Posts Categorized: Young Adult

Game On Review

September 18, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

Game On ReviewGame On (Lewis Creek, #2) by Michelle Smith
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on August 16th 2016
Pages: 328
Source: Purchased
Also by this author: Play On (Lewis Creek, #1)
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four-stars
As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.
Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months— for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.
In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.

It’s no secret that I seriously enjoyed Michelle Smith’s first novel Play On. It’s safe to say that Game On was yet another delightful read set in this extremely awesome Lewis Creek world. I really hope that we get more stories from some of the other baseball players! I would love for Blake or Kellan to get their own love story. Anyway, this was a sweet romance with relatively low angst going on here. This was a light read, and very fast paced, I was able to devour it fairly quickly. I’m glad I read this, and I recommend it to any YA sports romance fan!

Bri was an absolutely fabulous main character. We saw glimpses of her in Play On, so I’m glad that we get inside her head in Game On. I was surprised by how much I was able to relate to Bri on a personal level. I guess I shouldn’t be, because Michelle Smith has already proved that she can write these incredible female characters who have their inner demons that they try to conceal. Bri’s story was a sad one to say the least. My heart broke for her when we learned about how her mother verbally abused her before she left for good when she was only six. She was also in a verbally abusive relationship with one of Eric’s teammates for months until she finally reached her limit. I liked learning more about this smart and passionate girl. She also has such a huge heart, which we see through her community service of teaching little kids how to play soccer. Could this girl be a better human? I doubt it.

Eric was a pretty great main character as well. Michelle Smith is amazing at writing male POV’s. She makes Eric’s voice so hilarious, and he feels like such a typical teenage boy. I laughed out loud countless times while reading Eric narrated chapters. I can’t think of any specific lines off the top of my head, but take my word for it, it was freaking hilarious. He’s far from being a perfect book boyfriend, but what teenage boy truly is? He has his fair share of flaws, especially when it comes to relationships, but the guy has a great heart underneath it all. Eric has made lots of mistakes, but Bri helps him see that those don’t have to define who he is. I also loved how protective he was when it came to Bri. He didn’t hesitate to throw down if it was in defense of his beautiful neighbor.

Once things got started, the romance was pretty adorable. Take my word for it though, this is basically the definition of a slow burn romance. Eric and Bri don’t kiss until right about the 80% mark. Typically, I want the relationship to already be established by that point, but Smith made it work. The author took her time with reconnecting Eric and Bri as they strengthened their friendship. The feelings that they had for one another became obvious long before they get together, but the two fight it for different reasons. Like I already mentioned, the relationship is so sweet and adorable once it finally gets started. I definitely loved seeing them as a couple, they truly balanced each other out in the best possible ways.

Game On was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I feel like I’ve been waiting on it for such a long freaking time now, so I’m beyond excited that it was finally released! In my opinion, there can never be enough YA books out there about baseball. I’m such a huge fan of the sport, and Smith was able to bring it to life on the page yet again. Fingers crossed that there will be more Lewis Creek books released in the not so distance future!

four-stars

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ARC Review: How to Make Out

September 8, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0

ARC Review: How to Make OutHow to Make Out by Brianna Shrum
Published by Sky Pony Press on September 6th 2016
Pages: 284
Source: Edelweiss
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one-star

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

Negative reviews are never fun to write, and I unfortunately had to write several of those for early September releases. I was really looking forward to this one based on the title alone. It seemed like a cute light contemporary read, but sadly it lacked quite a few crucial components. The majority of the book was so unrealistic. Renley was pretty difficult to relate to because of some of her choices. The teen problems were extremely cliche. How to Make Out basically followed a YA formula and wasn’t a unique story. I recommend skipping out on this if you’re looking for a more original book.

So the main character Renley decides that she’s going to be a how to blogger and make money from answering everyone’s questions. I don’t understand how she can possibly make ANY money when she just started blogging. There’s also another issue of the fact that it happens to be popular at her school, but how could they just happen to stumble upon her blog when the internet is such a huge place? None of it made any sense to me. It would make more sense if she was somehow writing for like a local newspaper blog or something like that. I was hoping that I’d be able to relate to Renley because of the blogging thing, but I was left scratching my head over how the heck she was able to make enough money to go to New York City through blogging.

The romance was ridiculously predictable. She has a manwhore best friend who lives next door who is “in love with her” and she basically leads him on all the time by sleeping in bed with him. However, she actually likes the most popular guy in school, who she ends up dating, but it’s obvious who she actually is going to end up with. I didn’t like Renley because it seemed like she was straight up cruel to Nick. She knows that he’s in love with her but she doesn’t love him like that but she leads him on to the point where she asks him to help her make out so she can use it on the guy she actually likes. Does anyone else think that is seriously messed up? Nick wasn’t much better since he was constantly talking about hooking up with other girls, so it wasn’t all that obvious that he was actually in love with Renley, despite him saying it every other line.

I brought it up earlier that this book follows a sort of formula instead of being original, so I’ll talk about that a little more, but try not to rant. So we have the nerdy girl who finds a way to popularity, even if it is in an unrealistic way. She has a crush on the most popular boy in school who randomly notices her. The boy has a girlfriend who is the mean most popular girl in school, but he ends up dumping her for Renley. As already mentioned, her best friend/neighbor is not so secretly in love with her. Her popularity ends up blowing up in her face and she loses friends as well as the perfect boyfriend. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

I could continue to rant about this book, but I’m not going to do that. I had read reviews that were also mostly negative and focused on how unrealistic the blogging part of it is. I decided to give this book a shot anyway because the description was interesting enough and it seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, I wish that I would have gone with a different book. I recommend trying a different contemporary romance book instead of this one.

one-star

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ARC Review: As I Descended

September 7, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

ARC Review: As I DescendedAs I Descended by Robin Talley
Published by HarperTeen on September 6th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
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two-half-stars

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

So this book honestly isn’t awful, the genre just isn’t really my cup of tea in the first place, so it’s not all that surprising that it didn’t work for me. This was still a relatively fast paced novel with solid LGBT representation. I think that other readers will likely respond to it a lot more positively than I did. I’m so used to reading contemporary books that it’s hard for me to get into the paranormal/horror mindset. Meaning, I still have a habit of thinking in terms of how realistic something is, when obviously that’s not important in this genre. It was a good read, but not a great one. In the end, I believe that I truly don’t have that much to say about it.

A huge reason why I was unable to connect with this book is because of the characters. I get it, this is a Macbeth retelling and those characters aren’t exactly likable either. However, at the same time, I still found myself hoping that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would get away with everything, I was still completely invested in the story. In this case, I absolutely wanted the characters to get in trouble for their actions because I never cared about either Lily or Maria. I was also confused about their personalities, Lily seemed to be the determined Lady Macbeth character in the beginning, but all of a sudden Maria becomes the strong one? I definitely didn’t know what was going on there.

The only characters I really liked were Brandon and Mateo. I wanted more of them! So basically, I wanted them to be the main characters and Lily and Maria to get caught early on in the book. They were both fabulous and entertaining characters. They were obviously my favorite couple in the book. View Spoiler »

As I’ve made pretty clear in my past reviews, romance in a book is important to me. Basically the main reason I read this was because the description basically promised a power lesbian couple who were already together! I’ve hardly read any LGBT books (specifically f/f) where the couple got together before the book even started. It’s safe to say that I was disappointed to find that there’s little to romance in this one at all. I get that the action is clearly more important and there wasn’t much in Macbeth either, but it was still not what I was personally expecting.

As I said earlier, I was really glad to see all this LGBT representation. Lily is a lesbian and Maria is bisexual. As I already implied, Brandon and Mateo are also gay characters. There’s also diversity with Mateo and Maria. There’s also disability representation with Lily. She was in an accident and can’t walk totally on her own, she has to use crutches. So yes, the representation was present, but I wasn’t all that happy with how it actually portrayed. View Spoiler »

As a whole, this was a book that was easy to read and everything, it just wasn’t my favorite. I wanted to be more invested in the characters and the plot in general. I’m not saying that every character has to be 100% likable, but as a reader, I need to at least WANT the characters to wind up happy at the end of the story. At the beginning of the review, I said that I didn’t have to say about this book, I guess I was wrong! I ended up having quite a lot to say. So to sum it up, if you’re a fan of paranormal/horror books, you’ll probably like this one.

two-half-stars

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ARC Review: Diplomatic Immunity

September 2, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1

ARC Review: Diplomatic ImmunityDiplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton
Published by Balzer + Bray on September 6th 2016
Pages: 368
Source: Edelweiss
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one-star

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Aspiring reporter Piper Baird decides to write a scathing exposé on the overprivileged students at an elite Washington, DC, school, only for her life to change when she begins to fall for the story's main subject, in this new realistic contemporary romance from Brodi Ashton, the author of the Everneath trilogy.
Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity...it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row.
Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country.
Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington.
The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I’ve never read any of Brodi Ashton’s books before, but I thought that I should start with her only contemporary book. Unfortunately, it ended up not working for me at all. I disliked it because of how predictable it was. I was looking forward to the journalism aspect of it, but sadly it let me down. The journalism wasn’t realistic, or well done in my opinion. I’m sure that other people will probably like it, I just simply can’t recommend it to others because of my major issues with the plot, characters, romance, and even the writing.

I’m sorry but this is far from being realistic. The rich kids in this book are absolutely insane and out of control. It reminded me a bit of the story, Paper Princess (which I strongly disliked) in the respect that the teachers were hardly present and the students ran the school. The other major issue that I had was with the journalism. Basically, the love interest ends up trusting her with all of his “secrets,” knowing that Piper was writing a paper on it. You know that she’s a journalist yet you fully trust her anyway? It just didn’t feel real to me at all. Not to mention the fact that the drama surrounding the whole issue was entirely predictable. Obviously something’s going to go wrong and she and the love interest are going to end up breaking up because of it.

So the love interest is described as being “exotic,” which I honestly think is pretty offensive. She also thinks he’s exotic just because he can speak in a different language. As a whole, Raf is a pretty ridiculous character. He doesn’t act or talk like a high schooler at all. I honestly think that the author should’ve just made him a college student or something. It also really bothered me that he was able to get away with everything, even if he did have “diplomatic immunity,” it doesn’t excuse everything.

If you can’t already tell based on my views on Raf, I absolutely despised the romance. I felt like Raf was far too trusting of Piper considering what he knew about her. There was also a pointless “love triangle” going on that I honestly didn’t understand why it was included. The romance was such an issue because I didn’t see the chemistry between Raf and Piper. Maybe I have high standards, but I didn’t end up finding it believable. Raf was a terrible book boyfriend, and frankly, Piper wasn’t that great of a character either.

In the end, it makes me sad that I didn’t like this book. The characters and the plot made me feel like the author didn’t know how high schoolers acted and talked. I know that’s not true and this author is a very respected one, but that’s simply the impression that I was given based on Diplomatic Immunity alone. Maybe I’m so harsh because I have a little experience with journalism class and writing for the high school newspaper. Whatever the reason is, I found myself strongly disliking this book. As already stated, maybe you’ll find it cute and charming, but I didn’t see any of that. I wish that I liked this book better, but sadly it didn’t work out.

one-star

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ARC Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

August 31, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden FruitGeorgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Published by HarperTeen on August 30th 2016
Pages: 432
Source: Edelweiss
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

This book tackles the subject of faith for queer kids, which is something that I’ve hardly seen any of in YA books. That being said, it’s disappointing to me that I couldn’t give this a five star rating just based on the plot alone. Unfortunately, some of the subplots and all of the ridiculous teen drama was extremely off putting to me at times. I did really like some of the characters, but others didn’t have very great character development, in my opinion. The lack of communication between two of the main characters also really bothered me. So while it had the potential to be an incredible book, it ultimately fell a bit short for me, but that doesn’t mean the overall message isn’t an important one.

The story ultimately revolves around this issue: can a queer teen be a faithful Christian? Joanna’s father is a evangelist radio pastor, but he’s also extremely comfortable with her sexuality. However, when they make the move to a more conservative town in Georgia, he asks her to “lie low” with her sexuality. Jo also has her own little time slot on her dad’s radio show where she talks about what it’s like to be a teenager of faith and how relationships, friendships, and everything else work for her and her friends. Her dad promises her that she’ll be able to talk about what it means to be a teen of faith while also being queer at some point, so that’s why she agrees to lie low for awhile. I just thought it was so important how the author explored this subject in such an informative and fascinating way. It’s something that queer teens and even people who are a little confused about how that all works should read it as well.

The supporting characters were definitely one of my favorite things about this book. I loved Jo’s new group of friends: Gemma, George, Betsy, Jake, Mary Carlson, and B.T.B. I also loved her new step-mom Elizabeth, who was a lot more accepting than her own mother. I wasn’t crazy about Dana, who was Jo’s best friend from home. She was funny, but her subplot was completely pointless. 

Like I already said, the characters were interesting but the plot wasn’t so great at times. I couldn’t stand the lack of communication between Mary Carlson and Jo. On one hand, I do sort of get why she was hesitant to tell her the truth about her past, but then it reached a point where it was insane not to tell her. Meaning, if she was so in love with her, why not be honest? How could you possibly think that breaking up with someone is a better alternative to just telling the truth? It makes absolutely no sense to me. 

In the end, this certainly wasn’t a bad book by any means. As already stated, I do believe that the subject matter is vitally important for all people. It addresses faith in such an honest way like I’ve never seen in YA before. My complaints came from the unnecessary drama, pointless subplots, and characters not being well developed. I hope that this book works better for you guys! 

three-stars

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ARC Review: Been Here All Along

August 28, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

ARC Review: Been Here All AlongBeen Here All Along by Sandy Hall
Published by Swoon Reads on August 30th 2016
Pages: 240
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Signs Point to Yes
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three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.
Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Been Here All Along is a pretty adorable friends to lovers romance that I really enjoyed. I have to admit that it wasn’t my favorite because I felt like the POV’s weren’t as well developed as they could have been and I wanted to see more character growth as a whole, but it still was a decent novel. It was ridiculously short and I was able to read it in just a couple of hours. I recommend it if you want to read a fluffy romance between two teenage boys that has its fair share of drama, but isn’t tragic either. I wasn’t totally blown away by this book, but I didn’t dislike it either. I think it was a solid read, I’ve still read LGBT books that I personally enjoyed a lot more than this one, that’s just me though.

My favorite part of the novel was likely the two main characters Gideon and Kyle. They were both relatively nerdy guys who were both completely likable for various different reasons. I thoroughly liked the friendship that was already established between them before anything romantic was ever going on. Out of the two, Gideon might be my favorite by a landslide, but both had extremely likable qualities about them. Anyway, Gideon was great because I loved how nerdy and adorable he was. As I’m sure I’ve made clear before, nerdy boys are my absolute favorite. At times, Gideon did drive me a little crazy, but he was still a pretty well developed character as a whole.

Kyle was a lovely character who I really sympathized with on some levels. Specifically, I felt so bad for him when it comes to his struggles in English class and just with reading in general. He was a basketball star, but at the same time, he was much more than your stereotypical jock. His only problem was his girlfriend Ruby, who I disliked the whole time. I understand why Sandy Hall wrote it this way, she wanted to make Kyle completely unattainable to Gideon, but I still feel like her personality could have been a bit more developed.

So the friendship turned romantic relationship that Gideon and Kyle had was ridiculously adorable. Truthfully, that’s really the best word I can use to describe them. They had such incredible chemistry, even as best friends. I also loved how they geeked out over Lord of the Rings together. Naturally, it was a rather slow developing thing since there was quite a bit of drama involving Kyle’s obnoxious girlfriend. But once everything finally worked out, it turned out to be just as adorable as I was expecting it to be.

While I did find this book to be a short and sweet read, it was far from being perfect. I had some major issues with the narration, the four POV’s didn’t work for me. I understand including Gideon and Kyle’s voices, but throwing in Gideon’s brother plus Kyle’s girlfriend made everything a bit of a mess. I couldn’t stand Ruby, and her voice wasn’t very well written in my opinion. Have I mentioned that this book is really short? It’s over 200 pages, and I feel like it’s just not long enough for all of the characters to be fully developed. Some of the solutions were just sloppy and not fully resolved. Unfortunately, I was expecting more from Sandy Hall. It was definitely a swoony read, but I was still anticipating a lot more from the plot and characters.

three-stars

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The Scorpio Races Review

August 24, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

The Scorpio Races ReviewThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 18th 2011
Pages: 409
Source: Library
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five-stars
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

So I haven’t read very many Maggie Stiefvater books in the past, only The Raven Boys, though I do planning on eventually reading the rest of that series. Anyway, I figured I should try this one out since it’s her only standalone, and I’m really glad that I did. Immediately, readers get sucked into this phenomenal world that she’s created in the mysterious island of Thisby. Puck and Sean are both such incredible characters and I loved being inside their heads. Besides that, there is also intense action that keeps you on the edge, adorable little brothers, a bakery, and super cool Americans. I hope that you’ve read this already since I feel like most YA readers already have, but if not, it’s definitely a must read! I totally understand the hype behind it all now.

Puck is a pretty badass heroine to say the least. Her parents both died, so she lives alone with her older brother and younger brother. Her older brother Gabe is slowly drifting away from her and Finn, and is now wanting to leave Thisby. On top of all that, Puck is on the verge of losing her house due to not being able to make payments on it. She feels like she has no choice but to enter the Scorpio Races, which no woman has ever done. Naturally, the response is not a positive one, and she doesn’t exactly help herself when she uses her longtime horse instead of a capall uisce, which is a deadly water horse. So the odds are stacked against her, but I love how passionate and determined she is. She doesn’t let absolutely anything get in her way, and I have nothing but respect for her.

On the other side of things, we have Sean, who is such an amazing book boyfriend from the start. He’s won the Scorpio Races four years in a row with his longtime fierce horse, and he also takes care of the horses in the stables. The thing about Sean is that he’s incredibly quiet, and I love that about him! You know that when he has something to say, it’s clearly important since he never opens up all that frequently. He isn’t all that swoony necessarily, he doesn’t deliver any big lines to win Puck over or anything, but he’s a real teenage boy. Meaning, he is just amazing by fully being himself, and that’s what wins both the readers and Puck over in the end.

My favorite part of the romance was how subtle it was. It wasn’t even close to being the main focus, the characters and their personal growth throughout the novel is, but I loved it anyway. There were very few sweet kisses shared between them, and that’s what makes them all the more special and precious. Sean and Puck don’t even interact for several chapters, so the buildup is extremely slow but also real. I love that nothing was ever rushed in their relationship. I don’t even know what all to say, it just all couldn’t have been written any better!

The action had me on the edge of my seat the whole book. Seriously, I was literally so nervous for both Sean and Puck’s safety. Those capall uisce would actually eat anything in their path, so it made me nervous for them and pretty much any other character that we were introduced to. So the thing that I wasn’t expecting was how little the actual Scorpio Races plays in the plot. Most of the book is just a lead up to it, and then the end is the race itself. Another thing that I was expecting based on the description that it was like The Hunger Games, only one person survived it, but that’s actually not how it is. Yes, it’s a super dangerous thing and a lot of people do die from it, but there are survivors as well. I was probably the only person who thought this, but whatever, I’m glad that it wasn’t actually like that!

From the first page, this book manages to intrigue you. Puck and Sean are both so well written, I wanted to be friends with them both. Not to mention some of the fabulous supporting characters, like Gabe and Finn, Puck’s brothers. I really loved some of the people on Thisby too, like some eccentric sisters who always tell Puck how it is. I loved George Holly, who is an American that is buying horses and becomes good friends with Sean. The point is, this book couldn’t have been any better. It’s filled with such intensity and emotions. What more could you really want out of a book?

five-stars

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More Happy Than Not Review

August 23, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

More Happy Than Not ReviewMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 293
Source: Library
Also by this author: History Is All You Left Me
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Goodreads
four-stars
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Wow, I had heard that this was a sad book, but I still wasn’t expecting how depressing it actually turned out to be. All sadness aside, this is an incredibly well written story, and the plot is pretty unique. While I definitely had to read something much more uplifting after this one, this is still an amazing and memorable book. I recommend this for readers who are looking for a story that is on the heavy side, but is also extremely informative and significant as a whole. Adam Silvera is a fantastic author and I really enjoyed this complicated but compelling debut.

For starters, Aaron Soto is a seriously heartbreaking character. I really loved what a major nerd he was, especially when it comes to comic books. He has such a witty and cool personality, and I loved that about him. The heartbreaking side of him is all the sadness that he has inside of him. The dude hasn’t had an easy life to say the least. His dad committed suicide just a few months back, and Aaron tried to kill himself at some point as well. I wanted to hug Aaron basically from the first page until the very last, the boy desperately needed some affection. As already said, he has a hard life, and the rough neighborhood that he comes from makes it all the more difficult for him.

Let me just say that I honestly wasn’t expecting the plot to go in the direction that it did. I had read in some other reviews that if you had seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds, you won’t be all that surprised by it, but I totally was despite the fact that I love that movie. So most people probably won’t be that shocked by some of the turn of events, but I still found them to be rather clever. I think what made it all flow together was Silvera’s impressive writing. It’s hard to put into words, but somehow it all clicked in this unique way. You really need to read it to truly get it, in my opinion.

The romance in this book wasn’t what I was expecting. I was anticipating that he and Thomas would have this big unrequited love thing going on, but that doesn’t end up happening at all. Thomas simply makes Aaron aware that he has feelings for boys instead of girls, which isn’t something acceptable in his harsh Bronx neighborhood. He knows that his friends will never accept him if he reveals this, so that’s when he turns to having that part of his memory erased. The point is, romance fans might be a bit disappointed that there isn’t more of one here. However, I was so wrapped up in the plot and characters, that it personally didn’t bother me at all.

So this book has been out for over a year now and I’m not so sure why I waited that long to read it. I think I was a little hesitant because I knew that it wasn’t going to be a light read. Despite the heavy subject matter at times, this was still a mostly pleasant read. Aaron is a character who will definitely standout in my mind for a long time. I wanted him to receive a happy ending, and though the ending here wasn’t what I was expecting, the author still wrapped it all up with tremendous care and thought. The ending felt true to what the book was trying to accomplish, another one wouldn’t have worked as well. I really recommend this one, especially for people looking for a unique and well done LGBT book!

four-stars

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Sunday Street Team: Girl in Pieces Review

August 21, 2016 Blog Tours, Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Sunday Street Team: Girl in Pieces ReviewGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
Published by Delacorte Press on August 30th 2016
Pages: 416
Source: Netgalley
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel about a girl who has lost everything—almost even herself.      Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The thick glass of a mason jar cuts deep, and the pain washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.    Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.   A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

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Hey, everyone! I’m so happy to be a member of the Sunday Street Team. SST is hosted by Nori @ ReadWriteLove28 and you can learn more about it by heading over to her website.

I’m going to be honest, Girl in Pieces was not an easy read for me. It wasn’t one of those light and fluffy books that I could sit down and read in just a few hours. It ended up taking me a few weeks to read it, just because it’s such a heavy and downright emotional read from start to finish. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a worthwhile read and that Charlie’s story isn’t one worth telling. Though difficult, it’s still beautifully written, thanks to Kathleen Glasgow’s remarkable prose. This is only Glasgow’s debut novel, yet she manages to write like a seasoned professional. I highly recommend reading this book because it’s about such a relevant topic that people of all ages need to learn more about.

I’ve decided not to make my review all that long because I think the book really speaks for itself. Glasgow ends up tackling so many important issues in this book including: cutting, sexual abuse, alcoholism, and the main character is staying in a mental hospital. Yes, we have seen most of these topics be addressed in many YA books in the past, but the author still manages to make it all feel so unique and like it’s all being addressed for the very first time. Though it has been talked about before, cutting especially is still a topic that makes people really uncomfortable. I remember when I was in middle school, I picked up a book called Cut and my mom was extremely concerned for me, though I actually picked it because I knew some friends who were cutting and wanted to be better informed on the topic. Anyway, it goes to show that just the thought of cutting makes people uncomfortable, and that’s why we need to address it. There are teens out there who are doing it and not getting help because they feel too ashamed to speak up. I’m getting a bit off topic here, but I just think Glasgow’s sensitivity while still addressing useful information was very beautiful and refreshingly well done.

All in all, this was a wonderful book that wasn’t an easy read by any means, but it’s still one that is ridiculously important. Charlie is such a beautiful and heartbreaking character who I wanted to hug and comfort all throughout the story. I also want to hug and give a huge round of applause to the fabulous author, Kathleen Glasgow, for taking on such important topics that are always relevant to teens and also adults today. I think this will particularly stand out to readers who enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why or love Ellen Hopkins’s books. Though I do believe that it’s such an important and wonderfully written novel, I don’t think you should read it if these are topics that are triggers for you in any shape or form. This is a dark read, but I’m still glad that I read it anyway because it’ll definitely stick with me for a long time.

About the Author:
Kathleen Glasgow lives in Tucson, Arizona. She writes for the radio show The Writer’s Almanac and can probably provide you with some interesting anecdotes about historical literary figures if you asked nicely. You can find out more about Kathleen by following her on Twitter: @kathglasgow, Instagram, @misskathleenglasgow (where she posts about sunsets, depression, spirit circles, and books) or her website: kathleenglasgowbooks.com.

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If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, please consider contacting:

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
To Write Love on Her Arms: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/
National Runaway Hotline: 1-800-621-4000

four-stars

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ARC Review: You Before Anyone Else

August 16, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: You Before Anyone ElseYou Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

This was a pretty cute contemporary read that I was able to read in just one sitting. Though not my favorite, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I feel like the characters and the general plot wasn’t all that unique, but it was still a fun read. My standards were ridiculously high going in since I’ve absolutely adored Julie Cross’s books Whatever Life Throws at You and Third Degree. You Before Anyone Else doesn’t quite beat either of those works, but that’s probably not the most fair comparison anyway. I recommend this one if you’re looking for a YA book that is extremely fast paced and a pretty solid romance as well.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure how I feel about the plot. I think that more YA books should certainly explore the modeling and fashion industry. However, it seemed like too much was happening in the plot so there wasn’t much time to really go into more details about the industry and how it can personally affect those involved in different ways. I will admit that I didn’t guess the big secret that Eddie was keeping from Finley. I thought that the authors were mostly able to handle the twist in a well done fashion. Anyway, I’m glad that things like fashion shoots were explored in this story, I honestly haven’t read many (if any really) YA books that do.

Finley wasn’t a bad character or anything, but she wasn’t overly memorable either. I really did sympathize with her over the loss of her mother, and also having issues with dancing again. I had a lot of respect for her due to how she had to immediately grow up and help her father raise her little twin brothers. That being said, she was an extremely mature character and I totally enjoyed that about her. I also respected her for being able to communicate with Eddie when she discovers his secret, most girls would have likely ran in the other direction when they find something like that out. I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite female character, but she’s still a character that I was able to somewhat identify with and have a lot of respect for too.

Eddie was a fairly solid character too, though I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite either. He didn’t really have that many specific swoony moments throughout the book, but he still had a great personality and it was obvious how much he cared for Finley from fairly early on. I thought it made the book even better to also include Eddie’s POV in the story. Sometimes I feel like switching back and forth between the two main characters isn’t always necessary to the plot, but in this case, it made an important impact since we were able to have more insight into what his secret might have been. Though in the end, that didn’t really help me all that much and I wasn’t able to guess the secret, but the POV worked nonetheless. I liked Eddie a lot, and I felt like he also was rather mature for his age, and I respected some of the grownup decisions that he made throughout the story.

Finley and Eddie’s romance itself wasn’t all that unique, but I still liked it, just didn’t completely love it. I wasn’t a fan of the total insta-love between them. On top of that, it seemed like the romance moved at a rather fast pace. In the end though, I did cheer for them as a couple and wanted them to receive a happy ending. My favorite scenes that showcased them as a couple were the ones when Eddie hangs out with Finley and her little brothers and also her dad. Her little brothers were the best and I loved how Eddie naturally interacted with them. So I’ve read that You Before Anyone Else is kind of a crossover between YA/NA, but I consider it mostly YA due to the fade to black sex scenes. I know that not all NA books have a ton of sex, but this one had sex scenes, they just weren’t descriptive. All in all, I found myself rather invested in the romance here.

While I wouldn’t say that this book was a huge standout for me, I still found it extremely interesting from the very first page. Finley and Eddie were pretty realistic and intriguing characters in my opinion. Additionally, I found the supporting characters hilarious and endearing too! I was expecting to truly love this book since Julie Cross is such an incredible author from what I’ve read so far, but unfortunately it was lacking some of the unique elements that the others contained. I do think you should read this since it’s a sweet and fascinating story that you could easily read in just one day!

three-stars

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