Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone // *shrugs*

Friday, 3 November 2017 0 comments
Changes in Latitudes, by Jen Malone
Publication: July 25, 2017, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents’ divorce. So when she learns of her mom’s plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she’s stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean.
Cassie is furious. And nervous. It’s been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother’s role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point.
Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who’s as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together—wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline—the harder it is to fight the attraction.
Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents’ split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can’t even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life’s unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them…or dive right in.

My Thoughts:

Changes in Latitudes was expected to be amazing by me. I thought that I would adore it because I really enjoyed Jen Malone's Wanderlost, which was a traveller's dream story. Wanderlost made me feel as if I needed to read more contemporary romances and travel the world as much as possible. This story, however, was disappointing. I surely did enjoy it, however, I found that it was missing something... some concept/characters I would enjoy and learn from. Some content that I did not see before. Yes, the whole 'sailor' story was completely new, however I felt that the types of characters who were introduced were plain. Boring. 

This book featured a protagonist, Cassie, who explored a new pace of life as she began traveling by boat along the West Coast of America. WOW, RIGHT? And along the way, she stereotypically (and unsurprisingly) falls in love with Jonah - who introduces her to a world of fun, especially since her parents recently got divorced. Jen Malone takes us through San Francisco, Oregon, on the way to Mexico, which seems to be a reader's dream itinerary. I couldn't help but fall in love with the premise of this story, but what was lacking was a racing story that made me addicted. This was just a book that I can classify as "meh." I've read better things, more action-packed stories, but it is what it is.

Cassie was kick-butt. I loved her attitude and how she was all about trying to gain some kind of positivity in life. In the midst of her life, she is battling several demons, such as dealing with the fact that she was miles away from her friends and senior year. And then the romance with Jonah began and I just fell in love with everything the story was promoting. Although the ending was mediocre, I still liked it.

Changes in Latitudes was a book with a great story with a nice premise and set of characters (including the romance), but there were flaws that prevented me from really enjoying the book. Aside from the slow-moving of the story and the ending, I'd highly recommend this one. Grab it and head on a cruise ship, exploring the destinations as you sail around the world!

Are there any other YA books about traveling on the sea?

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu // A Beautiful Premise

Sunday, 22 October 2017 0 comments
Afterward, by Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: September 20, 2016, by Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Abuse
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

My Thoughts:

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu is a story I am so grateful to have finally read. I loved everything that it was about, everything that it was inspiring and trying to tell readers. The author did a fabulous job at writing this story as if the main characters, Caroline and Ethan, were real, and if the kidnappings of Ethan and Caroline's brother actually did occur. As the title suggests, this story takes place as the aftermath of the kidnappings. Instead of the mystery part that every kidnapping story seems to deal with (the victims trying to escape), this focuses on the emotions the characters are enduring and how they feel they can strengthen.

This is a beautiful story that I cannot forget about. Once I began reading, I was not able to stop and it became so addictive. And although I would normally not be the biggest fan of a book involving a romance between two characters who are both dealing with some kind of personal issues, this somehow worked. Mathieu used her brilliant writing skills to create a balance between remedy (of Ethan's), acceptance (Caroline's acceptance of what occurred to her brother), and love. It just shows that everyone is meant to recover from many of the traumas they experience. 

READ THIS NOW. It's an underrated story that has so much potential to please readers. I enjoyed its characters, premise, writing style - all of it. By the end, I was completely pleased and ready to read more like it.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some other kidnapping YA books?

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum // Promising and... Good.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 0 comments
What to Say Next, by Julie Buxbaum
Publication: July 11, 2017, by Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 292
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

My Thoughts:

Julie Buxbaum's What to Say Next looks as promising a glass of iced, cold pink lemonade. No jokes. When I first saw its cover and read the summary, I discovered that this could be the cutest summer read ever. The word I can use to describe this book is "good." It surely was not amazing or phenomenal or *insert extremely positive adjective here* but hey — I enjoyed it. I loved the back-and-forth perspective change between the two protagonists, Kit and David, who were interesting, conflicted characters, who, by the end, I discovered were quite similar.

Buxbaum introduces us readers to this book by making it seem as if high school is like what we see it is in movies. That's acceptable; this is a chick-lit book, after all. However, learning who Kit and David really are helps us understand that everyone is conflicted in some sense - that we are all able to create different personalities that do not describe us well. Kit, the so-called popular girl at school who seems to be getting everything she wants in life, finds that her life completely changes when her father dies in a car accident. And everything starts crumbling. She finds that her friends are acting too fake, not wanting to address what actually happened, and that her mother is hiding more secrets about her and her father's relationship. 

Her life collapses until she starts to pay attention to the "weird" David Drucker. And I loved that David was Kit's remedy, and that she was his. That's the kind of love I want - the one that you do not expect and that fits so well in your life. Agh. I guess you can tell that I totally supported the characters' relationship and loved it.


There's always a but.

It felt forced. I felt that Kit kind of moulded herself into David's arms without really wanting to. Buxbaum wanted to create a relationship that was unlike others, so she put the 'weirdo and popular girl' together. And of course that will cause audiences to go mad and excited, because it's different than all of the other contemporaries out there. Yay for that - but meh. In addition, I was bored every now and then, which made me take around two weeks to finish this. *frowns*

What to Say Next makes me feel like I do not really know what to say next. It was DEFINITELY GOOD. I loved the concept and relationship, and aside from a few negative spots, I definitely recommend it.

*A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for a honest review. Thanks so much!*

What is the coolest, most atypical relationship you have seen in books recently?

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings // Hawaii Plus Romance Equals Awesomeness

Thursday, 12 October 2017 0 comments
Juniors, by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publication: September 22, 2015, by G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life.
Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage.
Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she's willing to change in order to fit into their world.
Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

My Thoughts:

WE FINALLY HAVE A BOOK TAKEN PLACE IN HAWAII, THE LAND OF MY DREAMS. Kaui Hart Hemmings created a lovely Gossip Girl-esque story that I will never forget about because it's different than everything else. I just visited three Hawaiian islands this past March, and found that the state is my favourite place in the world. I felt so spiritually and emotionally connected to the beauty and stress-free life that it holds, and I was so happy to see that I recognized so many of the references Hemmings made in her writing to Oahu. The beaches, hikes, streets - I knew them all and it just made my day and year. I cannot admit that this was the best book I read this year (because then, I would have given this a 5 star rating), however, it was definitely an enjoyable one that I cannot recommend enough.

Juniors is about an angsty teenager who moves across the world to a place that has no meaning to her. I mean, I wouldn't have been complaining if I were in Lea's place, moving to the gorgeous island of Oahu, however, she was. Her mom is an aspiring actress, and her newest project requires her to move to Hawaii to film. Lea ends up going to a preppy boarding school where she feels excluded since she's the "new, weird girl" often described in novels/chick-lit films. Lea ends up becoming friends with Will and Whitney West, the siblings whose house Lea and her mother are staying in. 

And I guess you can kind of imagine what comes next. Boy meets girl, one (or both) of them plays hard-to-get, and they fall in love. BOOM. But, somehow, this book turns out lovely and different than others. I started to fall in love with this instantly as the Hawaii setting came along. I also really started to like Lea's character from the beginning as she had some kind of toughness in her - it really made her stand out as a character and female protagonist. It was also interesting how she was the one who made her own decisions in terms of her relationships. Yeah, there was kind of a love triangle, but at least Lea initiated it and realized what her feelings were telling her.

Yay to it all. This was so great. Read it, drink some pineapple juice while you're at it, and enjoy.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

Are there any other books that take place in Hawaii?

Wanderlost by Jen Malone // I Want to Travel the World Because of This Novel!

Saturday, 7 October 2017 0 comments
Wanderlost, by Jen Malone
Publication: May 31, 2016, by HarperTeen
Format: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 321
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

My Thoughts:

For anyone who knows me, I am a travel geek. I want to travel the world, see as many countries as I can, stay in luxury hotels, meet locals, take gorgeous photos, and be happy forever. Those are (some) of my life goals, and I get SO jealous when people are doing all of that. But, of course, to acknowledge my hidden envy, I love reading books that take place in foreign countries. Especially books that take place in multiple countries. Jen Malone did that all for me with the phenomenal Wanderlost. I was introduced to a hilarious plot filled with secrecy, cute boys and destinations I NEED to visit (like Italy, duh), all in the midst of a great story that I will NEVER forget about.

Look at this: I read this book almost two months ago and I remember all of it. What is important to highlight is the author's storyline: this is about an accidental trip to Europe that the protagonist, Aubree, does not want to take part in. I guess you might be questioning AUBREE'S CRAZINESS and how she did not want to go, but THAT AIN'T THE POINT HERE. The point is: Europe. *insert heart, impressed eyes* Aubree takes the place of her sister, Elizabeth, on a tour across Europe. The catch here is: it is a tour for senior citizens, and SHE HAS TO LIE. Why? Because the tour company would never let Aubree do this on her own without any studying and maturity. Elizabeth wants a good reputation, so obviously, she does not tell anyone about this. 

AND BAM. The story begins, and Aubree is whisked off to foreign countries without any knowledge about them, finding that there is a romance waiting for her. And the romance starts with the tour company boss' son.

OOOF. I can imagine your jaw dropping right now. Now you're smiling because you realized I was right, right? Heh. I just want to mention how lovely this story was and how every character was special, important and unforgettable. I loved Sam, THE GORGEOUS love interest (who shared special phone calls with Aubree every night) and all of the senior citizens. There was constant drama, perfect to cause readers to become obsessed and intrigued.

You will love every page, every word that Jen Malone writes. This is a unique story, written by an author who was inspired by her own travels throughout the world. YAY! 

Wanderlost made me so lost in reading and I cannot help but squeal and fangirl. THIS IS A BOOK FOR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. Go and enjoy it. (Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to find my own Sam!)

What is the best travel-around-the-world book you have read?

Forever... by Judy Blume // Girl Power and Glory

Tuesday, 3 October 2017 0 comments
Forever... by Judy Blume
Publication: April 24, 2007, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

When you build up something in your mind—really imagine it, wish for it—sometimes, when it actually happens, it doesn't live up to your expectations.
True love is nothing like that.
Especially not for Katherine and Michael, who can't get enough of each other. Their relationship is unique: sincere, intense, and fun all at the same time. Although they haven't been together all that long, they know it's serious. A whole world opens up as young passion and sexuality bloom.
But it's senior year of high school, and there are big changes ahead. Michael and Katherine are destined for another big "first": a decision. Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?

My Thoughts:

Forever... is a book that has been sitting in my bookshelf for years. LITERALLY YEARS. Four years, five years? Something like that. I have always been a fan of Judy Blume, and I felt the need to read all of her books. At last, I sought a quick, short read, and felt that it was the perfect time to pick this up. This is a story that every teenage girl needs to pick up and devour. Although it was written years ago, much of the concepts Blume explores in terms of sexuality still pertains to what is modern and known today. It is a story that will sit in your head, and a story every reader will probably remember for years because of the impact and innocence it delivers.

Judy Blume realistically approaches what it is like to be in a relationship. There aren't any depictions of cheesiness and unpredictability, as there is in normal contemporary romances. She showcases that Michael and Katherine are living in a real world where relationships occasionally have issues. But this book isn't about whether this couple will end up being together forever (as the title depicts) but what their relationship is like and whether there is any pressure to express sexuality. Some books get it completely wrong, but Blume got it completely right. This is for all of the feminists out there. It has so much humour in it and I just cannot get the story out of my head.

Basically, to put it simply, this is about two high school seniors: Michael and Katherine, who start a relationship and basically become addicted to each other. But it's not one of those teen chick-flick relationships, but a relationship that is sensual and real. It seemed so real and different than anything I have read before. The plot was fast-paced, both of the characters were likeable, and there was not much I could complain about. 

MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THIS? The lack of predictability. I normally pick chick-lit books up so I can get a nice idea (always expecting predictability) but this was a pleasant surprise. Put this on the list of Books Everyone Must Pick Up, please!

Forever... is a book I will remember forever. Read it, enjoy it, and enjoy the relationship Judy Blume creates, because it is gorgeous. What a lovely read.

What is your favourite Judy Blume book?

Social LEADia: Moving Students From Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership by Jennifer Casa-Todd

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 0 comments
Social LEADia: Moving Students from Digital Citizenship to Digital Leadership, by Jennifer Casa-Todd
Publication: June 14, 2017, by Dave Burgess Consulting Inc.
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback

Equipping students for their future begins by helping them become digital leaders now. In our networked society, students need to learn how to leverage social media to connect to people, passions, and opportunities to grow and make a difference. Social LEADia offers insight and engaging stories to help you shift the focus at school and at home from digital citizenship to digital leadership.

My Thoughts:

Social LEADia is a book every teacher (and student) needs. It explains the meaning of digital leadership, and how it is extremely important for each and every one of us to care about this topic. To show others that we can make a difference in the digital world. It has made me realize how important my role of book blogging is in the world, and in the digital one. I am aware of the influence my words, writing and reviews have on many individuals, especially kids. If you want to learn about a teacher's opinion on how we can use social media in the classroom and world, then this is perfect for you.

I adored how personal the writing was, even though it was a research-based novel. Jennifer Casa-Todd tells some stories about her life which surprisingly and amazingly apply to the points she makes and the ideas that are introduced. Everything seemed to sew and flow together wonderfully - I love writing like that. In fact, I love when someone teaches based on their personal experiences; it makes the learning experience so much better and intuitive. In total, I can just say that I really appreciated this reading experience; it was different (and more interesting) than anything I have read before. I guess that I need to read more research-based books!

Social LEADia also has a huge spotlight on students who have made a difference using social media and various movements. I loved this - it shows that people have already achieved the goals Jennifer set out for her readers. And it shows educators and teachers that everyone has a potential to do something remarkable. The author provides us with ideas on how we can strengthen the social LEADia movement in the classroom and beyond with questions teachers should ask themselves and their class. It's a complete success!

Do you want to make a difference in the social media world? Then this is for you - grab this as soon as possible. It's a down-to-earth, truthful research book with humour, interesting facts and statistics that prove that social media should never be looked at negatively.

What is your favourite most recently read research book?