Stand Alone Book Reviews

Sometimes I read books that aren’t quite deserving of a whole “Review” post. This is usually because either I just don’t have enough to say or because the book is a stand-alone novel requiring less discussion than I believe constitutes a full blog post. However, there are still a few books that I’d like to talk about. So today I present to you a round-up set of reviews for stand-alones that I’ve read so far in 2015. Enjoy!

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Goodreads Summary: Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life. No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures. But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

My thoughts: I wanted to give this book 5/5 stars, however there are two very spoilery reasons why I cannot do that. (See my Goodreads for the full review) However, overall I thought that it was witty and well written and the whole ragtag lunch group really worked. I also thought this book had one hell of an opening scene. When I say I was in tears from laughter, I’m really not kidding. I love a good bit of inappropriate humor and Toby’s tragedy was just so perfectly horrible that it hooked me from the start. And if it hadn’t I still would have stayed for all the nerd references. Doctor Who, Ender’s Game, etc…all way better than just your average Shakespeare quote and perfect for this author’s target audience.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Summary: 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.

My Thoughts: There were definitely a few things I didn’t like about this book, but mostly I loved it. It made me laugh, made me sniffly, and it genuinely brought me happiness to see all of my favorite characters find their happily ever afters. It’s cheesy as all hell, but magical too. Was it Perkins’ best book? No. She set a really high bar with Anna. But I still loved Isla as a character, enjoyed coming back into Josh’s story, and appreciated how interwoven this companion novel really was. It deserves great recognition, if not quite a five star rating.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morill

Goodreads Summary: It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”). But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My Thoughts: This is one of those books that turns out to be a cover to cover read when you’re in the exact right mood for it. Obviously the timeline was a little crunched, but it did somewhat remind me of Anna and the French Kiss since the whole thing takes place in a foreign city with little adult supervision and many curious teens running around unsupervised. I thought Jason and Julia were both interesting characters, though I wish I knew them more than just within their field trip context. It might have made the ending a little more meaningful, even if it was already believable. However I do think that this book ended rather suddenly and I had more than one unanswered question leftover.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Goodreads Summary: It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?

My Thoughts: This was an absolutely gorgeous book; completely heartbreaking. I’ve grown up with the tales of world war two victims my entire life and I’ve heard stories from relatives in Germany, France, and Poland, but I’d never read about the Lithuanian experience before. The horror of having your country conquered and your freedom taken away from you…to have children die innocent deaths…it’s never to be understood. The crimes of history are not to be forgotten and this book is a beautiful form of preservation.

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