

Click for source

This book was everything I expected it to be and more. I’d heard so much great buzz about it and was completely wrapped up in Chloe’s story after the very first chapter. Even though I never starred on a reality show (thank god!!), her character was so relatable that I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. I mean, could you imagine your ENTIRE life televised? Your most private, intimate and embarrassing moments caught on camera for the whole world to see?

Final thoughts: Run NOW to your local bookstore, library, online retailer…borrow it from a friend. Whatever you do, you must get your hands on this book ASAP! It’s an instant classic and is going to go right on my favorites shelf next to Open Road Summer, Anna and the French Kiss and Fangirl! As a matter of fact, I’m giving away my ARC of “Something Real” that I received from Estelle of Rather Be Reading, along with a $25 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Enter here!!

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Fangirl Friday: Andi’s ABCs Edition

I always love when Andi shares her ABCs post every Wednesday over at Andi’s ABCs! In each post she shares her current favorite accessory, book-related item and also an item of clothing. More often than not she shares something that I end up LOVING as well. Girl has impeccable taste!

Source: andiabcs.com

Source: andiabcs.com

I have to add that Andi is a VERY good book-pusher and shopping enabler. If you ever need someone to convince you that simply MUST have something, all you need to do is look up Andi. She’s the best! Seriously though, she’s one of the very first book bloggers I “met” and I’ll always be thankful to her for being so kind, generous and supportive! I’m super excited to do my spin on the ABCs. I did cheat a little bit and am featuring four items, but I’m hoping Andi doesn’t mind. Without further ado…

Shoes: 6pm.com / Shirt: Anthropologie.com / Bracelet: personal photo / Book: Goodreads.com

Shoes: 6pm.com / Shirt: Anthropologie.com / Bracelet: personal photo / Book: Goodreads.com

I’ve been coveting these Frye shoes on 6pm.com for months now! They originally retailed for nearly $180 and I was able to get them for a little over $60! I mean…at 65% off it would have been a crime if I didn’t buy them. Tracking says they’ll arrive today so I’ll be rushing home from work to try these beauties on! I love me a good moccasin!

Anthropologie has long been one of my very favorite clothing stores. The bohemian and relaxed design totally appeals to the hippie in me and I’m always perusing their sale racks for a good deal. They have some awesome bargains if you go to the very back of the store.  The second I saw the Solvo Tunic I knew I HAD to have it! It’s currently available at the full-price of $58 so I’m debating if I should wait for it to go on sale or just scoop it up now.

This past Christmas my sister-in-law bought me a couple of Alex & Ani bracelets and ever since then I’ve been slowly adding to my collection. A few weeks ago my husband and I went out to Martha’s Vineyard for a long weekend and I picked up this charm with an image of the island on it. I think it’s a fun and unique little souvenir of our home away from home.

I’ll wrap up my fangirling with the most recent book I just finished, Something Real by Heather Demetrios. I absolutely adored this book and totally get why all of you are swooning over Patrick Sheldon. Demetrios’ writing is so exquisite and I’m looking forward to sharing all of my thoughts with you this Monday in my full review of the book.

That’s a wrap for this week, thanks for stopping by and wishing you a wonderful weekend!!

YA Prom: Where all your YA dreams come true

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Was everyone as excited as I was when Gaby and Alexa announced that they would be hosting a YA Prom? I mean – who doesn’t love getting all dressed up and dancing the night away with the perfect guy. I immediately knew who my date would be…the one and only Levi from Fangirl as played by Ryan Gosling. Levi is described as a tall, blonde-haired and blue-eyed farm boy with a smile that just won’t quit. Since Ryan Gosling is my celeb crush (I know…I’m soooo 2012) it wasn’t hard for me to make the connection to Levi.

FINAL Gosling collage

There were so many moments in Fangirl that made me sigh out loud. If I were in a cartoon there would have been little hearts and birds floating over my head while I was reading. I was so smitten with Levi from the very beginning and as I continued to read, I just swooned harder and harder. How could you not fall in love with Levi when he says stuff like this…

quote

As for my dress, I knew I’d have to wear something that would color-coordinate with the Fangirl cover. Natch! I discovered this gorgeous Badgley Mischka mint gown with gold lace cap sleeves on Rent The Runway and I knew it was the one! I had a tough time deciding on accessories for my ensemble…there were so many amazing choices. I finally settled on a stunning pair of crystal drop earrings from Slate and Willow and  the most amazing pair of Jimmy Choo heels in gold of course…I have a slight obsession with gold!

Dress & Earrings: Renttherunway.com / Shoes: JimmyChoo.com

To match the look of the flowy, romantic dress I wanted to keep hair and makeup soft and simple; Jessica Alba’s loosely pinned up-do, Carrie Underwood’s smokey eye/pale lip combo and the fun nail art all add up to the perfect look!

beauty

Thanks again to Alexa and Gabby for hosting…I truly had a blast pulling this post together. My real-life prom wasn’t the best experience, but this time, with Levi as my date, a stunning couture gown and some pretty bad ass accessories…this YA Prom is sure to be a dream come true!

UPDATED to add this totally 1990’s photo of my father and I before I left for the prom. He was the cutest!

Miss you papa...

Miss you papa…

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

First Thoughts: Quick…somebody get a me a dictionary, a thesaurus or SOMETHING! I need to find ALL the words to describe this book. Because right now…I got nothing! This book ruined me in the best possible way. It broke my heart, put it back together again, and by the end I was a big heap of snotty tissues and feelings curled up in bed. It’s been a long time since a book has left me feeling this way…and I LOVED it!

Personal photo…look guys, my book is levitating!

***

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 417
Format: Hard cover
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book

Publisher Summary

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

***

Since I’m having such a hard time stringing together coherent thoughts on this book, I figured I would take the easy way out and just give you some high-level bullet points. I know, I’m totally cheating but I figured bullet points are better than just a page full of…

I don't know how to form complete sentences...

I don’t know how to form complete sentences…

So here we go, in no particular order:

  • Bardugo is a straight-up boss when it comes to writing mesmerizing characters. I was invested in each and every person that was on those pages, and they each broke my heart in one way or another. I mean…these people have been through some dark days. I hated seeing characters I loved so much suffer. BUT, just as painful as it was to see them suffer, it was sooooo uplifting to see them rise above the suffering and fight for the light. Let’s be real though, there were some casualties in this book that I was NOT happy about. I guess it just goes to illustrate Bardugo’s immense talent for creating so many fully-developed characters each with their own strengths and their own weaknesses.
  • Ya’ll…I had a really tough time deciding. Team Mal or Team Sturmhond? Let’s be real, I was never on Team Darkling! I like my boys shiny and sweet and swoon-worthy. The Darkling was just a little too evil and well….dark. I’ve never been the bad boy type. I DO however like a self-confident, sarcastic man who knows what he wants and makes no apologies for doing everything he can to get it. So Sturmhond should have been a natural choice for me. BUT…in the end, actually pretty much from page 1 of Ruin and Rising, I had made my final decision. I was firmly in the camp of TEAM MAL! I just couldn’t deny the history he and Alina shared, and even though it took them a while to get there, once he realized his feelings for her I wanted nothing more than to see them live happily ever after. Since this is a SPOILER FREE review I’m not going to reveal what happens in the end but let’s just say…it’s complicated.
  • Can we talk for a minute about the epic world building? Now, I love me some escapism, so when I find an author that can create a completely new world for me to immerse myself in, all I want to do is read ALL THE THINGS! From Shadow and Bone I was hooked, totally drawn into the world Bardugo imagined for her readers. For each and every castle she built and vista she created, I fell more and more in love with Ravka and its surrounding areas. Except maybe The Fold…that placed freaked me the hell out. Actually, let’s forget that I just mentioned it. Let’s just bask in the glory that is…THE MAP!
WARNING: MAP PORN!!

WARNING: MAP PORN!!

  • The feels…ohhhhh the feels this book gave me. I alternated between about ten different emotions at any given time and the end left me with the BIGGEST book hangover I think I’ve ever had. Only to be remedied by starting Something Real by Heather Demetrios…shout out to Something Real for being just what I needed!! Back to the Ruin and Rising feels…like I said I found myself going from swooning to biting my nails to crying to laughing and back to crying and finally some kind of emotion that can’t really be put into words. I’ll let Ron Burgundy explain…
For real though

For real though…

I think my husband heard the sniffling (sobbing) from downstairs because no sooner had I closed the book and he appeared in the bedroom doorway wondering if everything was ok. I must have been quite a sight…tissues in hand, tears streaming down my face and clutching the book to my chest. He asked me how I liked it and all I could mumble was “It was perfect…amazing…no words!”

Final Thoughts: If you haven’t read this book I highly suggest you move it to the top of your list. It’s a sweeping and epic conclusion to the Grisha Trilogy that left me breathless! Oh yeah…GO TEAM MAL!!!

PS – I just noticed that my “bullet points” tuned into to straight-up paragraphs! I guess I was able to string together coherent thoughts after all. Didn’t know it had it in me!

PPS – GO TEAM MAL!!!

Fangirl Friday: YALit Fan Art

I had a few fun ideas rattling around in my head for this installment of Fangirl Friday, but when I came up with the idea of featuring fan art based on some of my favorite books I knew I had a winner! It was so much fun pulling this post together…there are some seriously talented people out there. For someone who can barely draw a straight line I was freaking amazed at how gorgeous some of the fan art that’s out there is. For each book I’m featuring my four favorite pieces of fan art but I could have chosen soooo many more. If you’re looking to kill some time and want to be blown away just google your favorite book(s) along with “fan art” and prepare to be amazed! Fair warning: there’s some pretty bad (and weird) fan art out there too. Very amusing!

I’m kicking off with Grisha Trilogy fan art to celebrate the release of the final book in  Leigh Bardugo’s epic adventure! Enjoy…oh and be sure to click on the source link to see the original full-size image.

The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha Collage

Clockwise from top left: FrozenAntlers / Fictograph / Bottom two images: The Fandom’s GeekGirl

Publisher Summary

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance

Visit Goodreads for more information

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl Collage

 Clockwise from top left: Esquisse / Simini Blocker Illustration / Yasminwithane / Andiree

Publisher Summary

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Visit Goodreads for more information

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

DoSaB Collage

  Clockwise from top left:  leahbharlann / Calivel / Simini Blocker Illustration / Lelu’s Garden

Publisher Summary

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Visit Goodreads for more information

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna Collage

All images but bottom left: leabharlann /  Bottom left: Simini Blocker Illustration

Publisher Summary

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Visit Goodreads for more information

 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

TOG Collage

Clockwise from top left: Fan art by Susan Dennard / 143believeme / walkingnorth / leafette

Publisher Summary

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Visit Goodreads for more information

Waiting on…Winterspell by Claire Legrand

When I was a little girl I took ballet and every year we would put on a huge production of the The Nutcracker. The entire ballet school took part and our German-born ballet instructor made sure that each and every part was cast perfectly and that we all danced to the best of our ability. She was intense and demanding but it showed in our performances…every year was a huge sell out.

Because I was so young I was always cast as a toy soldier, a flower or even one of the evil mice. Every year between rehearsals I would sit at the side and watch in awe as the girl cast as Clara or The Sugar Plum Fairy danced across the floor. From a very early age the story of the Nutcracker was a favorite of mine and to this day I still watch the television production starring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland when it airs around Christmas. If you have five or so minutes to spare I suggest you watch this clip from the ballet…it’s epic! Skip ahead to 1:45 for the gorgeousness of their Pas De Deux (dance duet) from one of the final scenes of the ballet where Uncle Drosselmeyer comes to take Clara back home . The emotion these two legendary ballet dancers emote through dance is so beautiful and I’m always so captivated by it.

 

Needless to say, when I heard that Winterspell was inspired by one of my favorite childhood stories I was immediately intrigued. It has all the elements I love in a good fantasy YA…princes, faeries, curses, women leading double lives! I cannot wait to see how Legrand used the inspiration from the original story of the Nutcracker and re-imagined it in a new and exciting way. Plus…can we talk about how gorgeous that cover is! The dagger, that hair, the DRESS! Everything is perfection.

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Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Expected publication: September 30th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Pre-order this book

Publisher Summary

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

Book Review: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

First thoughts: You know that feeling you get when your driving in your car with the windows down, it’s a gorgeous sunny day and your favorite song is playing on the radio? You know the feeling…for some reason you can’t wipe that silly grin off your face. That’s how this book made me feel. I finished the last page, closed the book and couldn’t stop smiling. Everything about it was perfect and if you’re looking for a summer road trip romance then look no further. No seriously, I mean it, you MUST read this book!

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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Published May 4th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Purchase this book

Publisher Summary

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. But since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip. . .and has plenty of baggage of his own. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected may turn out to be the ones you need the most—and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

When we first meet Amy she is a shell of the person she used to be. Tragedy has sucked every ounce happiness and her carefree life is now filled with angst , anger and pain. I immediately related to Amy and the pain she was going through, having lost my own father. I felt a certain familiarity in what she was going through. Morgan Matson crafted such an honest and raw portrait of grief in Amy and the way in which she worked through that pain. Slowly, painfully and awkwardly…by way of latching on to moments that feel familiar to your past but in a completely different way. It’s these moments in which Amy was able to share her grief (sometimes with complete strangers) that was so authentic. For that reason alone, this book holds a special place in my heart.

Amy’s healing is due in no small part to Roger. A person she barely knew and was not prepared to share her grief with. His character was so integral to this story and if he was written in any other way, the story never would have worked. Matson was able to create a male main character that blended kindness, humility, and humor into a perfect mix that is rarely seen in books these days. Roger was also wounded, flawed and hurting – which is why he was able to connect so intimately with Amy. I loved that these two forged a deep and lasting friendship without even a thought to a romantic connection. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t romance or swoon-worthy moments in this book, but I did appreciate the fact that Matson didn’t take the easy way out and have them jumping each other’s bones after a few chapters. It was refreshing and felt true to how this kind of friendship would naturally unfold. I absolutely loved their relationship and how they each brought out the best in each other.

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The road was just as much a character in this story as Amy & Roger. You could really tell that these were roads that Matson travelled and she drew on her on experiences, I love that her research for this book involved a solo cross-country road trip. Get it girl! Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour was an example of how small decisions can lead to great things, like camping overnight at Yosemite, somehow finding yourself on “The Loneliest Road” and a fulfilling a promise of visiting Graceland.

Moments and happy accidents are what make memories and in this book they are what pushed Amy forward in her journey towards healing. I don’t know why it took me so long but halfway through the book I realized that the road was the perfect analogy of Amy’s journey. She needed to push forward, sometimes not knowing where she was going, but keeping her eye on the final destination. All the pit stops and side trips along the way served as lessons that would help heal her wounds. What started out as a dreaded cross-country drive to a new home with a total stranger, ended up being exactly what Amy (and Roger) needed.

Final Thoughts: This book gave me, say it with me, ALL THE FEELS! It easily earns five stars from me and is placed on my favorites shelf along with other amazing YA romances such as Open Road Summer, Just One Day/Year, Fangirl, Anna & The French Kiss and Where The Stars Still Shine. I love a book that’s filled with moments that make you swoon AND moments that break your heart. This book had all of that and more. PLUS…the soundtrack is EPIC!