April Wrap-Up

What the Diva read in April…

Happenstance #3

Happenstance #3Title: Happenstance #3
Series: Happenstance #3
Also in this series: Happenstance, Happenstance #2
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 246
Published by Jamie McGuire LLC on 2015-02-02
ISBN: 978-1505517767
ASIN: B00PCTYQYA
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |
divider

From the back cover...

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it all.

Now that Erin has learned the truth about the girls who tortured her, and about the boy she loves, she finds her time before graduation dwindling at an alarming and exciting pace. What used to be summer break was now a countdown to her final days in Blackwell. Her parents, Sam and Julianne struggle with the fear that just when they’ve found Erin, they must let her go, and the tension is higher than it’s been since Erin discovered who she really was.

Finally with the girl he’s loved since childhood, Weston grows more desperate as the summer days pass. He and Erin will go to separate colleges. His biggest fear is that this means they’ll go their separate ways. Plagued with making the best of the time he has left with Erin, and finding a way to make it last, Weston finds himself in a different state of mind hourly. He is just beginning to realize that hope is like quicksand. The harder Weston struggles, the faster Erin sinks.

My Review

This installment of Happenstance deals with Erin and Weston’s last months in high school and the beginning of college.

After everything she has been through, one would hope that things would finally go right for her.  But this is not the case.  She is still being bullyied, led by the unrequited crush of one of the Erins.  The only difference now is the support of her new parents and a newfound open support from Weston.  But his support doesn’t mean that everything is going swimmingly for the two of them.

One would think that their relationship would be stronger than ever after all they had been through together.  But now there are new obstacles, obstacles that Weston is creating for them.  His insecurities are at the center of the book this time, almost to an obsessive point.  He pushes Erin away over and over again until she finally has to cut him loose.  He fears Erin;s strength and is sure that she doesn’t need him as much as he needs her.  I think this is an important theme, as this is something that happens too often.  Too many times, a woman is strong and a man feels insecure about her strength.  To see Erin not back down from her own needs was refreshing and makes her one helluva role model for girls and women alike,

My Recommendation

This is a good story with some strong messages.  I feel like this series would be good for someone who is being bullied, to feel less alone and to find hope in the future.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Happenstance #2

Happenstance #2Title: Happenstance #2
Author: Jamie McGuire
Series: Happenstance #2
Also in this series: Happenstance, Happenstance #3
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 182
Published by Jamie McGuire LLC on 2014-09-7
ISBN: 978-1500852047
ASIN: B00NEOE1G8
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |

divider

From the back cover...

Erin Easter was now Erin Alderman, because Erin Alderman was dead.

In the second installment of this USA Today bestselling series, follow protagonist Erin, a high school senior in tiny Blackwell, Oklahoma. After a terrible accident leaves two classmates dead, Erin learns that she was switched at birth. Shortly after, she moves into the home of her true parents, Sam and Julianne Alderman, transforming Erin over night from pariah of Blackwell High School, to the only child of one of the most affluent couples in town.

Also being pursued by her childhood crush, Weston Gates, the dream she once had is now reality. But when Erin stumbles upon secrets that gives her the answers she’s been searching for, she also finds a truth she never wanted to know.

My Review

The second Happenstance novella starts soon after the first one begins.  Erin’s life has turned upside down and this installment focuses on her new life and relationships wirh her parents.

Suddenly she is surrounded by love and affection, something she has never known before.  At times, it felt a little forced and that acceptance came too quickly, but in retrospect, it seems right.  It was an unusual circumstance, with everyone trying to do the right thing and not overstep.  And for Erin, it was a strange place to find herself after a lifetime of essentially raising herself.

In the first novella, Weston wasn’t always my favorite character.  As much as I understood him, I wanted him to be a little more upfront in his support of Erin.  No, she didn’t need a hero, but it seemed as if Weston wasn’t always as strong as he should be, even for himself.  But now that Erin’s truths have been revealed, it was somehow easier for him to be open about how he felt and to be more openly supportive of her and I am not sure I loved the social implications of that easier acceptance.  But the reality is, he had secrets, too.

And those secrets began to surface, shattering Erin’s tenuous hold on trust.  She learned the reasons behind the Erin’s suidden switch to mean girl bullying, and Weston’s part in that.  Initially, this definitely did not endear me to Weston, no matter how much I realized it was not something he wanted, but as the story unfolded and explanations were given, I came around!

Weirdly, I was happy that the bullying didn’t entirely stop.  If it had, the message would have been that money was all that mattered in social acceptance.  But her newfound familial wealth didn’t change the opinions of those who had bullied her entire life.  Instead, they saw her as a usurper, trying to take the place of someone she would never be.  But what these people didn’t realize is that she never wanted to be anyone other than who she was and that money was immaterial to her.  In many ways, she felt more comfortable without it.

The only thing that I felt uneasy about, in this novella and the last, was the lack of contact/connection with Gina, the woman who raised Erin.  I realize that Erin’s life with her was largely unpleasant, but I felt like there was a level of compassion that was lacking.  When things changed for Erin, they changed irrevocably for Gna, too.  She lost a daughter, too.

My Recommendation

I love these stories!  They tackle hard issues and do so realistically.  I love that things don’t fall into place too easily, but that there are obstacles and periods of adjustment.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

About Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers books, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1.

Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters: A Red Hill Novella, and Happenstance: A Novella Series.

Jamie lives on a ranch just outside of Enid, Oklahoma with her husband, Jeff, and their three children. They share their thirty acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and a cat named Rooster.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Happenstance #1

Happenstance #1Title: Happenstance
Author: Jamie McGuire
Series: Happenstance #1
Also in this series: Happenstance #2, Happenstance #3
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 100
Published by Jamie McGuire LLC on 2014-05-9
ISBN: 978-1505357608
ASIN: B00JOPR0ZK
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |

divider

From the back cover...

Erin Easter, one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Erin Easter, raised by a neglectful single mom, keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin A. and Erin M. are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Erin Easter isn't--and they never let her forget it. Erin A. has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.

Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Erin Easter's feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Erin does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings ... both for his future, and for her.

But when a shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, Erin's life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything Erin thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

My Review

Happenstance is a story of love, of betrayal, of mean girls, of secrets, and of finding your place in the world.

Erin Easter has spent her life on the outside of the social scene, more frequently the target of neverending bullying.  She is one of three Erin’s in her small senior class, the other two best friends and mean girls who tend to spearhead the bullying.  Once the three were close, but something happened to change all that.  Her loneliness was heart-wrenching, but somehow through it all, she remained strong and brave.  Her life at home with an addict mother had made her wiser than her years, and given her a life of responsibility, as well as yet another reason for her classmates to bully her.  She spent most of her life just trying to keep her head down and unnoticed, just trying to survive until she could escape and make a new life for herself.

Weston is the epitome of the YA hero… popular, gorgeous, and athletic.  But he is also a nice guy at heart, even if a little too influenced by his peers.  His girlfriend just happens to be one of the mean girl Erins.  I wanted him to be Erin’s hero from the very beginning, but it was slow in coming, which I suppose is a more realistic portrayal of that kind of situation.  To stand up against your friends for someone who is so socially removed can be hard and it takes courage that many teens just don’t have for fear of that bullying coming back on them.

But what I loved most about Happenstance is that Erin didn’t need a hero.  She didn’t need a knight in shining armor to swoop in and save the day.  She wasn’t making any big stands for herself against those bullying her, but she was surviving.  She had a goal that motivated her… to go to college and to escape.  If anything, it is Weston who needs saving.  Erin is teaching him how important it is to be strong for yourself, to have the strength to be who you want to be.

While this is a book about transformation and acceptance, there is a twist.  And that twist throws everything into turmoil and changes not just Erin’s life, but those around her, too.  It makes for an interesting setup for the rest of the series.

My Recommendation

This is a book with some heavy subject matter and powerdful messages about strength and character and standing up for what is right.  It is a beautiful story with a lot of promise.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Jamie McGuire

Jamie McGuire was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She attended Northern Oklahoma College, the University of Central Oklahoma, and Autry Technology Center where she graduated with a degree in Radiography.

Jamie paved the way for the New Adult genre with the international bestseller Beautiful Disaster. Her follow-up novel, Walking Disaster, debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Beautiful Oblivion, book one of the Maddox Brothers books, also topped the New York Times bestseller list, debuting at #1.

Novels also written by Jamie McGuire include: apocalyptic thriller, Red Hill; the Providence series, a young adult paranormal romance trilogy; Apolonia, a dark sci-fi romance; and several novellas, including A Beautiful Wedding, Among Monsters: A Red Hill Novella, and Happenstance: A Novella Series.

Jamie lives on a ranch just outside of Enid, Oklahoma with her husband, Jeff, and their three children. They share their thirty acres with cattle, six horses, three dogs, and a cat named Rooster.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Where She Went

Where She WentTitle: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #2
Also in this series: If I Stay
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 306
Published by Speak on 2011-04-05
ISBN: 978-0142420898
ASIN: B004H4XDBI
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
| Amazon | B&N | Kobo |
| Goodreads | BookLikes | Shelfari | LibraryThing |
divider

From the back cover

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
.

My Review

Where She Went is the second book in the If I Stay series and my favorite of the two.  It was just as emotional as the first and even more intense.  Despite the theme of death in If I Stay, there is something much darker about most of the second novel.

Where She Went is told from the point of view of Adam and begins a few years after If I Stay ends.  Mia and Adam have gone in totally different directions, living totally different and totally separate lives.  From the very beginning of the novel, it is clear that Adam hasn’t moved on very well.  His personal and professional lives are suffering and he can’t seem to get it together.  Even his band mates, once his best friends, have been alienated by him and he doesn’t know what to do to change anything.  He is alone and lonely and suffering.

This is a story about the effect that grief has on people.  Mia lost her family, a family that meant almost as much to Adam.  And he lost Mia for reasons he doesn’t truly know.  In a way, watching Adam go through the things he did was even more heart breaking than Mia’s pain in the first novel.  Watching his transformation, and Mia’s, throughout the book was emotional and beautiful.  Like the first, it was Adam who owned my heart as a character.  I just wanted things to change for him, for him to find happiness.

My Recommendation

This isn’t always an easy read, but it is a beautiful one.  It tells the story of two people torn apart by the worst of experiences.  In my opinion, the aftermath of grief shown in this book was as important to the story as the initial tragedy itself.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Gayle Forman

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a journalist who specialized in reporting on young people and social-justice issues. Which is a fancy way of saying I reported on all the ways that young people get treated like crap—and overcome! I started out working for Seventeen magazine, writing the kinds of articles that people (i.e. adults) never believe that Seventeen ran (on everything from child soldiers in Sierra Leone to migrant teen farm workers in the U.S.). Later on, I became a freelance journalist, writing for magazines like Details, Jane, Glamour, The Nation, Elle, Budget Travel, and Cosmopolitan.

In 2002, I went traveling for a year around the world with my husband, Nick. I spent time hanging out with some pretty interesting people, a third sex (we’d probably call them transvestites here) in Tonga, Tolkien-obsessed, role-playing punks in Kazakhstan (bonus points to those of you who can find Kazakhstan on a map), working class hip-hop stars in Tanzania. The result of that year was my first book, a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. You can read about my trip and see pictures of it here.

What do you do when you get back home after traveling the globe for a whole year? First, you get disproportionately excited by the little comforts in life: Not having to look at a map to get everywhere? Yay! Being able to drink coffee without getting dressed and schlepping to a café first? Bliss! Then, if you’re 32 years old and have been with your husband for evah, you have a kid. Which we did. Presto, Willa!

So, there I was. With a baby. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do the kind of gallivanty reporting I’d done before. Well, you know how they say in life when one door closes another opens? In my case, the door came clear off the frame. Because I discovered that I could take the most amazing journeys of my life without ever having to leave my desk. It was all in my head. In stories I could make up. And the people I wanted to take these fantastical journeys with, they all happened to be between the ages of 12 and 20. I don’t know why. These are just the people who beckon me. And I go where I’m told.

My first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, was based on another one of those social justice articles I wrote when for Seventeen and you can click here to read the article. Sisters was published in 2007. My next book, If I Stay, was published in April of 2009 by Dutton. It is also being published in 30 countries around the world, which is surreal. The sequel/companion book to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in April 2011. I am currently working on a new YA novel, that is, when my kids (plural, after Willa we adopted Denbele from Ethiopia) allow me to. And after that book is finished, I’ll write another, and another….

Wow. This is crazy long. I suppose the short version of this bio could simply read: My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: