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Four Excellent Stand Alone Novels I’ve Read/Listened to This Year
May 13th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Reviewing my Goodreads “read” page, I was surprised to see how many novels I’ve read this year were a part of a series. It made me think about my reading choices. Sometimes, it’s agony having to wait for the next book  in a series when I’m living to find out what happens next. I mark my calendar, hope for an ARC, and often pre-order! Once in awhile, I actually wait for the series to be completed, especially a trilogy) before I read book two. There are plenty of exceptions- by Maggie Stiefvater, for example, will be one of them.

I didn’t start the Lux Series by Jennifer Armetrout until recently. I gobbled up books 1-3, but now I’m longing for the next one. I loved being able to read three books back-to-back. Now I’m waiting, waiting, waiting along with other fans.

Because I devour so many novels, I don’t want to reread or skim to remind myself what happened. So I don’t. I’ll dive into the next book in the series and get caught up quickly. But this comes at a price. It’s possible I miss some of the author’s nuances that carry through a series.

It’s nice to have a little relief from the waiting. You gotta love the stand alone novels. Beginning, Middle, End. Done! So here’s a few I recommend:

PRINT:

16101080OUR SONG by Jordanna Fraiberg is a hauntingly beautiful, mysterious, and captivating romantic page turner. Masterfully crafted.

For all those YA who have been deeply confused by their relationships when they suddenly take a huge plunge without obvious warning signs, OUR SONG is an eye-opener. What’s been missing? Is the perfect boy really so perfect? How does he impact your self-esteem? Wake up!

The novel opens with Olive recovering from a horrible car crash. She’s only alive because paramedics resuscitated her. Many rumors surround the circumstances behind the accident that just might not have been an accident, but a cry for help. Was it? The circumstances of that rainy night unfold as readers wonder about Olive’s mental state. Immediately, you will know something occurred with her ex-boyfriend Derek because Olive was driving his car. He comes across as heartless and selfish. It’s hard to understand what Olive saw in this jerk. What I deeply appreciate about this character is knowing that there are plenty of girls who go out with guys similar to Derek and take their crap. I hope this novel will be insightful. Who doesn’t know someone who has gone out or hooked up with guys just like this?

As Olive tries to deal with the circumstances behind the accident and her near-death experience, she joins an interesting support group. There, she meets a boy named Nick who helps Olive become more grounded. As they learn to trust each other, they share many adventures. Still, there’s lots of mystery behind Nick. Finding out his story is definitely a highlight.

There are lots of interesting family dynamics going on for both Olive and Nick. Olive’s parents seem to be struggling with their relationship. Her mother has an obsession with gardening and baking. Her father is a workaholic and spends a lot of time away from the family. I love her eight-year-old brother Noah. Despite the large age gap between them, Olive and Noah have a special, sweet bond. Nick has absent parents and readers will wonder why this bright young man has so much time on his hands.

The book unfolds beautifully, weaving words to a song that plays over and over again in Olive’s mind. A message? A warning?

She has a lot to learn about love, life, friendship, and her family. Sometimes a person has repeat experiences/bad choices in order to get it right and find the courage to be their best, strongest self.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith15790873

Clever, fun, sweet, romantic!

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this novel about an accidental slip of one letter that leads to an email exchange between Graham, a Hollywood star actor and Ellie, a girl with her own secrets. She lives in Henley, a small town in Maine. She shares life in Middle-of-Nowhere as he tells her about life in Middle-of-Everything, CA. When Graham has the opportunity to arrange for part of his next movie to be filmed in Henley, he goes in search of of Ellie. At this point, each has kept their identities secret from the other. This changes quickly when Graham comes to town. The connection to Ellie runs deep, but it’s not so easy for her to let him in. The boy she communicated with and revealed so much of herself to doesn’t quite jive with this big-time star. He has his own wounds and self-preservation keeps him from pursuing her after the paparazzi go crazy over his new “love” interest. With time running out, they can’t bare to stay apart. This leads to an interesting adventure and some tender moments, capturing “what happy looks like.”

This Is What Happy Looks Like is another wonderful book by the talented Jennifer E. Smith.

AUDIO:

873584An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green. YA  – This John Green novel was published in September 2006. It won the Printz Honor Award.

My husband and I listened to An Abundance of Katherines on a road trip. It’s the perfect YA novel to share with family (if you don’t get embarrassed with an occasional sex reference.) – 1. Male narrator. 2. Lots of humor they guys can relate to. 3. Brilliant writing. 4. Male characters who are hysterical and quirky. 5. Incredible story – strong values, insightful.

Colin Singleton has dated nineteen Katherines – not Kat or Catherine or Katie or Kate – and when the last one dumps him, he’s devastated. During the summer between high school and college, Colin goes on a road trip with his BFF, Hassan. Their adventure is a powerful experience as Colin – boy prodigy and anagram expert – discovers where he’s gone wrong with his nineteen Katherines relationships. There are also insightful moments that help define friendship.

Narrated by Jeff Woodman. He did a great job switching from one character to another, changing voices and adding a special touch to their personalities with his intonation. <3 it.

This novel will make you lol, smile, and appreciate the what makes each of us unique. Highly recommend.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turage – MG, won the Newberry Honor (2013)

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I absolutely LOVED this audio! The change of voices was spot on and captured the essence of the story. There were many lol moments. The story is about Mo (aka Moses), an eleven-year-old girl who was found as a baby after a hurricane without any trace of her parents. She writes letters and sticks them in a bottle to her “upstream mother.” She has a best friend Dale and they have a detective agency. With the agency, they find lost dogs and investigate a murder! The circumstances are funny and touching. I love the Lavender, Dale’s older brother. Mo has a crush on him and it’s quite sweet. Miss Lana raises Mo as her own, and I have to say that I am deeply touched by their closeness. There’s also the Colonel who found Mo during the hurricane and is a father figure in Mo’s life. I love the suspense, the mystery, and the eccentric characters. This is a wonderful book for middle graders. The audio is perfect for a road trip with MG kids. The entire family will love it

Waiting on Wednesday (2) – THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE By Jennifer E. Smith
Feb 6th, 2013 by Liza Wiemer

Waiting on Wednesday

This is What Happy Looks Like

By Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Publisher: Poppy, 416 pages

15790873From Goodreads:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

My thoughts: This looks so like a sweet, romanic novel – a perfect combo as far as I’m concerned. I loved Jennifer’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which had me hooked from page one.

For more information about Jennifer E. Smith, check out her website: http://www.jenniferesmith.com

 

 

 

 

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