Monday, November 28, 2016

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Problem with Forever
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Read: May 29 - June 1, 2016
Published: May 17, 2016 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Kindle Purchase 
Category: YA, Contemporary, trauma, reunited friends
Series:  Companion

Book Description: For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

The more I think about this book, the more it makes me angry. I think maybe it's because I really wanted to love it a lot. And I didn't. It also bothers me so much when I seem to be the only person to have a specific issue with a story. I just need to move on now.

The Good: I really liked Mallory. I especially loved her journey from crippling social anxiety and not liking herself to confidence and taking action in her life. And I enjoyed seeing JLA write a YA heroine who is not snarky or 'badass' in the traditional sense. I loved the connection to The Velveteen Rabbit. I also appreciated the way this book shows the value of therapy and support from others, but ultimately each person has to make their own choices and do their own work to change.

The Bad: I STRUGGLED with the romance. Rider has a girlfriend through the first half of the book (we don't find out they broke up until after 50%), and I did not like anything about how that situation was handled. That's usually dealbreaker for me anyway, but I pushed through. Sadly, it was not a good choice for me. I thought the story was getting better in the second half. But nope. While I liked Mallory a lot - minus her romantic choices - I ended up mostly disliking Rider. 

I have a LOT more thoughts on this, which you can read on my Goodreads review.

Love Triangle Factor: (Possible Spoilers) I don't know what to say here. Most people would just say none, and from Mallory's POV there isn't. Though honestly, I wish she'd gone out with someone to wake up Rider a bit out of his idiocy. But Rider has a girlfriend for half the book, and to me that becomes a triangle, I'd also say his behavior towards Mallory skated over the line of cheating. So I'd say medium for the first half. But again, for most people, this will not be an issue at all. Look at other reviews as an example. 

Cliffhanger Scale: standalone/companion series (I think). This book seems to be setting up a future couple. I liked both of them, but not sure I could invest in more if this were a series.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Quick Thoughts: The Secret of Heart Note by Stacey Lee

The Secret of Heart Note
by Stacey Lee
Read: June 17 - 19, 2016
Published: December 27, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: EW (Thank You, Sourcebooks!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, plants, aromas

Book Description: An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

I quite liked this one! I loved the idea of aromateurs and found Mimosa and her mom's lives fascinating. The whole way they use their heightened sense of smell and plants from around the world to help people fall in love was enchanting. The vivid setting made me want to see their garden filled home for myself, and visit Northern California in general. 

I found Mim to be endearing and relatable, though I wanted to shake her a few times. She tries her best to do the right thing but it gets her into a bit of trouble in this book. However, I enjoyed watching her grow up throughout the process and realize she's not as alone in the world as she once thought. 

I enjoyed Mim's sweet romance with Court, though I wanted more out of it (highlight for spoiler) and I definitely needed more of an explanation for the cheeseburger scene near the end. Also, I wanted to see him actually ask her to homecoming -  i.e. I like seeing things spelled out. I could have done without the mean girl plot (I'm just over those), and I wish we'd seen more scenes between Mim and her friend Kali. There were a lot of different characters in this story, but I liked how the pieces came together in the end, even though I could already see where many of them were going to fit. 

Overall this is a great story with a unique set up, and endearing heroine and a sweet romance. Plus family and friend themes too. I was already a fan of Stacey Lee from her historical fiction Under a Painted Sky, and I can't wait to find out what she writes next. 

A note on the E-ARC I read: I was very confused as to why Mim was only 15 in this book - the description in Goodreads says she's 16, which makes much more sense as she's a junior in high school. However, it's said multiple times that Mim is 15, and the book made it sound like she wouldn't be 16 for another year. Unless she skipped some grades (which wasn't mentioned), should be 16/17 as a junior! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

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