Tag Archive | friendship

Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

lucky in love -kasie westCan’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

2 Drink Me Potions

I have to say, I was really disappointed to give any Kasie West contemporary novel less than 4 stars, but man, was this a hard one to continue with at times.

Lucky in Love mostly continues in the same writing fashion that I’ve come to love from Kasie West. But with a main character that I just couldn’t stand with on most decisions and a lackluster romance that didn’t really do much for me, I was left with only disappointment and resignation.

Maddie, full name Madeleine that’s pronounced the French way of “lynn” instead of “line”, was a studious girl who wanted nothing more than to win a scholarship to pay for university. Although she studied WAYYYY harder than I ever did (like, she and her friends “hang out” by having study dates at one of their homes), I initially felt some sort of kinship with her based on similar outward characteristics.

Then she won the lottery. Which of course we knew was coming.

What I didn’t expect was the amount of HORRIBLE DECISION MAKING that accompanies sudden fame, attention, and money. It’s like she wasn’t thinking! I will start by listing out some example things she thought was great and all.

  1. She decides to get a new car which isn’t a bad thing if you can afford a new vehicle after 50 million dollars has just dropped into your lap. But even with good intentions of getting a practical vehicle, she easily gets sweet-talked into buying some VERY flashy sports car after getting the chance to “test drive” it for a moment. Just drops a ton of money there.

  2. She tries FIXING things in her family way too much. She thought wiping away the family’s financial problems would 100% fix her parents’ inability to communicate without fighting. Of course, when she realized that didn’t necessary stop all the fighting, she goes and buys a $20K necklace for her dad to give to her mom to say that he bought for her. Like, what the heck? You’re ENABLING. And doing so in a very expensive and wasteful manner.

  3. Attitude problems seem to come with becoming rich. She didn’t seem to be one of those girls that looked down on anyone who was less fortunate, yet her 2 best friends were shut down as merely being “jealous of her money” when they were worried about her spending and the new people she was associating with now that her status had changed. And boy does her status change! You should read what she decides to do for her birthday party. It’s a wonder these 2 friends even still saw the same old Maddie inside.

Maddie’s naivety with money and how that affects people just really got under my skin. She drops big, FLASHY purchases here and there and doesn’t think there’ll be ramifications with those actions. She wants people to treat her the same but she doesn’t really ACT the same now, does she? I couldn’t understand her sometimes. I just couldn’t feel for her when things got bad because hey, it was YOUR decision to spend like this and treat people like this.

And then there’s Zoo Seth, the love interest. I liked him. On his own as a character. He’s Asian, so yay, that’s an awesome diversity I don’t see too often. He’s funny and easygoing and a really good friend, even when Maddie’s all awkward and really not easy to be around. He could’ve had more character development as I felt he was really just summed down to one little secret he didn’t divulge until the end that wasn’t much of anything, really. But compared to Maddie, he’s like godlike. The chemistry was kinda present, yet with all my annoyances with Madeleine, it was kinda hard to root for their burgeoning romance. It wasn’t much of victory when they resolved their issues and got their happy-ever-after ending. Honestly, at that point, I couldn’t have cared less.

Just because this book still has “Kasie West” on it and there were some VERY MINOR redeemable moments, I didn’t have the heart to bring this down to a 1 star. But really, if I were you, I’d skip out on this one if you only want good memories of Kasie.

Overall Recommendation:
Lucky in Love was harder to get through than I expected as the protagonist made all the worst decisions for the dumbest reasons that just made me wanna scream sometimes. Maddie’s win from the lottery did help her grow (in the end), but there were too many stumbles along the way and very stupid purchases that honestly had me rolling my eyes. With that kinda struggle, it’s no surprise that the romance with Seth Nguyen didn’t hit me much so all that’s really left in this book is how Maddie even remotely “learned her lesson” about money and its consequences in relationships and life. Which was not what I signed up for no matter how good the moral. You’re better off with any other Kasie West book. Promise.


Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

letters to the lost -brigid kemmererJuliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate.

But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

5 Drink Me Potions

Where do I even BEGIN with this book?

Letters to the Lost is everything that I could EVER hope for in a YA contemporary. Brigid Kemmerer is an absolute genius. It’s like she gets the heart of not only teenagers – and how they react when cornered – but the general human heart. When have we not suffered from isolation, feeling like we didn’t belong; grief from the loss of a loved one; the need to talk our feelings out with someone – ANYONE – before we feel like we’d explode from keeping it all within?

This book has ALL OF THAT.

Juliet and Declan have both been dealt a crazy hand in life. With the loss of her photojournalist mother, Juliet found it was hard to let go of her so she wrote letters and placed them on her mother’s grave. Where surprise, surprise, a guy with a recent criminal record for crashing into an empty building while driving drunk picks it up while mowing the grass in the cemetery.

The beauty of this story lies in how our paths connect. That was how Juliet and Declan intersected with each other. Yet the story asks big questions! Do we have the power to make our own paths or are we destined to stay stuck in the awful hand that was thrown our way?

It never felt too dark. It was more realistic than anything. You can’t expect a light, fluffy little piece when the topics it covers are literally life and death. But alongside the heavier topics, friendship and family were very much highlighted. Juliet had a hard time dealing with her comparably more boring father who looked like he barely acknowledged her presence even after all these months since her mother died. Declan felt like he couldn’t fit in with his mother and stepfather as they seem to think he’ll never amount to much more than this hardheaded criminal who may repeat his crime. If it wasn’t for the fact that they anonymously found each other, and through letters and emails, were able to talk about the deepest stains on their soul.

It was just beautiful. And heartwrenching. And the exact right thing for both of them.

Aside from family, Declan’s friendship with Rev was a delightful thing. Rev too had his own demons and his own story (stay tuned for More Than We Can Tell to learn even MORE) was hinted at throughout Letters to the Lost. For a secondary character, he was very well-developed and definitely not your regular plain besties that are just featured but never really stand out. No matter his past, he was there for Declan and stood by him even when the world felt like it was crushing him on the shoulders. I loved that about him, and I can’t wait to see how he’ll fare as a protagonist.

Anyway, coming into this book, I thought the romance would be the highlight of it all for me. Oh boy was I wrong. I normally LOVE romance, but I’m so glad that this took a bit of a backseat here. Yes, they exchange messages all the time, and attraction of some sort grows. Here’s the thing. They don’t know who the other is and so the attraction isn’t physical per se. It’s the connection they have with each other. Later, even when they don’t know who the other is, their crossed paths show that there’s underlying chemistry there. A sense of pain that only the other fully understands. So who needs the physical stuff (kissing, etc.) when this relationship is built on just KNOWING the other? If only ALL of our relationships were more like Declan and Juliet’s.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. My heart is still somewhere in between those pages and those messages. And to top it all off, Brigid ends the story with a great message for us all. Yes, we can make our own path and change it if we’re just brave enough to do so with our unconquerable souls.

P.S. there are so many beautiful quotes in this book that I just can’t figure out where to start and how to group them all in this one review. So I’m not gonna post any and just tell you to READ this thing NOW.

Overall Recommendation:
Letters to the Lost is a gorgeously written story that evokes true emotion in its readers as we follow the tragic situations placed in Juliet and Declan’s lives. This is a novel that really punches you in the gut and heart as it depicts topics such as true friendship, grief, family, strength from our experiences and future growth. The romance was realistic and just PERFECT as their relationship was equal parts friendship, trust, and attraction. I don’t think anyone else can write this story any better. If you love anonymous letter/email messages between protagonists such as Tell Me Three Things, then this book is for you. If you have a HUMAN HEART, then THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. I honestly don’t know how to be any more clear about this.

So, something different with this review happens to be that this book was provided to me directly from Brigid Kemmerer. Granted, I won the auction late last year for donations to Puerto Rico, but I am still so lucky that this is a signed and personalized version of the book in my hands. Honestly am so delighted that this book was physically in Brigid’s hands as well. This story just blew my mind and I am ecstatically the proud owner of such a beauty! Look below 🙂 Oh, and look out for a review of her next novel, MORE THAN WE CAN TELL, soon as it comes out in March!!

letters to the lost book

Review: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

love, life and the list -kasie westSeventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

5 Drink Me Potions

**Love, Life, and the List comes out December 26, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Kasie West is honestly a GODDESS when it comes to her contemporary romances! It renders me speechless at how well she can capture such poignant emotions of your average heart in her words. Can we just sit here and bask for a moment how she continually astonishes me?

Okay, moment over. Now, where do I even BEGIN with this book?

Love, Life, and the List is a book basically about character development in our protagonist, Abby. She’s just your typical high schooler but with a love for creating art. Having been surprisingly rejected from being a part of the only museum in town’s art show, she’s told that she needs more emotional depth to translate into her paintings.

And thus the list was born.

I normally adore any cute story that centres on a list or some sort (ex. Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone), and this list is short but doable. Listen to a stranger’s story, try some new things, face a fear. All sound great for character development right?

And it does. Abby grows from experiencing things that she’s never had in her few years of life so far. Yet the true beauty in this story is the underlying romantic tensions with her best friend Cooper. Ah, the heartache of unrequited love. And with a bestie. You can tell I was immediately hooked on this story formula.

Needless to say, the progression of Abby’s ups and downs with Cooper over the summer they spend together alone from their normal group of four was realistic and so very sweet. She’s not so far gone that she’s senseless in her love for him, but you can tell it’s also not something so easily to be shaken away. Of course, the darn guy either is completely oblivious to her feelings or doesn’t return them – which had me on the edge of my seat the WHOLE time.

I will reiterate that Kasie West brought out another couple with their own challenges and created a beautiful story of self-discovery and love. It’s pure gold. I read this in one sitting (which I shouldn’t have but I have no regrets at all). No matter that it’s winter now, it’s an amazing read for this time of the year or in the summer for which this book definitely emanates that kind of appeal.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, even if you’re not a normal contemporary reader. It’s a definite must-read!

Overall Recommendation:
Love, Life, and the List may seem to have a simple formula: a girl with a list for the summer and her heart set on her best friend who may not feel exactly the same way. However simple the synopsis seems, Kasie West delivers yet another gorgeous story that features the complex nature of a close friendship that yearns to be a little bit more and the kinds of experiences that shape us and our characters. With a heavy focus on friendship, family and love, what reader cannot relate to such things? Contemporary lover or not, I know you need to read this when it comes out!