Posts Categorized: Young Adult

Salt to the Sea Review

January 4, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Salt to the Sea ReviewSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on February 2nd 2016
Pages: 393
Source: Library
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four-stars
Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.
Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.
As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.
Yet not all promises can be kept.
Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

So this book has received nothing but rave reviews since it was released back in February. I’ll admit that I had some serious reservations about it since I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction books at all. Anyway, I knew that I had to give this one a chance since so many people have absolutely loved it. I’m happy to say that I found this to be a beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking book that continually moved me throughout the story. This wasn’t an easy read due to the heaviness of the topic, but Sepetys’s quick pace kept the book moving at all times. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend that you do. This is one that will stay with you long after finishing it.

This book faces on an epic tragedy that so many people know absolutely nothing about. Wilheim Gustoff was the biggest tragedy in maritime history, yes, it was even greater than the Titanic. It takes place towards the end of World War II. The ship belonged to the Germans and was bombed by a Soviet Union submarine when they were trying to evacuate all German citizens. The ship was extremely overcapacity at that point. In the end, there were over 9,000 people who died, about 5,000 of them being children. This is just a little bit of background on the story since it’s definitely not in most history books.

Salt to the Sea doesn’t just have one main character, it has four of them. I’d say we might get more chapters for a few of the characters over some of the others, but they are still all vital voices in the story nonetheless. Our four teenagers are Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred. Joana is a nurse who is doing everything she can to be reunited with her family. Florian is a mysterious boy who is filled with secrets about where he comes from. Emilia is a young Polish girl who left her homeland for safety and is still searching for that. Alfred is a young German sailor who is very blind to anything but “orders” from his “master” aka Hitler. Though the chapters are extremely short, I still felt like the voices were all strong and well developed. We never overstayed our welcome with these characters, we learned just enough information to become so invested in their fates and lives before suddenly the tragedy strikes and things will never be the same for them after that.

I don’t really want to spoil it, but I will say that there is some romance in the story. This is a tragedy so obviously that’s the main focus here, but it’s also nice to have a little bit of a bright spot in the midst of all the darkness surrounding the story. I will say that Florian is seriously such a swoony boy and I loved his character so much. Yes, he had his secrets, but he was also so kind and awesome. I really sympathized with a lot of his story. I will admit that Alfred is a boy who disgusted more and more as the book went on. Honestly though, that should be expected considering he’s a German boy right in the middle of when Hitler rose to power. Though you don’t like him, you also have to admit that he was well written and complicated.

All in all, this was a beautiful book that I truly enjoyed reading. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, but I’m glad that I took a chance on it anyway. Salt to the Sea is filled with such memorable and touching characters with a heartbreaking and painful true story as well. Full warning, though you know what’s coming, be prepared to cry regardless. I try my best to stay clear of REALLY depressing books, but this one was worth the read for me. Even if you don’t like historical fiction, I suggest you read Salt to the Sea.

four-stars

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The Sun Is Also a Star Review

December 18, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

The Sun Is Also a Star ReviewThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Pages: 348
Also by this author: Everything, Everything
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two-half-stars
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t love this one more. I should have known that this wouldn’t be my thing since I’m not a fan of insta-love. I wanted to give it a shot anyway because Nicola Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything was just so spectacular. While Nicola Yoon still had such unique and beautiful writing in this one, the story itself wasn’t as fascinating and real to me. The book is about immigration so it’s a seriously relevant issue that will likely appeal to a lot of readers. It turned out to be a book not for me because I wasn’t able to overlook pretty much the entire romance in the story.

I hate to compare characters, but Natasha wasn’t as memorable as Maddy in Everything, Everything. Obviously they are totally different characters and it’s unfair to make any comparisons, but I honestly can’t help myself here. It’s a personal preference but I just wasn’t able to relate to her with all of the Science stuff. I obviously can’t relate to the terrible feeling of having to be deported because of your father’s mistake. But I was easily able to sympathize with her situation easily. Natasha has lived in America practically her entire life and has little memories of Jamaica, but she’s now being forced to go back to that country anyway? It’s such an unfair and heartbreaking situation that happens all too frequently. I’m glad that Nicola Yoon was able to tell this very important story.

Daniel was a diverse character. He’s Korean American and has spent his entire life in America. His parents immigrated here from Korea in order to give their children a better life than what they had. His parents both put a lot of pressure on him and his brother to go to Harvard and become doctors. This is something that Daniel doesn’t want for himself at all. He’d much rather become a poet. Daniel is also a hopeless romantic who believes that he falls in love instantly with Natasha and that they are meant to be. I didn’t find him to be all that swoony really. I might have my standards set too high due to how perfect Olly was, but I found Daniel to be a little disappointing. I was just so put off by all the love at first sight stuff that I really wasn’t able to enjoy his character.

As I’ve clearly already stated several times, the main problem that I had was with the romance. I think the book could have honestly been a lot more solid without romance being such a main point in the plot. Look, I’m a big fan of romance, it’s usually one of my favorite parts of a story. But I’m a person who absolutely can’t stand insta-love story. I only picked this up in the first place because I thought Yoon’s debut was so fabulous. I’m never going to love a book that promotes love at first sight so heavily. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I just can’t wrap my mind around this idea. In my mind, you have to fully know someone in order to fall in love with them, it’s just not love otherwise.

While I’m sad that I didn’t love this book, I still have to admit that Nicola Yoon’s writing is as beautiful as ever. I won’t lie though, I did find some of the random narrator’s to be totally weird, and I didn’t really buy the idea that all of these people are connected and all that stuff about fate. Nicola Yoon still has written yet another novel that is very much quotable. She says such fascinating and thought provoking things that really spoke to me on some level. All in all, this was still a well written novel, but one that I couldn’t fall in love with because of how the romance was written.

two-half-stars

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What Light Review

December 15, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

What Light ReviewWhat Light by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill on October 18th 2016
Pages: 251
Source: Library
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three-stars
From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . . Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

Surprisingly, I honestly don’t have all that many thoughts about What Light. I’ve previously read one Jay Asher book, Thirteen Reasons Why, and that quickly became one of my favorite books after I first read it. This book simply isn’t one of my favorites. I believe that it’s a cute, light, and short contemporary read, but it’s truthfully not anything all that special. If you’re looking for a sweet contemporary and not something that will make you think deeply about the world like Thirteen Reasons Why, then I think that you’ll likely enjoy Jay Asher’s latest.

To tell you guys the truth, I didn’t feel like Sierra was that memorable of a protagonist. I actually had to look at the synopsis just to remember her name. She was a sweet teenage girl who I was able to relate to on some levels, but not enough that her character actually stuck with me long after I finished reading the book. I did respect that she was so sure about what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to fight for it, even with the people closest to her didn’t approve of it.

The love interest, Caleb, wasn’t particularly memorable or unique either. Though I will admit that I did remember his name without looking it up. Sierra has heard some pretty vicious rumors about Caleb’s past that continues to haunt him today. I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it actually was. Yes, it was sort of serious, but not really once you knew all of the context surrounding the incident. And once you also take into consideration the fact that the person involved in the incident has no bitterness towards him at all. I just felt like it was a little dramatic and unrealistic how the rumor would get blown out of proportion and continually change how people see him. My favorite part about Caleb was definitely how he bought Christmas trees to give to people in need. I thought that this was such a selfless and swoony thing to do and I really liked him for it.

So the romance between them was basically insta-love. The relationship just in general moved at a ridiculously fast pace since they only have a bit less than a month to get to know each other. As you can probably already tell, it wasn’t my favorite. I did think that it did portray some aspects of what it means to fall in love for the first time in an accurate way. Although I’m being pretty critical about it, I will say that I still found the romance to be rather adorable. I especially loved how they bonded over delivering the trees that Caleb buys for families who need it together. It was a sweet bonding moment that helped the relationship progress and grow in a realistic way.

Although I’ve been pretty open about the things that I wasn’t a fan of, there was certainly just as many things that I enjoyed. I loved that it took place on a Christmas tree farm. I thought that was a unique and cool setting, making this the perfect read around the Holiday’s. Though I thought that the book probably could have been a little longer for more character and plot development, I still liked that the length made it so you could devour it in a short amount of time. This was the lighthearted contemporary read that I really needed right now and I’m happy that I read it!

three-stars

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ARC Review: This Is Our Story

November 14, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

ARC Review: This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 15th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
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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.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

The concept for this one seemed intriguing to me so it’s been on my radar for awhile now. Once the early rave reviews started coming in, I decided that I had to put this at the top of my TBR list so I instantly started reading it. It turned out to be just as interesting and well written as I was expecting. I’m always a fan of YA thrillers, and this one wasn’t disappointing to me. I’ve read quite a bit of books in this genre plus I watch too much TV, so I didn’t find the twist to be all that surprising, but it wasn’t extremely predictable either. My point here is, this book was just as great as I was hoping it would be. The writing had a unique style to it that drew me in from page one. I’ve never read anything from Ashley Elston before but she’ll certainly be an author to watch for me in the future.

Kate was a rad character. She was ridiculously smart and perceptive. Let’s be real, if it was me this was happening to, I’m not sure I would have picked up on all the things that this girl managed to do. She was determined to get to the bottom to what happened out in the woods, and she didn’t let anything or anyone stop her from accomplishing just that. Kate was a cool and collected character, that’s for sure. She was a strong MC and I think that reads will really be able to connect with her.

Usually I talk about the romance at this point in my reviews, and this book does have quite a bit of romance in between the main plot. However, I don’t want to talk too much about it since I’m afraid that it might be a slight spoiler. It seems like other early reviews that I’ve read have left any names out, so I’ll do the same. I will say that there are some swoony boys, and just leave it at that. The romance truly isn’t the main thing since Kate has a lot of other things to worry about, but it’s a nice break from all the action when it does happen.

The writing style is a unique and fascinating one. The first narrator is unknown to us, and those are fairly short chapters that talk in a little bit more detail about what went down in the woods from a mysterious POV. Our narrator the rest of the time is Kate in first person. I felt like the second narrator really gave us some perspective on what was going on inside the boy’s head after the death of their friend while they were all out hunting. As the book progresses, we learn more and more about who this person is.

This was one of those books that I just had to read in one sitting. I’m not going to lie, I have a bad habit of skipping to the end of books just to see how everything ends up. I was tempted multiple times to do that here, but I’m glad that I was able to resist that temptation and just read it for myself. It was a well written novel that sucked me in instantly. I can’t recommend it enough to readers who love a good YA thriller that has strong characters that you will fall in love with immediately.

four-stars

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ARC Review: The Lovely Reckless

October 3, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

ARC Review: The Lovely RecklessThe Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia
Published by Imprint on October 4th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Netgalley
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two-half-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.

I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.
Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.
Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I’ve actually never read anything by Kami Garcia before. The Beautiful Creatures series was something that didn’t interest me at all. I figured that The Lovely Reckless would be a little more my taste since it’s a contemporary romance YA novel. For the most part, I was definitely right about this book. Though it wasn’t the best YA book I’ve read this year, it still had some strong points to it. I think that this is a book that fans of this genre will really enjoy, especially if you like love interests that are bad boys. I highly recommend it for fans of Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles. I hope that Garcia writes more contemporary books in the future!

Frankie was an interesting character for the most part. I respected the fact that she was never afraid to stand up for what she believes is right. I also sympathized with her over the loss of her boyfriend/childhood best friend. I thought the PTSD that Frankie had as a result of witnessing her boyfriend be beaten to death was pretty well done, though I would have liked to see it explored even more than it was. I didn’t think that her finding out who the killer was at the end was realistic though. In my opinion, this should have been done a little differently because it was unexpected but not in a good way. Meaning, there needed to be more details and lead-up to this big reveal.

Honestly, I personally didn’t find Marco to be all that swoony. That’s just my personal taste though. I’m not big on the street racer appeal. However, I did like that he had a little bit of Ryan Atwood and Tim Riggins in his personality. The things that he did were in order to help the person that he loves, in this case it was his little sister who he completely takes care of full time. There were certainly some major cliches concerning his character. As a whole though, I did like him, I just didn’t love him or find him all that memorable overall.

The romance didn’t work for me. Insta-love is a major pet peeve of mine and The Lovely Reckless totally has it. They fall in love after about two or three conversations. Nope, that’s not how love works in real life, especially not in high school. There was just a lot of the typical “forbidden love” cliches all over this romance and it got old pretty fast. To be fair, I will say that I did find it to be a cute romance at times, but other times it felt way too over the top.

Overall, this wasn’t really a bad book, it was just an okay one for me. I know I had quite a bit of critical things to say about it, but it really wasn’t terrible, I thought it was still pretty entertaining. I think that it could have had more depth to the characters and the plot in general. As already mentioned, I think you’re likely to really love this book if you’re a fan of Perfect Chemistry or Katie McGarry. That being said, I do plan on reading more Kami Garcia contemporary books in the future and hope that they fit my personal taste better!

two-half-stars

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ARC Review: This Adventure Ends

October 1, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: This Adventure EndsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: First & Then
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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.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I’m not going to lie, I was scared to read this book. I enjoyed First & Then so much and I was afraid that this simply wouldn’t be as good. I shouldn’t have doubted this author. Emma Mills has written yet another memorable story filled with hilarious and quirky characters. This is a truly addicting read. If you’re planning to just sit down and read one chapter at a time, you’re likely to find that you can’t help but read yet another and another chapter until you’ve somehow reached the end. I was up until nearly two in the morning because I simply was unable to find a stopping point. Read this if you’re looking for a sweet and heartwarming contemporary.

Sloane is my girl! She’s such a relatable character. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s someone that I would have totally hungout with back in high school. She’s a sarcastic and hilarious girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. There were so many scenes throughout the book when I just wanted to give her a huge hug. Not to mention the fact that she’s such a loyal friend who does everything in her power to help the people that she cares about. Sloane never really had a true friend before she met Vera and company, but she’s still extremely great in this role anyway.

One of the great things about this book is all the characters. Some books are guilty of having supporting characters who are mostly in the background and don’t have much depth or development to them. Emma Mills doesn’t have this problem at all. Each character in This Adventure Ends has a pretty distinctive and memorable role. Yes, there’s some characters that you like more than others, but the majority of them all have some importance and aren’t just hanging out in the background with absolutely no purpose. I think one of my favorite parts of the book was the relationship between Sloane and her dad. Her dad was such a hilarious character. I loved how obsessed he became with fanfiction for a Teen Wolf like show. There were other awesome characters like Remy, Vera, and Frank.

Gabe was a character who I had some serious reservations about at certain times throughout the novel. On one hand, I felt like his general broodiness and attitude was fascinating and endearing. At other times, I wasn’t sure what to think about him at all. He was a good guy, but I didn’t always feel the chemistry between him and Sloane. Honestly, I think a lot of my issues come from him not being as great as Ezra from First & Then, but is anyone as awesome as him? Gabe wasn’t a guy that I could always read, and that wasn’t always a positive thing. I don’t know, I just think that I wanted to see more of the romance. I get that it was never meant to be the focus, but it’s simply a personal preference for me in this case. Ultimately, I felt somewhat disconnected from the romance between Sloane and Gabe.

All in all, this was a wonderful book that exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Emma Mills has done it yet again, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. This is definitely an author that I’m planning on reading for a long time. Anyway, this was an addicting book that I was totally sucked into. This Adventure Ends is a book that I’m sure that people will love just as much, if not more than First & Then. I highly recommend picking it up when it hits bookstores this Tuesday!

four-stars

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The Season Review

September 29, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Season ReviewThe Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer, Stephen Dyer
Published by Viking Children's on July 12th 2016
Pages: 326
Source: Library
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three-stars
She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?
Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.
The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.

I was instantly fascinated by the description of this book, so I’m glad that I was able to borrow this from Overdrive. I thought The Season was really adorable and fast paced. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was a Pride and Prejudice retelling until after I’d already read it and looked at what some of my friends thought on Goodreads. I must admit that I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice, but I do know the general plot of it. I’m mentioning this because I think that this will likely appeal to fans of P+P. It appealed to me because of the cover and cute sounding summary. Though I did have some issues with it, I still thought it was an enjoyable read.

Megan was definitely the highlight of the book! She’s so hilarious, and I love how she was never the least bit hesitant to speak her mind. This book is confusing: it’s labeled as YA but Megan isn’t a teenager. She and her twin sister are both 20 years old and in college. I do understand why it’s classified as YA and not NA since Megan is honestly pretty at times. But there’s also some mature-ish content that happens, but it’s all fade to black. That being said, I still enjoyed Megan’s personality throughout the book. She also really grew as a person as the book progressed. She starts out as a tomboy soccer player but evolves into a true lady who totally fits in among the other debutantes.

Like I said, Megan was one of the most memorable parts of The Season. The other characters are interesting, though some are obviously more likable than others. For one, I really liked Julia, who is Megan’s twin. She has such a different personality from Megan, they are basically like night and day. While Megan is into soccer and is a tomboy, Julia is a lot more of a girly girl and fits in more with the debutante lifestyle. The relationship between Megan and Julia was such a strong one. I’m always a fan of books that have sibling bonds, so this was great! As I mentioned, there are some characters that I didn’t like as much. There’s a mean debutante girl who we obviously weren’t supposed to like from the start, but I kind of wish there was some development there. Was there more to her than just being a stuck up rich girl who hated Megan? I get that the author didn’t want to explore her character, but that’s something I personally would have liked to see.

The romance was probably the weakest part of the book, in my opinion. If you can’t stand love triangles, pass on this one! I’m going to spoil the details about this romance, so only read it if you REALLY want to know more about the love triangle specifics. View Spoiler » I felt like Andrew and Megan’s relationship developed WAY too quickly. She hates him for most of the book, so they actually only have a handful of interactions throughout the story. However, he says near the end that he LOVES her. Wait, what? How can you love her when you’ve barely spoken? That’s way too much insta-love for my personal taste.

I liked this book, but sadly didn’t love it. I’m glad that I read it because Megan was such a hilarious and memorable character. The situations that she found herself in were totally cringe worthy at times, but it was great. My biggest complaint was definitely the lack of development with some of the supporting characters. I also wasn’t a fan of the romance at all. I think the author might have been trying a bit too hard for the romance to be exactly like Pride and Prejudice, but I feel like that wasn’t necessary. Anyway, I recommend this if you’re looking for something funny and fast paced.

three-stars

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ARC Review: Unrivaled

September 26, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: UnrivaledUnrivaled (Beautiful Idols, #1) by Alyson Noel
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 10th 2016
Pages: 420
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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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.

Everyone wants to be someone.
Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.
But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.
She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.
That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.
Unrivaled is #1 New York Times bestselling author Alyson Noël’s first book in a thrilling suspense trilogy about how our most desperate dreams can become our darkest nightmares.

To be completely honest with you guys, I put off reading this one for a ridiculously long time because I wasn’t sure whether or not the subject matter truly appealed to me. I read the first couple of pages and just wasn’t able to get into it, but I’m glad I went back and gave it another shot. Though it’s far from being my favorite character and plot wise, I have to admit that it’s still an addicting story. Once you get into it, it’s basically impossible to put it down. Is it top quality? Nope, but it’s still quality entertainment, and that positively impacted my rating. I’m definitely going to read the next book in this new fascinating series! I recommend it for fans of Pretty Little Liars, because I don’t believe that this story will be for everyone, but certain readers will also find it compelling.

Since this is a book filled with mystery and some twists, I’m not going to say much about the plot itself. I will just say that the book focuses on three different characters who enter a club promoting contest for very different reasons. Tommy dreams of being a famous musician, Layla dreams of becoming a famous journalist and being able to afford journalism school, and Aster dreams of becoming a famous actress. There’s also famous actress Madison, who the other characters end up meeting as they all try to get her to go to the various clubs that they are each individually promoting. Things take a dark turn when Madison goes missing and no one knows what happened to her.

So the characters were all far from being likable. If you’re a reader who absolutely HAS to like the main characters, I can tell you right now that you will likely despise this book. If you like complicated and ridiculously flawed characters, then you should at least try this one out. None of the characters are perfect, but in my opinion, that’s what sets them apart from other characters. I will admit that at times I still found them unbearable, and I did want to give up on the book at times. But I was so fascinated by everything going down that I simply couldn’t put the book down.

The romance in this book is basically nonexistent, as you might expect from a YA story that’s labeled a mystery/thriller. That being said, I don’t recommend this if you’re not a fan of cheating or love triangles. It’s actually not really that bad, meaning there’s so much else going on that this just isn’t a main focus. However, I know that this is still something that people like knowing before they read a book. I wasn’t a fan of the romance since I despise both of those things, but I was mostly able to overlook it.

Like I said, Unrivaled isn’t a book for everyone. Only certain kind of readers out there are going to enjoy this book, and that’s totally okay. It ended up simply being an okay book since I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or the writing. This story reminded me of Pretty Little Liars in a good way, meaning it provided some nice entertainment. This is a fast paced read that will only take a few sittings to read.

three-stars

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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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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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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