Source: Library

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Mini Review: The Truth About Us

September 24, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

Mini Review: The Truth About UsThe Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on April 7th 2015
Pages: 304
Source: Library
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two-stars
A powerful and gripping contemporary YA from the author of I'm Not Her that's "Just right for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jodi Picoult."-Booklist
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.
The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care. But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.

I probably should have just skipped this one altogether. It wasn’t an enjoyable read for me as a whole. Parts of it really struck my attention and made me want to keep reading, then I’d reach a part that just made me want to stop reading. It does explore the issue of social class, but I’ve read other YA books that pulled it off in a much more natural fashion. I felt like this book only scratched the surface on this issue and didn’t go deep enough. The ending also REALLY put me off, I just didn’t understand why it ended there. All in all, this was a book with much more flaws than strengths.

I didn’t click with either Jess or Flynn, which obviously makes me feel disconnected with the story. I wasn’t all that invested in the plot or the characters, but the ending still rubbed me the wrong way to say the least. I’m not going to say much about it, but I’ll leave it at the ending just wasn’t necessary and it didn’t seem realistic to me either. Both characters had their fair share of respective issues, but I felt like some of the drama was also not needed. I wanted more focus on the relationship between Jess and Flynn, not a ton of drama with just a little bit of romance thrown in for a few pages here and there. I didn’t feel good about the majority of the decisions made by Flynn, and Jess wasn’t 100% innocent in some areas. However, I felt like it was Flynn who was the real fickle one. On one page, he would be certain that he and Jess were meant to be together, but then the next he was calling her spoiled and saying they wouldn’t work out. It gave me whiplash and was another thing that made me want to stop reading.
Why did I keep reading if there were so many things that made me want to stop? In short, I pretty much ended up skimming quite a bit of the pages. I wanted to read a contemporary YA book that was light. This one wasn’t as light as I was anticipating, it had a lot more drama. One of the positives is that I do think that the writer has a lot of potential. She really channeled Jess’s voice and I liked her storytelling methods. Anyway, this wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but there were plenty of weaknesses about the book that certainly rubbed me the wrong way.
two-stars

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Just One Day Review

September 14, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★½

Just One Day ReviewJust One Day (Just One Day, #1) by Gayle Forman
Published by Speak on August 20th 2013
Pages: 416
Source: Library
Also by this author: Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
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three-half-stars
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

I’m a pretty big fan of Gayle Forman’s writing. I think that she weaves story together in a beautiful and effortless sort of way. She also creates such memorable and awesome characters. There aren’t many characters of hers that I haven’t connected with or cheered for. Comparatively, this book didn’t hit me as hard as If I Stay did. However, it is unfair to compare the two since it’s such a different story. This one was definitely more upbeat and filled with a lot less sadness. I like books that have adventures and this one certainly has that going for it.

Allyson Healey is in her last summer before she heads off to college. Her parents sent her on a three-week European tour with a group from her school as a graduation gift. On the last day, she meets a boy named Willem, who acts in Shakespearean plays and goes wherever the wind blows. Willem is unpredictable, the complete opposite of the careful and safe Allyson. She decides to shake things up in her life and go with Willem to Paris, a place she desperately wanted to see but didn’t have a chance on the tour. There is where the pair share grand adventures as they share one unplanned day in the city of love together. She wakes up to find Willem gone, so she finds her way back to the states on her own, completely heartbroken over his disappearance. As the months at college fly by, Allyson can’t get the day that she spent with this boy out of her mind. So she decides to down whatever it takes to track him down.

I liked hearing the story from Allyson’s point of view. She was a decent narrator and I liked seeing her develop as the story went on. She could be a little annoying at times considering how jealous she was of every single girl who even looked Willem’s way. However, I enjoyed that she was uptight and safe but gradually turned into someone else, a person who doesn’t plan everything out and just goes with the flow. Obviously, she’s more that person around Willem than she is on her own, but I still thought it was fascinating to see. Willem was a fun character that I really enjoyed. He had a ton of personality and was hard to pinpoint. While I wish he would have opened up to Allyson more about her life, that just wasn’t his character I guess.

I’m aware that it’s obvious that the two are only together for one day, but I still found myself craving more of Willem. I know that the second book is dedicated to his point of view during the time they were apart, but I just didn’t like the flow of this one. Allyson at college was just kind of boring to me and I found myself skimming through it honestly. Overall, I loved the first part of the story because any story in Paris is automatically awesome in my book.

three-half-stars

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The Heir Review

September 12, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★½

The Heir ReviewThe Heir (The Selection, #4) by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th 2015
Pages: 346
Source: Library
Also by this author: The Crown (The Selection, #5)
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three-half-stars
Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

I’m pretty tough when it comes to The Selection series. Personally, I did enjoy parts of the first three books. But I just disliked all of the drama and the love triangle. In the second book in particular, America was so possessive over Maxon, even though she herself was secretly cheating on him. But anyway, The Heir had its moments for me. It’s absolutely necessary for you to read the first three books before checking out this one. I’ve read all of them and even I was a little lost at times because I’d forgotten different characters and events from the other books. For fans of the series, this will be a pleasant and intense read.
Eadlyn is the daughter of Prince Maxon and Queen America Singer. This book picks up 20 years after the last book. The country of Illéa is currently in a bad place. Maxon got rid of the social classes and this caused even more of an uprising from the people. In an attempt to ease the tensions, Maxon and America convince Eadlyn to allow them to bring back The Selection. Despite having no intentions of finding a man to marry, Eadlyn reluctantly agrees to participate although she still plans on scaring away the boys one by one. Will she change her mind and actually find that The Selection isn’t so terrible after all?

Surprisingly, I disliked Eadlyn even more than I disliked America in the earlier books. She’s different from her mother in the respect that she has things handed to her, she’s spoiled, and she thinks she’s better than others. America was never really like that, she was just unlikable because of her jealousy and possessiveness. The most likable characters included her twin brother Ahren, who didn’t have to host his own Selection because he’s already found his future wife. I liked the strong bond that they shared and how Ahren was never scared to set his twin straight when she was totally out of line. It was strange seeing characters that we know from America’s story through her daughters point of view. Meaning, she sees her mother’s old boyfriends in a completely different light. It’s just a new perspective that really brings something new to this story. Anyway, Eadlyn was still a difficult character to follow considering her attitude that stays pretty strong throughout most of the book.

As far as the romance goes, Eadlyn starts out having 35 guys to pick from. She immediately begins winding the pool down and cuts 11 guys, who she barely had one more than one conversation with. While there are many potential love interests, the main one is still obvious from the very beginning. This love interest I’m talking about is Kile, who is Marlee’s son, America’s servant and friend from the previous stories. He is selected to be one of the contestants in The Selection, much to his dismay. Kile and Eadlyn immediately bump heads, but they also pretty quickly form a mild friends with benefits relationship. Meaning, Eadlyn still tells him she dislikes him but she still wants to kiss him, which doesn’t make much sense. I didn’t like the way this relationship went down in this book and I hope it improves more in later novels. The other boy I liked was Henri, who doesn’t speak much English. He has a translator named Erik who stays by his side at all times. While Eadlyn enjoys Henri’s personality and company, she slowly grows closer to Erik as well, even though he isn’t technically apart of the competition. It’s unclear (but probably Kile) who she will choose, but this should become revealed to readers in the next book.

This was a quick read and I liked catching up with characters that we’ve grown familiar with. I didn’t give it a higher rating because I was unable to click with Eadlyn at all really. She does grow more as a person there towards the end, but I just didn’t like her attitude. It’s hard for me to absolutely love a story if I can’t get past how the main character treats other people. I do think that fans of The Selection will enjoy that the story didn’t end with America.

three-half-stars

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Since You’ve Been Gone Review

September 5, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Since You’ve Been Gone ReviewSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 6th 2014
Pages: 449
Source: Library
Also by this author: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour, The Unexpected Everything
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four-stars
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.
On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?
Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um...
Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?
Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

Since You’ve Been Gone is one of those books that I wish I would have picked up sooner. Part of my hesitation was honestly because I knew I’d be singing the Kelly Clarkson song in my head the entire time I read it. Despite my fears, I heard so many great things about it and about how swoony the male lead is. So I eventually gave it a shot and I’m so glad that I did. I’ve never read anything by Morgan Matson before even though I know she’s becoming a pretty popular YA author. However, I am definitely interested in reading more from her.

Emily is an awkward and shy teenager who planned on spending the summer with her best friend Sloane. But Sloane mysteriously took off without telling Emily anything, all she sent behind was a list of things that she wanted Emily to accomplish. Emily quickly makes the connection that every item on the list is something that scares her. Her summer takes an unexpected turn when she starts hanging out with Frank Porter, the class President and total good kid. She also forms a friendship with his best friend Matthew Collins, and Dawn, a girl who works next door to the ice cream shop where Emily works. All three of her new friends help her knock off each item on the list one by one. For Emily, it turns out to be one summer to remember.

I love the characters in Since You’ve Been Gone. Emily is such a relatable main character. Sometimes in Young Adult books, it can be annoying when the main character considers herself to be awkward just because she trips on her own feet or has difficulty talking to a cute guy. Emily is a genuinely awkward girl who has trouble fitting in. She’s awkward through the fact that she has trouble forming sentences in front of people that she doesn’t know, not just boys. I really related to how she relied on Sloane to help her socialize with others. Sloane was a people person and Emily’s more social side came out when she was around her. I’ve been in that position before, so I totally got where Emily was coming from. I also loved some of the supporting characters like Matthew Collins. I loved how Emily would notice his subtle changes in behavior and how she got to the bottom of what was going on with him. I love stories where the supporting characters are complex and we get to see the main character bond with them. That doesn’t always happen in Young Adult novels and I think this was extremely well done.

Frank Porter is such a great character and I absolutely loved him. It’s always awesome to see the love interest be such a solid guy. I mean honestly, how many books have you read where the guy was the class President and smart guy who also happens to have incredible taste in music. I think part of his general appeal is that his characteristics are very similar to real high school boys. Many high school boys in YA books are portrayed as being these perfect and flawless guys who have every girl drooling over them. On the other hand, Frank has flaws just like real guys you meet in high school have. I loved how his relationship with Emily started as a friendship and slowly built into more. Pretty much every scene between them was so incredible to read. I just loved the average interactions that they had and all of the random things they bonded over. It all felt insanely realistic to me.

The big reason why this book didn’t get a perfect rating from me was that Frank had a girlfriend for the majority of the book. At the beginning, his relationship is introduced as being perfect since they are both insanely smart kids who are very involved in school. Anyway, I felt like the plot was completely pointless. It became more and more obvious that something wasn’t right between Frank and his girlfriend as the book went on. I feel like I would have been even more invested in the relationship and the plot if there was no girlfriend at all. The book would have just flowed a little more naturally and smoothly for me if that was the case. Don’t get me wrong though, this book is fast paced and really great aside from that minor issue.

four-stars

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Where She Went Review

September 4, 2015 Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Where She Went ReviewWhere She Went (If I Stay, #2) by Gayle Forman
Published by Dutton Juvenile on April 5th 2011
Pages: 264
Source: Library
Also by this author: Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
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five-stars
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I loved “If I Stay,” but I held off for as long as possible before reading this one. I was scared that it wouldn’t live up to the first book. However, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it so I figured I might as well give it a shot. Seeing things through Adam’s perspective was so incredible and I feel like Forman absolutely couldn’t have written it any better. The writing, characters, plot, just everything about this book was amazing. I did miss seeing things from Mia’s point of view, but it was a good idea to just focus on Adam’s perspective only and not alter back and forth between the two.

It’s been three years since Mia’s accident and Adam hasn’t talked to her since she left for Julliard. Adam had a lot of anger whenever she first left his life, but he turned all that anger into a chart topping superstar album with his band. His band has been touring around the world and winning big time musical awards. He also lives in LA with his movie star girlfriend. Although his whole world seems to be perfect on the outside, he’s really falling apart of the inside. He and his band members are barely speaking at all and he hardly ever gets to spend time with his girlfriend. Adam ends up spending the night in New York by chance, and decides to go see Mia Hall perform. This sparks a surprise reunion between the two former lovers as they make some last minute memories before they both go their respective ways: Mia to Japan for her concert tour and Adam to join his band members on tour in England.

Adam is one of my all time favorite book boyfriends. Yes, part of that has to do with him being a musician. But it’s mostly just because of the way he carries himself and how genuinely kind he is. He appears as a total jerk and is labeled as a douchebag bad boy in the media, but that couldn’t be further from the truth in reality. I’m going to continue stressing the fact that I love getting to read the story through his eyes. Getting an insight into what makes Adam who he is, and knowing exactly what he’s thinking make him all the more charming. It’s strange not seeing the story through Mia’s eyes, but she’s just as charming and composed as ever.

In my opinion, this story was the ideal conclusion to the not so fairytale but still beautiful romance between these two. They are one of my favorite couples because they just get each other. I love the way they bond over all different types of music. They obviously have somewhat of different tastes considering that Mia is a classical musician while Adam is a rockstar, but that seems to not be a big deal to either of them. I also love how we get to see flashbacks of their relationship in high school. Some of the scenes are just too adorable for words, like talking about them will just make me beyond mushy so I’ll spare you guys that whole mess.

Basically, this book was everything I hoped for and more. If I Stay was such a beautiful and heartbreaking story, one of my all time favorites, and I’m glad to say that this one was no slacker either. It couldn’t have been better or more heartwarming for me. Gayle Forman is honestly one of my favorite YA writers, she just has such memorable characters filled with unique and special plots.

Quotes:
“You don’t share me. You own me.”
“I needed to hate someone and you’re the one I love the most, so it fell on you.”
“In the calculus of feelings, you never really know how one person’s absence will affect you more than another’s.”
“Letting go. Everyone talks about it like it’s the easiest thing. Unfurl your fingers one by one until your hand is open.”
“A day might just be twenty-four hours but sometimes getting through just one seems as impossible as scaling Everest.”

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

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99 Days Review

September 3, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 2

99 Days Review99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 21st 2015
Pages: 384
Source: Library
Also by this author: Fireworks
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Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the writing and I think it was a creative concept. However, I wasn’t able to connect with Molly at all and wasn’t a fan of the decisions that she made. All in all, this is a quick read that always holds your interest, I just had a problem with how some of the events turned out in the end. I’ve also made it clear that I hate love triangles and I thought this one wasn’t going to be one of those types of stories, but unfortunately it did become one and that made me less interested in the story completely.

Molly ran away from her town after her longtime boyfriend Patrick discovered her affair with his older brother Gabe through a book that her mother wrote about Molly’s experiences. Now Molly is back in the town for the summer before she leaves for college and she’s trying to make amends with the people that she hurt. Gabe is back for the summer from college and seems to be the only person who is on her side and sticks up for her. Then Molly becomes confused for her feelings for him when the boy she loved for so long, Patrick, returns for the summer.

I don’t want to ruin too much here but the one thing I hate more than love triangles in YA books is cheating. Yes, Molly made a mistake and I don’t think that she deserves to be treated so poorly when Gabe is treated exactly the same way. I like that he also has a problem with this and I instantly liked him when he took responsibility for his involvement in the affair. I really loved Gabe and felt like he truly cared about Molly in a way that his brother never did but Molly isn’t as aware of this as she should be. One thing that I did enjoy was the female friendship here. Molly has to repair a lot of friendships that she abandoned when she took off and ran away from all her problems. She slowly gains back the friendship of her old best friend and gains a new friend in Tess, who also happens to be her ex boyfriend Patrick’s new girlfriend. This obviously is an interesting and sort of cliché friendship, but I like that they do bond since most new girlfriends in YA books seem to have it out for the old girlfriend but Tess is nothing but nice.

I recommend 99 Days specifically for people who love contemporary romance YA. If you have an issue with love triangles or cheating, I would recommend just passing up on this one even though there still may be some parts of the book that you might enjoy. Most of the reviews that I’ve read for this one are either people who absolutely loved the book or it just didn’t click for them. I say that you give it a shot because it isn’t a heavy read, you’ll likely finish it in just a day or two so check it out if it sounds like something you’d be interested in!

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P.S. I Still Love You Review

August 29, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

P.S. I Still Love You ReviewP.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2) by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Pages: 337
Source: Library
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four-stars
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

This was a delightful companion novel to the wildly popular “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I’m going to start things out a little differently by recapping the book since it’s been awhile since the first book was released so some who read it then may not remember all the details. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you check it out before you read any further.

Towards the end of the first book, Lara Jean and Josh kiss and she also realizes that it’s really Peter who she wants to be with. She makes out with Peter while they are away on a school trip and Lara Jean hears that Peter is telling people that they had sex. Regardless of how betrayed she feels, she still knows that it’s Peter who she is in love with. The book ends with Lara writing a letter starting with “Dear Peter” and that’s it.

In “P.S. I Still Love You” it picks up directly with the letter which I think was really smart of Jenny Han since readers were desperately wondering what Lara Jean would say to him. In the letter, she admits that she loves and cares about him. She goes and delivers the letter to him herself and the two end up getting together. Drama then pretty much goes down again and again in the book. The most important drama that happens between them is that Peter starts hanging out with his ex girlfriend Gen, while a blast from both of Peter and Lara Jean’s past gets in contact with Lara. John is one of the guys who received the letters from the first book but he just now got back to her. Lara will have to somehow make a choice between two boys that she has loved for a long time now.

The thing about Jenny Han’s writing is that you get automatically swept up in every character but sometimes you may not always absolutely love that character. Honestly, I found Lara Jean to be beyond
irritating and whiny at times. She also really let her insecurities take over as she attempted to push people she cares about away. However, she does grow so much as a character and I think it’s great that she has these completely relatable flaws. Peter is a complicated character but I’ll talk about him more in the next paragraph. My favorite character is definitely Kitty, Lara Jean’s little sister who is so mature that it’s easy to forget she’s still in middle school. One of the funniest moments came from Kitty confessing that she watched The Sopranos, I literally laughed out loud. She’s the comic relief of these books for sure.

I don’t understand why Jenny Han has to have love triangles in the majority of her books. (Besides the Burn for Burn books) If you can’t already tell, I can’t stand love triangles. I love the relationship between Peter and Lara Jean although it does have it’s flaws, but they still make sense together. Lara Jean’s fascination with John, a sweet childhood friend of both Peter and Lara Jean, also makes sense in its own way. Although it’s over, Peter and Gen also made sense together and Lara Jean struggles with seeing them together, even though Peter picked her. The boy has communication issues and he doesn’t stand up for her like he should, but it’s clear that he cares for our girl Lara. I won’t lie, at times I was rooting for John and I’m sure you might feel that way as well. The ending is just completely satisfying and that’s the main reason why I rated this a 4 instead of a 5.

I know fans of the book are probably hoping Han will write another novel since all of her others are trilogies. Personally, I’m more than happy with her closing this story here because I think we were given more answers and no more questions. Regardless, I’ll always love these stories and will continue to buy any book written by Jenny Han!

four-stars

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All The Rage Review

August 29, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

All The Rage ReviewAll the Rage by Courtney Summers
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 14th 2015
Pages: 321
Source: Library
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four-stars
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 
With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

I said that I was going to be taking a break from depressing and heavy books for awhile, but I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now so I had to give it a try! This book is extremely powerful, even more so than what I was initially expecting. It’s honestly difficult to read at times because the kids are just so cruel, but it’s still an important read for everyone.

Romy has been receiving horrible bullying since she told the truth about the Sheriff’s golden boy son Kellan. No one believed her because she’s from the wrong side of town so the kids at school instantly come to his defense. Her only safety is the diner she works at where no one knows about Kellan. The rest of the book consists of the disappearance of a girl who has ties to both Romy and Kellan, and the night before she disappeared where Romy last saw her but can’t remember. It’s a story that will keep you guessing until the last page.

Can I just say that the kids Romy goes to school with are absolutely evil? It really blew my mind just how cruel they can be, they don’t even treat her like she’s a human being. That is completely unacceptable to me and it broke my heart but also made me angry. I felt this way because it was very real, high school sucks and Summers accurately portrayed bullying the best she could. Romy is an incredible main character. It broke my heart to see her thoughts about not being good enough or believing what all those kids said about her.

Leon is a guy who works at the diner with Romy and doesn’t know about what happened with Kellan. She likes being with him because she feels like she’s a different girl when she’s with him. It broke my heart to see how she felt about him actually treating her with respect since her experience with a guy was so terrible. I think the most heartbreaking and touching moments was the surprise that Romy felt when she asked Leon to stop and he instantly did. This was a tragic and real experience that is really educational for readers that may not know much about sexual assault. I’m not saying that those who have never experienced it can possibly understand what all they must go through after that, but it still provides some perspective.

I didn’t give All The Rage five stars because I was so confused and dissatisfied with the ending. I walked away with a ridiculous amount of questions. On one hand, it’s good to not be able to stop thinking about a book once you finish it, but on the other I felt like not enough was explored. I wished that we would have gotten to see Kellan for even just a few pages, he doesn’t have to be a main character but I would have liked at least some interaction. The ending was really abrupt and I was looking for some general closure. Overall, the message of this book was beyond powerful. This is the first Courtney Summers book I’ve ever read and I’m excited to read her other books. You need to read this if you haven’t yet!

four-stars

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The Sky is Everywhere Review

August 26, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★

The Sky is Everywhere ReviewThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Published by Dial Books on March 9th 2010
Pages: 288
Source: Library
Also by this author: I'll Give You the Sun
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four-stars
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.
This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Jandy Nelson has recently received a lot of attention for her sophomore novel, “I’ll Give You The Sun.” I decided to start with her debut novel before I get to that one. I found this book to be very powerful and filled with many different emotions. It was a pleasant read for me that has made me all the more excited to read her latest. This book is still relatively heavy in terms of the subject. I’ve just read a ton of YA books recently about death so I think it’s time for me to take a break from that for a little while anyway. If you are like me and live under a rock and somehow missed this one, definitely seek it out and read it!

Lennon is a bookworm and band geek who is dealing with the recent abrupt death of her big sister Bailey. Now Lennie is forced to pick up the pieces and keep going on with her life. However, she feels guilty to experience happiness when her sister no longer can. So she starts spending time with her sister’s longtime boyfriend Toby, who is the one person that seems to be struggling just as much as she is. Then she meets Joe Fontaine, a new boy who was living in Paris, and who has serious musical talents. Lennie has to make the choice if she wants to be happy and start fresh with Joe, or stay in the darkness with Toby.

I instantly loved Lennon due to her name, she’s named after John Lennon because her mother was a total hippie. We learn this information because Joe is the only person who questions it and I love that he starts calling her that. Other things I love about Lennon include: her love of books, her passion for music, and the poems that she writes and leaves in random places. Lennie only has two main parent type figures: her Gram and Uncle Big since her father isn’t in the picture and her mom left when the girls were little. I didn’t like Toby at all, but I did understand that grief is something that connects people so it’s natural that he turned to Lennon as a comfort with Bailey gone. I can’t stand love triangles, and this was really no exception but I felt like it was automatically obvious that she wouldn’t end up with Toby.

There is so much to say about Joe Fontaine, he’s just one of those totally swoon worthy characters that you come across every now and then. He’s a genuinely good guy and I love that his feelings for Lennon were so clear from the beginning. There was no game going on between them where neither would admit to liking the other, she learns pretty early on that he likes her. I adored that music was a huge connection for them and I loved that he would write music for her to play so it could be a duet between them. I think that he’s the perfect guy for Lennon since he has so much brightness and happiness radiating from him the entire time and she desperately needed that as she dealt with her grief.

It’s a beautiful story from start to finish. The main reason I give it a four is because of Toby, yes it made sense why it was there, but there were a few things about the intensity of the relationship that I wasn’t a huge fan of. It was unfair for her to do that to Joe, especially when she is aware of his feelings for her (mild spoiler alert) and that he’s been hurt before. Nelson’s writing is just so realistic and I loved how poetic it was. It was different from many books I’ve read about grief, and it’s insanely memorable and fascinating.

four-stars

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The Start of Me and You Review

August 26, 2015 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★★½

The Start of Me and You ReviewThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Book on March 2015
Pages: 231
Source: Library
Also by this author: Open Road Summer, When We Collided
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four-half-stars
Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.
Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Open Road Summer was a bit of a disappointment for me. I just couldn’t connect with the female protagonist, so I was a little hesitant to jump into this one. I was pleasantly surprised by how relatable Paige and the rest of Emery Lord’s characters are. This is a must read about love, grief, forgiveness, acceptance, growing up, and taking risks.

For the last year, Paige has been identified around her smallish town as the girl whose first boyfriend drowned in a freak accident. Paige is finally trying to move past this identity and make a name for herself. She starts by making a list of things she wants to do during her junior year. One item on her list is going on a date with her longtime crush Ryan. Things change once Paige joins the Quiz Bowl team with Ryan’s dorky cousin Max Watson, who recently transferred back to their public school. Paige is finally getting her big chance to take risks and go outside of her comfort zone, and that all starts with Max.

I mentioned this earlier but I just want to stress again that I was shocked that I connected with Paige the way that I did. I’ve never experienced the death of a boyfriend, but I do understand the process of grief in general and how she felt as if she didn’t know him very well, but she liked the attention he gave her. Every girl wants to be noticed and it can be tough getting over the loss of someone who saw the real you. I felt like the supporting characters were well written, especially Paige’s support system aka her group of best friends. Her very best friend is the beautiful and strong Tessa and her other close friends are Kayleigh and Morgan. I loved that these girls went to the ends of the Earth to support and protect one another. There was never any seriously dramatic fights between them and I appreciated that promotion of uplifting female friendship. Ryan obviously wasn’t as likable as Max, but I still felt like his character was well developed enough, he had his own fair share of loss and longing.
I wasn’t sure if any male love interest from Emery could compete with Matt Finch but Max was pretty great in his own respect. What I most loved about their relationship was all the banter and witty pop culture that bonded them together. I thought it was absolutely adorable when Max told her that she was more of a Jane than an Elizabeth (from Pride & Prejudice) and then called her Janie throughout the rest of the book. He’s just such a smart, caring, and nice guy, I found myself desperately wanting Paige to open her eyes up much sooner than she did, but she did wake up eventually.

There’s not much for me to add except: read this! It’s an eye opening book filled with a beautiful plot paired with some of the most memorable characters that I have managed to come across in YA throughout 2015. I also keep begging over and over for Max Watson to be real! Fingers crossed that there is still a chance of him existing.

four-half-stars

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