ARC Review: Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Author: Lianne Oelke

Published: 09 January 2018 | Clarion Books

Date Read: 23 January 2018

Synopsis:

The only thing 17-year-old Jane Sinner hates more than failure is pity. After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, she’s going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out.

Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother, but for Elbow River Students. Living away from home, the chance to win a car (used, but whatever), and a campus full of people who don’t know what she did in high school… what more could she want? Okay, maybe a family that understands why she’d rather turn to Freud than Jesus to make sense of her life, but she’ll settle for fifteen minutes in the proverbial spotlight.

As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans and shoddy T-shirts, Jane finally has the chance to let her cynical, competitive nature thrive. She’ll use her growing fan base, and whatever Intro to Psychology can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

*ARC Kindly provided by Clarion Books thru Edelweiss for review*

I’ve read a couple of books that has a plot that depicts a reality show. Just when I thought I’ll be getting something similar to those books, I get a book that surpass the typical reality-show plot and instead gave us an original writing and premise and a memorable lead character.

“Maybe it’s time to have an adventure on my own. To be good at something on my own.”

The story follows Jane Sinner. A girl expelled from high school for unknown reasons. Now, as she tries to earn her high school diploma by enrolling at the local community college, she learns about a Big Brother type of reality show run by a student.

The House of Orange is one of the unique aspects of the book. I love how this idea came up just from a simple class project. The show was really a lot like Big Brother – there are challenges, immunities and evictions.

Jane came off broody, cynical and sarcastic. She’s the type of character who has a tough and strong facade but deep down inside was a softie at heart. At first, Jane joined the reality show because she enjoyed that anonymity. But as the day goes and tasks were given, HOO pushed Jane out of her comfort zone and helped her find the place for herself that she was looking for. For most part of the book, I was wondering what really happened to Jane. We were only given snippets of her past and her narration gave away that there was an entirely different Jane from that past as to who she is at the present.

“I hate running, and I’ve run each day since starting the show to prove that I am stronger than my apathy. That I am stronger than the girl who gave up on life.”

As the story progress, her story was also revealed. I felt for her. I related to her. She’s dealing with a lot of things all the same time and personally sometimes, that makes me want to explode. Jane is dealing with getting kicked-out from her previous school, not having the same beliefs as her parents have and depression. I really appreciate how the story conveys that people experience depression in different ways and reasons.

As the book was written in a journal type, each chapter seems to be a quick read. The way it was written was unique and enjoyable as well. Though there are slow moments in the story, it was eventually replaced by a lot more enjoyable parts.

This has been a topic on twitter a few weeks ago and I agree that there isn’t a lot of YA novels with main characters at college. Nice Try, Jane Sinner is one of those rare YA Books that has a main character that is in a college setting. Personally, I think I would enjoy reading YA Books set in college when I was back in college. Also, this is one of those rare books that I read that is set in Canada! I visited Alberta two years ago and up until now, I get sepanx over it. I missed Banff and Lake Louise with it snow capped mountains and turquoise water!

As mentioned, although the story has its slow parts I enjoyed reading most it. I love the unique plot, writing and the characters.

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Blog Tour & ARC Review: Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia

Title: Broken Beautiful Hearts

Author: Kami Garcia

Published: 06 February 2018 | Imprint

Date Read: 04 February 2018

Synopsis:

Before, Peyton was a star soccer player with the perfect boyfriend, Reed. Now, she has a torn knee ligament, a scholarship on the line, and a shattered sense of self. No one believes Reed pushed her, causing her injury, and Peyton just wants to leave the trauma behind. Living with her uncle and twin cousins in their small, football-obsessed town seems like a great escape plan.

There, Peyton meets Owen—high school classmate and local MMA fighter. Though Owen is charming and gentle, Peyton is determined to repress her growing attraction. But when her old and new life collide, Peyton must reclaim the truth of her past in order to save her future.

*ARC Kindly provided by Macmillan | Clarion & Inkslinger PR thru Netgalley for Review*

I’ve heard and read about Kami Garcia and her works for a couple of years now since I started blogging but its just now that I finally picked up one of her works.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and usually the reason sucks”

Peyton’s senior life is shaping up nicely. She has great friends, a perfect boyfriend and is on the way to becoming an athlete to her dream school – UNC –  for soccer. On the day she dubbed as “One Perfect Day” everything seemed to shatter right before her eyes. She caught the reason why her boyfriend seems to be changing and keeping secrets lately. They broke up, argument ensues, and terrible things happened that forces her to move with her uncle in Tennessee. It is there that she meets her twin cousins, Christian and Cameron, the friendly cheerleader and the twins’ friend Grace and the aspiring kick-boxer, Owen.

The story started good and high for me. I’m craving to read a YA Romance lately and I’m so happy that I pick this one up. Though I have a hunch that certain parts of the book might be too deep and/or emotional, I felt excited. Broken Beautiful Hearts is one of those books that will give you an emotional roller coaster kind of ride. You’ll feel happy, sad, angry, tormented and just all over the place. Kami Garcia puts a lot of secrets, revelations, twists and turns in the story that others may find somewhat predictable, but I find myself enjoying every chapter and its predictability. The plot is entertaining.

The lead characters Peyton and Owen were written with depth and reality. These two might be your typical high-school seniors, but at such a youthful age it seems life they’ve been through a lot.

I didn’t immediately loved Peyton but as the story goes, she grew on me. I find her a bit sarcastic and petulant at the beginning. But as her story progress, she became a stronger and more independent version of herself. Despite being accused as a liar by people who are once close to her, she sticks with her story of truth and didn’t back down; she stood up for herself despite the consequences it might cause her. She didn’t back down from all the stones that were thrown on her way. I appreciate how the author gave Peyton a great support system – her mom, uncle and cousins.

“Any girl with a heartbeat would have trouble ignoring the pull of his sexy smile and beautiful brown eyes.”

Even after reading the story, Owen still seems like a stranger to me. Don’t take me wrong, I liked his character and appreciate his great parts in it and I know what we learned about him on the story was already an important thing, but I could’ve wished we get to know more about him and his life. I feel like we were only introduced to it on a surface level. But anyway, his character played a very vital role in the story. Just like Peyton, he didn’t back down from all the stones that life threw at him.

The chemistry between these two was very well written. I find myself enjoying their sweet banters and flirting. I’m also glad that the “love story” part of the story didn’t overly occupy the entirety of it.

A major part of the book focuses on two types of abuse – relationship and substance abuse. Kami Garcia was able to handle this sensitive topic with care and in a very realistic way. She didn’t only give us the surface level on how the abuse happen and how it affects the person abused but also how it affects the people around that person. This part of the plot was so important, and I think Kami Garcia handled it greatly.

The writing style also worked well for me. It was somewhat intense, emotion-filled, catchy and strong. There wasn’t a page or chapter that I wasn’t invested in. The ending was quite predictable. But as mentioned on the blurb (which is what I was also holding too as I was reading), this book will break our hearts and eventually put it back together again.

Overall, I really love reading Beautiful Broken Hearts. It was a story of fighting, healing, and letting go of things you have no control over.

“We don’t get one perfect day. We get a lifetime of imperfect days and its up to us to decide what we want to do with them.”

This is not how I envisioned celebrating my big news. I reach for my phone to check the time, wondering if it’s too early to head home. But it isn’t in my pocket. Nothing but lip balm, house keys, and Reed’s car keys. God forbid he carry anything except his phone. I pat down my coat. “I lost my phone.”

“It’s probably in the car, like the last three times you lost it. I need to run to the bathroom and then I’ll help you find it,” Tess says.

The line for the bathroom is six people deep. I can’t wait that long. “All my voice mails are on it.”

Tess knows that by all I really mean one—the last message from my dad. It’s the reason I’ve had the same phone for a year and a half, even though it barely holds a charge.

“I bet it’s in the car,” she says. “Don’t worry.”

“I’m just going to run out and check.” I leave through the back door.

Outside, a stone retaining wall snakes down the hill beside the house. The wall separates a paved footpath from the long driveway. My arm scrapes against the rock as I rush toward the steps at the end of the walk- way that lead down to the street.

Reed parked his car across from the steps, and I can’t get it unlocked fast enough. I search for my phone in the front seat and between the crevices of the center console.

Nothing.

Think. Retrace your steps.

When we got in Reed’s car I tossed my jacket in the back seat. My phone could’ve fallen out of the pocket. I lean between the front seats and grope around.

Come on. Please be here.

What if it’s not?

My chest tightens. I can’t lose Dad’s message.

Reed’s car is full of junk—hand wraps, sparring pads, sweaty T-shirts, and empty energy drinks. His smelly gym bag is open on the floor. I dig through it until my fingers hit something rectangular and smooth.

A box.

I take it out of the bag, expecting a cheap plastic box like one Reed uses as a first aid kit. But this box is glossy black cardboard, like a gift box.

Reed doesn’t do surprises, and he thinks presents are a waste of money. The only gift he has given me in the seven months we’ve been together was for my birthday. And Tess and Mrs. Michaels don’t have birthdays anytime soon.

My stomach bottoms out.

All the time he’s been spending at the gym . . . What if Reed hasn’t been there every night?

Things have been off between us for a while and I’m not a fan of his recent mood swings, but I’d never cheat on him. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t.

The box doesn’t have a store name or logo printed on it, and it’s a weird size—too big for a bracelet and too deep for a necklace. A watch, maybe?

I open the lid.

Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today & international bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures novels. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages, and the film Beautiful Creatures released in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. Kami’s solo series, The Legion, includes the instant New York Times bestseller UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, both of which were nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. Her other works include THE X-FILES ORIGINS: AGENT OF CHAOS and the YA contemporary novels THE LOVELY RECKLESS and the forthcoming BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS (February 2018).

Kami was a teacher for seventeen years before co-authoring her first novel on a dare from seven of her students. If she isn’t busy watching Supernatural, Kami can teach you how to escape from a pair of handcuffs or bake a Coca-Cola cake. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Visit Kami at http://www.KamiGarcia.com.

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ARC Review: Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

Title: Love and Other Train Wrecks

Author: Leah Konen

Published: 02 January 2018 | Katherine Tegen Books

Date Read: 06 January 2018

Synopsis:

A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm

One train ride. Two strangers.

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.

Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.

After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love…and the course of their lives forever?

*ARC Kindly provided by Katherine Tegen Books thru Edelweiss for review*

I was blindsided. Just when I thought I would get a quick story about two strangers meeting on a long train ride & falling in love, I get a book divided into three interesting parts. Love and other Train Wrecks spans an entirety of a day (or two). On a very short and quick time frame, a lot happened.

The story introduced us to two strangers (Ammy and Noah) who boarded the Amtrak going to the same destination but for different reasons. Sounds familiar? Yep, it did remind me of Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight with the quick time frame and two strangers meeting in an unconventional way. Up until I came into around 9% of the book that I know the plot line will be somewhat different. And that I might also know what the twist into the story might be. 😉

“Sometimes it takes meeting a stranger on a train to get the courage you need to finally stop asking yourself what if.”

Ammy and Noah wound up sitting with each other. Started talking about random stuffs, getting on each other’s stranger’s nerves. Until. The. Train. Breaks. Down. Both are in time crunch and needed to arrive at their destination at a certain time. With the train broken and people on hold until it gets fixed, they wandered off and started their crazy wild adventure to reach their destination on their own.

Noah boarded the train with an elaborate plan to woo and win back his ex. The more I get into the story, the more that I feel like he’s being pushed by guilt instead of love in winning his ex-back. Reading from his point of view made us see how their story unfolds and what happened that leads up to their break up. I loved Noah. He has flaws but he’s also such a sweetheart and the emotions he showed in the story felt so raw and real. He loves to read, a bit nerdy and adorable.

Ammy boarded the train to attend her father’s wedding/promise ceremony. The more I get into the story, the more that I feel how she’s being eaten up by guilt by leaving her mother alone in an unstable emotional state. Reading from her point of view made us see how complicated her family life has been ever since her parents divorced; how she feels blind-sided by it. But we also get to see how she’s trying to cope up with it, take care of her mother at the same time maintain a good relationship with her step-mom and step-sisters. Ammy was just an okay character for me. I actually find her snarky and snobby at first, but I thawed up on her attitude as I get to know her more in the story.

Love and other Train Wreck is filled with Ammy and Noah’s adventures and misadventures. The second part of the book made me feel like I was watching an episode from Series of Unfortunate Events because it feels like all odds are against these two. But then, the adventures and misadventures honestly made the reading experience more fun and enjoyable.

The romance was just okay and expect the insta-love, of course. I could’ve settled even if they ended up just friends.The ending feels a bit rushed because the conflicts were easily untangled. I want a more definitive conclusion, I guess.

Love and other Train Wreck was a cute & quick story about two strangers, seating with each other on a long train ride then later learned about letting go and moving forward. It was cliché and cheesy, but I ate up the story like a candy. I love the humor, romance, adventure and misadventures. Overall, a fun and entertaining read.

ARC Review: Busted by Gina Ciocca

Title: Busted

Author: Gina Ciocca

Published: 02 January 2018 | Sourcebooks Fire

Date Read: 03 January 2018

Synopsis:

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

*ARC Kindly provided by Sourcebooks Fire for review*

I love YA, I love mystery and I love spy stories. Add up these three and that book will be up on my TBR. The beginning of Busted really excites me; I’m really looking forward to the sleuthing that will happen on the book and it didn’t fail me because a few chapters in and I already have a sample of said sleuthing. Up until the first chapter ends and the story begins to be a bit dragging.

Spying, scheming and tangled web of secrets and mystery – that’s what I was expecting when I dived into reading Busted but I guess I expected too much because I feel like I only get bits and pieces of it. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the story plotline, but I guess my expectation went a bit high. Nevertheless, I still liked the story.

“Outing a scumbag felt more badass than anything.”

The characters introduced here are a mix of people that are fun to read about. We have the very likeable, fun, driven and a very good friend Marissa. Seriously, where can I find a friend just like her who climbs over a framework just to catch the boyfriend of a friend who’s supposedly cheating? A friend who gives second chances to an old (bitch) friend? I really like Marissa. Her voice is fun and interesting to read. Charlie is the best partner/side-kick for Marissa. They are total opposites but really complements each other. Plus, I really love her side-story with Marissa’s brother. 😉

TJ is such a sweet character but somewhere in the middle of the story I doubted him. He made me skeptical about him with all the “shady” actions that he did.

The romance between TJ and Marissa started in a very unlikely situation and I didn’t really like it at first because I think I know how those kind of romances ends but but but their chemistry was so on point that at some point I find myself squealing for them to just kiss! They are both such sweet characters and their crafty sides and inner geekiness really makes them more compatible with one another.

And of course, I won’t forget to mention the returning friend, Kendall. Kendall who is really a bitch witch. I knew that from the first moment she was introduced that she will not bring anything but a challenge to the story and to the characters. But of course, a delightful book wouldn’t be complete without a very convincing villain and Kendall really is the best villain character for this story. I guess, she is the trigger in the story where all at snooping and tangled web of secrets and mystery really started.

As mentioned, I liked the story but didn’t entirely loved it. Busted has a pretty unique and promising premise but I somehow wish for more spying and scheming to happen. Nevertheless, everything tied up neatly; giving everyone a good ending.

ARC REVIEW: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Title: Top Ten

Author: Katie Cotugno

Published: 03 October 2017 | Balzer + Bray

Date Read: 01 October 2017

Synopsis:

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?

*ARC Kindly provided by Balzer + Bray thru Edelweiss for Review*

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Katie Cotugno book and a contemporary book in general. Top Ten is about Ryan and Gabby – best friends – who are anticipating their high school graduation and after years of friendship, they can’t help but reminisce different moments of their friendship. They do it in a very systematic way which is by writing a Top Ten List.

Top Ten has a very interesting premise and as a reader who is very into best friend’s type of story, I’m immediately totally up into this story. However, the story was not I’m expecting it to be. It lacked something that I can’t put my finger into. It just didn’t deliver the story I was expecting from the blurb that we all had before reading.

While the writing is okay, the timeline of the story really confused me. This is not the first book that I’ve read that jumps from one time frame to the other, but on this book’s case, it confused me! There has been a lot of back and forth between the Gabby and Ryan’s perspective from different timelines.

From the beginning, we all know that Ryan and Gabby are best friends, but do you consider people who constantly fight with each other about nearly everything as best friends? What they have is really an unlikely relationship because they don’t just bicker and tease each other. They fight. A LOT. I came to the point where I wonder why these two are even “best friends”. Given, the chemistry was there from the very first chapter, but I was looking for the build-up and relationship transition, but nada, there’s none of that as well. Just like their friendship, their romance is confusing and angsty and there’s a lot of back and forth.

Gabby is a girl who suffers a major social anxiety. I do understand and tried to understand where she’s coming from, but for most the story, she felt flat for me. But one thing that did surprised me with her character is her bisexuality. I really appreciate how she explored her feelings and sexuality and finding out who she really is. Ryan, on the other hand, is one of their school’s hockey player and is a social butterfly. Though, I do felt major “kilig” on him at times, his character also felt flat to me.

I can consider our main characters okay but honestly, they are both flat as a dough. I had a hard time connecting with them and it feels like I ended up just knowing about them from the outside.

The potential for a cute and adorable contemporary story was there but the confusing timeline and flat characters didn’t really give the story much justice. Though, I really appreciate how Cotugno inserted topics of anxiety and sports-related injury to the story. Those aspects where well-handled and written but I wish it was explored more as the story barely scratched the surface of said topics.

Overall, it was an okay read.

ARC Review: Summer Unscripted by Jen Klein

Title: Summer Unscripted

Author: Jen Klein

Published: 13 June 2017 | Random House

Date Read: 05 August 2017

Synopsis:

A summer romance about missed connections and how not to miss out on the love of your life. For fans of Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Jenny Han.

Girl looks for a sign. Enter: boy.

Rainie doesn’t have a “passion” like her friends do. She’s more of a dabbler—quick to give up and move on. But as graduation approaches, she wishes she had more direction. So when gorgeous Tuck gives a monologue that literally puts into words exactly how she’s been feeling lately, it’s a sign! Tuck is her passion. How could she not have seen it before?

Girl follows boy. Enter: second boy.

Rainie convinces her ex-BFF to let her work at the same summer job as Tuck. She’s got a foolproof plan to date him. But when she arrives, Rainie discovers things aren’t that simple. And she meets Milo, a super-cute boy who also works with her. A boy with a complicated past.

Girl needs to figure stuff out. Enter: drama.

*ARC Kindly provided by Penguin Random House for review*

Summer Unscripted is a light, quick and easy summer book to read.

“You’re a canoe. You’re floating. Aimless. You’re drifting. Getting knocked aslew by the waves of the speedboats rocketing past you. They all know where they’re going. They all have a plan. But you, you don’t.”

When one of her school’s most sought-after guy gave this monologue at school looking right in the eyes of Raine, she knew it’s a sign. A sign that she needs to follow him on a summer theater troupe even though she doesn’t know a bit about theater and the play itself.

Raine is the type of character that I easily relate to. She’s unsure and undecided on what to do with her life. She jumps from one thing to another and really having a hard time finding her niche in life. I’m way older than Raine and I still feel the same at times that’s why I easily relate to her.

Milo is a fun character. He’s a perfect guy throughout the story – decent and talented (onstage and offstage). I also like that the author made him Mexican-American inserting a bit of diversity into the book.

“I’m like a human skipping stone. Splashing across life’s surface, going after one thing and then another. Sure, I might make a lot of ripples, but they always disappear.”

Delving deeper into the book, I just wished it tackled more on the aspect of Raine being indecisive about things about her future instead of focusing majority of her time in her boy-drama. This might also be a good time to mend broken fences with her friend Ella.

Overall, the story was okay. The writing is witty and engaging. The whole summer heather vibe was captured by the author including the dramas, competition and even the hook-ups. The pacing was also quick and though the story was quite predictable it is still fun to read.

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Title: Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Published: 06 June 2017 | Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date Read: 30 July 2017

Synopsis:

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

*Finished copy kindly provided by Penguin Random House for review*

Who wouldn’t be enticed to read a book that is about books and lovers of books? That premise of Words In Deep Blue is what immediately captured my interest making me immediately put it on my anticipated reads list for this year. And just when I thought that the story is a simple as that I was so wrong because inside this book is a heartfelt story that tackles family, friendship, grief and loss

Told in alternating POV’s of old friends Rachel and Henry, we were all brought to the small town of Gracetown where Rachel and Henry grew up together. Until a time came when Rachel needs to move to another town. Loose ends have been left with Henry and her other friends. But now, years have passed and she has returned to Gracetown. Returning to her old hometown, old friends and to Henry. But nothing is ever the same. Rachel is no longer the same.

Now, they are both forced to deal with the past, live in the present and get ready for the future and face the truths.

“I’ve missed her. Even now when she’s not being herself, I miss her.”

I like Henry! He’s cool and geeky and such a sweetheart. Though I’m quite annoyed on how he reacts with Amy (sicker than a love-sick boy) I liked him because he was able to redeem himself at the latter part of the book. He wears his heart on his sleeve. I really can’t blame him on what happened between him and Rachel, but what I do appreciate about him is that he gently woven himself back into Rachel’s life. He knows that something is going on with her but he didn’t push her into telling him what it is. He let her take her time to tell him.

“I think you should be depressed. I think depression is completely fair enough. Depression is the absolute response here.”

Rachel on the other hand is such a tough nut to crack. From the beginning, her sadness and grief can be seen. She’s still grieving for the loss of her brother. She’s also grieving the loss of her “old-self” mom. Reading about Rachel on the books actually makes me feel melancholic. I felt for her. I felt her sadness, her grief, her guilt. Being in Gracetown makes her feel alive again even for just a little. The town holds a lot of memory of her and her brother and going back has been a  good start for healing to her.

The other characters also made the book more solid. There’s George, Lola, Martin, Rachel’s Aunt and even Henry’s Parents, these set of characters are all there at the center of the story solidifying the story more with their sub-stories that is as interesting as the main story itself.

“Secondhand books are full of mysteries, which is why I like them.”

The Howling Bookstore is the brightest part of this book form me. Just imagining how cozy the bookstore looks makes me fall in love with books all over again. I really love the unique idea of the Letter Library where customers can write in books, circle the words they love and highlight lines. They can leave notes in the margin and thoughts about meanings of things that can be later discovered by other people. This idea is brilliant because its like another method of communication. It creates connection between strangers who might share the same love and passion as you.

The Letter Library is also home to Rachel and Henry’s sweet moments. Though the love-story is not the highlight of the whole story, I still feel giddy whenever there is a Rachel-Henry moment. *squeee*

I love the characters, I love the story so why not give it 5 stars? Well because, it took quite long for the story to get into the heart of the matter. I reached a point where it felt like I was dragging myself into the story (but I did get my feet back at some point).

Another thing is that it feels like a lot is going on – death of someone, love life of someone, the bookstore, the books and letters. There are a lot of subplots that are very interesting and I think are important parts of the story but sadly the ending did not give it enough justice. In fact, I felt that the ending is still quite a loose end for me.

“The past is with me; the future is unmapped and changeable. Ours for the imagining, spreading out before us. Sunlight-filed, deep blue, and the darkness.”

Overall, it has been an interesting read for me. I loved the characters and the whole concept of the Howling Books but I just wished that the ending could’ve been more close tied. Nevertheless, I’ll be on the lookout for more of Cath Crowley’s books.