Source: Edelweiss

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ARC Review: One of Us Is Lying

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

ARC Review: One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Published by Delacorte Press on May 30th, 2017
Pages: 370
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.

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

So I wasn’t totally sure how I should rate One of Us Is Lying. On one hand, it was fast paced and held my attention for the majority of the novel. On the other, I felt like there was a lot of problems with the characters and the plot. I feel like maybe the author was being overly ambitious with having four different POV’s. Some of these characters seemed to blend together instead of having distinctive personalities. I was also extremely disappointed by the ending. Ultimately, this was an entertaining read, but it wasn’t the thriller that I was expecting it to be.

As mentioned, there’s four main characters instead of just one. The characters are kind of (except for one) similar to The Breakfast Club gang on the surface: we have a popular Princess, jock, criminal, and then we have the smart girl. When you take a closer look at them, they turn out to have much darker secrets that challenges these identities. Bronwyn is the super smart, Ivy League bound next valedictorian at the school. Bronwyn was a decent character, and I found her relationship with Nate to be one of the highlights of the book. Nate is the criminal, the misunderstood bad boy who has a reputation for doing drugs and hooking up. Once we get inside his head, we learn that he has a rough past and we learn that he isn’t capable of murdering someone else, though he probably seems like the most likely suspect based on his history alone. I’m not going to lie, Addy was a little boring and hers and Bronwyn’s points of views ran together at times. I felt bad for Addy once her secret was revealed, but I still felt like she wasn’t a totally unique character. Cooper is the All-American athlete with a bright future in baseball, and a secret that may or may not ruin that entirely. I thought Cooper was a pretty interesting character as well, though his secret was a little predictable.

So there obviously isn’t much romance in this book since it is meant to be a thriller. However, I felt like the romance was still a sweet part of the story, even if it was rather small. Early on in the story, it becomes obvious that Nate and Bronwyn have a connection between them. Like I said, Bronwyn is a serious student who hasn’t had any time for dating in the past. Nate is a guy who has no problem with messing around. Ultimately, they end up exploring the spark that they have and taking it a step further. I thought it was adorable, and I loved all the texts and calls that went down between them.

Though I’ve hinted at it some already, I want to talk more about how the thriller aspect of the book. So basically, there are five kids in detention. All of the kids there were there under shady circumstances. Each of them had phones confiscated that didn’t actually belong to them. In the end, one of them doesn’t make it out of the room alive. It appears as if someone put peanut oil in his water and he’s allergic to peanuts. They tried to get him an EpiPen but there were none in the nurses office. He ended up dying, and the police thinks that one of them had to have done it since there’s no way anyone else could have done it. The kid who was killed ran a gossip blog about people in the school, and his reports were always accurate. Things get interesting when they find that he had a post in his drafts about secrets belonging to all four of the people in detention. So who killed Simon? You have to read to find out!

One of Us Is Lying wasn’t a bad book, but I still found it slightly disappointing. I was expecting way more excitement and thrills. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. There were some characters that I obviously liked more than others. I felt like some of them could have been more developed so they were more distinguished. In the end, it was still a book that I wanted to keep reading. I don’t think I put it down once after I started reading it. While I’m glad that I read it, it still wasn’t a super memorable thriller as a whole.

three-stars

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ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

June 10, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: Eliza and Her MonstersEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
on May 30th 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Made You Up
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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.

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

I thought that Francesca Zappia’s debut novel was absolutely stunning, so I couldn’t wait for her next book. Unfortunately, I found Eliza and Her Monsters to be a little on the disappointing side. This wasn’t exactly the worst book I’ve ever read, I still actually enjoyed reading it and devoured it in only one sitting. I thought that the premise was really unique, but I was expecting more from it. It’s highly possible that my standards were just set far too high because of how much I loved Made You Up. Whatever the reason might be, I wasn’t a huge fan of Eliza and her Monsters.

Eliza was a decent enough of a character. My favorite element of the story was probably her art. She created this wonderful comic that has such a large and popular fandom behind her. However, her identity is kept a secret. No one knows that she’s a high schooler with severe anxiety who would rather make friends online than in the real world. I could definitely relate to this part of the story. Like Eliza, I also find it easier to communicate with people online than in person. So yeah, I felt like she was a realistic character who I enjoyed reading about. The only thing I didn’t like about her was her treatment of parents. I felt like the way the book portrayed parents in general was a bit cliche. There was the whole “no one understands” me thing going on that I didn’t really like.

Wallace didn’t completely blown away. My heart did totally break for him once we discovered his story. And of course I wanted to give him a huge hug. I’ve seen some reviews where people strongly disliked Wallace in the second half of the book. I was expecting him to like get with another girl or do something evil. But I felt like his reaction wasn’t totally awful. I didn’t think it was okay, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be either. So basically, I wasn’t in love with Wallace but I didn’t think that he was the worst either. He wasn’t as swoony as I was anticipating, which was truly disappointing for me.

Since I had a few issues with both Eliza and Wallace individually, you might be able to guess that I didn’t really ship them as a couple. I thought they were just okay, not my favorite couple or anything like that. It was great and relatable how they bonded over fandom. The friendship that they started off having was extremely sweet. I also loved how they opened up to one another. They were mostly a kind and lovely couple, though I didn’t completely get it.

Eliza and Her Monsters was an alright novel that I wanted more from. I think the concept was creative. I love the idea of someone creating something so popular without their identity being revealed. The various online and real life relationships that were portrayed in the book felt very realistic. One of my other main issues with the story was that it felt slow to me. For whatever reason, the book felt much longer than it actually was. It could have been cut down a hundred pages or so. I hope that whatever this author writes next will work better for me!

three-stars

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ARC Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

June 8, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Pages: 380
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

When Dimple Met Rishi was definitely a funny and charming read. However, I still felt like I liked it just a little less than everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderfully diverse, awkward, swoony, and unique. For me though, I felt that it was missing something. It was still a fun book and I’m happy that I picked up. I totally get the hype that’s been surrounding this book for months now. If you’re looking for something that is fairly light and will make you laugh out loud, this is the book for you.

First things first, I love the name Dimple. I think it’s unique and lovely. So now let’s talk more about her personality. Dimple is one fierce girl. Whenever she first meets Rishi, she greets him by throwing ice coffee in his face. To be fair, he did say, “Hello future wife, I can’t wait to get started on the rest of our lives.” Dimple knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do. She wants to develop apps and she’s great at coding and all that other technology stuff that I know nothing about. I loved her independence and personality as a whole. I will say that I didn’t agree with some of her choices towards the end of the book. I wanted to shake some sense into her for sure. At the end of the day though, Dimple is still a wonderful character who I truly enjoyed for most of the story.

Guys, Rishi has my heart. He’s awkward, funny, sweet, and charming all at the same time. His first encounter with Dimple reminded me a lot of Dexter and Remy’s from This Lullaby. It broke my heart how desperately he wanted to please his parents. His parents wanted him to marry Dimple, so he followed her to the summer program for aspiring web developers. I don’t know exactly how to describe him, but he’s just so freaking previous. No matter what he does or says, you just want to give him a big hug and protect him for anything bad in the world. You need to read it in order to capture how awesome he is.

So as I mentioned, they meet because Rishi and Dimple’s parents want to set them up in an arranged marriage. Dimple obviously doesn’t go for that because she’s ready to become a developer and attend college long before she gets married. Rishi is the opposite, he’ll put his dreams on the back burner in order to do what his parents want for him to do. Once he ends up at the program, he eventually enjoys it. Although they start off as just friends, they make a good team as they make their own app together. I thought the build up from friendship to more was very realistic. Once they became a couple, they were pretty adorable.

Although it wasn’t my favorite book of the year, it was still pretty good. It was still probably one of the best YA romantic comedies of the year. It definitely did a wonderful job at making me laugh out loud from the very beginning. I think I had a tough time with Dimple’s actions towards the end of the book. In my opinion, Rishi didn’t deserve some of that treatment. Other than that, it was a decent book that I enjoyed reading. I recommend if you want something light and fun to start your summer off right.

four-stars

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ARC Review: Queer, There, and Everywhere

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

ARC Review: Queer, There, and EverywhereQueer there and Everywhere: 22 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager
Published by HarperCollins on May 23rd 2017
Pages: 272
Source: Edelweiss
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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.

This first-ever LGBTQ history book for young adults will appeal to fans of fun, empowering pop-culture books like Rad American Women A-Z and Notorious RBG.
World history has been made by countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals—and you’ve never heard of many of them. Queer author and activist Sarah Prager delves deep into the lives of 22 people who fought, created, and loved on their own terms. From high-profile figures like Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt to the trailblazing gender-ambiguous Queen of Sweden and a bisexual blues singer who didn’t make it into your history books, these astonishing true stories uncover a rich queer heritage that encompasses every culture, in every era.
By turns hilarious and inspiring, the beautifully illustrated Queer, There, and Everywhere is for anyone who wants the real story of the queer rights movement.

Queer, There, and Everywhere is a wonderfully fascinating look at the history of queer people all over the world. I thought that it was extremely well researched and well written. It was never dull or boring, it held your attention the whole time. There are 23 queer people who receive pretty short biographies on their lives and what all they contributed to the community as a whole. There are familiar names like Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frida Kahlo, and Harvey Milk. And also not so familiar names like Kristina Vasa, Albert Cashier, Ma Rainey, and many others. I found that I ultimately enjoyed reading all of these stories. I think this is such an important book to read regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or race, all of us could benefit from reading this comprehensive and beautiful book. I really hope that the author will write another one featuring other queer figures in the future!

So you might be able to tell by looking at some of my past reviews, but I don’t read a whole lot of non fiction, especially not Young Adult. However, I knew that I should read this one. I wanted to learn even more about queer history and this looked like such an intriguing work. Though it’s not something I’d normally read, I’m still glad that I did. I also learned so much from it. About a day after I finished it, I told my dad (who is a historian) about Abraham Lincoln and his buddy Joshua. I don’t think my dad still believes that they were actually a thing, he hit me with the fact that it was a common thing for guys to sleep in the same bed back then. But it did feel good to hit him with some interesting information that I read in the book. Anyway, this book was filled with people that you might be familiar with to an extent, but it’s still neat to learn more about their personal lives. Did you guys know that Greta Garbo had a female lover? I didn’t. She’s not featured, but her lover Mercedes De Acosta was.

So basically, I would read one of these biographies and automatically go off to Google to learn more about them. I really wanted to know about Ma Rainey, since she sounded like such an eccentric and amazing human being. I also had to know more about Harvey Milk, Frida Kahlo, Josef Kohout, and Glenn Burke. There were some truly touching stories as well. Specifically the story of Albert Cashier, a transgender soldier who fought in the Civil War. Although you hear stories about women who dressed as men in order to fight for their country, this isn’t one of those stories. Albert truly identified as a man, and was miraculously able to keep the fact that he was assigned female at birth a secret. I thought it was beautiful how the people who did find out ultimately kept it a secret, and accepted that he was a man. The story about his funeral will make you sob. Though so many other stories touched me as well, I’d have to say that this was probably my favorite.

There’s so many good things to say about this book. One of the few complaints that I have about it is that it was rather short. I would have loved to have some of these biographies be a little longer. But I understand that some who were less famous might not have as much information about them out there like others did. So this was my first non fiction YA book, and it definitely won’t be my last if there are other books released in the future that are similar to it! I highly recommend that you pick this up for both yourself and a teenager that you know. I’m honestly upset that we don’t learn more about these figures and what they’ve contributed to the queer community in history class.

four-stars

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ARC Review: Fireworks

April 11, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

ARC Review: FireworksFireworks by Katie Cotugno
Published by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray on April 18th 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: 99 Days
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two-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.

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.
It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.
But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.
It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.
Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

This was yet another book that I really wanted to like. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about this author, but I feel like I’m missing something. I strongly disliked 99 Days and I couldn’t even make it through How to Love. Sadly, none of her books have been for me. I thought this one would definitely be my cup of tea since it takes place in the 90’s and also involves boy and girl bands. I’m sure many contemporary fans will like this one, but not me. Fireworks had a lot of potential that it sadly didn’t live up to. The writer is good, but the plot and characters didn’t work at all. I doubt I’ll be reading any other books from this author in the future.

If you’re a fan of realistic contemporary stories, you’ll probably have some issues right off the bat with this one. The story revolves around Dana going to this audition to support her best friend Olivia. Somehow though, Dana gets roped into auditioning. She’s NEVER had any type of vocal lessons or any musical theater experience in her life, yet we’re supposed to believe that the man in charge picks her over all the more experienced girls? Nope, I don’t buy that this would happen to her just because she’s pretty.

It also takes place in the 90’s, which I originally thought was awesome. Truthfully, I found myself forgetting the time period most of the time. It didn’t seem like it took place back then besides a few TLC and Spice Girl references. The love interest of the story happens to be in a boy band, yet there’s no references to any other boy bands that were around in that time period. Maybe she was just trying to be creative, but I felt like that would have made the book just a little better. I hope that more people write stories that take place in the 90’s in the future, but only if they actually make it seem like it’s that decade.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. I liked how sex positive it was all around. I just didn’t think Alex was a great character. He didn’t have much development, his whole purpose was basically to continually tell Dana how wonderful and perfect she is. Aside from that, we truly don’t know much else about him besides the fact that he comes from a decent family and has money. Did anyone else think it was creepy as hell how he would just randomly pop up literally everywhere that Dana would go by herself? For example, she goes down to the pool in the middle of the night, and he just randomly pops out of nowhere. It was a little weird in my opinion.

I think it’s misleading that people consider this to be a friendship novel. Going into this, I was expecting a really positive and strong female friendship but that’s not what I got. Without saying too much, the friendship is not what I was expecting it to be. Olivia is an unlikable character. I did sympathize with the fact that she had an eating disorder. Maybe it’s because one of my best friends struggles with an eating disorder, but I felt like it wasn’t treated with respect. It felt more like a plot device than something that was truly explored and developed. It bothered me that not only Dana but especially the adults didn’t take her eating disorder more seriously. This is an issue that so many teens deal with, and I felt like it could have been more carefully written as a whole.

Even though this book just released, it already seems as if I’m in the minority with my opinion. I don’t think that this author is bad by any means, but it seems like her style and plots just don’t match up with the books that I enjoy reading. If you’re able to get past all of the cliches and unrealistic things, you might like this book. Don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t absolutely terrible. I didn’t have to force myself to read it, I was pretty sucked into it. I just wasn’t able to get past all of the other key elements of the story.

two-stars

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ARC Review: The Hidden Memory of Objects

March 30, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: The Hidden Memory of ObjectsThe Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato
Published by Balzer + Bray on March 21st 2017
Pages: 336
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.

Megan Brown’s brother, Tyler, is dead, but the cops are killing him all over again. They say he died of a drug overdose, potentially suicide—something Megan cannot accept. Determined to figure out what happened in the months before Tyler’s death, Megan turns to the things he left behind. After all, she understands the stories objects can tell—at fifteen, she is a gifted collage artist with a flair for creating found-object pieces. However, she now realizes that her artistic talent has developed into something more: she can see memories attached to some of Tyler’s belongings—and those memories reveal a brother she never knew.
Enlisting the help of an artifact detective who shares her ability and specializes in murderabilia—objects tainted by violence or the deaths of their owners—Megan finds herself drawn into a world of painful personal and national memories. Along with a trusted classmate and her brother's charming friend, she chases down the troubling truth about Tyler across Washington, DC, while reclaiming her own stifled identity with a vengeance.

The cover of The Hidden Memory of Objects is what initially drew me into this book. I wasn’t really sure how I was going to feel about the actual plot going into this though. I’ve tried to steer clear of books about death here lately since I’ve read so many, but I decided to try this one out anyway. Thought it wasn’t completely memorable for me, I’m still glad that I read this. I think readers who like contemporaries combined with a bit of history/mystery/paranormal. If it sounds like your cup of tea, then you should give this a try!

Megan is a decent protagonist. Honestly, there’s not a ton of things about her that really stand out to me. But I did appreciate how brave and bold she was throughout the entire novel. She never backed down from what she believed in, and that’s something that I always like to see. I’ll likely explain this more later on in the review, but I felt like her ability didn’t work at times. It was an interesting and unique thing for the character to have, but it didn’t totally make sense to me as a reader.

The romance isn’t a huge part of the plot, so I’m not going to touch on it all that much. I will say that the love interest is her brother Tyler’s friend that she didn’t know about until Tyler died. Nathan was a charming and sweet guy. I really enjoyed learning more and more about him as the book progressed. I won’t lie, I wanted more romance in the story, but I get that there were obviously more pressing matters. Another character that I wanted to talk about is her friend Eric. Oh man, Eric is absolutely hilarious. When he first learns about the power that Megan has when she touches certain objects, he’s obsessed with discovering her origin story. He might be a bit of a geek, but you can’t help but love him and his story so much.

As mentioned earlier, it’s the elements that go beyond contemporary that lost me somewhat. I can appreciate a good mystery, but the history and paranormal side wasn’t all that strong to me. Specifically, the paranormal element of Megan having the ability to touch objects and instantly be able to see a certain scene that took place. Like she was able to see the assassination of Lincoln and some specific details about that night. It was a unique plot that I’ve never seen done this specific way, but it still didn’t fully make sense to me. I’m a contemporary reader generally, and I like it when things are realistic to at least an extent, so some of this stuff just didn’t belong in my opinion.

If you don’t mind a combination of genres that might not seem to really go together, then you might like this one. I felt like the first half of the novel was very slow paced. In about the middle though, it did pick up speed and I was hardly able to put it down. Though I highly doubt this book will stay with me all that long after reading it, I don’t exactly regret reading it. It had some solid parts to say the least. The characters were all well developed and strong. The romance may haven’t been such an essential part of the plot, it was still sweet. I’m looking forward to the next book that this author writes!

three-stars

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ARC Review: The Hate U Give

February 28, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

ARC Review: The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28th 2017
Pages: 464
Source: Edelweiss
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five-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.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Guys, this book is easily the best book that I’ve read so far this year. It’s also the first five star rating that I’ve given this year. The Hate U Give is just a story that you need to read in order to fully understand the greatness of it. There honestly isn’t anything negative to say about it, only very rave and fangirl comments about how amazing it is from start to finish. On page one, it immediately sucks you in until you reach the end. I wasn’t able to put it down once I started reading it. This was such a mesmerizing and beautifully written novel all around filled with memorable and complicated characters. I can’t recommend it to you guys enough, you need to pick this one up!

Starr is seriously my girl. I immediately connected with her right away. She has such a beautiful and relatable personality. Starr is definitely a girl that I want to be best friends with. She’s smart, funny, kind, caring, and passionate. I sympathized with her struggles, the loss of her two best friends, one that happened when she was younger and one that just happened seriously broke my heart. Although I can’t relate to the fact that she lost them both to senseless violence, I also lost a childhood best friend far too young. Anyway, Starr is an extremely passionate person and I absolutely love that about her. She’s not afraid to take a stand for what she believes in. I was so proud of her for not letting her voice be silenced, no matter what the circumstances were.

Even though this book tackles the serious and timely issue of racism and police violence, it’s still surprisingly funny more often than not. A lot of those funny moments come from the hilarious main and supporting characters. Starr honestly has the best family. Her mom, dad, two brothers, Nana, Uncle Carlos, Chris, and DeVante are all fabulous and filled with personality. They might be dysfunctional sometimes, but they are still a great family. I loved how supportive each of them were towards Starr as she goes through this difficult and tragic time in her life. I loved them each so much that I really don’t know which one I liked them best, they all stood out for various reasons.

I don’t believe that Thomas could have tackled these difficult subjects any better than she did. As mentioned earlier, these are unfortunately such timely issues. It surprises me that more people haven’t written YA books on these topics yet, but I’m so happy that Thomas did and I hope that others follow in the future. The shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil is such a tragic event. Although we didn’t get to know him for very long in the book, we learn more and more about his real story that Starr wasn’t totally aware of since they hadn’t been hanging out recently. I believe that it was handled in such a realistic and touching way, similar in some ways to the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and countless other African American teens who were unarmed. It’s such a devastating thing that will never make sense to me, but I thought that Thomas’s take on making sense of it all was perfection.

The Hate U Give is a book that will stick with me for a long time after reading it. The characters, plot, and writing make it such a complicated and beautiful novel. It’s extremely hard to believe that this is only the author’s debut novel. I can’t wait to see what she writes next. This is such a powerful and memorable novel all the way around. There really isn’t much else to say on the topic other than other fangirl ramblings on it. It’s a difficult thing to make me laugh out loud while reading one page, but then cry on the next page. Somehow The Hate U Give was able to do just that and I can’t recommend it enough.

five-stars

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ARC Review: #famous

February 13, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★

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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ARC Review: Accidentally on Purpose

February 6, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: Accidentally on PurposeAccidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay, #3) by Jill Shalvis
Published by Avon on January 24th 2017
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay, #1), The Trouble with Mistletoe (Heartbreaker Bay, #2), One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay, #2.5)
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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.

There’s no such thing as a little in love…
Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .
There’s no such thing as a little in lust…
Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .
There is such a thing as…
As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay series. Ever since I first read Sweet Little Lies, I’ve been looking forward to getting the chance to read Elle and Archer’s book. From the previous stories, readers could tell that they had an electric chemistry that both of them were refusing to acknowledge. Anyway, I’m happy that we didn’t have to hold out any longer on getting a happy ending for the pair! I’m not sure if it’s my favorite in the series, but it’s definitely a memorable and awesome one to say the least. I recommend reading the other books in the series first due to how all the characters are connected and the small town life in general.

Elle has been an intriguing character to me from book one. She’s such a loving friend who is there for her girls automatically with no questions asked, but she’s also someone who doesn’t like needing people to be there for her. She’s stubborn and likes to take care of herself, and she’s pretty good at doing just that. Though she’s a badass boss, she does have a big heart. Basically, I love everything about this girl. She’s fierce, confident, and unapologetic about who she is but she has her vulnerable side as well. She isn’t as quirky as some of the other girls from the series like Pru, but she is still very unique and special nonetheless. She’s completely her own person, and that’s what is so great about her as a whole.

So Archer has always been this badass and mysterious guy who knows basically everything. He protects the people that he cares about at all costs, and he does everything he can to help out his friends, who might as well be his family. But like Elle, he’s also ridiculously stubborn and as some of his friends put it, he’s an “alpha.” Meaning, he feels like he has to dominate people and be in control at all times. Though he’s a tough egg to crack at times, I’ll be the first to admit that he’s an extremely swoony guy. Once you get down to it, he has a huge heart and at times it’s really adorable how he shows that he cares and loves Elle. He’s a guy who puts himself in danger all the time to help others, which is a seriously awesome and difficult thing to do. Sometimes he can be frustrating at times, but he’s a great character.

You guys, the romance between Elle and Archer was obviously a highlight of the book for me. It’s blatantly obvious to literally everyone but them that they have crazy chemistry, so it’s refreshing once they finally figure it out for themselves. At times, the romance gets rather hot, including a scene where they have “hate” sex. I’m always a fan when the characters have a history, and I thought that the story was well written. This isn’t a second chance love story though, they’ve never actually been together, but they have a sort of “platonic” history that we gradually learn about as the book progresses. I keep on saying it, but the romance is just seriously so fabulous that I have to ramble out it a little bit.

Accidentally on Purpose is a great addition to a wonderfully written series. There’s still so many characters in the series that have yet to receive a story and I can’t wait for that. Elle and Archer made an explosive couple from the start. I’m beyond happy that they were finally able to get their shit together and be happy as a couple. Although I clearly was a major fan of them as a couple, I also loved them separately. I thought they were both well developed characters who were just full of personality. This was a nice story and I recommend it! Next up, we finally get Spence’s story and I can’t wait for that.

four-stars

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ARC Review: By Your Side

February 4, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

ARC Review: By Your SideBy Your Side by Kasie West
on January 31st, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You
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Goodreads
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.

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.
Only he doesn’t come. No one does.
Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of Kasie West. There isn’t a book by her that I haven’t really enjoyed. I’ve given her past two books five stars because I loved them so much. I’m happy to report that By Your Side is pretty great as well. It has a lot of angst going on here, but I really did enjoy the main storyline. I was just honestly expecting a little more focus on the whole library part of the story since that’s what the synopsis talks about. Anyway, it was yet another solid and swoony book from my girl Kasie, and I can’t wait to read her next book! Seriously though, is she capable of writing a bad book? I don’t think so.

Autumn was a wonderful protagonist. I have to admit that she probably isn’t the most memorable, but she’s still a real and relatable character that I really enjoyed all around. I felt like her struggles with anxiety were well discussed and portrayed. As someone who’s struggled with anxiety, I’m happy to see that authors are representing it more and more since it’s a topic that needs to be discussed in YA books specifically. So yeah, I liked Autumn and I felt like she was well written and well developed as a whole. Was she perfect? Of course not, but who is? She’s your average teenager who makes some dumb mistakes along the way, but that’s what makes her so easy to relate to.

Dax was definitely a troubled character. I normally don’t really go for the “bad boy” types, but she actually makes this one work for the most part. Dax has a lot of baggage and a history that is extremely tragic and heartbreaking all around. As far as I can remember, Kasie has never written a love interest quite like him. Because of his past, he was understandably pretty closed up and refused to let anyone close to him. At first this was a little annoying because we weren’t sure why he acted this way, but as the book progressed, we learned more and more about his history. I think that Kasie did a great job writing his character. I honestly just wanted to hug him again and again at certain points in the book.

As a couple, they make a pretty cute one eventually. They have a great deal of drama that gets in the way of things at times, but they are a sweet couple once it really comes down to it. The romance is a rather slow-moving one, but I thought it was at a realistic pace. Although at times I just really really wanted them to get it together already. As I mentioned, Dax has a rough background, and he’s very very careful about who he lets in. As they are trapped in the library, they slowly begin to rely on each other a little bit more and he slowly lets his guard down with her. It’s a beautiful moment once this finally happens. There were so many cute scenes that happened between them during their time in the library. They didn’t kiss or anything, but the moments where they were just getting to know each other was so adorable and I loved reading it.

Kasie West has written another fun and easy book to read. I started this one with absolutely no intention of reading it in one sitting, but somehow I managed to do that anyway. It’s a wonderful and sweet read. Who hasn’t thought about being trapped in a library? I know that I have, but especially if someone hot was trapped with me. There was a lot of drama, and some of it was a little much at times. However, I think that Kasie did the best that she could. Though this wasn’t my favorite, it was still pretty good.

four-stars

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