I realize it has been quite some time since I updated the dear ole blog. Truth is, I was super busy and experiencing a major creative slump. But, I hope to put all of that behind me. I can’t say that I will be back to blogging with the same frequency as I used to, but I don’t plan on any long hiatuses in the near future.
With all of that said, I recently read a book that inspired me to write a review, which was huge. It’s smart and charming and perfect. My review won’t do it justice, but I will still give it a try.
Date Published: July 1, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.
To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
On the Fence has everything I love about Kasie West’s books: loveable characters, a swoon-worthy romance, and a plot to make you feel all the feels.
Charlie and her brothers are hands-down my favorite fictitious family. The fact that family is such a huge part of this book makes me enjoy it even more. I love that family is a huge part of what makes up Charlie. It’s refreshing , and it provides some fun sibling pranks. Charlie felt very real, although she struggles with her identity. This book is more a coming-of-age novel than anything else, even above the romance.
I would like to applaud West on how she wrote Charlie. Yes, Charlie is a tomboy, but it is also really evident how she reacts to situations just like any other teenage girl out there. Plus, the fact that she is a tomboy isn’t rubbed in the reader’s face as a point to make Charlie seem oh, so super special; it’s just a part of who she is. It felt very natural and true. After reading On the Fence I picked up another book featuring a tomboy, and it just didn’t compare. While other contemporaries featuring tomboys come across as contrived, On the Fence knocks them all out of the park with it’s authenticity.
There is a slight element of mystery, but I do feel many readers will figure it out pretty quickly. However, it didn’t make me frustrated so much as more sympathetic to Charlie.
I really only wish this book was longer. I would have loved to see the book continue for another twenty pages (or two hundred). In the midst of many, many contemporaries, On the Fence remains new and heartwarming.
P.S. Can I have my own Braden?
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: J Reads YA! Giveaway
Summary from Goodreads:
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
Pivot Point has one of the most clever plots I’ve read in a while. Told in alternating chapters of two futures, Pivot Point kept me guessing as to what exactly would happen next. I always had some inklings about what would happen, but then a new plot element would be added to the story that complicated it further. I was quickly turning the pages the whole time.
I started Pivot Point once before, but didn’t get very far. I think it was Addie’s personality that had annoyed me when I first tried to read this book. She comes off as a bit spoiled and immature for the first few pages of the book. But, Addie grows a lot throughout the book by having to make difficult decisions.
Reading two futures at once did confuse me sometimes, especially when I wasn’t paying very close attention. The way in which the two choices affected each other was pretty fun to read. Sometimes I thought I knew which possibility Addie would choose, but something new would happen to make me rethink things. I preferred reading the future where Addie stays on the Compound, but both perspectives were nice to read.
I didn’t like many characters in the book because sometimes they were flat or stereotypes. There is a star quarter back, a sensitive artist, mean cheerleaders, an outgoing and extroverted best friend who wants to help popular-ize her bookworm best friend, etc… I have forgotten a lot of the names of some of the secondary characters because they simply didn’t play any role in the overall story.
I’m still left wondering a few things, such as the motives of certain characters. Pivot Point will have a sequel coming out in February. I can’t really talk more about the ending for fear of spoiling everything.
At one point this may have been a 5 star book for me. Pivot Point is worth the read. Despite having a few flaws, it is an engaging and exciting novel.
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.
So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she’s beginning to enjoy his company.
She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.
The Distance Between Us is a very enjoyable read. The protagonist, Caymen, has plenty of snark and wit, so she really stands out against other female leads in YA contemporary.
There is never very much action going on, yet I never felt like the pace was too slow. I devoured this one in a single sitting. Every scene has charm and gives you insight on the characters, so I was never once bored.
Caymen and Xander were perfectly awkward and sweet. Sometimes they completely misunderstand each other, which is a little frustrating. They start off as friends and then work towards something more, which I liked because I don’t think the book would have had the same effect on me as it did if they just jumped into a relationship.
Skye, Caymen’s best friend, always livened up the plot. She and Caymen have a believable and normal friendship. I wouldn’t mind reading a book featuring her and maybe even Henry. Skye balanced out the book and kept it from being all about Caymen seeing Xander. Even Caymen and her mom have an interesting dynamic going on that gave the book more dimension and focus.
Caymen and the others were all very relatable. She has no idea what she wants to do with her life, yet she know she wants nothing to do with the doll shop. (Really, who can blame her? There is no way I could ever live in a place that had that many creepy eyes always watching me.) Xander doesn’t know what he wants out of his future either, so they really bond over finding out each others’ likes and dislikes.
So I know the major conflict here is money, yet that plot point felt odd and fell flat. Caymen tells us her mom despises the rich, but we are hardly ever shown that. The one and only time her mom truly speaks up about the subject seemed stilted. Up until that point I figured Caymen’s belief that her mom couldn’t stand the wealthy was all in her head, an excuse to keep her distance from some people. There were just so many mixed signals going on there. I decided to just let it go and not dwell on it too much.
The other thing about the book that bothered me a little was the ending. The whole time I was thinking, “Woah, what? What just happened? No. No. Whaaaa?” Once I got beyond that phase I could see how this resolution explained some things, but also opened up a new can of worms. I just accepted it and moved on.
The Distance Between Us is very lovely and a book I will read again, especially for the sarcasm.