South of Sunshine

“What I want is for Bren to press her lips against mine. To see if kissing her is different than kissing the boys I’ve been with.”

Title: South of Sunshine

Author: Dana Elmendorf

Series: Standalone

Publication: April 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman

Pages: 256

Source: Netgalley

Summary from Goodreads:

What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.

My Thoughts:

South of Sunshine was sweet, but like that candy that sticks on the back of your tooth and hurts and hurts and hurts. That probably sounds harsher than I mean for it to be, but, oops?

This book is one of those sickly sweet coming out stories that you love but it makes you cringe all at the same time because it is like swimming in a vat of goddamn nacho cheese. Small town Tennesse, hatred of anyone different (in this case homosexuality), hiding in a closet, and then boom! Love, addition, and everything you could have ever wanted to happen just puts the icing on the cake. South of Sunshine was a very good read, if you can overlook some small things – but I’ll get into that later. It is a story of discovery, of fighting yourself and then fighting for what you believe in. It was very good, it was just too much good.

Kaycee McCoy, likes girls, hides behind boys. She tries to fit in, she tries to pretend like she isn’t who she really is – she suffocates herself in her cloud of guilt. Then, all of a sudden, everything in her perfect plan to fit in goes horribly, wonderfully wrong. A new girl moves to Sunshine, Tennessee. A new girl, who, despite the stigmatized view in the town, isn’t afraid to be who she really is and vocalize things that would probably make your grandma blush brighter than a cherry. She is adventurous, she is witty, she is smart, oh, and she’s also gay.

I really did like Kaycee. Though I couldn’t identify with her struggle, I could find myself identifying with her strength. I felt sorry for her, but I never pitied her. Honestly, there was more than one occasion where I sort of got fed up with her Mary-Sue bullshit and I wished she would just grow a pair and stand up for herself. But, I can also see why it would be difficult to do so in her circumstances – and therefore, I found myself respecting her. But, she was also the main issue I had with the book – besides the pacing. Kaycee, while real and surprisingly complex, was also an unavoidable Mary Sue. I couldn’t escape Perfect Kaycee having to be perfect all the damn time – at her own expense. It was actually quite sickening. Additionally, her sweet little romance with Bren (whom I adore) was just… too much. There was too much of everything and not enough of the things we really needed. It wasn’t real, it wasn’t believable, and it wasn’t enjoyable. It was sort of like biting down on a caramel and getting it stuck on a cavity or something equally as painful.

My other big issue was the beginning. While the overall pacing was awful – though it did sort of redeem itself at the end – the start of this book is so damn unbelievable. It was rocky, shaky, and all other possible ways you can call something unstable. It’s confusing, it’s too fast, and it is simply a thorn in my side. I wanted more – I wanted a backstory, I wanted to see relationships build and break. South of Sunshine kind just shoves it up in your face and expects you to both understand and care. Um… sorry, but no.

Overall, while South of Sunshine is a pretty good read if you’re capable of overlooking minute details – it is also an unrealistic, almost sickeningly perfect story that seems to be clinging onto your bare minimum sensibilities for dear life. It was charming, the setting was charming, the characters were charming – but charm is not enough. I needed more beyond the surface layer, and in that respect I found this book to be sorely lacking. But, don’t count this book out of the running just yet – you could potentially like it more than I did. Just… be prepared to read a shallow first draft rather than what could have been a deep, profound final copy.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Waiting On Wednesday # 24

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted each week by Breaking the Spine and lets us spotlight a book that we are eagerly waiting to be released.

This week’s Waiting On Wednesday is The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead!

Publication: April 5th 2016 by Razorbill

Summary from Goodreads:

For a select group of girls, the Glittering Court offers a shot at a life they’ve only ever dreamed of, one of luxury, glamour, and leisure. To high-born Adelaide, whose wealthy family is forcing her into a loveless marriage, the Glittering Court represents something else: the chance to chart her own destiny, and adventure in an unspoiled, prosperous new land across the sea.

After a chance meeting with the dazzling Cedric Thorn, Adelaide poses as a servant to join the crop of impoverished girls he promises to transform into proper ladies. But her familiarity with upper class life comes with a price: she must hide her identity from her new friends, mysterious refugee Mira and fiery former laundress Tamsin, and most importantly, from Cedric himself—even though she’s falling in love with him.

Everything begins to crumble when Cedric discovers Adelaide’s ruse, and she catches the eye of a powerful young governor, who wants her for a wife. She didn’t leave the gilded cage of her old life behind just to become someone else’s property. But nothing is as daunting—or as wonderful—as the potent, forbidden attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. One that, if acted on, would make them both outcasts in a wild, dangerous, uncharted world, and possibly lead them to their deaths.

Umm… EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO DIE OF HAPPINESS! Another Richelle Mead book? Bless the Lord and thank Sweet Baby Jesus. I love, love, love Richelle Mead’s books – every single one. I cannot wait for this book to get into my greedy little hands. Love for the Selection? Check. Love of the television show Reign? Check. Complete and utter obsession with Richelle Mead’s writing? Check.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Teaser Tuesday # 24

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This week’s Teaser Tuesday is for South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf!

“What I want is for Bren to press her lips against mine. To see if kissing her is different than kissing the boys I’ve been with.”

“A blanket and a boyfriend–or a girlfriend if that’s the case–are the only two things you need on a hayride.”

“How do you expect anyone to accept you if you can’t accept yourself?”

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Tell The Wind and Fire

Maybe that is the only thing I have ever learned about love: love is when you save someone no matter what the cost.”

Title: Tell The Wind and Fire

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Series: Standalone?

Publication: April 5th 2016 by Clarion Books

Pages: 368

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review

Summary from Goodreads:

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

My Thoughts:

Well, right out of the bat I had no idea this was a retelling of A Tale Of Two Cities when I jumped into this book. Zip. Zilch. Nada. So, I found myself pleasantly surprised at recognizing little details here and there throughout Tell The Wind and Fire. I cried, I laughed, and I did everything that this book wanted me to. I felt just as broken as when I read the original – and that’s saying something.

Tell The Wind and Fire was, for lack of a better description, pretty awesome. I mean, there was enough of the old to bring back that hint of nostalgia – but there was also a fresh twist, a sense of vibrancy that breathed new air into an old classic.

I think, despite the obviously amazing scope of pretty much everything, that one of the best parts of this book is the complexity of the character development. Each character has a specific line they follow. A carefully hand-crafted and intricate thread that winds through each and every element of the story. There is not one thing that is not important – and it makes this book all the more wonderful. Everyone has a secret and everyone’s secret is either their downfall or their salvation. Each piece is an unstoppable force – each character is an irreplaceable role in the story. Lucie, Ethan, Carwyn… they’re all pieces of a larger puzzle.

Overall, Tell The Wind and Fire was a surprise in more ways than one. The writing was astounding, the character development was, and the plot was both wholly original all while paying homage to its predecessor.  This is a story of the battle between good and evil, between light and dark. It is a story that will strike you with its subtle power and even more subtle message. Balance is the most important concept of all, what are you willing to do to achieve it?

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Fangirl

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: Standalone

Publication: September 10th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 445

Source: Purchased

Summary from Goodreads:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts:

ALL THE FEELS! Oh my goodness…this book, this freaken book. I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before this – stupid Sammi. Someone should have knocked some sense into me sooner. Fangirl was the book I have been waiting for and never knew it. Fangirl is the type of book that speaks to you. It breaks down your defenses and breaks your heart, makes you feel things you never even knew existed, and it opens your eyes. This is one of those books that resonates deep down within you and you have no idea until it’s all over and you’re left with this feeling in your gut that you can’t describe but you just.. know.

“It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”

In all honesty guys, I really have no idea what to say about this book. I’m sure you’ve heard of Fangirl before, read plenty of reviews, seen promos and stuff – all I can tell you is that this is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. It just gets you. It gets the reader, it is the reader – Cath is all of us. Well, she is me and I know she is me.

Cath is a severe introvert who writes fanfiction online. She has a huge following… fanfiction is her life. She doesn’t know anything else. She can’t go out, she can’t be around people, she hates crowds and new things and being in the dining hall because of social anxiety. She is me, in every way possible – only I lose myself in my blog and books. Cath is insecure, she is unsure of herself and everything around her – she is not strong, yet she is oh so strong. You get me? She is, by far, my favorite protagonist in existence simply because is so real.

“There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a contemporary without romance – but this is the special type of romance. Cath and Levi, Levi and Cath… they are so natural. They build and grow together, they compliment each other, they just are. It was subtle, it was sweet, it was everything I ever needed in a contemporary romance and this book just gave it to me. Fangirl is not centered around the romance, don’t get me wrong guys – but it is a key part in Cath’s journey throughout the book. She has to learn to accept the love he gives despite her own fears about herself. It was truly something beautiful.

Overall, Fangirl – like I said – is one of the best books I have ever read. It breaks the mold, it shatters your expectations and builds them back up to unmentionable heights. This book is simply life in the way life happens and the way we deal it. There are no terrifying climaxes, no plummits, no peaks – it is just life and it was beautiful. By far, Fangirl is superbly written, profound, and everything in between. Go read it… trust me.. go read it.

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble