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Sean Griswold’s Head – Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold’s Head – Lindsey LeavittTitle: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Publishing Info: March 1, 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 31, 2014
Related Posts: Going Vintage, The Chapel Wars

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.
The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

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Being a huge fan of the first Lindsey Leavitt book I read, GOING VINTAGE, I knew I wanted to try an older title of hers and was anxious to start SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD. I probably would never have picked it up without having already read GOING VINTAGE because the cover isn’t exactly appealing… I mean, hi, that’s Sean Griswold’s head all right. (Although the new cover is much cuter!)

SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, despite having a quirky title, felt a lot more serious than GOING VINTAGE for me. After Peyton finds out that her dad has MS and her parents withheld this information from her for months, she freezes them out, refusing to speak with them for a few solid weeks. They encourage her to go to the counselor at school and in order to help her focus on her anger and reel in her emotions, the counselor advises Payton to pick a “focus object”. Unable to come up with anything good, Payton decides to focus on the head in front of her in class who just happens to be Sean Griswold. Payton never really knew much about him but through her, erm… focusing, she begins to pick up details about his life that interest her and others that remain mysteries.

The first thing that really hit me about this book was that it was the first book I had ever read that revolved around MS. Hearing the news was scary for me as a reader because my fiancé’s best friend’s dad just passed away a few months ago after struggling very badly with MS for over twenty years (he was essentially completely paralyzed). I was very scared for Payton and her family and appreciated how hard it must have been to watch her father struggle with this and how scary it is to see someone you love going through those life-altering changes. As sad as it was, it was interesting to make that personal connection and I felt like I really related to Payton and her family that much more.

With Sean Griswold becoming her focus object, Payton becomes, well… obsessed. She essentially stalks him, trying not to be creepy, but the more she finds out about him, the more things don’t quite fall into place and she becomes obsessed with the mystery that is Sean Griswold, her best friend Jac helping out when she can! I really enjoyed the interactions between Payton and Sean, starting out incredibly awkward at first and slowly growing into a real friendship — and what would the book be without a romance? — growing into something more as well. I also spent the book reeling in curiosity and anticipation because you know at some point in time, it’s coming out that Payton has essentially been kind of stalking Sean, so I was wondering how that would all come to a point!

One of the things I loved the most about the book was that it was all about relationships. Payton struggles to maintain a good dynamic with her family because she’s furious with her parents and understandably, is afraid of what’s happening with her dad. She grows closer to her friend Jac, but they have their own tiffs as well. We also get to see Payton’s relationship start to develop with Sean, which is the most unexpected turn of events in Payton’s life in relationship department since she hadn’t really talked to him much before.

SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD was funny, moving, and had some really adorable moments. I absolutely loved the lessons we learn about relationships from this book and I really connected with the issues that Payton was going through. Definitely a little more serious than Leavitt’s later works (although I read them a little backwards since I hadn’t started with her oldest YA books first) but a really great read that I had a lot of fun reading and inhaled in one afternoon!

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!

sgh

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Payton Gritas // Character Obsessions: Sean Griswold (and his head), MS, her family, basketball.
I really felt like Payton was a great, relatable character. I can totally understand her reaction to her parents keeping her in the dark for so many months because I would be really upset as well. To get a shock like that AND to find out no one told you… Payton takes it hard. She seems very much like the girl-next-door which is something I usually relate to as well. She has a zany best friend and of course the two of them get a little crazy about boys. So much fun to see all of her relationships.
Sean Griswold // Character Obsessions: Biking, mystery activities?
I loved the Sean Griswold obsession. It’s so funny thinking about all of the kids in high school that you’re lumped in with because of your last name or you have classes together or a friend of a friend and how little you realize you know about that person besides their name and what they look like. I loved who Sean turned out to be and was glad Payton chose him as her focus object! Such a funny concept that totally worked out great.

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Kept Me Hooked On: “Issue” Reads. I don’t like calling them “issue” reads, but for lack of a better term… I don’t usually pick up books that have a heavy theme of diseases because a lot of times, I’m looking for a lighter contemporary and I’m not really in the mood for that kind of serious tone. I’m actually glad I didn’t know that was a big theme here because I may not have picked it up. That being said, although it played a big part in the book, it didn’t really weigh the book down, so to speak. There were still a lot of light and cute moments and I also really connected to the issues at hand.
Left Me Wanting More: Romancy times. These two kids were adorable! I could have read so much more about their cute little romance but I’m also glad the book was the length it was! It really was the perfect length.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a great combination of cute & light and serious & emotional. Still has a lot of the fun that I felt with GOING VINTAGE and I’m really glad I picked it up!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Fangirl             Nantucket Blue

The Chapel Wars – Lindsey Leavitt

The Chapel Wars – Lindsey LeavittTitle: The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
Publishing Info: May 6, 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 24, 2014
Related Posts: Going Vintage, Sean Griswold's Head

    Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance? And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax. Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

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I really loved GOING VINTAGE, the first Lindsey Leavitt book I had read (although not the first one she’s written), so I was really excited when I saw promo for her newest book, THE CHAPEL WARS. The concept is way cute with two Las Vegas chapels duking it out to earn more business and heck, even STAY in business, especially in the case of Holly and her family’s chapel once her grandfather passes away.

THE CHAPEL WARS didn’t disappoint me in it cuteness. Holly was a great main character, balancing the line between kid and adult — she’s heavily invested in the family business of running the Rose of Sharon chapel and attending school and doing regular teenager-y things. When her grandfather passes away, she gets a big surprise about the chapel and ends up with even more weight on her shoulders, feeling personally responsible to save it from going out of business.

THE CHAPEL WARS was a lot of fun to read, but given that I had such a strong connection in GOING VINTAGE, it fell juuuust a bit shy of a new favorite for me. I really appreciated the strong family dynamics in GOING VINTAGE and unfortunately, Holly doesn’t have that same luxury, especially with the one person in her family with whom she really connected — her grandfather — just recently passing. I know, I know, not fair to compare an author’s previous book because it’s an entirely different work, but the fact is that fans come to know that book well and there is a certain expectation established whether anyone intends it to be there or not!

The romance in this book was just plain fun. I loved the back and forth between Holly and Dax and how they came from different backgrounds and yet so much of their current situations overlap. They’re both able to help each other through hard times while at the same time dealing with some pretty serious situations with their own family… And the fact that their families hate each other. It was a lot of fun to see these two kids try to work together and at the same time, stressful (but fun to read) because you just knew something was bound to explode if they kept on seeing each other! How very Romeo and Juliet! I really enjoyed the forbidden romance, though, and these two just fit together so well.

I loved the Vegas setting in the book! I went to Vegas for the first time — oh my gosh, it was four years ago already! — and I had a blast envisioning where these two chapels were in reference to the strip as well as a few references to the hotels and a smashing Ocean’s 11/fountain at the Bellagio reference (LOVE). It was a very visually dynamic book and I had so much fun putting myself back in that setting!

THE CHAPEL WARS didn’t skyrocket to an instant favorite but it was so much fun to read. Easy, breezy, and super cute with a romance to swoon for a family to root for. I definitely recommend this one!

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!

tcw

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Holly // Character Obsessions: Saving the chapel, family, numbers, Dax.
I loved Holly’s nerdy side (she does go to a school for advanced learning) and how that really showed up in her personality. She’s very responsible and organized but also has a great personality and doesn’t come off as a goody-goody which is a relief to me! I love nerdy, but too conservative gets on my nerves. I admire her dedication to her family’s business! I honestly don’t think I could have taken that on.
Dax // Character Obsessions: Colorful pants, working, having fun, Holly.
Dax was adorable. He was fun-loving, had great chemistry with Holly, and we find out that he also has his own personal demons, which actually brings Holly and him closer. I really loved his part in this book and such a fun love interest!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Vegas, baby! I loved the Las Vegas setting! It’s just not something you see a lot of in YA, presumably because there’s a limited amount of things for teens to do there! It was so fun to see that adapted to a younger age group than 20-somethings and it totally worked!
Left Me Wanting More: Character connection. Not to say that there wasn’t enough character development — not at all — I just didn’t connect with this one as much as I had with Mallory in Going Vintage and I think that’s the only reason why it wasn’t an instant favorite. I really enjoyed so much about it but it’s not like I can relate so much to every single character!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

So much fun, just light and breezy. This is going to be a great spring/summer read and I highly recommend it for a lot of fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE CHAPEL WARS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        The Distance Between Us       Fangirl

Going Vintage – Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage – Lindsey LeavittTitle: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Publishing Info: March 26, 2013 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Netgalley, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: March 2, 2013
Related Posts: The Chapel Wars, Sean Griswold's Head

    When Mallory discovers that her boyfriend, Jeremy, is cheating on her with an online girlfriend, she swears off boys. She also swears off modern technology. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory decides to “go vintage” and return to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat on you online). She sets out to complete grandma’s list: run for pep club secretary, host a dinner party, sew a homecoming dress, find a steady, do something dangerous. But the list is trickier than it looks. And obviously finding a steady is out... no matter how good Oliver (Jeremy’s cousin) smells. But with the help of her sister, she’ll get it done. Somehow.

bookreview1This book was so stinkin’ cute!!! I honestly didn’t expect to have so much fun reading it, but it was light, funny, and just really easy to read. I simply adored the concept of Mallory’s idea to “go vintage”, mostly because of the rough break-up after finding out about her boyfriend and his “online wife”. I was a little unsure about the idea of going vintage at first because I was hesitant about throwing it back to the sixties… But so was Mallory, even though it was her idea. I really have to commend her character – Although she had a really valid reason to avoid technology, turns out it’s a lot harder than she thought! I TRY not to be glued to my phone & computer, but let’s face it. It’s kind of hard to avoid much less cut out completely! The idea made for some really cute moments in the book too with her sister “helping” her (aka hiding her stuff), talking on the home phone with a boy (it was so much more exciting that way! I mean, they had to call your HOUSE), and all the little silly ways it made her life a little more work!

I want to say THANK YOU to Lindsey Leavitt for NOT forcing us to like Jeremy, even a little bit – Here’s my story. I get mad when the boyfriend of the story does something bad and then our heroine spends so much time legitimizing what they’ve done or contemplating going back to him. We had a clear winner and loser in GOING VINTAGE and Jeremy stayed the loser so thank you!!

Now let’s talk about the winner. [Dreamy sigh] I loved Oliver!!!! It was ALL THE LITTLE THINGS that made him such a great love interest. He was “hipster” but really, he was just true to himself and owned it in a way that people didn’t question him. He knew he liked Mallory and despite the fact that he’s Jeremy’s cousin and she’s his ex-girlfriend, you can see that they’ve got a little something going on and you KNOW Oliver is going to make it work! It was all the little ways he listened to Mallory, made her feel comfortable, helped her… All of the little things added up into one awesome guy! Loved him as the love interest here!!!

I really think the concept was great, but Lindsey Leavitt has some truly great characters in this book. You already know my love for Oliver, but the supporting characters were some of my favorites too. In a way, I felt like I was a lot like Mallory, but a lot in the fact that although we’re perfectly fun girls, there’s nothing too… “notable”. Mallory’s support system was really what caught my attention: Ginny. Grandma. Of course Oliver. They really stole the show for me! I loved Mallory’s relationship with her little sister because my sister and I have always gotten along, but now that we’re adults, we really are like best friends! She truly is the one person who understands (and appreciates) all of my jokes and Friends quotes and movie references. Oh, and all those stupid made-up things from our childhood! I loved seeing that relationship. I also saw the dedication in the beginning of the book using the song lyrics from “Sisters” from White Christmas, which my sister and I used to sing ALL the time and that’s one of my mom’s favorite movies ever so SCORE for a personal note there!!!

Okay. Sorry for being long winded, so let’s sum up: Super cute. Loved it all. Oliver had me at hello. Not quite a favorite, but pretty close!

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Mallory: Mallory felt like ME. Of course, I was never internetally (yep, I’m going with it) wronged like she was, but I felt like I probably would have handled the situation pretty close to the same way (minus vintage clothes because I couldn’t pull it off). I really felt a kinship to her and although she wasn’t the character to stand out the most to me, I really got along with her well in this book!
Ginny: Ginny was definitely my favorite character. I loved the sisterly relationship she & Mallory had and she really made a name for herself in this book! Definitely spunky and so much fun.
Oliver: Oh, Oliver. He was cute and confident in a way that made me – erm, I mean, MALLORY feel confident as well. He just had that sort of personality…. You can’t be mad around him! Wow, I am honestly surprised at how much I liked him as a love interest in this book! Definitely did not see that coming! 

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Read it!

This book was just so much! I really had a blast reading it and I love so many things about it. It’s definitely on my list of recommendations!

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     BOOKS LIKE GOING VINTAGE

Meant To Be         Statistical