Rx – Tracy Lynn

Rx
Rx – Tracy Lynn
Published: 1-1-2006 by Simon Pulse
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

Thyme Gilcrest is an honors student.
Thyme Gilcrest is popular.
Thyme Gilcrest is on student council.
Thyme Gilcrest is a drug dealer.

Like piecing together a logic puzzle, Thyme has organized a complex trading system that enables her to obtain the meds her friends need. They all come to her to diagnose their problems and provide the “cure” — be it Prozac, Ritalin, Vicodin…She’s therapist, doctor, and pharmacist all in one. She helps people. And that makes her feel a little more in control — a little more capable of dealing with her own frantic high school life. Because Thyme Gilcrest is nothing if not good at dealing.

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Design – Greg Stadnyk   

I really like that the cover for this story shows pill capsules all shiny and brightly colored like candy. The way the pills are evenly spaced out makes it feel clean and clinical. I also like how the title is written like it is on an actual doctor’s prescription pad. Overall, this cover is simple, clean, but very appropriate to the story.

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Rx is the story of Thyme’s journey through her junior year of high school, from stressed out to drugged up. Thyme’s quest to help herself focus while studying soon blossoms into Thyme diagnosing and providing prescription drugs to her friends and people who treat her like a friend because of what she can get them. This book follows Thyme as she begins using and abusing prescription drugs, and becomes her school’s go-to dealer. It chronicles one of the most stressful years of your life – the year of college applications on top of regular classes and life.

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  • ending – I adore a nice inconclusive ending when it works with the story, and this one is great. When it’s a story about someone dealing drugs, there are a certain set of ways you’d envision the story ending, either with an arrest or bust, or with the dealer choosing to quit, or with some narrow escape. Thyme’s ending is really none of these scenarios, but one entirely in line with who Thyme is as a character, and it’s the best ending I could possibly imagine to this book.
  • college stress – Thyme’s high school is so competitive that one of the cliques is ‘The Twenty’ – the kids with the twenty highest GPAs in their grade. That’s a lot of pressure to begin with. No one I know went through high school always aware of their class rank. They’re in AP and honors classes, taking and retaking standardized tests like the SATs, and applying for colleges. All of these things are very realistic to what high school juniors go through now.
  • variety of customers – Thyme finds that there’s a lot of variety in her customer base. There are people whose parents won’t listen to concerns that they need medication; people who want to stress less about tests, oral reports, or studying; and people who just want to get high on something. The more valid their reason, the more desperate their need. Members of the Twenty trust Thyme because she’s almost one of them, while the druggies know they can just get their high from someone else. Thyme also discovers that everyone’s parents are either using or abusing prescription meds, and that their teachers are addicted to caffeine and sleep aids.

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  • Lida + Suze – Thyme’s supposedly close friends are either ignoring or betraying her. Lida is self-absorbed, off partying constantly and generally being a flake. Suze seems like a more reliable friend, yet acts selfishly and never acknowledges anything Thyme is doing or feeling. Overall, neither of these two are good friend to Thyme during this book – instead always taking and never giving, whether it be support, drugs, or Thyme’s possessions.
  • everyone’s on drugs – It seems like Thyme doesn’t know a single person on drugs that were actually prescribed to them, or anyone who isn’t on drugs. Even the people not buying from Thyme are selling to her. I think Will is probably the only one not using anything. He’s the most likable character, yet the first person Thyme chooses to screw over. It just strikes me as strange that Thyme knows the street value of multiple prescription drugs, yet seemingly doesn’t know a single person who isn’t either prescribed drugs or interested in getting their hands on some.

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End of my junior year was rapidly telescoping into my thirties, and the rest of my life.

Without thinking about it, I put my hand to my chest where my heart had begun to beat out of control. It probably looked really Victorian or something, like I was a woman with the vapors, about to faint.

– pg. 48

“Holy Christ,” Will swore, putting his drink down. “Why do any of you even bother with all of this? You cram and study and volunteer to teach orphaned dolphins how to dance just to get into snotty colleges so you can graduate, become consultants, get married, and raise little clones…who you force to do flash cards, cram, and study all over again. None of you is going to be a Nobel Prize winner or cure cancer or write poetry. So what the hell’s the point?”

An explosion or lightbulb went off in my head.

That was it.

I was angry all the time about the future I didn’t want with people I didn’t like. But I didn’t know what I wanted – so what else was there to do? That one path seemed unavoidable.

– Will + Thyme  pg. 151-152

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

ThroneOfGlass
Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas
(Throne of Glass #1)
Published: 8-2-2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

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Art – Alessandro Taini    

I love this illustration of Celaena because it’s clear that she’s deadly and more than willing to kill. The rest of the cover is so dark that I wish it were a bit brighter. I like the title font and the little swirlies around the word ‘of.’

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Throne of Glass was a bit of a strange read for me. I was expecting to be blown away, based on all the buzz I’ve seen for this series online. And I just wasn’t all that impressed. I’ve read similar books that I liked better and many aspects of this book merely reminded me of those other books. So, basically, Throne of Glass didn’t really do anything to stand out in my mind, but was still a good read.

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  • Chaol – The young captain of the Guard is by far the most mysterious character and I found him to be the most interesting as well. While he is good friends with Dorian, Chaol has many immediate responsibilities and the prince just seems to be doing nothing while he waits to become important. The two are an interesting study in contrasts. Chaol is stoic, he doesn’t often voice his thoughts, yet he’s a steady presence in Celaena’s new life. Prince Dorian wears his heart on his sleeve and flits in and out of Celaena’s everyday, leaving her doubting his intentions. Chaol is my pick.
  • Celaena – Celaena is a strong character and a deadly assassin, but her flaws are still shown. She’s a young woman who knows countless ways to kill or maim someone and has survived the harshness of the salt mines. On the other hand, Celaena has never had the chance to have someone romantically interested in her or be interested in someone else. She’s thrown by the attention of Prince Dorian and Chaol, and is immediately suspicious of new people. Celaena also tends to jump to conclusions and put herself in danger.
  • Nehemia – Nehemia is a princess from a land that the king is currently trying to conquer. Her reasons for being at the castle are vague, and her history is mysterious. She proves to be a good friend to Celaena, who treats her with respect and is interested in learning about her people. Nehemia is smart and somewhat sneaky, loyal and strong.

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  • love triangle – This is a book about an assassin, so why must there still be a love triangle? Also, why are these guys so willing to trust this girl known as the deadliest assassin around? Does there really have to be a love triangle? Why can’t something else compelling happen between these characters?
  • competitors being killed – A major part of the plot revolves around the mysterious deaths of some of the competitors. What bothered me is that no one really seemed to care. Sure, most of the castle’s inhabitants didn’t know about the grisly murders, or the dangerous people competing. The general feeling is that no one’s going to miss a thief or assassin, but some of the chosen champions were soldiers. What’s strange is that none of the remaining champions seem all that concerned that they could be next. I can’t remember Dorian ever saying anything about it, and while Chaol is investigating, all of that takes place off-page.
  • lackluster – This book has all the ingredients of a blow-your-mind story. Female assassin, deadly competition, supernatural element, third person narration, two very different young men. But all of these things just didn’t capture my attention in an exciting way. It may have been my high expectations for this book, but I just wasn’t captivated. The supernatural element was what pushed the story, but I found it confusing and less interesting than if Celaena had no mystical force on her side, especially since she saw most of the challenges as jokes and not true tests.

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He was kind – unnaturally kind, for someone of his upbringing. He had a heart, she realized, and a conscience. He was different from the others. Timidly, almost clumsily, the assassin strode over to the Crown Prince and kissed him on the cheek. His skin was surprisingly hot, and she wondered if she’d kissed him properly as she pulled away and found his eyes bright and wide.

– pg. 276

Her doorknob clicked and her heart leapt into her throat. Was it time to finally sign her contract with the king? But it wasn’t Dorian or Nehemia, not even a page. The world stopped when Chaol entered instead.

– pg. 391

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Love and Other Unknown Variables – Shannon Lee Alexander

LoveAndOtherUnknownVariables
Love and Other Unknown Variables – Shannon Lee Alexander
Published: 10-7-2014 by Entangled: Teen
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

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Design – Kelley York     

The title treatment is really nicely done but I’m not a big fan of the font or the photo. There’s just something that doesn’t work between the title and the background. I think the intention was that the black and white photo would make the title stand out, but the giant sun flare doesn’t help. The contrast of the photo is too high to let the title stand out. I’m not a fan of the cutesy all-caps font, especially the strange E. This cover might be really nice on a less busy black background.

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Love and Other Unknown Variables is a quick read about Charlie, an intelligent math-lover who falls for the daughter of his new English teacher. Charlie is incredibly awkward, especially about girls. I found the secondary characters to be much more interesting than Charlie, who seemed a lot younger than a high school senior. This story focuses on the war against English teacher Ms. Finch for awhile, but is ultimately about Charlotte’s cancer.

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  • Greta – It’s refreshing for a main character to have a best friend of the opposite sex whom they have never been romantically interested in. Even though Charlie has become great friends with Greta’s boyfriend, James, he still worries that he’s a third wheel. Greta is smart and always frankly honest with Charlie. She doesn’t want Charlie to get hurt and she isn’t afraid to say what she thinks.
  • Charlotte – Charlotte wants to be treated like everyone else, meaning that she keeps her illness a secret as long as she can from her friends. She wants her sister, Ms. Finch, to stop hovering and worrying over her so that she can just be a teenager and enjoy life as much as she can. Charlotte deals pretty well with the illness, never whining about it or asking anyone to treat her specially, and she doesn’t break down often. Charlotte’s an interesting girl who knows what she wants and she brings out the less serious side of Charlie. Even though her sister’s hovering bothers her, Charlotte makes sure Ms. Finch is never overly stressed out by the class’ war against her.

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  • Charlie’s innocence – Charlotte is the first girl that Charlie has ever been interested in. This is extremely awkward to read about because it makes it seem like Charlie is much younger than he really is. He thinks and acts like a 13 or 14-year-old going through puberty. This is a seriously cliched way to characterize someone who goes to a math and science based high school. Intelligent people can be interested in the opposite sex too.
  • cancer/illness – So, Charlotte is sick. The thing about books with sick characters is that the end is always the sad end, whether it’s the main character or someone else who dies. It’s like an unwritten rule of YA that your illness book ends badly. The only exceptions are the books where someone recovers and then has to deal with shitty things they did when they thought they were dying.
  • English teacher wars – It’s never really explained why Charlie is looked to as the leader of the war against Ms. Finch, especially since James is the one who’s so enthusiastic about it. I don’t understand how every single other student in the class goes along with it either. They’re seniors. Super serious about school seniors. Realistically, at least one person would resist waging war against a teacher, no matter the subject they teach.

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I’ve spent today deflecting James’ repeated pleas for me to join forces with him to start the war against the English teacher.

In computer programming, he gave a moving speech about brotherhood and camaraderie. He spoke of the oncoming tide of literature, and how we could stand by and be crushed by it or rise up and defeat it. He even tossed in a ‘Semper Fi.’

– Charlie  Loc. 269

“Plus, I kissed her,” I say into the carpet.

Greta falls forward from the chair onto her knees in front of me. “You what?”

“Friday. On the couch. Watching movies.”

Greta pauses long enough that I peek at her. I see the moment she swallows whatever other reservations she has and decides to be on my team, even if we’re going to lose.

– Charlie + Greta  Loc. 2620

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Love Story – Jennifer Echols

LoveStory
Love Story – Jennifer Echols
Published: 7-19-2011 by MTV Books
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

She’s writing about him. He’s writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions–it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter. . . . except this story could come true.

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Design – Min Choi      

First of all, I wish the photographer was named because this photo is stunning. The girl’s eye contact really draws you in. I like the simplicity of this cover, especially the title. Other than that, this cover could be for any contemporary out there. I do appreciate that it matches two of the author’s other romance covers though.

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Love Story is New Adult done right. Well-developed plot, sexual tension and flirting, but not focused on sex. This story follows Erin and Hunter’s complicated relationship as they toy with each other through the stories they write for a college course. Both Erin and Hunter are trying to make their way through college and are each struggling with their connection to the horse farm where they became friends. Love Story is full of family drama too, but Erin and Hunter’s relationship is the focus and it’s one hell of a ride.

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  • New Adult – Most of the New Adult books I’ve read are way too focused on sex, at the cost of plot. Love Story manages to weave plot and a growing romance together and develop both consistently. There’s the perfect amount of friendship and sexual tension to keep things sweet. Yes, some of the drama is a bit over the top, but most of this book reads like a YA set in college. The characters are impulsive and immature sometimes, but they do grow throughout the story.
  • secondary characters – Summer, Brian, Manohar, and Jordis are all extremely interesting characters. Summer is fiercely loyal in defending Erin’s stories, especially from Manohar who likes to pick on them a bit too much. I love how Jordis has met half the dorm by recruiting people for her art projects. These characters really liven up the story.

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  • money – Erin’s grandmother is rich and controlling. Because Erin refuses to major in business to take over the horse farm in Kentucky, she’s paying her own way. This provides much of the major conflict, but is also endlessly irritating. Plenty of people have jobs during college and plenty of people aren’t getting any monetary help from their family. Erin being late to work constantly is her own doing. I was so glad that Hunter got in her face about her playing poor – that she could go back any time she needed to.
  • stories – The initial ‘stable boy’ story is central to the plot, but the rest of the stories are much less interesting. Although Erin uses a few of her stories to open up about tragedies in her past, most of the stories are she and Hunter taunting each other. The stories are quite abrupt, bringing you out of the main story and returning you to it by way of a class critique of the story. Hunter’s first story is funny in a sarcastic way, but I really didn’t care for any of the stories beyond each of their first ones. The class critiques get old very quickly because they’re simply nosy classmates commenting more on Erin and Hunter’s relationship than on their writing. I wish at least one of the other students had spoken up about how much they didn’t care about the couple or how obviously transparent the two’s stories were. I also fail to see how it’s a big deal for the teacher to find out that Erin’s stable boy is Hunter.

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“I’m almost out of face cream and I can’t afford another tube. If I cut it open and put it in a plastic bag, I think I can get another month out of it, maybe six weeks.”

Hunter turned suddenly on the stair below us. Brian and I both jumped backward, but Hunter knew better than to turn with a knife point out. The knife was down by his side. “That’s what this is about? You don’t need face cream. You look fine.”

“That’s because I’ve been using it,” I said at the same time Brian said, “That’s because she’s been using it,” and rolled his eyes.

– Erin, Hunter, Brian  pg. 79

“You wanted to know where I was going so late at night,” he said. “I’ve seen you watching me through your window.”

Not to self: when boys look back at you watching them in the darkness outside your well-lit window, but their expressions do not change, you relax, assuming they can’t really see you watching them, when they can totally see you.

– Hunter + Erin  pg. 154

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought

Unbreak My Heart – Melissa Walker

UnbreakMyHeart
Unbreak My Heart – Melissa Walker
Published: 5-22-2012 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

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Design – ?

This cover is great for the story. The simplicity is refreshing and really works with the elements of the story. I like how the girl is shown alone on a boat because so much of this book is Clementine wishing for a bit of solitude on the boat. I really like the placement of the title in the arc of the heart shape. I’m not sold on the placement of the publisher’s name, but I guess publishers see it as necessary to put their logo on ebook covers now.

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Unbreak My Heart is the story of Clementine getting over a bad situation with her friend and her friend’s boyfriend, while being stuck on a small boat with her family all summer. Being in constant contact with only her family and a few other families on the same sailing route gives Clem time to brood, but also gives her perspective. Clem’s story is part reflection on what happened and part making new friends on her trip. Overall, it’s a short look at love gone wrong and love gone right.

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  • Olive – As annoying as Clementine finds her little sister much of the time, Olive is great. While Clem tortures herself with worrying what her friends think of her, Olive is young enough to not care what other people think of her, and to be annoyed by her sister’s constant moping. Olive makes fast friends with everyone and wants to be involved in Clem and James’ adventures. Olive is fun and Clem discovers that her sister understands much more than she gives her credit for. She gives you a nice break from Clem’s woes.
  • boating – I like the plot of having Clem stuck with her family constantly. So many YA books ignore parents, but Clem is forced onto a boat where she can’t escape her family, and eventually learns that her parents and Olive can actually be helpful when she’s struggling with something. Although she doesn’t quite go to them for advice voluntarily, Clem’s family surprises her with their understanding.

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  • Ethan – It definitely seems like Clem and Ethan had a connection, so why is he dating Amanda in the first place? True, we only see things from Clem’s POV, but Ethan never seems like the great guy she thinks he is. As much as Clem and all her old friends vilify her, it’s clear that Ethan is the one who should be hated. Clem shouldn’t be excused, but he’s definitely doing something wrong and obviously knows it. It would be easier to sympathize with Clem if Ethan seemed like a worthy object of her affection.
  • quick relationship – Since this story is split between the boat journey of the present and Clem’s friendships during the school year of the past, there isn’t much time given to building Clem’s relationship with James. They aren’t with each other during any actual sailing and most of their time together involves their parents. It’s not that their relationship goes far or anything, but it would have been just as nice if they were simply friends since they just met. It just seems like James and Clem didn’t get to spend much time together, especially since they couldn’t communicate when apart.

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I look out at the water and I’m glad for the sound of the waves and the wind, so I don’t have to hear my parents talking about me. I let a few tears fall, but I have to stay quiet. That’s one of the hardest parts of being on this boat. I can’t even let go and cry without everyone knowing.

– pg. 106

“We didn’t do anything at all, except hold hands a little. But it felt like…”

“You felt like his girlfriend,” says Olive. I look down at her and see that she’s totally caught up in this story, my story, and she’s understood me perfectly. I want to hug her.

– Clementine + Olive  pg. 192

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Perfect Timing – Robin Mellom

PerfectTiming
Perfect Timing – Robin Mellom
Published: 3-1-2015 by CreateSpace
Get the book: Amazon

After a break-up with her boyfriend, Tori Wright decides to get her mind off the guy and takes a job running errands for an eccentric couple. Suddenly she finds herself involved in the crazy world of LA nightlife–nightclubs, palm readers, movie stars, and a roving pack of paparazzi. After a misunderstanding lands her in jail, she has one night to clear her name, help a movie starlet avoid the paparazzi, and find Adam…the coworker who is quickly stealing her heart.

As she makes decisions that can change the course of her life, Tori discovers just how far she’ll go to set the record straight.
But is she too late?

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Design – ?

What I like about this cover is the balance between what’s in the light and what’s in shadow. I love how you can see the characters, but nothing too specific about them physically. They’re kind of on the border between light and dark, which is sort of like Tori and Adam because they only know each other at their nighttime job, but not much about their day to day lives. The color scheme is nice, but the text is really large and I wish the radial gradient effect on the title was more subtle.

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Perfect Timing is another great YA romance from Robin Mellom, author of Ditched (now known as Perfect Kiss). Both have strong girls in zany situations telling the story of their crush. Perfect Timing is the tale of Tori’s unconventional job, her crush on her coworker, and how she ended up in juvie. Tori and Adam are both dealing with recent breakups, but bond over their job’s strange requirements.

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  • Tori – I love Tori’s confidence in all situations. Whether she’s in juvie, in a club, or in a one-hopper bathroom with a tabloid star, Tori doesn’t freak out easily. She barely bats an eye at having a job that requires her to travel around LA at night. Tori is self-confident throughout all the crazy things she experiences and that makes her a great character to read about.
  • Adam – My favorite thing about Adam is how he really listens to Tori and her ideas. He takes her thoughts about his ex into consideration and values her opinion. Even when Tori and Adam are having casual conversations, Adam listens to everything Tori says, even while navigating LA traffic. Although Tori and Adam are only together for short drives, their friendship seems really genuine.
  • plot structure – ‘Plot structure’ sounds so technical but I don’t know how else to say it. Like in Ditched, this story is framed by present Tori relating a story of how she ended up in jail by going through the events that led to her job and arrest. Tori’s recollections are broken up by prison-intake forms that narrate what she’s doing presently while she tells an officer her story. While I don’t think the flashback kind of story works as well for Perfect Timing as it does for Ditched (now known as Perfect Kiss), it’s a storytelling strategy that I really enjoy.

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  • Tori’s BFF – At the beginning of the story, Tori is dealing with a fresh breakup with her best friend, who has also just been dumped. Although they are dealing with similar situations, Tori’s friend is introduced and then just forgotten. As soon as the girls go to this friend’s house, Tori is looking for her older brother instead of wanting to hang out with her friend. So this girl, who is so inconsequential that I don’t remember her name, is basically replaced by her own brother as Tori’s best friend. I don’t understand why this character was introduced if she was only going to be in a chapter or two.
  • short – I’m not sure if this book is short or just feels that way, but it doesn’t feel long enough to really develop a story and a relationship between Tori and Adam. Things seem to happen very quickly with little down time in between events and I just want more get-to-know-you time.

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“I’m watching the way he looks at you.”

How is he looking at me?” I ask into his shoulder.

Taylor watches for a few more seconds. “Huh. He’s trying not to look at you, but…he can’t help himself.” He adds under his breath, “God, that’s cute.”

– Taylor + Tori  Loc. 1791

“Here.” He flips his phone to show me the screen – it’s an address. “It’s on Sepulveda Boulevard. Stellar Insights Psychic reader. Five minutes and we’re there.” He cranks up the Jeep and backs out of the parking lot – a heart-melting smile on his face.

I breathe him in and try to focus. Adam isn’t self-absorbed – he’s downright awesome. “You’re taking me to a psychic reader…now?”

– Adam + Tori  Loc. 2081

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3 Robots

Acquired: Netgalley (ebook)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

ToAllTheBoysI'veLovedBefore
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han
Published: 1-1-2014 by Simon & Schuster 
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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Design – Lucy Ruth Cummins       Photo – Anna Wolf       Hand-Lettering – Nancy Howell

I really like this cover. It’s fresh and different while still being true to the book. The hand-lettering is my favorite part. I love how it perfectly fills the space, how it’s slightly slanted, and how it looks like it was done with marker – the variations in darkness are so interesting. I absolutely love how the title is written down the left side of the cover and the nontraditional placement of the author’s name. The spaced out pink lines about the author are nicely done because it doesn’t overpower the cover. The photo choice is perfectly minimal while still being interesting and thankfully this isn’t another whitewashed cover. Isn’t it sad that I’m thankful for that?

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I cannot figure out why so many people absolutely love this book. I barely made it through the first few chapters because I just wasn’t interested or drawn in at all. Lara Jean is dull, Margot is controlling, and neither love interest is actually interesting. This book took me a very long time to get into and I just didn’t really care what happened.

loved green

  • Kitty + Peter – My favorite relationship in this story is the friendship between 9-year-old Kitty and Lara Jean’s fake boyfriend Peter. Most of Peter’s better qualities show when he’s interacting with Kitty. He pays attention to her, doesn’t talk down to her, and seems to genuinely enjoy seeing her, which is really sweet. None of Peter’s angst over his ex or selfishness toward Lara Jean show when he’s talking to Kitty. How the person you’re dating treats your family is really important and Peter is great with Lara Jean’s family.
  • family adjustment – I like how Lara Jean, Kitty, and their father had to adjust to Margot’s absence. Every family is unique and has its own way of communicating and relating to each other. Your family kind of shifts whenever someone moves out and everyone else has to adjust. Lara Jean’s family has to figure out everyday things like chores and transportation and meals without Margot there.

didn't love green

  • plot/letters – Who on Earth would actually address their private love letters? When I read a book I’m enjoying, I have no problem with suspension of disbelief, but this story hinges on these letters finding their subjects. If you truly intend for your love letters to never see the light of day, do not put the person’s address on them, do not even put their last name on them. Their addresses? Come on. If Lara Jean’s letters had been on her computer and then someone found their way to the guys, I could absolutely believe that scenario. I just can’t wrap my mind around someone being clueless enough to address their love letters.
  • family – First of all, Lara Jean calls her father “Daddy.” She’s 17, but this makes her seem much closer to Kitty’s age. Now, I know that whatever you call your parents is very personal, but for me it made it hard to picture Lara Jean as a teenager. Then there’s Margot, Lara Jean’s uptight older sister who’s moving abroad for college. Margot is trying to be independent, but she seems to think that this includes treating Lara Jean and Josh like crap. Margot is always assuming that Josh is pining for her and insulting him over it, but the second she discovers that he might be interested in Lara Jean, she decides they’ve both betrayed her. Lara Jean’s attempts to keep up a good relationship with her sister over email are met with Margot basically brushing her off like she’s too busy to care about Lara Jean’s problems or life.
  • Peter + Josh – Neither of Lara Jean’s love interests are very interesting. I had trouble with Peter’s expectations and demands of Lara Jean as his fake girlfriend. Most of the time he seems like a good guy, but at one point he has a hissy fit because Lara Jean doesn’t want to sit with him on a bus trip and insists that it’s a requirement of girlfriends to always sit with their boyfriends and basically ignore any other friends they may want to spend time with. Josh really doesn’t get much description since he’s usually around but not interacting with Lara Jean or doing whatever she’s doing. Since Josh is Margot’s ex, he’s “off-limits” and Lara Jean and Kitty are figuring out how close of friends they can be with him. So, Josh is mostly only characterized by his absence. I didn’t really care which guy Lara Jean chose, and I didn’t understand why the guys hated each other – was it just so they’d be even more of rivals?
  • mock UN guy – Lara Jean seeks out the only one of the letter recipients she hasn’t heard from, just to see if he remembers her. She has no other reason. He’s not doing anything at all relating to Lara Jean. She just seems to want to make her life more difficult by adding more suitors. I think the entire scene where she sees this guy was written in as a loose strand to justify an unneeded sequel. Lara Jean is so immature that she can’t even walk up to this guy without pretending to be part of the model UN event.

quotes green

The way he’s looking at me now, I’m suddenly in a time warp back to a summer day when I was fourteen and he was fifteen, and we were walking home from somewhere. He was looking at me so intently I was sure he was going to try to kiss me. I got nervous, so I picked a fight with him and he never looked at me like that again.

Until this moment.

– pg. 86

I finally look at Peter, and I’m surprised by how hard he’s paying attention; his eyes are intent and focused on me like he’s actually interested in what I’m saying. “Even when I like a boy so much, loved him even, I would always rather be with my sisters, because that’s where I belong.”

“Wait. What about right now?”

“Right now? Well, I don’t like you that way so…”

“Good,” Peter says. “Don’t go falling for me again, okay? I can’t have any more girls in love with me. It’s exhausting.”

– Lara Jean + Peter  pg. 192

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)