I’ll Meet You There

I’ll Meet you There by Heather Demetrios

I'll Meet You ThereIf seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper. (Goodreads)

The Story:

Skylar Evans is ready to say goodbye to life as she’s known it in Creek View: Small town, double-wide trailers, no real future in sight. But life away from home is promising. She has a full ride scholarship to study art far from away from the dead-ends surrounding her. All she has to do is get through three months of summer.

Three months.

The problem is that Skylar’s mom is going nowhere. When she’s fired from her job at Taco Bell she essentially falls apart, what little stability she’s built for her and her daughter quickly crumbling under the weight of bad decision after bad decision. To make ends meet Skyler takes on more hours at the Paradise, an odd motel off the highway. She does it not only to pull extra weight at home, but to avoid her mom’s latest loser boyfriend. Her mother can’t seem to get it together and Skyler fears she’ll never be able to leave her behind to truly pursue her dreams.

Josh Mitchell has different plans. His life took an unexpected detour when he lost a leg while serving as a Marine in Afghanistan. He’s home again, but he’s not the same and he’s searching for a way, not only to build a life again, but to escape the pain and nightmares he’s enduring on a daily basis.

Skyler and Josh have always known each other, Josh, the cocky guy who was a legendary flirt, Skyler, the brainiac girl who was definitely going somewhere. They’re thrown together again when Josh returns to work at the Paradise and they develop a powerful bond that eventually becomes something more.

My Thoughts:

Holy cow. This book. It was crazy good.

The feelings. The massive swoons. It has everything.

Individually, I loved Skyler and Josh. They were the kind of people I’d always want to be around. Skyler is loyal to the end, even going to far as possibly giving up her dream—her full scholarship and ticket out of Nowhereland—to stay and take care of a mother who won’t (not can’t. Won’t) take care of herself. And what Sklyer isn’t willing to do for Josh. That girl—even before there’s a clear romance—is pretty much his only real friend at home. And Josh slowly sees he can let her in and show her the person he’s become in all his time away from home.

One of the great things about Josh is that there are chapters written from his perspective. They are beautiful and painful, tortured and fractured. Sure, he talks about Skyler sometimes and it’s sweet—but mostly, he talks about what he’s lived through and how he can’t leave it behind. It’s desperate and heartbreaking, and though I, personally, have no first-hand experience with PTSD, Demetrios paints such a vivid picture it left me stunned (and that much more grateful for our incredible soldiers).

It would be easy to pity either of these two–but don’t. Their struggles, their flaws, it’s what makes them amazing and human, and real. It makes them leap from the page and practically grab your heart from your chest. They have a beautiful, breathtaking story, a steamy hot romance (because did I mention that? Josh is all kinds of hot.), but it is also an all-consuming love story. You will not soon forget this story.

I hesitate to compare books to other books and characters to others because, of course, what I think and feel may differ from your opinion, but I have to say this.

When I was reading I’ll Meet You There, Skyler and Josh reminded me of another fictional couple I love: Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road. Please don’t misunderstand me, this is a completely different story. But these characters have that same pain, that same passion, that same crazy intensity.

This one is going down as a forever favorite. I’ll be reading and sharing it again and again.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 Amazing. READ THIS BOOK! Swoon City, all the way.

Thank you to Sandie and Daphne for recommending and sending this one to me. You girls felt this was “A Tammy Book” and you were SO right. As you both already know, I loved it.

Quotes:

“I don’t really know what it means to move on, but lately, with Sky, I’m starting to feel like I want to because when I look at her, I don’t see you or the war or any of the shit in my head. I just see her, and it’s like suddenly I can breathe again after holding my breath for so long.”–Josh

“It occurred to me that we were the same, in a way. Both of us treading water, pushing against forces we couldn’t control.”–Skyler

“He tasted like hope and healing. He tasted like the future.”–Skyler

Royal Wedding

Royal Wedding (Princess Diaries #11) by Meg Cabot

Royal WeddingFor Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch. Can Mia prove to everyone–especially herself–that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well? (Goodreads)

It’s been fifteen years since the publication of the first Princess Diaries book.

I know.

It’s gone by so fast.

And as many of you know, The Princess Diaries is my all-time favorite series. The books make me so happy because, while I was an adult when the first one was published, I felt Meg Cabot had tapped into who I was as a teenager. She perfectly, hilariously, described the thoughts that went through my head in high school (and, okay, sometimes as a grown up) and she introduced me to characters I fell in love with and, in a funny, bookworm way, bonded with.

And don’t even get me started on my boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz, Fake Man of My Dreams. There aren’t enough words, you guys.

Needless to say, I lost my mind when I found out there was going to be another Princess Diaries book. When I had the opportunity to read an early copy through Edelweiss, I DEVOURED it. I read endless excerpts to my adorable husband, sent crazy texts to my BFF (because, Michael, hello), and then read it again. Because I loved it.

The Story:

Mia is now twenty-six years old, a college graduate running a community center named after her dearly departed stepfather, Frank Gianni. She is still the Princess of Genovia, fulfilling her royal duties while balancing life with her longtime boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz.  As usual, Mia’s life is insane. She now lives in an apartment above the Genovian consulate, and is still guarded by Lars. She has a creepy stalker and she’s continuously hounded by the press for both political and personal reasons, so much so that often she can barely leave her home. A lesser man would have run in the other direction years ago, but Michael hangs in there, always making Mia see the positive, helping her deal with everything life throws her way, even as he continues to run his successful robotics firm. When the two finally get engaged it is blissful— until Grandmere goes bananas. The timing is perfect because the Renaldo family has been hit with a major scandal (one of a few they’ve been dealing with) as she sees this as a perfect press opportunity.

My Thoughts:

This book is sweet perfection.

I do not want to spoil the adorable, sweet details, nor do I wish to fill you in on the lives of the many other characters you and I have grown to love (simply because it’s such a treat to read about it). Rest assured, you will hear from Grandmere and Mia’s family, Tina, Boris, and the ever-hilarious Lilly. There are even appearances by Paolo and Lana. And more! But again, I don’t want to spoil it.

Diving into Mia’s life again is pure heaven. I adored it, enjoyed every single moment. As a fan, it was fun catching up with these characters that I’ve fallen in love with. But there’s more to it than that: there’s such a sense of delight I felt in seeing who they’ve become as adults. Their lives aren’t perfectly mapped out yet because they’re still young, but it’s so satisfying to see them as grown ups and observe how they’ve changed (and how they’ve stayed the same). I also loved seeing Mia and Michael’s relationship on a mature level. Michael is such a solid, steadying force in Mia’s crazy life, much like when they were teenagers. He loves her—freakouts, crazy family and all. They have such an adorable connection, both in their everyday discussions, in their sex life, and in the way they view their future. They are a sweet picture of romantic love, the kind you search your whole life to experience.

I loved this book. You don’t have to be a Princess DIaries fan to enjoy it, but if you are one, you will walk away with a giant smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart. This is everything we hoped it would be.

Crush Intensity: Eleven Million/5

One more quick, funny note. Michael and Mia’s wedding date is my birthday. When I saw this I may have spazzed out and texted my BFF, saying “I feel this is somehow significant.” She agreed, as any best friend would.

Thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for giving me an e-galley of Royal Wedding (which I read three times).

Royal Wedding is in stores TODAY! I’m going to buy a copy. Are you?

Take Me On

Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4) by Katie McGarry

Take Me On

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for. (Goodreads)

 

Haley’s family is struggling. They live with her uncle and cousin because her dad is out of work. They’ve lost their home and pretty much everything else and life is rough. As a former championship kickboxer, Haley now finds herself training West Young (brother to Rachel. That’s Rachel of Isaiah and Rachel, be still my heart). West got caught up in a tangle when trying to defend Haley to her abusive ex boyfriend and now he and said boyfriend—another boxer—are due to fight.

 

West and Haley have an obvious attraction to each other, but West is hiding who he truly is. He’s been kicked out of the Young home and forced to leave his fancy private school because of a strained relationship with his father. He wants to be there for Rachel as she recovers from her debilitating accident but he feels like the black sheep of the Young empire. Haley has no idea West comes from such a privileged background, and worse, she has no idea there is possibly a connection between the Youngs and her family’s troubles (you knew it right? There HAD TO BE). The two try to keep things professional, but their chemistry is undeniable and as they get deeper and deeper, West knows he has to tell Haley the truth. Either way, he knows he could lose her.

 

 

My Thoughts:

For me, nothing in this series will top Crash Into You. Apparently I have a thing for Isaiah. Seriously. I scoured this book for his name (he’s in there!). Still, all of the books in this series have been solid because Katie McGarry is so gifted in the art of writing sexual tension. She’s also pretty adept at writing an interesting bad boy. West isn’t your typical baddie because he’s not from the wrong side of the tracks, but he’s definitely somewhat destructive and willing to go against what the world expects of him. Haley, while from the rough part of town, is a sweet girl who cannot catch a break. I felt such compassion for her and a longing for her to find a way out of the nightmare of her life. That’s not all found in love, but I think love helps her believe there’s a better way and that’s a start.

 

This was a good story. Was it amazing? Not really, but I liked it. I enjoyed the will they or won’t they. I ate up the lingering glances and all the feelings. And I was chomping at the bit for some kissing. Here, McGarry does not disappoint.

 

Crush Intensity: 4/5 Not my favorite of the bunch, but a fun read all the same.

 

Where’d I Get It: The library

Best Books of 2014

As this year comes to a close I think its time to chat about our favorite books of the year. For me, this was a tough reading year. There were definitely some books I LOVED, but it feels like there was less that totally blew me away. Because of this I spent a megaton of time re-reading books (okay, I always do that, but still). This year I found myself more lost in love with certain classics, or certain series and stand alones I’ve read multiple times, and those books—ones like Jellicoe Road, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Princess in Love, To Kill A Mockingbird, and the Jenny Han Summer series—often took center stage.

 

But fear not. I read some good new (or new to me) ones too.

 

The Stand Alones/ First in a Series

Better off friends

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

It was sold as a YA When Harry Met Sally and it really is all that and more. This was one of those books I wanted to start reading again immediately after finishing it.

 We were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In a word, breathtaking.

 

To All the BoysTo All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1) by Jenny Han

This book was so cute, so fun, and something in it just resonated with me. I read it and adored it and then, within months, read it again and loved it just the same.

More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness

You really can’t go wrong with Patrick Ness. The big question here is why on earth did I wait so long to read this?

 wonder

Wonder by RJ Palacio

I avoided this book forever because I worried that as a mommy it would be unbelievably difficult to read. And you know what? It was every bit as amazing as I’d heard and more. Yes, there were tears, but there was so much joy, so much warmth. This one dug a hole deep in my heart. I think it should be required reading for all kids.

these broken starsThese Broken Stars ( Starbound #1) by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I loved this book from the first pages. It was unique and intriguing, and it took me on an entirely different journey than the one I’d expected. And the swoons were pretty excellent. Like, really good.

 

The Sequels

 

Blue lilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Boys #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

I can’t get enough of the gorgeous prose, of these characters, or of the crazy bananapants problems they encounter. After the fourth and final installment I’m certain to be grieving their loss.

Gods and MonstersDreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Oh, this series. See what I wrote above about grieving? All the feels. I can’t even explain it.

 

Ignite MeIgnite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

Oh sweet holy moly, these books. And Warner, setting panties aflame across the nation. This was a good journey and though it was technically the end (and a good, solid end), Mafi wrote it in a way that left a whole new world of possibilities to explore.

 

Just Call My NameJust Call My Name (I’ll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

These characters slay me. Even though the first book ended so perfectly, I like that Sloan chose to explore some of the difficulties that follow Sam, Riddle, and Emily as they adjust to their new lives. Even happy endings take work.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Since You've Been GoneSince You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson- So adorably cute that I’ll be reading it again soon. It gave me happy feelings.

 

Second Chanc SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson- Another case of why did I wait so long?

Biggest FlirtsBiggest Flirts (The Superlatives #1) by Jennifer Echols- All. The. Banter. I was into this book all the way, hook, line and sinker.

 

Happy Reading! If you’ve read something that knocked your socks off, please share it with me!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

I like the whole Tinkerbelle thing going on here. This series has such great cover art.

I like the whole Tinkerbelle thing going on here. This series has such great cover art.

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel. (Goodreads)

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

If you have not read The Raven Boys, or The Dream Thieves, first off, I’m sad for you. Second, I cannot be held responsible for any spoilers that might get spoilery and possibly spoil things for you. You have been warned.

Let’s catch up:

Maura is gone. Totally up and left and no one seems to know where to find her. Adam still has this weirder than weird connection with the Cabeswater that I don’t think even he understands. Blue still wants to kiss Gansey’s face off but, you know, based on everything she’s been told, it could kill him soooooo maybe now’s not the time. Gansey, unaware that Blue believes she will one day cause her true love’s death, pines for her too, his loyalty to Adam the only thing keeping him away. All the world is still a little bit in love with Gansey—except Ronan (oh, Ronan), who has it bad for Adam. Blue’s family is still as quirky as all get out, and they, along with Blue and her Raven boys, continue to search for the mysterious Glendower. They enlist outside help in the form of some new, interesting characters, and some new bad guys start sniffing around, making life even more difficult. You following?

That’s the main thing with this series, a series I LOVE. I have a hard time keeping up. The characters are amazing. Each book tells the story, with a slightly heightened focus on another character. And the whole idea, the whole setting—all of it—it’s totally bananaballs, but in, like, the best way possible. However, trying to keep it all straight –BECAUSE SO MUCH HAPPENS and SO MUCH OF IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRAZY–is difficult. The writing is incredibly gorgeous, as the previous two have been, but take my advice and read the first books again. Or at least skim them.

All things considered, this installment was very, very it good. I’d say it was my least favorite of the three so far, but it maintained the spirit of awesome we’ve come to expect from Blue and the boys. Definitely read it, be prepared for a few WHAT THE WHATS, and know that the end will, like its predecessors, leave you hanging on like a yo yo (see how I did that? I made you want to listen to a Wham song).

Crush Intensity: 4.25/5 Anxiously awaiting book four. The last one. Sob!

Thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for giving me an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

Princess Diaries Fans of the World, Unite!

As we all know, in June, Meg Cabot is releasing Royal Wedding, the adult sequel to her wildly successful (and awesome) series, The Princess Diaries. Also, as we all know, I’m freaking out about this because:

1. More Michael Moscovitz

2. It’s Adult so there really could be more Michael Moscovitz.I don’t need too many details, but if there’s a tiny bit more steamy kissing than usual, I’m not going to complain.

3. There’s a wedding, hello

4. I’ve missed Mia. I really have (not that I don’t obsessively reread the series over and over again. But still).

Unfortunately, we still have to wait SIX MONTHS for the book, but today we’ve been given a special treat. We get a look at the cover:

Adorable

Adorable

Aaaaaaaand, drumroll, we get a very cute excerpt in which not only is Michael’s sexual prowess discussed (I am not making this up, I swear!), but we get to see our Mia doing one of the things she does best–freaking out.

Here’s the link. Enjoy.

Also, if you aren’t following Meg Cabot on Pinterest, she has a funny board related to the wedding (including Grandmere’s preferences vs. Mia’s). It’s pretty cute.

Hope that brightened your day!

Awkward Moments Reading With My 13 Year Old

Even though my daughters, thirteen and nine, are old enough to read themselves to sleep at night, I still try to get in a chapter with each of them at bedtime. Right now the little one and I are reading The Secret Garden (we’ve done the first Harry Potter, the first Allie Finkle, and Ella Enchanted, to name a few). My oldest reads classics, some Middle Grade, and some YA.  I monitor what she reads for appropriateness, but I have to be honest, I’m loving the fact that she’s finally able to enjoy some of my favorite books and authors.

Currently she and I are reading The Fault in Our Stars. Chloe is not a swoony-headed romantic yet (like her mother, cough cough), but she was willing to read this one with me since I’ve loved it for years and all of her friends are bugging her to read it so they can discuss it. It’s fun to see her laugh in all the best parts, and to watch as Augustus charms her.

The Fault in Our Stars

Which brings me to our excerpt last night. It was funny, but, yeah, kind of awkward to read aloud to your sweet, thirteen year old daughter. And since I’ve read this book many times (but always as a fan, not a mom, if that makes even the tiniest bit of sense), I’m sure this will be the first of many an awkward moment.

Chapter 6- Conversation between Hazel and Kaitlyn

“Augustus Waters,” she said.

“Um, maybe?”

“Oh, my God. I’ve seen him at parties. The things I would do to that boy. I mean, not now that I know you’re interested in him. But, oh, sweet holy Lord, I would ride that one-legged pony all the way around the corral.”

Me: (Insert nervous laughter. That moment where inwardly I say, OMG I can’t believe I’m reading this TO MY CHILD).

Chloe: Wait. What?

Me: Um, it’s Kaitlyn. She’s being sort of …crass.

Chloe: (laughing a little but uncertain). Okay

Me: (laughing a lot). Let’s move on.

“Kaitlyn,” I said.

“Sorry. Do you think you’d have to be on top?”

Me: Okay, I’m not even going to read the next part.

Chloe: Wait. Why? Is it that bad?

Me: (occurs to me that she may not actually get it, so I read it).

Chloe: I don’t understand.

Me: She’s referring to.. you know what? Nevermind. Let’s move on. One of my favorite parts is coming.

 

Parenthood. Always an adventure.