The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley is having the worst day of her life. She is on her way to London to be a bridesmaid in her father's wedding and she has missed her flight. She is stuck at JFK airport contemplating how she is going to make it through the weekend, when she will be forced to watch her father marry someone she has never met. Enter Oliver - a handsome British boy also on his way to London. The two quickly strike up a conversation and Hadley finds herself wondering if this chance encounter has the potential to turn into something more. When Hadley and Oliver lose each other in the commotion of customs upon arrival, Hadley is left to wonder if she will ever see Oliver again and what might have been. Set over the course of 24 hours, Hadley and Oliver's story will have you believing in the power of fate.

The realist in me is highly skeptical about the idea of "love at first sight." The idea that in one moment it is possible to know someone well enough to fall in love with them is utterly crazy. The hopeless romantic in me loves the idea that fate intervenes and brings two people who are meant to be together. That they just click, just like that, and know that they have found what they are looking for. I would love to have a story like Hadley and Oliver's to tell my children and grandchildren when they ask how I meet their father/grandfather. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a sweet story and is a great distraction read at just under 300 pages. It's a 4 star read for me and one that I will probably pick up again in the future.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Min is breaking up with Ed, her high school boyfriend. Their relationship seems doomed from the start. Ed Slaterton is the star basketball player. He is popular and has a certain reputation with the ladies. Min is a movie buff and doesn't fit in with the popular crowd. She is not the type of girl that Ed normally goes for. Despite all the obstacles, Min and Ed fall in love, but then Ed ruins it. Now Min is writing Ed a letter to explain why they are breaking up and returning all of the mementos she has collected from their time together.

I came across this book listed on a list of 15 books to read before they become a movie. I was intrigued by the story line and I needed a break from reading my endless stream of series books, so I picked it up. It was okay and I find myself somewhat indifferent to it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. The story is told from Min's point of view and is mostly a stream of consciousness as she writes a letter to Ed explaining their break up. At times the run-on sentences and jumpiness of the story got on my nerves. The story was creative and the illustrations added a new dimension to the story. I liked the idea that simple objects could spawn memories and represented events in the relationship. It was an interesting approach to the story and in my opinion saved the story from being just another typical teen romance/break up story.

It wasn't a bad book and it has the potential to be a decent film, should it ever be turned into one. Solid 3 stars for me.


The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen

The Lucky Ones is the third and final book in the Bright Young Things series about three young women living in the Roaring 20's. The series began with a foreshadow - one would be famous, one would be married, and one would be dead - and without giving too many details away, this is how the series ends.

When last we left Cordelia Grey, she was reeling from the unexpected murder of her father apparently at the ends of her then lover Thom Hale. On the way home, she meets Max Darby, the famed celebrity pilot, and rescues him after his plane crashes. In The Lucky Ones, Cordelia and Max find themselves drawn into a complicated romance. His connection to Cordelia eventually leads to his secret being exposed and him losing the support of his patron. With nothing left to lose, Max and Cordelia take their relationship public and set down a path to restore Max's reputation to its former glory. Neither one could predict the turn this path will take.

Letty Larkspur has gotten her big break and has been taken under the wing of Valentine O'Dell and Sophia Ray, Hollywood's golden couple. Valentine and Sophia are determined to make Letty the next big thing and invite her to come and live with them in their penthouse and train with the best acting coaches money can buy. Letty, naive to a fault, soon discovers that everything is not as it seems. Sophia is having an affair and Valentine appears to be falling in love with Letty and helps her to secure Sophia role in an upcoming film. However Letty learns that she is just another girl in a long line of distractions for Valentine. When Letty's naivete is exposed she returns to her friends only to find out that Grady, her former flame is engaged to be married. Heartbroken, Letty fears that she has missed her chance to get everything she has ever wanted - love and fame.

Astrid Donal is now married to Charlie Grey, Cordelia's brother and heir to their father's bootlegging business. Astrid believes that she has finally gotten everything she has ever wanted, however cracks soon begin to appear in her happily ever after. Charlie is not the man she thought he was and his predisposition for violence threatens Astrid and the family business. Astrid finds herself increasingly alone and in the presence of her bodyguard, Victor, who she feels continually drawn to. The story comes to a head the night of Astrid's 18th birthday party. The events of that night will once and for all decide the destinies of all three bright young things.

I enjoyed this series, but not as much as the Lux series. I really like Godbersen's writing style and her ability to weave the stories of all the characters together. While she tells you in the beginning how the story will play out, I couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed in the ending. I think I was hoping for a more idealized happy ending for some of the characters. Nevertheless, I would recommend this series. It's an easy read and the time period is a great backdrop to the story.  


Looking for Alaska by John Green

Miles Halter loves famous last words. He is on his way to Culver Creek Boarding School in pursuit of "the Great Perhaps" (the last words spoken by the poet Francois Rabelais). Miles is hoping that a change in scenery will lead him out of his safe and boring existence, and into something extraordinary. Upon arriving at Culver Creek he meets his new roommate Chip, a.k.a. Colonel, and receives a new nickname, "Pudge." But it is meeting the girl down the hall, Alaska Young, that will forever change his life. Alaska is beautiful, sexy, smart, self-destructive, and screwed up, and comes to personify the "Great Perhaps" for Pudge. But Alaska is a beautiful disaster and Pudge cannot save her from herself. Meeting Alaska has Pudge questioning everything he knows about friendship, love, loyalty, life, death, and what it means to live.

This book made me think about people and how I truly believe that everyone we meet comes into our lives for a reason. Some people seem inconsequential at the time, mere ripples, but they are important. Often these are the people who help to redirect you to where you are supposed to go - like in a game of pool when the ball you are aiming for bounces of another and into the side pocket. You might never had made that shot had it not been for the interceding ball, just as you never would have arrived at your destination had it not been for that person. Other people are waves and their impact on your life is profound and obvious. You are irrevocably different for having known this person - good or bad. But having meet this person means that you can never return to life as you have known it because the world is forever altered and will never look the same. Alaska was definitely a wave.

It also made me think about the purpose of life. Is it better to live a small, but happy existence or is "it worth it to leave behind a minor life for grander maybes?" I don't think there is anything wrong with a small life, but I imagine that one could come to regret the possibilities that could have been. On the other hand, a life full of grander maybes might be exciting, but moving from one adventure to the other might lack the security and calm of a small life. An endless adrenaline rush with no meaning. Maybe the "Great Perhaps" is finding the balance between the two. A life full of enough maybes to have been worth living, but small enough for those maybes to actually mean something.

I often found myself forgetting that these characters were in fact in high school. They seemed much more like college students to me. The story is well written and I really do enjoy John Green's style. The characters are smart, witty, and just dysfunctional enough to be believable. The story is thought provoking and well worth the read.


Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Let It Snow is a cleverly intertwined telling of three Christmas romances, all brought together by a blizzard, and told by three different authors.

In The Jubilee Express, Jubilee finds herself unexpectedly on a train to her grandparents' house after her parents get arrested on Christmas Eve while trying to procure the latest installment of the Flobie Santa Village. Her boyfriend Noah, whom she is supposed to be celebrating their first anniversary with, seems strangely nonplussed by the situation and Jubilee finds herself wondering what's going on and to making excuses for him. On the way to Florida, a massive snow storm hits and Jubilee finds herself stranded in the company of Jeb, who is trying to make it back to his girlfriend who cheated on him, and a gaggle of teenage cheerleaders. Rather than endure being trapped on a train with the cheerleaders, Jubilee sets off across the way to a Waffle House. There she meets Stuart who insists on her spending Christmas with him and his mother and sister. As they trek across the frozen wilderness between the Waffle House and Stuart's house, neither one expects to find love.

In A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, Tobin and his two best friends, JP and Angie a.k.a. "the Duke," are just settling in for a James Bond movie marathon when they receive a phone call from their friend Keun informing them that they must hurry over to the Waffle House where he works because a group of cheerleaders has just arrived. The one stipulation - bring Twister. Tobin and JP trip over themselves trying to make themselves presentable to meet the cheerleaders, while Angie looks on with mild amusement. Promising her hash browns, Angie grudgingly agrees to accompany the boys out into the storm and to the Waffle House. Along the way, the trio run into all manners of trouble as they race to the Waffle House. Tobin begins to see Angie in a whole new way, realizing perhaps for the first time that she is in fact a girl, a girl who apparently likes him a lot. When they finally make it to the Waffle House they run into Jeb, who is stranded there because of the storm. Jeb asks Tobin to deliver a message to his ex-girlfriend, Addie, should he see her. The message - I'm coming. Tobin, still trying to work through his new feelings for Angie, tries to get her attention by flirting with one of the cheerleaders. When Angie sees this and hurries out the door, Tobin follows her and it changes their relationship forever.

In the Patron Saint of Pigs, Addie is miserable. She made out with another guy after fighting with Jeb and they have broken up. Addie knows she made a mistake and desperately wants Jeb back. She sends him an email asking her to meet her at Starbucks on Christmas Eve, the place they went for their first date exactly one year ago. Addie waits for Jeb, but he never shows. No call. No email. When her friends accuse Addie of being too self-absorbed, she wants nothing more than to prove them wrong. She is asked by her friend Tegan to pick up her Christmas present, a tea cup sized pig, and Addie seizes this opportunity to prove that she is able to think of someone other than herself. When she fails to get to the pet store on time, the pig is sold to another person and Addie sets off on a search to recover the pig, which she eventually does. On her way back to the Starbucks where she works with the pig in tow, she runs into Tobin and Angie who deliver the much belated message from Jeb, giving Addie new found hope that maybe Christmas angels do exist after all.

This is a sweet story filled with all the wonderful things that give us the warm and fuzzies around this time of year. It's like three Hallmark movies rolled into one, with plenty of Christmas miracles to go around. The stories are all unique and the voices of the authors come through in each of their individual stories, but the stories also blend beautifully together. A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle was my favorite of the three romances, but the other two were also perfectly sigh inducing and pulled at the heart strings. This is the perfect book to pick up if you are looking to while away a snowy (or rainy in my case) afternoon curled up under a blanket and sipping hot chocolate. 

If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Mia is seventeen years old. She has a loving family, a boyfriend she loves, and a musical talent poised to take her places, but in the blink of an eye everything changes. Mia and her family have been in a horrific car accident and Mia finds herself watching the aftermath unfold from outside of her physical body. Trapped in this ghost like state, Mia tries to figure out what's happening to her. When she learns the fate of her family, she faces the ultimate decision - to stay or to go? Mia wrestles with the decision, considering all that she has lost and everything she would leave behind. When Adam, Mia's boyfriend, makes a desperate plea and vow Mia finds that her decision has been made for her.The consequences of that decision will rock both Mia and Adam's world and bring an ending to their story that neither one could have foreseen.

Where She Went picks up 3 years after Mia's accident. The accident that forever changed her world. This time we get to see the story through the eyes of Adam, the boyfriend that Mia left behind. He and his band, Shooting Star, are riding a huge wave of success after releasing the album written by Adam after Mia dumps him. Adam finds himself lost and checked out, desperate to understand why the girl he loves left him 3 years ago. He has become tabloid fodder, his band mates can hardly stand him, and his current girlfriend accuses him of still being in love with a ghost. Adam is in New York, the city that Mia traveled to 3 years ago to attend Julliard, for 24 hours before departing for a European tour. By chance he happens across the concert hall where Mia is performing that night. They meet up after the show and embark on a journey to Mia's favorite secret places throughout the city. As they travel through the city, they confront the demons of their past bringing closure and reconnecting with each other.

I loved, loved, loved this series! Once I started reading I couldn't stop! I laughed, I cried, I stayed up until 1 A.M. finishing the second book. I loved it so much that even though it was so late, I wrote this blog so I could share these amazing books with you. I loved Where She Went more than If I Stay. There was just something different about seeing the story through Adam's eyes. He just made my heart ache and melt all at the same time. He was so damaged, so devastated, so lost. I hope that someday somebody loves me that way. Mia and Adam's love story is just so epic - love found, love lost, love rediscovered. Sigh. Gayle Forman's writing is fantastic and the way she weaves a story together is magical. The ending is perfect and these books are definitely worthy of a re-reading. A solid 5 stars for me.


6. Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

WE are the music-makers,   
And we are the dreamers of dreams, 
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,   
And sitting by desolate streams; 
World-losers and world-forsakers,         
On whom the pale moon gleams: 
Yet we are the movers and shakers   
Of the world for ever, it seems.   

With wonderful deathless ditties 
We build up the world's great cities, 
And out of a fabulous story   
We fashion an empire's glory: 
One man with a dream, at pleasure,   
Shall go forth and conquer a crown; 
And three with a new song's measure  
Can trample an empire down.   

We, in the ages lying  
In the buried past of the earth, 
Built Nineveh with our sighing,   
And Babel itself with our mirth; 
And o'erthrew them with prophesying   
To the old of the new world's worth; 
For each age is a dream that is dying,   
Or one that is coming to birth. 


Losing It by Cora Carmack

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has her V card (her words, not mine). She is determined to lose her virginity before graduation and decides that the best thing to do is to just get it over with - a one night stand. Bliss sets off with her best friend to a local college bar where she meets Garrick Taylor, a gorgeous guy with a British accent, and decides that he is the one. Bliss makes it back to her apartment with Garrick and just when they are about to have sex, she panics and leaves him naked in her bed. Bliss is determined to forget the whole awful experience until she walks into her theater class and meets her new professor - the man she left naked in her bed the night before. Garrick and Bliss are draw to each other, but their relationship is not without complications.

This is a sweet story and has all the elements of a good romance novel - a hot guy, forbidden love, a love triangle, etc. The only thing that was really lacking for me in this story was some more angst. There just wasn't enough drama, mystery, or angst to really make me pine for the characters. It is a good distraction read and at just over 200 pages it is the perfect book to read while wasting an afternoon. It gets 3 stars from me. 

Beautiful Disaster (Disaster #1) by Jamie McGuire

Abby Abernathy is a good girl, or at least she is trying to be. She has fled her hometown to attend Eastern University and escape her past. Travis Maddox is the epitome of a bad boy - covered in tattoos, earns money fighting in an underground fight club, and is notorious for his one night stands. When Abby meets Travis at one of his fights, she is instinctively drawn to him and Travis is intrigued by her outward disdain for him. The truth is that neither one can stay away from the other. When Abby loses a bet, she must live with Travis for one month. The more time the two of them spend together the more complicated and entwined their relationship becomes, bring them both to the point of destruction.

I liked this book, but I didn't love it. It is basically a twist on Beauty and the Beast. Abby is not as innocent as Belle is, but she is the antidote to Travis' beastly ways. She's no angel herself however. She often pushes Travis' buttons and tries to provoke a response from him, even though she knows he is a bomb waiting to explode. Travis is a much more complex character than Abby, and I was disappointed that we do not get to learn more about his back story, because it might explain why he is the way that he is. He is certainly not the perfect male lead. In fact he is really more of a cautionary tale. He is jealous, possessive, prone to violence, and borderline abusive. I found myself cringing sometimes when reading this book over the things Travis did, because they are simply not acceptable in a healthy relationship. He was not the dark angel for me, he is simply just dark. In the end, they do definitely deserve each other and I guess you can say that they save each other. I just not sure if either of them is a better person because of it.

Book two, Walking Disaster, is due to be published in April 2013 and is the same story told from Travis' point of view. I have to admit that I am intrigued by this and will most likely be picking the book up when it comes out. For me, Travis is the more interesting and complex character of the two and I am looking forward to reading the story through his eyes. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy Dunne live in a small town in North Carthage, Missouri. On the outside they appear to be the perfect couple, but appearances can be deceiving. When Amy goes missing, in what appears to be a violent way, on the couple's 5th wedding anniversary, the couple's not so perfect marriage is thrown into the spotlight and Nick finds himself the lead suspect in his wife's disappearance and possible murder. As the investigation into his wife's disappearance continues, more and more of Nick's indiscretions come to light, but is he really the killer? And is Amy really the perfect wife that her diary and the town paint her to be?

It took me a long time to get into this book. In fact I stopped several times in the middle of reading it to pick up other books. If I didn't have the OCD tendency of always finishing a book, no matter how horrible it is, I might not have finished it. The book doesn't really start to get good until about half way through. The beginning of the book is spent painting the husband, Nick, as this horrible person (which in many ways he is) and murderer. It is not until about the half way mark that the mystery surrounding Amy's disappearance final starts to unravel and we finally reach the much need plot twist that makes this book worth reading. It just takes way too long in my opinion to get there. The characters are horrible people and deserve everything that happened to them. Nick and Amy are almost a modern day Heathcliff and Catherine. They are both horrible, selfish, rotten people who really are meant for each other. They did not have a single redeeming quality in my opinion, which made it hard to feel for either one of them.

If you are into delayed gratification, pick this book up. I did like the structure of the book, which flashes between Nick and Amy's perspectives. It gets a two star rating from me because it was a little drawn out and because I have absolutely no love for either of the main characters.