Monday, January 27, 2014

Guest Reviews: Me Since You, Side Effects May Vary and Summer of Yesterday


Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

Jessica's Review:

3.5 stars. I read the synopsis for this and I had all kinds of scenarios running through my mind of what the tragedy would be, and it was almost a let down that it was what it was. I was with a cop for 10+ years and most of my friends are cops and I have a hard time believing any of them would respond the way Nicky did, so it almost seemed a little farfetched for me. The choppiness of the writing didn't help either.

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

Jessica's Review:

2.5 stars. The premise of this story was a good one and I really looked forward to reading it, but I quickly got bored and I had a hard time feeling anything towards Alice. There's just something about her that doesn't allow you to like her and that's never a good way to start a book.


Back to the Future meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Haley’s summer vacation takes a turn for the retro in this totally rad romantic fantasy.

Summer officially sucks. Thanks to a stupid seizure she had a few months earlier, Haley’s stuck going on vacation with her dad and his new family to Disney’s Fort Wilderness instead of enjoying the last session of summer camp back home with her friends. Fort Wilderness holds lots of childhood memories for her father, but surely nothing for Haley. But then a new seizure triggers something she’s never before experienced—time travel—and she ends up in River Country, the campground’s long-abandoned water park, during its heyday.

The year? 1982.

And there—with its amusing fashion, “oldies” music, and primitive technology—she runs into familiar faces: teenage Dad and Mom before they’d even met. Somehow, Haley must find her way back to the twenty-first century before her present-day parents anguish over her disappearance, a difficult feat now that she’s met Jason, one of the park’s summer residents and employees, who takes the strangely dressed stowaway under his wing.

Seizures aside, Haley’s used to controlling her life, and she has no idea how to deal with this dilemma. How can she be falling for a boy whose future she can’t share?

Jessica's Review:

4 stars. I really liked this story even if I thought Haley handled things a little too well. I was expecting more of a Marty McFly reaction to going back in time, but it didn't quite happen that way. It takes some time to get a good visual of the park in your head when the author is describing everything, but still worth a read.

Thanks to the publishers for copies of these novels for review!

Special thanks to my guest reviewer Jessica for her tireless efforts on getting me through my TBR pile!

1 comment:

  1. These are nice, short reviews that give a good snatch of what the books were like. Nicely done, Jessica! Thanks for sharing. WRITE ON!