The Blurb

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this new irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.

The Review

Firstly, let me thank Frances Gough of Headline Books for sending me a review copy.

I absolutely love books by Jennifer E. Smith. She is the one author that one of my closest friends (shout out to Suaad) and I  rave about and swoon over (in a non-romantic way) because her novels have an uncanny way of reminding us what it was like to be young and in love. Jennifer E. Smith has a skill, a wonderful talent of making not only loveable protagonists and heroes but also an amazing way of making you a part of their love story. For me, there is not much more that I want from a writer.

Reading Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith is like reading a romance novel in reverse. It is bittersweet but strangely hopeful and uplifting. It makes you want to revisit your memories of your high school college crush – just the good parts mind though.

The story focuses on Clare and Aiden; teenagers who have been going out for two years but have to make the difficult decision as to whether to keep their relationship alive even though they are both heading to different colleges that are two thousand miles apart. Should they be practical or follow their hearts.

In a somewhat novel twist, Smith has usurped what I would have thought the natural roles. She has made Clare the pragmatist and Aiden the hopeless romantic. What is particularly special about Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is that you feel like you are living out the drama with Clare and Aiden and you can see both sides of the argument. You feel as discombobulated as the two main characters. Now that is good writing.

For those among you who love a good romance novel that fills you with the warm and fuzzies then you must read Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (and indeed her other works) because the woman just nails it. Every. Damn Time.

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith is available now.

Follow Jennifer E. Smith (@JenESmith) via Twitter.

Hello Goodbye and Everything In Between

The Blurb

Sneak out. Make out. Rock out.

Riley and her best guy friend, Reid, have made a pact: they’ll help each other pursue their respective crushes, make something happen, and document the details in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over a girl’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, the guy she’s been obsessed with forever. His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But between a chance meeting with a fellow musician in a record store and a brief tryst with a science-geek-turned-stud-not to mention Ted’s own tentative attentions-cute guys are suddenly popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! As their love lives go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid’s pact may prove to be more than they bargained for.

Filled with cute dogs, cute boys, and a few awkward hookups, this hilarious tale from Amy Spalding chronicles the soaring highs and embarrassing lows of dating in high school.

The Review

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is an entertaining YA novel that focuses on the life of drummer girl Riley who is completely butt-monkey in love with Ted Callahan. However, in her attempt to woo Mr Callahan happens to become embroiled in a variety of romantic trysts. All of which are great until Riley manages to actually snare Ted Callahan and then she has some serious decisions to make.

Throughout all of this, Riley is sharing her boy adventures with best friend Reid in a notebook. When this notebook goes missing, panic sets in and almost destroys everything.

Ok. Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) isn’t a book that is going to change your life but it will provide a few hours of entertainment. It is well written and Spalding has not relied on clichés to drive the story such as Riley and Reid realising that they liked each other all along. I would have found that extremely jarring.

Whilst the story was told from Riley’s perspective, the interludes from Reid were interesting and helped break up the narrative. I think this was necessary because there wasn’t a whole lot of rise and fall in the narrative. I felt that there were only two plot points that raised the narrative.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) is an enjoyable read that focuses on the problems of a young adult. It is good but in the grand scheme of the books that I have read this is definitely a filler not a killer.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding is available now.

Kissing Ted Callahan

The Blurb

An Appalachian summer walks the line between toxic and intoxicating in this debut novel about first loves, broken hearts, and moonshine.

Luisa “Lulu” Mendez has just finished her final year of high school in a small Virginia town, determined to move on and leave her job at the local junkyard behind. So when her father loses her college tuition money, Lulu needs a new ticket out.

Desperate for funds, she cooks up the (illegal) plan to make and sell moonshine with her friends. Quickly realizing they’re out of their depth, they turn to Mason, a local boy who’s always seemed like a dead end. As Mason guides Lulu through the secret world of moonshine, it looks like her plan might actually work. But can she leave town before she loses everything?

My Best Everything is Lulu’s letter to Mason – but is it a love letter, an apology, or a goodbye?

The Review

Ok, let’s start with a positive. My Best Everything is a compelling story about a girl’s desperation to leave her humdrum life behind. Lulu Mendez knows that there is nothing for her in her hometown of Dale. She dreams of being free of the lack of opportunity. She knows that if she stays in Dale she will die there too and her dreams are bigger than that. So when the likelihood of achieving her dreams is compromised by a lack of money Lulu makes the dangerous decision to take fate into her own hands.

Sarah Tomp excellently portrays Lulu’s desperation. You cannot help but wish things to be different for Lulu and you empathise with her when her father loses her college tuition. However, at times Lulu can come across as bull-headed and whiney. Yes, we get that she feels stuck but just defer for a year, and do what half the population do and earn enough money to send yourself to college.

Another rather cloying thing about My Best Everything is the way the story is told. I understand that the story is supposed to be a letter to Mason, the boy who tries to help her escape but the perspective of the story – first person narrative told in the past perspective – just became frustrating. I think the story would have been more engaging if it was told in the present and from multi perspective.

My Best Everything is a good story but I personally feel it would have been more enjoyable had it been written slightly differently.

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp is available now.

My Best Everything

Synopsis

Josh Sundquist embarks on a scientific study to reveal why he is so un-datable. In this study, he questions girls who he has previously either had a crush on or nearly dated. The results might not be quite what you had expected.

Review

This book had me gripped from beginning to end. You cannot help but relate to Sundquist. Who among us hasn’t felt the sheer mortification by being shot down by their crush? Who among us hasn’t felt the crazy overload of sweat when trying to tell our beloved how we feel? We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true story almost holds a mirror up to our own insecurities and makes us realise that we all have reasons for people to love us, and yes, reasons for people to not feel the same way. Sadly, that is life. Josh Sundquist makes you realise that you aren’t alone in this.

What does become more and more obvious as you read this book is that there are very few characters – let alone protagonists – within modern literature who have a disability. Personally, I can only recall one other character. Whether or not Josh Sundquist was aiming to highlight this is unbeknownst to me; however it is something that should be addressed and made more prevalent in modern day fiction.

I really enjoyed We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true story. Sundquist has a witty, self-deprecating and observational humour that makes you want to read more. I couldn’t put the book down and I read it in one sitting which to me speaks volumes.

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a true story by Josh Sundquist is available now.

You can follow Josh Sundquist (@JoshSundquist) on Twitter.

We Should Hang Out Sometime