Posts Categorized: Young Adult

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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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

Divider

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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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

Divider

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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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

Divider

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
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.

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

Divider

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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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

Divider

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
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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

Divider

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.

fullsizerender-5

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Divider

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

Divider

ARC Review: 26 Kisses

August 7, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

ARC Review: 26 Kisses26 Kisses by Anna Michels
Published by Simon Pulse on May 24th 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
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.

Kasie West meets Morgan Matson in this hilarious and heartwarming debut about a girl’s summer mission to get over her ex-boyfriend by kissing her way through the alphabet.
Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.
From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

This was a book that was extremely difficult for me to rate. I found myself constantly going back and forth between a three or a four rating, but ultimately decided to go with a three. This was a really fast paced and cute contemporary read, but it lacked some important things for me as well. The concept is definitely a unique one that I did enjoy, the execution just wasn’t totally what I was expecting. I recommend this one if you’re looking for a summer romance that is relatively on the light side, though not lacking in drama.

26 kisses focuses on Veda, who is going into her senior year of high school, and is completely blindsided when her longtime boyfriend dumps her. This forces her to decide who she wants to be without him, and how she should spend her first summer in a long time as a single girl. I think that Veda was a pretty interesting character, though she didn’t really standout all that much to me as a whole. One thing that I had a major problem with is how she didn’t seem to totally defend the slut shaming that was happening due to her kissing boys. She basically said that though it was no one’s business what she was doing, she was definitely concerned about her new reputation as a “slut” because of the kisses. I guess my point is that I disliked the way she was so preoccupied with what everyone else thought of her, yet she didn’t want to stop the alphabet kissing challenge. It just didn’t match up with the way the character was portrayed for most of the book, in my opinion. She’s not a terrible character, but I certainly wanted to sit her down and have a chat with her about a few things.

Killian was one of my favorite parts of the book for sure. I loved how he was a genuinely good guy, who was intelligent and very opinionated about certain things, which made him a solid debater. There was just so much to like about this character. I found myself wanting to know more and more about him as the book went on. Something super unique about his character was how obsessed he was with pop music. He also drew his favorite pop lyrics on his dashboard and I loved how cheesy yet awesome they all turned out to be. He was a cool character, and I loved that he wasn’t exactly like every other YA love interest out there, he had some new things to bring to the table.

The romance between Killian and Veda was fairly great and interesting, though naturally also filled with some serious complications along the way. I enjoyed that the relationship started out as a friendship, in my opinion, that’s the most realistic kind of relationship out there. I loved watching them banter and debate in the beginning, and then slowly but surely start falling for each other. Veda resists him for an irritatingly long time because she doesn’t want to start a new relationship after just getting out of a rather serious one. However, it’s still pretty obvious that this is an unavoidable romance that’s just bound to happen. Though not my favorite couple ever, they still make a realistic and enjoyable one.

So all and all, this was a fun book to read, just not anything overly memorable to me. I considered giving it a four at times, because it seemed to have such depth and likable characters, but the slut shaming and the drama with her best friends made me go with a three instead. I’m impressed with Anna Michels’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. It reminded me of a Sarah Dessen or a Kasie West book, which is an extremely high complement. I recommend it if you want something fast paced and on the light side!

three-stars

Divider

ARC Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall

August 6, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★½

ARC Review: How to Keep Rolling After a FallHow to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo
Published by Swoon Reads on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 272
Source: Netgalley
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-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.

After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That's all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl's suicide. Now Nikki's been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can't look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates - almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it's like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance... and everyone deserves to be loved.

I absolutely adored Karole Cozzo’s debut novel How to Say I Love You Out Loud. I felt like that book did such a beautiful job at respectfully writing about a teen girl learning to balance fitting in at school with standing up for her brother who has autism. Anyway, Cozzo has written yet another well researched and fascinating novel about a relevant topic that teens should definitely be reading about. While I don’t believe that this was as great as her debut, this was still a well written novel that managed to keep me glued to my screen as I kept reading and reading.

So Nikki is a character that you’ll certainly have some serious mixed feelings about. On one hand, I think that the defining incident for her could have been avoided if she had done more. But it’s also startling to me that only Nikki suffered any consequences from it since her awful friends were the ones behind pretty much all of it. My point is, I don’t think that Nikki is a bad person in the slightest and it’s rough that so many people instantly judge her based on that one thing. Honestly, I’m not sure how realistic all the punishments and judgements actually are, but I’ll get to that later. While far from being a flawless character, she’s still an interesting and real one. There were various points in the story when I became extremely frustrated with her actions, like what are you thinking girl? As you can tell, she’s not my favorite character, but she’s not the worst either.

Pax is one of the main reasons why I loved this book, though he did have a few frustrating moments as well, but that’s another story. He was such a swoony book boyfriend and I loved his personality so much. Yes, he’s in a wheelchair over a stupid mistake that he made, and that’s why he’s able to instantly connect with Nikki. The best thing about Pax is that he doesn’t let his wheelchair stop him from doing anything. He almost always has a positive outlook on his situation and doesn’t let anything stop him from living a normal life. Though he might be super stubborn and push himself way too far at times, you still can’t help but respect his determination. What makes him so swoony is his acceptance of Nikki. He’s also so supportive and loving to her, he tries to help her make the best of her current situation the best way that he can.

The romance between them does have some insta-love to it, but there’s enough of a friendship built before anything romantic happens that it never really bothered me too much. So the chemistry between them is fairly obvious early on in the book, but Pax doesn’t want anything more than friendship because he’s afraid that he won’t be enough for Nikki. I felt like that was such a heartbreaking fear for Pax, but I also understand that he hasn’t had any kind of relationship since he’s been disabled and he knows that it won’t be as easy as it used to be for him. Though there is definitely some drama between them, I did still enjoy seeing them as a couple, though it would have been nice to have more pages dedicated to them being a happy couple together.

As I mentioned earlier, I did feel like Nikki getting expelled from her school for the horrible prank was a bit extreme. I’m not saying it’s right, but I’ve known kids who had naked pictures of girls and sent them to so many people and hardly were suspended. I get that the circumstances are obviously different since there was no consent given to take these pictures that were uploaded to Nikki’s account, but it still seemed a little far fetched. I also didn’t believe that literally everyone automatically knew who she was and shunned her for it. Another issue I had was how horrible her parents treated her. Look, I get that not all parents are like mine, but my parents would never treat me the way Nikki’s does. They obviously wouldn’t be proud of me for it, but they wouldn’t look at me in such a different light, and not be able to forgive me for this one mistake that they seem to not even know the whole story about. Meaning, I didn’t understand why her parents didn’t get that her old friends were just as guilty (or more so) as she was, or maybe they just didn’t care about it. The whole situation just ended up rubbing me the wrong way.

Though not a perfect book by any means, it’s still an entertaining but also meaningful book that I’m glad that I read. I feel like the subject matter is definitely an important one to read, I just had some issues with whether or not Nikki’s story was totally realistic and also with her parents in general. I did like the fact that she found a new friend at her brand new school, Sam was a fun and memorable supporting character who was one of my favorites! I don’t even want to talk about her old friends because they were just such awful mean girls. So basically, this wasn’t my favorite book, but it was still a solid one and I can’t wait to see what this great author writes next!

three-half-stars

Divider