Source: Library

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Bad Feminist Review

October 30, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Bad Feminist ReviewBad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Published by Harper Perennial on August 5th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Also by this author: Difficult Women
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four-stars
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

I honestly don’t read a lot of non-fiction books or essay collections. However, I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay since I read one of her fiction short stories on Rookie Mag years ago. I’ve wanted to read Bad Feminist for awhile, but just now got around to finally reading it. I’m glad that I did because it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Truthfully, I was surprised by how many negative reviews of this book that I read. In my opinion, Gay has done her research on these topics and isn’t afraid to share what she really thinks about pop culture, racism, gender, sexuality, and other topics. Though I know that you might always agree with what she had to say, but I personally was still able to respect her opinions regardless.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book since it consists of various essays that sorted depending on the topic. While I found most of the essays to be engaging, there were certainly some standouts as well. One of my favorites was “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us.” She talks about how the “princes” in fairy tales and literature are extremely problematic at times. She first talks about Disney princes like Eric from Little Mermaid, Prince Charming from Snow White, and even the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. She makes the point that the female characters have to make some kind of sacrifice in order to be with that prince. Gay then looks at more modern literature like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, where both love interests are super possessive and the heroine has to give up a part of herself in able to be with him. It’s definitely a fascinating and truthful take on how popular culture can seriously damage our views on love.

As I stated before, not everyone is going to agree with the TV shows and movies that Gay criticizes. When she’s talking about race, she criticizes ridiculously popular movies like The Help, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and Tyler Perry’s movies. I’m not going to lie, I personally was a fan of The Help, but I still believe that Gay’s analysis of it was well thought out, and honestly something that I sadly hadn’t considered before. She also analyzes Orange is the New Black, which is a show that I love. Gay wasn’t totally impressed with the first season, and I do agree that it acknowledges that it’s diverse a little too often. But I feel like it was a lot more fleshed out in the following seasons where Piper wasn’t the primary focus. It is a sad truth that the white characters seem to have more of a sexuality than everyone else, with the exception of a few characters.

I could go on and on about each essay written by Roxane Gay, but I’ll just leave it at that. I think that she’s an awesome author and I can’t wait to read more of her works, both fiction and nonfiction. Is this a perfect collection? No, not really, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that this is an honest and compelling work about modern feminism and what exactly it means to different women. This book might not be for everyone, but it’s still an entertaining and well written book that I’m happy that I finally got around to reading.

four-stars

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The Hating Game Review

October 28, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Hating Game ReviewThe Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 9th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Library
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four-stars
Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.
Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.2) A person’s undoing3) Joshua Templeman
Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.
Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.
If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.
Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

The Hating Game is a book that my Goodreads friends seemed to be loving, so I decided to just jump right in and read it. From the first page, I was completely hooked on Joshua and Lucy’s story. Though I should have most definitely been doing my homework and not reading, I simply was unable to put this book down. Anyway, I’m glad that I read this book! I’ve always been a fan of the hate-to-love trope and I’ve never seen a book that absolutely nailed it better than this one did. This is a hilarious, charming, witty, and compelling debut novel that you don’t want to miss out on.

Lucy is seriously my girl! I loved her personality from the beginning. She has such a fiery attitude and I love that she’s never afraid to speak her mind. She basically embodies the whole “though she may be little, she is fierce” quote. Because as the author points out quite frequently, she’s a very small woman in stature, so she makes up for it by having a larger than life personality. I thought her pranks and games with Joshua were laugh out loud hilarious at times. Lucy is just such an intelligent and awesome character. It’s hard to fully explain what’s so great about her, you just have to read it to fully comprehend it all.

Joshua is a character who I do have some conflicting thoughts about. On one hand, I can’t deny the fact that he’s unbelievably swoony. Some of the seemingly little things that he does for Lucy were ridiculously adorable to me for whatever reason. I think this is mostly from the general tension that builds up from the love-hate relationship that they have, but I’ll expand on that in a bit. My conflicting thoughts about Joshua comes from his possessive side. I’m not a fan of alpha males, and I feel like Joshua doesn’t exactly meet the description of one. However, I didn’t like how jealous he got all the time of other guys interacting with Lucy, even when they hated each other. At a point, his jealously and protective nature became a little concerning to me. I still think he’s a solid and swoony book boyfriend, just not my favorite because of that reason.

The romance was easily my favorite part, besides Lucy herself. As mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen the hate-to-love trope done any better than it is with The Hating Game. The tension that’s slowly built up between them is tremendous in every possible way. Even when they supposedly can’t stand each other, you can feel the chemistry between them practically radiating off of each page. It’s one of those incredible and rare romances that you have to read, it’s hard to put it into accurate words. If you’re a fan of this trope and enjoy slow burn romances where they do everything they can to fight their attraction but are naturally unable to, you’ll likely enjoy this story. There aren’t many sex scenes, but trust me when I say that the few included are amazingly well done and just the right amount of steamy!

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book. From the first page, I could tell that this was something special. While I’m not sure how realistic some of the parts about the publishing house that Joshua and Lucy work at actually is, that isn’t the point. The point is that this is an entertaining and fun read. It’s hard to believe that this is only this author’s debut novel. I can’t to read whatever she writes next! This was a fast paced book that I was able to read in just a matter of hours. Though it’s not a perfect book, it’s still an interesting and unique one.

four-stars

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The Season Review

September 29, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

The Season ReviewThe Season by Jonah Lisa Dyer, Stephen Dyer
Published by Viking Children's on July 12th 2016
Pages: 326
Source: Library
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three-stars
She can score a goal, do sixty box jumps in a row, bench press a hundred and fifty pounds…but can she learn to curtsey?
Megan McKnight is a soccer star with Olympic dreams, but she’s not a girly girl. So when her Southern belle mother secretly enters her in the 2016 Dallas debutante season, she’s furious—and has no idea what she’s in for. When Megan’s attitude gets her on probation with the mother hen of the debs, she’s got a month to prove she can ballroom dance, display impeccable manners, and curtsey like a proper Texas lady or she’ll get the boot and disgrace her family. The perk of being a debutante, of course, is going to parties, and it’s at one of these lavish affairs where Megan gets swept off her feet by the debonair and down-to-earth Hank Waterhouse. If only she didn’t have to contend with a backstabbing blonde and her handsome but surly billionaire boyfriend, Megan thinks, being a deb might not be so bad after all. But that’s before she humiliates herself in front of a room full of ten-year-olds, becomes embroiled in a media-frenzy scandal, and gets punched in the face by another girl.
The season has officially begun…but the drama is just getting started.

I was instantly fascinated by the description of this book, so I’m glad that I was able to borrow this from Overdrive. I thought The Season was really adorable and fast paced. Honestly, I didn’t even realize this was a Pride and Prejudice retelling until after I’d already read it and looked at what some of my friends thought on Goodreads. I must admit that I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice, but I do know the general plot of it. I’m mentioning this because I think that this will likely appeal to fans of P+P. It appealed to me because of the cover and cute sounding summary. Though I did have some issues with it, I still thought it was an enjoyable read.

Megan was definitely the highlight of the book! She’s so hilarious, and I love how she was never the least bit hesitant to speak her mind. This book is confusing: it’s labeled as YA but Megan isn’t a teenager. She and her twin sister are both 20 years old and in college. I do understand why it’s classified as YA and not NA since Megan is honestly pretty at times. But there’s also some mature-ish content that happens, but it’s all fade to black. That being said, I still enjoyed Megan’s personality throughout the book. She also really grew as a person as the book progressed. She starts out as a tomboy soccer player but evolves into a true lady who totally fits in among the other debutantes.

Like I said, Megan was one of the most memorable parts of The Season. The other characters are interesting, though some are obviously more likable than others. For one, I really liked Julia, who is Megan’s twin. She has such a different personality from Megan, they are basically like night and day. While Megan is into soccer and is a tomboy, Julia is a lot more of a girly girl and fits in more with the debutante lifestyle. The relationship between Megan and Julia was such a strong one. I’m always a fan of books that have sibling bonds, so this was great! As I mentioned, there are some characters that I didn’t like as much. There’s a mean debutante girl who we obviously weren’t supposed to like from the start, but I kind of wish there was some development there. Was there more to her than just being a stuck up rich girl who hated Megan? I get that the author didn’t want to explore her character, but that’s something I personally would have liked to see.

The romance was probably the weakest part of the book, in my opinion. If you can’t stand love triangles, pass on this one! I’m going to spoil the details about this romance, so only read it if you REALLY want to know more about the love triangle specifics. View Spoiler » I felt like Andrew and Megan’s relationship developed WAY too quickly. She hates him for most of the book, so they actually only have a handful of interactions throughout the story. However, he says near the end that he LOVES her. Wait, what? How can you love her when you’ve barely spoken? That’s way too much insta-love for my personal taste.

I liked this book, but sadly didn’t love it. I’m glad that I read it because Megan was such a hilarious and memorable character. The situations that she found herself in were totally cringe worthy at times, but it was great. My biggest complaint was definitely the lack of development with some of the supporting characters. I also wasn’t a fan of the romance at all. I think the author might have been trying a bit too hard for the romance to be exactly like Pride and Prejudice, but I feel like that wasn’t necessary. Anyway, I recommend this if you’re looking for something funny and fast paced.

three-stars

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The Scorpio Races Review

August 24, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

The Scorpio Races ReviewThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic Press on October 18th 2011
Pages: 409
Source: Library
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five-stars
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

So I haven’t read very many Maggie Stiefvater books in the past, only The Raven Boys, though I do planning on eventually reading the rest of that series. Anyway, I figured I should try this one out since it’s her only standalone, and I’m really glad that I did. Immediately, readers get sucked into this phenomenal world that she’s created in the mysterious island of Thisby. Puck and Sean are both such incredible characters and I loved being inside their heads. Besides that, there is also intense action that keeps you on the edge, adorable little brothers, a bakery, and super cool Americans. I hope that you’ve read this already since I feel like most YA readers already have, but if not, it’s definitely a must read! I totally understand the hype behind it all now.

Puck is a pretty badass heroine to say the least. Her parents both died, so she lives alone with her older brother and younger brother. Her older brother Gabe is slowly drifting away from her and Finn, and is now wanting to leave Thisby. On top of all that, Puck is on the verge of losing her house due to not being able to make payments on it. She feels like she has no choice but to enter the Scorpio Races, which no woman has ever done. Naturally, the response is not a positive one, and she doesn’t exactly help herself when she uses her longtime horse instead of a capall uisce, which is a deadly water horse. So the odds are stacked against her, but I love how passionate and determined she is. She doesn’t let absolutely anything get in her way, and I have nothing but respect for her.

On the other side of things, we have Sean, who is such an amazing book boyfriend from the start. He’s won the Scorpio Races four years in a row with his longtime fierce horse, and he also takes care of the horses in the stables. The thing about Sean is that he’s incredibly quiet, and I love that about him! You know that when he has something to say, it’s clearly important since he never opens up all that frequently. He isn’t all that swoony necessarily, he doesn’t deliver any big lines to win Puck over or anything, but he’s a real teenage boy. Meaning, he is just amazing by fully being himself, and that’s what wins both the readers and Puck over in the end.

My favorite part of the romance was how subtle it was. It wasn’t even close to being the main focus, the characters and their personal growth throughout the novel is, but I loved it anyway. There were very few sweet kisses shared between them, and that’s what makes them all the more special and precious. Sean and Puck don’t even interact for several chapters, so the buildup is extremely slow but also real. I love that nothing was ever rushed in their relationship. I don’t even know what all to say, it just all couldn’t have been written any better!

The action had me on the edge of my seat the whole book. Seriously, I was literally so nervous for both Sean and Puck’s safety. Those capall uisce would actually eat anything in their path, so it made me nervous for them and pretty much any other character that we were introduced to. So the thing that I wasn’t expecting was how little the actual Scorpio Races plays in the plot. Most of the book is just a lead up to it, and then the end is the race itself. Another thing that I was expecting based on the description that it was like The Hunger Games, only one person survived it, but that’s actually not how it is. Yes, it’s a super dangerous thing and a lot of people do die from it, but there are survivors as well. I was probably the only person who thought this, but whatever, I’m glad that it wasn’t actually like that!

From the first page, this book manages to intrigue you. Puck and Sean are both so well written, I wanted to be friends with them both. Not to mention some of the fabulous supporting characters, like Gabe and Finn, Puck’s brothers. I really loved some of the people on Thisby too, like some eccentric sisters who always tell Puck how it is. I loved George Holly, who is an American that is buying horses and becomes good friends with Sean. The point is, this book couldn’t have been any better. It’s filled with such intensity and emotions. What more could you really want out of a book?

five-stars

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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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Goodreads
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
Also by this author: My Not So Perfect Life
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
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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