Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I've started making the time to read more "me" books. The books that I've purchased or received and am reading without any pressure to review. But, I'm a bit spastic when it comes to not writing up a review, so I'm going to post several mini-reviews from time to time. They're not actually "reviews", but more a summary of my thoughts/feelings.

Something Like NormalSeries: Stand alone
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 214
Source: Personal Purchase

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

In short, Something Like Normal is easily one of the best books I've ever read. A book that makes me want to look at most other books and say "Nice try. Better luck next time."

Something Like Normal is one of the most raw and unflinchingly honest books I've ever read. Travis Stephensen is a boy struggling to hold himself together in the aftermath of losing his best friend in the war. He's struggling with grief and guilt. Travis may have survived, but in some respects, every soldier is a casualty to war.

There's not really much I can say about this book that I feel hasn't already been said by other reviewers. The story was quietly devastating. Doller did a remarkable job at laying out Travis' emotional devastation, piece by piece. It was a privilege to watch this young man slowly unravel, then knit himself back together again (with help from the perfectly written Harper).I don't know about anyone else's feelings, but for me, Something Like Normal is a love letter to all the Travis' out there. All those boys, and women, who do the very best they can, and unfailingly search for their new normal.

Something Like Normal is just an amazing book, written by an amazing author and you should just go ahead and do yourself the favor of reading it.

Favorite Quote:

"No matter how rough my dad was on me, or how hard things got in boot camp, or how scared I was in Afghanistan, I never cried. Ever. And I know I should be embarrassed, but this is Harper, who doesn't try to tell me everything is going to be okay. She stands there and keeps me from drowning." (pg 187)

Ditched: A Love Story
Series: N/A
Genre: Contemporary YA
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: 1/10/
Format: Hardcover
Pages:  277
Source: Personal Purchase
Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. That said, she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat, handle first.

Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.

Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

But when Justina is ditched, figuratively and literally, she must piece together--stain-by-stain on her thrift store dress--exactly how she ended up dateless...with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven.

To get the whole store, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. Can losing out at her prom ultimately lead to finding true love?
My reading Ditched was fate. Never in my life have I found a heroine who I could identify with as much as Justina Griffith.  Ditched is told in pieces as Justina works out how things went from so potentially epic to so epically awful to the ladies at the 7-Eleven. Some might say that the craziness  Justina stumbles through is a stretch of reality. I say it is possible, and I lived it.

Here's the dealio: Teenage Andrea was just like Justina in every way imaginable. Justina has a low-blood sugar, and becomes cranky and irrational when she goes too long without food. Let's just say that my hubby compares me to the Incredible Hulk when I get hungry. I cry and make weird frantic gestures. Justina and her best friend Hailey are kissing addicts. They love kissing boys for fun and keeping count. My high school bestie and I were also kissing addicts. I think we finally stopped tallying kisses at around boy number fifty, when we became slightly ashamed. Another way I was like Justina: Horrific Prom Night from HELL, complete with a ripped zipper? Yep, and I even told my boyfriend I'd meet him after, but ended up hanging out with my friends and other boys, NO kissing involved. I had not one but TWO horrible Prom Nights, one that I included a boy shoving shortcake in my friend's face during the meal. I hate Prom.

Like Justina, I was clueless when it came to guys liking me. There are several boys who years later told me I was blind to every signal they threw my way. I'm convinced that the only reason I ever ended up dating my husband was the fact that he locked me in a car and asked me, point blank, to be his girlfriend. Seriously, he had to get drunk to find the courage to propose! So yeah, I can say from first-hand experience that girls like Justina exist, and if we're lucky, we find boys like Ian. Patient, thoughtful and immune to the insanity, boys like Ian Clarke make girls like Justina Stop...Take a Breath...and Fall in Love.

There is a paragraph in Ditched that I wish every person who's never found The One to read:

  "It's true. I'm not that girl anymore. And there will be a time when I'll be The Girl. It is all about timing--and one day when I'm not planning it, and organizing it and strangling it, love will become possible. There won't be any more leapfrogging. We'll land in the exact spot at the same precise moment. And I will wait." (pg.268)

Sidenote: Any book/author that includes John Hughes in their Acknowledgements is a book/author that must be read.

Ditched is hysterically funny, surprisingly thoughtful, and infinitely delightful.

Favorite Quotes:

  "My chest heaved and my heart jumped out of my chest, cannonball-style. All I could think about was throwing something at her---something made of glass. Or spikes. Or a viral disease. They really should invent Herpes In A Jar for moments like these."   (pg.112)

  "But what I loved most about our friendship was the way he said my name...always dripping with adoration. And annoyance. I had always figured that's what had drawn Ian to me. My adorably low tolerance for PMS mixed with my all-black wardrobe. It was sexy to him.
  Probably."   (pg. 196)



  1. *raises hand* - I also am so clueless when it comes to guys liking me, lol. I just do not pick up on it, at all. Only when time has gone by and I analyze or they tell me do I realize it :D And aw the story about you & your husband was both funny and cute. You give me hope, girl :D

    On to the reviews. Awesome mini reviews. I am adding both to my TBR list. They look amazing. Why didn't I hear of ditched before? It looks so cute. Glad I found out about it here! :)

  2. What a super cute review of Ditched! Love how you compared your life to the book, and your right any book that mentions John Hughes IS a must read-love all of his movies!!!

  3. OMG, these reviews are great. The one for Ditched is absolutely adorbs. I think I would have very much liked teenage Andrea, but that's no surprise since I like adult Andrea. :P I love that paragraph you posted for it, too, because it's absolutely true...once you stop searching for love, it has a habit of finding you. That's how it happened for me and my hubby anyway. Oh, and so glad you loved Something Like Normal. I adored the way Travis and Harper got on.

  4. Ack it's like you read my mind Andrea, I honestly wish I had more time to read my own books that I've owned for ages in between review books, these two books I've been meaning to read for ages! I'm so so glad that you loved them, there's nothing I enjoy more than really being able to connect with connect with a character! Lovely mini-reviews! I will definitely be trying to squeeze these two in before the end of this year! :)

  5. Those both sound really great. I love the mini reviews that you do. I have been wanting to read both of those for a while especially Ditched. That just sounds like a book I would love!! Something like normal sounds like a book that will bring out a lot of emotion. Fab reviews babe!!

  6. Loved Something Like Normal. Ditched looks really good too! I love your mini-reviews. Good idea!

  7. I hear awesome things about SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL--so glad you enjoyed it! I really must read it sometime. :) Nicely reviewed!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. I'm loving your mini reviews! Something Like Normal doesn't really pique my interest but I definitely want nay NEED to read Ditched. Your review for it is fabulous! I think it's hilarious how alike your high school experience was to Justina's. Your prom experiences--priceless!!

  9. Wow that is quite the first sentence in the Something Like Normal review. I have seen that cover but the book wasn't really on my radar, you're review has definitely changed that. Especially since we both were so moved by Something Like Normal, I have come to fully trust your contemporary taste and I think ours are a lot alike. Great reviews. *runs off to buy Something Like Normal!*

  10. Yay for me books! I'm like you, I have to review everything whether its a request or not. I just need to get my feelings out haha. Love the quote you included for Ditched I'm gonna have to add it to the TBR.

  11. I LOVED Something Like Normal. It is one of my favorites this year for sure. I did cry a lot eading it though because I've had so many friends and family go to Iraq and Afghanistan... it just struck home. So many of them came home so different and the things they've seen... I really loved it. Trish Doller was so great showing Travis's emotions and the relationship between him and Harper. Harper is awesome. I would love to see another book either about Travis & Harper or to see another one of the guys in Travis's unit.

  12. So glad you enjoyed Ditched! It was really cute and fun! And so many of us do have such disastrous nights! I had a good prom but I have had plenty of other nights go so horribly wrong. I'm also the same at reading signals. I can never really tell. I feel like if I assume they like me I am conceited and misconstruing niceness and friendship.

  13. Hmmmmm....does look good. Thanks for sharing.


  14. I keep going back and forth about reading Something Like Normal. Your review has me on the "back" list.

    Your review on Ditched had me cracking up! I actually have this book and it's been sitting on my shelf for ages. I really need to pick it up sooner rather than later because is sounds like such fun. I was sort a of kissing addict when I was a teenager, too, Andrea. It's a lot of fun sometimes, but I didn't like the rep I started getting so I backed off. I love getting all these personal tidbits from you!

    Wonderful mini-reviews. I love reading just for myself, it's something all bloggers need to do. :)

  15. First off. Holy fucking Yay to reading books for you! That makes me incredibly happy. :)

    And wow, something like normal looks pretty deep. I love a deep book, but honestly I have been so weepy while reading lately, I'm scared to pick up anything too serious.

    This ditched book looks super cute though! I loved prom. I went with a guy friend who I was not so secretly crushing on. God, I wanted that boy.. I never did get him in highschool, but we totally "hooked up" on my 19th birthday, in my best friends bathroom. Good times. lol. Just the closure I needed. we still just remained friends after that.. Infatuation over. :o)

    Sorry you had shitty proms :( but the story of how you ended up dating the hubs... so cute. <3


Comments are bloggy food. Feed me!