The Artist and Me by Hannah Kay

The Artist and Me by Hannah Kay
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (105 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 stars
Review by Quince

Like the colorful strokes of her brush, love changes the canvas of their lives.

Lucas is just a small town writer starting a summer internship at the local paper when Julie blows into town like a cyclone. Legs a mile long, ginger hair that curls delicately to the small of her back and a smile that could generate enough energy to power Carltonville for months on end, she is easily a knockout. Unlike the other girls at the high school, though, she simply is what she is—beautiful, smart, confident and an artist to her core—all facts that cause the girls to hate her and the guys to want her.

By some stroke of luck—or so he feels—she is choosing to give Lucas, the quiet writer guy, a chance. It doesn’t add up, but Lucas isn’t going to dispute it. He just prays to the great God in Heaven that he doesn’t screw it up.

The writer and the artist—pen and paint. Is this story a masterpiece that will stand the test of time or will it fade with the summer sun?

The Artist and Me is a really short, quick read. It is a story about first love, one summer and heartbreaks. The story revolves around Lucas and Julie’s relationship. Lucas is a small town boy dreaming of becoming a writer. It is the beginning of a summer and he’s just started an internship at a local paper. Soon a new girl is in town, the daughter of local paper owner – Julie. Julie recently lost her mother and has moved in with her father. Julie likes to paint, and in Lucas’ eyes she is the most beautiful creature on the Earth, but also the most unreachable one. But miracles do happen and soon Julie and Lucas begin to date. After that, the story pretty much follows their dating and relationship.

As I already mentioned this is a short story that. I enjoyed it up to one point toward the end of the story. At that point Julie stars to act really strange. Also I did not like how story ended, and really didn’t see the point in that kind of ending. Still, the writing was solid and the plot interesting.  My dissatisfaction was a personal thing, and it may not be the same for you.  Give it a try and let me know!

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd

The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
The Possibility of You and Me by Lillie Todd
Publisher: Finch Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (258 pages)
Heat Level:  Sensual
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Quince

Her whole world has been flipped upside down. She’s lost…and only he can find her.

Lori Black had everything she could ever want—security in social standing by being one of the most popular girls in school, a hot boyfriend, and a set path toward her future. But her brother’s overdose flipped her world upside down and now nothing makes sense.

After spending a year away from home, Lori is ready to try to reclaim her old life. But a lot can happen in a year, and when Lori returns, she realizes she isn’t the superficial girl she left behind and maybe she doesn’t fit the space she used to.

Rejected by her old friends and struggling to deal at home, Lori is lost. And the only person capable of understanding her is the quiet boy, Archer, whom no one knows anything about.

It is Archer who brings Lori the possibility of being found.

Reader Advisory: This book contains some brief scenes of violence and attempted sexual assault.

The Possibility of You and Me is an absolutely amazing story. It is a hidden gem that I read it in one sitting. It started as a typical YA novel; former popular girl Lori Black returns, after a year of absence in school and tries to live a life she left behind, but she changed so much that going back is impossible. She meets silent and unapproachable Archer. Because they are both alone they start to keep each other company, and that turns from friendship into a romantic relationship. But soon Archer’s past starts to hunt him down and they have to decide the fate of, not just of their relationship, but also of their future paths in life.

During the reading of The Possibility of You and Me my heart broke so many times. This is such an emotional book. There are heartbreaks, but neither Lori nor Archer are big on drama. On the contrary, some situations they resolve with such a wisdom and calmness. I like both of them, as individual characters and also as a couple.

Lori is a lost girl who, after a death of her twin brother, has to find herself again. She is torn between being a part of group of her former friends and being away from them. Then when she starts a relationship with Archer she becomes so wound up in it that she almost lost herself. If Archer had been a typical teen boy that might happened. Archer is also a bit lost.  He did something in his past and he cannot forget it. Just like Lori, he also needs someone to love him. They are both such complex three dimensional characters and they make this story interesting and dynamic.  The relationship between them develops gradually while the bond between them is strong and in the end it resists and conquers.

Lillie Todd wrote a beautiful story about loss, love, and becoming vulnerable in order to find your true self. There are a lot of twists and turns here and it is absolutely impossible to predict what will happen next. I more than highly recommend The Possibility of You and Me. It is a story that exceeded all my expectation. One of the best reads in the Young Adult category this year.

The Mason List by SD Hendrickson

The Mason List
The Mason List by SD Hendrickson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: Full Length (478 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

An epic love. An epic hate. An epic story that would last a lifetime.

Today, 8:15 p.m.

I hurt. I hurt so deeply, I felt the pain searing in my bones and jabbing like a hot poker into my heart. I knew nothing would make it better as the memories pulled from the crevices of my mind, detailing the bad and the ugly, filling my thoughts with regret as I slipped into the darkness. . .

When I was eight, my mother was dying of cancer, my father lost his job, and the bank kicked us out of our house. I was forced to move to the strange town of Arlis, Texas where my father and I slept in our car in the hospital parking lot. Desperate and hopeless, we lived on fumes of our former life.

Then one night, everything changed forever. A knock on the car window brought a family into my life that I only wanted to shut out. I hated charity and I hated the Masons. Well, except one. He made it impossible to hate him.

Jess Mason had the biggest blue eyes and ornery smile of any boy I had ever seen. He was a ray of sunshine in my dark world. A boy full of adventure, dragging me across the meadow of Sprayberry Ranch; a beautiful Texas paradise full of horses and tree houses that got us into more trouble than anyone ever imagined.

Jess was my everything as a kid until we grew up and the rules changed. Instead of living happily ever after with a boy full of love. . . I destroyed it.
– Alex Tanner

Reading The Mason List was a bit like riding an emotional roller-coaster.

Drama is constant in this story. Each chapter contains either some action, or emotional turmoil – mostly Alex’s or both. Every once in a while I had to put the book aside because there was really too much drama for me. S.D. Hendrickson built the whole story on Alex’s internal conflict with Mason. So there are places of the story where I just got a bit bored of Alex’s issues with Mason and where I wished that she just accept a situation and move on. When I finished reading the story I disliked Alex and I thought that she just one of the most confused characters that I had met recently. But soon I realized that she is actually such a complex character and that her hate toward Mason is caused by not having a control over her own life, and that she is fighting to regain that control. Some of her ways were not the cleverest but in the end she made it and I was so happy for her.

I haven’t read a saga type of book in a long time, so when I realized that The Mason List can be categorized as a saga-like book and that the story goes from present to past, I was a bit reluctant. On the other hand I love rich boy–poor girl love stories so, in the end, I decided to give it a try. It took me some time to finish this 478 pages long book and I had very mixed feelings about it.

The writing is amazing. This is S.D. Hendrickson’s debut novel and she manages to keep the story in place all of the time. The author establishes a clear sense of time and location and it was really easy to picture the setting and time frame. The story is consistent, without illogicality. All characters are well written and fully developed. What I enjoyed the most was how the love between Alexandra (Alex) Tanner and Jess Mason developed, and how love scenes between them are written. There is no explicit sex here but the scenes are so sensual and full of tenderness.

The Mason List is good debut novel. The story stirred a lot of emotions in me, I cried and I laughed, I fell in love while reading it. I also come to some pretty interesting conclusions about giving a helping hand to fellow human being that is in dire situation. I highly recommend it.

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross

Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (381 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: Best Book
Review by: Quince

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry

Eve had it all-emphasis on had. She was a rising star with a modeling contract destined to catapult her to celebrity…until the devastating night when she walked away from everything, everyone in her life. Eve’s worked hard to put her troubled past behind her, and photography’s given her a fresh start. She just never thought her dream internship would force her back into the industry that broke her trust and her heart.

Alex is a regular, good guy from Nebraska, but as an up-and-coming model, he’s learning that appearances are everything. The fake relationship Alex’s agent concocted for Alex and his underage costar? That’ll land them both the hot jobs. But Alex hadn’t counted on falling for Eve, the girl behind the camera.

Halfway Perfect is not a halfway, but all the way perfect story. This is one of the best stories I’ve read this year. So perfect that everything that I start to read after it pales in comparison.

One may argue that the author of Halfway Perfect did not bring anything new. Yes, that’s true. It’s known that fashion world is a cruel one. It’s known that people will do anything to get media attention and to succeed (even go into a fake relationship), it’s also known that in abusive relationships the victim is taking all the blame. Here, it’s not that the authors revealed something new to readers. It’s the way these already known issues are raised, processed, written, and delivered. How Julie Cross and Mark Perini did that is pure perfection.

The story is told in dual POV, and each voice is easily distinguished. Their writing is flawless. Due to that I was hooked from the first page. Another great thing in this story are the characters, both main and secondary, both heroes and villains. They are all so alive and written with so many details it was pure enjoyment to read. I like how both main characters (Eve and Alex) changed through the story, but I also like how the villain’s true face was revealed at the end. The authors did a great job in exploring Alex’s family dynamic. The bond between three brothers and little sister is done amazingly .

Halfway Perfect is not an easy read. It contains violence and it realistically portrayed the fashion world. But that’s only part of what drew me in. Its realistic descriptions of the fashion world, and a bad relationship is what I liked the most in this story.

Multi-layered, complex, realistic, that is Halfway Perfect. I highly recommend it.

The Devil and Danna Webster by Jacqueline Seewald

The Devil and Danna Webster by Jacqueline Seewald
Publisher: Astraea Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, YA
Length: Full Length (171 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Danna Webster, a shy fifteen-year-old high school student with a talent for art, is studying in the school library with her friend Joyce when a dark, handsome boy starts flirting with her. Rich bad boy, Kevin Moore, continues to pursue her. But Danna is pulled in another direction by Gar Hansen, football quarterback and honor student who has been assigned as Danna’s math tutor. What is Kevin’s connection to the eerie stranger who offers Danna everything she could ever want in life—in return for her soul?

The Devil and Danna Webster revolves around family and love life of fifteen year old Danna Webster. Danna lives with her mother and stepdad, but she feels that there are some secrets in her family. She is a shy and withdrawn, but not naïve, girl with only one good friend. Therefore, Danna is very surprised when suddenly she becomes point of interest of two completely different boys from the senior class. Both of them are cute, and while one is dark haired bad boy – Kevin, the other is blond haired and (of course) good boy – Gar. Although this situation is totally new to her, Danna handles it very well. Also she handles well the truth that her family was hiding for her.

I have not read The Devil and Tom Walker by Washington Irving nor The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet so I cannot draw any parallels between these three stories. Also I understand that The Devil and Danna Webster is allegorical story, but I cannot see why the author introduces the devil in order to tempt Danna. The temptation part could be done without devil, and the story would be still charming.

Regardless of this I find The Devil and Danna Webster a nice and interesting coming of age story. I like that it deals with the issue of making the clever and right choices. And although this book is more suitable for teenagers than for gown ups who like to read YA, I am glad that I read it.