Source: Library

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Windfall Review

June 6, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

Windfall ReviewWindfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Delacorte Press on May 2nd, 2017
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
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two-half-stars
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

I’ve only read two books by Jennifer E. Smith, and I wasn’t all that impressed by either of them. But I was still seriously looking forward to Windfall. The concept sounded totally unique: you buy a lottery ticket as a present for your crush and he ends up winning. Unfortunately, the concept itself was more intriguing than the execution turned out to be. Smith’s writing is really beautiful and quotable. What didn’t work for me is that I wasn’t invested in the romance or either of the main characters. I can see the appeal of this book, but it just wasn’t able to work for me. It wasn’t a terrible book, but it wasn’t a great one either. I felt like it could have been about 100-200 pages shorter and still be enjoyable. While I’m sure that a lot of readers will love Jennifer E. Smith’s latest work, it wasn’t totally for me.

Alice was such a sweet girl, but she wasn’t my favorite. I did sympathize with the fact that she lost both of her parents at very young age. I can’t imagine going through something like that and my heart broke for her. I thought that her humanitarian work was admirable. I loved that she volunteered frequently at the soup kitchen and tutored a little boy who also lost his parents. I also identified with her struggles with figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. I have to say that I did want to shake her for turning down half the money. She was the one who bought the lottery in the first place, why in the world would you ever turn down receiving a chunk of that change?! It didn’t make any sense to me. I know that might seem like a petty thing to note, it just bothered me. You have so many bad things happen in your life so you’d think that getting a large sum of money would be some good karma, but I guess she didn’t see it that way. Alice wasn’t a bad character, but she wasn’t the most memorable one either.

You guys, Teddy was a total jerk. I didn’t really see what Alice saw in him honestly. I will admit that it was nice of him to offer half of the money to her in the first place. However, that still didn’t make him all that redeemable in my book. Alice and Teddy have been close friends for a long time now. Alice has been in love with him for a long time as well, but he proceeds to spend a majority of the book jerking her around. There’s no way that he doesn’t know her feelings, yet he never directly talks about it and just keeps leading her on. It also bothered me how he just kept buying pointless things instead of saving his money. I know that it was a luxury to him, but he really has NO interest in saving some for college in the beginning? Maybe I’m just being picky, but all of this seemed weird to me.

I’m not going to waste much time going into details about the romance since it was rather disappointing. I’ve already summed up most of it, Teddy strings Alice along for most of the book. I usually like friends to lovers but it didn’t work for me in this case. So I want to talk more about Leo. He’s Alice’s cousin and is absolutely adorable. He was nerdy, wise, funny, charming, and just wonderful. I wanted more of him! I thought his relationship with his boyfriend was so freaking cute. I honestly wished that this was Leo and Max’s story instead. Maybe they could get a novel focused on them still? I’d be down with a companion.

Windfall was a disappointing read for me. As I’ve said, I wasn’t overly in love with either of the Jennifer E. Smith books that I’ve read in the past. I know that so many contemporary romance fans adore her books and I figured that I’d give this one a shot anyway. I felt like this book was truthfully boring and WAY too long. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessary to make the book as long as it was. I wish that I liked this book a lot more than I did, but it turned out to not really be for me.

two-half-stars

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Hold Me Review

June 4, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★

Hold Me ReviewHold Me (Cyclone Book 2) by Courtney Milan
on October 25th, 2016
Source: Library
Also by this author: Trade Me (Cyclone, #1)
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three-stars
Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.
But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…
Hold Me is the second book in the Cyclone series. It stands alone, but those who prefer to read in order may want to read Trade Me first.
The Cyclone Series Reading Order Trade Me Hold Me Find Me What Lies Between Me and You Keep Me Show Me

Hold Me was a wonderfully diverse novel. I was a fan of the author’s first book in this series, and this one didn’t totally disappoint. I was so happy that Maria received her own love story. I thought that Jay made an awesome match for her. However, I did have some reservations that really just came down to my personal reading preferences. I felt like the book was slow in the beginning, and felt like there was too much scientific terminology that just went over my head. I could tell that Courtney Milan did her research on the subject, I just wasn’t in the mood to read about it. I thought the banter was enjoyable, but some of the hate between them was a little much for me. Ultimately, I thought the diverse characters couldn’t have been better, but some of my other issues brought the book down for me.

Maria was so fierce and memorable when she was first introduced in Trade Me. She easily kept up that extraordinary attitude in this book, which I adored. I thought she was funny and sweet in all the right ways. I really enjoyed her character all around. I did have some issues with her blog. I’m not sure how realistic it is that her blog would be that big of a deal. Like how these huge science figures and websites debate about the identity of who the blogger is, I just couldn’t see that actually happening. But who knows, maybe this is a possibility and I’m just being very picky. All that aside, she’s still a solid character who I truly liked reading about. Although her past was so sad, I loved how she made the best out of her future and did well for herself.

Jay made an intriguing love interest for Maria. I loved that he was smart and also seemed to be a hottie at the same time. He wasn’t a perfect character, he had a poor attitude for a lot of the novel. He was a grumpy dude, which wasn’t always exactly fun to read about. I wouldn’t say that he was boring or anything, he was just unique in his own special way. Sometimes his sort of pretentious attitude was a little annoying at times, but it wasn’t horrible in my opinion. I don’t know what else to really say about him, he wasn’t my favorite, but he wasn’t the worst either. I know that isn’t a ringing endorsement, but I liked him quite a bit more once he showed more of vulnerable side and we learned more about why he is so guarded about certain things in his life.

As far as the romance goes, this wasn’t my favorite. I liked how they had this easy banter going on from the beginning. But I still wasn’t sure what to make of the hatred that was going on between them. Meaning, the hate was too much for me at times. I’m a person who typically enjoys hate to love romances, but this time I felt like maybe it went a bit too far. I also liked how they started off communicating anonymously in the virtual world. That’s another trope that I also usually like, but this time I questioned how realistic it actually was. It takes quite awhile for the actual romance to get started between them. At times, I felt like it was a bit on the corny side. I also thought that it was steamy and fascinating once it did get started.

In the end, Hold Me wasn’t a bad book by any means. It was difficult to get started though. I felt like some of the scientific dialogue wasn’t necessary, instead it just made the book extremely slow in my personal opinion. Some aspects of the plot also weren’t realistic to me, which did affect how much I personally enjoyed reading the book. I will admit that Jay and Maria made a wonderful couple. I thought it was great how the relationship developed. I wasn’t a fan of how the hate to love relationship went down, though I have to admit that it was pretty unique. I realized that I didn’t go into a ton of details about the diversity in the book, but I thought that was important. I’m happy that I read this book, though it might have not been my favorite.

three-stars

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Honestly Ben Review

May 26, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★½

Honestly Ben ReviewHonestly Ben (Openly Straight, #2) by Bill Konigsberg
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on March 28th 2017
Pages: 330
Source: Library
Also by this author: Openly Straight (Openly Straight, #1)
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three-half-stars
Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s getting all As in his classes at the Natick School. He was just elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a big scholarship for college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg last semester is over now, and he just needs to be a Carver, work hard, and stay focused.
Except…
There’s Hannah, a gorgeous girl who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness he’s noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else…and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

So I definitely had some high standards for this one. I thought that Openly Straight was a pretty good novel, and I loved Rafe’s voice. Of course, I also loved Ben and wanted to know even more about him and his background. He was just as fabulous as I was hoping he’d be, which is why it hurts me that I was so torn on this book as a whole. I still loved Ben and wanted the best for him, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the love triangle. I never am a big fan of them, but I thought it might work this time just since Ben is such a solid character. While I do feel like the love triangle wasn’t written for no reason, it was still difficult for me to stand behind it. Anyway, I think this was a decent follow up to Openly Straight, but I can’t say that it totally lived up to the first one.

So yeah, Ben was a fabulous character. I wanted to hug him for basically the entire duration of the novel. I loved that he was just trying to figure himself out, and has accepted that he still has a lot to learn about himself. I loved learning more about his family life, it certainly gave us more background on the way he grew up. His dad constantly told him that he wasn’t allowed to show emotions or be vulnerable in any way. I also related to him in the fact that he doesn’t have much money. I understand having to be completely aware of how much money you’re spending at all times. I’ll talk more about the whole Hannah thing later on, but I’ll say that it did frustrate me to an extent, but I also understood why he entered the relationship in the first place. Look, no matter what he does, Ben is still going to be an awesome and memorable character in my book.

I don’t have a ton to say about Rafe since I’ve already discussed him in my review of Openly Straight. I think he’s a fascinating character, and I just really enjoy him all around. However, some of the things that he does here disappointed me a bit. Some of his friends in GSA (gay straight alliance) say things like “bi is a gateway” and it doesn’t seem like Rafe says that this is not an okay thing to say? It just seemed as if he brushed it off as a joke. I also didn’t like it when he kept trying to put a label on Ben when he seemed against it. Other than that, I did like Rafe for the most part.

I’ve read some reviews where people were offended that the author didn’t have Ben identify as bisexual. I’m not an expert on sexuality, but in my own personal opinion, I didn’t have an issue with this. I felt like it was appropriate because Ben felt like he didn’t belong in any box. He’s been attracted to girls his whole life and only been attracted to one boy. I definitely see why people find this offensive. At the time though, Ben is just a teenager who isn’t sure exactly what his sexual identity is yet and that’s perfectly okay as well. View Spoiler »

Ultimately, I am torn on my feelings for Honestly Ben. I think that it’s a great story about a teenage boy who doesn’t have it all figured out but he’s doing the best that he can. It was one of those books that I wasn’t able to put down once I started. I thought the supporting characters were great too. Specifically Toby, who I could read about for days. There’s this hilarious and endearing moment where Toby passes out fliers to his classmate, and I seriously laughed out loud. This wasn’t a flawless book, but I’m so happy that we were able to revisit Rafe and Ben.

three-half-stars

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Mini Review: I Am Princess X

May 25, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

Mini Review: I Am Princess XI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on May 26th 2015
Pages: 256
Source: Library
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two-half-stars
Best friends, big fans, a mysterious webcomic, and a long-lost girl collide in this riveting novel, perfect for fans of both Cory Doctorow and Sarah Dessen; illustrated throughout with comics.
Once upon a time, two best friends created a princess together. Libby drew the pictures, May wrote the tales, and their heroine, Princess X, slayed all the dragons and scaled all the mountains their imaginations could conjure.
Once upon a few years later, Libby was in the car with her mom, driving across the Ballard Bridge on a rainy night. When the car went over the side, Libby passed away, and Princess X died with her.
Once upon a now: May is sixteen and lonely, wandering the streets of Seattle, when she sees a sticker slapped in a corner window.
Princess X?
When May looks around, she sees the Princess everywhere: Stickers. Patches. Graffiti. There's an entire underground culture, focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. The more May explores the webcomic, the more she sees disturbing similarities between Libby's story and Princess X online. And that means that only one person could have started this phenomenon---her best friend, Libby, who lives.

I thought that I Am Princess X was a unique book. It was definitely different from most books that I’ve read. It honestly took me by surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting it to be about, but what I got wasn’t it. On the positive side, it’s a quick read that you can devour in just one sitting. I thought that the illustrations were interesting enough. However, I would have liked to see more character development. I also felt like the story was all over the place in some areas. This wasn’t a terrible story, but it was mostly forgettable. It depends on what kind of book that you’re looking for. If you just want a novel that you can read quickly, this might be what you need. If you want something that will stick with you for a long time after you’ve read it, this probably won’t be for you.

If it tells you anything, it hasn’t been all that long since I’ve read that but I still can’t remember a lot of what happened. That’s why I’m trying to make this a short review since I don’t have a ton to say about it. I thought that it seemed like it was marketed more towards younger kids, possibly 12-16, because of the writing style. The subject matter was a little more mature, but it still felt young for the most part. Another problem was how unrealistic and off the wall the twist was. I couldn’t see it happening in a million years. It was weird, in my opinion. I won’t go into too many details, but if you aren’t a fan of reading books that you can’t see happening in real life, this probably isn’t for you. I also mentioned earlier that the characters should have been more developed. I felt like there wasn’t enough pages dedicated to their personal growth. It felt like we didn’t really get to know them well enough.

I Am Princess X wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I felt like the twist could have been better, but what do I know? I don’t regret reading this, still not my favorite though. Like I said earlier, I simply don’t have a lot to say about it. It was something that I pretty much enjoyed while reading, but it didn’t leave much of an impact on me after I finished it. I was expecting it to be about friendship and fandom and that’s not really what I got. This was a unique type of book that was easy to read, but not the best one either.

two-half-stars

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Carry On Review

May 21, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Carry On ReviewCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 9th 2017
Pages: 528
Source: Library
Also by this author: Fangirl, Attachments
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four-stars
A #1 New York Times-bestseller
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.
That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.
Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

So I am honestly ashamed to admit that it took me nearly two years to read Carry On. I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell. Both Eleanor and Park and Fangirl left a huge impact on me as a reader. I was fascinated to read more about Simon and Baz, who were first introduced in Fangirl. However, I guess part of me was also afraid that this would be too much like Harry Potter and not all that original. Luckily, I was wrong and I shouldn’t have doubted Rainbow for even a second. She has this unique and beautiful ability where she creates such memorable characters. From page one, you become engrossed in Simon and Baz’s story. Even if it took me forever to get around to it, I’m happy that I finally picked this one up. I suspect that you guys have already read this one, but if not, you should definitely check it out!

Simon is one of our main characters. He’s like the Harry Potter character, so to speak. He’s supposedly the chosen one who is meant to be more the most powerful person of all. I thought that Simon was a great character. He’s a fabulous friend, loyal, smart, witty, and kind. What more could you possibly want out of a main character? Of course I liked him when he was first introduced to us in Fangirl, but I fell even more in love with him here once we learned even more about him. He was a character who knew what he wanted. He wasn’t cocky exactly, but he still had an awareness about how everyone else viewed him.

I wanted to hug Baz over and over throughout the novel. I thought he was also intriguing when we were first introduced to him, but it was really nice to get directly inside his head in this one. We learned more about where he came from and his history. I thought that him being a vampire was written in a very clever way, in a sense. It didn’t directly follow the format of Twilight on any other vampire novel, it mostly was able to do its own things. I wanted to hug Baz due to his feelings for Simon. He’s aware pretty early on in the novel that he’s in love with Simon, but he just smashes it down and conceals it because he’s not sure what else to do. The whole hating Simon thing is just a front for him, which I thought was equally beautiful and tragic. I wanted so badly for him to be open with others about the fact that he’s gay.

The romance between Baz and Simon was really cute. But it was definitely a slow burn and a hate to love. They can’t stand each other for basically over half the book. They go back and forth on virtually every subject that you can think of. And Simon suspects that Baz is plotting to kill him for a good portion of the novel as well. So yeah, zero romance happens until very very deep into the novel. I will admit that once it does, it’s really swoony. In other words, the anticipation and build up was well written by Rainbow Rowell. There aren’t a ton of kisses between the two of them, but they are all extremely sweet and wonderful in their own special way.

For a book that was over 500 pages long, it goes by rather quickly. The beginning drags a bit, but once the book gets started, it’s hard to put it down. The narration was difficult to follow at times. I thought that all of the various points of view weren’t necessary. We got the perspective of basically everyone, even supporting characters. In my opinion, simply Baz and Simon’s voices would have gotten the message and point of the book across in a fabulous way. It wasn’t a book without flaws, but it was still an enjoyable read for the most part. Thank you Rainbow Rowell for sharing Simon and Baz with the world. I regret not reading it sooner, but I’m still happy that I got around to reading it now anyway.

four-stars

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Alex, Approximately Review

May 14, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

Alex, Approximately ReviewAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th, 2017
Pages: 391
Source: Library
Also by this author: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
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four-stars
The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Jenn’s first YA novel left a major impact on me as a reader. I can’t totally explain it, all I know is that it was beautifully written and completely took me by surprise. That being said, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of her second young adult novel. I’ve been hearing nothing but positive things about Alex, Approximately so I couldn’t wait to read it for myself. In the end, it was pretty much everything that I wanted it to be. It had wonderful characters, solid plot, and fabulous romance. My standards were rather high because of her last book, so it says a lot that this one managed to stay close enough to that. It wasn’t quite as good as her previous novel, but like I mentioned, that’s a lot to live up to. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this book. I feel like I didn’t love it as much as others seem to, but it still was a decent read for me. It was fast paced and just what I needed. I’m glad that I read this!

Bailey is a strong character for the most part. I thought her personality was so much fun and I loved her sense of humor. She was relatable, and just a decent character all around. She also had a whole lot of depth to her as well. The trauma that she had was a bit darker than I expected, but I thought that Bennett addressed the subject with a very good amount of sensitivity. I also adored her love for classic films. I can’t say that I’ve personally watched many of these films, but I just adored the passion that she had for it nonetheless. You could really feel that passion bleeding through as the book progressed. I won’t lie though, it did bug me how naive she was about Alex’s identity. The worst part about it was how hellbent she seemed to track down who it was, but she wasn’t even close to discovering this.

Porter is definitely my dude. It’s no secret that I’m a true sucker for book boyfriends and Porter is a wonderful one to say the least. He’s funny, swoony, smart, and charming. What more could you possibly want? I’m not sure if he’s an all time favorite of mine, but he’s still scored major points in my book anyway. I thought that his personality was so hilarious and memorable. He was a cocky guy, but not to the point where it became unbearable or frustrating. You still cheered for the guy, and wanted the best for him. This was especially the case once you discovered his own background. Can I just hug him now?

Since this is written by an author who has previously released adult romance books, you can guess that even her YA books are steamy. The romance doesn’t disappoint here in the slightest. Porter and Bailey have a hate to love or enemies to lovers romance, which is a trope that I’ve always loved. I thought that she couldn’t have written it any better. You immediately believe in the passion that the two share for another from the start. It’s also a fairly mature YA romance which I enjoyed. I’m always a fan of these books that promote sex positivity, and this one totally does that. You’ll fall in love with Porter and Bailey both as individuals, and you’ll love them even more as a couple.

While this wasn’t quite the book that I was expecting, it was still a damn good one. I was REALLY close to giving it five stars, but something held me back from doing that. I will say that the plot was still unique enough. I also felt like the characters were very complex and well developed. You truly grow to love basically every character that Bennett introduces us to, which is a hell of an accomplishment. All in all, I’ll say that this was a really beautiful romance that I thoroughly enjoyed from the first page until the last.

four-stars

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My Not So Perfect Life Review

April 30, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

My Not So Perfect Life ReviewMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Published by The Dial Press on February 7th 2017
Pages: 448
Source: Library
Also by this author: Finding Audrey
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four-stars
Part love story, part workplace dramedy, part witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world, this is New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s most timely and sharply observed novel yet.
Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. The final, demeaning straw comes when Demeter makes Katie dye her roots in the office. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.
Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.
Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the image.

This book was quite fabulous to say the least! I’ve only read two Sophie Kinsella book in the past, one was a YA book and the other was an adult one. The premise of My Not So Perfect Life immediately sucked me in, and I could barely put it down once I began reading it. I felt like the humor, the characters, the romance, the plot, and everything else about this book was incredibly fascinating and fun. My only complaint was that it did feel a bit too long, but it didn’t totally drag to me. Anyway, this was such an interesting and fairly light read and I’m glad that I picked it up!

Katie was seriously my girl. I know I tend to say this about the protagonist if I enjoyed them, but I actually mean it here! Yes, she was frustrating at times, and I wanted to slap her insecurities about where she came from right out of her. But she was very very easy to relate to for me. She doesn’t have a glamorous life, and that fills her with serious envy for people like her boss who seem to have it all. I like how Kinsella made Katie’s life so imperfect. She’s got a long and inconvenient commute to work every day, weird flatmates, and a difficult job where she receives no credit for the work that she does. She doesn’t have her life together, and at the same time, she knows that she wants more out of her life than what she currently has. I loved that she knew exactly what she wanted out of life, the only unknown thing was how she was going to get there.

I feel like the romance plays a pretty limited role in the plot as a whole, but it was still rather cute when it did happen. I’m not going to say much about it since I wasn’t 100% sure who the love interest was going to be for a good portion of the book so I don’t want to reveal too much. I’ll just leave it at that it’s sweet and I loved the build up that went down between them. Next to nothing sexy is really elaborated in the book, but there’s still tons of sexual tension that Kinsella wrote pretty perfectly in my opinion. It wasn’t my favorite romance since there wasn’t all THAT much focus on it, but I’m happy that it existed at all honestly.

So most of the focus of this book is on Katie’s work life. Her boss Demeter has the perfect life, aside from her entire staff hating her guts. Katie longs to have a life as perfect and downright glamorous as what Demeter has. Once Demeter fires Katie, she winds back out in the country with her father and the closest thing she has to a mother. Living out on the country is everything that she’s been trying so desperately to run away from, but now she finds herself right back where she started. Once Demeter and her family stay there, Katie thinks that this is the perfect opportunity for her to get revenge on her. The scenes that follow this are downright hilarious and awkward. Demeter is easily one of my favorite characters, after Katie of course. She just has so much personal growth that I feel like Kinsella developed extremely well.

My Not So Perfect Life was such a compelling read. I honestly can’t believe that I haven’t read more from her in the past. She has exactly what I typically look for in books: strong heroines, compelling plots, and a side of romance for good measure. I know that there PLENTY of readers out there who have known about this author for ages now, and I think they’ll be super pleased with her latest work. Her newer readers like me will also be drawn into these worlds and characters that she creates with such a natural ease. Yes, it was probably longer than it needed to be, but that didn’t bother me too much. You should definitely pick this one up!

four-stars

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Seven Days of You Review

April 24, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

Seven Days of You ReviewSeven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
on March 7th 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Library
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two-stars
Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.
Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

What is up with me not liking any of these contemporary books here lately? I’m not really sure what my deal is. But I had issues with Seven Days of You. It makes me so sad because I desperately wanted to like this one. I’ve ultimately realized that I’m never fully going to get behind romances that happen in a short amount of time. With this book, they HAD met before, but I still didn’t totally believe in the couple or either of the characters. It had a lot of potential because there aren’t enough books that are set in Tokyo, but it still fell short for me in the end. It was highly predictable, and not enough was done with the setting to truly make it unique. This is yet another recent release that simply wasn’t for me for a number of reasons.

I had a hard time relating to Sophia as a whole. Maybe I’m getting too old for this. But honestly, I’ve only been out of high school for three years now. Sophia didn’t sound like ANY high schooler that I’ve ever encountered. Yes, I did appreciate some of her pop culture references to My So Called Life and other shows that I loved, but that’s pretty much it for being able to understand this character. She was incredibly whiny and selfish throughout the book. And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand her crush on David. In my opinion, it would have worked out a lot better for the book if he was her platonic male friend. Instead he was this complete asshole with literally zero redeeming qualities. On the plus side, his girlfriend was a sweetheart, though I thought it was horrible how Sophia treated her. Putting it simply, she wasn’t a good person. I try to watch myself on judging characters based on likability, but on this case it was extremely difficult not to.

So the love interest here is a guy named Jamie. Jamie was an alright love interest as a whole. I thought that he was a decent enough guy. However, he was seriously way too decent to have to put up with the way Sophia treated him. I don’t blame him for getting mad/jealous of her crush on David back when they were still friends. He’s a nice guy, but that’s truthfully all that I remember about him. So what I’m basically saying is that he’s a combination of your typical YA love interest and nothing about him truly stands out. I know that might sound harsh, but I can be picky about my book boyfriends and Jamie just wasn’t a memorable one for me.

I’m not even going to waste more time talking about the romance when it should already be rather clear that I had issues with it. Instead, I want to talk about her friend Mika. As mentioned, David was a jerk and her best friend Mika wasn’t much better. She was also extremely selfish and I felt like her storyline was entirely predictable. She reminded me exactly of Rayanne Graff from My So Called Life. I felt like her storyline could have fleshed out a little better because it didn’t feel completely developed to me. I was excited that it was set in Tokyo but I felt like the setting and the culture could have been a much bigger storyline than it was. I get that a teenager probably isn’t going to care that much about her surroundings, but it still would have been nice to get more details about it anyway. It also bothered me that she had no Japanese friends and hardly interacted with anyone from Japan at all.

Seven Days of You ultimately didn’t work for me at all. I hate that these recent contemporaries haven’t been working for me lately, but I just guess that’s how it turns out sometimes. On the positive side, it was a very quick read for me. I managed to read it in just a few hours. I was also pretty hooked into it once I started reading, which definitely says something. It wasn’t an awful book, but it didn’t stay with me either. It’s a forgettable book for the most part. I’ve seen comparisons to Anna and the French Kiss, but this book doesn’t even come close to that one in my opinion. Who knows, maybe this one is just the book you’re looking for!

two-stars

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Ghost Review

April 15, 2017 Reviews 1 ★★★★

Ghost ReviewGhost (Track, #1) by Jason Reynolds
on August 30th, 2016
Pages: 192
Source: Library
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four-stars
Running. That's all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race -- and wins -- the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

I haven’t read a middle grade book in what feels like forever. Jason Reynolds is an author that I’ve been dying to read for quite awhile now, so I figured I would give this book a try. It was just as awesome and good as I was expecting it to be! Reynolds is an author that I will certainly be reading more from in the future. He’s done an excellent job at creating a flawed but extremely likable main character. I smiled and cried so much while reading this book. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something short but very meaningful and heartwarming.

Ghost or Castle is a character who I loved from the start. He’s such a hilarious kid and I wanted to give him a huge hug throughout the entire novel. From the first page, you could tell how spirited and funny he was, but then you discover that there’s also a lot more to him than just that. He’s been through quite a lot in his reasonably short life, and his story will absolutely break your heart. We figure this out pretty early on so I feel like it’s not too big of a spoiler. Ghost began running because of the time he and his mom had to run from his drunk dad, who was shooting at them. In addition to all of this sadness, Ghost is such a beautifully well developed character. Some of the things that he said were just so random and fitting. I can easily see a seventh grader actually saying all of this crazy and unpredictable stuff that he says. Look, I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that he is a real and honest kid who will simultaneously break and heal your heart at the same exact time.

I never know exactly how to review middle grade books. This one was even shorter than some of the other ones that I’ve read. But it still managed to have many memorable characters and plots. I loved that track was a focus here. I’ve never read another MG book (or YA) that included the sport. It was also so appropriate and real how Ghost struggled with whether or not this was a sport at all since it wasn’t nearly as popular as basketball. He makes a fair point that you don’t know all that many famous track runners out there, besides maybe Usain Bolt. Anyway, I felt like the execution of the plot was masterfully executed. I hope to read more books in the future that focus on characters who run track. Please point me towards some if you know any YA or MG that do focus on this.

I’m happy that I read this one. It was unique and extremely well written. I loved that Ghost made such great friends on the track team and that they got along so well. There wasn’t any petty drama between them, they had just pure friendship and support for one another. And this is something that I’ve always appreciated and admired about Middle Grade books. So I see where this is planned to be apart of a series, so I look forward to seeing who or what the second book will be about! I’m hoping it will focus on one of his teammates and close friends.

four-stars

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We Are Okay Review

April 5, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

We Are Okay ReviewWe Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on February 14th 2017
Pages: 234
Source: Library
Also by this author: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, You Know Me Well
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Goodreads
two-stars
You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Not going to lie to you guys, I desperately wanted to like We Are Okay. I liked Nina’s book Everything Leads to You. Though I wasn’t a fan of her recent book You Know Me Well with David Levithan, I thought I’d try this one anyway. Sadly, this didn’t work for me to say the least. I don’t know, I was just ridiculously bored. It was a short book, and I felt like nothing really happened. There was barely any character development, which made me sad. Nina LaCour is a great author, and her sentences are extremely pretty. I just wasn’t able to connect with this story on any level. I’m sure there are plenty of readers who will like it, I’m not one of them.

Marin is an okay character. I totally feel for her as she struggles with grief over the loss of her grandpa. Her mom died when she was little and her dad was never in the picture, so her grandpa was her family. So yeah, I sympathized with her. Look, this might sound insensitive, but I didn’t really understand why she felt so betrayed by her grandpa. It felt like she was being a little selfish about what her grandpa went through. Like Cait said, maybe I just missed something, but it seemed like a weird thing to be so upset about. I also didn’t get why it was so hard to be in the town again. Like what did EVERYONE in the town do to you? Maybe it was the memories that she associated it with, but I still didn’t fully understand that. I was confused by the whole thing.

Another disappointment was the romance. I guess you could say the love interest was her best friend Mabel, but not really since nothing happens between them in the present. It all happened back before Marin’s grandpa died and she shut Mabel out completely. So she comes to Marin’s dorm over Christmas break because she hasn’t talked to her since she left and doesn’t know the full story. I guess she’s a good friend to Marin for the most part but I just didn’t care enough about it. I was really bothered by the fact that they’d been together in the past, but it was barely mentioned at all by the girls in the present. It would be okay if it was just a one time thing, but they seemed to really love each other, or at least Marin loved her. I’m fine with Mabel being bisexual and having a boyfriend now. I wasn’t alright with how she actually said that she wouldn’t have been with her boyfriend in Marin would have just texted her back. Realistically, it seems like it would have been difficult for them to be in a long distance relationship, she might have fallen for him even if they were still together. It just bugged me that she claimed to understand why Marin shut her out, but still basically blamed her for leading her to Jacob. I wasn’t a fan of how Mabel was pushing her at the end of the book to find a girlfriend. It felt like she was only doing that to ease her own guilt since she knows that Marin still has strong feelings for her. Mabel had very little character development as well.

I’ve seen pretty much all positive reviews about this book. For whatever reason, it didn’t click for me. I didn’t have a strong emotional connection to the characters or the plot at all. I think it could have been a bit longer and faster paced. I found myself very bored and just ready for it to end, which is never a good sign for me. Maybe I’ll eventually end up giving this author another chance, but this didn’t end up leaving a good impression on me personally. I see where people are coming from with all the nice things being said, but I simply don’t feel the same. If you like emotional contemporary reads, maybe this will be your cup of tea. I usually like emotional books, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters or the romance.

two-stars

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