These books are definitely not in order – it was hard enough just picking ten books out of the 150+ books I read, let alone putting them into an organized order.
I hadn’t read any of LaCour’s other books before I read this, and a big reason I read this book was because the cover was gorgeous and I knew it had a gay protagonist – so, going into this book, there was a good chance that I would get burned for judging a book by its cover and promises of diversity. Honestly, I would have been happy with just reading a book that was pretty good, anything but one that fell to hype – but this book ended up gripping me from the very beginning and playing with my heart enough over the short story to wring 5 whole stars from me in the end. Yes, that’s right, I gave it 5 freaking stars. I’m not horribly stingy with 4 and 4.5 stars, but 5 stars are reserved for books that not only wowed me but never had me doubting the story or the my love of it. That definitely applied to this book.
I saw this movie sometime after it came out and was so emotionally invested in the story and its characters that I was actually scared to read the book afterward. What if I didn’t like it as much? What if this was really a case of the movie being better than the book and a mediocre book actually diminished my love of the movie? I should have known that was just me being silly, though – I mean, the movie was directed and written by the author, Chbosky, so obviously things were going to work out, and god, did they. This was the rare book where I was feeling so many emotions while reading it that I often had to put it down and just give myself some space to digest it all. As a result, it’s really no surprise that this book also got the rare and glorious 5 star rating.
This book confused me at first, which made me so sad because I wanted to like it, maybe even love it. Well, I am so freaking glad that I kept going anyway, because by the time I closed the book and was finished with this story, I loved it so, so much. I can’t quite explain why – I loved pretty much all the characters, especially Francesca, who I felt so much empathy for, and I loved the fact that it was just as much about her mother’s struggle with depression as it was about Francesca. When I heard that there was a sequel about one of the great character, The Piper’s Son, I was almost scared to put it on my to-read shelf because I didn’t want to tarnish my experience with this book – but if it’s even a bit as good as this book, then I really don’t have anything to worry about.
I enjoyed Matson’s first two books, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer, but they didn’t get right at my heart like they did with some people. When I saw the cover and read the summary for her third book, I hoped that this could be the book that propelled Matson onto my “Awesome Authors Who Write Awesome Things” list – and boy, did it. I felt such a connection with protagonist Emily since she was so shy and relied a lot on her outgoing best friend to grab attention or to play off of her when they were with other people. Emily’s emotional journey wasn’t just a victory for her, therefore – it also felt like it was a personal victory for me and anyone else who’s painfully shy and has to learn to change things. I haven’t had any of the great adventures that Emily did, but this book makes me want to challenge myself in similar ways so that I can grow along with her.
Everyone needs fluff and fun in their life – and it’s so much better when there are some deeper strands mixed in with all the fluff. The main character and her two best friends have such a great friendship, and they really are smart girls – but they know how to balance that with other things. They push each other to be the best that they can be, and they don’t have a problem with worrying about their looks, which seems like a great break from the stereotypical smart, “ugly” girl (so that also means there isn’t a lot of angsting or the annoying “she’s actually beautiful but she doesn’t know it or simply needs to take off her glasses to be a knockout”). The main character’s name was also Genevieve. Well, she goes by Gigi, but that’s still her name and I refuse to think anything else! I can’t wait to reread this book for fluffy fun!
There was a lot of pressure on this book going in. I knew this was J.K. Rowling, so that’s already a ton of pressure for her to live up to; sure, I love Harry Potter and I even liked her adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, but could she write a good, engaging mystery as well? And I was struggling with adult books prior to this one; I had actually enjoyed an Agatha Christie mystery, so I was really excited to see if this book could prove that adult mysteries are the books I should be looking out for. So, yeah, plenty of pressure – and I felt like this book more than delivered on that front. It took me a while to read, like all adult books tend to, but I was pretty much always sucked into this story whenever I was reading it. I had no idea who the killer was, so I was definitely flipping through it as quickly as possible to see who it was. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, which came out earlier this year.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into this book. I had heard some great hype seemingly out of nowhere that suddenly put this book on my radar, so I figured it was worth it to check it out for a fluffy read. This book certainly delivered on the fluff and a great romance, but it did even more than that. The main character is way different from me – she’s confident, loves soccer, and is much better at going after what she wants than I am. It wouldn’t have been too surprising if I loved everything about the story except the main character because of all the personality differences, but I loved Lainey because she was so different and interesting to me. And there were plenty of other interesting characters, from a great best friend to a dreamy love interest.
This was another came-out-of-nowhere-and-wowed-me read! I read a couple reviews saying that this book was so sex-positive, which can unfortunately be a rarity in YA (but it’s certainly getting better!), so I knew that I just had to check it out. Those reviews were right – but I felt like there was even more to this story than its great message about female sexuality. Claire has kissed multiple boys in her life, which unfortunately means that some people shame her and use words like “slut” for absolutely no reason, but Claire remains strong and points out how silly that is. She’s exploring her sexuality along with dealing with a lot of friendship drama, and it was great to read about. I saw a review that didn’t like that about the book because Claire and her best friend admittedly get into a silly fight over a boy, but I saw that as realistic, and it was great to see them all work through the friendship drama.
So. Much. Emotional. Pain. On one hand, I certainly expected it after the pain that was Scarlet, but there was still so much that I just wasn’t prepared for. This book took all the characters we had come to love or loathe in the first book and put them through an emotional wringer. More characters from Robin Hood lore were introduced, like King John (that’s the evil king, right? I’m not well versed in Robin Hood history, to be honest), and there was plenty of drama to keep Scarlet and her friends occupied. This book took the drama to the political minefield that is court, and god, were things terrifying there. I am so freaking glad that I didn’t live back then, and not just because hygiene and health were so much worse back then. I’m both excited for and terrified of the third and final book, Lion Heart, coming out next year.
This book was unfortunately exposed to too much pressure as the follow-up to My Life Next Door – plus, it’s not the sequel that I’m desperately waiting for. So, it wouldn’t be surprising for this book to be a total failure, but it really wasn’t. No, I didn’t love it as much as My Life Next Door, but there was still so much to love about this book. Gwen has to explore her sexuality after some drama surrounding it (although I must admit that it was quite annoying waiting to find out what the big drama had been), but she also has family stuff to deal with – and Fitzpatrick continues to write interesting families. No, they aren’t the Garretts, but I loved reading about Gwen’s divorced parents, loving grandfather, adorable little brother, and best friend cousin. The romance wasn’t Samantha-Jase level, but it still had some great moments. I feel like I need to reread it so that I can get a better sense of it outside of My Life Next Door, so I look forward to doing that.