August Reading Wrap-Up

I’ve been sharing monthly reading wrap-up posts almost as long as I’ve been blogging — like, seven years. And I love doing them; recommending fantastic books is one of my favorite things about being a member of the writing/reading community. But, man, these posts take a long time to compile.

Bad news… With a busy tween, a mischief-making foster toddler, and a fledgling publishing career, plus my husband and friends and house and various other commitments, I need to scale back on my monthly wrap-ups.

Good news… I’m not giving them up! I’m just going to streamline them into a more manageable “Three Things” structure. So, I’ll share three things I loved about each of the books I read during a given month, and hopefully that will help you decide whether the stories I feature might be ones you’d enjoy.

This month is all about testing the new format, and I’d love your feedback. Let me know in the comments what you think of the “Three Things” wrap-up!

30971685The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
1. Incredibly unique world building. You’ve never read a story quite like this. Full of rich detail, The Disappearances is historical fiction, but with a magical twist, and a puzzle that’ll keep you guessing through its final pages.
2. Gorgeous prose. Emily’s writing is lyrical and lovely. I found myself rereading sentences just for the pleasure of savoring her word choice, imagery, and rhythm.
3. A relatable main character. Aila is strong, determined, and smart, but she can also be self-conscious and uncertain. She loves hard, though, and she’s unfailingly loyal, which makes her so easy to root for.

29437949Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
1. Swiftly paced. While this adult psychological thriller is told in a past/present format, it never drags. In fact, I had a hard time putting it down!
2. Chilling, but not graphic or gratuitous. MC Grace is stuck in an abusive relationship (she’s her husband’s prisoner, basically), and while Jack is terrifying and manipulative and sadistic, no part of this book made me feel like I was going to have nightmares, or created images I couldn’t sweep away soon after.
3. Super satisfying conclusion. I kept wondering, How is Grace ever going to escape this? Without spoiling the ending, I’ll say that I was pretty pleased with how things turned out.

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
1. Slow-burn mystery. This is a tightly plotted book, full of red-herrings, twists, and turns. I wouldn’t call it fast-paced, though, as it focuses heavily on character development, which only serves the story. And the ending’s a shocker.
2. A host of unreliable perspectives. Main character, Kacey, feels at times untrustworthy and at times completely sincere. In fact, at one point or another, all of Little Monster‘s characters seem to be hiding something, upping the intrigue tenfold.
3. Incredibly atmospheric. This book made me cold. It made me hyperaware when walking into dark spaces. And it made me want to stay far, far away from haunted barns. It really is the YA version of a Gillian Flynn novel!

By Your Side by Kasie West
1. Excellent setting. During the first half of By Your Side, Autumn and mysterious loner, Dax, are trapped in a library. There are a lot of challenges for them to overcome (what to eat, for example) but mostly their situation struck me as pretty darn dreamy.
2. Anxiety Disorder representation. I appreciated reading about a protagonist who is living (flourishing, really) with anxiety. Though Autumn’s disorder presents unique struggles, it does not define her, or drive the plot.  
3. Sweet romance. Kasie West has become a go-to author when I’m looking to read a light book with a gratifying romance. While Autumn and Dax definitely face challenges, their relationship is free of contrived drama, and they’ve got great chemistry.

Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes
1. Truly helpful structural tips. Both for romance writers, and those hoping to thread romance into stories of other genres.
2. Quick, easy read. Also, encouraging! Romancing the Beat left me eager to dive back in to my troublesome WiP.
3. Humorously and irreverently written. Bonus — eighties song references!

The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin –
1. Bridges the YA/NA gap. The Big F has the same light, hopeful feel of a lot of my favorite YAs (see my mention of Kasie West above), but its MC, Danielle, is trudging through her first year of community college. It’s nice to see this stage featured in a book.
2. Dynamic characterizations. From Danielle, to her younger brother, to her best friend, to potential love interests Luke and Porter, Maggie Ann Martin’s characters leap off the page.
3. Excellent voice. I can totally see myself hanging out with Danielle and her bestie, Zoe. They read as so authentic, and that’s thanks to this debut’s stellar voice.

Tell me: What’s the best book you read in August?
And, what do you think of the “Three Things” structure of this post?

YA Book Club :: RED QUEEN

{YA Book Club is headed up by writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

This month’s YA Book Club selection is
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

From Goodreads ~ The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

This was a tough one for me, friends. Red Queen is a good book. It’s skillfully-written, well-paced, and full of interesting characters. It’s set in a world that felt fresh (though, after finishing, I saw it compared to The Selection and Red Rising, neither of which I’ve read), and there were plenty of twists I didn’t see coming.

Like I said, Red Queen is a good book.

I suspect I might be in the minority here, but… It’s not a Katy Book.

I can’t even pinpoint what my issue with it is, other than the fact that it simply did not make me feel anything. The characters are engaging enough, but I didn’t empathize with them and (forgive me) I didn’t care much about what happened to them. For me, there’s too much going on in Red Queen. The social tiers, the Silvers (with literal silver blood) and Reds (who’ve got red blood, obvs), the X-Men-like magical powers, the war-torn dystopian setting, the oddly set-up romantic entanglements, the family strife, the resistance… It was a lot for me to take in, and a lot to attempt to latch onto.

When I bought this book, I took my cue from its cover and its title. I was expecting fantasy, but what I got was rather jumbled dystopian/fantasy fusion. Admittedly, I’m sort of over dystopian, and when it comes to fantasy, I like my stories dark and gritty and super intense. Think The Winner’s Curse and Graceling and Finnikin of the Rock. I like touches of magic, and I like an organic, slow-burn romance. I prefer MCs who are not Chosen Ones. Red Queen’s MC, Mare, is definitely a Chosen One (though, I’ve gotta say, she handled the crazy turn of events with grace). Additionally, her story (particularly the romantic aspects) was just too light for me. Mare’s voice can be humorous, sarcastic at times, which is probably a good thing for other readers — she truly is amusing in certain scenes — but the overall tone of the story was not my taste.

I can certainly see Red Queen‘s merits, and I understand why it’s garnered the buzz it has. I’ve decided to drop my gently-read copy during next month’s Rock the Drop because I’d love to see it find its way into the hands of a teen reader who might fall in love with its positive qualities.

What did you think of this month’s YA Book Club selection?

(Book Clubbers: Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to add your link!)


{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

November’s YA Book Club selection is
Allegiant by Veronica Roth

From Goodreads – The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.  But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

*Warning :: This post includes thinly veiled spoilers.*

I read Allegiant nearly a month ago, and my opinions are still rather muddled. It’s definitely one of those all the feels books. I liked so much about it…

  • The stark-but-arresting prose. Veronica Roth writes emotion beautifully. I felt Tris’s and Four’s affection, worry, sadness, anger, and passion completely.
  • Tris’s strength. She doesn’t back down when she believes in something, and it’s been fascinating to watch her grow and come into her own as this trilogy progressed.
  • Four (because I will not call him Tobias) and everything he stands for. He’s clearly damaged, but he’s just so inherently good. Tris’s love for him makes total and complete sense.
  • The world beyond the wall. I was desperately curious about what the gang would find, and I was not disappointed.
  • The backstory concerning Tris’s mom and her introduction to life Chicago. I found her history riveting, and I  liked that Tris continued to feel a connection to her.
  • The idea of genetic purity, and the weight it held for different characters in the story. Compelling stuff.
  • Veronica Roth’s fearless storytelling. She writes ruthlessly, with more concern for the integrity of the narrative than the rath it might invoke in some fans. So admirable.
  • Speaking of which… The ultra-shocking death of a Very Important Character did not enrage me. I would have personally preferred a HEA, but I thought the conclusion felt bleakly appropriate.

While I enjoyed Allegiant, I had a couple of issues with it…

  • There were a few instances in the story where the pacing felt off. There were stretches when not much happened at all, then bursts of action that were awesome, but also sort of dizzying.
  • I did not like the dual POV as much as I thought I would. For me, Tris’s voice blended with Four’s, and there were scenes where I became confused as to whose head I was in.
  • Again, this is purely personal, but I preferred knowing Four only through Tris’s adoring eyes. In the first two books he had his flaws, but he was portrayed as powerful and solid and indestructible — nearly fearless. In Allegiant, there were times when he seemed a little… whiney? Not that guys can’t have feelings of doubt and inadequacy, but Four never felt like that guy before. Is it awful that I want him to be purely badass?
  • As far as conflict, did anyone else feel like there was one antagonist too many? Marcus, Evelyn, Nita, Caleb, David, the various serums, the Big Bad Government… Sometimes I wasn’t sure who the true villain was. I suppose that speaks to the complexity of the plot, but at times I found it all a bit overwhelming.

I’ve been so invested in Tris and Four and their supporting cast for the last few years, and the end of their story truly did a number on me. Overall, I thought Allegiant was a courageous and fitting conclusion to a fantastic trilogy.

What did you think of this month’s YA Book Club selection?
(Book Clubbers: Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to add your link!)


{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

August’s YA Book Club selection is
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

From Goodreads – Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit, but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Okay, okay… I admit it. With the help of fellow book-clubber Jaime Morrow, I pressured and harassed and threatened YA Book Club organizer Tracey Neithercott until she folded and agreed to invoke Supreme Overlord status where this month’s selection was concerned. I’ve been wanting to read Second Chance Summer for ages (just look at that pretty cover!), and it felt like the perfect end-of-summer novel to discuss with some of my favorite book-loving friends. Thanks for making such a fantastic choice, Trace! 😉

(A few light spoilers to follow, though not much more than what’s revealed in the story’s synopsis.)

As I mentioned in a recent What’s Up Wednesday post, Second Chance Summer was a tough story to get through. The inevitableness of a tragic event is made clear early on — main character Taylor’s father, who she’s close to, is diagnosed with cancer and given only a few months to live — and the entire book is a journey to a heartbreaking conclusion. As a reader, you’re not really given the opportunity to create false expectations, and neither is Taylor. Her father is going to die, soon, and the emotions that come with that knowledge are intense. Like Taylor, I felt panicky and helpless and sorrowful. My heart hurt for her each and every time she had an interaction with her quickly-deteriorating father. As much as the Edwards family tried to put on a brave and positive front, their grief was evident in every conversation, and in every shared memory.

Yet, I think there’s an undeniable undertone of hopefulness in Second Chance Summer, which keeps the story from becoming unbearably sad. That hopefulness comes in part from Taylor’s ever-transforming relationships with her siblings, Warren and Gelsey (there’s a reason for her weird name). I loved watching Taylor learn to appreciate her odd and exceptionally intelligent brother and coddled ballerina-in-training sister. It was fascinating to see how all three siblings dealt with the impending loss of their father in different ways, and how they learned to lean on each other (and their mother) when times were particularly tough. It was interesting, too, to see how Warren, Taylor, and Gelsey each fostered a unique bond with their dad, and came to cope with the idea of a future without him in their own individual ways.

As well as prompting her to develop her sibling relationships, Taylor’s father’s illness also motivates her to assess the friendships that are important to her, which is where longtime Pocono companions Lucy (sassy and bold) and Henry (sensitive and adorable) come into play. From early on, I was rooting for Taylor to take advantage of her “second chance” to make things right with the friends she unwittingly wronged years before. Lucy and Henry are two of my favorite characters, but the entire supporting cast of this novel is fantastic, and plays a huge role in Taylor’s growth. I found all of them to be incredibly well-drawn.

Speaking of Taylor, she is a main character I had no problem relating to. She’s the self-described unremarkable middle child, and she has a habit of bottling up her emotions and taking off when things get hard. She’s pretty terrible when it comes to conflict, and she has moments of selfishness and uncertainty and awkwardness that feel very authentic to her age and circumstances. That said, she’s stronger and more empathetic than she gives herself credit for. She goes out of her way to do considerate things for others — setting Warren up on a date, helping Gelsey improve her sleepover, buying licorice for her dad (*sniffle*) — that show her compassionate side, and make her a truly likable character. For me, it was Taylor’s relatability that made it especially difficult to watch her experience loss.

Overall, I think Second Chance Summer is a moving and genuine story about about family and friendship, and taking advantage of every moment you have with those you love. Morgan Matson writes beautifully, with rich descriptions and evocatively described emotions, but without a lot of fluff. I found her style similar to Sarah Dessen’s, so if you’re a fan of the Queen of Contemporary YA, definitely give Morgan Matson’s books a go. And, if you’re looking to fit in a fabulous summer-set read before autumn arrives in full, I encourage you to pick up Second Chance Summer.

What did you think of this month’s YA Book Club selection?
Any summery YA reads to recommend?
(Book Clubbers: Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to add your link!)


{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

July’s YA Book Club selection is
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)

I dig this cover.

From WikipediaSixteen heirs who are mysteriously chosen to live in the Sunset Towers apartment building on the shore of Lake Michigan, somewhere in Wisconsin, come together to hear the will of the self-made millionaire, Samuel W. Westing. The will takes the form of a puzzle, dividing the sixteen heirs into eight pairs, giving each pair a different set of clues, and challenging them to solve the mystery of who murdered Sam Westing. As an incentive, each heir is given $10,000 to play the game. Whoever solves the mystery will inherit Sam Westing’s $200 million fortune, and his company, Westing Paper Products.

I could go blue in the face listing The Westing Game‘s strengths. It is  clever in its humor, tight in its plotting, and subtle in its clue-dropping. It’s the literary version of the classic whodunit board game Clue.

The Westing Game‘s characters are compelling, each unique in his or her goals and flaws. Even though there are a lot of heirs, it’s fairly easy to keep everyone straight. My favorite heir is (of course) spunky kick-’em-in-the-shins Turtle, though I’m also a fan of Theo Theodorakis (in my head, he’s the strong and silent type) and Dr. Jake Wexler (whose dry sense of humor totally cracked me up). The characters, even more than the mystery,  kept me reading The Westing Game.

Speaking of the mystery… It’s very cool. While each pair of heirs attempted to decipher their clues, I had an inkling of the direction the random words were taking (the song tie-in is pretty obvious), but I had no idea of where those clues would  end up leading until the final pages of the story. There were enough red herrings, enough question marks in the narrative, enough suspicious behavior among the heirs, to keep me guessing. I was satisfied with the final answer to the puzzle, the solution only one heir was able to deduce. The Westing Game‘s conclusion made the entire story worth reading.

So, yes, The Westing Game is a fantastically crafted story. I was engaged while reading, and I would never argue this book’s merit or its quality of writing.


I did not love The Westing Game.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to be in the minority in my opinion, but there it is. While The Westing Game was an entertaining enough read for Adult Katy, Middle Grade Katy would have disliked it. She would have grown weary of all the jumping around, she would have been bored by the adult-centered subplots, and most of the subtle humor would have gone right over her head. Don’t misunderstand — Middle Grade Katy wasn’t a dolt; she just liked her books a little more streamlined and a lot more fun.

Another issue… While the omniscient 3rd-person point of view was appropriate for The Westing Game‘s complex mystery, I found it distancing. I wanted to be in Turtle’s head for the duration of the story — she’s a fantastic protagonist! Considering that this book is most often shelved as Middle Grade, I would have guessed that we’d get the story through the eyes of a young person, and I would have enjoyed it much more had Turtle been the only person to narrate it.

So, there it is. The Westing Game was an entertaining read, one worth the time I devoted to it, but it simply didn’t have the emotional impact necessary for me to fall truly in love with it.

Have you read The Westing Game? What did you think?

What’s Up Wednesday (It’s giveaway time!)

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you.

{Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of What’s Up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write is that they include a built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner!}


What I’m Reading: I finished Katie McGarry’s Dare You To. It was an entertaining read. Beth, despite all odds, grew on me, and Ryan was pretty freaking adorable. If you like Pushing the Limits, you’ll probably like this one too. Now I’m reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, this month’s selection for YA Book Club, hosted by Tracey Neithercott. So far I’m… confused? I’m not sure I like the story, exactly, but I have this funny feeling that the end is going to be amazing and the payoff will be grand. Only time will tell.

What I’m Writing: I smashed last week’s 3,000 word goal with a grand total of 6,183 words for the week. The best part? I think there may actually be some good stuff hidden among all those words. Win! In other news, I’ve decided to change my WiP’s setting (for some reason I set it in a small Appalachian town I’ve never visited. Why, Katy?). I’m going to switch things up and set the story in a fictional California town, one based on a town that’s about an hour from where we live. The change shouldn’t be too drastic; I’ve still got the small town life atmosphere going for me, but I’ll have to do some adjusting regarding weather and scenery and other such details. Sounds tedious, but setting is kind of a big deal to me, so I’m excited about the change. I think I’ll do a better job of writing about a place I’ve actually been to. I like details. 🙂 Goal for next week: 3,000 words, along with some research on a few religious aspects of my story.

ready set write button

What Else I’ve Been Up To: We had a busy holiday weekend (belated Happy Fourth of July to all who celebrated!)…

   Fireworks are strictly forbidden in our town which, frankly, is fine by me. So, on the Fourth, we headed to our favorite beach for a barbecue and a bonfire. It was a gorgeous night, and we had a blast hanging with friends, playing in the waves, and devouring delicious food. 

I’ve been writing, therefor I’ve been baking. When I’m drafting, I’m usually good for about an hour before I have to get up and do something else (clean, run, play with my girl, whatever). My favorite thing to do is fix a treat because baking is mindless and the outcome is awesome. This week, I made Homemade Reeses Peanut Butter Cups (pictured left — no-bake!) and Oatmeal Bars with Dark Chocolate Frosting (pictured right, recipe from the Linen Napkins to Paper Plates cookbook). I also made a Banana Blueberry Cake, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Nordy Bars. I went through tons of butter and chocolate chips.

On Sunday we hiked the Pinnacles and it was beautiful. We ventured through some caves and found a lovely man-made reservoir. It was about 95 degrees outside, so our hike was cut short by a sweaty, somewhat grumpy five-year-old, but it was definitely fun while it lasted.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I’ve been suffering from a bout of Writer Crazies. Meaning, I’ve been second-guessing everything about my WiP (see the above comments about setting…). Is the story too weird? Too edgy? Are the characters unrelatable? Are they boring? New doubts contradict their predecessors, and then a whole new crop of insecurities emerges. I’m terrified that I’m getting it ALL WRONG, and that’s making me grouchy. But, I happened upon the following quote the other day, and it really hit home:

Lose the fear, Katy. Lose. The. Fear.

Ready. Set. Write! Giveaway

As promised by myself and Ready. Set. Write! co-creators Alison MillerElodie NowodazkijErin Funk, and Jaime Morrow, participants in this summer’s most awesome writing intensive now have the opportunity to win a fantastic Writer’s Care Package featuring goodies from all over the world (literally!). Celebrate five weeks of writing productivity by entering to win a journal, tea, a mug, a book on craft, tasty treats, and other fantastic writing-related surprises.

To be considered eligible for the Ready. Set. Write! Giveaway you must have participated in AT LEAST one week of Ready. Set. Write! and shared an update of your goals and progress on your blog (most likely in the form of a What’s Up Wednesday post). To enter, click on the link below and fill out the Rafflecoptor with information about your Ready. Set. Write! progress, as well as any bonus entries you may have earned. The giveaway runs through Tuesday, July 23th. Winners will be announced Wednesday, July 24th. Open internationally.

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Good luck, writers!

Tell me: What’s up with you today? 

YA Book Club :: JUST ONE DAY

{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

March’s YA Book Club selection is Gayle Forman‘s latest novel Just One Day. I posted a glowing review of the story back in February and upon rereading that post, I noticed two things: One, my feelings regarding this story haven’t changed. And two, I stand by my declaration that Just One Day will be one of my very favorite 2013 releases.

I have family in town this week and I am on a whale-watching boat in the Monterey Bay right this very second (hopefully not completely seasick), so I am going to cheat and repost my Febraury review. My apologies if you’ve already read it. If you haven’t… Enjoy!


From GoodreadsWhen sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines. Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon (October, 2013)!

Gayle Forman is one of those authors, one who is just so awesome she’s taken on a bit of a celebrity status in my head. She’s smart and generous in sharing her wisdom (as evident in blog posts like this one), and she’s thoughtful and classy (even when she’s calling people out for being assholes, like in this post). I was lucky enough to hear her speak at an event last year, and I was blown away by how funny and bright and authentic she was. I’ve come to look up to her both as a writer and a person, and If I Stay and Where She Went are two of my very favorite contemporaries. So, of course I terrified to read her latest release. I mean… What if I was a disappointed?

Thankfully, I was not.

If I had to describe Just One Day in just one word, that word would be RICH. It is a story that is rich in far-reaching themes (finding your identity, lost love, coming of age, making a mark; there are mentions of Shakespeare throughout the novel). It is a story that is rich in lusciously-described settings (Paris, Mexico, Amsterdam, London, among others). And it is a story that is rich in colorful, dynamic characters (I adored Dee most). Every sentence, every page, every chapter of Just One Day made me think and wonder and imagine and  feel, which is the very best kind of reading experience.

I absolutely loved this book.

I think that’s mostly because I got the main character, Allyson. I understood her need to please, empathized with her initial absence of identity, felt the gaping hole she suffered when things with Willem went to hell. When I was eighteen, I was a lot like Allyson — that perfection-seeking girl with a lack of confidence and very little autonomy. That’s why it was so compelling to watch her grow into her personality and become self-reliant, a full, well-rounded person. That’s why I was rooting for her even when she was at her lowest and, frankly, sort of hard to like. By the time I reached the final page of her story, I wanted to be Allyson’s friend. I wanted to travel Europe with her!

Now. Let’s talk about Willem. I want to read his story, Just One Year, like, RIGHT NOW. Just One Day ends in a pretty staggering cliffhanger. The story will continue on in Willem’s narration coming this October (*sigh*), and I cannot wait to hear his side of the story. As of now, I know him only through Allyson’s romanced eyes. In Paris, he is charming and fun and sexy and impulsive, but I get the overwhelming sense that there is much more to Willem than the persona he presented to Allyson. I didn’t love his apparent love ’em and leave ’em ways, but I think we’re going to learn that there’s a very real and reasonable explanation for his behavior. I am so looking forward to learning more about him, his presumably complicated past, his feelings concerning LuLu, and what exactly happened on that fateful morning in Paris.

Fans of contemporary YA, fans of romance, fans of beautiful writing, fans of books: please, pLeAsE, PLEASE go buy Just One Day. It is a gorgeous, emotional, whirlwind of a read, and you will love every minute of it.

Tell Me: Have you read Just One Day? How do you think it measures up to Gayle Forman’s other novels?

(Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to see what other YA Book Club participants thought of Just One Day!)