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on 11 March 2011
I can see why some people might get a little annoyed with the main character, Corrinne, but after having watched three seasons of "Gossip Girl" (one of my favorite guilty pleasures ...) I actually found her selfish and spoiled superficiality pretty amusing (and she does change over the course the book!).

Seriously, though --- Corrinne's reactions to her new life are a huge part of what makes this book so funny and oddly endearing. Watching her change from a rich Manhattan princess to a girl with a more healthy and realistic perspective on life was definitely enjoyable.

The secondary characters --- from Corrinne's grandparents to her reluctant new friends (reluctant on Corrinne's part!!!) Kitsy and Bubby (how did the author come up with these names?!?!?!) --- are really likable.

I liked the Small-Town-Texas setting ... I'm really glad now, though, for all those hours spent watching "Friday Night Lights" (one of my favorite tv shows) because that meant that I was at least a little familiar with the whole Texan "Football above everything else" mentality ... ;o)

If you like "Gossip Girl" (or the movie "Wild Child" which has a somewhat similar premise) then you will probably really enjoy this book!
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on 23 August 2011
Where I Belong is not the book I thought it would be. When I saw the cover, I thought it would be a cute cowgirl/cowboy story, so I was a bit disappointed when the book was more like rich girl moves to Texas because of the recession and hates it story. It reminded me of the Hannah Montana Movie, when Hannah's forced to go to the place her dad grew up because she was getting out of control as Hannah. I found the novel disappointing. I wanted to love it, but it's hard to enjoy a book when the main character is so annoying. Corrinne is one of the most selfish people ever and I just wanted to give her a shake. There's much worse that can happen in a recession than merely having to move to Texas! People lose everything and don't have anything at all to fall back on and Corrinne's selfishness and inability to see that, despite not having everything she did have, she did still have some things really annoyed me.

There were some good things about the novel - I loved Corrinne's grandparents and I loved the town of Broken Spoke (despite Corrinne's constant complaining). All of the characters bar Corrinne were lovely and I really liked Kitsy and Bubby, two classmates of Corrinne. Kitsy, Bubby, Tripp and Corrinne's grandparents made the novel for me. If they hadn't been in the novel, I'd have given up pretty early on because Corrinne was the type of character that had just walked off the set of Gossip Girl. I can understand her upset at being moved so far away, but not being able to go to Kent is hardly a life-or-death situation and the way Corrinne acted was just too OTT for me. I wanted her to get some perspective and stop thinking "me, me, me" all of the time. It's the other characters who saved the novel, I swear. Kitsy was excellent and I would quite happily read a novel about her and about Bubby and everyone else in Broken Spokes because despite Corrinne's negativity, I liked the sound of the small town, the cosyness of it all.

Corrinne's transformation came a bit late in the day for me. She did get less whiney as the novel moved on, but it wasn't really enough to save her. I just ended up rolling my eyes at her sudden change of heart about Texas. It didn't ring true. However, one thing I will say, is that I liked her attitude toward the Rodeo, that was a highlight of the novel for me. I did find the ending to be a surprise. It was all coming together then it all just stopped. We get thrown one curveball and then... it ended. No argument over what happened, no change of heart, nothing. Just gone. Done. Finished. It was like the author had gotten fed up of writing it so just stopped. It's one of the most horrible endings I think I've ever read. I'm not asking for much, but I like to know what's happened to characters at the end of a novel, and I really felt Heasley could have spent just a few more pages wrapping it all up properly. An epilogue would have worked a treat.

Overall Where I Belong wasn't what I expected. The title is actually rather ironic considering how the book ends. Another bugbear about the novel was the way it was written. Not once did Heasley use "I'm", it was always "I am" and I'm sorry, but after the first fifty times of hearing a teenager say "I am getting ready" it got annoying. No teenager - heck, no person - I know says "I am" or "you are", they use the contractions of "I'm" and "you're" and it didn't help the novel. It made the novel sound older than it was, made Corrinne sound like an adult and it was quite unnecessary. I have no idea why an editor would let that fly, because not once did anybody use "I'm" it was always "I am" and I know it's nitpicky, but things like that stand out to me and they drive me mad. I found myself consistently editing it to make it sound more like a teenage novel because the formality of "I am" totally ruined the writing for me. It's a shame, really. From the outside Where I Belong looked like a cute, kitschy cowgirl/cowboy novel but it wasn't and it was ruined by an overly spoiled teenager, although there were bright points in the form of Corrinne's family and the friends she makes in Broken Spokes.
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on 8 May 2012

PROS: Protagonist goes through a realistic transformation and endears herself to the reader; novel contains some hilarious moments; realistic open ending to the novel

CONS: Moral of the story is presented in a rather cheesy manner; questionable presentation of body image

Corrinne Corcoran returns from another successful shopping trip at Barney's to hear the worst possible news from her parents: not only has her father lost his job, but the family's entire savings have been embezzled. Her father has been fortunate enough to get another, less well-paid job, but it's in Dubai and he can't take the family with him. So Corrinne, her mother and her brother are being shipped off to their grandparents' house in the tiny town of Broken Spoke, Texas. No more shopping sprees, no more credit cards, no elite boarding school and definitely no chances of hooking up with hot, rich upperclassmen. Instead, Corrinne will be spending her days in a town where there's only two places to eat and nowhere to shop, where Rodeo Queens still reign and everyone cares about whether or not the high school football team wins the championship. As Corrinne adapts to sharing her bedroom with her mother, getting driving lessons from her estranged Grandpa and eating mountains of carb-filled pancakes every morning she slowly comes to appreciate some aspects of life in Broken Spoke. Kitsy, the perky cheerleader, becomes her friend and she hits it off with a hot wannabe rocker, Rider, when she starts working at the stables. But when Corrinne's old best friend, Waverly, plans a trip to Broken Spoke, Corrinne is forced to evaluate how much she truly enjoys her new life, and whether she wants to take any part of it with her when she eventually returns to her old life in New York.

I am honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed Gwendolyn's debut novel. I usually preface my reviews of Young Adult books by saying something along the lines of "I'm not a teenager anymore, and I don't normally enjoy teenage novels, so I may not be the best person to be reviewing this book", but now I have to admit that, okay, maybe I have become a fan of Young Adult fiction. It's been a long time since I used to eat up the latest Meg Cabot novel as soon as it was released, and maybe it was due to an overdose of teenage fiction that I swore off it when I was sixteen, but Where I Belong has seriously convinced me to give this genre another try.

This is yet another case of me being suckered in with a pretty cover. I saw that this book was selling for £1.99 on Kindle and decided to download a sample in case the book lived up to its gorgeous cover. I'm currently working my way through Oliver Twist and a surprisingly depressing Amish novel and definitely needed a light read, so when I found myself relaxing as I read the sample for Where I Belong I decided to take a chance on it. And I'm really glad I did. This book had me grinning away at the antics of Corrinne and her new friends in Texas. It was just what I needed at this time in my life.

I did find myself wondering whether or not I would have appreciated this book so much as a teenager. I've read some reviews from younger readers who got fed up with Corrinne's ignorance and self-centred nature. But one of my favourite books as a teen was Legally Blonde purely because I found Elle's actions so hilarious, so considering that, I reckon that I would have enjoyed this book just as much as a teen. There were a few times when I found Corinne's comments a bit annoying - namely the remarks about her dress size (a fair few below mine, and I'm by no means fat) and her initial hatred of all foods that she deemed fattening (I am the Baking Queen in our house and addicted to pinning recipes on Pinterest) but other than that, I found her a very endearing character. For all her talks of drinking wine and staying out all night, she was still very innocent and naive. Sure, she knew her way around New York and could keep up with the "in" trends far better than anyone I know, but she didn't truly understand how friendships and relationships and families worked until she moved to Texas. I enjoyed watching her character grow, and until she did mature, she was just utterly hilarious to read about. I never thought I'd enjoy reading about a rich, privileged teenage girl from Manhattan, but it happened!

Unlike some readers, I liked the open ending of the book. Perhaps some people would have liked more of a romantic conclusion, a confirmation that Corrinne was going to end up with the right guy and live happily ever after. But I found it quite nice that while Corrinne had grown as a character and developed over the course of the novel, the end of the book wasn't the end of her growth. She's still a teenager, after all. It'd be interesting to read the companion book about Kitsy and discover what happens to Corrinne after Broken Spoke.

I only have a couple of real gripes with this book. One of them was the scene in which Corrinne's grandmother and mother recounted how they'd come to deal with their differences and reconcile with each other. I found it really cheesy and it didn't seem at all realistic. Perhaps if they'd let their comments drip out little by little it would have worked, but it basically came across almost like a speech or a sermon, as if Corrinne was finally being told the big message of the entire book. The scene could have been a lot subtler and still made its point.

I also found some of the comments about dress sizes a bit disconcerting. If I remember rightly, Corrinne is a size 4 at the start of the novel, and she comments at the end of the book that she's dropped a dress size due to all the work she's been doing at the stables. I know that there are some women who are naturally stick-thin, but I didn't like the idea of Corrinne's weight loss coinciding with her finding contentment. To some readers, this might give the wrong impression and suggest that Corrinne's happiness was linked to her unnecessary weight loss. In fact, I don't think it's entirely natural for someone of Corrinne's age to be dropping sizes. Teenagers are constantly growing, and it would be more realistic for Corrinne to go up a size. I don't know many women who stayed a size 2 after they hit puberty, so Corrinne's dress size isn't exactly representative of most teenage bodies.

Aside from the slightly cheesy scene with Corrinne's mother and grandmother and the questionable presentations of body image, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've now joined the ranks of grown women who read Young Adult novels, and will definitely be seeking out more books in a similar vein to Where I Belong. If Gwendolyn can make me enjoy reading about a stuck-up teenage fashionista then I have high hopes for her next book, A Long Way from You, which is about the adorable Kitsy attending art school. If you're tempted by this beautiful cover and not typically a reader of Young Adult novels, I would encourage you to give this book a try. Where I Belong is the perfect relaxing, feel-good read...and it may even make a Young Adult convert of you! If you're already a fan of Young Adult fiction then I can't see how you could be disappointed by this wonderful story.

Disclaimer: There was one instance of swearing in this novel and a couple of suggestions that Waverly was engaging in a sexual relationship. There were several instances of underage drinking, although Corrinne never seemed to have more than one drink at a time.
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on 8 December 2011
Corrine is a very unlikable character at the start of this book. She is a character straight out of gossip girl, spoiled, privileged and she thinks the world revolved around her. So that news that her family has lost almost everything through a bad deal and the recession is a devastating blow to Corrine. She handles this news exactly how you think a spoiled brat would take the news that she has to leave her friends and life in Manhattan and move to a small town in Texas. Throughout the course of the story Corrine develops into a more like able version of herself. I like that as a character she does not completely change and do a 180 from spoiled brat to voluntary worker, but evolves into a more tolerant and open version of herself.

I live in the UK and therefore I don't know what a small town in Texas is like but from the descriptions given in this book I can't wait to visit. I loved this book from start to finish. Even when Corrine was not the most like able person you couldn't help but cheer her on. The story also made this very east and quick to read and extremely hard to put down. The only thing I was disappointed about was the ending felt very blunt. It felt like there were a few decisions left up in the air. It made me feel like I was missing a final chapter. This might just be me but I prefer to have everything wrapped up by the last word, however this did not ruin my enjoyment of the book as I can let my imagination run wild.
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on 23 January 2012
Hiya, my mum ordered this for me and so I'm on her account doing a review.
Throughout the book Corrinne is an unlikeable character. If I was to move to America I'd be sad obviously, I'd miss my friends but I'd be so happy. Where she moves to sounds like such a beautiful place. Always sunny, horses and new friends and family around her. Also, the school she attends seems so lovely. I really like Kitsy, she was adorable. Unlike others, I didn't really like Bubby in the beginning and then I liked him around the middle and from then on. I love Corrinne's grandparents and am not a fan of Waverly's at all!
Overall, I think the book's really good. Was disapointed with the ending because, I had my heart set on what I wanted to happen (I obviously won't reveal the ending here.) Litrally, the characters and setting were great! Just like the book!
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on 29 April 2011
If I am completely honest, i did not think that I was going to enjoy this book because I normally go for fantasy, but this one was suggested to me, so I brought and read it :D
Reading this book kind of made me want to move to Texas, It has that effect :D
Just read it, okay, then you will understand :D
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on 5 April 2011
I really loved "Where I Belong" It was a cute read that held my attention although the book and read it in one sitting.

I love cowboys and this cover is hot.(swoon)

All the characters are great even Corrinne when she was a fashionista to her becoming a recessionista.
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on 13 May 2015
I believe this book was good but not brilliant as I fell I would be a good book to read for someone who is looking for an easy light read
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on 3 April 2013
I thought this was an amazing book with lots of twists and turns and the storyline and characters were amazing x
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