The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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“The Fill-In Boyfriend” by Kasie West

5 out of 5 stars.

Smart, pretty, and popular, Gia Montgomery has always had a seemingly perfect life, but lately acting like everything is perfect has been wearing her down, especially with Jules trying to trip up her every step. Jules has been tirelessly attempting to turn Gia’s friends against her ever since she joined the group, and prom was Gia’s last chance to prove to her friends that Jules has been manipulating them into thinking she’s a liar. But Gia’s final hope of disproving Jules’ lies went out the window when her boyfriend, Bradley, dumped her in the parking lot of her high school, just minutes before senior prom. Gia doesn’t know if her friends will believe her when she tells them that Bradley dumped her in the parking lot, or if they’ll choose to believe Jules’ lies and think that she had been pretending to have a boyfriend all this time. But then Gia meets a boy in her school’s parking lot and she comes up with a plan: ask him to be her fill-in date for the night.

What was supposed to be a just one white lie for Gia and her fill-in date turns into another when she poses as his girlfriend at his ex’s party. Her fill-in boyfriend is sweet and charming, and as Gia spends more time with him and his sister, she begins to realize that being perfect isn’t what life is really about. For a while it feels nice to get to know people who see her and can be real with her in return, but then Gia’s growing web of lies comes back to haunt her. Gia doesn’t know how to tell the truth to her friends without losing them completely, and in the process she is starting to lose the boy that she has begun to care for as more than a friend. After hiding the truth for so long and pretending to be something she’s not, Gia realizes that perfection isn’t possible, and she wants to discover what real can mean in her relationships. That is, if she has anyone left after the truth is done with her.

This book was a serious cuteness overload in the best kind of way! I read it over the course of an afternoon, and “The Fill-In Boyfriend” was exactly what I needed. Normally I’m not a huge contemporary fan, but Kasie West always hits the spot for me and “The Fill-In Boyfriend” was no exception to the rule. I even ended up loving this book enough that I went and bought it the following week on a jaunt to Barnes and Noble!

I really loved how Kasie West wrote Gia Montgomery in “The Fill-In Boyfriend.” Normally female characters like Gia annoy me in stories because of how unaware they are of other people’s’ feelings and only care about how they are perceived by others. The way Kasie wrote Gia, however, made me feel bad for her because of how insecure she was in her friendships and familial relationships. Gia wasn’t viscous or spiteful, but she did have moments where she was really self-absorbed and couldn’t see beyond her own issues, and yet I didn’t mind her character at all. I wanted to see Gia grow as a person and become more secure in herself so she didn’t feel the need to lie and pretend like she was perfect to be accepted. Kasie West did such a fantastic job of writing Gia so that she was an enjoyable female character despite her flaws, and I loved seeing her grow as an individual. I especially liked the dynamic that Kasie created between Gia and her new friends.

Good Lord, I adored the love interest Kasie wrote for Gia!

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I won’t tell you his name because that’s part of the story, but I’ll just say that I LOVED this boy. Nameless Boy was such a charming, sweet, and funny friend turned love interest that I couldn’t help but fall for him. Nameless Boy had a really good heart, and even when he did a couple of stupid things, I still loved him because he was a really great person. He and Gia were fabulously funny together in this book, and I also really liked how Nameless Boy made Gia start to think outside of herself and helped her to understand that she didn’t pretend to be perfect with people who were true friends. I loved that Kasie wrote a male character like Nameless Boy, and I absolutely adored his and Gia’s relationship in “The Fill-In Boyfriend.”

The romance is this book was so sweet and adorable. Nameless Boy and Gia were great together, and I loved that they started out as being kind of friends whose relationship evolve slowly into something more. Everything about this book and Gia’s and Nameless Boy’s relationship had me smiling from ear to eat because of  how stinkin’ cute it all was!

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But “The Fill-In Boyfriend” wasn’t all fun and games despite its smile-inducing charm, and it was refreshing to read a book that was funny and sweet while still having a purpose. Social media can be brutal in this day and age and it can also cause a lot of us to become really self-absorbed, superficial, and/or self-conscious. I just loved how Kasie West dealt with this particular topic, and I thought that she really got her point across without having to make an overly dramatic story. Kasie kept “The Fill-In Boyfriend” sweet and fun while dealing with heavier issues, and I honestly loved everything about this book.

Another thing that I liked about “The Fill-In Boyfriend” was that Nameless Boy and Gia seemed like more mature high schoolers compared to a lot of contemporary books that I’ve read as of late. He and Gia felt like they were seniors rather than petulant children. Sure, they were still really young and had a some drama go on between them, but nothing compared to a lot of the other books I’ve read in the chick lit/contemporary genres. Even when there was drama, though, I felt like it was well-founded in the fact that considering social media stuff and how viscous people can be, that the situations Kasie created seemed more realistic. Again, I want to commend Kasie West for masterfully writing a mature, yet clean, high school story that was as fun as it was heartwarming. I loved seeing Gia grow as a person, and it was really sweet seeing her relationship with Nameless Boy evolve. I also loved that she found another female friend that she grew to trust with her true self, not with the perfected facade meant to hide her flaws.

I could go on and on with how much I love this contemporary book, but I’ll end this review by telling you to go out and either buy, borrow, or get it from the library. “The Fill-In Boyfriend” was squeaky clean fun that had a lot of heart to it. I love this book so much, and I also grew to love all of Kasie’s characters and their perfect imperfections.

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

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“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with a broken heart. Some eat chocolate or ice cream, some watch endless amount of romantic movies, and some listen to love songs, wallowing in their pain. The options are practically limitless, but the way Lara Jean Covey prefers to ease the pain of a broken heart is by writing a letter to the boy who broke it. She holds nothing back while writing the letter, and once written, it is to be placed it in her teal colored hat box. No one will ever read the letter but Lara Jean; somehow, writing about what she felt while she was with that person helps her to let them go. Why should she dwell on a relationship that was only ever in her head, on someone who will never feel the same way that she does? Why not write a goodbye letter, and move on in life?

Her letters always seemed harmless, but when they get sent, Lara Jean has to decide how to clean up the mess she made in writing them. The problem with tidying up her mess, though, is that she doesn’t know where to start! Lara Jean has a long journey ahead of her if she is to resolve this catastrophe that has affected everyone she cares about. Can she protect herself from getting hurt while she tries to fix things with her family and friends, or will Lara Jean end up with another letter in her hat box and a broken heart?

I really liked “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It was one of those reads that you’ve heard about from people or seen on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, but you just never thought to pick it up on you own. I probably wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for my sister; her description of the characters and story made me want to read it, and I am very glad I got the opportunity.

Lara Jean is in my top five favorite female characters (America from “The Selection” is #1 at the moment) because of how real she was. A lot of heroines that I have read about are so unrealistic, and I guess a lot of times I don’t connect with them. I may like the book, but it’s like there is something holding me back from really liking the main female character; they’re not someone (usually) who I would want to be friends with in real life. Lara Jean, however, would be an awesome friend to have. She’s funny, sweet, smart, and a little quirky, and I could imagine her being a real high school student just trying to survive after something REALLY embarrassing had happened to her. If I was in her shoes, I would have crawled under a rock to wait it out so I wouldn’t have to deal with the humiliation.

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Lara Jean, though, took the situation in stride (granted, she’s fictional) and it made for some very funny situations. They were so funny in fact, that I would actually burst out laughing (at inopportune times, I might add). I tried to stop myself from laughing out loud, at least while I was hanging out with people, but it could not be contained.

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I haven’t had a book do that to me in a long time and I forgot what it was like to have one make me burst out laughing like this one did.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is worth a lot more than laughs, and it deals with some pretty big topics that I think a lot of teens/people eventually deal with in life. I also loved that this book didn’t ended up being one of those awful, empty, vain books where the characters’ minds are so vacant that there is no potential for character growth. I was so proud of Lara Jean for how much she grew as a person in this book. Jenny Han didn’t compromise her character’s (unlike a lot of authors I’ve read) personality, making her someone she wasn’t, she just helped Lara Jean grow up a little and moved her in the right direction. It was cool to see that happen in a more realistic way. Now that you know a little about Lara Jean (I can’t tell you too much because it will ruin the story), let’s talk about some of the other characters.

Josh, Josh, Josh…

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At first, I kind of liked his character and I wanted to know more about him and his relationship with Margot, but the longer I read this book, the more I came to dislike his character (you’ll understand why I disliked him once you read this book).  In the beginning I felt bad for Josh, and I wanted Margot and him to resolve their issues because you knew that they wanted to get back together, but then he started to get all moody towards Lara Jean (kind of unintentionally, but still), and it was really irritating. I felt like he didn’t deserve to have Lara Jean as a friend and that she was way too good for him. The final nail his coffin (for me) happened in the last couple of chapters; it was just SOOOOO selfish of him, and what he did put a lot of other people in bad positions.

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I was done with the character long before that scene had happened, but it made me dislike him even more.*Sighs*

Josh and his awfulness aside, I felt like Jenny Han did a really good job of creating believable situations between friends and siblings, especially between the Song sisters. Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty all love each other, but that doesn’t make things easy, and I liked seeing their dynamic as they went about life. I do have to say that Margot was a bit cold for my taste, and the scene that really made me dislike her attitude was when she came home for Christmas break. Something happened and she treated Lara Jean really terribly when it wasn’t even her sister’s fault. I get that people lash out, but that was unwarranted! I do have to give props to the author, though, because after all their fights, the sisters decide to mend their broken fences and forgive one another. It reminded me of the last epic scene in “Frozen.” I’m always up for a story about sisters sticking together!

The last person I want to discuss in Peter. In the beginning of the book you know that he’s the popular, super good-looking guy at school. Peter’s the kind of guy that everyone either has a crush on, or they want to be like him. He was a good guy character, but when I first started this book, I didn’t like or dislike him; I guess you could say I was neutral when it came to Peter. I didn’t care whether he was in a scene or not, I was just reading “To All The Boys I’ve Love Before” because of how much I liked Lara Jean. But the more he was in the book, the more he endeared himself to me. His character snuck up on me when I wasn’t paying attention, and once I finally took a moment in the middle of the book to absorb what I liked and disliked, that’s when I realized how much I loved his character.

I don’t  know all the reasons why I ended up liking Peter so much, but I do know that I loved that he got along so well with Kitty and how nice he was to her and Lara Jean, and I also liked that he fit in with the Song/Covey family so well. It was really cute and sweet, and I liked what his character brought to this story. Lara Jean’s and Peter’s fake relationship was also quite funny at times (there’s a scene that involves a car, antiques, and competitive spirit. I was laughing so hard I almost cried!), and I really loved that Lara Jean brought out the best in him.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han ended well, but it was on a bittersweet note and it even made me tear up a bit.

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This was a beautifully written and sweet book. I so enjoyed Lara Jean as a character, and I loved seeing her grow into a young woman. This is a really great coming of age story. Loved it!!

Pivot Point by Kasie West

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“Pivot Point” by Kasie West

4 out of 5 stars.

Addison Coleman lives in the Compound, a place where the supernaturally gifted can dwell safely, and without the threat of the outside world knowing what they can do. Addie has grown up with a Discerner  (AKA a lie detector) for a father and a mother who has the power of persuasion. Yeah, Addison has never had any choice but to tell the truth and do her mothers bidding, but it isn’t all bad. They’re good parents and her life it pretty good inside of the Compound’s dome despite the unconventionality of it all. But Addie’s safe and happy world is shattered when her parents announce, quite unexpectedly she might add, that they are getting a divorce. How could Addie not see this coming?

Despite them trying to work it out, Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are going their separate ways and Addie is now stuck in the middle, and to make matters even worse than they already are, her dad tells her than he is moving. But it is not a short move to another house in the Compound like Addison had hope. Instead her father has decided to join the regular world and to dwell among the Norms. And Addie has to choose: stay in the Compound, the only place she has ever called home, with her mother, or venture out into the Norms’ world with her dad?

Now is the perfect time for Addison to use her ability, and so she decides to live out the two different choices her parents gave her life for six weeks in the hopes that she will be able to see which choice will be best in the end. But Addie soon finds that her choice could not only affect herself but also the people she loves, some of whom she has yet to meet. Will Addie make the right choice or the easy one?

I loved “Pivot Point” by Kasie West so much! I would normally think that this kind of book would be a slower read because it isn’t really a “fast-paced” story, but I was proved wrong because I ended up reading it really fast and enjoying it a ton. I really liked reading about Addie’s journey and seeing how one choice can so massively change your future as well as the futures of the people around you, even if you haven’t met them yet. It was fun to see the butterfly effect in motion.

Addie is a very enjoyable heroine to be inside of; she was so endearing and cute that I never minded reading from her perspective. Addie is a kind of funny and awkward too, so that made the character feel all the more “real” and easy to get attached to. I also liked how Kasie West had the two different futures switch back and forth with each chapter because it really kept me reading and quickened the pace of what would normally be a more mellow read. I am personally fond of the Addie who choice to live with her dad. I found that she turned out to be the better “Addie” in the book, but the sacrifices each Addie had to make were still very interesting despite my partiality.

All of the characters in “Pivot Point” are all really well done, but I think my favorite characters (besides Addie) were Addie’s dad and Trevor.

Trevor was a really good guy character. I liked how Kasie wrote his and Addie’s relationship because, for Addie, it wasn’t about “catching” the guy. Addie sat down next to Trevor during a football game because it was an open seat, and then they struck up a conversation. And the reason Addie starts hanging out with Trevor is because she wants a friend, but then it grows from there as the story goes along. Their relationship was cute because they started out friends and then it grew into something more, instead of it starting out as an obsessive pursuit for the girl/guy like in other teen books these days. No insta-love in this book. YAY!! That fact alone makes me want to give Kasie four stars!!!!!

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Relationshipiness aside, Trevor is a pretty freaking great guy. He is your sweet, friendly, cookie-cutter Texan boy who’s repspectful of the girl, and loves football. Yeah, he’s just that awesome. But, besides the whole sweet thing, he is a really good guy and he had surprising depth for being a goody-two-shoes kind of character, and nearing the last couple of chapters he does something very sacrificial for Addie, which helps her to make a very hard, but good, decision.

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Yay for Kasie making a selfless (and smart) main guy character!

The last thing I wan to comment on is that, despite the fact that I would classify this as a “fluff” book, as you get near the end “Pivot Point” get quite exciting and I was rushing to finish it. The book ends well, but it also ends a little sad

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and that makes me anxious for the next book in this trilogy, “Split Second”, to come out so I can see how Kasie West fixes all the problems made at the end of “Pivot Point.”

“Pivot Point” is a great book. No, I take that back. “Pivot Point” is fabulous because it is sweet, fluffy, and delicious all wrapped up into one book! I really respected Addie as a character (and Kasie West) for what she had to sacrifice for someone she loved, and it makes me look forward to the next book, which comes out in February! Overall, a great, fun, and light read! Loved it!