Cuddlebuggery Book Blog > Contemporary
Jennifer E. Smith writes books with intriguing synopses. Once upon a time, I was dying to read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I preordered a hardcover copy because I just knew I’d love it…and I found myself very disappointing. I liked the plot, but the characters, pacing, and romance fell flat for me. But I was more than willing to give Smith a second chance with The Geography of You and Me. Again, loved the synopsis and the matchy cover art (I’m kind of a sucker for adorable matching series, like with Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and…you get it). Unfortunately, this book has assured that I probably won’t pick up another by Smith. The Geography of You and Me is a pleasant enough read, but it’s not for me.
Lucy and Owen meet one fateful day when they get stuck in an elevator together.
What I Thought Was True is lovely, just lovely. It’s like a warm, fluffy blanket I want to wrap myself up in and snuggle with all day. If solidly written, adorable contemporary romances featuring sassy female leads are your thing, you should probably drop everything and go get your hands on a copy. The characters are fabulously relate-able, the scene-setting is subtle but pervasive and the plot is grounded and real. It’s a winner all around and I wish it had hands so I could give it the high five it so richly deserves.
Gwen is fantastic, she’s smart and holds her own while still being realistic and flawed in ways I (mostly) sympathize with. She flips back and forth between cool and awkward in a continual and deeply familiar cycle. Sometimes she’s totally out of her element, sometimes she manages to get in a well-targeted zinger. She’s an everygirl in the broadest sense of the word.
Is there anything Jennifer L. Armentrout can’t do? The answer, mere mortals, is no (unless you want a poncho). Do you like Contemporary? Mystery? Paranormal? Romance? Regardless of your preferences, Jennifer L. Armentrout has probably written something that will appeal to you. Now we can add Don’t Look Back, a Contemporary/Romance/Thriller, to her list of hits.
Don’t Look Back follows a pretty simple formula for success: a chilling mystery, a complicated yet pleasant main character, enough sexual tension to make you blush, and the mother of all shocking endings. I would describe it as a mix between Mean Girls and The Lying Game by Sara Shepard. While I wouldn’t consider this novel a standout, I did enjoy it enough to gush about it.
Our main character, Samantha, has amnesia. She’s found in the middle of nowhere without any recollection of her entire life or the events that transpired the night she went missing.
Since I’ve started my little project of Reading Whatever I Wanna — AKA This Ain’t Your Job — I’ve noticed I’m reading more and, more importantly, enjoying it. Sometimes I still want to talk about these books, though, so that’s when To All the Books I Forgot to Review was born. This works out perfectly for a few reasons: (1) Sometimes I don’t have an entire post worth of words to talk about just one book. (2) Since we have so many reviewers now, we might end up reading the same books, but I don’t always review them. (3) It also let’s me read more and talk more, just in a more condensed format. Of course, the best part for my readers is that this post will always feature a giveaway of some of the books mentioned, open internationally to our readers.
Hover over the books for the synopsis and links!
Far From You is one of those books that kind of seeps in around the edges until you’ve been completely caught up in it without realizing. Though not perfect, it’s a solid book and the lacking bits probably wouldn’t have seemed as lacking if they weren’t juxtaposed by such brilliant bits. It’s haunting and powerful in a way that’s stayed with me since I closed it.
Let’s get the unpleasant out of the way first.
Things I Didn’t Like:
I understand the inclusion of the whole murder mystery aspect, it gave the plot an arc and the story momentum. For most of the book it was an interesting addition, though it definitely took a backseat to the brilliant character parts. However, when the end came and you found out whodunit, it felt so flat. Like, okay, really? That person? For those reasons? It technically wasn’t totally out of the blue, but it definitely felt that way.
I definitely don’t venture into the realm of contemporary YA as often as many other genres – I have an incurable “magic brain”, and so stories with some speculative element usually appear to me more. Even so, when I love contemporary books, I love them a lot, because there’s something about them that makes me bubble up with happy feels and sometimes a renewed faith in humanity.
And such are my fuzzy-happy feels about this book. (And its cover. I could look at this cover for hours.)
Parker’s voice is immediately down-to-earth, and she’s a protagonist who can be quickly liked and related to. She acknowledges her own flaws, works towards controlling them, and is a master of genuine awkwardness. I feel like too many heroines are “awkward” in a way that feels contrived because authors are attempting to give them any character flaw they can find, kind of like the “clumsy main character” trend that refuses to disappear from YA literature.
I freaking love contemporary YA, which doesn’t make sense, since these are the books that most often let me down. But I keep coming back for more, hoping to find the book that makes my soul sing. Or sings to my soul. Something about singing souls. And, well, this is how I feel about Better Off Friends:
The synopsis asks the question, can guys and girls ever really be just friends? For some reason, I’m obsessed with this idea. In my head, I believe guys and girls can truly be just friends. But my heart tells me that’s never the case. When a book offers to answer this question, I get irrationally excited that it’ll prove my head right. And even more excited when my head is wrong. Because the feels.
So this book is fun. The first two chapters left me stupid confused. At first, I couldn’t tell when I had stopped reading the author’s dedication and started reading the book.
How you feel about Great is going to depend heavily on how you feel about The Great Gatsby. If you dislike the original, this is unlikely to change your mind. If you haven’t read the original, I can’t really help you because it’s impossible for me to separate this book from the source material, so I’m going to go with it’s a good story, you should check it out. If you love the original (the camp I hail from) then Great is pretty damn great.
(I had to and I’m not sorry)
As a retelling, this is more of the re, less of the telling. What I mean is it follows the source material pretty much exactly. While Sara Benincasa throws in her own twists (one notable example being gender-flipping Gatsby for no other reason than why the hell not? and yesss, good impulse) and updates the setting and details, she’s basically taking F.
Warning: This book will give you all the feels. Reader discretion is advised.
You know when you finish a book and just sit there for a long time trying to process why your eyes won’t stop leaking? Reality Boy will do that to you. I feel like I should be very straightforward and tell you that I am a huge A.S. King. I’ve read all her books and I loved most of them. Some writers are masters at pulling every single one of your heartstrings and creating relatable characters. A.S. King is one of them. If you’re familiar with her stories, this book has a similar feel to Everybody Sees the Ants. If you’re not, think of John Green’s clever writing meets Sarah Dessen’s realistic characters.
In this novel, our main character’s current reputation is based on his behavior as a five-year-old boy on a reality TV show called Network Nanny.
Oh, Heartbeat, why do you put me in this position? I wanted to like you, I did. I would’ve settled for feeling nothing. Or even mild dislike. This is such a weird feeling for me — wanting to have the hours I spent reading you back. But alas, that’s where I find myself.
To be fair, I don’t blame the book. It did the best with what it was given. Heartbeat is about a girl named Emma coping with her mother’s sudden death and her stepfather’s decision to keep the mother’s brain-dead body hooked up to machines so that she can incubate their unborn son for as long as possible. Sounds conflicty and controversial, right? But really, it’s just a whole lot of Emma yelling this:
And doing this:
I know it’s sad. It’s a tough topic. But why would someone decide to write an entire book about a girl who just cries and yells and cries and yells again?