Feather your House with Books – YA Romance Reviews

All the Bright Places

About the Book: 

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
 
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
 
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Standalone
YA Contemporary
Knopf | January 6, 2015
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“No more winter at all.  Finch, you brought me spring.”

All the Bright Places was a bit of a paradox for me.  Through most of the book I was happy and content.  I was sure it would be a solid 4 star read.  Then the story took a turn, and I had no choice but to rate higher.  It’s powerfully written, and bold.  I love an author who doesn’t hold back.  I have to applaud them.  I had no choice but to bump it up to a full 5 stars.

Here’s the conundrum, I would have preferred it stayed at 4 stars.  If I had the choice, and The God of Reading came to me and said ‘you can make this book an enjoyable happy 4 stars or you can read a powerful 5 star book that hurts (and not in the good way)’, I think I would have gone with a 4 star read.  That’s not something I say often.  I like gritty painful reads, but it’s just not what I hoped for here.

What did I love about this story, this book I begrudgingly gave every single star to?  I loved Violet and Finch.  Obviously.  Most people who read All the Bright Places talk about Violent and Finch, but I think most of us would agree the true magic of the story was Theodore Finch.  His character jumped right off the pages and felt so real.  That’s my favorite kind of character.  I think he may even be immortalized for me, like Jimmy Hailer or Silence.

I also thought the message was loud and important.  Both Violet and Finch were suffering from disorders, and I like how the author didn’t glamorize them.  I know we as readers like when current issues are addressed appropriately, or sometimes even challenged, but unfortunately in the real world there isn’t a big lesson.  More often than we like there’s not a resolution, and sometimes a story should reflect that.

5-feathers


Autoboyography

About the Book:

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Standalone
YA Contemporary
Simon & Schuster Books | September 12, 2017
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“How can I send my heart to him when he’s just said, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t speak its language?”

Oh my gosh, Autoboyography was so wonderful!  I’m THRILLED to give this book 5 stars.  Not only did it have a truly adorable romance, but the romance didn’t overshadow what both Tanner and Sebastian we’re both going through.

Let’s talk about Tanner and Sebastian first.  Very often when reading a romance you’ll find you like one character more than the other.  There’s one you gravitate to, but the thing about Autoboyography is both Tanner and Sebastian were equally as interesting and well written.  Their chemistry was insane, and so was their heartache.  All three of us knew the likelihood was this relationship couldn’t work, at least without some major sacrifices.  I was scared it would be another story that would leave me devastated.

I think what really pushed Autoboyography into 5 star territory though, was how well the religious aspect of the story was written.  It’s obvious the authors have had some experience with LDS and Mormonism.  I learned so much about it because it felt so authentic.  I wasn’t surprised to find out (one of them at least) they live in Utah.  The impact of what Sebastian being Mormon meant for them both wasn’t glossed over or minimized.  In fact, I’d say it’s the most prevalent part of the story.  It also gave the fictional family and friends the opportunity to set themselves apart as ‘tolerant’ or ‘intolerant’, but without actually condemning the religion as a whole (as opposed to just one aspect of it).

I’ll definitely be reading Autoboyography again.

5-feathers


All the boys I've loved before

About the Book:

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” (SLJ) from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once? 
Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1
YA Contemporary
Penerbit Spring | April 15, 2014
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“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.”

I was truly surprised by how much I loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before!  I’m a huge romantic comedy movie watcher, and I do enjoy an adult romance novel pretty frequently, but I usually avoid YA Contemporary Romance.  I’ve tried reading Sarah Dessen, and I just wasn’t enthused.  I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss years ago, but I recently gave them away.  I thought I’d pass Jenny Han by too, but after reading so many rave reviews I finally bought it and I have to agree with all of you – This book was awesome!

For as ‘good’ as Lara Jean was, I was never bored with her!  (I tend to prefer characters in shades of gray.)  She was funny and quirky, but not perfect which I think made her more human.  I thought the relationship between the Song sisters was well done, and so was the relationship they had with their father.  Actually, major kudos for representing the healthy loving family all over the place.  Even Peter’s family was pretty sweet and kind.  (Noted, Lara Jean’s mom and Peter’s dad were gone, but I think that’s pretty normal too.  It also makes the fact that both Peter and Lara Jean each had one good, involved, parent mean more.)  And Peter, boy oh boy did I love Peter!  I love how he wasn’t always the boy who said the right thing, or the one who did the right thing.  I liked when sometimes he could be crabby, or show up late, or say the wrong thing.  Again, he felt human.  (Plus, all that perfection was shoved at Josh, imo.  Peter was far more interesting.)

Basically I loved everything.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the definition of a perfect 4 star read.  A book that’s completely perfect at 4 stars.  It was light and fluffy, romantic, and sweet… There were no major shake-ups.  Everything fell exactly as it should, like the Notting Hill of the book world.  Yes, there’s a problem needing to be solved, but nothing is lost in getting there.

If it was perfect, why was it only 4 stars?  Because it didn’t leave a scar like All the Bright Places, and it didn’t alter my perception of anything like Autoboyography.  It was all sweetness and sunshine wrapped up in interesting and enjoyable characters.  Even if it didn’t change the person I am, it was still unforgettable.  I loved it.

4-feathers


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About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

5 Responses

  1. Beware Of The Reader

    I’ve only read All the Bright Places from your list but I had the same reaction. In the beginning it was even only a 3 stars but then, then… Still crying.

    Like

  2. Three ah-mazing books here. I am wiping away tears, because ATBP still evokes such a strong response from me after all this time (I read it in 2014). I just loved Finch so much. And Autoboyography was better than I anticipated. I could not agree with your more regarding the way the authors handled the religious aspect. I thought they presented many side to LDS and homosexuality, and I really appreciated the way it was done. I think Lara Jean is one of my fave characters (though Kitty stole my heart). Great reviews!

    Like

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