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Listen to Your Heart – Kasie West

Listen to Your Heart – Kasie WestTitle: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West
Publishing Info: May 29, 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Talking to other people isn't Kate Bailey's favorite activity. She'd much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school's podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she'll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate's surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend ... until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West's adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

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I’m a big Kasie West fan and she’s definitely an auto-read/auto-buy author for me! LISTEN TO YOUR HEART was another fun, cute, classic Kasie West book but sadly, this isn’t my favorite Kasie West novel. I just didn’t connect with the set-up the way I had hoped and I didn’t feel the chemistry of the characters. Kate fell a little flat for me and I’ve seen better main characters from Kasie West before, so knowing what else I’ve read, she just didn’t bring that vibrance to the page that other characters have.

The podcast concept was really cute and I liked the modern Sleepless in Seattle sort of feel, but I thought the author could have played up the calls in a little bit more, adding more to the fun podcast concept and feel. I really didn’t like the misdirection and best friend conflict, though I did really appreciate the friendship and how the girls didn’t have to be enemies or get in a fight.

I also REALLY enjoyed the setting. Kate and her family live in a “lake town” and she lives for her time out on the lake. I absolutely loved the feeling it gave me and made me anxious for camping, outdoors, and summertime!

Overall, LISTEN TO YOUR HEAR was still a cute novel but didn’t hit my feels the way other Kasie West books have. I wish there was more that would have stood out to me but I didn’t love this one as much as I wanted to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Outdoor summer stories. This wasn’t really ABOUT being outdoors but I loved Kate’s connections to the lake and I’d love to read more stories about people in nature!
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I wish I connected with it more somehow! It was a cute novel but I felt like it could have used a lot more depth.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I always enjoy Kasie’s novels and there are a lot of mixed reviews! Some people were on the fence (no pun intended (that’s one of her book titles…)) and others absolutely loved it! It’s worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE LISTEN TO YOUR HEART

             

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 27, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

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A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was so enjoyable from start to finish! I’ve been struggling with some YA reads lately so I was afraid that like many others I’ve read recently that this would fall into a pit of tropes, but this book soared beyond my expectations! Right off the bat, I loved the tone of the book and I think the crossover/connection between the modern world in Washington DC and the fantasy world of Emberfall really made a difference. The readers are able to get a unique twist on this fantasy concept with a modern voice from Harper and that old-world, medieval-type feel from Rhen.

You may have heard that A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is a Beauty and the Beast adaptation and I thought that was done brilliantly! Concepts are taking from the classic fairy tale but still given their own twist. Not every piece of Beauty and the Beast was made to fit this novel and A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY also goes along its own paths, not needing to stick to the concept 100%. What I loved even more was seeing the book’s originality lead back to the fairy tale adaptation without realizing we were on that road and I was so impressed seeing things circle back around to the adaption in their own way. I’ve read a lot of retellings over the years and some stories stick too religiously to the original work so I was really happy to see how expertly the author’s original concepts were woven in with the inspiration from Beauty and the Beast.

The characters here were just wonderful and they really made this story what it is in so many ways. Harper is strong and fierce but the way that Brigid Kemmerer chose to craft this character was really special. There are so many badass YA heroines out there that get too cocky or are just magically perfect, but Harper felt more like a real person to me than most of those other leading ladies. I loved that Brigid Kemmerer included Harper’s cerebral palsy and how it was portrayed as the way that Harper was born and not as a disadvantage or weakness. It was also great to see Harper grow into her boldness, from being a little sheltered by her brother to being thrown into this fantasy world and having to make a name for herself, quite literally. She didn’t change in personality but merely let that side of her grow in the proper atmosphere and situation. The reader was able to see that potential in Harper and with her situation in Emberfall and the other people by which she was surrounded, Harper was able to really grow into her confidence and it really felt so natural.

Rhen was another fantastic character in so many ways. Harper originally felt that he was a cocky prince but really he had so many levels that unfolded as the book progressed. Readers learn of his remorse for everything that’s happened to the kingdom and how much he really took it all to heart. Rhen’s challenge in the book seemed to be with his emotions and feelings, having to trust in his heart and let go of some of his overthinking. Being forced to repeat so many scenarios due to his curse, he essentially has ages to plan without growing older and somewhat replaying the opportunity to fall in love to break the curse, he employs different strategies, none of which work, of course, because love can’t be won by strategy. Harper and Grey, Rhen’s commander, help Rhen learn how to trust his heart and not feel so forced to fall in love. He has to let go before he can really latch on.

One of my favorite things about the book was the romance, which doesn’t happen often these days. So many people get excited over big love scenes, passionate kisses, and fiery romances. I was all about this gorgeous slow burn romance that took its time and really established those deep emotions! It’s not quite a hate-to-love situation but since neither Harper nor Rhen trust each other (naturally), there’s quite a spark of mistrust and Harper’s brashness also leads to a few spats that have these two at odds in the beginning. I really loved that as well because it’s so much more rewarding seeing the two soften towards each other and really piques that curiosity if the two can manage to fall in love. That’s the whole point of the book so you assume it’s coming and yet there’s still the question if that really is what will happen and how they’ll both come to believe it. It’s so expertly crafted and those quiet, stolen moments were absolutely everything in this book! I love those moments more than anything in books and I think they’re some of the most special scenes to read.

Finally, there’s the fact that this book delivers something of its own with a few unique twists that I did not see coming! I loved the set up for the next book and reading something like this actually made me glad that it’s a series whereas usually I’m wishing for more stand-alones. I do think that this book could have been made into a stand-alone if that’s what the author had wanted and it would have been beautiful, but I’m also glad that I get to keep reading about these characters, this world, and this beautiful writing for a little bit longer!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Retellings. I’ve been hesitating with some retellings as of late because they’ve been taking the adaptation a little too literally or leaning on it to tell the story, but this was such an excellent blend!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I think this could have gone juuuuuust a bit deeper and it would have been an absolute slam dunk! It was already wonderful but there was just a touch of something that could have been that one smidge better!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I enjoyed this adaptation so much. I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on fairy tale retellings lately because some are just not very well done but this was the absolute perfect blend of original and adaptation!

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

             

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie WestTitle: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: February 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

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I’m a huge Kasie West fan and all of her books are auto-buys, regardless of my reviews for them. Usually I pre-order and I somehow missed this one so I picked it up on audio so I didn’t have to wait!

FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS fell a little flat for me. When it came down to it, I felt like none of the characters were really all that likable. I didn’t really like Lacey that much and I didn’t find her character relatable either. I thought she seemed a little unreasonable at times and maybe she was a bit too much of a dreamer for me. While I don’t think an acting career is unrealistic, I had a hard time with how much she wanted to push off the end of high school to continue on her acting career when she could have easily managed both from the way that the book sounded. There were times when I liked her lack of filter and it felt genuine to hear some things pour out of her mouth but other times I felt she was rash and quick to assumptions.

I also just find that I don’t really enjoy books about acting or the movie/TV business. I think the only book that I did enjoy like that was GEEKERELLA and only half of the main characters were actually involved in the biz so it brought something a little different to the book rather than it being the only main narrator. I’m not sure what it is… just not being able to relate? I don’t enjoy the business or behind-the-scenes? But for some reason it just doesn’t hold me.

I also wanted just a bit more chemistry between Lacey and Donovan. I really started feeling it towards the end when they finally had some quiet moments together, allowing themselves to be relaxed and cute. I didn’t enjoy all of the tutoring scenes where it was so frantic on-set and Lacey’s co-stars and friends kept popping in and out.

I also thought the sabotage angle was a little cheesy and made it almost a mystery towards the end. I thought it took away from some of the reality of the book and I would have just loved to see more from the characters and a more character-driven novel. I could have dropped that part of the plot and just enjoyed the romance and character relationships.

Not my favorite Kasie West book by far. I think it’s my least favorite and I’m a little bummed about that. The character cameos were fun but they were from LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST which was also another not-favorite so it wasn’t as exciting.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cute contemporaries. I always love a light, cute contemporary. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was just the kind of tone I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just feel like everyone was so surface-level. I didn’t really like much about any of them and that was really disappointing.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

If this wasn’t Kasie West, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much and sadly, it may be my least favorite Kasie West book yet. I do love her books so much and would recommend her no matter what, but this one was a miss for me.

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BOOKS LIKE FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS

             

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie WestTitle: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Publishing Info: December 26, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

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LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was another wonderfully put-together Kasie West book! You know I’m a sucker for friend-to-more romances and this was another one that I really loved. The friendship was so great and enjoyable and I really liked how everything felt so realistic with the way that Abby handled her crush on her best friend. Did I love how Abby acted in every situation? No, and that’s what made it so realistic. Teenagers (and hey, even adults) don’t make very good decisions when feelings are involved and I know we’ve all made some choices that have hurt people when trying to figure out our love lives. I actually really appreciated that everything wasn’t perfect and smooth.

I will say that after reading this book, it kind of made BY YOUR SIDE seem a little less realistic with it the way that the anxiety issues were handled. It’s hard not to compare sometimes and LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST handled Abby’s mom’s agoraphobia much better than the anxiety issues in BY YOUR SIDE.

While LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST is still not my favorite out of all Kasie West’s contemporary books, it was so strong, realistic, and just really well done. I loved the sarcasm, banter, and friendship and all of the different friendships throughout the book. There were so many moments that felt natural and not forced and I really appreciated how Katie West handled so many of the situations here. I could have even gone for a few different endings but I was also really happy with how everything wrapped up!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Messy romances. I’m sure every romance in a book is a little messy and has its drama, but really there were so many different ways that this book could have ended. I could have gone for a few different endings, but I actually kind of liked that it was so complicated that I didn’t know how it would end and who Abby would choose.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I could have used a bit more time with Abby and Cooper actually together without the animosity of the other girl.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’m a big fan of all of Kasie West’s books. Even the ones I don’t love as much, they’re all so solid and great.

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST

             

By Your Side – Kasie West

By Your Side – Kasie WestTitle: By Your Side by Kasie West
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 16, 2017
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

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So it’s been a while since I finished this book before I started writing my review (two months, actually. Oops. Life has been busy, okay!?) and this is one of those books where my feelings about it change the further I get away from it. Some books I end up loving even more after the fact but BY YOUR SIDE sort of sticks out as one that’s fizzling out the more time that passes. When I first finsihed BY YOUR SIDE, it wasn’t a Kasie West favorite but it was cute and fluffy and just what I needed at the time… But the more time I spend away from the book, the more I realize how unrealistic it seemed which is such a shame because although Kasie West’s books are cute and light, they still have a sense of true, honest characters and some wonderfully realistic family and friend situations.

Let’s start with the good stuff. I did love Dax and how he came around to Autumn! I really liked seeing him let someone in and I’m a sucker for that boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks vibe. I didn’t totally love his story because I felt like it was maybe a bit too melodramatic for the current context and I thought he could have used a bit more personality… But he was definitely my favorite character of this book. I just love Kasie West’s romances and I always love a good bad-boy type finally opening up and falling for someone. It’s so cliche sometimes but it’s such a heart-warming trope that I’ll never get sick of it (as long as it’s done well). I instantly loved Dax and his whole vibe.

I also enjoyed the way that the book wrapped up. While I didn’t really love the journey to get there, I liked that it ended on a harmonious note and could have been incredibly dramatic. I actually kind of didn’t see that coming and I liked the way that Autumn’s friendships resolved, which is always something I enjoy in Kasie West’s books.

Now for all of the things in the middle that left me wanting…

I didn’t feel as much personality as I have from some of Kasie’s other female leads. While I appreciate how the book highlighted someone with an anxiety disorder, I didn’t really feel like it was realistic. Granted, I don’t personally deal with anxiety to that extent but I know several people who do — both socially/situationally and generalized anxiety — so this just didn’t really feel natural to me. While I appreciated that it was in the book, I’m not sure that it’s the most accurate portrayal. I did like that a plot point wasn’t how she discovered the extent of her anxiety but rather that she hadn’t told her friends about it because she didn’t want to be treated differently. I liked that she wasn’t embarrassed by it but just didn’t want to be treated like she was emotionally fragile, but on the flip side, that’s exactly the kind of things I would tell my friends and that they could support me on. It seems like she doesn’t really have a very good relationship with her friends if she can’t even tell them about her anxiety and panic attacks and they can’t even tell that she’s getting anxious and removing herself from situations.

It’s funny because in my initial reactions upon finishing, I wrote down how much I lvoed this friend group and how much her friends ended up supporting her… but that didn’t really happen until the very end of the book. Her friends left her in a library, didn’t notice she was missing, and hadn’t noticed for years that she gets anxious in certain situations and that’s why she’s leaving. They’re all too self-absorbed to notice, I guess. I did like the way that the book ended with these friendships but looking back, I feel like Autumn was not with the right group of friends. Too many of them seemed like they were not even interested in what Autumn was feeling and I felt like she was forcing her way into this friend group.

And let’s not even talk about how the main characters were locked in a library and neither one was like, “Dream come true!” Come on. You’re appealing to bookworms, here…

It’s weird how time changes your perspective on things. I’m not changing my rating because I did enjoy the book while reading it but I think this was the Kasie West book with the biggest problems and while I love all of her books, this one is at the bottom of my list. It’s a bummer because Kasie is one of my queens of contemporary! I’m hoping for better with the next book that’s coming out so soon!

Oh, and I happened to read it during the actual weekend that the book took place so high five for good timing! It just made it that much more fun.

Autumn // Character obsessions: Her crush, her friends, Dax
Soooo, Autumn. She fell pretty flat for me. She was a decent enough character to read about but she didn’t have nearly as much personality as Kasie West’s usual heroines! I always love Kasie’s strong, spunky, proud females and Autumn was much more subdued and shy to the point where she didn’t even feel comfortable with her friends.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Kasie West. This wasn’t my favorite but I will forever be a fan of her books! BY YOUR SIDE was not nearly as fun as her other works but I still enjoyed it while I was reading it.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Kasie West’s books can have deep or serious issues but they usually don’t feel so melodramatic. It wasn’t the anxiety but the way it was handled and portayed, amongst other things. I just really wish it had been a little bit different.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I still enjoyed the book and the less-than-happy thoughts didn’t hit me until later. Some loved it. Others didn’t. It’s worth a try!

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BOOKS LIKE BY YOUR SIDE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    26 kisses

P.S. I Like You – Kasie West

P.S. I Like You – Kasie WestTitle: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 14, 2016
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, By Your Side

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.

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** SLIGHT spoiler in the sense that I’m revealing who mystery note-writer is later on in my review. It’s necessary in order to properly share swoons. You can probably guess as you read but if you don’t want to know, avert your eyes! ** 

Kasie West is one of my queens of contemporary. When I’m in the mood for a contemporary novel, I usually lean towards light and fun (especially lately) so as soon as I heard about new title P.S. I LIKE YOU from Kasie West, I was ALL over that. A new cute contemporary novel from Kasie AND a secret letter exchange? Oh, boy. It had my name written all over it.

All of Kasie West’s novels are amazing so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite… and P.S. I LIKE YOU made it that much harder. It was good right from the start but I wasn’t sure it was “new favorite” material. I immediately adored Lily and her quirky, unique, and not-afraid-to-be-themselves family but I wasn’t sure I could really relate as much as I had to previous novels like ON THE FENCE (swoon).  The more I got to know Lily and her family, the more relatable they became. I really, really loved how Kasie West showed how Lily was comfortable with who she was (for example, in fashion sense and music taste) and yet she was still shy and uncomfortable to be so different at times. She had such a conviction in what she loved and yet she felt vulnerable about those things as well. There’s so much going on in one person’s life that it’s impossible to tell why they do, dress, or act how they do. Lily has a unique clothing style and makes her own clothes. It’s a passion and art is important in her family but it also stems from the fact that her parents can’t afford to buy herself new clothes and all of Lily’s money usually goes towards her guitar or hanging out with her friends. I can’t say how much I appreciated that Kasie West portrayed a character who was happy with her creations and art and was still so self-conscious of them at the same time.

I loved seeing two present parents for the main character as well. I suppose it’s more common in fantasy/dystopian/paranormal to have a noticeable lack of adults around but I always appreciate seeing two loving parents in a YA character’s life. I suppose part of the reason parents are so often absent (because of divorce or death) in YA novels is probably because that is a major thing for a teen to deal with but it’s also nice to have novels where you get to see a family with two parents who have a good relationship. I’m not saying one is better than the other but when it becomes a noticeable tend in YA to have missing parents, it’s refreshing to see the opposite… But that’s a discussion for another day.
What I loved best about Lily’s family was how supportive everyone was of each other. The kids’ ages range from 8 – 19 so there’s a wide array of sports schedules, practices, friends, places to be, and things to do among all the kids. Sometimes Lily has to grudgingly baby-sit but you can always see the love there for her younger brothers and even though she and her sister are different in many ways and can butt heads, they’re always looking out for each other when it comes to the big picture. Her parents can be a bit embarrassing but in ways that show that they care about their kids and like to have fun. It’s typical silly parents behavior that can embarrass a teenager but I loved how I could just feel the love from the whole family!

And of course there were the SWOONS. (This is the part where you avert your eyes if you don’t want to know who the mystery note-writer is!) I absolutely adored the romance in this book. First off, the letter writing reminded me SO MUCH of some of my high school experiences. We used to exchange notes back and forth all the time in classes in high school. I think I even still have the box of notes that I kept from high school somewhere (you know, if I ever want to re-live those embarrassing world’s-shortest-relationships) and memories of many, many text and instant message conversations with crushes. The beauty of this book was the hate-to-love relationship. Oh yes, I’m talking about how Lily’s mortal enemy #1 Cade ends up becoming the love interest. It was done so well because I spent the first half of the book suspecting the note-writer might be him (he was the prominent male character even in the first half of the book) and wondering how in the world he was going to be turned around into someone I would actually like and it so worked. Everything that Cade did and said truly had a reason behind it and it just goes to show you that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life and where they’re coming from. The characters really reminded me of myself and some things I had gone through during high school and it also just makes me wonder what sort of things I was missing in other people’s lives because I was too absorbed in my own. I won’t spoil everything here but I will say that these swoons just totally took me by surprise and this relationship ended up being amazingly cute. When the reveal happened and these two characters came together… GAH. I just melted.

Not to be missed in the midst of the swoons was the friendship between Lily and Isabel. They come from a totally different family life, like plenty of different things, and enjoy different hobbies but they’re still best friends. Although a lot of people find friends based on similar interests, not ALL of their interests have to intersect and I really liked that about this friendship! The girls are different in many ways but they’re so supportive of each other no matter what, even when a boy threatens to come between them. (Gasp! Never!) I just loved the maturity of their friendship and also how it continues to grow throughout the book. Lily often has to take care of family matters before hanging out with friends and especially as a teenager that can be hard to understand but the girls end up making it work and hang out when they can. I love that by the end of the book, they understand each other even more than they already did and learned a little something about themselves too.

P.S. I LIKE YOU definitely shot straight into my favorites from Kasie West! (Although isn’t that really all of them? Don’t make me choose!) The beginning started off a little slower for me than previous books but the middle and ending were oh-so-rewarding and just so darn cute. Kasie West never fails to deliver a cute contemporary and characters that are so incredibly relatable. She continues to be an auto-buy author for me and even though I just finished this book, I can’t wait for more!! 
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Letters in books. I just love when letter-writing is a big part of a book. Emails, letters, texts, you name it. It just reminds me so much of writing back and forth with crushes in my youth and it brings back fun memories and feelings!
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the reveal. I did enjoy that Lily’s mystery man stayed a mystery for about half of the book… but I also could have used more time knowing who he was so we could see more of that crossover time! All of those little moments where they almost find out about each other… And more time of them together and swooning!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I simply adore Kasie West. Her contemporary novels are perfection and I will instantly buy any single one of them and so should you.

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BOOKS LIKE P.S. I LIKE YOU

(Click the cover to see my review!)

MEANT TO BE    ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
P.S. I LIKE YOU by Kasie West!

I’m SO excited to share my blog tour post for P.S. I LIKE YOU today! I simply adore Kasie West, no matter what she writes, but I especially love her contemporary novels and P.S. I LIKE YOU may be one of my favorites yet. The books was absolutely wonderful through and through… but I’ll post a review sometime later! Today’s blog tour stop is all about BOOK SCENTS! Thanks to Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours and Scholastic for making this blog tour happen!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book ScentsTitle: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 14, 2016
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.


LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT KASIE WEST

KASIE WEST AUTHOR PHOTO

I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

BOOK SCENTS: P.S. I LIKE YOU

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from P.S. I LIKE YOU! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

The kettle corn cart was closer to our booth than normal and the sweet smell in the air almost made up for what I’d discovered upon arriving at the Fall Fest.

Inspiration: Kettle corn, Fall Fest
Fragrances: Fresh popcorn, sugar, apple pie and pumpkin pie spices

Is being considered crazy a tradition? Because that’s what our tradition is. Okay, we actually have a real one: The double-blind taste test. First, both my mom and dad make pumpkin pies. Different ones, mind you, but both pumpkin. Then they cut the pies in the other room and put pieces on different places. One each for everyone there. Then they force us — force us — to eat it blindfolded. then we have to tell them whose is better. 

Inspiration: Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie
Fragrances: Pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, whipped cream

It would seem awkward to step back now, like he affected me in some way, so I didn’t. Because he didn’t. But his musky scent sure was doing a number on my breathing.

Inspiration: Musky boy scent
Fragrances: Cool clear water, pine, oakmoss, moon lake musk 

He tasted like mint gum and all my hopes and dreams.

Inspiration: Mint gum
Fragrances: Spearmint, vanilla, sugar

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of P.S. I LIKE YOU blog tour stops!

GIVEAWAY

TWO lucky winners will receive a finished copy of P.S. I LIKE YOU! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fill-In Boyfriend – Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend – Kasie WestTitle: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Publishing Info: May 5, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: April 15, 2015
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

    When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

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I have grown to be a HUGE Kasie West fan. I just loved the Pivot Point duology and have been head over heels for her contemporary books so far. As soon as I heard about THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, I immediately pre-ordered the book and was lucky enough to grab at copy when I was at ALA Midwinter in Chicago this year! Although THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND isn’t my favorite of hers so far, there’s nothing bad to be said about this book and it’s just as delightful and fun as I had hoped it would be!

The book wastes no time introducing the situation at hand with Gia and how she ends up having a “fill-in boyfriend” and their interactions are just plain adorable. I didn’t relate to Gia as much as I have with previous Kasie West heroines but I do admire that she’s not really afraid to ask for what she wants, and when her boyfriend leaves her in the parking lot at prom (what a jerk, right?) all she wants is to save face in front of her friends because her frenemy is pushing the idea that he doesn’t exist. Fortunately, she finds a Fill-In Bradley and he is too adorable and willing to play along to help out a total stranger. The relationship that begins to form between the two just totally worked and I just really loved the dynamic between Gia and Fill-In Bradley. (Yes, he does have a real name but it’s not revealed until later in the book so while other reviews may mention him by name, I’m going to leave you guessing because it was fun for me not to know until Gia did!) They really played off each other quite well, with Gia being a bit more head strong and unafraid to say what was on her mind and FIB being a bit more reserved. They balanced each other out and FIB helped Gia see a different side of herself that she wasn’t able to see around her friends.

The friendships in this book were really interesting and I loved seeing so many different types of friendships! Of course we see Gia and FIB start to become friends out of nowhere and because the way that they met was so wacky and unconventional, they don’t really need to hold back in any way. Gia also ends up talking to a girl in one of her classes who is very much on the opposite side of the social realm. Bec is a bit anti-establishment, definitely not one of the “popular” kids like Gia is, and unlike most people in the school, doesn’t really care what Gia thinks or what anyone thinks, really. She’s able to tell Gia like it is and dish out some of her own medicine and their sort of mutual dislike starts to transform into a solid friendship (especially since Gia is the type of person who doesn’t like to have people dislike her). Then there’s the frenemy story line, which isn’t something I’m usually interested in but Kasie West totally makes this one work. Gia’s best friend is also best friends with a girl named Jules who for some reason seems to have it in for Gia but at the same time, remains in their friend group. Gia struggles with questioning why Jules seems to want to turn her friends against her or if she just feels threatened and is making the situation out to be much worse than it really is. I just really loved all of the different ways these characters come together (or are pushed apart) and am once again so impressed with how well Kasie strings these all together!

The romance, of course, was positively adorable. I love some good banter in books and Gia and FIB just really played off of each other so well. Then of course, Gia starts to develop the FEELS — and who can blame her? This guy is seriously cute and I love that he’s a sort of nerdy type and totally not what Gia thought she would be into. I sort of love unexpected romances like that so I was all for the two of them eventually falling in love! Each character has their own past and skeletons in their closet when it comes to relationships (although clearly FIB knows Gia’s) so naturally, things become complicated, especially when trying to maintain a fake relationship meanwhile wondering if it really is real.

All-in-all, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND was exactly what I had hoped it would be and I just loved it! I think I connected more with other plots and characters from previous Kasie West books so this one didn’t take over as my favorite of hers but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it all the same! I’m always so impressed with her storytelling and how she brings characters and plot to life.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

The Fill in boyfriend gr updates

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Gia // Character Obsessions: Friends, saving face, being alpha, building relationships, social media.
I did like Gia! It was nice to see a popular girl not to be so stereotypical. I mean, yes, some are but the majority of my high school wasn’t like that. Most people aren’t like that. They’re very unique and have a wide variety of interest so I appreciate that Gia’s popularity also stemmed from being on student council (and how awesome is their sober graduation bash instead of the popular girl being a party girl? Loved that). I wasn’t like “omg new BFF” but I have definitely been in her shoes as far as friends and relationships and even family go.
Fill-In Bradley // Character Obsessions: Super cool nerdy things, family, selflessness.
FIB was SO cute. I just loved how he immediately clicked with Gia and he wasn’t afraid to give her a hard time when she deserved it. It was also neat to see their relationship because he was the only one who knew the truth about real versus fake Bradley so it was like they had a little secret! Anyway, just loved him in general.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Frenemies. Usually I avoid books where girls are hating on each other. I just don’t like watching people claw at each other to try to become the top dog for popularity’s sake or to gain social status… but Kasie West rocked this concept! There was a real reason why Jules was kind of terrible and it was a real struggle between the two girls and not superficial so I actually enjoyed it!
Left Me Wanting More: Main character connection. I liked Gia a lot but there were also quite a few ways in which I didn’t relate. That doesn’t make her any less of a character for me but the contemporary characters I usually fall in love with as far as fluffier reads go are the characters who I can totally relate to/want to be BFFs with (like Charlie from ON THE FENCE). Still loved her and it’s just a silly thing because obviously I can’t be like ALL of the characters ever, ya know?

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

Just adorable. All the love for Kasie West. Go buy this and all of her books. I’ll wait.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

OPEN ROAD SUMMER     PAST PERFECT

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) – Kasie West

Split Second (Pivot Point #2) – Kasie WestTitle: Split Second (Pivot Point #2) by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 11, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Paranormal, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 8, 2014
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Addie has always been able to see the future when faced with a choice, but that doesn't make her present any easier. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. So when Addie's dad invites her to spend her winter break with him in the Norm world, she jumps at the chance. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He's a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. She wants to change that.Laila, her best friend, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie's memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don't want this to happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.
In the suspenseful sequel to Pivot Point, Addie tries desperately to retrieve her lost memories and piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot.

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** This is a spoiler-free review for SPLIT SECOND but may contain spoilers for book one — PIVOT POINT — if you haven’t already read it! **

I had been meaning to read SPLIT SECOND for a looooong time but never picked up a copy for myself so when I received it from Brianna (Paperback Princess) via Andi’s Spring Exchange, I was so excited to finally finish off this duology and figure out where the story went after the exciting ending to PIVOT POINT!

SPLIT SECOND pretty much picked up where PIVOT POINT left off — Addie has made her decision on which parent to live with after seeing the two possible futures with each one — but SPLIT SECOND also has something that PIVOT POINT did not: a split POV. The book starts with Addie’s point of view, but we also get to hear a different part of the story from her best friend Laila, who I loved! Addie is always the more serious one and the planner whereas Laila is more laid-back, spontaneous, and extroverted so it was great to see the book from two very different mindsets. Another thing that I loved about the dual-POVs is that Laila actually played a really big part in PIVOT POINT — she actually changed Addie’s entire life in a BIG way, as we find out at the end of the book — so I really enjoyed that Kasie West chose to highlight her importance in these books by giving her an even stronger voice.

A very complicated part of the book (and not bad way — in a very interesting way) is the romance that was established between Addie and Trevor in book one and clearly all the readers are rooting for in book two. I want to say SO MUCH about it, but if I say everything, that will lead to very big spoilers so… sigh. I will refrain from spoilers! What I will say is that I love how Kasie West chose to handle this situation. As we find out from the end of PIVOT POINT, Addie is forced to choose the path in which she doesn’t meet and end up falling for Trevor in order to save her best friend, leaving readers sad and on edge in anticipation of SPLIT SECOND… So really that was my main question when I started the book: HOW DO THESE TWO END UP TOGETHER? (Because be honest. You know they have to.) Every step of the way felt bittersweet and tense and exciting all at once and I just really loved how Kasie West ending up weaving this story line. I thought it was simply perfect and couldn’t have asked for a better solution to the problem at hand.

I really enjoyed where SPLIT SECOND took the readers and there’s just something so refreshing about reading a duology! I love being able to get invested in the characters but not feel that long gap between several books or wonder if I’ll still be invested in the series years later. I always connect with Kasie West’s characters and even with a paranormal twist in this series, I still feel like each one was incredibly real. I had a great time reading these two books and I’m even more of a fan of Kasie West than when I first read PIVOT POINT!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Addie // Character Obsessions: Divergence, family history, friendship, para-mysteries.
I really connected with Addie in these two books… She has a level head on her shoulders but she also makes some poor decisions at times. She felt like a very mature soul and I just really enjoyed getting to know her! SPLIT SECOND was no exception and I really loved seeing her mature even more in this book.
Laila // Character Obsessions: Fun, helping her friends, honing her skills.
I loved how much bigger of a role Laila played in this book! So much about her — from her friendship with Addie to her own para-skills — really shaped the entire course of this book so I was really glad she had her own POV. Her voice was also so much fun and I loooooved her romantic interest too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal abilities. I’ve been switching up paranormal for fantasy reads way more often nowadays and for some reason, paranormal in general seems to be more “on the way out”. (Maybe just me?) I’m glad I enjoyed this one so much — concept and all!
Left Me Wanting More: Addie & Trevor time. Don’t get me wrong — they still had a lot of face time in this book… But given where PIVOT POINT left off, you can guess how much time was spent re-building that relationship. I still really enjoyed it all but I just wanted them to get together quickly!

Addiction Rating
READ IT!

I love that this is a duology and both books are really great, solid reads. Definitely books I’d recommend to others and what set me on the course of being a huge Kasie West fan!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SPLIT SECOND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     the body finder    white cat

The Selective Collective features On the Fence

selective collective

The Selective Collective reads ON THE FENCE by KASIE WEST

The Selective Collective features ON THE FENCE by KASIE WEST provided to us by Harper Teen for review and use in The Selective Collective feature!

For my part in this Selective Collective post, I got to write a bout a topic of my choosing and one of my favorite things about the book (obviously) was the relationship between Charlie and Braden. I loved the athletic aspect of the book because I’m more of a tomboy at heart than a girly girl and it was fun to see some more interactions between the two characters involving sports (hello, sports ARE romantic. CONTACT SPORTS. Don’t pretend like that little touch between you and your crush never sent sparks) so I came up with a sort of “perfect day” scenario for Charlie and Braden and what I think they would have a blast with!

ACTIVITY #1: SUNRISE

Charlie and Braden both have trouble sleeping, so why not start the day with the sunrise and take it from there? Hopefully (ya know, since I’m making this whole thing up anyway) this would be a day where they’re awake more towards the 4-5 o’clock hour and not the 2 o’clock hour so they could meet at the fence and talk until the sun rises. Some sunrises can be even better than sunsets and there’s just something so much more calm and quiet about a sunrise… Not too many people awake yet, the day hasn’t started yet. I think it can be utterly romantic with the perfect setting!

ACTIVITY #2: GOLDEN GATE PARK

Source: Time.com

I’m not exactly sure where they live, but I DO know it’s within driving distance of Oakland… So I’m sending these two to Golden Gate Park! There’s tons to do (not like I’ve been there, but still) and they can go for a nice hike, check out scenery, even hop over to a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge! It’s a great place to explore and spend time together before their next activity…

ACTIVITY #3: A’S GAME

Source: The Week

Braden LOVES the A’s so what better activity than going to see a game? Maybe alone, on a real date this time without any friend drama in the mix! It’s the perfect activity for both of these sports nuts. They can sit back and relax, watching the game and still talk about anything and everything!

ACTIVITY #4: FUN CENTER NIGHT

There’s a “fun center” near my house so I’m sure there’s one somewhere close to Charlie and Braden! They have all sorts of great things to do there — from go-karts to bumper boats to mini-golf. Honestly, what better place for two competitive people? Depending on their energy levels after a busy day, they can keep the momentum going with go-karts or wind down with a casual game of mini-golf. (My money’s on Charlie!) Round out the night with some ice cream nearby. (There’s ice cream at this fictional fun center. What fun center DOESN’T have ice cream? That would be a crime.)

So what do you think? Great set-up for Charlie and Braden? Anything else you would throw in or change? I think they’d have a blast on this mega-date day!

 

And please don’t forget to check out the features from the other ladies in The Selective Collective! We each have a post to feature a different side of ON THE FENCE so please go visit their take on the book as well!

Tee @ YA Crush  Interview with Kasie West + Giveaway
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Review: On the Fence
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  From Page to Screen
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Roundtable: On the Fence