Category Archives: Simon Pulse

Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: January 2012
Source: Purchased
Series: Standalone

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life… and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…

This is another book I’ve read while on a contemporary kick and I adored it. I have to say I think I like the contemporaries with sports themes, even though I’m not actually a fan of most sports. I like playing in a few, but I never watch any. Anyways, I’ve have always had a little bit of interest in figure skating, judging by the different movies I’ve watched over the years. That sport is actually fun to watch because of how graceful the skaters are, and the routines they do paired with music, etc.

One thing I absolutely loved about this book were the cupcake descriptions that went along with every chapter title. Like this one for chapter fourteen: Cupcakes with Benefits – Vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped peanut butter cream cheese icing, milk chocolate chips, crushed pretzels, and a drizzle of warm caramel. Some of my favorite parts of this book were when she was just in the kitchen at Hurley’s baking away the day.

Some of the interactions between all the different characters were frustrating, but then again the drama is what moves the story along, so I didn’t let it bother me too much. There’s definitely romance in this book, and for a while Hudson was going in one direction and I was absolutely cheering for that direction but after she heard something at a party she decided to go in another direction, without even getting confirmation about what she heard. Then I have to admit I was banging my head some. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more of the father, but his lack of presence also helped shape things.

I can understand Hudson’s obsession with wanting to get out of Watonka. I live in a smallish town, but not super small since we do have a university. I believe there are around 27,700+ people here. But it’s small enough that there really isn’t a whole lot for the younger crowd to do even with the university here. It’s one of those places that you kind of chafe in while growing up and you move away for a while. But then when you have kids of your own you come back to this place. I too have felt the desire to leave and never look back, but it’s not always the place that makes it home, it’s the people you know too. And I think at one point Hudson does come to realize that.

Bittersweet was my introduction to Sarah Ockler, and I have to say I’m definitely interested in reading her other books after this one. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA contemporary romances, especially ones with sports themes in them. 

Review: Sometimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Sometimes it Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 12, 2011
Source: Publisher via S&S Galley Grab
Format: eARC, 322 pages
Purchase: Book Depository

Summary from Goodreads:
On the last day of her junior year, Hannah’s boyfriend Sebastian dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah’s side…until it’s time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava’s boyfriend, Noah, who’s such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah’s good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction–and one night, into a passionate kiss.

The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Sebastian, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think…

Over the years, except for one bout of chick lit mania, I’ve stuck pretty faithfully to books of the fantasy and sci-fi genre, and all their subgenres, mainly because I used reading as an escape and didn’t need to be reading about real life. But over the last year or two, I’ve finally begun the shift of reading more contemporary novels, and I must say what I’ve read I’m loving. This book included.

Let me first warn you that this is pretty much a soap opera in book format. But don’t necessarily let that turn you off. Lauren’s writing and development of the story was, in my opinion, pretty close to perfect. The pacing was awesome, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it. I know I’ve said this before in general, but I’m seriously loving the alternating timelines being developed throughout. One is giving you what’s currently happening the first day of senior year, while the other gives you the back story. I was a little confused at first, thinking the book started near the end when the shit is already about to hit the fan, but then I discovered those timelines.

The overall theme of this book is infidelity. I’m definitely not a fan of cheaters, but like the title says, sometimes it happens. And let’s face it, as shitty a thing as it is to do, it’s not a problem we’re ever going to be rid of. It is unfortunately a fact of life. Most of the time when it happens, you feel bad for the victim, the person who was cheated on. But in the case of Ava, I’m sorry to say I felt no sympathy for her. She’s flaky, selfish, and wants Hannah to worship her so she lies about things, or doesn’t even tell her.

Now for Hannah and Noah. I loved the pacing and development of their relationship over the summer, the confusion and uncertaintaty they experienced about their newfound feelings for each other. I was all warm and gushy inside whenever I read the summer chapters dealing with their backstory. And I cannot forget to mention Lacey. As tiring as she can be with her hypochondria, she’s was definitely a better friend to Hannah than Ava, who was supposed to be her best friend of all time. Much love to Lacey for sticking with Hannah through thick and thin.

As I was reaching the end, I got to a part where I was starting to think, hmmmm this could be a good ending scene, but there has to be more after this of course. Lo and behold, there wasn’t. The ending was good, but it also felt like there could have been just a little bit more to the story. But overall I loved it. This is definitely a summer read you’ll want to give a try.

Anyone else read this? Let me know your thoughts!