Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Published April 2014 by Walker Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

I’ve been in a YA contemporary mood lately, and I figured Open Road Summer was a great choice for my next read. Even though I didn’t love it the way I loved her other books, I still really liked it.

I liked Reagan and Lilah, and they have such a great friendship.  Lilah’s tour was definitely an adventure for both of them, and I think it was a great way for the two girls to get away.  Reagan in particular seemed to have a lot going on, and things with her stepmother, while rocky, seemed to get at least a little bit better at the end of the book.  At the very least, Reagan seems to understand her a little bit better.

There are a lot of ups and downs over the summer, and I liked seeing Reagan and Lilah navigating the tour and fame and how it changed and affected their friendship.  I liked that they have each other, and that it didn’t change their friendship drastically.

I loved that Lilah was the same Lilah mentioned in one of Lord’s other books, and that the t.v. show that Reagan watches is mentioned in another one of Lord’s books.  It just makes me feel like her books are all set in the same universe, and I hope we see things like this in her other books.  It’s a nice touch, and I’m not sure why I like it so much but I do.

It definitely made me cry at the end, and if I need a good cry, her books are always a good choice.  This book was no exception, but not to the degree that her other books did.  I did like it, just not as much as I thought I would.  And not as much wanted to.  Still, it has the complicated family relationships, romance and friendships that I’ve come to know and love, and she’s great at writing very complicated relationships.

4 stars.  I really liked it but I didn’t love it.  I also wish I had a lot more to say about Open Road Summer, but I don’t.   It’s worth checking out, especially if you like books about road trips!

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Book Review: The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

Book: The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

Published March 2015 by Bloomsbury|376 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Start Of Me And You #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? 

Emery Lord is becoming one of those who I absolutely love.  I wish she had more books I could read, because her books always leave me feeling like a sobbing mess curled up in bed.  I remember when I used to feel this way about books all the time (as in, the first few years of the blog), and I wish I felt more like this with the books I read.

So, this one, I wasn’t sure about initially, and I really liked Paige.  At first, I was irritated with the label of having a dead boyfriend, and people seeing her differently.  For a guy she was only dating for a couple of months when it happened, it seemed to be this big huge thing that happened in her life, and I didn’t quite get it.  I wish we had seen more of her time with him, because I has having a hard time caring.

I’m glad she had quiz bowl, and that she was determined to have a plan to get everything back to normal.  I’m glad I stuck with it, because by the end, I ended up loving it.

One of the things that really struck me was her relationship with her grandma.  For some reason, it made me think of my grandma, and how much I really miss her.  That sobbing mess I was by the end of the book?  It’s totally because of everything that happened with her grandma.  I don’t know why, but Lord’s books just wreck me, and while I wasn’t sure about it at first, I’m glad I stuck with it.  She won me over, and I don’t know why I doubted that I would end up loving it.

I also loved her friends, and there was something really cool about their friendship.  Lord does friendships and feels and love so well, and this book was no exception.  All of the girls are so different, but I’m glad Paige had great friends and I liked how they were there for each other.  They are all very lucky to have each other.

5 stars.  I loved The Start Of Me And You, and I can’t wait to read the next book.  If you want a sweet, cute contemporary with cool friendships, this is the book to read.

Book Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Book: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Published April 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.

Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.

Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.

In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

I loved When We Collided!  I randomly picked it up at the library because the cover caught my eye, and I am so glad I did.  It’s been a while since I’ve really, truly loved a book the way I loved When We Collided.  The Hate U Give is probably the closest, at least of the books I’ve read, but otherwise it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt so excited and emotional about a book.

Vivi is bipolar, but at first, she’s very much this vibrant, colorful person.  It is isn’t until later on that we learn she’s bipolar and not taking her medication for a good portion of the book.  Even though I’m not bipolar, I have struggled with depression, and I found it was so easy to relate to Vivi.  I loved her as a character, and she is this bright, vivid character, and she, in this book, was a living, breathing person.  I feel like I don’t say that very often about characters.

As a book about a girl who is bipolar, this is an amazing book.  Emery Lord did an amazing job at capturing every single thought and emotion Vivi had, and there were times where I really felt like I knew what Vivi was experiencing and dealing with.  She is over-the-top and difficult and annoying, but I still felt for her.  You really see Vivi’s state of mind when she is and isn’t on medication, her illness isn’t manipulative at all, and I loved the way Vivi described things.

I think Vivi’s half of the book- which was so vibrant and full of life- made Jonah’s half a little bit hard.  His chapters were more dull by comparison, mostly because anyone would look dull and lifeless and lackluster next to Vivi.  He was compelling, to a degree, but not the way that Vivi’s chapters were compelling.

His story felt more tired somehow- he’s an older brother, taking care of his younger sibling after the unexpected death of his father, and a mother who has checked out emotionally.  Jonah’s story felt a little overdone, but I did really like that he realized he needed to tell someone what was going on with his mom, instead of trying to pretend like everything was fine and under control.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he and his older siblings did what they could for the younger ones, but I’m not the biggest fan of the older sibling(s) taking care of the younger ones because of dead/absent parents trope.

And I wasn’t into the romance at all.  I know their lives collided because of everything going on with both of them, but…it is most definitely a case of insta-love, so keep that in mind.  I’m not the biggest fan of insta-love, but sometimes, it’s okay.  This was not one of those times, unfortunately.  Their relationship worked, in its own way, with it being summer and particularly with Vivi, so the ending wasn’t that surprising.  But I felt like there was nothing between them- there didn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry, and there’s no build-up because insta-love.

I really would have been fine without the romance, and it didn’t really fit.  It didn’t take away from the rest of the book, and overall, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED When We Collided.  I just don’t know that the romance fit- it definitely didn’t work for me, because I liked both Vivi and Jonah, but not as a couple.

5 stars.  I don’t know that I did this book justice, but I thought it was completely amazing.  After finishing it, I literally hugged this book for, like, at least 5 minutes.