Bunheads – Sophie Flack

Bunheads – Sophie Flack
Published: 10-10-2011 by Poppy
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?


Design – Tracy Shaw       Photo – Karl Taylor  

I really like this cover. The kaleidoscope pattern of ballerinas is visually interesting, and representative of how hard it is for Hannah to stand out among the other dancers. It also reminds me of how easily she gets lost in the insular world of the ballet company.

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Bunheads is a New Adult that feels like a YA because it’s more focused on plot and personal development than romance. Hannah, at 19, is finding that she feels overlooked in the ballet company she’s devoted her every waking moment to. So, when the pressure starts weighing her down and she meets a guy who sees her as more than a ballerina, she finds herself questioning the future she’s always planned.

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  • Jacob – What I really appreciated about this story is that the love interest has his own life going on. Jacob really likes Hannah and doesn’t want to give up on her. He’s extremely patient and willing to try again and again to break Hannah out of her ballet bubble. But his life doesn’t revolve around her – he’s got his own music career to start and doesn’t like being ignored.
  • plot – Hannah’s only nineteen, but she’s spent her whole life only concentrating on ballet and doesn’t know anything else. She almost literally has no time to do anything besides dance. Despite her dedication to ballet, Hannah feels overlooked when she can’t seem to get promoted to better parts. The amount of pressure on the girls is insane and every little thing about them is scrutinized constantly. Hannah’s a young woman living in NYC and seeing nothing but the inside of the ballet studio. But pressure and the feeling of being ignored are universal.
  • new start – Just when everything seems to be crumbling around Hannah, she realizes that ballet doesn’t have to be her life anymore. There’s so much going on in Hannah’s life and all of it seems to be pointing to the end of her ballet career. It’s hard to give up something she’s put so much into, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t start doing something new that will be even more fulfilling.
  • dancers’ bodies – The author was a ballet dancer for many years and writes about the toll on Hannah’s body realistically. Hannah is so devoted to dancing that she’s just beginning to develop breasts, skips meals, and has friends her age that haven’t had their first period yet. One of the star ballerinas is so malnourished that she develops a thyroid disorder. Hannah exercises constantly, and that’s in addition to her endless daily rehearsals.

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  • “friendly” competition – Hannah and her friends regularly insult one another, both behind each other’s backs and not so secretly. The competition between these girls always comes before their friendships. They aren’t happy for one another’s accomplishments and they don’t support each other. Everything is about being better than one another at dancing. They are all so self-centered and focused on ballet that they can’t even treat each other nicely.
  • Matt – Hannah feels like no one appreciates her hard work, so when a rich guy who’s familiar with ballet takes an interest in her, she gets the ego boost she needs. Matt, however, is known around the Company for routinely wooing and then dumping young dancers. He’s smooth-talking, constantly complimenting Hannah, and spends money on lavish gifts, but all he sees is a beautiful and thin ballerina – now who Hannah really is or what makes her different than any of the other dancers. Sure, he understands her ridiculous schedule, but having a guy willing to never see you doesn’t sound like a relationship to me.

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“And now brace yourself because this might just blow your mind…There’s more to the world than just New York City.” His eyes widen, and he mimes an explosion with his hands.

“Wait, what?” I feign shock. “You mean, we won’t fall off the planet if we walk below the financial district?”

Jacob shakes his head slowly, with an expression of utter seriousness. “Crazy, right?”

– Jacob + Hannah  pg. 189

So what if I don’t have time to appreciate the pretty pink buds opening on the trees near the Avery Center? So what if I’ve stopped eating bread, stopped opening mail, stopped answering my phone?

My mother learns to text in desperation. ‘Call me sometimes why don’t u?’ she writes. ‘Daddy sends luv.’

‘So busy,’ I write back. ‘Love u.’

– pg. 232

4robots green

4 Robots

Acquired: bought


Rx – Tracy Lynn

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.


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

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3 Robots

Acquired: bought

The Distance Between Us – Kasie West

The Distance Between Us – Kasie West
Published: 7-2-2013 by Harper Teen
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

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.


Design – Torborg Davern       Hand-Lettering – Sarah Jane Coleman     

I really like the simple layout of this cover. The hand-lettering is perfect – its placement and the way the letters are not solid is great. I also like the warm color scheme of the photo. I’m not sure that the photo at all captures the personalities of Caymen and Xander, but it’s a nice picture.

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The Distance Between Us is a story about a sweet romance and the relationship between a mother and daughter who have only ever relied on each other. Money is a big issue between Caymen and her mother because her mother has always avoided the rich like the plague and taught Caymen to be wary of them. Xander changes everything for Caymen. He makes her rethink certain things and re-examine her relationship with her mom. This book deals with some big things but is also hilarious.

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  • Caymen – Caymen is easy to love. She’s nonstop sarcasm and dry humor. Caymen knows that her mom’s store and their finances limit her options for college and the future, but she’s not looking for a hero to save her. She’s not someone who needs or even wants a guy around. Caymen is hilarious and while she’s sarcastic and cold with Xander at first, she won’t push him away just because of her mom’s issues with the wealthy.
  • Caymen + Xander – I wish every scene in this book included Xander. He and Caymen have each met their match as far as verbal sparring goes. Xander appreciates Caymen’s strange sense of humor and Caymen finds Xander charming and kind despite everything her mom’s ever told her about rich people. They are both fighting to figure out what they want in life so that they don’t end up following in their respective parents’ footsteps. Caymen and Xander’s ‘career day’ dates are adorable and show how they care for each other more and more as time goes on, planning things according to the other’s interests.
  • independence – Although Caymen’s mom is selfish with Caymen’s time and the doll store, she’s also extremely independent. Independence is something that she’s passed on to Caymen, who finds it difficult to let go of her responsibilities to her mom and the store. Xander, by contrast has every opportunity available to him, and longs to be independent of his father’s control. They both want to be independent from their parents, free to do what they choose.

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  • Mason – I disliked Mason almost immediately. It bothers me how he touched Caymen when they barely knew each other – just acting like he and she were already that comfortable with each other. He never asked Caymen ‘hey is this ok’ and she just shrugged it off by thinking he’s just a touchy guy. Mason shows the bare minimum interest in Caymen. He doesn’t really treat her any differently than he treats other girls, and he doesn’t seem to care that Caymen isn’t very interested in him.
  • twist – I really hate how the major twist near the end of this book basically wipes away the entire conflict that the story is built on. It also makes Caymen’s mother unbearably selfish.

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“Which one do you like?”

Am I allowed to say “none”? Despite the fact it’s my inevitable future, the store is my mom’s love, not mine. “I’m partial to the eternal wailers.”

“Excuse me?”

I point to the porcelain version of a baby, his mouth open in a silent cry, his eyes squeezed shut. “I’d rather not see their eyes. Eyes can say so much. Theirs say, ‘I want to steal your soul so don’t turn your back on us.'”

– Xander + Caymen  pg. 3

Minutes later a Starz magazine is slapped against the window next to me, making me jump in surprise.

“You read this?” he yells through the window. I can barely hear him. He opens the door and climbs in next to me without waiting for me to scoot over. “You read this didn’t you?”

He’s practically on top of me. I slide down the seat to make room for him.

“Drive, Lucas,” he says, pulling the door shut. Then his eyes are back on me and there’s fire in them.

– Xander + Caymen  pg. 207

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Love and Other Unknown Variables – Shannon Lee Alexander

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).


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

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3 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)

Crash into You – Katie McGarry

Crash into You – Katie McGarry
(Pushing the Limits #3)
Published: 11-26-2013 by Harlequin Teen
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

The girl with straight A’s and the perfect life—that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy family…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker—a guy she has no business even talking to. But after the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

The last thing Isaiah needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks. But when their shared love of street racing puts their lives in jeopardy, Isaiah and Rachel will have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.


Design – ?     

I’m not usually a fan of covers that show exactly what the characters look like, but I do really like this photograph. The rich red of the car is so eye-catching, and the couple look comfortable not only together, but in a small backseat. I really like the angle of the title because it makes the cover dynamic.

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Crash into You is my second Katie McGarry book, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for contemporary YA. She has a real talent for writing bad boys with hearts of gold, heroines with complex emotions, and couples who are so different from one another. Isaiah and Rachel are so fun to read about. Their connection is almost instantaneous, their struggles are compelling, and their chemistry is insane. If you haven’t read any of the books in the Pushing the Limits collection, I highly recommend them.

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  • Isaiah – Isaiah’s tough exterior comes from growing up in a series of bad foster homes and a lot of practice pushing people away. Yet Isaiah can’t stop his urge to protect Rachel despite her insistence that she can handle things on her own. As Isaiah tries to keep Rachel safe, he fights his own need to be near her and finally let someone in. Although he screws up sometimes, Isaiah is a truly good guy.
  • Rachel – I really admire Rachel’s drive to watch out for herself, especially with four overprotective older brothers. Her struggle with panic attacks makes her feel weak, but dealing with her overly concerned brothers makes her feel weaker. At home, Rachel is insecure and always feels like a faulty replacement for her deceased sister. When Rachel is with Isaiah she comes to life, challenging him and flirting with him, just generally having more fun even though she’s in unfamiliar territory.
  • twists – I enjoyed all of the plot twists in this story. Each one is realistic, unexpected, and challenging. I also like that the twists are from external sources and not Rachel or Isaiah being stubborn or emotionally distant. Most of the twists had me completely surprised and I was definitely emotionally invested.
  • cars – Isaiah’s life is built around his love of cars. He works in a garage, loves restoring cars, and does some street racing. Rachel also adores cars but feels like her family discourages this interest. I really like how Rachel and Isaiah connect and bond over this mutual love for classic cars. I also appreciate that Rachel never brings up not being friends with girls because her interests are soooo different – that is a horrible and annoying cliche. Rachel’s protectiveness over her car, which is her most treasured possession, is important to the story just like Isaiah’s protectiveness of Rachel.

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  • Isaiah’s mom – Isaiah’s struggle with his mother and being in the foster care system is part of what makes him tough. His mom is selfish and immature, even though she claims that foster care was the best choice at the time. A decision that she made later on about Isaiah changed his life more than she can even imagine, and I was a bit proud of Isaiah for using her need to see him to his advantage.
  • Eric/stakes – High stakes situations are usually more compelling, but I struggled to understand exactly what would happen if Isaiah and Rachel failed to pay Eric. I get that it involved violence and owing Eric, but I’m not sure how one guy could wield so much power. The consequences had to be dire enough for guarded Isaiah to immediately get involved to protect Rachel, but I was left feeling like Isaiah knew the score but I didn’t.

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“This is where you fill in the blank with your year in high school.”

“Senior,” he finishes. “And I don’t go to Worthington Private.”

“You don’t say.” I let the sarcasm flow. “I thought for sure you had run for student body president last year.”

He scratches the stubble on his jaw and I swear he’s covering a grin. “You’re too brave for your own good.”

– Rachel + Isaiah  pg. 71

Mom stares at the night sky, searching for something. “I often wondered what would have happened if I stayed and did as Daddy asked or if I had agreed to let them take you or if I let that one couple adopt you when you were ten.”

My head jerks to glare at her. “They wanted me?”

– Isaiah + his mom  pg. 417

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought

Love Story – Jennifer Echols

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.


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

Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson
Published: 5-6-2014 by Simon & Schuster
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?


Design – Lucy Ruth Cummins       Photo – Meredith Jenks

This cover is a bit strange because it seems to depict Emily and Sloane, which ties it in to the story…yet the story is mainly focused on Emily’s new friends. My favorite part of this cover is the lettering, especially how the first part of the title is striped, making it seem transparent. It’s interesting how the word ‘gone’ is the biggest and boldest, but I really like it. The author’s name is very small, which is strange. I appreciate that the angle of the words ‘a novel’ matches the angle of ‘gone.’ It really seems like the photo could be of Emily and Sloane – all the little details sell it.

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Since You’ve Been Gone follows Emily’s summer without Sloane, who mysteriously disappears leaving only a list of challenging tasks for Emily. What follows is a summer of unexpected events as Emily learns how to have fun without Sloane and makes new friends. Each item on the list comes with a flashback showing how it relates to Emily and Sloane’s friendship. The list takes on a life of its own as Emily gets help completing it from Frank, Collins, and Dawn. This book is a great mix of sweet and serious.

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  • Beckett – Emily’s relationship with her younger brother Beckett is sweet. Although Emily sometimes wants to get him out of the way so she can figure out Sloane and the list, she also takes care of him while her parents are distracted. Beckett loves climbing and can frequently be found at the tops of doorways. Even though he’s only ten, Beckett is pretty perceptive sometimes. He likes hanging out with Emily and is upset when she spends all her time out with her friends.
  • Frank – Emily’s new friendship with Frank is interesting because of how Emily thinks of him. To her, he’s always been Frank Porter, class president, possible valedictorian, and boyfriend of the smartest girl in school. Frank’s also having a summer he never expected, and Emily’s finding out that he wants to let loose and be normal. Because Frank has a girlfriend, he and Emily get to have a true friendship as they cross things off the list. He’s a geek and a truly nice guy.
  • the list – Each item on the list holds special significance for Emily and Sloane, and flashbacks in each chapter explain their importance. Some of the items are things Emily never thought she’d do, especially not without Sloane there. The challenges presented by the list help Emily go from shy and stuttering to confident that she can do things that scare her without Sloane there to push her. Even though Sloane had no way of knowing when she wrote the list, each thing she came up with helps Emily connect with Frank and her other new friends.
  • playwright parents – Having Emily’s parents be playwrights is fascinating and a great way to distract them. They’re very entertaining as they stock up on bulk-size food and only emerge from their story occasionally, spouting strange facts about Nikola Tesla. Their living room theater mishap provides one of my favorite interactions between Emily and Frank.

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  • Sloane – The explanation for Sloane’s sudden disappearance is really underwhelming. I was expecting something more, and I don’t think I’d forgive her so quickly if I were Emily. The whole ending focusing on the answer to the Sloane mystery doesn’t feel like it fits with the rest of the story.

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“Dad,” I said, hearing how strangled my voice sounded.

“Have you seen my glasses?” he asked, not, apparently, thinking anything was strange about the fact that his daughter was awake at eight a.m. and standing in the doorway in her pajamas, talking to a boy he’d never met.

“They’re on your head, sir,” Frank supplied from the porch.

– Emily, her dad, Frank  pg. 157

I was scanning the crowd for her when I realized I recognized someone in it – it was Frank, and he was looking right at me.

I felt my jaw fall open, and then closed it quickly. He walked across the dance floor to me, hands in the pockets of his suit, taking his time, like he was enjoying the fact that he’d just thrown me for a loop. “What are you doing here?” I asked, my voice low, once he reached me.

“I think I could ask you the same question,” he said. “I mean, you didn’t think I was going to let you do this without me, did you?”

– Emily + Frank  pg. 335

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4 Robots

Acquired: bought (ebook)