The Friday 56: Listen to Your Heart

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“‘Cora, come here.’ I scooped her up and took her to the bathroom across the hall. “Did Aunt Maggie give you pudding or did you get this yourself? I held her up to the sink, turned on the faucet, and used my hand to scrub her face.”

Kasie West’s books are always such a delight. One thing I really loved about her latest novel Listen to Your Heart is how present the protagonist’s family is, as shown from this excerpt when her little cousin from next door wanders into her room with her face covered in pudding. You can check out my mini-review of this one here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.
      But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.
      Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.”

Mini-Reviews: Listen to Your Heart + From Twinkle, with Love

MiniIt’s nearly the end of the year and I am never more grateful for mini-reviews. I’m feeling something akin to senioritis during these last couple of months of the year and find myself relying on the mini-review more than ever. I’m seriously contemplating only writing mini-reviews for the rest of 2018. On the other hand, I don’t want to get used to it and then struggle with full reviews when January comes around. This week I have two very fun contemporary reads to share with you. Both are from gifted storytellers that would both make my list of contemporary authors to reach for when you need a pick me up. Hope you enjoy. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: Listen to Your Heart
Author: Kasie West
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Point
Release Date: May 29th 2018 

      “Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.
      But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.
      Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.”

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“I put my hand on my forehead and groaned. Maybe the best thing to come out of this would be that I’d be fired.”

Listen to Your Heart is a great addition to Kasie West’s already impressive collection of YA contemporary novels. West is known for her lighthearted and fun books and Listen to Your Heart is no exception. Kate is the last person who would choose to be in the spotlight, but when an elective class lands her in one of the seats as cohost for her school’s advice podcast, that’s exactly where she ends up. Kate is forced out of her comfort zone, but discovers that she may have a knack for this kind of thing after all. I loved that this novel included a lot of different and unusual family dynamics. Kate and her family run a marina and as a result, she has cousins and aunts and uncles always in and out of her house at any given time. One of my criticisms of West’s novels has always been that I never felt like I got to know the love interests quite as much as the protagonists. But in Listen to Your Heart, West takes her time developing Kate’s love interest and aside from the protagonist, Diego felt like the most developed character. I really liked the chemistry between these two characters and aside from P.S. I Like You, this might be my favorite pairing of hers. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the relationship dynamics in this one (slight spoiler alert ahead: Kate ends up developing a crush on her best friend’s crush, but I think West does a good job of keeping Kate and Alana’s relationship intact while also allowing Kate to very organically develop feelings for Diego). Overall, I really enjoyed this latest West novel and it reminded me that a quick, laid-back read can be just as satisfying as a more dense novel.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★


Title: From Twinkle, with Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Series: N/A
Pages: 330
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 22nd 2018

      “Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.
      When mystery man ‘N’ begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
      Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?
      Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.”

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      “The more I think about it, the more I wonder if my mother and I are related at all. I bet I was dropped on her doorstep, like Harry Potter, and she just hasn’t figured out how to tell me yet.
      I walk off to my room to look for my lightning bolt scar. Because that is the only way any of this makes sense.”

With From Twinkle, with Love, Sandhya Menon delivers another laugh-out-loud YA contemporary with a protagonist that is sure to steal the hearts of readers. Twinkle Mehra dreams of becoming a filmmaker, of one day making a name for herself, of changing the world one film at a time. But the reality is Twinkle feels like a nobody at her high school, surrounded by more affluent kids and cast aside by her best friend, being overlooked is unfortunately what Twinkle is good at. But when Sahil Roy approaches her asking to collaborate on a film project, Twinkle is convinced this is a huge breakout opportunity and it might even mean getting Sahil’s twin brother Neil to notice her. Twinkle soon learns the ups and downs of being in charge of a large project and how that power can change even the best of people. I immediately fell in love with Twinkle’s voice. She’s youthful and optimistic and made me laugh almost at every turn. Her relationship with Sahil was delightful and not just because of all the awkwardness between them. These two characters were their best selves when they were around each other. I loved that we got those small glimpses into Sahil’s POV through texts and blog posts because it really helped to round out his character. As much as I adored the romance in this one, I was really invested in Twinkle’s strained relationship with her best friend Maddie. I don’t often see friendships-on-the-rocks in novels and really appreciated how well Menon conveyed that a broken friendship can be just as heartbreaking as a romantic relationship gone awry. If you’re looking for a novel that will make you smile and root for characters even when they make terrible decisions, From Twinkle, with Love is the book for you.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56: Lucky in Love

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“The four of us—Dad, Mom, Beau, and I—sat around the kitchen table, where we had been sitting for at least three hours, laughing and joking more than we had in my entire eighteen years of life.”

Kasie West has become one of my go-to contemporary authors. Lucky in Love was a really sweet novel that I recommend to anyone looking for light contemporary read. It’s about a girl who wins the lottery, thinks all her problems are solved, but quickly learns money can’t solve everything. You can read my mini-review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “Maddie doesn’t believe in luck. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment —
      She wins!
      In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun… until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.
      Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

Mini Reviews: Woman in Cabin 10 + Wesley James Ruined My Life

MiniI have one more mini-review from my July reads to share plus another book I picked up in August. You probably won’t see another set of mini-reviews until the end of September, possibly October. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Series: N/A
Pages: 340
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Pres
Release Date: July 19th 2017

      “In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

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“A hand grabbed at my wrist, the grip far stronger than mine. Blind, mad with panic, I groped in the pitch black with my free hand, searching for something, anything, to use as a weapon, and my hand closed over the bedside lamp.”

Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 did not have as many thrills as I would have liked, but is still the kind of novel that reminds me that I need to give this genre another go. The novel opens with a bang as the protagonist undergoes a traumatic experience with a burglary. Ware does a great job of showing the aftereffects of Lo’s experience as she tries to regain a feeling of security. Still in an emotionally fragile state, she boards The Aurora, an upscale cruise liner, on its maiden voyage. Lo never gets a chance to catch her breath as she stumbles upon what she believes to be a murder, but with everyone on the boat accounted for, no one is taking her seriously. Lo’s growing sense of isolation is what drives the story forward as she is determined to find answers. She doesn’t know who to trust and begins to doubt herself. There are plenty of suspects in this one and I would have liked the author to have given more time to different players beside Lo. With mysteries, I always feel like as a reader I need to be a part of the unraveling portion of the story, so would have appreciated knowing more about the other people on the cruise. Overall, The Woman in Cabin 10 was a decent psychological thriller that has me contemplating what other books from the genre I need to pick up. Give me your book recommendations in the comments!

Rating: 3/5

★★★


Title: Wesley James Ruined My Life
Author: Jennifer Honeybourn
Series: N/A
Pages: 256
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: July 18th 2017 

      “Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.
      So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.
      But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it.

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“Unfortunately. I will never not see him because he’s everywhere. And that has to change, because I just can’t take it.”

I wanted to enjoy Jennifer Honeybourn’s Wesley James Ruined My Life so much. It had all the makings of a really entertaining, fast-paced contemporary, but as soon as I got more acquainted with Quinn’s animosity for former friend Wesley James, it lost me. In truth, the only reason I ended up finishing this one instead of setting it aside was because it was so short. Quinn hatches an immediately plan to get rid of Wesley from her life as soon as he reenters it. He may be over their falling out that took place five years ago, but Quinn isn’t. While I can buy into an eleven-year-old Quinn hating Wesley for revealing a secret that ended up being the last straw for her mother, ending her parents’ marriage, I found it really silly that a sixteen-year-old Quinn would still use the same kind of flawed logic. While I understand that Quinn needs someone to blame and for her it’s hard to see her father as the catalyst for the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, it still bothered me that she needed this spelled out before she could even begin to forgive Wesley. I will say that I enjoyed both the complicated and rich familial relationships in this book. Quinn is incredibly close to her grandmother and has been struggling to come to terms with her Alzheimer’s diagnosis and what it means for their relationship. Quinn’s father has a gambling addiction that the protagonist isn’t always sure how to deal with. I do think it would have been nice to see her mother take a more active role in helping Quinn cope with having a father with an addiction, but she was mostly absent.

Rating: 2/5

★★