Friday, November 22, 2013

Mini Reviews: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney and While You're Away by Jessa Holbrook

When You Were Here
by Daisy Whitney
Published:  June 4, 2013
by:  Little Brown
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity. 

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

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My Thoughts:  After losing her five-year battle with cancer and dying 3 weeks short of her goal of seeing Danny graduate, his mom is gone.  I find this so heartbreaking.  Danny is Valedictorian, he is trying to deal with his mom’s estate, and he’s an emotional wreck.  Danny ends up traveling to Tokyo where his mom was getting treatment, for answers, for closure, for understanding….I don’t know if he really knows himself what he is truly seeking.  He passes through the stages of grief while in Japan, a place where Danny traveled with his mom frequently.  He makes a new friend, grieves the loss of an old girlfriend, only to have her reopen wounds that aren’t fully healed, all the while trying to overcome his loss and come to an understanding as to why his mom died.  In the process, he surprisingly learns how to love, laugh, and live again, and also how to let go.  When You Were Here is a wonderful emotional read that will touch your heart and soul.
3.5 hearts


While You're Away (#1)
by Jessa Holbrook
Published:  October 15, 2013
Publisher:  Razorbill
Source:  Publisher/NetGalley
Once a cheater, always a cheater? 

From the moment Will and Sarah first set eyes upon each other, they know that what they have is special.

There's just one little problem . . . each of them already has a significant other.

After flirting with danger, it becomes clear their passion is too strong to be denied. But even if they make their relationship official, there are plenty of challenges in store. Will leaves for college at the end of the summer, while Sarah faces her senior year of high school in their small suburban town. Long-distance relationships always come with their fair share of troubles—mismatched schedules, jealousy, and temptation are only the beginning.

Can cheaters ever change?

WHILE YOU'RE AWAY is a steamy story about a love triangle, a long-distance relationship, and learning the true meaning of commitment.
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My Thoughts:  While You're Away is part one in a six-part serial novel.  It is very short and contains only six chapters, so it is really a quick read.  Sarah Westcott has been with her boyfriend Dave since they first met when she was a freshman in high school.  They are both musicians and play together, calling themselves Dasa.  Dave is a great guy and Sarah loves him, but she also gets really frustrated with him after the play somewhere because he always is surrounded by girls, the center of attention, and likes to flirt, though he would never cheat on her.  He's an all around great guy otherwise, but this one thing really grates on Sarah's nerves, though she tries not to let it show.  Will Spencer is the schools hot boy who all the girls dream about.  A former player, he is now the boyfriend of the girl whose house Sarah and Dave are playing at.  They bump into each other there, get to talking, and one thing leads to another and Will and Sarah find themselves in each other's arms.  The chemistry is electrifying between them, but the problem of each of them being involved with someone else is an issue.  Nevertheless, they can't deny what they feel for one another, which causes quite a dilemma.

I normally don't go for cheating novels, but this is nothing like your typical cheating novel.  First of all, they are in high school.  Sarah has had one boyfriend who she is comfortable with and loves, but is she really in love?  Dave has never made her heart pound or caused her to tingle and go weak in the knees, something just the sight of Will Spencer does.  Will has a reputation as a player, but Sarah sees a different side of him, or at least she hopes she does, and she thinks he is really honest about the way he feels about her.  The story is told from Sarah's point of view, so we really don't get to see what is going on inside Will's head.  While You're Away Part One introduces you to the characters and sets the stage for the rest of the installments.  It is really well written and captures your attention, while wetting your appetite as you look forward to the next course being served.  So far, I've enjoyed it.
3.5 hearts


  1. I didn't realize the second book was a serial novel so I am glad you mentioned it.

    These both sound like good reads, especially the first one. Once in a great while I like reads that I know will be emotional.

    1. It really is. The second one is really short, but I think it is going to be good.

  2. When You Were Here sounds like such a heartbreaking book. The stages of grief would be so tough to read about. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall and I love the japanese setting.

    - Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

    1. It is, but it was good. I have to take stories like that in small measured doses.

  3. Oh I teared up just reading your review of When You Were Here..I am mushy on the inside but don't tell anyone.

  4. I really liked When you were here. I think it works as a serialized novel, but it's so aggravating because I just want to keep reading but have to wait for the next installment to be released. So while I generally like the novel, I don't think I'm a fan of serialized novels.

  5. I wanted to read When You Were because he goes to Tokyo and I love Tokyo haha. It sounds like a really sweet heartwarming, self-discovery kind of story, Thanks for sharing!


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