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

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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?

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!

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!

OMG It’s Been a Month

Sooooo, it’s been a while. I’m sorry. I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet. I’m still reading, still writing, still love blogging, but I’ve definitely fallen behind.  One thing I didn’t spend this past month doing? NaNoWriMo. Nope. Didn’t happen. As I mentioned previously, I did do something kind of funny: I reread Twilight.

Twilight

Yep.

It had been about five years since the last time I’d picked it up. Before that, I’d read it about three times. Back then I was like most people; I was sucked in. I loved Edward, I was engrossed in the whole love triangle, and I hated Bella and Jacob in equal parts (Bella, you can’t be in love with two people. You can’t). So, imagine my surprise when I caught a showing of the film version of my least favorite book in the series, New Moon, over the Halloween season, and I said I’m going to read that series again! It was a strange desire, but hey, I went with it.

Twilight First Kiss

Here’s what I learned: I still hate Bella. Really, she’s so self-deprecating and such an Edward worshipper that I feel she and I could never truly be friends (it’s essential that I at least respect all of the heroines in my books). I don’t hate Jacob yet. In fact, I forgot that I…wait..liked him in the first book. He was sort of endearing and sweet. I still felt super-wrapped up in the whole who is this crazy hot Cullen dude who keeps staring at Bella like he simultaneously wants to kill her and make out with her? That was fun to read again. Not fun? Bella’s snore-inducing descriptions of her nightly dinner-making. Seriously, how did I get past that five years ago? How did no one see fit to cut that out of the books? I still really liked Alice (when she hugs Bella and comments that “she does smell good”, LOVE). But the rest fell short for me. It wasn’t because I knew what was going to happen (hello, I spend half of my time rereading books to the point that I can practically recite them. It’s about the build up sometimes and not solely the outcome), it was more or less because Bella really has no personality. And Edward–it hurts me to say this–he felt a little blah. A completely, stalkery, devoted blah, but blah just the same.

So that’s my reread take.

But then I reread a fabulous book I hadn’t picked up in about two or three years, Jellicoe Road. Now, hold up. I’m not comparing the two books. Even I know it’s unfair to compare a Melina Marchetta book to anything else because she is vastly superior to most writers…but I am comparing experiences. Like I said, I’ve read Jellicoe Road several times, but it had been a couple of years for me since the last time. I am happy to report that this one did not disappoint. In fact, I had the same love–if not a deeper love, a more profound connection–with it this time around. Of course, that is due in part to the ever spectacular

JONAH EFFING GRIGGS

but it’s also because of the magnificent writing, because of the beauty of the story, the angst, the pain, and the humor. Taylor Markham is everything a protagonist should be: flawed and frightened, brave, smart, and equipped with a beautiful heart. She’s a total, crazy enigma at times. She feels so real. She’s broken and yet she embodies such strength and character. I love her connection with Jonah, not just the romantic one (le sigh), but their history, their intensity. And I love the friendships in this story, both the ones in Hannah’s manuscript and the ones Taylor forges. My copy has so many dog-eared pages, and in re-reading it I found that I cried in all the same parts, I swooned in all the same places (maybe more), and I sat on the edge of my seat still waiting and hoping for all to turn out well. I was, once again, truly sad when it was all over again. This is one of those rare books I wanted to climb inside and relive again and again.

Jellicoe Road

Now, I think books like Twilight and Jellicoe Road both need a place on my shelf. And I fully intend to reread the rest of Bella and Edward’s story, as well as all of Marchetta’s work. They’re different stories, different depths for different moods, but I found it interesting to read one after the other. In one case I was wondering why I ever loved it (I still like it, despite how much I make fun of it at times), but in the other, I wondered how I could go even two years without reading it. It left a little hole in my heart, as though that book belongs to me and me alone. It was a reminder of all I loved about it and more…all I love about reading.

 

Bookish Shopping

One of my favorite things to do lately is search for bookish items on Etsy. I buy tons of things there anyway, from pillows to my oldest daughter’s Halloween costume (because on Etsy it is possible to buy your thirteen year-old daughter a costume that is cute, modest, and not the sexy version of a boy costume. ie, sexy vampire, sexy pirate, etc).

Here are some items I’m totally drooling over as of this moment:

 

Narnia Wooden Directional Sign

Narnia sign

I know! I love this. In fact, I think I’m going to buy it. I’ve scoured this shop and she’ll make her signs in any color. This is destined for my book quote wall.

 

Mischief Managed Coffee Cup

Solemnly swear mugs

 

Starting your day with some Harry Potterisms is never a bad idea. I don’t drink coffee, but I would happily guzzle some hot chocolate (or butterbeer, anyone?) from this sweet mug.

 

Jane Eyre Pullover

Jane Eyre shirt

Besides looking like something I’d want to put on and never take off, this quote is perfection ( “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”) . It’s everything Jane stands for, the reason I love her, the reason she’s still a strong, feminist role model for girls today. Also, I love grey. This is going on my Christmas Wish List.

Wuthering Heights Cuff Bracelet

Wuthering Heights cuff

I may actually like this better than the book. Truth.

And what a beautiful quote:

“It was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckles, but the honeysuckles bending to the thorn. “

Darcy Proposal Book Bag

Darcy Proposal

Love this cute bag. Perfect for toting around the tons and tons of books I seem to be reading and rereading at any given time. And you can never go wrong with Jane Austen, amiright?

Hey Boo Necklace

Hey Boo Necklace

This necklace is so simple, but so sweet. I’m a sucker for all things related to To Kill A Mockingbird and though Atticus Finch is my all-time favorite literary character, Boo Radley has a very special place in my heart (so much so that we named the family dog after him).

Golden Snitch Necklace

golden snitch necklace

I’m pretty sure I need this. I’d be curious to see how many people would recognize it. It could be like a little Harry Potter Potential Friend Litmus Test and an accessory all in one (just kidding. My friends don’t have to read Harry Potter, I just like it when they do).

Cutest Pencils Ever

Write That Shit Down

So, I can’t really buy these because it would be horrifying to see my fourth grader doing her math homework with one of them, BUT I can love them from afar.

Persuasion Artwork

You Pierce my soul

Ahhh, best for last. There is perhaps no better love letter written in the history of man than the one Captain Wentworth gives Anne near the end of Persuasion. It is the utter definition of swoonworthy.

Happy Monday!

Isla and the Happily Ever After

IslaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. (Goodreads)

 

The Story:

Isla has had a crush on Josh–yes, that Josh. The one with his tongue permanently down Rashmi’s throat in Anna and the French Kiss–since forever. When she runs into him at a cafe in NYC  as she’s hopped up on Vicodin following oral surgery, it’s not exactly ideal (though it’s quite charming to read). She proceeds to make a fool of herself, Josh is amused and perhaps slightly intrigued, then it’s over. They don’t see each other for the rest of the summer.

When school starts and the two are back at SOAP in Paris, it takes time, but they make their way from Awkward Cafe Encounter to Awkward Almost Friends to OMG We’re So Adorable. You see, unlike other Perkins books, this one isn’t so much about the will they or won’t they get together, it’s about will they or won’t they make it. They both have issues. Josh’s family is Not Amused with his regular antics and as much as Isla and Josh want to believe they’re in their own little romantic world, real life sort of slaps them in the face. The question for this couple is will they get their happily ever after, the one Isla’s been dreaming about (hint: look at the title)?

My Thoughts:

I didn’t loooooove this book (though I liked it) and I feel sort of terrible saying that. It’s not a bad story, in fact, there are some uber-cute moments. I guess it just doesn’t compare to its near-flawless predecessors, Anna and Lola.

Josh is well-written, flawed and funny, yet still raw and edgy in his complete apathy toward all things regarding school. While I didn’t necessarily crush on him the way I immediately did with St. Clair and Cricket (I’m sorry. It’s so unfair to compare), I saw why Isla liked him.

But Isla. You guys. I had such a hard time with her. I found her to be whiny and completely lacking the humor of Anna or the whimsical charm of Lola (not that she has to be them, she just didn’t have something good that stood out to me the way those girls did). She felt so one-dimensional to me. And the feelings for Josh, like I said, I get it, but she was, forgive me, kind of stalkerish about the whole thing. Then, when they finally got together he was EVERYTHING. I understand that first time love feels like everything but Isla lived as though it was.

But what would a companion novel be without St. Clair (still utterly adorable. I want to kiss his cute little cheeks. Because I want to act like the French, obviously. That’s all). And we see Anna (still strong and funny. Everything Isla is not, actually), and, be still my heart, Cricket (in all his sweet, nerdy awkwardness) and Lola (sucking the air out of the room with her quirky brand of awesome). Their scenes are fabulous. They make the book. And the ending. I LOVED the ending (basically from the time the old characters come in all the way to the very end I was in love. It was perfect). The end of this book is what romance stories should be. Perkins did a beautiful job there.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 Not my favorite, but still definitely worth the read.