Paper Planes Back Home

coverPaper Planes Back Home by Tara Frejas
My copy: ebook/print
Number of pages: 147

When Gianna wakes up on a cloud, she is disoriented yet fascinated. She thinks she’s only dreaming until she gets a storm of paper planes—”They’re thoughts of people who remember,” a man on another cloud tells her—each pleading for her not to leave. The man tells her these planes are the key to get out of there, and while she thinks it’s hard to believe, she decides everything is worth trying if it meant finding her way back home.

Gianna wakes up on a cloud, and she’s confused. What was she doing there? Then she meets Skylar, a soldier on another cloud, who tells her that the paper planes that were landing on their clouds were thoughts and messages of people who remember. It turns out they were in some kind of limbo, and the paper planes were their way back home.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of Paper Planes Back Home when I first read its synopsis, because it didn’t seem like the usual romance novel for me. But then again, it wasn’t really just a simple romance novel. Tara Frejas’ debut had love in almost all of its forms – romance, family, and friendship, and this is what makes this book the kind I think people will read regardless of the genre they usually try.

There’s something heartwarming with how Tara wrote this book, and you can see that there’s already a lot of heart in it. I loved the four main characters – Gianna, Skylar, Aaron, and Anna. They had very distinct voices, and they all had different goals and motivations in the story that tied up nicely when you get to the end. In a way, you can kind of see what’s going to happen after all the situations were laid out, but even if it was predictable in that way, you won’t really mind because you just want to have a good ending for all these people. They deserve it, after all that they’ve gone through.

And the world-building in this was on point, too. No one really knows what limbo, or after life is about, but reading this book would make you want to believe that what Tara wrote was real. It was easy to see that the world was lovingly created by the author, and I admit that I always liked it when the book was back on those clouds. There was also an element of fear there, but more of fear for the characters and what could happen to them there.

This book left me with a smile on my face, and some tears, too. It’s not sad, although the premise seems like it. But trust me, warm, fuzzy feelings and happy tears will be around when you reach the end of this. :) And if you happen to be in the same shoes as Aaron in this book, Paper Planes Back Home will give you hope that will make you send more thoughts and prayers, hoping that these will be strong enough to bring the person you love home.

The stronger the love, the stronger the plane.

You can read an excerpt of Paper Planes Back Home here!

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
Jay E. Tria | Bookbed

Flat-Out Love

Flat-Out Love by Jessica ParkFlat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 400
My copy: ebook review copy from the author

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it.

When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

* * *

Flat-Out Love surprised me last year because it just started popping up on friends’ blogs and Goodreads profile around the same time. It took me a while to get myself a copy (because I was hoping someone would buy me the ebook for Christmas, LOL) and I finally took the initiative to request for a copy when people started putting this book in their Best of 2011 lists. What is up with this book that everyone seemed to love it?

Julie Seagle is excited for college, but her excitement was dampened because of a little housing hijinks. But the Watkins came to the rescue after her mom calls her old friend and soon, Julie moves in with them, up until she finds a new place to live. The Watkins family seem like any other normal family in Boston, except for the presence of Flat Finn, the cardboard cutout version of the eldest son who said to be traveling all over the world. But there seem to be something off everywhere, and Julie being the fixer that she is, wants to find out what. And if it includes falling in love with the real 3-dimensional Finn who’s currently traipsing all over the world…then why not, right?

So, I was surprised by Flat-Out Love. Yes, even as I was reading it, it kept on surprising me. It was a bit longer than I expected, but it was hardly boring. The characters felt real and their banter genuine. Julie was very easy to relate to, and like her, I loved and enjoyed my college years. Reading the book made me miss my own college years — choosing classes, meeting new people, studying for class and writing papers. Julie’s relationships with the rest of the Watkins family was so fun to read, especially her friendship with Matt and Celeste. Celeste was an odd girl but I thought she was a darling. Matt was your typical geek, but it wasn’t the only reason why I liked his character. Like Julie, he has a very distinct voice and character, and yes his defining moment in the book made me shed some tears, too.

The secret wasn’t really hard to guess. I already had a guess about it early on, and I was wondering if my hunch was wrong. I wasn’t. I’m sure other people would also be able to guess, but don’t stop reading there. It’s so easy to get invested in everyone in the story and I wanted to know what exactly happened, why the secret was such. That, and because I really like everyone already, I just really wanted everything to work out for everyone. It’s like I’ve become friends with all of them and with good friends, you just want the good for them.

And since there’s love on the title…how about the romance? Well, the previous ravers reviewers of Flat-Out Love were right to rave about it. The fun conversations, the “moments”, the slow and steady and delicious burn…awesome. It had all the good romances in it — even the ones that didn’t work out. Reconciling everything after all has been undone ((I apologize for the vagueness, if I say anything more it would be spoilery. But those who’ve read this would understand :D)) was kind of a challenge, and I couldn’t really wrap my head around it for a bit. Still, it doesn’t make the novel less enjoyable. I had a big smile on my face when I got to the last page. I meant what I said on Twitter when I finished this novel: What a deliciously satisfying read. ♥

Oh and did I tell you this book is indie? :)

Rating: [rating=4]

Required Reading 2012: January

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Janicu’s Book Blog

More information: Flat-Out Love website / author blog