Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

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ARC Review: #famous

February 13, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: #famous#famous by Jilly Gagnon
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 14th 2017
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
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three-stars

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

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?
Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

So I was really excited to read this book. The plot is that this girl takes a picture of this cute guy from her school while he’s at work and posts it, then it becomes extremely popular. I’m sure you guys have heard of Alex from Target, and it’s a very similar concept to that one, though it obviously adds much more plot and drama to it. I enjoyed how this book took on the topic of social media and how it can easily impact someone so quickly. The interesting thing about it is what it means to become an overnight sensation, which is more and more common in our society of YouTube and other social media platforms. Though I liked the plot itself, I wasn’t a fan of all the typical high school cliches that went down. It didn’t feel all that unique in a lot of ways, which was disappointing. It was a good book, just not my favorite as a whole. It was mostly rather forgettable.

Rachel is a “nobody” who just happens to take a picture of her crush Kyle and is obviously shocked when it becomes insanely popular within hours. I thought that she was a solid character for the most part. I didn’t find her all that memorable though. I will admit that I sympathized with the fact that she was immediately cyberbullied for posting the picture. It’s definitely unfair how her appearance is automatically scrutinized though that had nothing to do with the picture itself. I do believe that’s realistic because the internet can obviously be really cruel for no reason.

Kyle is honestly kind of a douchebag. He’s working at a place in the mall when Rachel takes his picture and it goes viral online right away. He’s pretty popular in school and has a hot on and off girlfriend. He received his douchebag status for how he judged Rachel for literally no reason. I didn’t understand why he felt like she was weird. We had no evidence that she did anything weird besides the fact that her hair was curly. It just seemed like a super cliche and annoying thing to happen. He was just your typical high school cliche dude with not really anything special about him, in my opinion. There was nothing swoony or particularly memorable about his character. I will admit that I did find it interesting how fame affected him personally. I think the author did a nice job with this side of the storyline in particular.

As a couple, I honestly didn’t care all that much about Rachel and Kyle. I don’t know what it was exactly, I just wasn’t a fan. I think most of it was due to all the cliches that happened to them as a couple. There was the good old ex-girlfriend tries to break them up and several other tropes. I thought the whole fame thing did add an interesting dynamic here, but it wasn’t as developed as I was hoping it would be. I just wasn’t emotionally invested in them which made me sad.

Like I said, this wasn’t exactly a bad book but it wasn’t my favorite either. The writing and the plot itself was actually pretty good, it was the character, romance, and general cliches that made it not as enjoyable to me. It was still a pretty addicting read. I couldn’t stop reading it once I picked it up. Part of the reason why it wasn’t my favorite might be because I’m too old to really enjoy high school stories. So if you’re okay with a great deal of drama, you’ll probably like this.

three-stars

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The Female of the Species Review

January 22, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Female of the Species ReviewThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20th 2016
Pages: 341
Source: Library
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three-stars
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

So this book was a difficult book for me to rate. On one hand, I really adored the message of this book and basically everything that this story represented. However, I also personally wasn’t completely able to look past some of the plot and characters. In my opinion, this story isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s especially not for people who aren’t into dark books or strong violence. This contains a solid amount of violence, and even some acts against animals, which I think people will likely have the most issues with. I also found myself struggling with the animal violence in the story, which I’ll explain more later on in my review. That being said, this was a fast paced story that was extremely intense, but it was far from perfect. I can’t say that this is my favorite, but I’m still happy that I read it.

There’s three main POV’s in this story. First we have Alex, who’s older sister was brutally raped and murdered years ago and her killer wasn’t arrested. Alex ends up taking matters into her own hands and killing him herself. I don’t consider this to be a spoiler since we learn this very early on in the book. Anyway, we can basically consider Alex to be like a younger Dexter who isn’t really a serial killer, she just believes in getting justice for those who are being wronged. We also have Peekay, which isn’t her real name, but everyone calls her that because she’s a Preacher’s Kid. I liked her, but I wasn’t sure what to make of her views on her parents and religion. She talked a lot about how she no longer believed in religion and said bad things about her parents, but I didn’t really understand why? I did think that she was a strong and powerful character as a whole. She was also a solid friend to Alex, and I enjoyed their friendship. Our final main character is Jack, who I probably liked the least. However, I do think that he evolved a lot as a character throughout the story. At the beginning, he was a major douchebag who only acted on his hormones. By the end of the story, he still was very much dominated by those hormones, but he was still a better person who had changed his way of thinking to an extent.

So one of the problems that I had with this book was the animal violence. Though it wasn’t exactly a major point of the plot, it still disturbed me that it was included at all. In the beginning, I was excited that Alex and Peekay both volunteered at the animal shelter. Though Alex can be a ridiculously violent person, she shows nothing but pure kindness towards animals. There were a few brief scenes that featured some really graphic instances of what happens when the shelter has to deal with dead animals. I think the point of the scene was that it showed extreme violence towards these animals, which brought out some equally violent images from Peekay, who views these as awful and wrong thoughts. Though I’ve tried to justify it to an extent, it still doesn’t make sense to me. I also felt disconnected from the characters a lot of the time. I respected the fact that this was a take on rape culture, but that still doesn’t mean that I really identified with the characters. I also realize that characters being likable isn’t a reason to like or not like a story, in this case though, I just wasn’t able to feel that much of an emotional attachment to the characters, mostly Jack. The ending also caused me to knock about half a star or even a full star off of it. It honestly caught me off guard entirely, it just didn’t feel like an appropriate ending to me!

The Female of the Species is a different kind of book to say the least. I’ve never read anything by Mindy McGinnis before but I’m sure I’ll pick up her stories in the future. This book was pretty well written. I think she did a solid job at making all three of these POV’s unique. That can be a particularly difficult thing to pull off, but the author did this with ease. This was an interesting take on rape culture that I’ve never really seen before. I seriously enjoyed this aspect of the book. There were just some other parts that I wasn’t a huge fan of and so that affected my rating. I do recommend it, but only to those who are okay with a good amount of violence.

three-stars

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ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart Note

January 11, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: The Secret of a Heart NoteThe Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on December 27th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Outrun the Moon
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four-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.

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

So Stacey Lee’s book Outrun the Moon was one of the only non-contemporary books that I really enjoyed last year. It had a memorable and touching plot, and also an incredible main character. Although this book is absolutely nothing like her last book, I knew that I had to pick up this one since it has more of a romance and contemporary vibe to it. Besides, Stacey Lee is such a beautiful writer, I can already tell that I’m going to be picking up basically anything that she writes. The Secret of a Heart Note was a fast paced and well written book all around. I highly recommend it if you don’t mind a little bit of magical realism. It’s a great and fun read overall!

Mimosa or Mim was such a cool character, and I loved her right off the bat. She’s such an honest and real character. She has her flaws for sure, but she always means well. I definitely sympathized with Mim as she longed to fit in at her school. Being an aromateur, or a love witch (what the kids call her) can’t be an easy job, but she does the best that she can. Her and her mom are the only aromateurs that are left. They both have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and they use that to mix special perfumes that help the right people fall in love. Though Mim does enjoy her job to an extent, she also wants to be a typical teenager, not someone that most teens are afraid of being around. I feel like a lot of teens can relate to her desire to fit in on some level. She’s a realistic and fascinating character. She’s certainly one that I’m not going to be forgetting anytime soon!

You guys, the romance in this book is all kinds of different levels of adorable. I absolutely loved it and felt like it couldn’t have been written any better. It’s actually a rather small part of the novel in the grand scheme of everything else. However, I still liked it anyway because of how subtle yet memorable it turned out to be for me. Court is just a downright nice guy, though I would have enjoyed learning and seeing more of him in the book. But I have to say that I completely understand that this is Mim’s story, not Court’s. So in the beginning, Mim is afraid of letting him in because boys automatically get a crush on her if she accidentally contaminates them with her perfume somehow. She keeps a special perfume that her and her best friend call “Boy Be Gone” which gets rid of the feelings. This side of things make it very complicated once she falls for Court.

There’s a lot of themes in this book that ultimately stay with you as a reader. One theme is the friendship that Mim has with her best friend Kali. Kali is pretty much Mim’s only friend, but she’s an incredible one to her. I really thought this friendship was beautiful and real all the way around. It wasn’t a perfect one, but what friendship or relationship in general ever is? I thought Kali was a fabulously diverse and fantastic character, and her friendship with Mim was fun to read about. Another theme revolves around family. Mim’s mom is nothing but tough on her about pretty much everything. This makes it basically impossible to have a normal teen life with her mom constantly pushing her and wanting something from her. This might seem like your typical teen parental problems, but I felt like it was much more complicated and compelling than just that. We also have the relationship between Mim’s mom and her twin sister, who gave up being an aromateur for love, which caused the sisters to stop speaking. I thought this was another unique and cool theme to have.

As a whole, I’m happy that I read this one. I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d like it since I’ve never read a magical realism story before. I thought I’d take a chance on this author since it paid off the first time around, and it definitely paid off this time as well. Have I mentioned that I’m happy that I read this one yet? I also don’t really care much about scents or flowers, but Lee made me actually care about all of this information. Though an aromateur isn’t an actual thing, it still seemed like the author did so much research on what it was. In other words, she made it seem totally real to me, which isn’t an easy thing for an author to achieve. This should really be a book that you don’t miss and I recommend trying her other stories while you’re at it!

four-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
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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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Truest Review

September 2, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

Truest ReviewTruest by Jackie Lea Sommers
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 1st 2015
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
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five-stars
Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

Truest was a surprising read for me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it when I first picked it up. Honestly, I put off reading it for awhile because the summary I read was so brief that I couldn’t tell whether or not it’d be something that I liked. I think entering in without knowing all that much background was a good choice. This is a beautiful debut novel from Jackie Lea Sommers and I highly recommend it!

It’s the summer before Westlin Beck’s senior year and she’s stuck in Green Lake, Minnesota, the same small town she has lived in her whole life. Normally, she has the company of her best friend and boyfriend, but both of them have busy summers. West’s father is a minister and she tags along when he brings communion to the family that just moved there from Alaska. She becomes closer to the Hart family, Silas, the boy who is the same age as her, in particular as they work on cars together. Gradually, West strikes up a close friendship with not only Silas, but also his mysterious sister Laurel. What secrets about Laurel is Silas keeping from West and why? Read Truest to find out more.

Silas Hart is such an incredible character. I hate to compare characters but it’s pretty much impossible in this situation. Basically, Silas is a lot like another favorite male YA book character: Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars. They are similar in the respect that they both are so romantic and upfront with how they feel for the female character. They both have some endearing but dorky obsessions and are passionate about many things. Silas also is amazing at writing poetry I mean, what is more romantic than a guy writing poetry for the girl he likes. I also love his Holden Caulfield shirts and all his other t-shirts that dropped hilarious pop culture references. I really liked West as well and I think she was a great narrator. I obviously just didn’t love her as much as Silas but she was still really cool and also passionate about radio shows and pop culture in general. Silas’s sister Laurel was also a well written supporting character who I loved right away. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t go into much details about her and her secret, but let’s just say that Jackie Lea Sommers wrote this part extremely well.

The relationship between Silas and West was one of the major highlights of the book for me. I love both of the characters individually, but they become even more intriguing and enjoyable when they come together. I just love how the relationship begins slowly as a friendship, due to West’s boyfriend and the girlfriend that Silas has back in Alaska. The pair being together never feels rushed which I think can often happen in YA books. I love that they had so many common interests like books, poetry, and the radio show that West listens to faithfully that none of her friends like but Silas instantly adores it. They are just two people that balance each other out and there wasn’t much that I didn’t like about them as a couple.

As I said earlier, Truest was a complete and total surprise for me. I had no idea that I would love it as much as I did. It’s just one of those books that instantly clicked for me and I felt completely connected to the characters and what was going on. By the end, I found that I both laughed and cried throughout the book more times than I have in a very long time while reading. It just provides readers with so many emotions and it’s just a cleverly written book as a whole. I’ll definitely be talking about this one for awhile!
five-stars

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