Reasons why The Hate You Give deserves zero hate and all the love (!!!)

Just a preface: I cannot express enough HOW AMAZING this book is. 

Hello everyone and I hope you guys are enjoying your weekend!! (I AM SO GRATEFUL YOU HAVE NO IDEA.)  I’m trying to be a bit more consistent with my schedule, going for around 2-3 posts for week, so here I am with a little* review (I’ve been reading so little books lately that I’m actually not behind for my reviews this month??) on the book I just finished last night, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas!

I have, like, a ton of pressure right now because this book has been SO HYPED for so long in the book community, and it deserves that hype so much I am really worried I won’t be able to do it justice haha. But I’ll try????

*HAHAHA understatement in case you didn’t notice… (Oops?)


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): Contemporary (Young-Adult)
Series Status: NA – Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Owned, hardcover, ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

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A story that is heartbreaking, hopeful and utterly REAL.

Most of you probably already know this, but THUG is inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which is SO IMPORTANT and I loved how Angie Thomas nailed this. It was never once preachy, but very firm in its message and altogether so perfectly pieced together you can’t help but feel the profound impact of what is not only happening in this book, but what is very much the reality for a lot of people. This book deals with SO MANY heavy (but so so crucial) topics like racism, white privilege and corrupt justice systems that allow police officers to get away with shooting an innocent man just because the officer is white and the victim is black. (UGHHHHHHH. *cries*)

A book like this, isn’t meant to be comforting, cute and happy. It’s meant to be real, and maybe that means you may be uncomfortable, but mostly you will be 100% overwhelmed with heartbreak and emotions. Yet, it is not meant to be a sob story. Not fully, anyway. Most of all, you find hope. Grief, anger and all those emotions are there too, but HOPE. One of the biggest things I felt after all of it, and it was just SO PRECIOUS.

DIVERSITY & FAMILY: YESSSSS!!

If you’re looking for a diverse read (obviously you are because diversity is the best thing ever and we need more of it always), THIS BOOK IS IT. It’s #ownvoices (*squeal*) and although I’m not black, I know many people who’ve praised and adored the rep in this book because of how spot-on it was. Seeing others being able to relate to Starr, in different areas, just goes on to show how important this book is, and it’s most definitely not exclusive to black people. It makes me so happy to see this promotion of diversity and marginalized voices because ahhhhhhhh it’s just so important and this book is definitely one of the best out there.

We’re moving into characters territory soon: THE FAMILY HERE IS SO AMAZING I CAN’T. I really really really want to see more of positive family relationships in books and this one was so, so, so perfect. I’m getting repetitive, I know. But seriously:

  • Starr and her mother’s relationship was SO GREAT, despite misunderstandings they both know they love eachother and her mother would do anything for her and just I’m falling in love with this book all over again
  • Starr’s dad was the most flawed dad I’ve seen in a long time and yet (or because of it) he was one of the best fathers I’ve seen, despite his flaws. He cares so much about Starr, but is so insecure at the same time because he missed a lot of her childhood when he was in jail. But he’d do just about anything to keep his family safe… AGH the feels. ❤
  • Starr’s older brother Seven was such a sweetheart and so brotherly !! I actually loved him so much, his love for his younger siblings (Starr’s half siblings) was so touching and heartbreaking.
  • Younger sibling Sekani was a little devious munchkin who never failed to make me smile ?! I’ve had to deal with my own likes of him in the form of my younger sister and it just was so great to read.

Other notes:

  • Starr has one of the bestest relationships ever with her parents and basically considers them her OTP and it is the most adorable thing ever because her parents are just that awesome
  • Despite everything that goes on, there is still fabulous banter and humour that has me smiling despite the tougher topics it deals with. That night in the living room debating over who’s going to win for basketball games which involve Starr’s mom teasingly depriving Starr of ice cream (I KNOW. So savage.) give me lifeee!
  • Uncle Carlos is absolutely amazing and no one can ever say otherwise haha. His love for Starr and her family is unreal and just so beautiful. (!!!)

Where all the characters shine on their own

This review is getting SO LONG, I’m sorry!! Almost done, I promise. But this review would be horribly incomplete if I did not mention how spectacular the characters are. Starr felt so real to me, her hopes, her grief, her struggles (facing against silence, injustice, and even just fitting in her two worlds), and never once did I stop rooting for her. What she’s been through was so heartbreaking to read, and I could feel each and everyone one of her emotions–side praise for awesome writing that makes you feel alllll the things. ❤

But even apart from Starr, although this is definitely first and foremost her story, never once did I feel the secondary characters weren’t just as important. Khalil, for one thing, was made so real in my head despite only showing up for a little bit of pages at the start before his untimely death. His memory lived on, and through that I got to know his character more and more and my heart just BREAKS. And Starr also happens to have female friends???! GASP. It’s something that should me so common I don’t blink yet it’s not? She has an Asian friend, Jess who is the absolute best. ❤ DeVante is a precious little child, as is CHRIS. I feel like he wasn’t developed as much, yet at the same time he totally was?? I loved the exploration of a healthy interracial relationship (Chris is white.) He was so supportive of Starr (when he rapped the theme song of Fresh Prince for Starr my heart melted) and although he was a tad naive in certain aspects of Starr’s life, she corrected him and he did his best. Can someone get me a Chris?


Okay, so…

basically if this book is not already on your immediate TBR, I don’t know what else to tell you.

This book has: amazing familial relationships (!!!!!) and friendships, [proper] diversity rep from an #ownvoices author, characters that feel so real that you’re basically BFFs, HOPE despite the darkness and heartbreak, and spreading awareness about the injustice of our society. Not your sweet, cute contemporaries, but one that is infinitely worth reading no matter what your preference is in books! Such an important read that will stay with me forever, a must-read for everyone. ❤

I hope you guys all enjoyed that review, I really am sorry for the length haha I just wanted to share every thought I had! Have you read this book? Do you plan to? (The only answer is yes at this point honestly. :P) Let me know in the comments!

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Friendships, Family, Food & Diversity | The Inexplicable Logic of My Life REVIEW

Hello and happy slightly-belated book birthday to this novel! I hope you’re all doing well. ❤ I wanted to have this review up yesterday when it was released, but unfortunately, life got in the way.

But anyway! It’s been a long time since I read something like this book. It was a really nice read. I finished it pretty quickly, as well, considering the fact that it had a very slow paced plot. But, despite the plot, what I loved most was the characters and how it focused on them. That was what made this book so wonderful to read. Although, the general consensus around this book according to other bloggers is that Aristotle and Dante was better–I can’t vouch for this, personally, as I have never read it, but if you have read Aristotle and Dante and loved it, your best bet is probably to go into this one with lowered expectations. Let’s just get into the full review, shall we?

Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC thanks to Netgalley for review purposes! ❤ All opinions are my own. Oh, and all quotes mentioned are retrieved from the ARC, and may be changed in the final copy. Just a sidenote! 

the-inexplicable-logic-of-my-lifeThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A–Stand Alone
Page Count: 464
Source & Format: Netgalley eARC

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover, the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?

This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

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There were actually multiple mentions of food and TACOS in this book as well… Aka I am very hungry right now.

Features an AMAZING fictional father

“He said, ‘Every time I look into your blue eyes. Every time I hear you laugh. Every day, when I hear your voice, I thank God for you. Yeah, Salvador, I believe in God.'”  

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Sal’s father, Vicente Silva, is one of the best fictional fathers I have ever seen. He was an amazing father who had such a deep bond with not only his son, but everyone around him, and that was so beautiful. He was there for Sal the whole time, for Sal’s best friend Sam, for their new friend Fito. He was there for each and every single one of them, offering them comfort and discipline. And love, my god, so much love. My heart hurts from how much I loved his love for everyone. He shows strength, in who he is, who he believes, what he does, in everything he does but still had fears and uncertainty just like every person. His and Sal’s and his and Sam’s moments were truly amazing, along with pretty much everyone else he met. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say he truly is a notable father–and a notable person–that deserves all the recognition it can get. Because fathers like these, in novels? A rare gem. 

“I happen to be gay. I don’t think that makes me a faggot. I’m also a Mexican American. I don’t think that makes me a taco bender. I don’t think that makes a beaner. I don’t think that makes me a spic. And I don’t think that makes me an illegal.” 

CAN SOMEONE GIVE THIS MAN AN AWARD PLEASE?

No romance, but lots of love.

Apologies to all romance lovers out there! No romance in this one, but that was one of its strong points. I’ve already mentioned before having more books with little to no romance and well, here’s this one! I think it’s really great what the author did here; not all teens find their soulmates in high school (ahem. Example: me), and focusing on aspects like love for family and friends, made this book refreshing and incredibly heartwarming. There was no shortage in love though; what this book lacked in romance, it more than made up for it with its focus on the love between Vicente and Sal, Sal and Mima, Sal and Sam’s platonic and wonderful friendship, Sal & Sam and Maggie, the dog, Sal, Sam and Fito, Sal and his uncle, and the list goes on and on. The family dynamics in Sal’s family was so beautiful, and I can not express how much I adored them. Family is SO important, and I loved the emphasis on that in this book. 

Speaking of non-romantic relationships; the friends in this book are actually #goals. Individually, my feelings on them vary, but Sal, Sam, and later Fito have such an adorable and supportive friendship that I adored. Sam and Sal’s friendship particularly stuck out to me; in them, I saw elements and phrases that I could either relate to with my own friends or just that I loved reading. And! They. Only. Stay. Friends!! NO I’M NOT JOKING. Yes, I’ve come to answer your prayers. Jk, but I’m a strong advocate for more female-male friendships, and this book featured one of the best ones I’ve read in a long time. Sam and Sal were so supportive of each other, so close and loving it made my heart hurt. Each of them had their own demons to battle, but they each had each other (among other people, of course) to push them to do so.

Sometimes family and friends are one of the best and biggest forms of love, and I loved how this book focused on those aspects of life. 

Other tasty aspects…

  • THE FOOD. This is the only one that actually makes sense in relation to the above statement. There were much tacos and tortillas and enchiladas and…. now I’m hungry. Help.
  • I didn’t get to mention my love for Fito!! Because I did love him. SO MUCH. He was so precious and did not deserve 90% of the things that happened to him. Probably one of my top favorite characters in this one, despite the fact that he isn’t exactly a main character until about halfway or something through the book.
  • Oh, I also should probably mention Sal, the main character! I did like him as well, he was SO sweet, and I loved the love he had for his family and Sam, and Fito. His relationship with his Mima was very nice as well, along with him and his father. ❤ Though, I did get exasperated with his anger-related issues at several points, it was okay.
  • Beautiful writing! It was simple but lyrical and it was lovely to read. I wouldn’t say I flew through the book because of it, but it did seem to make things seem less long, I think. Or maybe that was just me. Though, I will say, it’s kind of repetitive and the sentences can be pretty choppy. I don’t think this bothered me that much, but I know it can be a pet peeve for others aha.
  • I adored the diversity!! The book is filled with POC and queer characters, which I loved! Sal is white, but his adoptive father is Mexican, and Sal basically identifies as a Mexican and that was so precious.
I’m trying to make the headers a bit more related to my blog title!! I TRIED, OKAY. 😛
  •  Okay, so I mentioned I loved Sal and Sam’s friendship?? And I did, it was amazing. But Sam herself… eh, not as much. Sam’s development is great, however, I felt like her character the majority of the time tried too hard to not be like ‘other girls’. And that was annoying, because she ended up being a character who had no female friendships, instead calling them bitches, etc. *sad face* It was quite frustrating, really, because I really did want to enjoy her character more (she kind of shows up the entire novel, so like…)–and she had so much potential but… *sigh*
  • Things were too… similar for all three of the teens. Specifically in the mom department, which seemed all too… I don’t know. Unrealistic? Unlikely? I mean, I suppose it is possible but it seemed all too convenient and more of a plot device to have the characters have something in common that I could not 100% buy. #Justamethingprobabaly
  • Another thing that makes me quite.. conflicted, is the stereotypical and offensive statements in the novel. Things like “For a gay guy, my dad was pretty straight.” or “One thing about Sam was that she didn’t throw like a girl*.” and several other phrases. I just found them so unnecessary? Perhaps it was to show the naivety of the main character or something, I don’t know, but whatever the case may be, you could take those out and it would change nothing of the story, characters, theme, whatever. Nothing. It was just so unnecessary. 
    *Why is this still a thing?? Albeit in a fictional novel, but like still?
  • NO PLOT. And I know, it’s a character-driven novel, which is great, but like, 400+ pages is a lot to go through with a slow-paced plot. I do think you should be prepared for that, or else you’re going to be quite bored and disappointed with the plot. I mean, you might still be bored with the plot, but still, it’s not terrible, just it might be easier if you’re prepared with that info, haha.

Overall…

An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. Though from what I’ve seen, this is a lot of a hit-or-miss situation, most reviews I’ve seen have either given this book 4 stars, or 2. So. A lot of people have also expressed how this book does not live up to Aristotle and Dante, so if you have read that book, just a heads up! For me, personally, I have not yet read Ari and Dante, and I think that helped a bit if only to have more reasonable expectations aha. As a recap: I loved the focus on non-romantic love such as friends and family, the diversity, the FOOD of course, and especially Sal’s father. It truly was wonderful to read about that. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Sam’s, and there were phrases that were totally unnecessary, but overall, I do think it’s worth a read if you enjoy family dynamics, and character-driven novels. 


Wow, that was a long review! I tried out a slightly different format for my review today and I think it caused me to revert back to my rambling review days…

But tell me! What do you think of this novel? Have you read Ari and Dante yet? Did you like it? If you haven’t read it, tell me so I don’t feel so alone haha. 😛 What are your thoughts on problematic phrases in books? Any other books you know of with strong family dynamics and/or friendship and diversity? Do you plan on reading this book? Let me know in the comments, don’t let my frantic 2AM typing go in vain aha. Hope you have a lovely day! ❤

Mini Reviews Galore: YA Contemporary Edition!

Oh my gosh I MISSED YOU GUYS!! It’s been so long since I’ve posted. 😦 But I’m back for now, this time with something new on the blog, yay! So. You all know by now how terrible I am with keeping up with my reviews. Like, it’s not even possible to deny it at this point though I did try!  As an effort to share my thoughts on the books I’ve been reading lately, however, I’ve decided to march into unfamiliar territory (for me, at least) and, instead of writing individual, lengthy reviews of my recent reads, I shall write up several mini-reviews, all in one post! Yes, I know I’m a genius. And yes, I do realize this isn’t my idea and I am one in thousands of people who have done this but shhhhh let me have my moment. Anyway, I thought this would be a much better and faster way to get down my thoughts on my most recent reads while they’re still relatively clear in my mind instead of adding them to the rest of my never-ending review pile. 😉 Coincidentally, these books all have something in common; they’re all contemporary.. so that plays out nicely.

#Mini Reviews

Alright, let’s start with the first novel!


It's a Wonderful DeathIt’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J Schmitt

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Contemporary-ish, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 320
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who’s cuter than you’d expect; Hawaiian shirt–wearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

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You know those times where you just stumble upon a random book, attracted by the cover and/or synopsis, and then you’re just…totally blown away by how much you enjoy the book afterwards? Yeah, well, that’s the situation with It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt. Prior to reading it, really, the only thing I knew about this book is that I vaguely recall seeing it before, and that it was published in 2015. Now, after reading it, I’m almost speechless as to how to accurately describe this book. Note I say ‘almost’. (Erm, as a general rule of thumb and fact about me: I tend to have too much to say for that to ever happen…Just sayin.)

It's a wonderful death book review

“My life may have been short in time, but it was long in moments that mattered and in love. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?”

Pros

  • Omg, RJ… <3. Really, that’s all I can say. Jk, I have so much to say–Let’s just put it this way: She’s not a good, innocent and nice character. She’s snarky, and flawed–oh, SO FLAWED, and also, very selfish and did I mention not nice? Oh, but she’s witty and I loved her so much. RJ was so evidently flawed, so perfectly imperfect, that I couldn’t help but root for her.
  • Oh, and talk about good character development! RJ learned and developed so much throughout the novel, and I loved that–though at the same time I found it kind of hard to believe she could change that quickly. But oh well. It all turned out good in the end. She was such a great protagonist!
  • RJ’s not the only character who shines: the secondary characters, though perhaps not as fleshed out as RJ, still added SO MUCH to the story and made it so entertaining. I loved so many of the characters, even the antagonist (though I simultaneously hated the antagonist as well).
  • Truthfully, this book makes me wish for its world to exist in real life. It was just such a fun concept! The whole Grim Reaper thing, Death Himself, Saint Peter.. they all mostly had distinct personalities and were so interesting. The afterlife concept was so refreshing and so much fun. Needless to say, I loved the world!
  • THE ENDING TO THIS THOUGH. Gawsh. I literally died. Well, not literally, but still. I think at one point this book had me emotional enough to be near the state of shedding a tear..? Although maybe that was because of the fact that I couldn’t find my stash of chocolate and was immensely grieving.
  • But I digress. The ending to this, though emotionally frustrating, was oddly and ragingly perfect! It stayed so true to the book’s theme and morals-and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
  • Would you believe me if I said that this book has NO ROMANCE? (The correct answer is yes, btw. I AM ALL-KNOWING. Also I read the book. So.) Being one of the people who has come across little to no books without romance in them, this was quite the discovery for me. I was actually always kind of expecting there to be one, as I read the book? But there wasn’t, and let me tell you, it didn’t affect the book. If there was a romance, actually I think it would’ve detracted from the story, to be honest!
  • I kind of adore this cover? It just looks so aesthetically pleasing. YES THIS IS A VALID REASON shh.

Cons

  • Despite the fact that I really loved the characters in this book, I can’t help but feel some were too cardboard cutout. Apart from RJ and maybe a few other characters, not many of the secondary characters got as much development, which was kind of disappointing.
  • As much as I loved RJ, I felt at times her too, was a bit cardboard. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because there are so many characters that are similar to her? I don’t know. But I guess I’m just saying she wasn’t exactly an original character? (But I still liked her, so I’m kind of conflicted. But whatever.)
  • The story overall isn’t that fast paced and at times it seemed kind of predictable? This didn’t directly affect my entertainment because I was really into the story, but it’s something I noticed.

Overall…

It’s a Wonderful Death turned out to be a wonderful surprise! The humor and wit in this novel and the overall messages and theme stuck with me long after the pages stopped flipping, and I simply enjoyed reading it so much. A story of doing the right thing, second chances, and the meaning of a worthwhile life, I definitely recommend this book for those looking for a fresh world and a snarky protagonist. This book merged elements of contemporary and fantasy so well, and was filled with so much heart–you should definitely pick it up! I know I’m glad that I did.


A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 368
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut,Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

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I’ve never read anything by Cammie McGovern, though I’ve heard tons of great things about this and her other novel, Say What You Will. So when I saw this at the library the other day, I thought, why not? And although it was 100% flawless (not many books are, tbh, but the good ones are close :P) this book was still a good read–though I do wish it was more memorable!

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“Expectations are sad and complicated things.”

Ah, so true. Sadly I think I had a bit too high expectations for this one?

Pros

  • This story definitely had a good theme going on for it, and I loved the messages it gave! I also appreciated the little nod of diversity, as it included several characters with autism–we actually also get the perspective from one of them (Belinda). Although I wasn’t the biggest of Belinda for most of the story, admittedly, I did sympathize with her and liked her a lot more by the end.
  • Like I mentioned, we have several autistic characters, and characters with disabilities including Belinda, but I also liked the support in this book for the LGBT community. Speaking of which, I also really liked Emily’s friend, Richard! He was openly (or not openly, I’m not exactly sure tbh) gay and his friendship with Emily was nice to read.
  • Despite the number of pages in this book (360-ish), this book was a very quick read! I’m not exactly sure what to credit that to, but I guess it was a mix of the characters and the writing? Both made the novel very easy and interesting to read!
  • Like I briefly mentioned (or I might’ve not, I dunno), Cammie McGovern’s writing was really easy to get into! Even without the headings at the start of the chapter stating who the narrator was (either Emily or Belinda), it transitioned very smoothly and I was able to distinguish between the two. That’s not always easy to accomplish with dual narrators!

Cons

  • The main character, Emily was kind of bland and is easy to forget? Although I didn’t have any specific problem with her (in fact, as I mentioned, I did appreciate how some aspects of her character was kind of realisitic and well-written), it was the fact that she didn’t really make me compelled to follow her story.. she was just, okay.
  • Although the story overall was sweet and had its heart in the right place, I must admit I feel like it could’ve been better executed? Perhaps in a more memorable and powerful manner. I don’t know. I can’t seem to come up with many things that I remember strongly about this book despite having read it not-too long ago? I mean, my memory can be really bad, but it’s not that bad, you know? I just can’t come up with much. That’s probably not a good thing…
  • It’s so hard to review this, actually, because despite enjoying it when I read the book, I feel like there’s not much to say about it afterwards? Now, I feel more indifferent, I think, than I was before…? So I guess that counts as a negative thing. Honestly, I have no idea. Don’t listen to me I make no sense, ever.

Overall…

Enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. I think perhaps my expectations may have been set a bit too high? Possibly? Although I did enjoy reading the book and it hardly took much time to get through, the unfortunate fact that it isn’t as memorable afterwards definitely makes my rating go lower in terms of the critical aspect of things. This book did have some good diversity as well as shared a great theme about how important it is to speak up and help others, so I definitely won’t be putting this off as a valueless read. I definitely think, though, that this might stick out more to other readers? Maybe it was just me who felt like my while-reading and after-reading feelings changed drastically. Final verdict: recommend to readers who enjoy contemporary!


What We Left BehindWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselvescomes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love may not be enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They’re deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college—Toni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU—they’re sure they’ll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won’t understand Toni’s new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni’s shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide—have they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

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#DiverseBook, right here! Gosh, this book. Drove me crazy part of the time, but I ended up liking it. What We Left Behind is an LGBTQ+ novel, and guys, that part was great! There were many positive things to this book, however I have to say the characterization and the diversity represented has got to be my favorite part of the novel. But there is much more to be said, so… let’s get onto the full list!

What We Left Behind book review

Pros

  • So much sexual and racial diversity! We have Gretchen, decidedly into girls, and Toni, who at the start of the novel identifies as genderqueer and is into girls as well (though she spends most of the novel switching and trying to figure out her true sexual orientation). Oh, not to mention the secondary characters! What I loved about them was that they were all so realistic. When Toni and Gretchen make new friends at their respective universities, we have (if I’m not mistaken), an African-American, a Korean, and different ethnicities as well as sexualities all represented–without making it a big deal. Phew. Okay. That was a lot of rambling. Case in point: Robin Talley mastered the diversity in this novel! Moving on.
  • I loved Gretchen! I liked Toni by the end, and I did sympathize with her quite a bit, but I found Gretchen to be easier to root for as well as more likeable. I spent half the time so frustrated at Toni, which made it kind of hard to go through her POV–but I didn’t have much trouble with Gretchen. I felt so bad for her, and also admired her for being such a positive person overall.
  • Yay for friendship! Both Toni and Gretchen make several friends, and I loved seeing these relationships. Seeing such amazing friendships was just so positive and made the characters stronger and the overall story stronger too. It was also great to see how realistically the friendships were portrayed as well–they had fights and it wasn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, they all had eachother’s backs and I just felt like that was such a great message to send.
  • Another amazing thing was the many messages and positive themes touched on during the novel. Through the characters’ journeys, we see the different perspectives on how being trans/genderqueer/any-other-sexual-orientation can affect your life and the lives of the people around you. How important it is to figure out who you are without hurting others. Through Toni and Gretchen, we see how difficult it is for some people to truly figure out who they are, and the pressure and difficulties that distance can cause for a relationship. All this and more was explored and I loved What You Left Behind for that so much!

Cons

  • Like I mentioned, I liked Toni, but I wasn’t always her biggest fan. It was actually kind of hard to get through her POV at times because I was just so frustrated with her? I can’t exactly say whether it’s a “me, not you” issue or the other way around–I mean, I sympathized with her, but at the same time I didn’t? So that was difficult. But I did appreciate her character and sympathized with her struggles. I know it must not have been easy, but I just felt she could’ve gone at everything a bit differently?
  • The plot… well, I found it difficult to exactly pinpoint the storyline most of the time. I mean, it’s not that it was boring–the characters keep it interesting–but the plot wasn’t very directed towards anything. It felt kind of freelance, kind of like the story was finding its direction as it went along. Nothing wrong with that, except it was kind of hard to get into it at times and be swept into the story. At times.
  • I feel like I’m missing something.. but I can’t figure out what it is? Oh well.

Overall…

What We Left Behind is a thought-provoking and wonderfully sexually diverse novel that will make readers reflect on what is truly is like to discover who we are and coping with the many difficulties that comes with both long-distance relationships as well as being who you are. Through the many characters and Toni and Gretchen, we see all this and more, making What You Left Behind a perfect read for those looking for a slower-paced, character-driven contemporary about sexuality and discovering who you are. A good read, for sure! Definitely recommend for people who are into contemporary. ❤


Tell Me Three ThingsTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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This book has LITERALLY been getting SO MUCH pre-release buzz. No joke. At first I thought it was only me who kept seeing this book at every turn on the blogosphere, but nope, this book actually has been getting a lot of hype. So naturally, I was curious! And I decided to pick it up. Aaaaaannndd… I adored it. Probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone? But seriously, this book is actually REALLY good. And of course I shall tell you why!

Tell Me Three Things book review

“You know what I heart? Nutella. And pajama pants. And an awesomesauce book. Not necessarily in that order, but together.”

(ERM YESSS! One of the many reasons I adored Jessie…not even sorry. She is fabulous.)

Pros

Okay, well I guess it would only make sense to start off with three things! Har har I’m so funny. Not.

1) I freaking love this book. But I think I already told you that. So I shall tell you why–IT WAS FABULOUS. In basically every way. The characters, the plot, the writing. I fell in love with it all!

  • For one, Jessie was SO AMAZING. Honestly. I loved her as a protagonist so much! It was so easy to relate to her personality, she had a great sense of humour and she came off as so real, to me. She wasn’t a cardboard cutout, wasn’t one-dimensional. She had flaws, she occasionally made some huge mistakes, and she wasn’t perfect. Which is why, naturally, she was perfect!
  • Although this book placed a lot of effort in building characters and relationships and everything, the plot was quite hooking, despite being perhaps completely ordinary at first glance. I really loved the whole concept of internet friendship, and all the things that went down, Jessie and her stepbrother bonding (and clashing), the stepmother, Jessie and her father, everything.
  • Eeeee, the writing!! Nothing that unusual, written in a conversational tone that was both witty and simple at the same time. I especially loved how the writing reflected Jessie’s character–just like it should be. Not to mention I gobbled up the bits and pieces of Jessie and SN’s email/IM conversations. I lived for those, honestly.

2) I could not, for the sake of anything, put down this book. Thank god it was a Friday night when I started this book, because otherwise I would’ve been screwed the next day! XD But seriously. This book was so addicting. I can’t even exactly explain why? It just was.

3) This ain’t no fluffy contemporary. Trust me, I love those, but this was so unique, so real and deep and insightful. And to find a book like this one, with so many other amazing things, was just… ❤

Cons

  • Okay, so this isn’t directly a negative thing, just maybe something to keep in mind.. The storyline is kind of predictable? I was able to guess the ending waaaaayyyy before it happened, however it was still entertaining to see it all play out! What was frustrating is that it took SUCH a long time for Jessie to figure it out… sigh. What to do though, I still love her!
  • Erm. Nothing else tbh.
  • OH! Wait, there’s one thing; despite the fact that all the characters in this are extremely well-developed, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how.. (I forget her name…) was so.. one-dimensional. She was just the mean girl. Period. And that’s fine, but… still. Deja vu, from, like, literally every book and movie in existence. So.

Overall…

Tell Me Three Things is an absolute must-read for any contemporary reader, and even for readers who don’t dabble often in contemporary! It’s just such a cute and sweet story while still being meaningful and a really heart-felt story. Jessie’s character will no doubt make you smile, despite the frustration you may also feel at her occasional naievty. She is definitely one of my favourite protagonists from contemporary novels, I think. I also really loved the whole concept of this book! It’s a super quick read and I definitely recommend. GO READ IT, Y’ALL.


OneOne by Sarah Crossan

Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

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When I first heard of this book, back in 2015, I immediately put it to my TBR once I heard of what it’s about–conjoined twins. Not only had I never read a book dealing with this topic, it seemed so intriguing and so emotional. And it was. So emotional and so incredible. Not only was the topic dealt with finesse (the author did her research and I am so so happy for that), this book resonated with me SO MUCH and the writing was absolutely beautiful. It was written in verses, some kind of poetic thing? I know nothing about poetry (NOTHING, I tell you) but this was so amazing. But anyway, I’m rambling. Here is a list of all my thoughts, pretty much.

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Here
We Are.

And we are living.

Isn’t that amazing?

How we manage
to be
at all.

(Literally how the book starts off, and how it’s basically formatted for the whole book. Surprised? Well, let me tell you: it works!)

Pros

  • The WRITING, omg. Let’s just get this cleared up: I am the absolute worst, or one of the worst, when it comes to writing or deciphering poetry. I mean, I dabbled in some, for school and stuff, but that’s it. So when I was flipping through the book and saw the formatting of the words, and only verses, I was a bit wary as to whether I’d like it. And gosh. I need not have worried! IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL and it worked. So much. It was perfect, actually. I flew through it!
  • Tippi and Graceeeeee!! I sympathized so much. It was so difficult for them? Having to deal on a daily basis the fact that they were different from everyone else, and the problems them being conjoined twins caused, etc etc. I loved both their characters quite a bit, and really enjoyed reading from Grace’s POV (though I wouldn’t have minded Tippi’s). They were both so different yet worked so well together and aghhhh the sibling love. ❤
  • I loved reading about Grace and Tippi’s family as well– they all went through so much, and despite the times where I might’ve not liked a certain character (the dad, if you were curious), it all made so much sense in the end and I loved seeing the family dynamics, no matter how imperfect they were. (Both parents got laid off work, I believe, the dad was an alcoholic, Tippi and Grace’s younger sister Dragon had to work extra for cash and was anorexic, etc etc.)
  • THE ENDING. Agh. My hearttttttt. It made me so sad yet at the same time I just felt like it captured perfectly how precious life can be, and how it can be so unfair and so cruel yet.. the opposite of that too. Omg. I’m still not over the ending…despite how perfect it may have been for the story!

Cons

  • The plot may have been mildly predictable?? Like, I wasn’t able to predict things exactly, but I had the general idea of how the story would go before it happened (and I was right). So. This wasn’t necessarily a REALLY bad thing, but… (*that awkward moment where you don’t want to admit that a book you really loved had a flaw*)
  • Despite the fact that the romance was oh-so-fabulous and all the more adorable, I.. dunno, just wasn’t as into it as I’d thought? I mean, while reading it was fine, but now, reflecting back on it, it was more… meh. *shrugs* But whatever. It wasn’t the whole point of the story?

Overall…

You really really really really really really should read this book, if only to talk to me later about what you think of it!! Because that is important–I loved this book, and I would love even more to see what others think of it. ‘Cause seriously, this book has so much going for it, and overall felt very unique in terms of concept and writing. I also don’t doubt that this will put a lot of readers in quite the emotional state by the end! Ahhh my heart is still attempting to heal. Just kidding but not really. So basically: you must read this! 


*breathes* Glad that’s over! Jk, I had lots of fun rambling my thoughts on these books. But wow, that’s a lot of words! So much I bet you guys didn’t read half of them, hmm? Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. I spewed nonsense 95% of the time in this post. Except for the 5% where I actually give you info on what these books are actually like–which is basically, amazing! Seriously, I know I probably rendered the whole use of 4 stars and 4.5 stars meaningless by how much I used them today, but hey. What can I say? I really loved these books. (Read: which means you must read them too so we can flail over how amazing they are. Ahem.) But now, let me know your thoughts! Which of these books have you read? Which piques your interests the most? TELL ME so I can squeal at you all some more about how much you HAVE to read these books. Let us discuss!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul | ARC Book Review

This book drove me crazy. (Get it? Drove me crazy? Okay I’ll stop.) But seriously. I had many conflicting emotions on this one, to be honest, but at the end of the day I went home happy and satisfied! So. That’s good. I won’t be raging and setting things on fire anytime soon, at least. And there were, in fact, many good things about this novel! A book focusing on themes of family, relationships, trust and the effects life can have on us, this debut is definitely one I don’t regret picking up. But let’s go into more detail, shall we?

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

3 Stars

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 336 (in paperback)
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

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I’m gonna take the more fitting and more convenient route for this review and give you guys a list of things that I liked, and the things that drove me crazy.. or the things I disliked. (Come on, you knew I couldn’t pass that up!) You’re welcome. Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

My Kind of Crazy book review

What I Liked

  • Can I just say I kind of love Hank? I felt so bad for him and his situation at home, the fact that he has to cope with his usually drunk father who makes it clear he doesn’t care about him. His portrayal was just so heartfelt to me and it was so easy to sympathize and root for him–even when he doesn’t make the best of choices. Hey, it’s only a matter of being human, right? I couldn’t really fault him for that.
  • The theme of broken families was clearly running for this book! And as unfortunate as it was for the characters having to deal with such bad home lives, I really appreciated the insight this offered. Both Hank and Peyton had to deal with not-the-best home lives, and throughout the story we saw as to how much this affected their daily lives and their characters–which I really loved.
  • YES for humour! This book, whatever else it may be, was fun to read. Despite the tones of seriousness and the parts of deep messages, this book had several bouts of humour and its overall style was very conversational and relaxed, which I liked. The dialogue was relatively witty, and the characters too, made it lots of fun.
  • My Kind of Crazy turned out to be a refreshing contemporary with familiar elements, which I liked well enough! It wasn’t something I’d be able to say I read before, but there were definitely parts to it which I recognize from other books. I still really liked the execution of the story as well as the messages it promoted!

What I Disliked

  • I had lots of ups and downs moments with Peyton. And seeing how she’s one of the main characters, well, the down moments didn’t exactly help with the enjoyment factor. One of the things that bothered me was her attitude and personality. While I found her character intriguing enough, I was put off by the various times she just didn’t seem like a 17/18 year-old. She just seemed so much younger and although I’m usually pretty good with dealing with that kind of thing, it was just so bothersome in this novel. :/ Though, at least in the end I was still able to care about her, even a little.
  • As much as I loved Hank for his realistic characteristics and everything, I must admit it kind of drove me nuts when he was being so blind to the things that were so obvious. Now, this is totally subjective and really no one is at fault here, but having characters constantly be blind to the things that are so blatantly evident gets tiring after a while. Sorry, Hank, that wasn’t the best. I still like you, though. XD
  • Despite the easy to read and enjoyable writing featured in this book, I found the pacing of the story to be.. kind of off? It was very hard to follow sometimes, in my opinion. Sometimes it felt really fast, other times really slow… it just threw me off, I guess.

Overall…

My Kind of Crazy was in no way a bad read! It was easy to get through, and was an enjoyable experience. I really did enjoy the messages and themes it represented, as well as most of the characters–especially Hank. I was really able to get behind him as a protagonist and rooted for him; he was so relatable and I found him to be very realisitc. So yay! On the other hand, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his love interest, Peyton, all the time. In the end, she was fine, but I didn’t exactly love her, which made the enjoyment factor go down a bit for me. Despite that, I strongly believe My Kind of Crazy is a great fit for people looking for humorous contemporaries with great messages and heartfelt characters. It’s a fun read and I definitely recommend if you’re a fan of contemporaries! My Kind of Crazy released 6 days ago, on April 5th, 2016. Go pick it up if you’re interested! 🙂


Alright, so that’s it for this review! It’s been such a long time since I wrote one, lol. Hopefully it will be followed by more! I’m currently still recovering from the amazing novel, The Sky is Everywhere which I started and finished today. Hopefully I’ll be able to make out some coherent thoughts on it! But anyway. Tell me your thoughts on this book! Would you like to read it? What humorous contemporaries have you read? Feel free to leave any and all thoughts below!

Hope you’re all enjoying your Monday! ❤

Until the Next Meal, Analee

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | ARC Book Review

Okay, so.. basically my immediate thought is that this cover deserves 5 STARS?! Just look at it. I wouldn’t mind having this on my shelf, you know. Just sayin’.

But lucky for me—and you, if you’re as swayed by the cover as I am—this book doesn’t just look pretty! Despite the difficulties I had at first to get into it, this book absolutely blew me away with its realistic, and complex characters, through various mediums of writing included, and its simple but truly entertaining storyline. Here’s what this book is all about:

You Were HereYou Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 267
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 4 stars (Really Good)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view – combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them—and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” —Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

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Ahhh, so much to say here! I’ll be writing out this review in list form, between the things I loved and the things that I didn’t love so much. No spoilers, as usual, but if you’d rather just have the more vague and simple version of how I felt on this book, the ‘overall’ part would be good for you. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

You Were Here book review

Things I Loved

  • Omg so many amazing 3-dimensional characters. I LOVED THEM. Gah. At first it took me a while to warm up to them?? (You know me, I can be an incredibly paranoid-of-disappointment and unemotional chocolate bar at times. I know, I know, I’m working on it.) But anyway, I loved them all by the end of it—some more than others. We get all their POVs in this book (though two out of five of them aren’t exactly in the most conventional way). Because I’m a very helpful minion, here’s a little rundown of what I loved of each of the main(ish) characters.
    • Jaycee: The protagonist of the novel, Jaycee was a blunt, reckless, flawed and oh-so-imperfectly perfect character! There were so many times where I went shaking my head and crying out in exasperation at her thoughts and actions, yet I found myself really emotionally drawn to her throughout the story.
    • Natalie: Jaycee’s former best friend, Natalie wasn’t that much of a big deal to me at first. She just seemed like a super bossy and uptight teen that I didn’t care that much about. But as I read more of the story, she developed so much more and she proved to be a strong and well-written character.
    • Jake: Like Natalie, I didn’t think much of him at first. He seemed kind of like the comic relief, and nothing else? But he too, went through so much development! As I continued to read the story, I saw more of who he truly was, layers that I was able to keep peeling away, which was AWESOME.
    • Bishop: The thing with Bishop, is that while we get his POV, it’s different because it’s not exactly his thoughts we see, as text. Bishop is a fan of graffiti, and throughout the book we get several of the things he graffiti-ed. The idea as a whole was great, but I didn’t get as much of a grasp on his character.
    • Mik(ivikious): Okay, so first of all: I LOVE THE NAME. (It’s a nickname, off his last name.) And I really did enjoy his character, so yay! His perspective was drawn out as comic strips (which was fabulous), though his character was revealed more through the plot and the other characters.
  • The multiple POVs in this book were so absolutely delightful to read. As I mentioned, we get the perspectives of all the above characters, though Bishop and Mik’s POVs were not like the others. Jaycee’s perspective was the only one in first person; Natalie’s and Jake’s were in third person. I absolutely loved how it all played out! Everything transitioned so perfectly and the multiple POVs weren’t confusing and instead helped give insight on the many characters of this book.
  • This book had so many amazing themes. Like, seriously. From grief to friendships to change and familial relationships, You Were Here handled it all seamlessly and it was so great to read about such lovely themes. I especially liked:
    • Jaycee and Natalie’s friendship. At the start of the book, they’ve drifted apart to the point where they hardly speak, but through the events of the novel, their bond and the way they interact as they become a part of eachother’s lives was so great to read about.
    • And so many other great themes! Sorry I’m lazy.
  • The descriptions. Many (if not all) of the places the characters visited in this book are actually real places, I’ve found, and it was so cool to have such a clear picture of said place as I read the book. And yes, afterwards I did search up some of the places. Ahhh my wanderlust kicked in there! Though seriously, it was super cool.
  • Ummmm I feel like I’m missing something, ugh. I dunno. But these were definitely the high points!

Things That Disappointed Me

  • At times I felt as if the whole theme of the book kind of distracted by the romance? Yet the romance wasn’t the focus either. And it was still a good experience? But maybe it could’ve better if the romance part wasn’t the total focus. Maybe? Possibly? Soooo. Confusion ensues here.
  • Despite all the awesome-sauce feelings I had while reading this book, I find myself unable to get a clear, memorable picture of it in my head, despite having read it only a few months ago? I dunno. Maybe it’s a ME problem, and not the book, but.. I feel like I should be able to remember it more fondly and more clearly than I do right now?? Interpret that as you wish, lol, I know that made no sense.

Overall…

Entertainment-wise, this book is absolutely fabulous! Although it took me a while to warm up to it and finish it, as I went further into the novel I was hooked and it was only due to lack of time that I didn’t finish it sooner. And from a critical aspect, not so shabby either! Great characters, engaging writing, and a good plot that kept me interested throughout the story. I’m glad I continued on with this book despite my first impressions! This book is way more than just a pretty cover, I assure you. You Were Here releases tomorrow, March 1st! Be sure to keep your eye out for it if you haven’t already. 🙂


Aaaaand, I think that’s a wrap! Tell me your thoughts; what do you think of this book? What are some of your favourite books you’ve encountered with great characters? YA books with illustrations? Are you a fan of multiple POV books? Do you plan on reading this book?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! ❤ Happy reading! I hope your Monday isn’t too terrible. LOL.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | Book Review

Guess what book I FINALLY read?? Yep, Anna and the French Kiss! I kind of put down the book I was reading the other day, and was just like, okay, yep, Valentine’s Day is coming and so I’m just going to read it. I wasn’t planning on reading much of it, just start it, but… I kind of ended up finishing it within a day?? Whoops! And I know I’m behind on several other reviews of previous books I’ve read but since Valentine’s Day was yesterday I thought it’s only fitting to do a review on a book whose cover and synopsis literally screams romance. 😉

Anna & the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Publication Date: July 16th 2013
Publisher: Speak
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Page Count: 372
Source & Format: Owned, Paperback
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

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So basically, the gist of my thoughts for the majority of this book comprised of me going ‘Ohmygodthisbookissoadorable!!!’ after which I kind of die of cuteness overload. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though; there were some parts where I was incredibly put off by the characters, but entertainment-wise, this was really good! Let me go into more detail, though, because I think that might be helpful. Right…On to it!

Anna and the French Kiss book review 2

Things I loved

  • Omg Étienne…I finally see what everyone has been squealing about. He’s so adorable!! Where can I find a guy like this?? Cute accent, check. Sweet and thoughtful, check. Funny, check. Seriously, it’s these bookish characters which makes a girl like me mourn for the fact that in real life I have no chance of finding a guy like this… XD
  • Also did I mention Étienne??
  • Oh, and pro-friendship, anybody? I loved the friendship thing between Meredith, Rashmi, Josh, Étienne and, Anna. Loved it! It was so positive and showed the ups and downs and obstacles that a friend group has to deal with, you know?
  • Ehhh, what else… oh! Anna was delightfully perfect for this book. I mean, yes, to be honest, I was SO DONE with her near 80% through the book, because kshfklsdhnfo, ugh no spoilers, but seriously. I just was turned off by the fact that she refused to LISTEN before making judgements (among other things). Gah, I already had to deal with that in another book I read previously, and.. just no. Also there was the fact that so much heart-ache could’ve been prevented if she had only been more perceptive! Ughh that was annoying, but I don’t begrudge her too much, because I do realize that without it all, the story would’ve been concluded much faster. XD And in the end, I appreciated how Perkins kept Anna’s character consistent; she was a high school girl, with flaws and occasional lack of judgement—what else to say? She was a very well-written character, in my opinion.
  • Aaaaaand, no insta-love! I’ll admit, I was on the fence for quite some time, unable to decide if it was a case of insta-love or not, but, I have deduced that it’s more of a case of attracted-at-first-sight instead of love at first sight, if you know what I mean. Anna and Étienne started off as friends, and it simply progressed from there, I guess. There was development to their romance and friendship, you know? So YAY.
  • I got to visit PARIS!!! Okay, not literally (duh) but oh how I wish it was! It would’ve been so amazing… but as it is, reading Anna and the French Kiss was  lovely in the sense that I got to visit and tour Paris along with Anna as  she visited many landmarks and touristic spots. The writing was fabulous for this aspect. Plus, it was with Étienne too, so…. Another positive, haha.
  • Also, the cover looks so pretty on my shelves! Eep! I wish I had it in hardcover though. Oh well. And yes, this is a pro. Because #bookwormreasoning

Things I DIDN’T love

  • Despite what I mentioned of Anna being well-written, she still managed to get on my nerves. I mentioned why a little up in the pros; her decisions and attitude could really be a turn-off. It didn’t get so bad, that I had to, say, throw the book and stomp around angrily, but it was bothersome all the same.
  • Useless characters?? Okay, ‘useless’ might be too strong of a word, but… I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dave—or Toph, for that matter. At times it just felt like they were there to add more drama and ansgt… and perhaps maybe that’s why they were there, but.. meh. I didn’t care about them that much, especially Dave.
  • The storyline kind of dragged on a bit more than was needed. I suppose this isn’t such a big deal, really, but to some it might definitely be a bigger issue. It’s just that with all the drama surrounding Anna and Étienne as they go back and forth between figuring out the lines between friendship and love interests and whatnot, the plot was (deliberately?) extended. You choose if that’s a good thing or not!

Overall…

I’m so glad I decided to pick this up! It was the perfect read for Valentine’s Day, and what’s more, it was totally adorable! If you’ve been procrastinating reading this book for whatever reason, I definitely recommend you give this a shot, unless you’re completely against contemporary romance. Though I will warn you all; although I personally enjoyed Anna, she’s not going to be everyone’s favourite! But chances are you’ll fall for Étienne, so I guess it’s even. But that’s besides the point. 😉 Anna and the French Kiss was an incredibly entertaining read and I can’t wait to read the next books! Although from what I understand the other two are companion novels… not quite sure how that’ll turn out, but fingers crossed!


Sooo I think that’s enough talking for now. Let us discuss! Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Have any of you actually ever visited Paris? (If you have, I would be insanely jealous omg.) Did anyone else fall in love with Etienne as I did?! Can you tolerate and enjoy a book even if you dislike the characters? Whatever thoughts you have, feel free to leave ’em below!

Hope you’re enjoying your Monday! Also, happy Family Day for those of you who live in a Canadian province! 😉

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid | Book Review

Never Always SometimesNever Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

2.5 Stars

Publication Date: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 320
Source & Format: Bought, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

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Hello bookworms, and happy Thanksgiving for all of you Canadians out there! ❤ I hope you all enjoyed your day. 🙂 On this fine Monday, I have for you a review on the book Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid! Now, I’m kind of sorry to be posting this right now, because, as you can probably infer from my rating, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, and really, it kind of goes against the whole warm, happy feeling of this day…I really wanted to love this book, and I really thought I would, but overall it was not the best of reading experiences.

Plot

“No point in living a life less ordinary if you don’t know what the other side looks like.”

I wish so much that I could’ve enjoyed the plot more. It has so much potential to become a story I’d love! It’s the fact that it could’ve been so much better is what gets on my nerves. The idea of the Nevers list sounded fun and creative, and the whole implied best friend romance thing is one of the things that drew me to the book in the first place. But somewhere in the execution of the plot, everything just went all wrong for me. It was quite hard to even get through the first part of the story, and as the story went on, I just wasn’t okay with the direction it was taking. I suppose this is more of a personal situation; of course this may not apply to all readers. To be honest, what really frustrated me in the end was how misleading the synopsis was—and how much the characters ruined the plot for me. A few of them simply lacked some much-needed consistency and they made the story feel all over the place. I know that doesn’t explain that much, so let’s continue on to the…

Characters

As you probably have guessed by now, I wasn’t a big fan of the characters. Although I liked the banter between Julia and Dave, the two main characters, after a while it wore off when the characters got on my nerves.

I’d say Dave was one of my biggest problems with the book. Remember when I mentioned above that I had a hard time getting through the first part of this book? Yeah, well it was written in Dave’s perspective—and I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

“If the lights ever went out in her presence, Dave was pretty sure the brightness of her eyes would be more useful than a flashlight.”

Umm, yeah, no thanks. These things tend to fly over my head sometimes, but this is a tad too cheesy, and under the many circumstances throughout the book, I’m not falling for it.

Of course, I didn’t immediately dislike him or anything. He seemed pretty nice, but that didn’t last for long. Dave was just too much of an inconsistent character, and was a pretty spineless character.

(—POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEADNot exactly sure if it’s a spoiler since it’s not in the synopsis, but it’s a pretty big part of the plot that you discover soon enough) I also wasn’t a big fan of the love triangle. It came out of nowhere, and although I commend the author for writing a less traditional love triangle, I simply didn’t care about Dave or it (the love triangle). I know I’m starting to kind of repeat things here, but really, that’s the main point—I just didn’t care about or like Dave. Harsh, but it’s true.

Moving on to Julia, the other main character whose perspective we also get. In a nutshell, she’s eccentric, wild and utterly ridiculous. I was a cross in between indifferent to her and annoyed with her for the first part of the book, though I guess after we get into her POV, I started to warm up to her more. I was enjoying her character quite a bit, but then there were several things that got me miffed about her. Very cryptic, I know, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. 😉 Bottom line is, my feelings varied several times throughout the book; lots of negatives, I have to say, but overall she was an okay character.

Writing Style

I wasn’t completely sold on the writing style, at first. Just putting that out there. Not saying it was bad or that I didn’t like it, just that it felt really pretentious (kind of going with the plot and characters, I suppose) and I was unsure about it. However, there’s no denying that it was great writing! There were definitely some beautiful passages in there, and it was quite easy to fly through. There was a really nice simplicity to the writing that ended up really working for the story.

“We like to think that we’re formulas that even out exactly, that we are perfect matches with each other. But we’re not. We match up with lost of people, more or less.”

Overall…

I didn’t enjoy this book. I wasn’t a big fan of the characters, since they basically ruined the plot for me with their personalities and the choices they made. That being said, I definitely think if they were improved, and I cared about them more, I would’ve loved this book. This book had a very John Green feel to it, and although I wouldn’t exactly recommend it in a blink of an eye, I know other readers may enjoy it more than I did. There was definitely a slight unique touch to this book, but there were also plenty of cliches—so it’s your call! Just remember that this is not your average best friend romance… don’t go into it expecting an amazing cute romance! If that’s the case, I recommend heading for Rainbow Rowell instead.

I’ve seen other mixed opinions on this book, some positive, and some negative, and I just wanted to say, if you’ve read this book and loved it, great! This book seemed like it was pretty hyped for a while—I hope no one rages on me for not liking it, haha. 😀 So, my opinion on this book is; if you think it’s for you, go for it! The last thing I want it someone missing a potential favourite because of my review. And as I said, a lot of people loved this book, maybe I was too harsh?

Either way, let me know your thoughts on this book below, whether you’ve read it or not. I’d love to hear from you! 

Analee 4

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews | Book Review

Me Earl and the Dying GirlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

2.5 Stars

Publication Date: March 1st 2012
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 295
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

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Hi! Welcome back to another book review, on, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews! I know some of you have waited on this review for a while, so I’m glad to finally have this posted—and to finally let out my frustrations on this book, since, as you can see, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. Though I can understand why so many others have loved this book, it just wasn’t for me.

Plot

This book, I felt, had no real purpose to the whole story. I mean, it kind of has a semblance of a plot, but really, it didn’t feel like one, to me. I mean, there are some books I find, that can really pull off the plot-with-not-a-big-focus thing. Not often, but it’s possible. This book, however just didn’t do it. I didn’t find any big thing in the plot that kept me entertained or compelled to read more. Kind of harsh, maybe, but true. For me, anyway. A lot of the time I felt I continued reading simply for the sake of finishing it instead of for something more. The fact that I hardly DNF books also played a factor. However without those two things, I might’ve quit reading much sooner. I just couldn’t find myself interested in the plot. It had the potential to be really good, but I think it just fell flat and was poorly executed.

Characters

I couldn’t care less about most of the characters in this novel. I’m just going to put that out there right away, because that’s pretty much the gist of my feelings on the characters. Not only did the main character, Greg, not go through any development throughout the novel, but he also really bothered me with his insensitivity to Rachel’s situation. The girl is dying, for goodness sake, can’t you come up with at least some kind of genuine emotion? I was very happy when Earl called him out on this. However, that all being said, one thing I did kind of like was his self-deprecating personality; at least he’s not completely oblivious to what an idiot and jerk he is.

Moving on to Earl. With basically the whole book revolving around Greg, there wasn’t much space for Earl, to be honest, and although I wasn’t his biggest fan, I more or less liked him more than Greg. I actually don’t even know. On one hand I suppose I can understand why he acts the way he does, but on the other hand it really bothered me sometimes, with his whole dirty humour and all. I know this is probably how most teenage boys act, but come on. It got really tiring afterwards.

Rachel, to be honest, was not much better.  I feel like the most there is to her is that she’s dying. Period. I didn’t find anything in her that truly stood out, which was a bummer. I am actually struggling to come up with more to say about her, since there isn’t really much to say. I didn’t dislike her exactly, but she wasn’t any better than the other characters either.

Writing Style

“If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you.”

The writing definitely took a more unconventional and unique approach to things, with readers getting a close up of how Greg thinks. Greg really spoke to the reader, and this kind of style really stood out to me since a) we don’t get that many books written as such, and b) we don’t get many books written in this style that are done well. There were also parts of the book where there are scenes being depicted as a movie script thing, which I guess was a neat thing to try and also made sense, since Greg made films and all. The writing style was definitely one of the better parts of the novel.

Overall…

This book is not your average cancer book, but it certainly isn’t anything mind blowing either. I think that’s kind of what my main problem was; there’s nothing special about this book, nothing that really interested me. While I can commend this book for being unique and written very skillfully, and for its little bits of actual humor, when it comes down to it, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wish I did. The lack of true purpose really bothered me, since there wasn’t anything else that was keeping my attention. All the characters except Greg lacked depth and Greg himself wasn’t much better. Some may argue the characters are portrayed this way to be realistic, but whether or not this is the case, it doesn’t change the fact that they were not very interesting to me, and mostly became a hindrance to read abut. I did like the writing, it was very different and was interesting to read, but unfortunately that isn’t enough to change the whole reading experience.

Looking at this review, I know it seems really harsh, but I just wanted to emphasize that I’m not trying to bash the author or the book. I’m simply trying to be honest; my final say on this would be it’s a matter of personal preference. Hit or miss, you know? If you’re looking for a unique non-cheesy-romance novel about cancer, then I think this book would be a good fit for you, but otherwise, proceed with caution. 

Movie Trailer

On a completely different note, the movie for this has been released! You can check out the trailer for it below. I haven’t seen it yet, but I definitely hope it will be better than the book.


So tell me: Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you agree with anything I’ve said? Do you want to read this book? Feel free to let me know below! I’m honestly very curious as to what other readers have to say about this book.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider | Book Review

Extraordinary Means_bookcoverExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover & ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

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Hello! Today I have a review on Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. This is one of the books that caught my eye after I’ve seen it floating around in the blogosphere (that even has a tag made from it as well) and so I have been quite interested in reading it for quite some time. I definitely see what the hype is all about; I enjoyed reading this book so much!

I’ve read several reviews in which this book is compared to both TFIOS (for the sickness aspect) and Looking For Alaska (for the boarding school aspect), and in some ways it’s true, but in the end, Extraordinary Means was its own story which was full of bright characters and a compelling writing style. Not to mention its idea is so unique to me; I’ve hardly ever read a book following characters with tuberculosis, and I sure loved learning about this fresh concept!

Quick Summary 

Meet Lane, the definition of a workaholic. As a result of his overachieving habits, he’s not really living his life, until he ends up in Latham House, a boarding school and sanitarium for students with tuberculosis. There he meets the wild and enticing Sadie, and her friends, who are the resident trouble-makers and most care-free of the Latham students. As Lane starts to become a part of their wild adventures, he’s introduced to a whole new world—but faces so many consequences at the same time.

Plot 

Okay, I won’t lie, I did find the book to be kind of predictable at times, but, it was still pretty extraordinary. (See what I did there? :P) Why? Because I loved reading the story. Tuberculosis is something I’ve hardly ever read about, and I love how it was approached in this novel. Most of the time we see cancer books and the like, so this was different than cancer books in the sense that, of course, it’s not talking about cancer. The author, being a bioethicist, really knew what she was talking about before writing this, and that was much appreciated.

But the thing I loved most was the fact that this wasn’t simply a story telling readers what it’s like to be sick with tuberculosis. The plot had so much more meaning to it, of second chances, and the hope that someday you’ll be able to figure out how you belong. The journey I took from the start of this book to the finish really got those points across, and gave me a heartwarming and memorable reading experience in the process. There was lots of humor, a satisfying story-line, and definitely a romance to keep your heart in the game.

Before I move on to the characters, one thing I feel is worth mentioning is the romance. While it is definitely sweet and heart-warming, I have to say the impending gloom and doom thing and the expectation that one of them will die kind of prevented me from fully being involved with the romance as I might’ve been in another situation. That being said, I really loved seeing the romance unfold nonetheless!

Characters

“One thing I’ve realized about new places is that they’re like jeans. Sure, they might fit, but they’re not comfortable. They need time to be broken in.”

Such a true quote, from the one and only Lane Rosen. I loved Lane’s character a lot, not only because he was totally adorable (although that admittedly plays a factor in this) but also because I found him to be realistic and relatable. He’s always been an overachiever, and that feeling? That feeling of having to work and be the best (for school, mostly)? I definitely understand that. Arriving at Latham House, he realizes how he wasn’t truly living, and as he spends more time with Sadie and her friends, he finally sees how he can start to do so. His development was great to read.

I also really liked Sadie‘s character, if only because she was spunky and full of life, you know? Not that she was a whole bundle of sunshine or something, just that she had a very wild kind of quality to her. But there was more to her than what she seemed. I mean, I have to admit, I wasn’t completely sold on her character at first; she was a stubborn person determined to hold a grudge about something that happened years ago, and I just couldn’t sympathize. But as I got to know her, I discovered it was one of her flaws—a flaw I came to accept. She’s very insecure and often makes the mistake of not talking things out with others, which can cause problems. I understood her though, and really started to root for her. She wasn’t by any means perfect, but that’s exactly why she was perfect.

The secondary characters were also great Except for a select few, almost all of the other characters felt memorable, especially Sadie’s friends, since they are the people who are with Sadie and Lane the most. So, for one we have Nick, the goofy friend of Sadie’s who also happens to be in love with Sadie. (The feelings aren’t mutual.) I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he was alright and I was okay with his presence for the most part. Marina, Sadie’s girl friend, didn’t have that much of an impact on me or the story, to be honest, but again, she was okay. Charlie, the last of their group, and the sickest, was more of a mysterious character, and I didn’t expect to enjoy his character, but I did. He seemed really interesting, and I wouldn’t have minded knowing more about him.

Writing Style

I fell in love with the writing in this book! The novel was written in dual-perspective from both Lane and Sadie, which made for some awesome insight into their characters. They both have such different ways of thinking and approaching things, it was interesting to see into the thoughts of both characters.

“There’s difference between being dead and dying. We’re all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”

Another thing is that although this story may have had an overall John Green feel to it, I felt the writing style for this novel was much more authentic than, say, The Fault in Our Stars. I have nothing against John Green; he’s a great author, but I felt this book captured the voice of intelligent teenagers more smoothly and realistically, to be honest. Maybe it’s just the mood I was in while reading or something, but JG’s TFIOS writing style and dialogue and such felt pretentious and it kind of felt a bit out of place at times. For this novel, I felt differently, because the dialogue and writing felt much more natural and I was able to relate to it in a way I found I just couldn’t with TFIOS (before you bring out the knives and forks; I enjoyed TFIOS!! I just still had some issues with it).

Extraordinary Means also had wonderful thought-provoking quotes which were great, and really reflected the characters, with a bonus of the characters not sounding overly beyond their years. I simply flew through everything, like second skin, really, while relishing the great passages of humor and quotes that I found on the way.

“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.”

Overall…

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is a book that you should definitely not miss if you’re either: a) a John Green fan, b) looking for a contemporary read addressing something unique, c) prone to liking bitter-sweet romances, or d) searching for an emotional read. While there are indeed similarities between this book and John Green’s TFIOS and LFA, I definitely still recommend giving this book a try, if only to see for yourself whether this book is good or not. After all, it’s all a matter of personal preference! I myself really enjoyed the storyline, along with the great characters. Sadie and Lane were such opposites, yet they went together so well and I really rooted for both of them. I loved how natural the writing and dialogue was in this book, not to mention the way I flew through this book because of it! All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it for those of you who enjoy contemporary novels!

Definitely try to gobble this up! It’s quite tasty.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you planning on reading it? Whatever your thoughts may be, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. ❤ 

Analee 4

Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts | ARC Book Review (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

Playing the Player Tour Banner NEW

Playing the PlayerPlaying the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: September 14th 2015
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 295
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Purchase: kindle | nook | ibooks | kobo

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Good Girl Vs. The Player
Round one begins…

Trina Clemons needed the money. Why else would she – the most organized, prepared student in school – spend the summer as a nanny and partner with the biggest slacker ever? Now she’s ready to tackle nannyhood with her big binder of research and schedules. Just don’t ask her about the secret job of “fixing” the bad habits of a certain high school player…

Slade Edmunds prefers easy hook-ups, and Trina is definitely not his type. She’s all structure and rules, while Slade wants to just have fun. Fortunately, Trina has no idea about the bet Slade made with his best friend that he can totally get her to unwind by the end of summer…

Then the weirdest thing happens. There’s chemistry. A lot of it.
But nothing gets between a boy and a girl like a big, fat secret…

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Hello! Today I have a review on Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts, as part of a blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours (You can check out the rest of the schedule here). Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy!

The first thing I’m going to say about this book is that simply put, I really enjoyed it! It’s a very fun read that will satisfy romance and contemporary lovers out there with the wonderful chemistry between the characters, and the well-done cliches, which, you have to admit, doesn’t always happen and can be pretty fun to read about! You can’t even deny it. 😉 I haven’t ever read anything else by Lisa Brown Roberts, but after this I definitely will!

Quick Summary

In Playing the Player we follow the story of Trina and Slade, both complete opposites. While Trina is about control and discipline, Slade is a easy-going player who treats life as a party. When they’re paired together to work as partners, neither of them know about the secrets the other is keeping. And it soon seems to be, that although both Trina and Slade are way out of their league, they both have lots of chemistry. But is it for the good? Or will it just blow up in their faces?

Plot

I will not deny it; this plot is pretty cliché, with the whole “Good girl falls for the bad-boy player” scheme and all. I’m sure most of you have seen that trope, since it’s almost everywhere. But one of things I loved about this book was the fact that the author took this trope and gave it a twist that fully worked for the story and really made it interesting to read about. Trina didn’t just help Slade, Slade helped Trina to grow as a person and loosen up. And I loved seeing that happen. The plot may have been cliched, but really, that only adds to an overall great story, since it was still enjoyable to read and artfully done.

Another thing I loved about the plot was the overall feel-good vibe to it. The story was perfectly executed to suit its audience with the right of amount of cuteness that made it the perfect summer read. Though the plot was pretty predictable, I still loved every minute of it!

Characters

Another thing I loved about this novel was the fact it was character-driven. I loved the characters, even with the little things I did have some problems with.

Take Trina, for example. I mostly loved her character, especially seeing her character develop throughout the novel. At the start, she’s very rigid about things, as well as vulnerable behind her armor, but by the end she’s much stronger and more relaxed. The chemistry between her and Slade is great, and I really liked watching her fall for Slade—slowly.

“I didn’t know what we were doing or what any of this meant. But I intended to follow it all the way through, because for the first time in forever, I felt fully alive.”

She’s also different than most characters I’ve read about, and I praise the author for creating a character like her. Not only did that make Trina stand out, it also made me more interested in her. I mean, it’s not often that I come across a character who handles things the way Trina does, and there was some wonderful characterization I saw in her that made her more than just a 2-dimensional figure.

“I hated it when I lost control, because I hardly ever did. My whole life was built on discipline and schedules and never making mistakes. I dreaded what would happen if I let down my guard, even for a day.”

I will admit though, that I would’ve liked it a bit more had there been a stronger reason behind Trina’s rigid attitude. I found out about the big reason behind her worrying tendencies and all that and I was kind of like, “Is that it?” But nonetheless, I loved Trina’s character.

Which brings me to Slade Edmunds, who I really liked (although he’s not without his faults). Of course, he is like one of those typical jock guys you see in contemporaries; the player who’s all for the long-legged Barbie-like ladies. You know what I mean. And despite the fact that I know I’ve seen it before, his character was still interesting. As we get his POV, we see more into how he thinks and that insight definitely proved to be useful since it helped get a deeper perspective into him. He was a really sweet guy and I loved seeing the banter between him and Trina, as well as the way he handled things with the kids.

One thing that wasn’t my favorite about him, was his tendency to comment on how attractive Trina is; noticing her cherry-red lips, her short hair, etc. I mean, this wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t even notice or care at first, but after a few repetitions of him noticing something and then going like, “Wait, I’m not supposed to be thinking that,” it kind of lost its effect. But again, like my little issue with Trina, this wasn’t a huge deal for me.

And last but not least, I have to mention a few of the secondary characters I really liked! Gillian and Max, the kids Trina and Slade had to watch over, were hilarious and were lots of fun to read about. They were troublemakers for sure! I wasn’t a huge fan of the role the adults played in this, but that didn’t bother me that much since I was more focused on the story.

Writing Style

Lisa Brown Roberts was really able to nail writing in dual-perspective! There were hardly any moments I remember stumbling between chapters, trying to place who’s speaking, thank goodness! It just ruins the flow of reading, you know, when that happens. Both characters’ POVs were written in first person, and it was very well-done. The writing added just the right amount of fluffiness to the novel and really got the characters’ personalities through as well. It had a very conversational tone to it, which went well with the overall warm-fuzzies-and-cuteness feel to the story.

Overall…

This book is a solid 4 stars read that I definitely did not regret! A perfect summer read, this book will give you a  great combination of drama, chemistry between realistic characters, a romance to root for and a story that will have you smiling and turning the pages consistently. Trina and Slade are both characters you can’t help but end up loving despite their flaws-–and that’s what we all look for, right? The plot is pretty cliched and predictable, but if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy read, I recommend picking this one up asap! Seeing the banter between the characters, the development of both Slade and Trina, as well as Gillian and Max amping things up in the humour department, this book is perfect for the summer, or anytime you’re feeling down and need a little fluffy romance!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read this book? And while we’re at it, what are your thoughts on cliches-done-good? Let me know in the comments—and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

*I’d also love to know what you think of the slightly new set-up of my review; like it or do you prefer the other style? Feedback greatly appreciated! <3*

Mm, this one was good. Gobble it up!

Analee 4


lisa brown robertsAbout the Author

Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating life’s painful and funny dramas, and falling in love along the way. Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house is full of books, boys, several four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

Author Links
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


Giveaway – “Nanny Survival Kit” open to U.S. which will also include a signed copy of the book. If the winner is international, a $20 Amazon gift card will be substituted in place of the prize pack.
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Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier | ARC Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Expected Publication: September 1st 2015

Synopsis:

Everything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he’d rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.

April isn’t surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too.

But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah’s unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can’t explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she’ll always stand by him.

Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward.

Until schizophrenia changes everything.

Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.


Your Voice is All I Hear
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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Genre(s): Contemporary (Mental Illness), Young-Adult

ARC Page Count: 336

Format: e-book


Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley! This did not affect my review in any way. Any of the quotes used are from an uncorrected proof and may be changed in the final copy.

Hello, today I have for you an ARC review on Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier! This book is a contemporary novel that covers mental illness (schizophrenia). I honestly haven’t read many books of this topic, one of the reasons why this book caught my eye, especially after reading (and enjoying) Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, the one book of schizophrenia I’ve read recently. This book turned out to be way different than what I expected—way different than Made You Up (in case some of you were wondering), generally in a good way. If you’re into mental illness in YA (and by mental illness, I mean, a true, realistic portrayal of it), I urge you to pick up this book.  The schizophrenia was shown for what it really was, not sugarcoated, and it was clear the author did her research, which is fantastic. My main problem with this book, however, was the fact that I wasn’t a big fan of the main character. Actually, I wasn’t a fan of almost all of the characters in here. The secondary characters came off as stereotypical and the main character herself was a bit too bland and needy for my taste. But by the end of the novel, I was able to look past all that to say that I still enjoyed this book.

Plot

My feelings on the plot varied throughout the story. At the start the plot generally annoyed me, mainly because the characters all got on my nerves and I couldn’t get into the story. I didn’t like April much (she was extremely judgmental, and quite naive, which just didn’t work out with me), and it definitely didn’t help when she went ahead and instantly fell in love with the new guy in her class. I’m not completely against insta-love, I know it can definitely work for the better at times, but this book was definitely not one of those times. I just wasn’t feeling it.

Luckily, as I continued through the story, the plot got better, in that we started to get introduced to the symptoms of schizophrenia. I started to look past the characters into seeing more of the schizophrenia’s effects, and it was truly heart-wrenching seeing the denial the characters went through, seeing the tougher, grittier side of schizophrenia, which, trust me, isn’t pretty.

Near the end of the novel (maybe after 60 or 70% read) I really started to get emotionally attached to everything. The feels! There starts to have so much going on, and my emotions just kind of all explode all over the place. I absolutely loved that! I would even go as far as to say that this almost got me to shed a tear, which doesn’t often happen. Although the plot isn’t the best right from the get-go, it’s definitely drama and emotion-packed!

Characters

“I was the one he trusted. I was the one he loved, the only one who believed him, even when his own mother had locked him away and thrown away the key.”

I wasn’t a big fan of April, I’ll admit that. For a good part of the book I found her to be bland, selfish, naive and even a bit needy as well. It just wasn’t my favorite combo, but I will admit that in some ways you can consider her to be a realistic portrayal of how a lot of people would act in her shoes. And perhaps for some of you April will be a great protagonist, but for me, she just wasn’t the best. However, that being said, once I got near the middle-ish and the end, I started to really care for her. What she went through, must’ve been torturous, and my heart honestly hurt for her by the end. So, I guess these two opposing sentiments kind of just cancel eachother out, and to put it simply; she was an okay protagonist. Her character is pretty easy to sympathize with, even if she wasn’t the most likable person at the start. I ended up genuinely rooting for her, which is great.

Jonah, April’s love interest, is the one suffering from schizophrenia. He is definitely my favorite character in the book, it didn’t take me long ’till I fell under his spell and was rooting for him completely. We don’t see right away the effects of the schizophrenia; we get the time to get to know him, see what he’s like. Which, ultimately, meant that my heart broke even harder when we start seeing the symptoms, because I had already grown attached to him. It was so heartbreaking to see how damaging the effects of schizophrenia can be, although I praise Leah Scheier for doing such a wonderful job on it. There was no sugar-coating, and although seeing it through April’s eyes didn’t allow for us to see what Jonah himself was thinking, it was clear how much he was struggling. Honestly, I’m rendered speechless just thinking about it all, because my words cannot do justice to express how heart-wrenching it was, reading what Jonah went through.

Writing Style

The writing is very pleasant, it had a conversational style to it, with a more serious mood underlying it. The pacing was relatively fast (to reflect the nature of schizophrenia, I suppose, what with its unpredictability, etc.) It really suited the story and was intriguing to read. The story is written from the first-person perspective of April, which, I suppose is fitting and also did its part to have me sympathize with her character.

Overall…

I really enjoyed this novel, despite not being a fan of April for a good chunk of the first half of the novel. April, really is what prevented me from rating this book higher, but overall I consider this to be a heart-wrenching novel that you should definitely not miss if you’re looking for a well-written portrayal of schizophrenia. The plot had me absolutely all over the place in the end; my emotions ranged from despairing to desperate and so much more. I loved Jonah so much, and I praise Leah Scheier for being able to bring out such strong responses from me (and other readers, I’m sure). The ending was lovely, in a kind of heartbreaking and bittersweet way. I’m not usually a big fan of open endings (as there is in this book) and wasn’t a big fan of this one at first, but overall, I found it to be quite fitting for the story. All in all, Your Voice is All I Hear is an emotional read that is not afraid to show the true effects of schizophrenia—and how it can change the lives of so many in the matter of seconds. A wonderful story!

What you do think of this book? Have you read it? Let me know in the comments below!


Hungry? Well don’t worry, you’ll get your chance to gobble this up when it releases tomorrow! 😉

Analee 10

Joyride by Anna Banks | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 2nd 2015

Synopsis:

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.


Joyride_bookcover
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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult

Page Count: 288

Format: Hardcover


Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review, unfortunately, but I am now here with a review on Joyride by Anna Banks. I rate this book 4 stars, although a more accurate rating might be 3 or 3.5 stars. But that’s besides the point. The main reason I liked this book was because it was kind of an unexpected experience for me. Although I read the blurb and reviews beforehand on this book, when I read it, it felt like I was delving into the unknown. I had no idea what to expect, and really didn’t have that many expectation, which in the end played in my favor since I ended up really enjoying the book as a result. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m rambling right now, so let me just cut to the chase: this book was an entertaining story with themes of racism, family, and poverty, alongside a slow-burn romance that I really enjoyed.

Quick Summary

Carly Vega has been constantly working to earn money (at a night-shift at a convenience store), get good grades and stay out of trouble alongside her older brother Julio, ever since her parents had been deported. Both their lives have been centered around trying to earn enough money to smuggle them back (along with two younger siblings). One day, when a guy named Arden (the popular guy at school) meets Carly, he becomes interested in acquiring her as his partner in crime. But Carly is focused on staying under the radar so she could help her parents, while Arden’s goal is to make sure he doesn’t do what his family wants. How can they mix?

Plot

At a first glance at the cover, the storyline seems to be something with road trips and a cute romance, right? Well, that’s not the whole story. Yes, there is a cute romance, but the plot addresses issues like racism, poverty and immigration problems, something that we don’t see enough in books. I, for one, have hardly ever read contemporary novels in which there are immigration issues incorporated. Although I cannot vouch for whether the kind portrayed in the book is correct, I found it to be realistic enough to be believable, and it was interesting to read a book with this kind of theme.

The storyline itself was entertaining, it being generally a cute romance with tension building up more in the middle and especially in the end. It is leaning toward more of an insta-love story, however you can’t exactly tell right away, which is the reason why I liked the first half of the story quite a bit. The plot really had my attention, and even though most of it didn’t exactly blow me away, I had fun reading it. I also really liked how the plot was executed, in that the more tension-filled moments didn’t clash with the overall mood of the story, instead it kind of fit right in, which made for a relatively smooth reading experience.

Characters

I’m having a hard time writing out my thoughts on the characters, but I would say generally, I liked them. I especially liked Carly at the beginning of the book because I loved her attitude. For a good part of the first half of the story, I was rooting for her because she really had a good sense of her morals and stood up for herself against Arden.

“As if from a distance, I watch my hands as they tuck themselves under his tray and flip it over onto his lap. The unidentifiable contents splatter everywhere. A bit of it even makes its way into his left nostril. He stares up at me, still holding his spoon midair. His jaw is in danger of falling off.”

(Now, this may seem a bit extreme, but in the context of the story, it was completely understandable and I totally approved. XD)

It was just so much fun seeing how she treated Arden as he pursued her. And I have to mention that she didn’t really come off as a shy girl as mentioned in the blurb. But that was kind of good thing because it wasn’t as cliché, shy girl meets outgoing boy, instant sparks, etc etc.

Throughout the story we see a bit more of Carly’s development as she warms up to Arden and becomes friends, and then later on falls for him (no spoilers there, it’s kind of given). I won’t lie, it was kind of insta-love but it was still okay. What I also found interesting was seeing her internal struggle throughout the story, between doing what she wanted to do and what she was required to do in order to help her family. I really sympathized with her because she had so much pressure on her and did everything asked of her yet never truly got the freedom she deserved.

Arden, I will admit, I had mixed feelings toward, at first. At first are the key words here, you see? The fact that after simply one night he’s all interested in Carly (to be his partner in crime, not his girlfriend, but still) bugged me for a while, and I kind of just didn’t want him to win over Carly so easily. It wasn’t exactly so much so the insta-love than Arden, because for some inexplicable reason, I seemed to have something against Arden and just didn’t want it to happen. Of course, I warmed up to him afterwards. He went through so much it’s hard not to feel bad for him. His and Carly’s relationship ended up being really cute and I loved how he supported her so much.

“You’ve filled a hole I didn’t know I had in me, Carly. What is there to regret?”

As for the other characters, I was mostly okay with them except for Arden’s dad, who I absolutely hated. Julio, Carly’s brother isn’t exactly my favorite person, but I still liked him. Carly’s family, although not present for basically the whole story, plays a big role in the novel, and I liked them. The pressure they put on their children to raise money to smuggle them back to the States may bother some readers, but I found it kind of realistic and interesting to read about. This book was very family-positive (in the case of Carly, not Arden) in a more different way than most books.

Writing Style

The writing style is pretty different than most books, but I can’t exactly say it’s great. It’s told from the perspective of 1st person in Carly’s POV and 3rd person in Arden’s POV. I have read books like this before (most notably The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard) but for this book the style seemed kind of awkward and didn’t exactly work out. I don’t know, it kind of threw me off several times in the story and prevented me from fully being immersed in the story. Mostly because whenever the POVs switched, I would have to adjust to the change, and it would disturb the flow of the writing. But I did manage to get through the book without too many difficulties, and I ended up still enjoying the story.

Overall…

An entertaining summer read that I recommend if you’re looking for a light story with some important themes mixed in. This book is also more diverse than a lot of books out there these days (namely because of the issues addressed in the novel as well as the fact the main character is hispanic) and although the writing style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s pretty subjective to reader’s taste and it may be someone else’s preference. The main characters, although perhaps not the best for some, were quite likeable and definitely have a lot of chemistry together. I really liked Carly’s personality, and even though I wasn’t Arden’s biggest fan at first, he really did grow on me and I really liked him. As for the other characters, I definitely didn’t like Arden’s father, which I’m guessing is the point, and although I had some issues with Carly’s brother Julio, he ended up being a decent guy. All in all, I really liked reading this book, and I recommend it if any of the above interests you!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you want to read this book? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Also…Let’s go for a joyride! This meal is quite tasty, perfect for a little trip!

Analee 10

Pepped Up by Ali Dean | Book Review (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

(Pepper Jones #1)

Published: August 25th 2013

Synopsis:

Pepper Jones is ready for an epic cross country season. She wants to qualify for Nationals, and she’s willing to do anything it takes to make it happen. She can handle long miles and hill sprints, but boys? That’s an entirely different challenge.

Pepper’s never considered revealing her deeper feelings for her longtime friend, Jace Wilder. After all, he’s got the personal magnetism and good looks to hook just about any girl in town — and he has. Their friendship stands apart from high school social circles, and they’re both just fine with that (or at least they pretend to be).

That is, until running star Ryan Harding moves to town.

When it comes to running, Pepper’s goals are clear. But when it comes to Jace and Ryan, it’s nowhere near as simple.


Pepped Up_bookcover
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My Rating: 3 stars 3/5 (Decent)

Book Information

Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Page Count: 238

Format: ebook

Purchase: Amazon


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Welcome to my review stop of the first book in the Pepper Jones series, Pepped Up by Ali Dean!

Note: I received a free digital copy thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for review purposes. This doesn’t affect my review in any way.

Pepped Up is a fun, light-hearted contemporary novel that I liked. I wasn’t particularly attached to the main character and the pace was a bit slow for my taste, but overall it’s a good book that will keep you entertained.

Plot

Before anything, I have to say that this book is not at all for readers who dislike love triangles. I tend to be wary of them myself, but I don’t avoid them (not like I can even if I wanted to, seeing how basically all books these days have love triangles). I mean, there are love triangles that turn out to be entertaining, you know? Sadly, this one wasn’t one of them. I feel as if the book was dominated by the love triangle, and instead of being entertaining, in the first half of the novel, I found myself being annoyed at the lack of substance. However, once I took the plot a bit less seriously and just focused on what it’s like in terms of reading about it, I did like the story. It was a relatively light read and it ended up being an entertaining read. That being said, there was one thing that kind of had me a bit iffy about, which was the fact that there were more mature themes in this book than I was expecting. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I suppose since I wasn’t at all expecting such themes in this book, it threw me off.

What I liked most about the plot was the sports theme in this book. It’s not often that I find YA books about sports or with sport-related themes that turn out to be entertaining, and I really liked that aspect of the book. Most of the sports themes had to do with running, and although I’m a terrible runner, it was interesting reading from the perspective of a characters who loved to run and was great at it too.

“This right here is what I live for. The steady rhythm of my feet landing softly on dirt.”

Characters

I have a love-hate thing going on with Pepper. On one hand I like her attitude towards running, the fact that she’s willing to push herself and hold back when needed so she can do the best she can. She’s relatively disciplined and I liked her character, for the most part. On the other hand, what got on my nerves was her tendency to pine after Jace (who’s a complete jerk) and the fact that despite being smart, she couldn’t see the obvious (like so many other YA characters out there). I just couldn’t understand it and it ended up being annoying.

The main love interest, Jace, is who really bugged me. Sure, he had some nice moments, but overall I couldn’t see why Pepper was so into him and there was no depth to him much. I felt as if the only reason people were into him was because he was attractive, which is a bummer because he had the potential to be a real great character. Ryan, the other love interest, was better, there seemed to actually be more to him compared to Jace.

Writing Style

The writing style is one of the best parts of the novel. I would’ve hardly have guessed that this was a debut novel, because the writing had a lot of skill behind it that you wouldn’t expect to see in debuts. I did find the pace to be a bit slow, but that is considering my own taste, I would say for the majority the pace is completely adequate. One thing I was not a big fan of was the ending, because although it’s not technically a cliffhanger, it does leave something missing and felt rushed to me. I’m assuming more will be answered in the next books though.

“I want to capture the exhilaration and peace flowing through my veins, pulsing through my soul. Who needs a vice when you can attain an utter sense of being alive with such simple ingredients?”

-Pepper, about running

Overall…

This contemporary romance debut is more of a hit-or-miss. It wasn’t completely my cup of tea, but it was an entertaining read all the same, despite the more negative side of this book. The plot could’ve been handled better and the characters could’ve had more depth, but if you like love triangles and contemporary romance, this isn’t a bad book to try out. The writing is great, and I really enjoyed the running descriptions. All in all, a decent YA (with mature themes) contemporary romance with sport themes and a love triangle, Pepped Up is the first in a trilogy I have a good chance of continuing. (If only to get a better ending.)

An adequate meal! What do you think? Let me know in the comments below! 

Analee 10


Ali_AUTHOR BIO:

Ali Dean lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. In addition to reading and writing, she loves the outdoors- everything from marathon training and biking to snowboarding and skiing.

Author links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


INT Giveaway – $10 Amazon gift card + a signed copy of any book in the Pepper Jones series (ends August 27th)

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What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi | ARC Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: August 4th 2015

Synopsis:

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?


What You Left Behind_bookcover
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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult

Page Count [hardcover]: 320

Format: ebook


Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

Hello! Today I have a review on What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi, a stunningly touching and unique YA contemporary novel. If I had to sum up this word using two words, I’d use ‘unique‘ and ‘addictive‘ because that’s exactly what it is. It’s so rare to me, in YA contemporaries, that we have the perspective of a male in a teenage pregnancy situation. Time and time again I come across books with a teenage mother, but hardly ever have I encountered a book from the viewpoint of a teenage father. And it is so often we see books about cancer making the rounds, hardly ever do we see books with a fresh take on it. But this book, provided me with exactly that. What You Left Behind was an honest, hooking and unique story from the perspective of a teenage widowed father, and put a different twist on a cancer story that I really enjoyed.

Quick Summary

Everything fell apart when Meg died from cancer and left behind a baby girl. Hope. And Meg’s death seemed to be all Ryden’s fault. After all, he got her pregnant, which caused her to stop her chemo treatment, her one chance to overcome her cancer and survive. Meg’s parents seem to agree, and offers no help in providing support for Hope. Now Ryden has financial issues as he tries to deal with taking care of Hope and getting to soccer practice as he’s aiming to earn an athletic scholarship. The only bright spot in everything is Joni. But with Ryden being unable to let go of Meg, how will he ever be able to move on?

Plot

The plot is honest, un-sugarcoated and emotional. It’s a touching story and I really loved it! What I loved most about it was the unique perspective. Kudos to Jessica Verdi for tackling a different side of a common book trope in an interesting and engaging way! I really enjoyed reading from the point of view of a male teenager who has to take care of a baby; that is quite rare I find, and Jessica Verdi pulled it off! I was completely immersed in the plot, and I never wanted to stop reading. It was a cute romance while still being an emotional story portraying the struggles in life, both happy and sad, which was great to read.

Characters

I really loved Ryden as a narrator. He wasn’t perfect, and often there were times where I wanted to slap him across the face so that he would wake up and make things right. One of the times being how he completely neglects his daughter, I really wished he treated her better and that there were more love between the two. That did bug me, but really, in the end I simply couldn’t dislike him. I understood his struggles. I felt bad for him. I mean, what 17 year-old teenage boy wants to be stuck taking care of a baby almost single-handedly when he could be playing soccer for a scholarship?
Ryden’s definitely not going to be coming first in any selflessness contests anytime soon; his tendency of putting what he wanted above the needs of others was frustrating, but by the end he goes through a lot of development and became a better person. Also, there was the fact that his pain over losing Meg was simply so strong, so real, I couldn’t just not sympathize with him. Jessica Verdi did a great job at creating a character that is a realistic portrayal of a teenage father, a character who, while made a lot of mistakes, and was sometimes annoying, still was able to earn my compassion, understanding and sympathy.

Joni, the main female character in the novel, was great too. She was feisty and a strong, independant woman who was perfect for Ryden. I liked the relationship between her and Ryden, they had great chemistry, but more than that, her personality was simply a lot of fun. I really liked how Joni was portrayed; not a stereotypical girl you encounter in contemporaries, but a lively and real person who is unafraid in standing up for herself.

The other characters were very well-done. I especially loved Ryden’s mother and her role in the story. Even though she didn’t have a particularly large role, her constant support of Ryden and his baby Hope was simply so heart-warming and had a pretty big impact in Ryden’s character development. I loved how she wasn’t MIA in the story; she was present and really did the best she could to help out and show her son that he could still be a great father despite lacking a maternal presence by his side.

Writing Style

“Finding someone you can really connect with is like winning the lottery—It happens basically never, but if it does, you really shouldn’t blow it.”

The writing style was great; it was light but thoughtful, fun and well-suited for the story. The writing really reflected Ryden’s thoughts effectively, his emotions were strong and clear, and I really enjoyed reading it.

“I still don’t quite get how each one of those stars is actually a sun, burning up its own part of the universe. It seems incomprehensible that something that big, that complex, that infinite, is out there, while we’re here on this stupid planet, watching reality shows and waiting in line for the new iPhone and buying all the chia seeds in the Whole Foods because some article told us it was trendy, thinking we’re tough shit, like any of it means anything.”

There was also an undertone of dry humour throughout the book that I really enjoyed reading. That’s to be expected, as the story is told from the perspective of a 17 year-old teenager, and I’m glad it didn’t disappoint! The writing was really fun to read.

Overall…

I recommend this book to readers of contemporary and romance, and for readers who are looking for a fresh page in YA contemporary. This book provides you with a twist on two popular and overused storylines; teenage pregnancy and cancer. While you have to face a main character who sometimes makes extremely selfish and bad decisions, in the end it’s worth it. The main character, Ryden, does make bad decisions, but you can’t help but feel sorry for him, and understand his situation. Not only that, there is a great mother-son relationship in the book, and a great female main character as well. The writing is a lot of fun to read, and has an interesting and humorous tone to the it. All in all, this book was great and I’d definitely recommend it!


Oh, look what you left behind! Your tasty meal awaits, come and pick it up!

Analee 10

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: May 19th 2015

Synopsis:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.


Made You Up_bookcover
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My Rating: 5 stars 5/5 (Outstanding)

Book Information

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult

Page Count: 448

Format: Hardcover


Hello! Today I have for you a review on Made You Up by Francesca Zappia. I absolutely fell in love with this book and the author, it was simply fantastic. The plot was full of unpredictable twists and throughout it all had such a cute romance! Not to mention the mental illness that the story revolved around. This is one of the few times I read a book with an unreliable narrator, and Francesca Zappia absolutely nailed it. I loved Alex, and Miles!! They were both so wonderful. No, actually, all the characters were great, and the writing style was wonderful. ❤ The praise is endless!

Quick Summary

Alex is schizophrenic. She hears things. Hallucinates. Every day she struggles to know what is real and what is made up. She’s determined to prove to her family and doctors that she’ll be able pass high school and get into college, and most of the time, it seems like she’s succeeding. But when you enter Miles into the picture, and a whole bunch of confusion between what’s real and what’s not, things get difficult. Alex was never normal. But is she ready to be?Read More »