Book of the Month: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 

Synopsis

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Jen’s Review

That about sums things up ūüėČ

Okay, seriously. I’m not¬†normally into stories¬†about cancer and sickness and whatnot. They’re just too sad and depressing. However, ¬†I¬†made an exception for The Fault in Our Stars¬†after hearing so many wonderful things about it.¬†And I’m glad I did! This is a special story everyone needs to¬†read. It has a touching plot, plenty of takeaway¬†messages, and a cast of sincere characters. I especially love Augustus (I think most readers do). Simply put, he’s a good guy. A good, sweet, authentic, lovable guy. In fact, when¬†my sister was trying to think of a name¬†for her next kid, I suggested August…She almost used it, too. Darn!

I won’t lie. This is a heartbreaking story. And you will need tissues. But the pain is worth it, I promise!

1010396_212218672304022_342272204_nPlus, the movie is coming out in a few days, and you know my rule of thumb: read the book before you see the movie. So go read it!

Jen’s Rating¬†

4 Star

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Jen’s Top 10 “How Have You NOT Read This” YA Books

It seems lately whenever I bring up one of my favorite books/series, people respond with a blank stare, a careless shrug, or, worst of all, an “I’ve never heard of it” type of comment. AHHH! So, I decided it’s time for me to give you¬†the heads up on some books you MUST read if you haven’t.

Jen’s Top 10 “How Have You NOT¬†Read This?” YA Books

1. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

8490112On average, I read a book a week. AKA, I read a lot. However, no matter how many pages I turn, or how many stories I finish, Daughter of Smoke & Bone¬†remains one of my favorites of all time. And it’s troubling how few people are even aware of it. No offense to¬†Hunger Games¬†¬†or¬†Twilight,¬†or even Divergent, but I wish the mass population would revere this¬†story.¬†Simply put, it’s awesome. Daughter of Smoke & Bone¬†has everything a reader craves: intrigue, romance, humor,¬†and, of course, adventure.

So go read it! And be sure to spread the word how awesome it is.

Check out my full review here!

2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

11235712Sighhhhh…Just…God, just go read this series, okay? I can’t even begin…I can’t even tell you…AHHH! Just read it. Goooo.

Check out my full review here!

3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

136251Believe it or not, there are still people in the world who haven’t read Harry Potter. *cue gasps* Every time I encounter one of these rare beings, they usually tell me, “Well, I tried watching the movies, but I just wasn’t into them.”

…That’s all I have to say about that.

*clears throat*

READ HARRY POTTER!

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

19063-1When people ask me, “What’s your favorite book?” I first glare at them, and then I tell them I don’t have a favorite (what book nerd does?). Then, when they¬†still¬†won’t leave me alone, I spout off a handful of memorable titles.¬†The Book Thief¬†is always on the list.¬†Always. And it should be on yours! ¬†I promise, it’s a tale you’ll never forget.

Check out my full review here!

5. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

6050678Barking spiders! You haven’t read the¬†Leviathan¬†series? Are you mad? What’s not to like? A¬†round-the-world adventure? A would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne? A commoner girl disguised as a boy? Daring deeds? Fun? AMAZINGNESS!

Hey, all you sods, I can fly and you can’t! A natural airman, in case you haven’t noticed. And in conclusion, I’d like to add that I’m a girl and you can all get stuffed!

…Hmmm, I think even I need to go read this–again. So much fun!

Check out more about Leviathan here!

6. Legend by Marie Lu

9275658Amongst all the dystopian books out there, Legend is my favorite. Think Les Miserables set in the future with a deadly virus, two badass protagonists, and lots of rip-roaring action.

In a nutshell, Legend¬†is…

Read more about Legend here!

7. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16101128Have you ever read a book as slow as possible?¬†Because you’re dreading the end? Because you know when you turn that last page, the story will be over and you’ll be sad for days and days? Well, that’s how I felt while reading The 5th Wave. Although I’m not a huge fan of stories revolving around aliens, this one is both awesome and terrifying. It actually made me¬†stop and think, “Oh crap. What if this actually happened?”

Dun, dun, dun…

I dare you to read it…Okay, forget the dare. I’m telling you to read it. Scoot, scoot.

Check out my full review here!

8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Rainbow Rowell is officially one of my favorite authors of all time. In fact, I had a difficult time choosing which of her novels to recommend. The truth is, I recommend all of them (Fangirl, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments). Rowell is a master at character development and writing stories that have meaning and relevance. Trust me, you won’t be the same after experiencing one–or all–of¬†her books.

Check out my full review for Fangirl here!

9. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

7171637Adventure. Wit. Tears. Mystery. Romance…The¬†Infernal Devices has it all!¬†This prequel series to Cassandra Clare’s¬†Mortal Instruments¬†is a MUST-READ!¬†Especially if you’re looking for a new¬†giddy book crush.

Oh, Will Herondale

“How rude. Many who have gazed upon me have compared it to gazing at the radiance of the sun.”

Jem still had his eyes closed. ‚ÄúIf they mean that it gives you a headache, they aren‚Äôt wrong.‚ÄĚ

Read more about The Infernal Devices here!

10. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

1217100I could easily list thirteen¬†reasons why you should read this book, but I’ll only give you one: it’s life changing. So read it!

Check out my full review here!

Okay, I have about a hundred more books/series I could list, but I’ll end things here. Just take my word for it, these are books you MUST read! You won’t regret it.

What about you? What books make your “How Have You NOT Read This” YA book list?

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Book Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8909152Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis

“‘Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ‘
Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.
Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.
When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.
By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.
What would he say . . . ?”

Jen’s Review

<<Jennifer to Beth>> You are a complicated woman.

<<Beth to Jennifer>> No. Doy.

<<Jen to Reader>> Oh my gosh! I just read an AMAZING book!!!

<<Reader to Jen>> Yeah? What?

<<Jen to Reader>> Attachments by Rainbow Rowell! I couldn’t put it down. It. Was. So. Ahhh-dicting. Seriously, Rowell is officially one of my favorite authors.

<<Reader to Jen>> Wow, really? Why?

<<Jen to Reader>> Well, besides writing good stories, she knows how to write fabulous characters. She makes them feel so real, so relevant, so relatable. I swear, my life is a Rainbow Rowell novel. It’s like she knows me. The problems her characters face, the thoughts they have, the fears they deal with–all me! It’s creepy, but in a cool, “whoa” way, ya know?

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the guy in this book, Lincoln!…siiiigh

<<Reader to Jen>> Spill!!!

<<Jen to Reader>> I don’t know. He’s just so darn cute! Sweet and endearing and polite. I just wanted to wrap him up, take him home, and keep him forever. I mean it, he’s the kind of guy you wanna meet and fall in love with in real life…Where are you Lincoln??? Where, where, where…

<<Reader to Jen>> Um, you do know you sound a little crazy now, right?

<<Jen to Reader>>¬†…yes.

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, good. Just checking. So Attachments is really good?

<<Jen to Reader>> YES!

<<Reader to Jen>> Better than Fangirl and Eleanor & Park?

<<Jen to Reader>> Well, I wouldn’t say “better”, per se. Just different. In my opinion, Attachments was lighter and more fun as a whole. But, don’t get me wrong, it still had its dramatic, epiphany-filled moments. They just didn’t seem as intense or prominent as the other two novels.

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, so I guess that means you’d definitely recommend it?

<<Jen to Reader>> Duh!

<<Reader to Jen>> Okay, okay! Sheesh.

<<Jen to Reader>> Sorry! I get pushy when I find a book that I love, and I LOVED Attachments. Let’s just say as you near the end, you’ll start to feel anxious and sad, because you won’t want it to end.

b9d10050302e88e870291e52c4ada5bf<<Reader to Jen>> Fine, fine. I’m heading to the bookstore now.

<<Jen to Reader>> Good! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

‚ÄúI think I missed my window,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúWhat window?‚ÄĚ
“My get-a-life window. I think I was supposed to figure all this stuff out somewhere between twenty-two and twenty-six, and now it’s too late.

Jen’s Rating¬†

5 Star

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Book of the month – February

In honor of Rainbow Rowell receiving a¬†Printz¬†honor, I’m dedicating this month to¬†Eleanor & Park.¬†And you know what? It’s just romantic enough to cover the Valentine’s Day holiday, too!

15745753Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis

“TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE. ‚Ä®It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love–and just how hard it pulled you under.‚Ä®‚Ä® A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.”

Jen’s Review

After reading¬†Fangirl¬†a couple of months ago, I knew I had to read everything ever written by Rainbow Rowell. So, I put a hold on¬†Eleanor & Park¬†at the library, and after waiting¬†forever, I finally got my hands on it.¬†And it hardly left my hands in the two days it took me to read it. What a great story! Sweet and endearing with a tough edge. Rainbow Rowell definitely knows how to build characters that want¬†to be¬†heard and remembered. And I’ll always remember Eleanor and Park. Although I couldn’t relate to their story as much as I can to Cath’s in¬†Fangirl, I can visualize it and feel it all the same.

Eleanor & Park¬†is an addictive tale that takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. Anger. Humor. Fear. Love. I’ve never read a contemporary romance quite like this one. It was a perfect combination of reality and fantasy. Of life sucks and life rocks. Of “Oh, my god.” and “Oh my God!” You go from smirking at Eleanor and Park’s resentful start, to grinning at their magical connection, to holding your breath at their uncertain future.

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. It is!

If you haven’t read¬†Eleanor & Park¬†yet (or any of Rainbow Rowell’s books for that matter), then it’s time to get in the game. Don’t miss out on these wonderful plots and memorable characters!

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

 

Book Review: Bold by Andrew Landis and Julia Swift

18220396Bold by Julia Swift & Andrew Landis

Synopsis

“Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash and vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who just moved to her Air Force desert town after his journalist father‚Äôs disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha‚Äôs brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered suburban world. But will they discover there is a difference between being bold and being stupid before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?”

Jen’s Review

I received a personal request to review¬†Bold¬†from its authors, Andrew Landis and Julia Swift. After reading the synopsis, I was eager to get my hands on this young adult contemporary romance. It had¬†If I Stay¬†meets¬†Fangirl¬†written all over it. Unfortunately, Bold¬†didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

Let me start off by assuring you the writing of¬†Bold¬†was solid, the message was awesome, and the general plot¬†was¬†interesting. There were times throughout the story I could totally relate to Sasha and¬†feel¬†her determination to stop being shy and start being bold. I also enjoyed the format of jumping back and forth between Will and Sasha’s POV (this particular format is always fun if done right). Really, if I’d seen this story play out on screen, it may have worked (and I’m sure it would have with Landis and Swift in charge, two writers who’ve proven themselves in the screenwriting world with gigs on shows like¬†Smallville¬†and¬†The Book of Daniel).

However, as a book,¬†Bold¬†just didn’t¬†get there. There were a few issues that held it back.

  • Scene skipping. In almost every chapter, there’d be moments when we’d jump from A to Z without explanation. Conversations, actions, and thoughts were¬†abruptly¬†cut off or abbreviated. Ex:¬†Sasha is being manhandled by a big bad criminal. His hands are gripping her arms. Then, suddenly, she’s running out the back door for freedom…How’d she get away from him? Knee him? Punch him? Scream bloody murder?¬†I couldn’t help but wonder if this issue was due to the authors’ background in screenwriting, where things must be implied and heavily condensed.
  • ¬†Love story.¬†Was¬†this a love story? Sasha and Will hardly spent any time together, and when they did, I didn’t¬†feel¬†anything between them. To be honest, I felt a lot more simmering between her and another boy, Ricky. When you put two people together and use words like “intense”, it automatically adds heat between them…and that word was used a few times between Sasha and Ricky (Ricky, not Will). The only connection Will and Sasha seemed to have was their thirst for self-discovery.
  • Trying too hard. I love books with messages. And I loved the message in¬†Bold. However, I didn’t love the way that message was delivered. I don’t want to use it, but “clich√©” is the only word I can think of to describe most of the lines and scenes. (ex: “Then go now. Show me what you can do, what you can be. Or better yet, show yourself.”)
  • The cover. Are these two individuals supposed to be 15-year old Will and Sasha (or Will and Sasha 15 years in the future)?

As I said before, I think¬†Bold¬†had some wonderful things about it. But, unfortunately, it had some problems too. And in a young adult market that’s raising the standard for excellence day-by-day, I’m not sure if it’ll be able to hold up.

Jen’s Rating

2 Star

To read more about Bold, click here.

 

Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

15745753Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Synopsis

“TWO MISFITS. ONE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE. ‚Ä®It’s 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love–and just how hard it pulled you under.‚Ä®‚Ä® A cross between the iconic ’80s movie Sixteen Candles and the classic coming-of-age novel Looking for Alaska, Eleanor & Park is a brilliantly written young adult novel.”

Jen’s Review

After reading¬†Fangirl¬†a couple of months ago, I knew I had to read everything ever written by Rainbow Rowell. So, I put a hold on¬†Eleanor & Park¬†at the library, and after waiting¬†forever, I finally got my hands on it.¬†And it hardly left my hands in the two days it took me to read it. What a great story! Sweet and endearing with a tough edge. Rainbow Rowell definitely knows how to build characters that want¬†to be¬†heard and remembered. And I’ll always remember Eleanor and Park. Although I couldn’t relate to their story as much as I can to Cath’s in¬†Fangirl, I can visualize it and feel it all the same.

Eleanor & Park¬†is an addictive tale that takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions. Anger. Humor. Fear. Love. I’ve never read a contemporary romance quite like this one. It was a perfect combination of reality and fantasy. Of life sucks and life rocks. Of “Oh, my god.” and “Oh my God!” You go from smirking at Eleanor and Park’s resentful start, to grinning at their magical connection, to holding your breath at their uncertain future.

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. It is!

If you haven’t read¬†Eleanor & Park¬†yet (or any of Rainbow Rowell’s books for that matter), then it’s time to get in the game. Don’t miss out on these wonderful plots and memorable characters! I’m eagerly waiting for my copy of¬†Attachments¬†now.¬†Eeks!

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

Book Review: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin

17297135Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin

Synopsis

“LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That’s the only thing left she can cling to.
AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can’t even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won’t talk about?
LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.
In the wake of her critically praised young adult psychological thrillers,Tighter¬†and¬†All You Never Wanted,¬†National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin has created another triumph.¬†Loud Awake & Lost is an unflinching story of loss and recovery.”

Jen’s Review

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Loud Awake and Lost from Bookish.com. And what a book to win!

Now, as many of you know, I’ve been getting most of my books from the library lately due to budget cuts. And, to be honest, most of the time I don’t have a hard time returning a book once I finish it. I think, “Nice read, but not a keeper.”

But then there are the dreaded times I must take a book back that I don’t want to. The times when I feel like I’m abandoning a loved one. Dropping them off on the side of the road and saying, “I’m sorry, but I must let you go. I must! Goodbye, my love…” (sniff, sniff).¬†Loud Awake and Lost would’ve been one of those books. So, thank God I get to keep it! There will be no difficult farewell in our future. I get to proudly display it on my bookshelf.

Adele Griffin’s contemporary young adult novel had me¬†hooked from the first page to the last, and has kept me hooked for days since finishing. It’s a book that has many layers–layers you’re constantly peeling away in hopes of discovering more. More and more and more. And with each layer peeled, there’s a surge of relief and joy, as well as pain and sorrow. I appreciated Adele Griffin’s unique take on the topic of self-discovery. To think of finally figuring out who you are and what you want to do/be in life, only to have it erased, is staggering. And Ember’s rocky path to relocating those lost pieces of her new self and putting them back together is a difficult, yet wonderful one.

Loud Awake and Lost¬†is¬†truly one of the most bittersweet stories I’ve read in a long time–bittersweet in a good way. It’s haunting and mysterious and one hundred percent captivating. And I totally, totally recommend it, especially if you enjoyed books like¬†If I Stay¬†and¬†Where Things Come Back,¬†or even¬†The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.¬†Read it!

Jen’s Rating

4 Star

Read more about Loud Awake and Lost here!

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Synopsis

“From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life ‚ÄĒ and she‚Äôs really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it‚Äôs what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”

Jen’s Review

I loved Fangirl. It was better than great. It was fantastic and poignant. Endearing and smart. Touching and sweet. Fangirl tells a tale that most of us can relate to on some level (er, some of us more than others). Dealing with insecurities. Facing fears. Coping with disappointment. Escaping reality. Being used. Being abandoned. Being accepted. Being loved…Few books have touched my heart–my soul–the way Fangirl did. As I read it, I could feel Cath’s misery, her anxiety, her uncertainty. She was more than just a character on a piece of paper. She was a friend. She was a sister. She was me, back when I was an awkward freshman that felt lost and terrified of leaving my comfortable present for an unknown (and uncomfortable) future.

‚ÄúIt’s okay if you’re crazy,” he said softly.
“You don’t even know-“
“I don’t have to know,” he said. “I’m rooting for you.‚ÄĚ

Of course I loved the entire Simon Snow aspect of the book, too. Not only did it add dimension to Cath’s story and make it even more endearing, but the excerpts themselves were genuinely entertaining. In fact, during the longer Simon and Baz snippets, I’d forget I was even reading¬†Fangirl. I’d get so lost in Simon Snow’s Harry Potter-esque world, that it would take me a moment to re-acclimate to Cath’s less than fantastical reality (and I’m saying that in the most positive, I-love-this-book kind of way).

If you’re looking for a story that’s a perfect combination of funny and serious, and has a dash of fantasy to it, this is it!

‚ÄúDon’t make me angry-kiss you.”
“Give me the laundry.”
“Tempers rising, faces flushed…This is how it happens.‚ÄĚ

Jen’s Rating

5 Star

To read more about Fangirl, click here!

Book Review: The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

3798703The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Synopsis

“This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.
SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.
Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee‚Äôs clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it‚Äôs up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee‚Äôs not like other girls, and before long he‚Äôs in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else‚Äôs life‚ÄĒor ruin it forever.”

Jen’s Review

Spectacular!

Sorry, sorry. I couldn’t resist. ¬†But, really,¬†The Spectacular Now¬†was “fabuloso”. It lived up to all the hype of the recent media, and definitely lived up to my expectations. Author Tim Tharp infused a perfect blend of humor and drama, and created characters that were not only believable, but relatable. It’s one of those books that’s layered with hidden meanings and themes, and keeps you thinking about what those meanings and themes are the entire time. And, despite his downfalls and bad habits, you can’t help but want to experience the magic and wonder of the “Spectacular Now” with Sutter Keely, even if only for a moment.

My only complaint about this book would be the ending (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you; I despise spoilers!). I won’t say I was disappointed, per se. More like, “Hmm…”. I just can’t grasp why¬†Tim Tharp finished Sutter Keely’s tale the way he did. However, I know there is¬†a profound reason that’s eluding me at the moment, and I know if I¬†went back and¬†re-read it or discussed it with others who’ve read it, I’d get it and appreciate it. So, don’t let this part of my review scare you off from reading what was otherwise a wonderful book.

If you enjoyed¬†YA contemporaries like¬†Why We Broke Up, The Fault in our Stars, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower,¬†then¬†chances are you’ll enjoy The Spectacular Now.

¬†Jen’s Rating

4 StarRead more about The Spectacular Now here.