Posts Tagged: Teen

ARC Review: Fireworks

April 11, 2017 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★

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

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

two-stars

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ARC Review: Geekerella

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

ARC Review: GeekerellaGeekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale by Ashley Poston
Published by Quirk Books on April 4th 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: We Own the Night
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad's old costume), Elle's determined to win unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons before he was famous. Now they re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he's ever wanted, but the Starfieldfandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom."

Wow, this was a great book! I didn’t really like this author’s book We Own the Night, but decided to give this a shot because of the summary. I’m also a sucker for sweet contemporary reads and anything about geek culture. This wasn’t my absolute favorite, but it was still a book that I really enjoyed. It was also extremely fast paced. I was able to read it in just a few sittings. I look forward to reading whatever Ashley Poston decides to write next. I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to pick this one up. You should read it if you’re a fan of fairytale retellings, geeky things, and just cute and light contemporary stories.

Elle was a strong character all in all. She was sassy and I just adored so much about her personality. I definitely related to her geeky side. I also understand her taking refuge in the internet instead of in the outside world. She was just an entirely relatable character. However, I desperately wanted her to stand up for herself. I get that the author was staying close to the original Cinderella story in this respect, but it was still frustrating, especially towards the end. I didn’t understand why she continually allowed her stepmother to treat her like trash when she had basically no reason to live with her. Maybe I’m making too much out of this, but it bothered me quite a bit.

Darian was a decent character. He might have been a big star who just landed a huge role, but he certainly didn’t always act like it. Though he comes off as a jerk to Elle, we learn that there’s a lot more to him. He actually turns out to be a complicated character. Becoming famous has caused him to lose all of his friends and he doesn’t know who to trust. His dad is also his manager, and isn’t much of a dad to him since he’s too concerned with his career. His problems might not be as rough as Elle’s, but he’s still got them for sure. Anyway, I thought he was sweet and swoony. He was a total geek fanboy before he became famous. He’s just as obsessed with Starfield as Elle is, and it was his dream role to play Carmindor. I thought that he was a great book boyfriend. He wasn’t perfect, but I still liked him a lot!

Darian and Elle made a sweet couple. Some people might be bothered that the majority of their interactions take place through text messages. They don’t meet each at the convention until the end of the book. When they do meet, they don’t know they’ve been talking and they don’t get along right away. That being said, I still found the relationship that they built over text to be adorable. It felt very real and sweet, there’s really no better words to describe it. We don’t get a lot of kissing scenes obviously, but I still thought the relationship was well written for the most part. It might not work for some people, but I thought it was great!

Geekerella was a refreshing and unique modern take on the classic tale. I thought that the fangirl angle was so relevant. Elle was a fabulous main character. The supporting characters were memorable as well, specifically her fairy godmother Sage. She was so hilarious and charming all around. Do you guys think I’ve used the word sweet enough in my review? That’s truly the best word I can think of to describe this book. It’s not perfect, but it’s still really great. I think readers are going to find it to be a compelling and charming read! I hope that you guys give it a chance.

four-stars

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What Light Review

December 15, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

What Light ReviewWhat Light by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill on October 18th 2016
Pages: 251
Source: Library
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three-stars
From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . . Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 
Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.
By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.
What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

Surprisingly, I honestly don’t have all that many thoughts about What Light. I’ve previously read one Jay Asher book, Thirteen Reasons Why, and that quickly became one of my favorite books after I first read it. This book simply isn’t one of my favorites. I believe that it’s a cute, light, and short contemporary read, but it’s truthfully not anything all that special. If you’re looking for a sweet contemporary and not something that will make you think deeply about the world like Thirteen Reasons Why, then I think that you’ll likely enjoy Jay Asher’s latest.

To tell you guys the truth, I didn’t feel like Sierra was that memorable of a protagonist. I actually had to look at the synopsis just to remember her name. She was a sweet teenage girl who I was able to relate to on some levels, but not enough that her character actually stuck with me long after I finished reading the book. I did respect that she was so sure about what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to fight for it, even with the people closest to her didn’t approve of it.

The love interest, Caleb, wasn’t particularly memorable or unique either. Though I will admit that I did remember his name without looking it up. Sierra has heard some pretty vicious rumors about Caleb’s past that continues to haunt him today. I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it actually was. Yes, it was sort of serious, but not really once you knew all of the context surrounding the incident. And once you also take into consideration the fact that the person involved in the incident has no bitterness towards him at all. I just felt like it was a little dramatic and unrealistic how the rumor would get blown out of proportion and continually change how people see him. My favorite part about Caleb was definitely how he bought Christmas trees to give to people in need. I thought that this was such a selfless and swoony thing to do and I really liked him for it.

So the romance between them was basically insta-love. The relationship just in general moved at a ridiculously fast pace since they only have a bit less than a month to get to know each other. As you can probably already tell, it wasn’t my favorite. I did think that it did portray some aspects of what it means to fall in love for the first time in an accurate way. Although I’m being pretty critical about it, I will say that I still found the romance to be rather adorable. I especially loved how they bonded over delivering the trees that Caleb buys for families who need it together. It was a sweet bonding moment that helped the relationship progress and grow in a realistic way.

Although I’ve been pretty open about the things that I wasn’t a fan of, there was certainly just as many things that I enjoyed. I loved that it took place on a Christmas tree farm. I thought that was a unique and cool setting, making this the perfect read around the Holiday’s. Though I thought that the book probably could have been a little longer for more character and plot development, I still liked that the length made it so you could devour it in a short amount of time. This was the lighthearted contemporary read that I really needed right now and I’m happy that I read it!

three-stars

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ARC Review: This Is Our Story

November 14, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

ARC Review: This Is Our StoryThis Is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 15th 2016
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

The concept for this one seemed intriguing to me so it’s been on my radar for awhile now. Once the early rave reviews started coming in, I decided that I had to put this at the top of my TBR list so I instantly started reading it. It turned out to be just as interesting and well written as I was expecting. I’m always a fan of YA thrillers, and this one wasn’t disappointing to me. I’ve read quite a bit of books in this genre plus I watch too much TV, so I didn’t find the twist to be all that surprising, but it wasn’t extremely predictable either. My point here is, this book was just as great as I was hoping it would be. The writing had a unique style to it that drew me in from page one. I’ve never read anything from Ashley Elston before but she’ll certainly be an author to watch for me in the future.

Kate was a rad character. She was ridiculously smart and perceptive. Let’s be real, if it was me this was happening to, I’m not sure I would have picked up on all the things that this girl managed to do. She was determined to get to the bottom to what happened out in the woods, and she didn’t let anything or anyone stop her from accomplishing just that. Kate was a cool and collected character, that’s for sure. She was a strong MC and I think that reads will really be able to connect with her.

Usually I talk about the romance at this point in my reviews, and this book does have quite a bit of romance in between the main plot. However, I don’t want to talk too much about it since I’m afraid that it might be a slight spoiler. It seems like other early reviews that I’ve read have left any names out, so I’ll do the same. I will say that there are some swoony boys, and just leave it at that. The romance truly isn’t the main thing since Kate has a lot of other things to worry about, but it’s a nice break from all the action when it does happen.

The writing style is a unique and fascinating one. The first narrator is unknown to us, and those are fairly short chapters that talk in a little bit more detail about what went down in the woods from a mysterious POV. Our narrator the rest of the time is Kate in first person. I felt like the second narrator really gave us some perspective on what was going on inside the boy’s head after the death of their friend while they were all out hunting. As the book progresses, we learn more and more about who this person is.

This was one of those books that I just had to read in one sitting. I’m not going to lie, I have a bad habit of skipping to the end of books just to see how everything ends up. I was tempted multiple times to do that here, but I’m glad that I was able to resist that temptation and just read it for myself. It was a well written novel that sucked me in instantly. I can’t recommend it enough to readers who love a good YA thriller that has strong characters that you will fall in love with immediately.

four-stars

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ARC Review: How to Make Out

September 8, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0

ARC Review: How to Make OutHow to Make Out by Brianna Shrum
Published by Sky Pony Press on September 6th 2016
Pages: 284
Source: Edelweiss
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one-star

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

Negative reviews are never fun to write, and I unfortunately had to write several of those for early September releases. I was really looking forward to this one based on the title alone. It seemed like a cute light contemporary read, but sadly it lacked quite a few crucial components. The majority of the book was so unrealistic. Renley was pretty difficult to relate to because of some of her choices. The teen problems were extremely cliche. How to Make Out basically followed a YA formula and wasn’t a unique story. I recommend skipping out on this if you’re looking for a more original book.

So the main character Renley decides that she’s going to be a how to blogger and make money from answering everyone’s questions. I don’t understand how she can possibly make ANY money when she just started blogging. There’s also another issue of the fact that it happens to be popular at her school, but how could they just happen to stumble upon her blog when the internet is such a huge place? None of it made any sense to me. It would make more sense if she was somehow writing for like a local newspaper blog or something like that. I was hoping that I’d be able to relate to Renley because of the blogging thing, but I was left scratching my head over how the heck she was able to make enough money to go to New York City through blogging.

The romance was ridiculously predictable. She has a manwhore best friend who lives next door who is “in love with her” and she basically leads him on all the time by sleeping in bed with him. However, she actually likes the most popular guy in school, who she ends up dating, but it’s obvious who she actually is going to end up with. I didn’t like Renley because it seemed like she was straight up cruel to Nick. She knows that he’s in love with her but she doesn’t love him like that but she leads him on to the point where she asks him to help her make out so she can use it on the guy she actually likes. Does anyone else think that is seriously messed up? Nick wasn’t much better since he was constantly talking about hooking up with other girls, so it wasn’t all that obvious that he was actually in love with Renley, despite him saying it every other line.

I brought it up earlier that this book follows a sort of formula instead of being original, so I’ll talk about that a little more, but try not to rant. So we have the nerdy girl who finds a way to popularity, even if it is in an unrealistic way. She has a crush on the most popular boy in school who randomly notices her. The boy has a girlfriend who is the mean most popular girl in school, but he ends up dumping her for Renley. As already mentioned, her best friend/neighbor is not so secretly in love with her. Her popularity ends up blowing up in her face and she loses friends as well as the perfect boyfriend. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

I could continue to rant about this book, but I’m not going to do that. I had read reviews that were also mostly negative and focused on how unrealistic the blogging part of it is. I decided to give this book a shot anyway because the description was interesting enough and it seemed right up my alley. Unfortunately, I wish that I would have gone with a different book. I recommend trying a different contemporary romance book instead of this one.

one-star

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ARC Review: As I Descended

September 7, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★½

ARC Review: As I DescendedAs I Descended by Robin Talley
Published by HarperTeen on September 6th 2016
Pages: 384
Source: Edelweiss
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two-half-stars

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.

So this book honestly isn’t awful, the genre just isn’t really my cup of tea in the first place, so it’s not all that surprising that it didn’t work for me. This was still a relatively fast paced novel with solid LGBT representation. I think that other readers will likely respond to it a lot more positively than I did. I’m so used to reading contemporary books that it’s hard for me to get into the paranormal/horror mindset. Meaning, I still have a habit of thinking in terms of how realistic something is, when obviously that’s not important in this genre. It was a good read, but not a great one. In the end, I believe that I truly don’t have that much to say about it.

A huge reason why I was unable to connect with this book is because of the characters. I get it, this is a Macbeth retelling and those characters aren’t exactly likable either. However, at the same time, I still found myself hoping that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth would get away with everything, I was still completely invested in the story. In this case, I absolutely wanted the characters to get in trouble for their actions because I never cared about either Lily or Maria. I was also confused about their personalities, Lily seemed to be the determined Lady Macbeth character in the beginning, but all of a sudden Maria becomes the strong one? I definitely didn’t know what was going on there.

The only characters I really liked were Brandon and Mateo. I wanted more of them! So basically, I wanted them to be the main characters and Lily and Maria to get caught early on in the book. They were both fabulous and entertaining characters. They were obviously my favorite couple in the book. View Spoiler »

As I’ve made pretty clear in my past reviews, romance in a book is important to me. Basically the main reason I read this was because the description basically promised a power lesbian couple who were already together! I’ve hardly read any LGBT books (specifically f/f) where the couple got together before the book even started. It’s safe to say that I was disappointed to find that there’s little to romance in this one at all. I get that the action is clearly more important and there wasn’t much in Macbeth either, but it was still not what I was personally expecting.

As I said earlier, I was really glad to see all this LGBT representation. Lily is a lesbian and Maria is bisexual. As I already implied, Brandon and Mateo are also gay characters. There’s also diversity with Mateo and Maria. There’s also disability representation with Lily. She was in an accident and can’t walk totally on her own, she has to use crutches. So yes, the representation was present, but I wasn’t all that happy with how it actually portrayed. View Spoiler »

As a whole, this was a book that was easy to read and everything, it just wasn’t my favorite. I wanted to be more invested in the characters and the plot in general. I’m not saying that every character has to be 100% likable, but as a reader, I need to at least WANT the characters to wind up happy at the end of the story. At the beginning of the review, I said that I didn’t have to say about this book, I guess I was wrong! I ended up having quite a lot to say. So to sum it up, if you’re a fan of paranormal/horror books, you’ll probably like this one.

two-half-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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ARC Review: You Before Anyone Else

August 16, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 0 ★★★

ARC Review: You Before Anyone ElseYou Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross, Mark Perini
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 400
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1)
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.
New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.
Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

This was a pretty cute contemporary read that I was able to read in just one sitting. Though not my favorite, I still enjoyed this book for the most part. I feel like the characters and the general plot wasn’t all that unique, but it was still a fun read. My standards were ridiculously high going in since I’ve absolutely adored Julie Cross’s books Whatever Life Throws at You and Third Degree. You Before Anyone Else doesn’t quite beat either of those works, but that’s probably not the most fair comparison anyway. I recommend this one if you’re looking for a YA book that is extremely fast paced and a pretty solid romance as well.

Honestly, I’m not completely sure how I feel about the plot. I think that more YA books should certainly explore the modeling and fashion industry. However, it seemed like too much was happening in the plot so there wasn’t much time to really go into more details about the industry and how it can personally affect those involved in different ways. I will admit that I didn’t guess the big secret that Eddie was keeping from Finley. I thought that the authors were mostly able to handle the twist in a well done fashion. Anyway, I’m glad that things like fashion shoots were explored in this story, I honestly haven’t read many (if any really) YA books that do.

Finley wasn’t a bad character or anything, but she wasn’t overly memorable either. I really did sympathize with her over the loss of her mother, and also having issues with dancing again. I had a lot of respect for her due to how she had to immediately grow up and help her father raise her little twin brothers. That being said, she was an extremely mature character and I totally enjoyed that about her. I also respected her for being able to communicate with Eddie when she discovers his secret, most girls would have likely ran in the other direction when they find something like that out. I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite female character, but she’s still a character that I was able to somewhat identify with and have a lot of respect for too.

Eddie was a fairly solid character too, though I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite either. He didn’t really have that many specific swoony moments throughout the book, but he still had a great personality and it was obvious how much he cared for Finley from fairly early on. I thought it made the book even better to also include Eddie’s POV in the story. Sometimes I feel like switching back and forth between the two main characters isn’t always necessary to the plot, but in this case, it made an important impact since we were able to have more insight into what his secret might have been. Though in the end, that didn’t really help me all that much and I wasn’t able to guess the secret, but the POV worked nonetheless. I liked Eddie a lot, and I felt like he also was rather mature for his age, and I respected some of the grownup decisions that he made throughout the story.

Finley and Eddie’s romance itself wasn’t all that unique, but I still liked it, just didn’t completely love it. I wasn’t a fan of the total insta-love between them. On top of that, it seemed like the romance moved at a rather fast pace. In the end though, I did cheer for them as a couple and wanted them to receive a happy ending. My favorite scenes that showcased them as a couple were the ones when Eddie hangs out with Finley and her little brothers and also her dad. Her little brothers were the best and I loved how Eddie naturally interacted with them. So I’ve read that You Before Anyone Else is kind of a crossover between YA/NA, but I consider it mostly YA due to the fade to black sex scenes. I know that not all NA books have a ton of sex, but this one had sex scenes, they just weren’t descriptive. All in all, I found myself rather invested in the romance here.

While I wouldn’t say that this book was a huge standout for me, I still found it extremely interesting from the very first page. Finley and Eddie were pretty realistic and intriguing characters in my opinion. Additionally, I found the supporting characters hilarious and endearing too! I was expecting to truly love this book since Julie Cross is such an incredible author from what I’ve read so far, but unfortunately it was lacking some of the unique elements that the others contained. I do think you should read this since it’s a sweet and fascinating story that you could easily read in just one day!

three-stars

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ARC Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall

August 6, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 2 ★★★½

ARC Review: How to Keep Rolling After a FallHow to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo
Published by Swoon Reads on August 2nd 2016
Pages: 272
Source: Netgalley
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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three-half-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

After a cyber bullying incident turns her life upside down, a handsome wheelchair rugby player shows a former mean girl that everyone deserves a second chance.
The party was at her house. The photos were posted to her Facebook account. That's all the evidence anyone needed to condemn Nikki Baylor for a cyberbullying incident that humiliated a classmate and nearly resulted in the girl's suicide. Now Nikki's been expelled from her old school, her friends have abandoned her, and even her own parents can't look her in the eye. With her plans for the future all but destroyed, Nikki resigns herself to being the girl everyone hates - almost as much as she hates herself. But then Nikki meets Pax, a spirited wheelchair rugby player who knows what it's like when one mistake completely shatters your life. Refusing to judge her because of her past, he shows her that everyone deserves a second chance... and everyone deserves to be loved.

I absolutely adored Karole Cozzo’s debut novel How to Say I Love You Out Loud. I felt like that book did such a beautiful job at respectfully writing about a teen girl learning to balance fitting in at school with standing up for her brother who has autism. Anyway, Cozzo has written yet another well researched and fascinating novel about a relevant topic that teens should definitely be reading about. While I don’t believe that this was as great as her debut, this was still a well written novel that managed to keep me glued to my screen as I kept reading and reading.

So Nikki is a character that you’ll certainly have some serious mixed feelings about. On one hand, I think that the defining incident for her could have been avoided if she had done more. But it’s also startling to me that only Nikki suffered any consequences from it since her awful friends were the ones behind pretty much all of it. My point is, I don’t think that Nikki is a bad person in the slightest and it’s rough that so many people instantly judge her based on that one thing. Honestly, I’m not sure how realistic all the punishments and judgements actually are, but I’ll get to that later. While far from being a flawless character, she’s still an interesting and real one. There were various points in the story when I became extremely frustrated with her actions, like what are you thinking girl? As you can tell, she’s not my favorite character, but she’s not the worst either.

Pax is one of the main reasons why I loved this book, though he did have a few frustrating moments as well, but that’s another story. He was such a swoony book boyfriend and I loved his personality so much. Yes, he’s in a wheelchair over a stupid mistake that he made, and that’s why he’s able to instantly connect with Nikki. The best thing about Pax is that he doesn’t let his wheelchair stop him from doing anything. He almost always has a positive outlook on his situation and doesn’t let anything stop him from living a normal life. Though he might be super stubborn and push himself way too far at times, you still can’t help but respect his determination. What makes him so swoony is his acceptance of Nikki. He’s also so supportive and loving to her, he tries to help her make the best of her current situation the best way that he can.

The romance between them does have some insta-love to it, but there’s enough of a friendship built before anything romantic happens that it never really bothered me too much. So the chemistry between them is fairly obvious early on in the book, but Pax doesn’t want anything more than friendship because he’s afraid that he won’t be enough for Nikki. I felt like that was such a heartbreaking fear for Pax, but I also understand that he hasn’t had any kind of relationship since he’s been disabled and he knows that it won’t be as easy as it used to be for him. Though there is definitely some drama between them, I did still enjoy seeing them as a couple, though it would have been nice to have more pages dedicated to them being a happy couple together.

As I mentioned earlier, I did feel like Nikki getting expelled from her school for the horrible prank was a bit extreme. I’m not saying it’s right, but I’ve known kids who had naked pictures of girls and sent them to so many people and hardly were suspended. I get that the circumstances are obviously different since there was no consent given to take these pictures that were uploaded to Nikki’s account, but it still seemed a little far fetched. I also didn’t believe that literally everyone automatically knew who she was and shunned her for it. Another issue I had was how horrible her parents treated her. Look, I get that not all parents are like mine, but my parents would never treat me the way Nikki’s does. They obviously wouldn’t be proud of me for it, but they wouldn’t look at me in such a different light, and not be able to forgive me for this one mistake that they seem to not even know the whole story about. Meaning, I didn’t understand why her parents didn’t get that her old friends were just as guilty (or more so) as she was, or maybe they just didn’t care about it. The whole situation just ended up rubbing me the wrong way.

Though not a perfect book by any means, it’s still an entertaining but also meaningful book that I’m glad that I read. I feel like the subject matter is definitely an important one to read, I just had some issues with whether or not Nikki’s story was totally realistic and also with her parents in general. I did like the fact that she found a new friend at her brand new school, Sam was a fun and memorable supporting character who was one of my favorites! I don’t even want to talk about her old friends because they were just such awful mean girls. So basically, this wasn’t my favorite book, but it was still a solid one and I can’t wait to see what this great author writes next!

three-half-stars

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P.S. I Like You Review

July 26, 2016 Reviews, Young Adult 1 ★★★★★

P.S. I Like You ReviewP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Dahlia Adler
Also by this author: The Distance Between Us, The Fill-In Boyfriend, By Your Side
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.

It’s insane to me how each book that Kasie West writes gets better and better. If you’re a fan of quirky contemporary YA romances, you need to read something by Kasie. Though I adored The Fill-in Boyfriend, this might be my new favorite by her just because I was able to connect to these characters in a totally awesome way. This book has it all: friendship, family, awesome MC, cute romance, and cool plot. I honestly can’t recommend this book enough to you guys! Before I get into my review though, you should know that I am going to name the love interest. To be honest, it’s not that hard to figure out who it is, but still proceed with caution when I discuss the romance towards the end of my review.

So I related to Lily from the very first page. She may or may not now be one of my favorite MC’s ever. I loved how quirky and awkward she was. Most of all, I loved how she wasn’t afraid to be herself. She has a bit of an eccentric style and makes her own clothes. Lily isn’t the best at talking to boys, which is definitely one of the things about her that I instantly connected with. I’m pretty sure that so many others are able to relate to this awkwardness as well, talking to boys back in high school was always the worst. I also loved how passionate she was about music. Lily expresses herself through her song lyrics and playing her guitar. I loved how creative and awesome she is. Once she gets past her initial awkwardness, she’s truly a beautiful and hilarious person.

One of the best parts of this book was Lily’s family. Both her parents are happily married and relatively normal. They cracked me up with how they would have these competitions with food and make their kids pick what they liked better. Her little brothers were adorable and her old sister was hilarious and a fascinating character. In some ways, this family reminded me of the Garretts from My Life Next Door. Basically, it’s a flawed and very chaotic family but I want to be a member anyway. Sometimes I feel like YA books have a habit of only showing families that are totally messed up and only bring drama to the plot, so it was nice to see a crazy but loving and supportive family in P.S. I Like You.

Another great thing about this book was the friendship side of things. Yeah, I adored the romance, but I’m always a sucker for a solid friendship as well! Isabel and Lily have an unbreakable friendship. While they occasionally fight, they always find a way to get past whatever the issue is. I also loved how understanding Isabel was when it comes to Lily having to put her family first too. Meaning, sometimes Lily couldn’t go out somewhere because she had to babysit her little brothers and her best friend understood that. There is a tiny bit of drama involving a boy that temporarily comes between them, but don’t worry, it’s honestly not over the top and I loved how the situation was handled by Isabel. This is an incredible friendship between two very different girls who support each other no matter what.

Now we’ve reached the part in my review where I’m going to talk about the romance, so skip over this if you don’t want to see the name of the love interest. As most Kasie West romances manage to do, this romance brought up all the feels. I just loved how adorable the whole concept is. Let’s be real here, the concept of writing song lyrics on a desk and finding that someone added to it isn’t new, it was also in the book Faking Normal, but I loved it anyway. This was also different since they do end up graduating to writing each other full page letters, which was always entertaining to read. This novel portrays an incredible hate to love romance. This trope doesn’t always work for me, but Kasie managed to make it work with a natural ease. Once Lily discovers that her enemy Cade is the one writing the letters, she doesn’t know what to do. The Cade she sees in his letters is entirely different from the person he is in real life. Gradually, she starts hanging out with him more in person and getting a chance to see who he really is. If you can’t already tell, I absolutely loved this romance. I honestly don’t think it could have been written any better!

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for over a year now, and Kasie West didn’t disappoint. This is one book that I know I’ll want to reread again and again. It’s such a memorable and light read. Sure, it has some drama, but I felt like it was a realistic amount and never too much. If you’ve never read anything by this notable YA contemporary author, this is a great place to start. If you’ve loved her previous books, you’ll likely find a new favorite with P.S. I Like You. This book just hit shelves today, so be sure to go grab a copy!

*Big thanks to Dahlia Adler for sending me her ARC as a prize for Dahlia’s Book Club!*

five-stars

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