Thursday, August 25, 2016

ARC Review: After the Woods by Kim Savage

After the Woods Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia did. When a paroled predator attacked Liv in the woods, Julia fought back and got caught. Liv ran, leaving Julia in the woods for a terrifying 48 hours that she remembers only in flashbacks. One year later, Liv seems bent on self-destruction, starving herself, doing drugs, and hooking up with a violent new boyfriend. A dead girl turns up in those same woods, and Julia’s memories resurface alongside clues unearthed by an ambitious reporter that link the girl to Julia’s abductor. As the devastating truth becomes clear, Julia realizes that after the woods was just the beginning.

My Review: 4 Stars

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I had started reading this book back before its release date and then I got very busy with school and had to set it aside.  I'm glad I finally got back to it and read it now.  This is an interesting mystery with fascinating characters.

Julia is the main character, and I really liked her.  She's the type of person who will save her best friend, even if it gets her into trouble, and she's also the type of person who wants answers, even if it means revisiting a night that could hurt her to remember.

Liv is Julia's best friend and the relationship between the two is very complex.  I felt really bad for Liv, even though she made many questionable choices.  Her mother, Deborah, was absolutely awful, and made her feel like she could never be good enough.  I can understand why she did what she did in a quest to prove her mother wrong, even if the choices were really bad ones with awful consequences. 

There is a side romance between Julia and Kellan (the police detective's son) that is cute.  It is a good romance but it is very much not the main part of the book.  Kellan isn't in the book very much, but he's a good guy who clearly cares about Julia, even if they have their ups and downs in the relationship.

If you like YA contemporary mysteries, read this book.


Monday, August 22, 2016

ARC Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

My Review: 5 Stars

I won an ARC of this book from the author, and I read it within a bit over a day and loved it so much.  This book does a good job at developing all of the story arcs with nuance.  The characters are also complex and well developed, from the main characters down to most of the secondaries. 

I loved the family relationships between Joanna, her dad, and her new stepmom.  The relationship between Joanna and her dad is strained due to him telling her to go back into the closet at their new town for her senior year.  He knows that asking her to hide part of herself like that is wrong, yet he does it anyway because he's more worried about what his in-laws think than he is about showing his daughter that he supports her unconditionally.  Despite this mistake, Joanna's dad is not a bad guy, and he is really trying to make things better.  I also loved the relationship between Joanna and her new stepmom.  At the beginning, she calls her Three, since she's her father's third wife, and she doesn't expect the marriage to last.  By the end, Elizabeth (the stepmom's name) has become a true mother figure to Joanna.  She is very supportive of her, and the two have a few heartwarming moments.
I loved the development of the relationship between Joanna and Mary Carlson.  The two become close friends pretty quickly, and Joanna has a crush on her almost immediately too.  There are many moments before they are out to each other that seem very charged between them.  It makes Joanna wonder if Mary Carlson could possibly feel the same way.  I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Joanna's crush on Mary Carlson is mutual.  The road to their relationship isn't necessarily easy, especially since Joanna pretends to be closeted and doesn't admit for a long time that she actually used to be out in Atlanta.  The two are super cute together as a couple though.

I loved how many of the secondary characters were well developed as well.  BTB quickly becomes friends with Joanna.  He is a boy in the special ed class at school who loves elephants and is Mary Carlson's brother.  He is a really sweet and nice guy.  George is a boy from Joanna's class and youth group who develops a crush on Joanna.  She comes out to him after he admits to her that he has two moms.  Then there are the three other girls from Mary Carlson's friend group, Jessica, Betsy, and Gemma.  Of the three, Gemma is probably the most important to the book, but the others have their own stories and personalities as well.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, August 1, 2016

August Releases I'm Most Excited For

August 2nd:
Whatever by SJ Goslee  - This looks like it will be a fun read about a teenage boy.

 Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked

August 30th:
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown - This looks like it will be a good story of faith and sexuality in the South.
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall - I haven't read any of Sandy Hall's previous books yet, but this one looks like a cute read.

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden FruitBeen Here All Along


Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

Run Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.

My Review: 5 Stars

Before reading Run, my favorite Kody Keplinger book was either The DUFF or A Midsummer's Nightmare, but now this book has easily stolen that number one spot.  It's definitely her best so far, and takes a bit of a different tone than her earlier books.  I have read it two times now.

The friendship between Agnes and Bo is the strongest part of this book.  This friendship is one that surprised both girls when it happened, but it was a really genuine and strong friendship.  It's clear how much they both care about each other and love each other.  Sometimes their friendship isn't always the best for them, especially for the situation that it got Agnes into, but it is still obvious how much Bo cares about her.  Bo doesn't want to drag Agnes in her mess, but she also needs Agnes with her, because she needs a friend.

I loved Bo's character so much, and felt sad for the life that she had to live.  Her mom didn't really care about her at all, and sometimes her mom got arrested, which made Bo be put into foster care.  Her dad left when she was fairly young.  In town, everyone has misconceptions about her, and rumors that they spread about her.  Everyone assumes that she sleeps around, which is why it is shocking to Agnes when she finds out this might not be so true.  I think Bo just really needed someone to care about her, since she was a genuinely good person given a bad lot in life.

Agnes was a blind girl who was extremely overprotected by her parents.  They wouldn't even let her walk home from her school bus stop.  Ultimately, her smothering by her parents is what made her run away with Bo (and also because she wanted to be there for Bo and wasn't going to let Bo run away alone).  She has some important conversations about how they treat her differently than they treated her older sister and her age and how it's clearly because she's blind.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: Tumbling by Caela Carter

Tumbling Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life... and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhemina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.

My Review: 5 Stars

This book is a realistic look at the cutthroat nature of competitive gymnastics.  As someone who has always loved watching the Olympic gymnasts, I really enjoyed this look at the Trials.  This had a variety of characters, focusing on the perspectives of 5 of them.  They come from several diverse backgrounds, and I liked getting to know all the different characters.  I'm going to write a paragraph about each character below.

Leigh is my personal favorite of the characters, because she seemed to be the one who was most genuine in wanting to be friendly to people, instead of just being competitive with them.  She is a very skilled gymnast who is one of the top in the US.  She is hiding the fact that she's a lesbian, because she wants to be known for her gymnastics, instead of just being known as the "lesbian gymnast."  The only people who know her secret are her parents and her best friend, Grace.  Her parents want her to live a more normal life, so they made her go to high school even though she wanted to homeschool instead.  I really liked her story.  I didn't like something that happened to her at the end though, because I really liked her and it wasn't good for her.

Grace is Leigh's best friend, and typically second place in the country for gymnastics, after Leigh.  She is under a lot of pressure since her dad is her coach and expects only the best from her.  She wants to come in first place in the Olympic Trials.  She is hiding an eating disorder, which really does not help her performance at all since it makes her weak.  She also puts gymnastics over her friendships, and it's nice to see her work on fixing this throughout the book.

Camille was supposed to be in the Olympics four years ago, but she was disqualified when she was injured in a car accident.  She comes back again this year, and is known as "Comeback Cammie" to her fans.  She is struggling with whether or not the Olympics is actually her dream anymore or if she's just living out her mom's dream for her.  She has a boyfriend who wants her to give up the Olympics because he thinks gymnastics is hurting her.  Camille has a decision to make about the Olympics, but which decision will she make?

Wilhelmina just missed the age cutoff for the Olympics four years before.  Now this is her first chance to be in the Olympics.  She has worked on staying strong for four years, and her coach has helped her.  She hasn't played by the rules of the Olympic team coach, though, so that could potentially hurt her.  That coach hasn't seen her perform so she's worried that putting her on the team could be a risk.

Monica is a nice young girl who is in the Trials.  She is relatively unknown and is an underdog type character.  No one really notices her until she starts doing well in the Trials.  Suddenly she is someone to pay attention to and watch out for.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.