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Hello, Sunshine – Leila Howland

Hello, Sunshine – Leila HowlandTitle: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Publishing Info: July 11, 2017 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 7, 2017
Related Posts: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1), Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2)

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

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I cannot tell you how much this kills me… But I didn’t connect with this book in any way at all. Leila Howland’s Nantucket series still remains one of my all-time favorite series. Cricket is my soul-sister. I get her. I loved her. Both books had this realism and magic. HELLO, SUNSHINE didn’t have any of that for me.

HELLO, SUNSHINE is a much lighter book than the Nantucket books, which I really wasn’t expecting. It’s always hard picking up an author’s sophomore novel or next series adventure because you’re expecting the same kind of tone as what you first read and that’s not always the case… which is GOOD. I actually love authors who can write any genre, any tone, and create a wonderful story, but this book was a total miss for me. I was okay with it not feeling like the Nantucket duet but it just didn’t feel like there was any substance there and that was what I loved about Leila Howland’s first books.

HELLO, SUNSHINE in general is just not my cup of tea. The book is about high school graduate Becca who heads off to Hollywood after graduation instead of college. No college accepted her because she took the blame for an incident involving her and her friends so she gives up on going to college and instead decides to go become an actress… out of the blue. She has no experience, no plans, and no money. First off, this concept just drives me nuts. I’m a planner. I NEED to plan things and I could never head off to city with no plan, no job, no money, and not a care in the world. I understand people do this and some succeed, but characters who do everything on a whim are not my friends. I just don’t get along with care-free spirits because I need some structure, and care-free characters with no plan often makes me feel like a book has no plan. Becca randomly grabs an apartment for herself and wait, she actually DOES make a list so there’s that, but everything else is just randomly happening. Random friends happen, a random job happens, random encounters happen… and it just felt all over the place and I didn’t know where things were heading. Obviously the end goal is for Becca to get an agent and land an acting job but the road to get there was too willy-nilly.

I was doomed from the start because I couldn’t care less about Hollywood and the whole breaking-into-show-business concept. Music? Yes. Acting? No. I’m not big into celebrities, I don’t like the glitz and glam, and it all seems so forced and fake, so the concept of the book really wasn’t a draw for me, but the author was. Combined with Becca’s character, it just never came together for me where my personal reading preferences stood. The casting directors are weird or offensive or rude and I like reading about happy things, not people putting a main character down all the time.

I also hated the way Becca was treated in this book and she didn’t stand up for herself when she needed to. There was a weird, creepy semi-stalker guy in her apartment complex that kept hitting on her in the creepiest ways and she wouldn’t tell him just go buzz off! I get that you don’t want offend a neighbor, particularly one that may not be all there, but he was being gross and creepy and she should have stood up to him and said that she was uncomfortable. You can’t be uncomfortable around your neighbors and feel unsafe where you live. I just didn’t find it comical and it really turned me off. Becca gets pushed around by all of the professionals she encounters, and just when you think she’s getting a break in an indie movie, the guy asks everyone to play the scene nude for no reason. Um, ew? No. Thankfully Becca did stand up for herself there, but again, why? I guess these things probably happen in the business and you do encounter situations like those, but again, one of the reasons I don’t like reading about the movie business and the struggle to break into it because people DO end up doing things that they wouldn’t normally do because it’s so competitive and difficult. I don’t like the way actors can be objectified like because someone of authority knows that they can do it and I was just hoping this book would be more meaningful and less slap-stick and shock value.

I just didn’t like any of Becca’s relationships at all in this book at all. It got off to a bad start when her boyfriend drives her all the way out to LA (he’s in college in California so it’s on the way for him) and then dumps her when they get there. Then she tries to get back together with him and defends him to her new friends!! Nope. Not cool. The new romance didn’t feel like a romance at first (just awkward friendship) and then once it turned into a romance, I really wasn’t feeling it. I just didn’t like any of Becca’s relationships throughout the whole book, except for the mother-daughter relationship and how she talked with her mom.

To be honest, I made it halfway through and then started skimming. It’s been slow-going for a week and with very apathetic feelings about the book, I didn’t feel the need to read everything in depth, because it didn’t have the depth that I wanted from it. I was SO SURE this would be a hit given my past experiences with Leila Howland’s books and I’ve been waiting forever for a new YA novel from her but this was a strikeout for me. I won’t rate it one star because it wasn’t AWFUL but it really didn’t work for me at all. We all know what we like to read and what we don’t and I wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t Leila Howland.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Leila Howland. I didn’t connect with this book but I simply adoooore the Nantucket series. I’m glad I tried her new book but I’m also so bummed I didn’t love it!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I just… didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the character depth or connection like I did with Cricket and I SO wanted it to be there.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I had some friends who really liked this! I know part of this was my own personal feelings on the content and I didn’t have that personal connection. I’d say check out some other reviews before you pick this one up or pass on it!

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BOOKS LIKE HELLO, SUNSHINE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BEHIND THE SCENES

Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2) – Leila Howland

Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2) – Leila HowlandTitle: Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2) by Leila Howland
Publishing Info: May 13, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 3, 2014
Related Posts: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1), Hello, Sunshine

    Cricket Thompson's lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she's headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.
When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn't anticipated. It's hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.
But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn't just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she's been trying to ignore-her own heart.

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Oh, NANTUCKET RED. You were just perfect for me. When I read NANTUCKET BLUE last year, I really enjoyed it but immediately upon finishing, it didn’t totally wow me. Then the more I sat there and thought about the book, the more I realized how much I really, really loved it and how sometimes you just need to sit on your feelings for a book before you decide entirely how it has affected you. But for NANTUCKET RED, I immediately knew this was a book I just fell head over heels for.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t read synopses and blurbs and summaries because I like to be able to fall into a book exactly as the author intended it, each reveal and plot point hitting at the exact perfect moment without really knowing anything ahead of time, so although it says it right there in the synopsis, I actually wasn’t aware about the break from Zack and how he and Cricket end up traveling totally different paths for a while. The beginning of the book ran through a few months rather quickly. The book picks up right where we left the characters after NANTUCKET BLUE but in order to catch up to the next summer (and avoid flash backs), the reader is taken through almost a year fairly quickly to understand how the characters end up where they are before the next summer on Nantucket arrives. Usually that doesn’t always sit right with me, but I was really glad to see the book done this way because I feel like flashbacks are worse! I liked being able to have a bit of a refresher from the first book and just jump right back into things. I liked being able to experience them as they happened and to be there in the moment, feeling what Cricket felt. We got the important highlights and I think it was done really well!

One thing I really love about both of these books is the unintentional journey that Cricket goes on to find herself and decide exactly what path she wants to take in life. After reading these books, I honestly wish I was ever as brave as she had been because I felt such a connection to her and the decisions she had to make regarding so many aspects of her future, even if I never had to make those exact same decisions. She made a lot of hard choices because she was able to see the big picture and have the support of the people around her to help her. In NANTUCKET BLUE, that journey revolves more around her family and her friendships, all the while nursing a new relationship, and the ways she changes from those events. In NANTUCKET RED, I feel like with the ache of a break-up in her heart, she does a different kind of soul-searching and ends on an even more personal quest to find out who she really is apart from relationships and away from family. She bonds more deeply to her friends and starts to make decisions based on what she really wants, and it may not have been something she even expected.

Everything about NANTUCKET RED just felt so real to me and reading it just felt like being home. I just really connected to all of the characters — honestly, every single one — and Cricket felt like pieces of me and pieces of my best friends. I really felt like I could have fallen into the book and easily been a part of Cricket’s group of friends and everything from characters to situations — even to setting, although I’m not familiar with Nantucket at all — it just all felt like somewhere I’ve been before and people I’ve known. Leila Howland does an amazing job of making everything extremely realistic and just come to life.

I was honestly sad when the book was over. Everything ended well and I felt closure on the stories that we picked up through NANTUCKET BLUE and NANTUCKET READ but I still wasn’t ready for it all to end. I just didn’t want to let these characters go. Any chance I can follow Cricket and these characters to college and beyond? New Adult Nantucket? Adult Nantucket? No? Okay.

As much as I loved NANTUCKET BLUE, NANTUCKET RED really sealed the deal for me. I felt like such a part of it and identified with it in so many ways. I don’t think I was ready for the amount of emotions I felt while reading this book and looking back on it, I get that rush of emotions all over again thinking about how I felt when I read it. It’s something that’s really going to stick with me for a long time.

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“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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Cricket // Character Obsessions: Working, Brown, lacrosse, Zack.
Cricket is clearly one of my soul sisters. I just related to her SO. MUCH. in this book — like, a ridiculous amount. The way she reacted to things, the things she said, the things she went through… I just really connected to her and I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve related that much.
Zack // Character Obsessions: School, Parker, Nantucket, and yes, still Cricket.
Not gonna lie. I was a little mad at Zack, and yet like Cricket, I just couldn’t let him go. I knew there was SOMETHING, still SOMETHING there. Something happened. Something was wrong. It wasn’t over yet! And not to mention I’m still in love with Zack a little myself too.
Ben // Character Obsessions: Work, mixing drinks, outdoors, surfing.
Oooh, Ben the older guy. I really liked him too and I actually loved his involvement in the book. Oh, Leila Howland, you totally nailed it. He was the perfect way to introduce a new guy without making a serious love triangle and still allow the two main characters to have their original connection.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Leila Howland. Yep, this book and this series pretty much made her an auto-buy author for me. I just FELL IN LOVE with this book and I need more books from her ASAP.
Left Me Wanting More: Nantucket-world. Nantucket New Adult? Nantucket College? Nantucket in the Big City? I want them ALL. Don’t get too excited — pretty sure Leila Howland doesn’t have these in the works, but I could live forever reading about the lives of these characters. I just fell in love with each one of them and I wish I could read about them even after their young adult lives.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

Buy this book. Buy this series. I just fell in love with everything about it and you bet it comes highly recommended from me!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE NANTUCKET RED

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Just One Day     Anna and the French Kiss

Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1) – Leila Howland

Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1) – Leila HowlandTitle: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1) by Leila Howland
Publishing Info: May 7, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 7, 2013
Related Posts: Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2), Hello, Sunshine

    For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.
    Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.
    When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.
    But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.
    A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

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NANTUCKET BLUE was the perfect, easy breezy summer read. (Well, technicalities since it’s only spring, but you know what I mean.) I felt like the book was so easy to read and it just flowed so well. The chapters were short and concise so I never felt bogged down with lengthy passages, the setting was — of course — Nantucket, so we’re dealing with a fun beach down (despite Cricket’s personal hardships), and Cricket’s narration is easy to follow.

Did it ‘wow’ me? No. But in a weird way, that was the beauty of the book. Cricket faces some serious issues with family, friendships, and relationships, but even though these big issues were present (death, divorce, sex), the way the book was put together was never an overwhelming mess of feelings for me. I still really got into Cricket’s story but the issues didn’t take over the book.

I felt like the romance kind of sneaks up on the reader in NANTUCKET BLUE and at first I was scared we weren’t going to have a romance, leading me to think, “Well what kind of contemporary is this, anyway!?” BUT it just takes a while to get there. Once it starts to develop, it’s so incredibly natural that I was glad it wasn’t forced in the beginning.
Okay, I really want to talk about this so VERY MILD SPOILER ALERT REGARDING THE ROMANCE…
View Spoiler » I didn’t want to talk about details since the romance doesn’t develop until later in the story so in case you want to be surprised (because it does give away hints about the romance)… There you go!

The secondary characters were also impressive to me. I felt like they really came alive in this story and every character really felt real. No one felt like a caricature of a person or that it was close but not quite believable — All of the characters really felt like real people and I really think that’s part of what made the book so easy to read. I got lost in the story and its perfect imperfections. Another thing I really liked was that not ALL of the loose ends were tied up. Don’t worry — It’s still a very neat ending and you won’t be left hanging, but we do see that life is messy and not all of the big issues can be resolved in 300 pages. I was left feeling hope for Cricket and her future but I liked that there were some things that were left out there and weren’t forced into getting resolved just to be resolved by the end of the book.

If you’re looking for a light yet serious summer contemporary romance, then this is the book for you! I’d definitely recommend it for a beachy read or for a nice, spring day!

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Cricket: I wasn’t sure if Cricket was her real name but for those of you wondering, yep, it is! (Which I also liked and was happy that it didn’t fall under my “weird name” pet peeve in this specific case…) Cricket seemed like a pretty normal teenager and I really enjoyed seeing her journey to her first real relationship and her first love as well as how she handled responsibility and a big friendship fight.
Jules: Wow, Jules really took a turn in this book and fast. It’s no secret (since it’s in the description and is a big part of the book) that Cricket & Jules end up in a major fight. When Jules goes through a major life change, she pushes Cricket away instead of leaning on her best friend to help her through it. It’s a classic case of not handling it well (which, yeah, she went through something terrible so I can understand how hard it is…) and the friendship between Cricket & Jules really suffers. Even through that I found myself wanting to like Jules. I was bargaining with myself (not unlike Cricket) that she was going through a rough time and reassuring myself that don’t worry — she’ll come around… She’ll come around. It was painful to watch that friendship instantly deteriorate before your eyes and even after the book is finished, I’m still not sure if I personally forgive Jules or not! It’s definitely a very complicated part of this book.
Zack: Zack is Jules’ brother and immediately I loved him. He’s got a calm, easy-going attitude and I knew I would like him from the start. He didn’t disappoint me in the middle or end either and I can honestly say he was my favorite character!
Jay: Jay is Cricket’s biiiiig crush and he sounds like a total cutie. I liked that even though he seems like he’s pegged as one of the popular kids, he never seemed cocky or boastful. He was actually a likable character for me and although it got a bit rocky, I still like how he handled things in the very end!

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BUY IT!

After letting this one sit for a while, it really, really grew on me. I felt all the feelings coming back whenever I thought about it! Definitely one you might want to re-read.

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BOOKS LIKE NANTUCKET BLUE

(click on the cover to see my review!)

     Golden    Just One Day