North of Happy – Adi Alsaid

This book was okay. I think in general, Adi Alsaid books have an interesting premise, and he is undoubtedly a strong writer. However, the stories never fully draw me in, almost because the characters are a little too improbable, quirky, and flat. Carlos is immature, and it takes something incredibly drastic for him to realize the important things in his life.

Synopsis

His whole life has been mapped out for him…

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the US, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health, but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

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Just Another Girl – Elizabeth Eulberg

I read the author’s note, and I’ll admit that the premise of this story was good. It was well-intentioned. However, by trying to make Parker an “approachable” mean girl, she ends up a.) not being mean at ALL, b.) overly sympathetic, and c.) not really the stereotypical “girl who’s got the guy’s affections,” considering the pragmatic state of Parker and Brady’s relationship. Thus, this story doesn’t flip any of the cliches on their heads.

Synopsis

You resent her. You can’t stand her. You might even hate her.

But you don’t know her at all.

Hope knows there’s only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that’s how the universe works, even though it’s so completely wrong.

Parker doesn’t feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they’d never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn’t making it any easier. . . .

In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls — and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.

You think you have an enemy. But she’s just another girl.

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Once and For All – Sarah Dessen

Dessen does it again! Once and for All is a fun summer read with Serious Topics, immense charm, and an adorable love story.

Synopsis

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

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The Anatomical Shape of a Heart – Jenn Bennett

What a sweet book! I loved Beatrix and Jack’s meet-cute. I liked how unique their interests were (anatomy? SIGN ME UP). And I’m glad this story delved into the seriousness and complexity of schizophrenia.

Synopsis

Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?Read More »

The Wonder of Us – Kim Culbertson

A fun story, and perfect for my frame of mind because I started and finished this book while on a plane back from a semester abroad in Zurich, Switzerland. Imagine my joy to discover that Zurich was one of the locations visited here!

Synopsis

Riya and Abby are: Best friends. Complete opposites. Living on different continents. Currently mad at each other. About to travel around Europe.

Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship—it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches:

They haven’t talked in weeks.

They’ve both been keeping secrets.

Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?

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