Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

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I received this book for free from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica VerdiWhat You Left Behind Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Sourcebooks Fire
Buy on Amazon

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

No, seriously, guys. 

Pre-order this. Right now. Oh, no, you don’t – don’t give me that wary glance. I’m not telling you this just because I want you to drain your hard-earned money, because I care where your hard-earned money should be spent — on worthwhile books.

And guys, it can’t get any more worthwhile than What You Left Behind by Jessica-fucking-fantastic-Verdi.

I mean, when do you usually read about a contemporary novel about a seventeen-year-old male teenager who suddenly found himself a father of a newborn girl, whose cancer-stricken mother (his girlfriend, Meg Reynolds) died before the baby was even born? Look at those emphasized words. Look at them carefully – isn’t that the recipe of “holy-shit-that-sounds-intriguing-as-hell”?

Guys, this is an emotional, heartfelt, and heart-breaking story of a young hero whose life took a confusing and uncertain turn at a time when he had his future set out for him. What are you to do when it feels like your girlfriend died because of you? What are you to do when you have a young one depending on you, when you don’t even know what to do with yourself? What are you to do when so many things are crying for your attention – your schoolwork, your job, your soccer practices – when you aren’t even able to take care of your damn kid properly?

This book made me feel all sorts of feelings. It felt like a realistic portrayal of someone who didn’t know what to do and was crumbling from all the pressures and responsibilities. It was so refreshing to see it from a male perspective… usually when it comes to teenage parents, we all get it from the eyes of the mothers. Heck, we even have TV shows for that, but what about the teenage fathers? What do they go through? How do they feel about it? It was an intimate journey witnessing Ryder’s struggles and insecurities in light of his life’s recent developments, and how he coped with his conflicting feelings and bottled guilt.

I did have one problem, though…

I know that this was mainly about Ryder’s growth. He had to learn how to forgive himself, to move on, and to make life worth it whatever his circumstances. However, I was quite disappointed that there wasn’t much portrayal about his being a father and how he was going to cope with it… Hope, his baby, was such an integral part of why he was so lost, and yet, Hope was mainly by the sidelines. By the end, he realized what it meant to be a father, but it wasn’t really shown. It felt like his romance with a new girl took more pagetime than being with his daughter.

That’s my only complaint. I would have loved more father/daughter time since I’m a daddy’s girl, too.

But otherwise, this was great. The narration was very personal and very realistic, full of emotions that would easily connect to any reader. I love how parents were an important part here, too, as the support to their kids as they tried to find their path in life. The character development, Meg’s presence even thought she wasn’t physically there anymore, and the idea how everything in life is one big mess but it’s up to us on what to do with it.

Seriously guys, pre-order this book. You won’t regret it.


4 Hot Espressos

Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie Richards

Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie Richards

Posted by on 04/03/2015 • 7 Comments

You guys know how much I like my revenge stories. There’s something that feels really sweet when mean and awful people get a dose of their own medicine. The best one I’ve read to date is Gretchen McNeil’s Don’t Get Mad duology, which had an amazing cast of female characters (who totally kicked butt and whose different personalities really made both novels shine), so I was kind of expecting to feel the same intensity in Richard’s. Unfortunately, while I liked the idea of the premise (which wasn’t all that original, sadly enough…), it didn’t feel like it was executed greatly enough.

So, the story starts with Piper finding a notebook filled with cryptic statements about what people have done to other people. She witnessed someone get bullied in school, a victim…

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by on 11/19/2014 • 16 Comments

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this series. With every new book I fall a little bit more in love with this town and its characters, which I thought was impossible by now. What I appreciate the most is how even though it’s a series, each book is a stand-alone with new main characters who tell us their story, and if you have read the others, you get a kick out of the familiar faces that return for secondary roles. I love hearing what Jordan and the others are up to, and they’re all so grown up now *sniff*.

In Breathe, Annie, Breathe, we meet a girl who’s dealing with grief and self-blame after the death of her boyfriend. A boyfriend she knew she was eventually going…

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Posted by on 07/25/2014 • 13 Comments

Even with the great premise and creepy as heck scenes throughout, I can’t say I liked this one much, unfortunately. Though this is all due to the writing, and if you’re a fan of it you will have a much better experience with this book than I.

The writing is one that, although may work for some, I could never get used to. The narrative voices (plural because I “think” there were more than 1, but I’m not 100% sure…) are in 3rd person which is always harder for me to connect with regardless, but in this case even more so because of this particular all-knowing perspective the author adopts. Then when you add in the fact that the perspective changes – often abruptly without a chapter change or even…

Review: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Review: Some Boys by Patty Blount

Posted by on 07/16/2014 • 18 Comments

This was a book that I really wanted in my life. When I read the blurb and saw the issues that it dealt with I thought it would be one that I would definitely love. In the end I can’t say that I was overly impressed with it. While it did deal with some pretty heavy issues, the writing left much to be desired and the split POV didn’t work on multiple levels.

On the surface this sounds like the type of story that I would generally love. Grace is outcast at her school after a party that she goes to where she gets raped by the all-star lacrosse player at her school, Zac. Zac says it wasn’t rape and Grace says that yes it was because she was unconscious….

Tour: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Tour: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Posted by on 07/14/2014 • 23 Comments

Miranda Kenneally has done it again folks! I always know that when I pick up a book by Kenneally that I am in for a fair amount of swooning, but I have to say that with Breathe, Annie, Breathe I got even more than I could have expected. Full of wonderful characters, a swoon-inducing romance and a full range of emotion, I think this is the best in the Hundred Oaks series yet!

In the fifth instalment in the series we are introduced to Annie who has recently lost her long term boyfriend and is now training to run a marathon in his honour. What I’m sure you can gather from this already is: SPORTS! Yes, while previous books featured football, baseball and even horseback riding this book tackles running….

Will from Dream Boy’s Top Ten T-shirts + Giveaway!

Will from Dream Boy’s Top Ten T-shirts + Giveaway!

Posted by on 06/23/2014 • 16 Comments

I’m excited to have the Dream Boy blog tour drop by the blog today. This book sounds like a lot of fun, and after reading this post you’ll know that Will has a great sense of humor, too 😉

Guest Post

Will from Dream Boy’s Top Ten T-shirts by Mary Crockett

In Dream Boy, Annabelle’s best friend Will has a collection of wise-crack T-shirts. Here are some that appear in the book (and a few that could have).


And one that may only make sense to those…

The Research Behind The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi + Giveaway!

The Research Behind The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi + Giveaway!

Posted by on 04/17/2014 • 13 Comments

I’ve got  the lovely Jessica Verdi on the blog today to talk to us about her research process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me which has a premise involving a de-gaying camp. Also if you missed my review  you can read it here – I really enjoyed this one!

Guest Post by Jessica Verdi

Research Process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me

Hi, Giselle! Thank you so much for having me on your blog and for the opportunity to talk a little bit about the research process for The Summer I Wasn’t Me!

This was a very research-heavy book, being that I personally have never been to a conversion camp. But because this world is so secretive, so purposefully hush-hush, there was only so much…