The Party by Robyn Harding

Was it me or did Monday drag on forever? I woke up today thinking it was Wednesday, and when it hit me that it was only Tuesday, I wanted to go back to sleep. Luckily, I’ve got an interesting – and infuriating – book for you all today.

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Title: The Party {352 pgs}

Genre: General Fiction

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Summary:

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.

I have never before read a book where I didn’t like any character. But these characters really took the cake. And that doesn’t translate to me hating the book, not in the least. I really enjoyed this book, and it was mostly due to me not liking any of the characters. I had to find out what happened to them all, because I didn’t want any of them to have a happy ending.

I’m a terrible person.

At Hannah’s sixteenth birthday party, she invites two of her older friends and two new girls who epitomize popularity and coolness. Hannah wants the party to go well, because if it does, then she’ll cement herself as one of the cool girls. But it goes wrong, terribly wrong, and one of the popular girls ends up in the hospital with horrifying injuries. Hannah admits that there had been alcohol and drugs {two big no-no’s on her strict mother’s list of things not to do}, and the girl’s mother, Lisa, decides to go after the Sanders for all their worth. Literally. She wants three million dollars to compensate her daughter’s injuries and trauma.

Three. Million. Dollars.

Look, the Sanders’ are rich, but not that rich. Lisa doesn’t care, though. She goes after them like my cat goes after animal cookies. This is where I started disliking Lisa. I understand she was upset and wanted to blame someone, but she concentrating too much on getting the money and hurting the Sanders rather than listening to her daughter, Ronni. All Ronni wanted was her friends back, and to do that, she wanted her mom to drop the lawsuit, but Lisa justified continuing by saying that Ronni could have the best in life. Translate: Ronni is not going to be able to do anything because of her disfigurement, so three million dollars would set her up for life.

Seriously, that conversation comes up in the book.

Then there are Kim and Jeff Sanders, the parents of Hannah. Kim is Martha Stewart on crack: perfect, strict, and with the highest expectations in the world {except when she almost has an affair with her co-worker, but shhhhh}. No wonder Jeff spends most of his time training for a mythical marathon and working from sunup to sundown. After being served, Kim becomes obsessed with fighting Lisa while Jeff only wants his daughter’s other friend to stop bothering him with sexy texts.

Oh, yes, you read that correctly.

{Also, quick aside: SOCCER MOMS ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST.}

I guess there was a character that I liked: Aaron, Lisa’s boyfriend. He was the only one who spoke any kind of sense. Lisa convinces herself that the money is going to bring her and Ronni together, a team like they used to be, but she seems more intent on hurting the Sanders, and even admits as much. Aaron tells her, “What she {Ronni} needs is love and support and understanding. Now lawsuits and rage and acrimony.” This is the part of the book where Lisa would wake up and realize what she’s doing to all these people, that she’s destroying the lives of a family and generally ignoring her child’s wishes.

Oh, no, not Lisa. She breaks up with Aaron and tells herself that his truth is not what she needs right then.

Like. Okay, Lisa.

So why did these terrible people make the book good? Because they were real. They had warts and were mean, and sometimes that’s how people get what tragedy hits their lives. I am the first to admit that I hold a grudge, and, if I wanted to look a little closer, I would totally identify with Lisa. I’d be vindictive as heck if this ever happened to my kid, and I know that sounds ridiculous after I just ripped her apart. There were really no happy endings, even though most of the characters seemed to get what they wanted {sort of?}. It was frustrating, but pretty neat to read a book that could mirror real life so closely. There were no perfect bows or epilogue to explain what happened to everyone after the whole lawsuit was over.

So, if you want something real and something that’s going to make you question every friendship that you’ve ever had in your life, pick up this book.

White Fur by Jardine Libaire

Good Monday, everyone! I was going to write this up last night so it could be up early in the morning, but Verizon decided that activating my new phone would be a PROCESS, so I got behind on other things. But this book is too good not to share.

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Title: White Fur {384 pgs.}

Genre: General Fiction

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Summary:

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City.
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.

This is the modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet that I never knew I needed.

Elise is the girl from the wrong side of the tracks: poor, fierce, and not quite pretty {or is she? You can never really decide for sure}. Jamey is the golden boy of the Hyde family and has his entire future mapped out in front of him {even if he didn’t do the mapping}. Elise finds Jamey one night and falls head over heels, and then decides that she’ll do whatever she can to make him feel the same way about her. The two go through challenges that test their love, and they come out knowing one thing: neither of them will be able to live without the other.

The one thing above everything else that I loved most about this novel was that there was no makeover scene. You know the one I’m talking about: a girl who’s not quite what everyone wants steps into new clothes, a new hairstyle, new makeup, and is suddenly welcomed everywhere. Elise wanted none of that. She would borrow clothing if she was going to meet Jamey’s family or go to a christening, but she kept her braids in and didn’t bother to drop her constant sneer. She didn’t change for people, because she liked herself.

What a fresh concept.

Jamey, at first, seems to like her because she’s something new, something that his family wouldn’t approve of, and therefore, a great commodity in his life. But as the story moves on, Jamey finally comes to see Elise as her own person, as someone that he relies on and loves, as someone that loves him for who he is and not for the money and prestige that he could bring a girl.

It’s a beautiful love story, filled with second chances and false starts. Elise and Jamey are two strange creatures who happen to find one another in this huge world, and it was sweet – at times frustrating – to watch them fall in love. You’re never quite sure if one is playing the other, but in the end, you realize that these are two people who didn’t understand how to fall in love and did it the best they could. If that means stepping back when things got too serious or playing the crazy girlfriend, then so be it. It worked for them, and that’s what them so delicious together.

In case I’m not doing this book justice {which I know I’m not, but seriously, BUY THIS BOOK}, here’s the book trailer, which does a much better job at showing you what my babbling is all about. If you’re still not convinced after you saw that trailer, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you, because this is going to be a book that people will be talking about, and you’ll be stuck in the cold, wondering to yourself why you didn’t listen to me.

Yes, I think I highly of myself.

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Happy Thursday! Once we get through today, then we’ll only have one more day until the weekend. Unless you’re one of those lucky butts that get every other Friday off and tomorrow is your off day. Then happy early weekend.

Today I have a book that I heard about, ironies of ironies, on Twitter. You’ll understand once you read this review.

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Title: Follow Me Back {368 pgs.}

Genre: Young Adult/Thriller

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Summary:

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Quick storytime: When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was obsessed with Jonathan Brandis {under the age of 30? Google him}. I had every Bop, Teen Beat, and Tiger Beat poster of him, and I used to watch Ladybugs and Sidekicks religiously. I even watched Seaquest DSV even though I was terrified of the ocean. I wrote to him once, sending off the letter to a PO Box that I had convinced myself was his home address. He never wrote back, and that sucked when I thought about it, but that didn’t mean I stopped obsessing over him. I was madly in love until the day he died.

In the 90s, it was letter writing. Now, it’s Twitter.

Tessa suffers from agoraphobia and can barely step outside of her bedroom without having an anxiety attack. So she spends her time on Twitter, obsessing over her celebrity crush, Eric Thorn, the hottest singer in the world. Or that’s how it feels. But on the other side of the Twitterverse, Eric Thorn is lonely and angry, terrified of his mostly female fanbase because of the recent murder of another popstar at the hands of a crazed fan. Eric detests most of the girls who tweet at him, so he creates a second account to tell those girls exactly what he feels. Except…he doesn’t. He chooses one, Tessa, the girl who created the hashtag EricThornObsessed based on her popular fanfic. The more they talk, though, the more Eric falls for her, and the deeper Tess falls for Taylor, the name Eric has chosen for his secret second account.

But danger seems to lurk from every corner for these two, and while they try to navigate the new world that they’ve created for themselves, they can’t put aside the fact that looking over their shoulders is a common occurrence for them both.

Let me just get this out of the way: Twitter is a scary place. It’s wonderful if you’re not a hateful troll that only wants to make people angry at you being a jerk, but it’s really scary, too. I could get on there right now and say anything to millions of strangers {well, I’m not that popular, but you get the gist}. I could start a war on Twitter or threaten a favorite celebrity with some kind of creepiness. Eric’s tweets reach hundreds of thousands of people, and the people who respond don’t seem to care about what he says, but more about him seeing them.

Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen?

This story is told through narrative, tweets, and police transcripts. We get Tessa’s daily life in her room, Eric’s crazy whirlwind of a life, and then everything that happens in between. This is why I’m also putting it under the thriller section: the police transcripts hint at something sinister happening, but we have no idea until the end, yet I still tried to solve the mystery with what little hints I was given. It’s in my DNA.

My first dip into the Wattpad pool came a couple of years ago, when one of my students told me I had to read a popular fanfic about one of her favorite bands. I had no idea what Wattpad was, let alone a fanfic, but I went anyway, because I love my students. The story was terrible, mainly because these were real people this person was writing about and she was making them do horrible things. She made him into this psychopathic love machine, and it was so embarrassing to read the violence he incited and the love the main character continually harbored for him {no, it wasn’t Fifty Shades of Grey, although it felt interchangeable}. Like, it was terrible because I put myself in this celebrity’s shoes and felt absolutely ashamed at some of the things she made him do.

Happily, this second time was a lot better. A.V. Geiger’s writing shows that, maybe, she has been obsessed with a celebrity before {you’re lying if you said you’ve never had a crush on a celebrity}, but she also writes Eric’s sheltered and crazed life like she’s lived that, too. It’s insightful and sweet and funny and terrifying, and it does keep you guessing until the very last line {because did I forget to mention that this is Follow Me Back #1? I did? Probably because I cried a little knowing that I’d have to wait to find out what happens}. Basically, she’s awesome, and I’m so glad that I found this book on Twitter and that NetGalley deemed me worthy enough to receive a galley of it.