Source: Library

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More Happy Than Not Review

August 23, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

More Happy Than Not ReviewMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2nd 2015
Pages: 293
Source: Library
Also by this author: History Is All You Left Me
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four-stars
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Wow, I had heard that this was a sad book, but I still wasn’t expecting how depressing it actually turned out to be. All sadness aside, this is an incredibly well written story, and the plot is pretty unique. While I definitely had to read something much more uplifting after this one, this is still an amazing and memorable book. I recommend this for readers who are looking for a story that is on the heavy side, but is also extremely informative and significant as a whole. Adam Silvera is a fantastic author and I really enjoyed this complicated but compelling debut.

For starters, Aaron Soto is a seriously heartbreaking character. I really loved what a major nerd he was, especially when it comes to comic books. He has such a witty and cool personality, and I loved that about him. The heartbreaking side of him is all the sadness that he has inside of him. The dude hasn’t had an easy life to say the least. His dad committed suicide just a few months back, and Aaron tried to kill himself at some point as well. I wanted to hug Aaron basically from the first page until the very last, the boy desperately needed some affection. As already said, he has a hard life, and the rough neighborhood that he comes from makes it all the more difficult for him.

Let me just say that I honestly wasn’t expecting the plot to go in the direction that it did. I had read in some other reviews that if you had seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Minds, you won’t be all that surprised by it, but I totally was despite the fact that I love that movie. So most people probably won’t be that shocked by some of the turn of events, but I still found them to be rather clever. I think what made it all flow together was Silvera’s impressive writing. It’s hard to put into words, but somehow it all clicked in this unique way. You really need to read it to truly get it, in my opinion.

The romance in this book wasn’t what I was expecting. I was anticipating that he and Thomas would have this big unrequited love thing going on, but that doesn’t end up happening at all. Thomas simply makes Aaron aware that he has feelings for boys instead of girls, which isn’t something acceptable in his harsh Bronx neighborhood. He knows that his friends will never accept him if he reveals this, so that’s when he turns to having that part of his memory erased. The point is, romance fans might be a bit disappointed that there isn’t more of one here. However, I was so wrapped up in the plot and characters, that it personally didn’t bother me at all.

So this book has been out for over a year now and I’m not so sure why I waited that long to read it. I think I was a little hesitant because I knew that it wasn’t going to be a light read. Despite the heavy subject matter at times, this was still a mostly pleasant read. Aaron is a character who will definitely standout in my mind for a long time. I wanted him to receive a happy ending, and though the ending here wasn’t what I was expecting, the author still wrapped it all up with tremendous care and thought. The ending felt true to what the book was trying to accomplish, another one wouldn’t have worked as well. I really recommend this one, especially for people looking for a unique and well done LGBT book!

four-stars

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The Wednesday Wars Review

August 5, 2016 Reviews 2 ★★★★

The Wednesday Wars ReviewThe Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 18th 2009
Pages: 264
Source: Library
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four-stars
In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York.
Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

So I’ve been reading a lot of adult romance books lately, so this was a nice break from that. I’ve actually missed reading middle grade books and I’ve been meaning to pick this up for such a long time now, so I’m glad I finally sat down and read this incredible book. I can definitely admit that I now know exactly why this is an award winning book. There’s so much to enjoy about this lovely little story, and I can’t recommend it enough. Regardless of your age, this is a story that all ages will be able to relate to and also learn more about history along the way.

The plot revolves around a boy named Holling as he goes through the seventh grade. Basically, the book is set in 1967-68, which is right during the Vietnam War and tons of other tragic events that also go down. However, the main focus of the book is Holling’s complicated relationship with his teacher. At the start of the school year, he’s totally convinced that Mrs. Baker is out to get him, going as far as hiring a “hitman” to assassinate him. He has to stay with her on Wednesday afternoons while the rest of his classmates get to attend church services. She starts off making him clean off the dusty erasers, which results in a hysterical story involving dusty cream puffs. After he finishes that, she then starts making him read Shakespeare. Sidenote, his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and also his habit of using the dialogue as insults will make you laugh out loud for sure. Anyway, Holling ends up finding a surprising friend and general motivator in Mrs. Baker as the year progresses.

I think my favorite part of the book was the hilarious main character Holling Hoodhood. Though he has a super tragic name, his personality is anything but that. Seriously though, I absolutely loved being inside this seventh grade boys head. I don’t know how to really describe it accurately, he’s just a memorable character who you can’t help but love from the very first page. Throughout the school year, he encounters so many different hilarious and sometimes heartwarming antics. I have to say though, my favorite adventure of Holling’s is when he has to perform in a Shakespeare play in order to get to pay for cream puffs that he has to buy for the whole class. So it turns out that his costume ends up having yellow feathers on the butt, which is naturally beyond mortifying on all levels for him.

The Wednesday Wars was an incredible read that I’m seriously happy that I finally got around to reading. This book is exactly why I love reading middle grade books in the first place: memorable characters, unique plot, and a fascinating focus on all kinds of different friendships and relationships. When I become a seventh grade English teacher, this is definitely a book that I’m going to add to my classroom library. It teaches a decent amount of history, without being the least bit boring. Though it takes place in the late 60’s, the problems discussed are still just as relevant today.

four-stars

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Third Degree Review

July 23, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Third Degree ReviewThird Degree by Julie Cross
Published by Flirt on March 25th 2014
Pages: 240
Source: Library
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, You Before Anyone Else, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
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four-stars
three-flames
I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.
But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

Unfortunately, New Adult books often receive a bad reputation. This comes from some books in the genre focusing more on sex than college, jobs, and friendship. Third Degree is one of those books that has pretty much everything that I want in an NA story. Not to mention the fact that the plot is fairly unique, it also focuses on the medical field as well. Don’t worry though, the medical jargon isn’t too much, Julie Cross includes just enough to get her point across, but not enough to put you to sleep. I’m sad that I waited this long to read Third Degree, but I’m really glad that I finally did. Though it’s been out for over two years now, I don’t think it has as many reviews as it should. That being said, I highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a unique and well written NA romance.

In the beginning, Izzy is a little difficult to relate to. In the early pages, we see her at the hospital, discovering a diagnosis that her colleague was clearly missing out on. It also becomes obvious that Isabel lacks some serious social skills when it comes to communicating with her patients and other people. So yeah, the beginning is a bit on the boring side, but it sets the tone for what comes next for her. When she decides to attend college when she isn’t selected to become a resident at any hospital, she has a rather shaky start. In the end though, the audience starts to relate and understand her more. My heart particularly broke for her rough start in foster homes, but she was lucky to be adopted by a loving family. With the help of Marshall, she starts to find a way to interact in a healthy way with other people. The point is, while she’s not my favorite protagonist, she had a unique personality that managed to standout.

Dude, Marshall is a fabulous love interest. He was totally swoony, and a wonderful guy in general. He’s Izzy’s RA, and he immediately begins helping her out with her social skills. From the start, he’s able to understand Izzy in a way that no one else has ever been able to do. Marsh is so memorable, and you can’t help but love him. I can’t exactly explain what it is about him, he’s just impossible to dislike. He’s clever, funny, smart, witty, and I already mentioned that he was charming. Marsh actually has a secret that will likely surprise you, but it was definitely something that I’ve never read about before. Is he all that different from other NA love interests? Looking back on it now, he doesn’t seem to be, but Julie Cross writes him in such a way that makes him rather irresistible.

The relationship between Marsh and Izzy is pretty great. The best part about it is the way it slowly builds. They start out being just friends as Marsh teaches her more about college life and getting along with her roommate. However, the attraction between them becomes more and more apparent and they eventually give into it. As a whole, it’s not an overly steamy book. I’ve never had a problem with sex in books, but I think Cross does an amazing job at making the actual relationship part the foundation and not their sex life. That being said, there is one ridiculously hot scene that you’ll certainly remember long after reading it. All I’ll say about it is that you’ll think of studying anatomy using real people in a completely different way after reading.

If you can’t already tell, I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. I was planning on reading another book before this one, but I couldn’t put this one down after I started it. It’s pretty light on the drama for the most part. As I said, it contains literally every element that I believe that a solid NA book that is set at a college should have. I loved her YA book, Whatever Life Throws at You, and this slightly more mature book managed to impress me as well. If you want a unique NA story and don’t mind some medical jargon, check out Third Degree.

four-stars

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Review

February 13, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★★

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda ReviewSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Pages: 303
Source: Library
Reading Challenges: Contemporary Romance Challenge, Diverse Reads 2016
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five-stars
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous about reading this book because all of the hype that’s been surrounding it since it was first released less than a year ago. I finally decided to just give it a try and that was the best thing I could do. Basically, this is a book that absolutely NEED to read. While I understand that we all have different tastes in terms of what we enjoy, this has everything you could want in a story. It’s best suitable for those of you that have been reading a great deal of heavy/dark/emotional stories and need something much lighter. “Simon” is a book that will have you grinning and laughing out loud. I wouldn’t call it fluff because I feel like that word basically implies that it lacks substance and this sure doesn’t, but it is feel good and so romantic. I’m still pretty certain that I’m the last person on the planet (or at least someone who loves reading YA) to read this. But that just means more people that I can discuss this with, and I REALLY want to talk about it. This is a story that I know that I will turn to during a particularly crappy day and read all the super freaking adorable parts again and again. Really though, I finished this late last night and I’ve already read a ton of cute parts no fewer than three times.

This is one of those books where it’s difficult to provide reasons why you should read it, so most of my review is going to be more like serious ramblings of a rabid fangirl. So first of all, one of the many strengths that the book has its characters, starting with our awesome narrator Simon. He was someone that I instantly connected with, there’s no doubt in my mind that Simon is someone I would be best friends with if he went to my high school. He’s witty, hilarious, fun, a good friend, and he has the best taste in music. My heart was soaring when he declared his love for listening to Elliott Smith, aka one of my all time favorite singers. I definitely agree with what Simon said to Blue in an email, that Elliott was the best songwriter after Lennon & McCarthy. Anyway, my point is that this boy has serious taste, not to mention he has a love for Reese’s and Oreo’s. In my opinion, he couldn’t be more likable, and I loved his totally charming voice.

So I’ve established that the MC is incredible, but every other character is also complex and layered. Everyone has a story and you become emotionally invested (either negatively or positively) in every single person. Simon’s family is also hilarious but so realistic as well. Simon hid his sexual orientation from his parents not because he felt like they’d judge him, but because he felt like they would be too involved and nosy about all the details. I know that so many teenagers aren’t as lucky, it’s just nice that the parents Becky created are supportive. Along with that, his sisters were funny and great characters as well, though they weren’t featured in the story nearly as much as his group of friends. I like seeing a fairly normal and quirky family and that’s what we find here.

His diverse group of friends are all extremely amazing in their own individual ways. His closest friends are Nick, Leah, and Abby. Both Nick and Leah have been best friends with Simon for a long time. Abby hasn’t been friends with him as long, she moved from DC to Georgia not that long ago, but Simon feels like he’s known her just as long as his other friends. Leah is probably the least likable out of the bunch. In a way, I did feel for her because she’s had a crush on Nick for awhile and now he seems to like Abby. But her attitude became unbearable at times and she took things out on Simon. My favorite was definitely Abby. I loved how accepting and fun she was. I also thought that she and Nick made an adorable couple there towards the end. Though I wouldn’t consider Martin to be one of his friends since he was blackmailing him, but I still think that the author did a fabulous job at making us sympathize with him. Seriously, these characters are all so well written that you need to just read the book for yourself.

As for Blue, well he’s one character that I can’t reveal too much about in case you haven’t read it yet. Simon discovers him from a Tumblr post on a page for their school where the students can post their secrets. Blue had posted something about being gay and not being able to tell anyone and so Simon commented on it and then they began the cutest relationship via email. One of my favorite parts of their relationship is how comfortable they are online. Neither of them have anyone else to talk to about the struggle of being gay and feeling like your living a double life by keeping it a secret. Gradually, the emails do become more flirty and I really loved it. Like is it possible to completely swoon over a relationship even when it happens only online? Believe me, this one is. I loved trying to figure out who Blue was, maybe I tried a little too hard. I actually accused every guy he came into contact with of being him at one point. You’ll end up loving the real Blue, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The bottom line is: you need to read this book. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re sure to fall in love with this book (if you haven’t already) from page one. Yes, it’s LGBTQ+ friendly which is always super awesome to see, but it’s also just a beautiful and compelling book about two teenagers falling in love for the first time. This is easily one of the best YA romances I’ve ever read, and trust me, I’ve read quite a lot of them. It’s such a wonderful read, there’s literally nothing negative to say about it. This is certainly a story I won’t be able to get out of my head for a long time, and I’m sure there will be plenty of rereads to come.

five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Finding Audrey Review

December 18, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★

Finding Audrey ReviewFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 9th 2015
Pages: 288
Source: Library
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four-stars
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

So I’ve been waiting to read this book since early this summer. When I first heard about it, I knew who Sophie Kinsella was, but I’d never read any of her books. Last month, I read her book, “I’ve Got Your Number” and found it to be seriously charming. Anyway, from what I can tell based on her chick lit works, Finding Audrey is different from anything she’s ever written. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by how funny and clever Audrey and the rest of the characters were. Audrey suffers from an anxiety disorder, and Kinsella tackles this issue by using humor. Sometimes I have issues with this because it’s a serious topic that needs to handled as such, but the author still managed to be sensitive, she just took a lighter approach which ended up working for me.

Anxiety is something that I’ve always struggled with, but this book made me realize how easy I have it! My heart really went out for Audrey because she desperately craves to be “normal” but she’s unable to make eye contact with anyone, including her family, (minus her little brother) and only leaves her house to attend therapy sessions. I loved Audrey from the very first page, she’s witty and ridiculously hilarious.

One of the best parts of this book was definitely Linus! I’m pretty sure my heart totally melted during about two or three different scenes. Specifically, the part where he started writing notes to Audrey because he learned from her brother how difficult it was for her to talk to anyone. Then he starts having her talk to random strangers about the weirdest topics to make it more entertaining for her. I just found it awesome how understanding he was. The world would be a much more lovely place if more guys like Linus were real and were able to help out people struggling with anxiety disorders just like he helped Audrey.

The one problem I had with this was that we never learned the exact incident that caused her anxiety disorder. Yeah, we could pick up bits and pieces of what happened, but I kept waiting and waiting for it to be revealed, and it NEVER was. I just couldn’t overlook this not being completely clear to us. Yes, it was a traumatizing experience that Audrey doesn’t want to relive, but I still felt like knowing what happened would make everything much more known to the readers. It was a missing puzzle piece that I really craved to know.

All in all, this was a really lovely read and completely lived up to my expectations of it. Yes, Audrey’s mother is totally crazy and went overboard many times, especially with her older brother Frank and his video game addiction. But I still found all the drama with her family to be realistic and also hysterical. There were many times where I was laughing out loud, and that doesn’t happen all the frequently for me. I recommend this book to anyone looking for something that combines both seriousness and comedy with a natural ease.

four-stars

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Nowhere But Here Review

December 17, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

Nowhere But Here ReviewNowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1) by Katie McGarry
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 26th 2015
Pages: 496
Source: Library
Also by this author: Walk the Edge (Thunder Road, #2)
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four-stars
An unforgettable new series from acclaimed author Katie McGarry about taking risks, opening your heart and ending up in a place you never imagined possible.
Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.
Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.
No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.

Nowhere But Here has a lot of things that I enjoy in a YA book: a slowburn romance, awesome supporting characters, a great deal of feels, and a great balance of both emotional and light moments. Katie McGarry is an excellent writer, none of her books have ever been unlikable. I’ve clicked with all of her characters and believed in each of the stories that she’s created. Would I rate all of her books five? No, but I still really enjoy her writing as a whole, and she’s become one of those authors who is an auto-buy for me. Like I would probably read her grocery list if I had the chance. So yeah, I think you should read Nowhere But Here because it’s unique and well written.

The main character is Emily and to be completely honest, she’s not all that memorable of a character. I did appreciate some of the sass that she brought to the table towards Oz early on, but she wasn’t all that dynamic and feisty like some of McGarry’s other MC’s have been so I don’t consider her to be all that notable. Oz was also not easy to get at first, but I really enjoyed his character and felt like he had a lot of depth to him. As you may know, I can’t stand insta-love so I did like that this was far from that. Emily took a LONG time to warm up to Oz and vice versa. Oz was pretty much instantly attracted to Emily, but he knew a lot about her and her biological father so he didn’t want anything to do with her. Slowly, they do build a friendship that then becomes more, but the relationship still happened at a realistic pace.

In most YA books, I find it rare to ever actually like older characters or the parental figures. Those characters are usually the enemies or whatever. But in this case, I personally really loved Emily’s biological father Eli and his mom (so Emily’s grandma obviously) Olivia. Emily isn’t in contact with her biological father, and lives in Florida with her mother and stepfather who actually adopted her. Anyway, they end up coming to Kentucky to attend her grandmother Olivia’s funeral. The scene where Emily meets Olivia is absolutely hilarious and I wasn’t expecting that to happen.

I’m not one of those readers who typically loves reading books that contain Motorcycle Clubs. To be honest, I’ve actually never seen it appear in any YA books. However, I still really enjoyed the story and characters. Katie McGarry’s writing is always beautiful and I love how each and every book she writes has a happy ending. I also appreciate that most of her books don’t have unnecessary drama, cheating, or love triangles. Nowhere But Here was a ridiculously fast paced book that was seriously fascinating and unique.

four-stars
Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: four-stars

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The Fill-In Boyfriend Review

October 23, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★★

The Fill-In Boyfriend ReviewThe Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Pages: 352
Source: Library
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side
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five-stars
When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.
The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.
Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I’ve been a fan of Kasie West’s contemporary books, On The Fence and The Distance Between Us. However, her latest book is the one that I personally loved the most. I think most of this is because I could relate to Gia in a way that I couldn’t with her other protagonists. I also really believed the growth that happened to Gia throughout the book. I felt like the focus on friends and family was extremely well done and the romance was just the icing on top of it all.

The Fill-In Boyfriend was just a beautiful book all around for me. I’m not going to say much about the guy who Gia uses as “Fill in Bradley” (her boyfriend Bradley dumped her in the parking lot at prom) since it’s kind of a secret. Honestly, I was expecting his name to be kept a secret longer than it was since most of the reviews I’ve read don’t reveal it. However, I will say that the love interest is sweet and a little bit of a nerd, which makes him even cooler to me. Gia and him form a sort of bond after the prom incident. His sister Bec attends Gia’s school and although they both come from different social groups, they end up somehow becoming close friends.

A lot of this book focuses on being true to yourself and not pretending to be someone that you aren’t just to make other people happy. Gia has a huge habit of doing things just to keep up her popular status. She is a little bit of a brat in the beginning who is way too obsessed with how her friends see her. But I love how she matures as the book goes on. She becomes more comfortable in her own skin and forms a friendship with Bec, a girl who is completely loyal and honest with her, while her own group of friends isn’t always that way. Bec and her fill-in boyfriend have a large part in helping Gia figure out who exactly she is.

There’s a lot of interesting things that happen between Gia and her family. I can’t tell you how mad I was at her older brother. He was so pretentious and I couldn’t believe what he did to his little sister. What made me even angrier was how her parents reacted to what he did. Anyway, I definitely enjoyed this book more than I thought that I would honestly. I felt like the fake to real thing might be off-putting but Kasie West made it work in the most effortless way. I’m beyond glad that I decided to give this one a try!

five-stars
Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
five-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-half-stars
Cover
four-half-stars
Overall: five-stars

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I’ll Meet You There Review

October 22, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★★

I’ll Meet You There ReviewI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on February 3rd 2015
Pages: 388
Source: Library
Also by this author: Something Real (Something Real, #1)
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five-stars
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.
Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Going into this book, I had extremely high expectations for it. I didn’t read Heather Demetrios debut novel, but I also heard positive things about it. I’m still looking forward to reading Something Real at some point, but I couldn’t hold off on reading this one any longer. I was really pleasantly surprised that my library had a copy of this book so I picked it up. Once I picked it up, there was absolutely no putting it down. I sat down and read this book in just a few hours because I was so anxious to find out what was going to happen. I loved Skylar and Josh more than I expected that I would. This was just an unbelievable book and I loved every minute of it.

One of my favorite things about this book is how realistic and well developed every character is. If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you can probably tell that I tend to like books better when the supporting characters have quirks and characteristics of their own that make them stand out. Obviously, you don’t want to care about them more than the main characters, but I still think it’s important to have characters that are sure to stick with the readers. Demetrios does this with ease, you care about every character in this book from the first page. The supporting characters that I loved the most were definitely Skylar’s two best friends Chris and Dylan. I loved how Skylar had such an innocent friendship with Chris, you don’t see a lot of boy/girl friendships in YA. Dylan is a girl with tons of spunk, it’s nearly impossible not to like her.

Where do I even start with Josh? Skylar doesn’t have it easy, but Josh’s story is extremely heartbreaking. Josh enlisted in the Marines so he could escape small town life and find a way out. Instead, he finds himself back after losing his leg in Afghanistan. We get to see Josh’s point of view through small journal entries that he’s writing to his best friend from the Marines who lost his life. It’s definitely not easy reading all of this pain that Josh is obviously dealing with after all this death that he witnessed in the Marines. Honestly, the whole thing made me want to hug a Marine really tight because this was some seriously sad stuff and it broke my heart to read it.

At the end of the day, what makes the book memorable is the beautiful writing and of course these unbelievably real characters that will capture your heart right away. As I already said, this isn’t an easy book to read at all. You’ll likely find yourself getting emotional during it if you’re anything like me. However, it’s a read that you won’t regret. I can’t recommend this one enough.

five-stars

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A Court Of Thorns and Roses Review

October 5, 2015 Reviews 1 ★★★★

A Court Of Thorns and Roses ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 5th 2015
Pages: 416
Source: Library
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four-stars
three-half-flames
A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.
Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Confession: I feel like I’m one of the few people who has never read a Sarah J. Maas novel until I finally got around to picking up this one. I will start by saying that she definitely lived up to the hype. Her writing is absolutely gorgeous and I found myself enchanted by her fabulous storytelling. I said this in my review of Red Queen and I’ll say it again: there can never be too many strong heroines in YA/NA books. Bottom line is that I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read a magical story that has complicated and fascinating characters. Give this one a try, I’m sure you’ll love it.

Feyre is a fierce protagonist to say the very least. Like Katniss, she provides for her family that lives in poverty by hunting. The main reason why I loved her so much was because she possessed all of the qualities that I believe a female protagonist should have. Those qualities include: selfishness, bravery, cleverness, loving, feisty, and resourceful. Tamlin was a complicated but still a mostly likable love interest. Since this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Tamlin is obviously the Beast of the story. He certainly shows some of those Beast qualities at points in the story, but he gradually becomes more vulnerable and caring around our girl Feyre. I also found myself really liking Tamlin’s friend Lucien, who didn’t like Feyre at first but slowly warmed to her and formed a friendship with her. I didn’t like Rhysand. Sorry to all those who do like him, but I’m just not a fan of the bad boy.

As you’ll see in pretty much any review of the book that you read, the romance in this book is extremely steamy. I think that the pace of the building relationship between the two went at a realistic speed that I truly enjoyed. However, I think it still was a little bit unrealistic how quickly the relationship turned into love. Lust I could see, but it being love in such a short amount of time seemed a bit far fetched to me. Regardless, I still found it to be completely swoon worthy. It’s actually rather graphic at times, which is why I consider it to be more New Adult than Young Adult.

If I liked this book so much than why am I rating it a four instead of a five? I’m so glad that you asked! I’m rating it this because I found the character of Rhysand to be off-putting. In the majority of scenes that he’s in, he just acts so repulsively and I especially didn’t like how he treated Feyre like a slave. She makes a deal with him that she’ll go with him for a whole week every month for the rest of her life. After making that deal, he feels as if he has huge control of her and he drags her around to parties as if she was a play thing. Worst of all was when he would make her drink the wine at the parties, which made her unaware of what was happening around her for the rest of the evening. Basically it’s the equivalent to giving her date rape drugs. He justifies this by telling her that he could have easily raped her, but didn’t. And she’s supposed to be grateful for that? Maybe you just shouldn’t have done it in the first place, Rhys. Anyway, a lot of people are anticipating this becoming a real love triangle in the second book with Rhys being the other love interest obviously. Already, people are talking about how they are Team Rhysand, which I absolutely can’t understand. While I respect everyone is entitled to an opinion, it’s just mind blowing that people would let his behavior go like that.

Fantasy has never been my type of genre. I naturally gravitate more towards contemporary, especially in the YA/NA category. I was definitely surprised that I enjoyed this story so much since it was heavy with fantasy and fairy themes. I think it’s a true testament to Sarah J. Maas’s writing. She created such gorgeous and vivid imagery that made me feel like I was standing right there in the middle of this world. It was never a slow paced book in the slightest, twist after twist kept going down that certainly kept your interest. While Rhysand does rub me the wrong way, he doesn’t completely discourage me from really really liking this novel. I wanted to give it five stars, but I felt like my pretty negative feelings about that character made it more of a four star read. You should get a copy of this ASAP and form your own opinion about it then talk to me about what you think!

four-stars

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Red Queen Review

September 26, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 3 ★★★★½

Red Queen ReviewRed Queen (Red Queen, #1) by Victoria Aveyard
Published by Orion on February 10th 2015
Pages: 383
Source: Library
Also by this author: Glass Sword (Red Queen, #2)
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four-half-stars
This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

This book is definitely one of the most violent and intense books I’ve read this year. I almost had a heart attack a grand total of no fewer than three or four times. Sometimes, it felt like I was watching a violent TV show or movie (like Game Of Thrones maybe) and I just wanted to shut my eyes during the particularly gruesome parts. It kept me on the edge of my seat for a good part of the book and I seriously enjoyed it.

At the start of the book, it felt extremely boring to me. I had to fight through the first fifty pages or so to get to the good parts. Despite this, the book picked up so much that the slow beginning wasn’t such a huge deal to me. These types of stories aren’t usually my thing, but I found myself fascinated by Aveyard’s beautiful writing. There’s just something about her style that felt really authentic and enticing to me.

Mare was a brilliant lead character. I loved her strength, humor, and sarcasm. She had such a dynamic personality and I loved how she told the story. I’m not going to lie, several of her qualities reminded me a lot of Katniss Everdeen. Some people disliked the story because they felt like it was a rip off of other stories like The Hunger Games and Game Of Thrones. While the similarities are pretty obvious, I still feel like the story had its own unique story to tell. If you ask me, YA could always use more strong female characters so Mare was really awesome and unique to me.
I’m not going to reveal much else about the other characters and much about the plot. I’ll just say that the supporting characters were very dynamic and full of life. I felt like they were each masterfully crafted. The romance here is pretty moderate to low, but there’s just so much plot going on that it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m on edge waiting for the next book to come out. It can’t get here soon enough!
four-half-stars

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