Working It Out by Rachael Anderson {Review}

Working It Out by Rachael Anderson {Review}Title: Working It Out
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing on July 15th 2013
Format: eARC, 262 pages
Source: I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
4 Stars
Summary

A chance encounter . . .
Grace Warren’s life is safe and predictable—exactly the way she likes it. But when she gets roped into going to an auction to help out a friend, everything changes. She meets Seth Tuttle—a guy who unexpectedly kisses her then disappears, leaving her flustered and upset. If she never sees him again, it will be too soon.

A chance for love . . .
Weeks later, when Seth limps into Grace’s rehab clinic post surgery, he’s every bit as frustrating and annoying as she remembered. Yet there’s something about him that makes her second-guess her carefully placed boundaries even though he’s everything she’s sure she doesn’t want in a man. But maybe Seth is exactly what Grace has needed all along—assuming she’s willing to risk safe and predictable for a chance at love.

My thoughts

Grace is perfectly content being single. She spends her days working hard as a physical therapist and her nights trying to relieve her guilt over her brother’s paralysis. She has no room for anything else. When live-life-to-the-fullest Seth ends up as her patient, they clash immediately. But something about her intrigues him, and he’s not willing to take no for an answer.

I really liked this story. Just like her previous novel, The Reluctant Bachelorette, Working It Out, is a fun, clean read that’s pure entertainment. It tackles some heavy subjects, but it does so without going to a completely dark place.

All of the characters were likeable, except maybe Grace’s kind of creepy coworker. Grace was strong and intelligent. Seth was fun and kind. His “sister” was passionate and loving. Grace’s brother was depressed but he soon figured out the way back. They were all nice, normal people whom you would want to have in your life. They handled their problems realistically and without too much drama.

There were a few things that irked me, like Seth’s inability to consider Grace’s feelings when it came to his daredevil ways, or Lanna’s stubborn refusal of Seth’s help, even if it meant a lot of money for her charity. Just little things, and certainly not enough to make me dislike the book.

The plot is a fun one, it’s easy to see how these two might clash, and the fun comes when they’re stuck working together. The chemistry between them was quite fun. There was a touch of romance, but anything that could be considered “private” was behind closed doors and we didn’t read about it.

Rachael Anderson has a gift for capturing the atmosphere and attitudes of the story and the characters. Her novels are a joy to read and I consider them automatic buys.

The sum up

Fun and sweet, this is a classic contemporary chick-lit novel.

About the author


I love to read, write, and do most anything outdoors, with the exception of rock climbing and sky diving. (I have serious height phobias.) If there’s something I can do within five feet of solid ground, count me in!

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45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson {Review}

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson {Review}Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K.A. Barson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile on July 11th 2013
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Source: Book Divas
4 Stars
Summary

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

My thoughts

Ann has been overweight for a long time. She’s tried various diets and exercise programs, but none stick. When her aunt asks her to stand up at her wedding, Ann decides now is the time to get serious about losing weight. She sees an informercial for the Next Big Thing and decides that’s the key. As she’s trying to lose the weight, she’s also dealing with new friends, jealous friends, a new crush, her absentee dad, a new job and a very critical mother.

In the beginning, Ann was a bit of a non-character. Thanks to her mother’s constant nagging, and her own self-image, Ann was afraid to be herself, or to have much of a personality. She wanted to blend in and be unnoticed. As the story goes on and she learns to open up and make friends and talk to people, she really blossoms into a person whom I would totally be friends with.

One of her new friends, Raynee, was a great person for Ann to get to know and I liked her character. I also liked Ann’s crush, who was a cutie patootie and so nice (and forgiving!). Ann’s family was your average blended family and they were all believable, though the mom was a bit… off. Her issues weren’t the kind that would go on unnoticed in real life as long as they did in the story.

The plot was entirely (and unfortunately) believable. Who among us hasn’t, at one time or another, decided we needed to lose some weight? Thought that everything would get better if we could drop a few pounds? Imagined that this new diet is the one that will solve our weight problem once and for all? We know better, but Anne still believes, and it was painful to read as she learned the truth.

You know going in what the final lesson will be, but it was never got preachy. There was a lot of humor in the story; I loved Ann’s snarkiness, and her grandmother’s bad attitude. I laughed out loud several times. K.A. Barson not only writes the funny scenes, but she can bring the sad, too, without it being overwhelming. Ann’s inner dialogue was one I think everyone can relate to.

The sum up

I found this to be honest and fun; a perfect story for girls, both the young and the not-so young.

About the author


K.A. Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, and too many pairs of shoes.

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Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsTitle: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books, Sept. 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Source: Purchased
5 owl rating

 

Summary

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My thoughts

I didn’t think it was possible, but Stephanie Perkins managed to make me love Lola and the Boy Next Door even more than Anna and the French Kiss. Another home run for the Queen of Contemporary Young Adult Romances.

Lola was not your average girl. She saw every day as a chance to reinvent herself, with wigs and costumes; she marched to her own drummer and if you didn’t like it, tough noogies. She lived with her too-good-to-be-true dads and dated an older “bad boy.” Everything was going pretty dandy for Lola until her old neighbors moved back into the house next door.

I loved Lola’s dads – they let her just be herself and were there when she needed them. They were kind (to each other and to her) and thoughtful and just quirky enough. Her boyfriend, Max, was a few years older, and this was mentioned several times, in an effort to make their relationship almost… naughty. I didn’t think the age difference was that big a deal.

The neighbors, the Bells, included twins Calliope and Cricket. Calliope was a talented figure skater whose family had moved back to town to advance her career. She was spoiled and selfish, and not a likable character at all. Cricket, well he’s one of my favorite book boyfriends ever. He was sweet and nerdy and made of pure awesome.

Most of the novel was spent building up the horrible thing that Cricket did to Lola before the Bells moved away, and once we found out what he did, it was a huge letdown. Honestly, it was no big deal at all, and I thought she overreacted quite a bit. The dialogue was fun and real; Lola really had a tendency to say what she was thinking, which led to some amusing situations.

The setting of the novel was so well described, I felt like I was right there in San Francisco with the characters. Everything was so lush and descriptive, I loved it. For fans of Anna and the French Kiss, we are treated to a few scenes with Anna and Etienne in Lola. They are just as in love, and Anna provides a sounding board when Lola needs someone to talk out her issues.

There were a few clichés, and some predictable bits, but they were few and far between. The quirky and fun nature of the book more than made up for those few drawbacks.

The sum up

I loved this one so much. I have a new favorite book and a new favorite book boyfriend.

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Review: Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

Back_to_You

Title: Back to You
Author: Priscilla Glenn
Publisher: October 20th 2012 by CreateSpace
Format: Kindle Edition, 328 pages
Source: AToMR Tours

Summary

When Lauren Monroe first laid eyes on Michael Delaney back in high school, she had every reason to stay away from him; within minutes of their first encounter, his volatile actions confirmed his notorious reputation. But Lauren saw something in him that caused her to question his bad-boy persona, and against her better judgment, she took a chance. She had no way of knowing that the unlikely friendship they formed would become so important to her.

Or that it would end so painfully.

Eight years later, when Lauren begins her new job at Learn and Grow Day Care, Michael is the last person she expects to see. Refusing to revisit the hurt and confusion of their past, Lauren vows to keep her distance from him. But staying away from Michael proves to be more difficult than she thought, despite her lingering grief and her instincts for self-preservation.

As Lauren and Michael recall the friendship that changed them forever and the events that tore them apart, will they finally be able to heal? Or will the ghosts of Michael’s past prove to be too much to overcome?

My thoughts

Lauren has just started her new job as a Pre-K teacher. She’s still learning the ropes on her first day when in walks her old friend Michael. They were best friends throughout high school, until Michael did something unforgivable and they haven’t spoken since. Now they’re all grown up and Michael’s little girl is a student in Lauren’s class. Though Lauren tries hard to keep things professional, the two have a real chemistry that makes it difficult.

I liked Lauren’s character. She was kind and friendly, but also self-assured (even as a teenager). She was very likeable, and it was easy to see why Michael enjoyed having her as a friend. He was a classic bad boy – mean and gritty on the outside, with a sad story that made him want to hide from the world. And it was a doozy of a story. It was easy to see why he had become the person he was. In fact, I was surprised he didn’t end up more screwed up than he was. His little girl Erin is just about the cutest darn thing ever. She was mostly realistic, although I have to wonder what 4-year old doesn’t have at least 1 sleep-deprived meltdown or act like a brat at least once in a while…

The story took place in the present day, and every other chapter or so was told in a flashback. The flashbacks were not sequential, but for the purpose of the story, it fit. My one issue with the flashbacks was that I kept wanting to know what Michael did that was so horrible! They kept talking about it and talking about it, but we don’t learn what he did until about 3/4 of the way in. Also, I didn’t think what he did was as terrible as Lauren kept saying it was. Jerky, yes. But not unforgivable, in my opinion. I did like learning how they met and how they were with each other in school. And especially how wonderful Michael was to her when they were in private, when he could just be himself.

This was a fairly clean book – there was some sex, but it was pretty nondescript and glossed over. I don’t recall any curse words, though there may have been 1 or 2. This is being marketed as an adult book, but I would also consider it new-adult, since Lauren is still in school and just starting her ‘life.’

The sum up

Sweet and romantic, this is the perfect book for someone looking for a romance story with guts.

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Review: For What It’s Worth by Karey White

for what its worthTitle: For What It’s Worth
Author: Karey White
Publisher: December 2012 by Cedar Fort
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Source: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Blog Tours

 

Summary

Twenty-four year-old, Abby Benson has dreams of owning her own wedding cake shop. An inheritance from her aunt gives her the ability to make those dreams come true. She hires Dane, a handsome contractor, to help her get the bakery up and running and soon they’re moving toward their own happy ending.

Unsure what to charge for her cakes, Abby has a crazy idea to let the customers decide what they think their cake is worth. This plan has its ups and downs, but the novelty of the idea makes her a local celebrity. When she is interviewed on television about the unusual idea, business booms and Abby has cake adventures she never dreamed possible. But as her fame grows, Abby is swept up in a whirlwind that threatens everything she values. With the challenges that face her, will she be able to determine what is worth the most?

My thoughts

Abby has just lost her beloved aunt, who was very generous in her will.  Aunt Grace left Abby a large sum of money and suggested she start start a bakery with it. She even mentioned a location that would be perfect. After some pondering (she could use the money to buy herself a nice little house and relax), she decides to follow her heart. She and her hottie contracter hit it off until the bakery starts making it big. Suddenly it looks like like Dane and Abby may have different goals in life.

All of the characters in For What It’s Worth were lovable and easy to like. Abby was a lovely, nice young woman who got caught up in the excitement of a new business, and all the work that involved. Dane was a nice young man just waiting for the right girl to come along so he could settle down. Abby’s parents, brother, sister and brother-in-law were all nice and very supportive of Abby and her dreams. Dane’s family was nice and looked out for his best interests. Do you sense a theme here? Everyone was very nice. There were no bad guys or potential rapists or thugs. Even Mr. Not-Right, whom Abby went on a date with, was nice. His only flaw was his enthusiasm.

The real crux of the book was whether Abby and Dane would be able to make it work. They seemed so right together, yet they had a serious inability to communicate with each other, which caused all sorts of problems. Sometimes I just wanted to shake them and say “Just tell him how you feel!” or “Ask her about it already!” Of course, that could just be the sign of a very engaging book…

The plot moved along at a quick pace, except for about 3/4 of the way through when Abby and Dane had their problems. I thought that part dragged a bit, and there was a lot of… whining. I think it aggravated me that they couldn’t just talk to each other. Even after certain issues were out in the open, they still acted too scared to say what they were thinking. Instead, they skated around the real problems and stayed miserable.

This was a very clean book – nary a bad work or adult beverage in sight. It was actually kind of nice to read a book where all the couple did was hug and kiss, even after 9 months. There was never talk about sex, or whether they should or shouldn’t. It just wasn’t an option, so it was never put out there by either of them. Religion played a part in the book, because it was an important part of the character’s lives. They discussed their religion, went to church every week and did a lot of praying.

Also – I think I gained 10 pounds just reading the book. Every chapter started with a new recipe, and most of them were scrumptious. I bookmarked 2 to try later.

The sum up

The next time you’re looking for a sweet and clean story, give this one a try and you won’t be disappointed.

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Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

dash & lily's book of daresTitle: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Publisher: October 26th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback, 260 pages
Source: NetGalley

Summary

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the “New York Times” bestselling authors of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My thoughts

Lily is (unhappily) all alone during the holidays, thanks to her parents ditching her for a long-awaited vacation. In an effort to find someone who “gets” her, she leaves a red notebook on the shelf of a public bookstore. Dash, (happily) alone at Christmas after leting each of his divorced parents think he was spending the holiday with the other, is enjoying this quiet time to himself when he stumbles upon a red notebook on a shelf in The Strand. The notebook challenges Dash to complete a task and once he does, he challenges the notebook’s author right back.  So begins a weekend of getting to know each other by writing their thoughts, dreams and desires in the notebook.

Dash and Lily were fun characters. They were both sweet and kind. They were each dealing with their own personal issues, though none were what I would call “deep”. They both seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of life, and how to get it. They had great senses of humor and were both willing to try something new and be adventurous. Before they met for real, you just knew they were going to get along fabulously.

There were a few things that bugged me, like the fact that Lily knew (or was related to) at least 1 person in practically every one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. That eventually became too unbelieveable. Also, their characters were just too hipster for me. Like David and Rachel were creating the coolest, most nonconformist characters they could think of. But there were also things I enjoyed about the book, like the alternating points of view (Dash and Lily, natch). They were both authentic and that made it easy to get into their heads. I loved the little snippets of New York sprinkled throughout the book.

The cover is adorable and perfect for this light holiday read. The snow, the city street signs and the little heart in the crosswalk sign all work together magically.

The sum up

A quick and fun read full of Christmas spirit.

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Review + Interview: The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

the reluctant bachelorette

Please join me in welcoming Rachael Anderson to the blog today. She has stopped by to answer a few interview questions, then I’m going to review her book, The Reluctant Bachelorette.

rachael anderson
Rachael Anderson is the author of four contemporary romances: Divinely Designed, Luck of the Draw, Minor Adjustments, and The Reluctant Bachelorette. She’s the mother of four, can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.
What 1 book do you think should be on everybody’s must read list?
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. The man is brilliant, I tell you. Brilliant.

What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Sarcastic, impatient, and lately–forgetful. Not the best combination.

What’s your favorite part of writing/publishing a novel?
Publishing it. There’s nothing like feeling as though all your hard work has FINALLY come to an end.

What’s the most unusual thing a fan said/wrote to you?
I’m not sure anyone has written me anything that could be classified as unusual, but I did get this sweet letter from some darling girl from Wyoming. For a school assignment, she had a write a letter to her favorite author and chose me. That totally made my year. In fact, I still have that letter and read it when I get discouraged.

Who/what influenced your writing style?
Honestly, I’m not completely sure. Pretty much any romantic comedy that I’ve ever seen or read, probably. And my beliefs and values.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably not until I published my 2nd book. Even then, calling myself that seemed wrong. After all, C.S. Lewis was a writer–not me.

Do you seek out reviews of your novels?
After my books first come out, I’m always anxious to read reviews, mostly because I’m petrified that people won’t like it and I need the assurance that some people do. But no author can please everyone, and reading too many reviews sometimes makes me feel like Rapunzel from Tangled when she first leaves her tower. You know, when she’s crying one second, laughing the next, sobbing the third, and giddy the fourth? It’s very up and down, and when I start to feel like my equilibrium is taking a severe hit, I stop reading and focus on something new.

the reluctant bacheloretteTitle: The Reluctant Bachelorette
Author: Rachael Anderson
Format: Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher: September 8th 2012 by HEA Publishing, LLC
Source: I Am a Reader, Not a Writer Blog Tour

Summary

Unknowingly cast as the bachelorette for her town’s charity event, Taycee Emerson wants out. Especially when she discovers her old teenage crush, Luke Carney, is one of the bachelors and it’s up to the viewers–not her–to decide which bachelors stay or go.

Coerced into participating, Taycee does what any self-preserving girl would do. She launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. Unfortunately, Luke’s an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she’s up to, it means revenge.

But when their pranks go south, will they screw up any chance they have at a future together, or will they be able to forgive and forget and prove that love really does conquer all?

My thoughts

Taycee still lives in her little hometown and is just fine with that, thankyouverymuch. Though her bestie, Jessa, still lives in town, her parents, brother and most school friends have moved on and out, leaving Taycee feeling abandoned. When Jessa basically strongarms her into being the town’s bachelorette, in an effort to boost the town’s income and save the local farms, Taycee reluctantly agrees. She’s not too happy when Luke, the boy who broke her heart years ago, ends up on the show, too. Though the voters get to decide who stays on the show, Taycee figures she can do some sabotaging to make sure Luke leaves first.

Taycee was a character I really liked. She loved her quiet little hometown and wished that her friends and family had stayed there with her. Even though she was lonely, she didn’t let it consume her, and she still managed to be pretty happy most of the time. She had a great attitude and was quite cheerful and kind. She was even pretty tolerant of the snarky cafe waitress who disliked her. She owned a successful flower shop and her own home. Jessa was incredibly pushy, and though I can understand she coerced Taycee into doing the show for the love of her family and town, I still would not have been down with what she did. Taycee was much more lenient than I would have been.

Luke was an okay love interest, but I didn’t understand Taycee’s obsession with him. They (along with her brother) were good friends growing up and Taycee had always had a crush on him, but when he moved away, she decided he was the one and never let him go mentally. When he came back thinking everything was fine and dandy, she went a little off the handle. I was surprised she didn’t scare Luke away with her crazy.

I really liked the “Bachelorette” type setting. I don’t watch the real show, so I don’t know how closely the book’s version followed it, but I enjoyed their town’s little version. I liked the behind the scenes parts, and following Taycee’s frame of mind and thought processes as she went from date to date to date. The tension and build-up between Luke and Taycee was fun to watch (becuase let’s face it, you know how it’s going to end). I liked the practical jokes they played on each other and the snark they brought out in each other.

This was truly a clean read – zero sex, drugs or rock and roll. No bad words either. And it turns out all that isn’t very necessary. You can still have a fun, entertaining book with all the excitement and romance of any other book. I like the cover okay. It’s cute, but all I can think when I look at it is a box of haircolor.

The sum up

Fun and romantic, this is classic chick-lit.

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Review: After Hello by Lisa Mangum

after helloTitle: After Hello
Author: Lisa Mangum
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Publisher: September 4th 2012 by Shadow Mountain
Source: BEA

Summary

What if the first day of your relationship was the only day you had?

Seventeen-year-old Sara is a seeker. She’s always on the lookout for the perfect moment to capture with her ever-present, point-and-shoot camera, especially on her first trip to New York City.

Sam is a finder. He has a knack for finding what other people can’t—a first-edition book or the last two tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. In New York, there is always something interesting to find.

When Sam and Sara’s paths cross, neither one of them is prepared for what they will find out about each other—and about themselves when they form an unlikely partnership in search of a seemingly elusive work of art. They have one day to find the impossible. Fate brought their talents together, but what happens when time runs out? Will love be able to overcome fate? This new novel from award-winning author Lisa Mangum explores what happens after hello.

My thoughts

Sara and her father are in New York City for the day while he finishes up a business deal. The plan is for Sara to explore the city for a bit until her dad can join her for lunch, then they will go sight-seeing together. Of course, the business deal doesn’t go as planned and Sara is left on her own the entire day. Enter Sam. Sara catches a glimpse of him leaving a bookstore and snaps his picture. She decides to follow him and they end up hanging out all day, trying to accomplish a task that someone has given Sara.

I loved both Sara and Sam. Sam was running from the guilt he felt after an accident back home and his motto was to keep moving. He had this amazing knack for trading things and not only was this ability amusing, it was a big part of the story line. He was on the quiet side, but very kind and sweet to Sara. He didn’t pry into her life, he just let her be herself. He had some amazing theories about choices and decisions that I might have to adopt for myself. Sara was also running, but she was running away from the pain of her mother’s abandonment. She was afraid to trust anyone, but somehow Sam snuck by her defenses. She was tough and had a great sense of humor. The two of them together were so cute, they were like 2 puzzle pieces who kept bumping up against each other until they finally just slid into space.

Sara’s father was a tad unbelievable (at one point, a strange boy texted him from Sara’s phone, before the sun even came up, to tell him that Sara was okay, and her dad was fine with it. All I could think was “Good thing he wasn’t a kidnapper…”), but he was also flawed in his own way. Sam’s brother and friends appeared briefly and we didn’t get a chance to really know them, but they were mostly friendly. His friend Vanessa was an especially interesting character, although the things she said to Sara were kind of conveniently placed, if you know what I mean.

Even though the book takes place almost entirely in one day, it didn’t feel too rushed or boring. Sara and Sam were constantly on the go and I loved the descriptions of New York, especially since I was there not too long ago. I enjoyed the dialogue, it was honest and real, especially Sam’s.

I love the cover and how perfectly it matches the book. You can see 2 pictures (Sara’s a shutterbug), the pictures actually make sense, there’s a subway map (which they use), you can see the NYC skyline, plus the cover has little holes along the top and bottom, just like the perforations in film. The colors are lovely and blend well together. Just a beautiful cover.

The sum up

The story itself isn’t very plausible, but if you can suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride, it’s a very cute and fun book.

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