Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Girls of July by Alex Flinn

GoodReads Summary:
Four girls. One unforgettable July.
Britta is the bubbly drama queen. She needs to get away—and a peaceful cabin in the woods sounds like the perfect escape.
Meredith is the overachiever. She’s spent her entire life preparing for college, but at what cost? Now she’s wondering if that’s all there is.
Kate is the reluctant socialite. She’s searching for a reason to begin again after fleeing her small Georgia town—and a shameful family secret.
Spider is the quiet intellectual. She’s struggling with pain that has isolated her from her peers for much of her life.
When these four very different young women stay together for a month in the mountains, they discover that sometimes getting away from it all can only bring you back to who you really are.
Girls of JulyReview:
Alex Flinn has been an auto-buy author for me for years. She’s one of Antonia’s absolute favorite authors. So, when I saw she was coming out with a new contemporary novel, you could say I was excited. This was the first book I picked up for the Litha Witch-A-Thon because I just had to get into it as soon as possible.
In Girls of July, we follow four girls that are growing up and trying to figure out who they are and what they really want from life. They find themselves together in a cabin in the mountains. At first, they were all pretty unlikable characters except for Ruthie, the grandmother. The four girls, Britta, Kate, Meredith, and Spider, are all at points in their lives where they need change, even if they don’t know that they need it.
I really enjoyed seeing the four of them figure out how to live together and be around each other 24 hours a day. As the story progressed, they learned more about one another and became more likable characters. I really liked that they all had their own distinct voices. There was no confusion when going between the four perspectives.
We have Meredith, the Brainiac who’s not sure if she’s chasing her own dreams or her parent’s dreams. She finds romance and a new appreciation for nature. She learns that the things she thought she wanted may not have been her own dreams. The only thing I didn’t like about Meredith was that she gets a little lost in her romance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the romance. But I thought it was going to be more of the girls being friends together.
Then there’s Kate. Southern belle, comes from a wealthy family, just trying to live up to her parents’ expectations. Except, she doesn’t want to live the future that they have planned for her. Instead, she spends the summer babysitting a little boy, giving help to someone that doesn’t want to accept it. Kate learns that sometimes asking for help is okay. I think Kate was the most likable at the beginning. She has a big heart and loves pretty freely. She struggles with family issues but comes out on top. I think she really learned the most this summer.
Britta, our Cuban firecracker. I loved that her culture was included in this story. We see her trying to teach the other girls (Spider) how to cook. She doesn’t shy away from who she is even if that is a loud and enthusiastic girl that not everyone likes. She grew the least I think. She learns that she needs to be honest with her mother. As much as I liked Britta, I was a little disappointed with the ending of her story. I would have liked a little more resolution with her mom.
Finally, Spider. She was the most unlikable. She’s the one that put the ad for roommates at her family’s cabin. But she was so grumpy and negative the first chunk of the book I wondered why she even bothered. But that question was answered. Spider is an aspiring filmmaker which is incorporated into the story. Her and Britta spend most of their time working on a short movie project and the two really bond. Spider lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. I think her story was such a good one. It really showed how strong she was and that she wasn’t just her illness. Spider has goals and dreams and I really grew to like her.
Overall, I liked this book just as much as I thought I would. Four girls that don’t know each other go into a cabin for a month and come out as lifelong friends. I think this story was so good. There were a diverse group of characters some rich, some not, some of color, some not, and one struggling with a lifelong illness. I also want to vaguely mention that there is talk of a female/female relationship but I can’t give too many details without spoiling anything. I love that these girls had adventures and learned things. I enjoyed reading this story so much. It’s almost five hundred pages and I read it all in one day. I would certainly recommend this to anyone that loves contemporary books. Plus, it has an absolutely stunning cover.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Summary:
Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.
He almost made valedictorian.
He almost got the girl.
Until…
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.
But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.
Opposite of AlwaysReview:
Opposite of Always was not at all what I was expecting. I think that might be becasue I didn’t really know anything at all about this book before going into it. I bought this purely for the cover and the hype. I’m so glad that I did.
I had so much fun reading this book. I loved Jack, our main character, even when he was being unlikable. He loves so much and so fully, but doesn’t always do the right thing to the people he loves. He makes mistakes but he learns from those mistakes and makes sure to do better. I loved him. He was caring and kind and passionate. He always had the best intentions even if things didn’t work out how he planned.
I loved his friends too. Jillian and Franny are the cutest couple, aside from Kate and Jack of course. In the beginning, when Jack talks about how he’s in love with Jillian I thought we were going to get some moping and pining. But I ended up really liking Jillian and Franny together but also the friend dynamic between the three of them. I enjoyed how their history was shown and how close they were.
Then there’s Kate. I liked her. Though there didn’t seem to be much more to her than being Jack’s love interest and being sick. I don’t feel like we got any backstory or history for her. Also, her brother was really annoying.
Overall, I loved this. I read it all in one day because I just could not put it down. The story was interesting and the characters were loveable and entertaining. I would definitely recommend this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

GoodReads Summary:
When 16-year-old poetry blogger Tessa Dickinson is involved in a car accident and loses her eyesight for 100 days, she feels like her whole world has been turned upside-down.
Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.
Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.
Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.
100 Days of Sunlight is a poignant and heartfelt novel by author Abbie Emmons. If you like sweet contemporary romance and strong family themes then you’ll love this touching story of hope, healing, and getting back up when life knocks you down.
100 Days of SunlightReview:
I was provided a copy of this book to read via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 100 Days of Sunlight was so sweet and full of sunshine. I really liked this book.
We follow Tessa after she’s been in an accident. She’s lost her eyesight, but it’s likely going to come back in 100 days. She’s angry and sad and seems to be really struggling. She’s a writer and a blogger (I loved this!) and her grandparents put an ad in the newspaper to hire someone to come and help her get back to writing. She rejects everything about this.
Enter Weston. He won’t give up, even when Tessa is kind of horrible to him. He knows how she’s feeling. He lost both of his legs, but Tessa doesn’t know this. I loved hearing his story and how strong he was after losing his legs. His infectious optimism had me grinning. I loved his relationship with Tessa, but he really made me mad toward the end of the book.
I really enjoyed the set-up of this book. There are five parts, each based on the five senses. Weston tries to show Tessa that there is a whole world still out there that she can experience with her other senses until she gets her sight back.
Overall, I loved this. I hope that Abbie Emmons continues writing because I devoured this book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves some romance alongside a little bit of struggling and life lessons.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures

The Art of Losing by Lizzie Mason

Summary:
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her boyfriend, Mike, hooking up with her younger sister, Audrey. Furious, she abandons them both. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain, and the undeniable truth that her now ex-boyfriend has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as her sister slowly recovers, Harley begins to see a path forward with Raf’s help that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.
The Art of LosingReview:
The Art of Losing is a book I was highly anticipating when I heard about it. I think there are not enough books that discuss the topic of underage drinking and how problematic it really can be. At times, this book was hard for me to read because I related entirely too much to the ex-boyfriend and his role in the story.
I really thought that the relationship between Harley and her sister was fascinating. I have two sisters and I know how hard that relationship can be sometimes. It was well done and very realistic. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Harley and Raf. I was rooting for them the whole time. I think my favorite thing was Harley’s love for comic books. I’ve recently started reading them and it made me want to read one as soon as I was finished.
Overall, I’m going to keep this review short because it’s hard for me to put into words what this book means to me. This book was complex and heart wrenching, but so important. I think every high schooler should read this book. It’s such an underrated but important topic.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

Summary:
Lennon Davis doesn’t believe in much, but she does believe in the security of the number five. If she flicks the bedroom light switch five times, maybe her new L.A. school won’t suck. But that doesn’t feel right, so she flicks the switch again. And again. Ten more flicks of the switch and maybe her new step family will accept her. Twenty-five more flicks and maybe she won’t cause any more of her loved ones to die. Fifty times more and then she can finally go to sleep.
Kyler Benton witnesses this pattern of lights from the safety of his treehouse in the yard next door. It is only there, hidden from the unwanted stares of his peers, that Kyler can fill his notebooks with lyrics that reveal the true scars of the boy behind the oversized hoodies and caustic humor. But Kyler finds that descriptions of blonde hair, sad eyes, and tapping fingers are beginning to fill the pages of his notebooks. Lennon, the lonely girl next door his father has warned him about, infiltrates his mind. Even though he has enough to deal with without Lennon’s rumored tragic past in his life, Kyler can’t help but want to know the truth about his new muse.
All Our Broken PiecesReview:
All Our Broken Pieces has quickly become a new all-time favorite book of mine. So, I have to send a huge thank you to EBS and Her Reads for recommending this book to me. I would have read this in one sitting if I hadn’t fallen asleep while reading it at about 2am. I just could not put it down. The writing was flowery, but not overly so. The characters were flawed, but relatable. The romance was sweet and swoony. I just loved everything about it.
Lennon was flawed but worked hard every day to accept her flaws and love herself anyway. She was a little quirky and that just made me love her more. She was a trivia buff which I thought was an interesting chapter opener for the chapters with her perspectives. I loved her relationship with her younger half-brother, Jacob. He’s so sweet and innocent and the way he and Lennon interact just warmed my little heart every time Jacob was on the page.
Kyler was not my favorite in the beginning, but after we got past the ‘damaged tough guy’ facade I started to really like him. When he started to open up and let himself be vulnerable around Lennon, I really loved him. Seeing him learn how to love himself through Lennon’s eyes. He’s also a writer which I enjoyed seeing. I feel like I don’t read enough books that have male characters that write. It’s always the female main character that wants to be a writer.
My favorite thing about this book was the family dynamics and relationships. The sibling bonds between Jacob and Lennon were so sweet and I loved everything about them. Then there was also Kyler’s relationship with his sister Macy. I thought they were so well done and they really hit me in the feels. They made me thing about my siblings and I loved it. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Lennon and her step-mother, Claire. I have a step-mother and Claire totally reminded me of her. Claire tries her best to love her and be there for her in whatever way that she can, even if Lennon isn’t always receptive to it.
The only thing I didn’t like was Andrea. She was awful, but it was never really explained why she was awful and there was no real resolution to their situation. This bothered me a little, but not enough to dampen my love for the book as a whole.
Finally, the OCD representation was really interesting for me. We see Lennon explain it in simple terms so that Jacob can understand, but we also get to see here explain it to Kyler and again to her dad. I feel like I learned a lot about it. I can’t personally speak to the accuracy of the OCD rep, but I thought it was well done from an outsider’s perspective. I also really appreciated the inclusion of therapy for Lennon. She sees a therapist, Levi, twice a week. He’s totally my favorite. I loved him. He was funny and stylish and a great addition to the story. There are also a few weeks where Lennon stays at a recovery center. I thought this was also a great addition to the story.
Overall, I adored this book. It has a mixture of a few different stories that it’s sort of retelling. There’s the obvious, Romeo & Juliet, that is referenced specifically while they work on an English project and then seem to fall into the story with certain events. There are also some Phantom of the Opera themes too along with a hint of Beauty and the Beast. I think this was an excellent contemporary story with characters that I adored. I think anyone that enjoys reading stories about mental health, this is a must.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.
While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.
Prince Charming (Royals, #1)Review:
After seeing Hailey (Hailey in Bookland) rant and rave about this book and its sequel I couldn’t resist picking it up when I saw it was available via my library. I’m so glad that I did because I absolutely adored this book and I cannot wait to read the next one. This book was exactly what I needed to read. It made me smile and laugh.
I loved the main character, Daisy and the antics that the boys found themselves in were never dull. I think telling the story from the sister of the soon to be princess was such a good idea. She gets all of the drama and attention from the media, but none of the rewards of actually being a royal. Daisy was sassy and snarky and I loved every second of it. I also really liked that she wanted to be the best she could for her sister even though the two rarely got along. I think that was the only thing missing from this, for Ellie and Daisy to have had a nice heart to heart and tried to be better sisters.
I adored the “Royal Wreckers” because they were funny and everything I wanted them to be. I hope they each get their own books and we get to see more of them.
There was flirting and fake dating and royals and hilarity and chaos and I loved every damn page of it. I’m (trying) to wait patiently for the second book to become available from my library because I want to read it as soon as possible.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda's Adventures · Everything & Anything

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Summary:
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all the other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm.
Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker side breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis artfully crafts three alternating perspectives into a dark and riveting exploration or what it means to be the female of the species.
The Female of the SpeciesReview:
The Female of the Species has been on my TBR list for entirely too long. I don’t know what took me so long but I’m really glad I finally read this. I found the audiobook available from my library and I’m so happy that I chose to read this via audio. The story is told in three different perspectives. We follow Alex, Peekay, and Jack. They each get their own chapters and their own narrators. I thought that McGinnis did an incredible job of giving each character their own distinct voice and personality.
Peekay was my favorite, but that’s probably because she reminded me a bit of myself when I was in high school. She can’t outrun the identity of being the preacher’s kid, but she manages to rebel where she can. She doesn’t hesitate to drink with her friends. She makes friends with Alex while they’re working together at the animal shelter. I really liked Peekay.
I also really liked Alex. I liked that she was quirky and didn’t talk like everyone else. Honestly, even though she took justice into her own hands, I found myself really sympathizing with her rather than being disturbed by her actions. I think most women can relate to wanting to take action against those that have done wrong. But most women would never actually take action like she does. I think Alex grew and developed wonderfully in this book right alongside Peekay.
Finally, Jack. He was my least favorite of the three. This is because despite him knowing and acknowledging when he was doing or about to do something wrong, sometimes he still did it. He was frustrating sometimes because I wanted to love him so much, but he wasn’t always a good dude. I liked him well enough. He was also a pretty realistic character if I were to compare him to the guys I went to high school with. I think that’s why I didn’t hate him, because despite his flaws, he was real.
Overall, I think this book brought really interesting conversations to the table in a way that was easy and accessible. This book wasn’t always easy to read but I think that was just a part of the experience. There were some hard parts involving animals that come with the characters working at an animal shelter. This was a heavy book, but I just found that I couldn’t put it down.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.