ARC REVIEW // Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally

Four Days of You and Me almost gets four stars from me.

Four Days of You and Me is the first young adult contemporary book by Miranda Kenneally set outside of the Hundred Oaks series. Every year, aspiring writer Lulu, along with the rest of her class, attends a class field trip. During freshman year, the field trip sparks a relationship between Lulu and a fellow classmate, sports star Alex. Four Days of You and Me documents their changing relationship throughout their high school years.

Four Days of You and Me

I have read every book in the Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally, so I was excited to see her first book outside of the sports-themed books that she wrote in the past. For me, the Hundred Oaks series was hit-or-miss, but overall, each book was a quick and light-hearted contemporary. Four Days of You and Me was everything that I would expect from this author. Therefore, if you like Miranda Kenneally’s other books, then you would probably enjoy this book.

One aspect of this book that set it apart from Kenneally’s other books was the timeline. This book takes place on the same day throughout a four-year period, with flashbacks to other events that happened in the same year. Sometimes, timelines in books that frequently jump around can be unsuccessfully executed, which makes the book confusing to read. I think Kenneally did a nice job of jumping back and forth between different times without confusing the reading. Despite some problems I had with pacing towards the end (unrelated to the time jumping), I think the jumping to different periods of time actually made the book a quicker read and motivated me to continue the story.

That being said, the pacing in the last 20% of the book wasn’t my favorite. There were plot points introduced quickly into the end that could cause large rifts between the main characters or greatly impact their futures. When I expected the all is lost moment or some major area of conflict in the plot, it was resolved quickly with little impact on the story. In a sense, it was nice not to have a huge bomb dropped at the end of the book because throughout the story, you grow up with all the characters, and it leaves more of a bittersweet tone surrounding their last hurrah before graduation. At the same time, the problems weren’t as fleshed out as issues presented earlier in the book, so the ending felt slightly rushed.

Another aspect that I enjoyed were the characters. Since you see these characters from their freshman year, you get to see how they all grow, not just the main characters. I always wonder what happens to a character after the short time span we typically see in a novel, so it was cool to see how the characters in this novel literally grow up before your eyes. Getting more in-depth with all the characters also made the ending of the story emotional. Thinking about all the highlights of their high school career and then knowing that they will grow their separate ways will help readers in high school or people who graduated high school really connect with this story because they can themselves or their friends within the characters in this novel.

That being said, I did have some personal preferences that impacted my reading experience. Lulu, the main character, wants to write graphic novels. Throughout the book, we see her write the story, then she goes onto query agents and get more into the publishing process. For me, I don’t always mind when characters are writing a book, but for some reason, it always puts me off when such little details about the publishing industry are within a novel. To quote one of my favorite contestants from Survivor, Michaela Bradshaw, it’s like when a magician pulls a bunny out of a hat but they walk in with the bunny instead—it just takes away the magic of being fully immersed in a book, like the characters are real people, but now you are reminded that they are not.

Overall, Four Days of You and Me is a fun and easy to read contemporary book. While I did enjoy this book, there were some aspects that weren’t my favorite or could be improved. I give Four Days of You and Me three out of five stars.

What do you think of books that follow a non-linear timeline?

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April Reading Wrap-Up

During April, I split my time between writing for Camp NaNoWriMo and reading. As a result, I only read two books during the month of April. That being said, I enjoyed both books that I read in April. Plus, both of these books appear on my 20 books I want to read in 2020, so I have two more books that I can check off from this list. Here’s what I read:

  • Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally *
Four Days of You and Me

I received an ARC for the Four Days of You and Me via NetGalley. I was excited to read this book because I read all of Miranda Kenneally’s books in the Hundred Oaks series and this is her first book outside of that series. The Four Days of You and Me was everything that I expected from Miranda Kenneally: a light-hearted romance that is quick and easy to read.

Four Days of You and Me follows the relationship of Lulu and Alex throughout their four years of high school, particularly focusing on the annual class field trips which contain many events that define and change their relationship

  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
The Rest of the Story

I’ve had The Rest of the Story since it was released, but never got around to reading it. Throughout high school and college, Sarah Dessen’s books largely made up what I read. However, her recent releases haven’t been my favorite. That being said, The Rest of the Story is a solid novel with Dessen’s classic writing style, although not my favorite out of her works.

The Rest of the Story follows Emma Saylor who visits her mother’s side of the family years after her mother has passed after her father remarries and goes on his honeymoon.

What did you read in April?

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Any book marked with * was an ARC sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Miranda Kenneally Mini-Reviews

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While most of these books hit it out of the park, one struck out.

At this point, I’ve read almost all of the books in Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series. For me, the books in this series really have been hit-or-miss. I think some of her books offer really great romances with well-develop characters and story lines. However, I think some of her books fall on the exact opposite of the spectrum. Sometimes, the romance (especially with the love interest who doesn’t win in the end), is so overdone that I don’t get to know the character really well or I don’t see enough of the main character with who they actually end up dating. In my three most recent reads from this series, I’m happy to say that I enjoyed most of them and only one fell into some pitfalls that I noticed within this series.

Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan is definitely one of my favorite books in this series. I think Jordan has a more unique voice and story line than some of the main characters in this series which made this book enjoyable to read. I think the author did a great job of also developing great side characters, especially authentic relationships between Jordan and her teammates. This book really only fell into one problem that I find recurs often within this series. I think Jordan spends too much time with the wrong interest that readers don’t get a lot of time between her and the guy your supposed to root for throughout the novel. Since this is the first book in the series, we do get to see them in later novels. However, I found that their characters are treated a little too stereotypical and almost cartoonish in the later novels that I wished their romantic relationship was fleshed out more in the first book.

Jesse’s Girl

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)

I’ve seen Jesse’s Girl regarded as one of the favorites within this series and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Even though the characters in this book now each other only know each other for relatively a short time compared to other couples in the series, their relationship came across as one of the strongest to me. I think the main character and the love interest in this book are two of the most well-developed in this series which made me really invested in their story. I also appreciated that there isn’t a love triangle in this book so I could focus on the development of the romantic relationship only between the two main characters.

Defending Taylor

Defending Taylor

Out of these three books, Defending Taylor was the weakest for me. For me, the plot wasn’t as developed as some of the other books in this series and I felt like it was never truly resolved at the end. Additionally, I feel like Taylor wasn’t the most dynamic or complex main character in the series, which made her a little forgettable and made me less invested in her story as a reader. I also felt that Taylor’s relationship with Ezra was also under-developed. While Taylor and Ezra knew each other for awhile at this point, I still didn’t really feel any connection between them besides the “my brother said not to mess around with my sister” idea used in other similar books. Overall, this book fell flat for me and fell into similar tropes that I disliked in other books in this series.

 

What is your favorite book in the Hundred Oaks series?

ARC Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

coming-up-for-air

Compared to other contemporaries, Coming Up for Air falls slightly short of the gold.

Coming Up for Air follows competitive swimmer Maggie who hopes to qualify for the Olympic trials. As senior year winds down, Maggie regrets not doing many normal high school activities like going to school dances or having a boyfriend. Maggie hopes to overcome his biggest regret–never making out with a boy–by receiving a little help from her cute best friend, Levi.

Before Coming Up for Air, I only read one other book by Miranda Kenneally and was slightly disappointed. In Stealing Parker, I didn’t really like any of the relationships and felt that many of the characters were very one dimensional. While I liked Coming Up for Air a lot more than Stealing Parker, I found some of the same problems.

First, I’ll start with the positives. I really liked Maggie as a main character and felt like many people could relate to her struggles. Maggie never felt good enough in swimming or her social life. Even though she was an elite swimmer with a tight group of friends, she focused more on her flaws and feared for her future college life. Since Maggie is so relatable, it helps readers to invest in her story and see her as a real person.

On the other hand, I found a few of the other characters to be a little stereotypical. In Stealing Parker, Parker’s main rival was an ex-childhood friend and you never really understood why she hated Parker so much. Roxy in Coming Up for Air was the same character who only seemed relevant to ruin Maggie’s swimming career or relationship with Levi.

Levi also felt very stereotypical for a YA contemporary. When I think of Levi, I can’t think of a single flaw besides having a bad relationship with his father or his flirty personality. Otherwise, Levi is absolutely perfect. He’s cute, reads books, kisses well, and always appears when something goes wrong for Maggie. Besides his inability to define their relationship, he remains perfect, which made it more difficult to see him as a real person.

As for the relationship… it wasn’t what I expected. From the book’s description, it seemed like Maggie would do a bucket list before her senior year ended of all the fun experiences she wanted to have before graduation. Instead, the book solely focused on making out with a boy and gaining as much experience as possible before college so she won’t be labeled as a loser.

That being said, the first half of the book reminded me of an episode from The Secret Life of a Teenager. I expected Maggie and Levi to slowly move from being friends to being in a relationship. However, they quickly started a friends with benefits relationship early on in the book. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wasn’t what I expected either. The first half of the book was only filled with Maggie and Levi making out in various locations. I felt like I never saw the emotional point when their relationship turned from friends to something more, which detracted from their relationship.

Even though I had several problems with the first half of the book, I enjoyed the second half of the book more because it better balanced all of Maggie’s problems rather than just focusing on her relationship with Levi. Maggie really grew as a character and this helped me appreciate her relationship with Levi more. I also really enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s easy and real writing style that made the book quick to read.

Overall, Coming Up for Air will be a great book to read by the pool this summer, but doesn’t really stand out against other contemporaries. While I liked the second half of the book, sometimes the relationship and a few of the characters fell flat for me. I rate Coming Up for Air as three out of five stars.

I received Coming Up for Air via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Things I Can’t Forget Review

things-i-cant-forget

It will be hard to forget my favorite Miranda Kenneally book so far!

In Things I Can’t Forget, good girl Kate Kelly takes a job at a Christian summer camp without her best friend Emily. After a major fallout with Emily that shook Kate’s beliefs, she hopes to finally move past her sins. At camp, Kate reunites with Matt, her first kiss from camp years ago. Soon, Kate finds herself in another position that compromises her beliefs.

Last year, I read Stealing Parker and was slightly disappointed. I wasn’t a fan of the relationships within the book and I felt some of the characters were stereotypical. Even though I found some of these problems within Things I Can’t Forget, I liked this book more than Stealing Parker and it actually helped me love Stealing Parker more. However, some Kenneally fans may disappointed that this book does not really integrate sports like her other books.

I have mixed feelings towards the main character Kate. I really liked how Miranda Kenneally explored a teenager’s Christian faith because it is rarely explored within mainstream YA fiction. That being said, I think Kenneally also made Kate a little too cartoonish and unrelatable. Kate always came across as too naive or judgmental, which may discourage some readers from finishing the book. While I appreciate that Kate always stood up for values even though they vastly differed from her peers, I wish Kenneally portrayed Kate in a less stereotypical manner and a more positive light.

One aspect of Things I Can’t Forget was seeing more of Parker and Will. In Stealing Parker, I felt like I didn’t really get to see much of their relationship. I also liked seeing Parker grow as a character and how she helped Kate grow as a character as well. They both quickly passed certain judgments on each other, but I liked how they recognized that even though they had different outlooks on life, they could still be friends. Even though I haven’t read Catching Jordan, I also appreciated the scene with Jordan. She seemed like a really cool character and it makes me want to read her story.

As for the relationship between Kate and Matt, I also have mixed feelings. I liked how Matt was used to help Kate grow as a character, especially concerning her faith. However, sometimes Matt seemed a little too perfect. Besides being a dork when he was younger, he really didn’t have any flaws. Also, (SPOILER) Matt tells Kate at the end that she was his sign. At ten years old, he wanted to commit suicide because of what happened in his life. Meeting her, however, stopped him from going through with it. I think this was unnecessary to the plot and may give some YA readers an unhealthy view of relationships.

Overall, Things I Can’t Forget is a cute and quick YA read that would be perfect for the summertime. Things I Can’t Forget explores tough topics for YA fiction, but handles them well. I give Things I Can’t Forget four out of five stars.

January Reading Wrap-Up

wrap up

This month, I tried reading as many books as possible before I headed back to college. With Christmas last month, I had a lot of books under the tree that I wanted to finish this month! Here are the books that I read in January:

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally (★ ★ ★)

Coming up for Air

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Distance Between Us

Things I Can’t Forget by Miranda Kenneally (★ ★ ★ ★)

Things I Can't Forget

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (★ ★ ★ ★)

Love & Gelato

Winter by Marissa Meyer (★ ★ ★ ★)

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky (★)

Kill the Boy Band

September Surprises by Ann M. Martin (★ ★ ★ ★)

September Surprises (Main Street, #6)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh (★ ★ ★)

The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath & the Dawn, #1)

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (★ ★ ★ ★)

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot (★ ★ ★)

Queen of Babble (Queen of Babble, #1)

Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls #4: Stage Fright by Meg Cabot (★ ★ ★ ★)

Stage Fright (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, #4)

What was the best book that you read in January?

Teen Tuesday: Stealing Parker Review

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Unfortunately for me, Stealing Parker struck out quite a few times.

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally focuses on Parker Shelton, a former all-star softball player who now spends her time kissing as many boys as possible. Parker reluctantly agrees to be the baseball team’s manager, but her mood changes when the young new coach notices her. Soon, finds herself stepping out of the shadow of her mother’s scandal and into the spotlight of her own.

I think one of the major reasons I had trouble with this book was the focus on the student-teacher relationship. Even though I read the summary of this book before picking it up, I for some reason didn’t realize this part of the book’s plot. Even though Kenneally by no means encourages this type of relationship, it was tough for me to read. Beyond that, there were several aspects of this book that I did enjoy and several parts that I felt needed improvement.

I think Parker was a complex main characters who really grew throughout the novel. I understood her motivations for all her actions, even though her reasoning was flawed, and felt like she realistically reacted to situations for someone her age. I liked that through her small letters we got to see how she felt in past situations because it really helped me understand who she was as a person now. I also enjoyed seeing her relationships with her various family members change throughout the course of the book.

While I really liked Parker’s character, I think a few of the other characters fell flat. I wish that we could have seen more depths to Parker’s rival. She came across as very one-dimensional and I wanted more of an explanation of why she treated Parker the way that she did. I also wanted to see more dimensions to the coach, Brian. At first, he seemed more complex, but as the relationship progressed he became more flat and like a character in an after school special.

Another aspect of this book that I had mixed feelings towards was the romance aspect. I appreciated how Parker’s relationship with Will (better known as Corndog), progressed slowly throughout the book. However, sometimes his character seemed inconsistent to me and even though I tried, it was really hard to get past his nickname. This was pretty standard YA relationship to me, so it needed something to give it a little extra spark.

A couple books before I read Stealing Parker, I read an ARC of Game On by Michelle Smith that also is a YA contemporary centered around baseball (you can read my review here). I really liked how the environment influenced the characters and how baseball was a major player throughout the novel. In addition, the characters were well-developed and well suited to each other. When I read Stealing Parker, I couldn’t help but compare these two similar books. For me, the characters, the relationship, and the plot didn’t measure up to Game On, which I rate four out of five stars.

I enjoyed reading Stealing Parker, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite YA contemporary. However, I still do want to read more of Miranda Kenneally’s books that feature a different plot. Since this book was good, but not my favorite, I rate it three out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is your most top ten anticipated releases for the second half of the year. Here are my choices:

1.) Going Geek by Charlotte Huang

Going Geek

This contemporary surrounds a popular high school girl’s fall from grace as she kicked out from the hottest dorm to live with a bunch of geeks. From reading the description, I’m not entirely clear on the whole story or what direction it plans on going–I’m excited to find out once it is released!

2.) How to Make Out by Brianna Shrum

How to Make Out

This book follows a sixteen year old girl who creates a scandalous blog in order to earn money for her school’s math trip to New York City. When Renley’s blog earns her more popularity, but also takes her further away from her true self, Renley must decide what is most important to her. This sounds like it could be a cute contemporary, so it’s definitely a release that I can’t wait for!

3.) P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You

Another cute contemporary that looks like something I’d love! In this book, Lilly writes her favorite songs on her chemistry desk and someone writes back. Soon, she finds herself falling for the guy writing back and she sets out on discovering her identity.

4.) What Light by Jay Asher

What Light

This book takes place on a Christmas tree farm–AH!!! Plus, the cover is super cute. This will be a great read when I’m trying to get in the Christmas spirit!

5.) If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff

Yay, another one Laura Numeroff book!

6.) How I Met Your Brother by Janette Rallison

How I Met Your Brother

I’ve read a few of Janette Rallison’s novels before and I always laughed out loud! This seems to be an adult novel and I’ve only read YA books by her, so I’m excited to see how this turns out. In How I Met Your Brother, Belle finds out her college crush just divorced his wife. She heads off to his family’s vacation in Cancun to win Marco over, but Marco’s brother is determined to get Marco and his wife back together.

7.) Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor

I’ve always wanted to read books by this author, but never have gotten around to it! This book seems like something I would really enjoy, so hopefully the excitement I have for it helps me start reading more books by this author. In Defending Taylor, Taylor lives the perfect life until she is kicked out of private school and off her elite soccer team and must start over at a new public high school.

8.) My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill

My Unscripted Life

When I saw this title, I thought it would be about a reality TV show. Instead, it’s about a girl who gets rejected from her dream college, but gets a great opportunity working on a movie set in her hometown with a difficult movie star. It sounds like it could be a fun contemporary, so I’m excited for it!

9.) Life Just Got Real by Sadie Robertson

Life Just Got Real

I’m always interested when celebrities try to write YA books, so I’m definitely interested to read this book by Sadie Robertson. Even though this book was recently released, I still decided to include it on my list. In Life Just Got Real, two teenage girls from drastically different backgrounds who do not get along. The description of this book is kind of wordy and alludes to several different plots, so I’m interested to see how they all unfold in the book.

10.) My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

My Lady Jane

This is also kind of cheating since this book was recently released, but I just spotted this book in the book store and the plot immediately drew me in. In My Lady Jane, sixteen-year-old Jane is about to be married off to a stranger and caught in a conspiracy to rob her cousin of the throne.

 

What books are you anticipating for the second half of the year?