Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Top 16 Books I Want that Are Releasing in 2016

This list is about the 2016 releases that I am most excited to get my hands on.  They are in no particular order.

1. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp - This book sounds like it will be really good and powerful.

2. The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin - This book sounds really interesting and different from any other book that I've read before.

3. The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter - This sounds like it will be a really good emotional read that deals with real mental health issues.

4.  The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie - This sounds like a really interesting book, even if it isn't really in my usual genre that much.

5. Run by Kody Keplinger - I'm excited to get to read another book by Kody Keplinger, and this one sounds really good.

6.  Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes - This looks like a cute and fun read and Paula Stokes wrote it, so I'm sure I will like it.

7. Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake - I have heard so many good things about this book, and I cannot wait to get a copy for myself.  It sounds like it will really deal with some serious family issues.

8. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner - This sounds like a good and powerful read.  I have heard that it made several early readers cry, so I am excited for that, even though I don't usually cry while reading books.

9.  How It Ends by Catherine Lo - This sounds like it will be an important story about friendship.  I've heard some good things about it.

10.  The Girl Who Fell by Shannon Parker - This sounds like it will be dark, and it deals with the important topic of abusive relationships.  I am excited to get to read it.

11.  Summer of Sloane by Erin Schneider - This book sounds like it will be a great summer read.  Plus, I really love the cover and its color scheme.

12.  Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry - I have read one book, For Real, by Alison Cherry, and it was cute and fun, and I'm hoping this one will be good too.  It looks like the kind of book that I would like.

13.  The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin - This sounds like it will be really good and deal with real life issues that people face.  I've heard that the characters are flawed and real too.

14.  When We Collided by Emery Lord - Emery Lord wrote this book so I will be reading it.  I have loved her first two books and she is an autobuy author for me.  I can't wait to preorder my hardcover copy of this book.

15.  The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith - This sounds like a great and powerful story about how a rape affects a girl, which is an important topic.

16.  A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro - This sounds like it will be a great mystery with interesting connections to the Sherlock Holmes stories.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

ARC Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Firsts Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.

My Review: 4 Stars

I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  I really liked this book, even if the characters weren't all the typically "likable" characters.  I liked how this book could make me root for characters that I probably wouldn't even like if I encountered them in real life.  Because of this, of course, it will make me think more about how I view those people in real life as well.

Mercedes was not a character that I would expect to like.  I disagreed with much of what she did in this book.  And yet, I rooted for her character, and wanted her to be happy.  I wanted her to have a better home life, instead of having her mother who didn't really care about her.  I wanted her to realize that this thing with the virgins was going to end up hurting her instead.  And I wanted her to open herself up more to relationships that could be good for her, with people who really cared about her.

I really enjoyed watching her relationships with Zach and Faye.  Zach was originally her "Wednesday friend," which basically meant they hooked up on Wednesdays.  It was pretty clear from the beginning that he wanted more than that, but she was afraid to get too close to him emotionally.  I liked to see the progression of their relationship.  Of course, it wasn't easy, since he didn't even know about her thing with the virgins, but I loved how he was a genuinely great and supportive guy, and how he stuck by her when most others didn't, even when he might have reason to be upset.  Faye was the new girl to school who quickly became good friends with Mercedes.  I liked this friendship and how great Faye was to her through everything that happened in the book.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible Life Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

My Review: 4 Stars

This was a book that was very interesting and a quick read.  I was able to get invested in the characters pretty quickly, and I wanted everything in their lives to work out for them, though sometimes it seemed like that was a difficult thing to hope for, since they all had a lot of struggles.

Mira started at a new school in the beginning of the book after spending time in a hospital for depression and chronic fatigue.  She was into shopping at thrift stores and designing some of her own clothes.  I had trouble liking her family, since it seemed like they always treated her as the problem child.  She may not have been as perfect as her older sister who studied at Harvard, but she had her own strengths, and she didn't deserve that treatment from her parents.  Her older sister, Julie, was also rather condescending and hurtful to her.

Sebby, Mira's best friend, was a gay boy in foster care.  He had a really tough life, though I think at least some of it was his own doing.  He chose not to go to school at all, though he did go to school before a bullying incident that landed him in the hospital.  He did not really get along well with his foster mom.  I wasn't entirely happy with the conclusion that was given to him in the book, since it didn't seem too happy, after all he'd been through.

Jeremy was a nice, shy boy with two dads who was also gay.  I really loved his character because he was just such a good guy, who had been through some tough things.  But his dads loved him.  He definitely had the best family and home life out of the three characters.  I liked seeing him get swept up in the world of Sebby and Mira.

Peter was a teacher in the book.  I struggled with his actions.  I feel like he really cared about the students, yet he also seemed to cross boundaries, by letting them into his home and things like that.  I ultimately don't think he really did anything that was that wrong, though.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Just Visiting Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

My Review: 5 Stars

I read Behind the Scenes and liked it and then read Under the Lights, and I loved it.  After Under the Lights I thought there was no way Dahlia Adler could top that book, not because I don't trust in her ability to write good books, but because I just loved Under the Lights so much.  Then I read Just Visiting.  I know without a doubt that this is easily my favorite Dahlia Adler book yet, as well as making it into my top favorites list of all time.  (Now I need to go add this to all my end of the year lists).  Something I did not expect going into this book was that it would almost make me cry.  I don't typically cry reading books, so almost making me cry is as close as I get to crying at a book.  I am always impressed when books are able to do that because it is so rare for me, and this book was able to do it, so I love it for that as well.

First, I have to talk about Reagan because she is my favorite character in this book and I loved her so much.  There were also so many times in the book when my heart ached for her and I just wanted to go and give her a hug and tell her everything would be okay.  She has a super tough life.  She lives in a trailer park with an awful mom, and a dad who's hardly ever there because he has to work all the time.  And there are some secrets in her past that are absolutely awful.  After finding out this secret of hers, it was easy to see why she was closed off some of the time, to even her best friend.  I also loved how well her poverty seemed to be portrayed.  The book showed how she could get application fee waivers, and it showed other things like how important scholarships were to her, and how she had to work to be able to afford things like gas money.

I didn't love Victoria's character as much at first, but she quickly grew on me throughout the book.  At first, she seemed to not really care about the school part of college, and instead only cared about parties, sororities, and boys, which is very much not me, so I didn't relate.  Also, she wanted to study fashion, and me and fashion are not too words that are typically thought of in the same sentence.  At first, it seems like her life is a lot better than Reagan's by far.  Her home life definitely is better, since she has loving parents, including a deaf mom, who she speaks ASL to.  But she has things in her past too.  She is Mexican American, and that has made things tough for her thanks to people bullying her for her ethnicity, and people acting like she was an illegal immigrant and asking to see her papers. 

Now I'm going to talk about the friendship.  This is definitely going to rank as one of my top female friendship books of all times.  I think it could even be my top one, but I'd have to look through which other books had my other favorite friendships to be sure.  This friendship experienced so much growth throughout the book.  At the beginning, Reagan and Victoria were both keeping important secrets about their pasts from each other, though especially Reagan.  Seeing how their friendship evolved once their secrets were out in the open was a beautiful thing to read about.  Sure, it wasn't always easy.  There were times when things were super weird and awkward between the two of them, and when they would fight, but it all read as very real to me.  Throughout the book, Reagan dealt with a lot and Victoria was so supportive through everything, and I loved this and how genuine it was.

This book is way more about the friendship than the romance, but there was a cute ship for both of the girls in this book.  Reagan met a guy named Dave on her first college visit, and they immediately hit it off and flirted with each other.  The two of them were just so cute together.  Reagan had some issues from her past with her ex-boyfriend that made it difficult for her and Dave to have things work at first, but I liked the progression of their relationship.  Victoria also had a cute ship, and I won't say who it's with, but I will say that it's with someone that I wouldn't have expected her to have a romance with, and it's really cute.

Anyway, the basic gist of this review is that you should read this book, because if you do, there is a strong probability that you will love it.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

What You Left Behind 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?

My Review: 4 Stars

I really liked this story, and the characters in it.  The main character was Ryden, a male character, which is fairly unique for YA books since more are typically female characters.  Not only that, but the topic itself was one that I've never read before - the story of a teen dad.  I've read a few teen pregnancy books before, and they've all focused on the mom. The only other one that I've read with a would-be teen dad was a book when the girl got an abortion, so he wasn't actually dealing with being a father.  So I loved seeing this plotline explored.

Ryden read as a very real character to me.  He certainly wasn't perfect, but he was trying to be the best father that he could be for his daughter.  Sure, he made plenty of mistakes along the way, and there were times that he was pretty selfish, focusing on his life and his future while handing his daughter off to other caretakers.  And I didn't really get how he thought that meeting his father who he had never known would be the missing piece that would make him into a good father.  After all, his father had left before he was born, so it wasn't like he was ever a real father to him.  So yeah, I didn't get his fixation on finding out who his father was.  Luckily, that wasn't that much of the story.

Someone in this story who was great as a parent was Ryden's mom.  She was so supportive of him the entire time, and she was also a great grandmother to his daughter.  She had raised Ryden on her own as a single mom, and she really was amazing at it.  I loved her support for him, while also pushing him when it was necessary in certain areas.

I loved reading about Ryden's relationships with people, both in the past and the present.  Meg had already died at the start of the book, but we got to find out more about her through the snippets of the journals that she wrote that were included in the book.  I'm not completely sure how I felt about her in the end, but there were parts when I did like her.  Ryden also had a developing relationship with a girl who worked with him at a grocery store named Joni.  This was a friendship to romance progression that I really liked.  It was also interesting to see how it was really freeing for him to be with her at first, since she didn't know about his past and about his daughter, but eventually this became difficult, since he didn't want to keep secrets from somebody so important to him.

If you like unique YA contemporary storylines, read this book.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Releases I'm Most Excited For

November 3rd:
The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens - I loved Faking Normal when I read it last year, so I'm excited to read Courtney Stevens' next book.

The Lies About Truth

November 17th:
Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler - This one is one that I'm definitely going to have to buy a copy of and read soon after it comes out.  I have read two of her books, and I still need to get around to reading Last Will and Testament.  I loved Under the Lights, and I also really liked Behind the Scenes, though not quite as much as Under the Lights.  Also, this has great female friendship, I've heard, so I am excited.

 Just Visiting


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ARC Review: What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

What We Left Behind From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselves comes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love isn't 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, their relationship will surely thrive.

The reality of being apart, however, is a lot different than they expected. As Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, falls in with a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen, who is not trans, just won't understand what is going on, 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?

My Review:

I am writing this review in June upon having just finished this book, and it will be October when this review goes live.  I am writing this review right now because I finished the book and wrote a mini review of it, and as soon as I wrote that mini review, I needed to write this review because I had thoughts to expand upon.  I could just say, Everyone should read this book, and leave it at that, but I have much more to say, because this book is extremely unique, and all the things that make it unique also make it wonderful.  As soon as I received my ARC, I started this book, and I didn't read any more of some other books that I had started until I finished this.  I became so invested in these characters and in their lives.  I am probably going to preorder this book, and if I don't preorder it, I will buy it when it releases, because I want to read it again when it is a hardcover with that gorgeous cover that will look beautiful in my book collection.  Anyway, now onto the reasons that this book is perfection.

This book is full of diversity all around.  Obviously, the main diversity that you know is in this book just by reading the synopsis is the sexual orientation and gender nonbinary diversity.  There is also racial diversity in this, with African American and Korean characters in important roles.  The narrators of this book are Gretchen, who is lesbian, and Toni, who is genderqueer.  While I have read a couple books with characters who identified as trans, I have never read a book with a character who identified as genderqueer.  That is, until I read this book.  Honestly, there are some gender identities mentioned in this book that I had never even heard of before.  Most of the characters in this book fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum, except for a few minor characters.  There are gay secondary characters, a lesbian protagonist, a genderqueer protagonist, lesbian secondary characters, a bi secondary character, and transgender secondary characters.  This book does have a lot of focus on transgender characters, which is one of the most underrepresented categories in LGBTQIA.  This book focused a lot on pronouns and the gender binary, and many of the nuances there, which were interesting to read about, since it wasn't something I've thought about very much.

Another way that this book is unique is that it shows a relationship that is already established at the beginning of the book.  So many books are about the buildup to getting the main couple together, so it was refreshing to read something different, though I do like those other books as well.  Books and movies often stop once the couple is together, but this book shows how there is so much to be explored and written about the difficulties of an established relationship.  Once someone is with someone else, it doesn't automatically mean that the couple will have smooth sailing from there on out.  Instead, there can be bumps in the road, and the people in the relationship will need to learn how they can grow both in the relationship as well as individually, which is the main struggle within this book.  Once they go to college, Toni and Gretchen have a distance between them, since they aren't seeing each other nearly as often.  This is especially difficult for Gretchen because she isn't sure how she fits in outside of her relationship with Toni.

The third thing that is especially unique about this book is that it is a YA book set during college.  Most YA books are set during high school, but I think a lot of high school age students, especially juniors and seniors, would be interested in reading books about students who are just starting their freshmen years of college.  At the time when I read this book, I had just finished my freshmen year of college, so I especially enjoyed reading a book that was set in college, though the college experiences that these characters had were different than my own personal college experiences.  It shows how people can find themselves at college, and really feel a strong sense of belonging, while others may struggle to find that sense of belonging.  I thought it was a great depiction of a first year of college.

If you like YA contemporary that is like no other, read this book.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl 

 The book tells the story of Amanda Hardy, who moves to a small town in Tennessee to live with her father. She wants to make friends and fit in, but Amanda has a secret: she used to be Andrew, and fears that the truth could cost her her new life, and her new love. It's slated for publication in 2016.


This book doesn't actually come out until May 2016, but I was sent a bound manuscript from Flatiron Books for review.  My full review won't be going up until closer to release, but I just want to give you a few reasons why you should put this book on your to-read list now.  And you can also preorder it now here: I loved this book and sped through it in less than a day, while I probably should have been studying instead. Whoops.  So here's the reasons you should read it.

1.  The narrator is a trans girl.

2.  The friendships are wonderful. 

3.  The family relationships and complex and fleshed out.

4.  It has a unique small town feel, and shows the experience of being trans in a small town in the South like that.

5. It is also really emotional at times.

This book is amazing and I highly suggest that everyone reads it.  It comes out on May 3rd next year. My review will be up in April, and it will elaborate on why I loved this book.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

October Releases I'm Most Excited For

October 13th:
First and Then by Emma Mills - This looks like a good book with a kind of Jane Austen modernization.  It looks cute.

 First & Then

October 27th:
Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul - This sounds like a captivating book and the type that I like to read.  The exploration of the toxic friendship sounds really interesting.

Underneath Everything


Monday, September 7, 2015

Review: Not After Everything by Michelle Levy

Not After Everything A gritty but hopeful love story about two struggling teens—
great for fans of The Spectacular Now, Willow, and Eleanor and Park

Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry-loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her? But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

My Review: 5 Stars

This book.  Wow.  This book was absolutely amazing.  It is emotional and so well written and it probably have made me cry if I were a person who cried while reading books.  It has a great male narrator, and an amazing hate-to-love love story.

First, there is the main character and narrator, Tyler.  At first, he doesn't seem that great.  He pushes everyone away, and strings along his girlfriend.  He thinks a lot of negative things about his girlfriend, some of which were probably true, based on what I read about her, but he still should have broken up with her if that's what he thought about her.  But Tyler's behaviors are understandable once you find out about his horrible home life.  His father is an abusive jerk, and his mother killed herself.  Tyler really loved his mother, so it is understandable that he tries to push people away so he doesn't have to lose another person that he loves.  

Tyler's dad is absolutely horrible and I got so angry at him.  He is not at all what a parent is supposed to be.  He seems to hate his son.  He abuses Tyler emotionally as well as going on drunken tirades and physically beating him.  He not only does all that, but he also refuses to provide anything for Tyler at all, including food and toilet paper.  Tyler is forced to get a job to be able to eat, when his dad should be getting food for him.

Jordyn and Tyler start out with a relationship where they hate each other.  Or truthfully, it's really more like she hates him and he doesn't really understand why for a while.  They were friends as kids because their moms were friends, but Jordyn's family moved at some point, and they fell out of touch, but she had come back in high school, and Tyler hadn't realized that, since Jordyn had become Goth, and he didn't recognize her with all her makeup on.  I loved watching how Jordyn slowly warmed up to Tyler again, and how she really began to care about him and feel protective of him once she found out what his dad did to him.  It was the kind of relationship that Tyler really needed, and I loved it so much.  I loved the tender romance that developed.

Jordyn's family is so adorable.  I loved how her parents are divorced and both are remarried, and all four of them (her mom and dad, and her stepmom and stepdad), are all like one big family with Jordyn.  They are also pretty funny when they are interacting at the family holidays.  Henry, her stepdad, is completely the sweetest guy, and he is great for Tyler too.  He cares so much about Tyler, which is what Tyler needs.  The rest of the family is great and really welcoming to Tyler, especially Jordyn's mom too.  When he gets into a bad situation, they are there for him, which is really great.  They do more for him than someone would ever typically expect from someone who isn't their own family.

If you like YA contemporary with some dark parts, read this book.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Releases I'm Most Excited For

September 1st:
Everything Everything by Nicole Yoon - This sounds like a great book, and I have seen wonderful reviews of it, and read that the ship is wonderful, so basically, I can't wait to read it.

 Everything, Everything

September 8th:
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa - This sounds unique, and I like that it sounds like it will probably have a bisexual love triangle, since that's a different spin on the love triangle. (EDIT: Apparently this is not a bisexual love triangle, according to early reviews, but it still sounds great).
The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis  - This sounds like it's going to be really good, and I've seen some good reviews.  Plus, it has a really unique premise.

Fans of the Impossible LifeThe One Thing

September 15th:
Dumplin by Julie Murphy - I enjoyed Julie Murphy's first book, Side Effects May Vary, so I look forward to reading this one too.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Releases I'm Most Excited For

August 4th:
Not After Everything by Michelle Levy - This sounds like such a great male POV book, and like it might be dark too.
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi - This looks like another Jessica Verdi book with a great and unique premise, like both of the other books by her that I've read.  I've read teen pregnancy books before, but I have not read any books before about a teen father.

Not After EverythingWhat You Left Behind

August 18th:
The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy - I've been excited to read this book since I first heard about it.  The cover is so creepy and dark, which makes sense for a book with this title and synopsis.

The Creeping


Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Julie Berry's All The Truth That's in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

My Review:

If you cannot handle books that are dark, and quite gory at times, then this really is not the book for you.  But if you like dark books, then I highly recommend this one.  It was really a fascinating look into a cult and into living life after a cult, as well as the gray areas between someone being a criminal and a victim.

The Kevinian cult was something that was quite interesting.  It was very oppressive to women, who were all basically controlled by their husbands and fathers, as well as being controlled by what the Prophet wanted them to do.  Men could marry many wives, and families were often large with many kids.  When I read the parts about their religion, so many parts of it did not seem real at all, and I couldn't understand how these people could be brainwashed into believing these things.  They all really believed that God was a guy named Charlie who kept on being reincarnated.  Yet they didn't have an explanation for who created the world before Charlie was first born, since his first birth supposedly wasn't until the 1700s, according to what they believed.  I did not like the Prophet at all, and I also did not like Minnow's father.  Minnow's own father cut off her hands because the Prophet told him to.  And I'm kind of curious about what was going on in the mind of the Prophet.  I think he was a vile person, but I wonder if he knew he was a liar, or if he had truly deluded himself into believing his own lies.

Minnow is a character with a morally gray background.  She is in a juvenile detention center for attacking a boy.  She did this right after she left the cult, and she was not at all in a good mental state.  It is really interesting to wrestle with the idea of how much she deserved punishment for what she did.  Attacking someone is not a good thing to do, and I am not at all condoning that, but Minnow had been in a cult since she was five years old.  She was not ready for life in the real world, and she was a victim of so much awfulness.

One character that I loved so much was Minnow's cellmate at juvie, Angel.  I would never have expected that I could love a character who was a murderer, but I loved her so much.  Also, while this creates another moral argument about whether there is such a thing as justifiable murder, the person that Angel murdered was someone who had abused and victimized her for years.  Angel was exactly the friend that Minnow needed and I loved watching this friendship develop.  Also, Angel does an incredibly sweet thing for Minnow, and says something very sweet too, and just, this friendship gives me so many feels.  Also, so much of these feels also come from how heartbreaking Angel's sentence is.  I will just say that it is so long, and it is messed up that a girl basically loses so many years from her life to prison after being abused and a victim.  Angel points out the injustice in this, and she is so right about it.  I think Angel deserves so much more for her life, and she really is a good person, despite whatever she's done in the past.

If you like YA dark contemporary, read this book.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

This is a feature on The Broke and the Bookish, and this topic is books with diverse characters.  I really like this topic since I personally try to read books with more diversity.  I'll try to include several that have intersectional diversity.

1. What We Left Behind by Robin Talley - This was the first book that I thought of for this list, since there is a lot of diversity in it.  Basically the entire cast of main characters is somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum, and not only that, but there are also secondary characters of diverse races (one is African American and one is Korean).  Within the LGBTQIA spectrum, this book explores some of the areas under that that are often underrepresented.  For example, one of the narrators is genderqueer, and this is the first book that I have ever read with a genderqueer character.  There are also several trans characters.  I have a lot of thoughts on this book, and it isn't out until October, which is when my review goes up, so read my review when that goes up to get more of my thoughts.

2.  More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera - This book has so much diversity, with its gay main character who is Latino and of the lower socioeconomic bracket.  I haven't read very many books with people from a lower SES, but the ones that I have read have been good, including this one.  Aaron lives in a small apartment with his mom and brother in the Bronx, in a rougher neighborhood that is riddled with street fights and violence.  The book doesn't gloss over how difficult it is to be gay in this neighborhood, and how Aaron has to deal with these challenges.

3.  Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler - One of the two narrators of this book is Korean American, and, as she discovers a bit later in the story, lesbian.  Her name is Van and she is an actress in Hollywood.  This book really shows how it is already difficult for her to get roles as a Korean American, and she worries that it will be even more difficult if she comes out as a lesbian.  There are a lot of things in Hollywood that are working against her.  Also, the girl that she likes, Bri, is bisexual, and she shows the difficulties of bi-erasure through one of her past experiences that she tells Van about.

4.  Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz - The narrator of this book is bisexual, black, and has an eating disorder.  This book deals heavily with issues of biphobia and bierasure through Etta's narration.  Etta used to be friends with a group of lesbians at her school, but she is basically kicked out of their group after she has a relationship with a boy.  It shows how people who are bi can have trouble feeling accepted by both the straight community and the LGBTQIA community. 

5.  Far From You by Tess Sharpe - This book has a narrator who is both bisexual and disabled.  She was injured in an accident freshmen year, and she still has difficulties walking because of it, and her back often hurts her.  Sophie's perspective also shows a good example of being bisexual.  One of the characters thinks that she is lesbian because they know that she liked a girl, but she explains that she is actually bisexual instead.

6.  Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley - This book has a very unique story since it is about two girls falling in love during integration, and one is black and one is white.  Obviously, these two have enough difficulties stacked against them as a couple just based on their races alone, and then add in the fact that they are two girls, and clearly, you know as a reader that it won't be easy for them.  This book shows the difficulties of integration, and how awful people were treated during it.

7.  My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter - While the narrator of this book is straight and white, there are diverse secondary characters, and there are LGBTQIA themes central to the story.  The main character, Colette, starts the book as someone who has been shaped by the beliefs of her family and her mom, who is very homophobic.  When she finds out that her former best friend is a lesbian, she has to deal with this, and come to terms with the fact that it really might not be wrong.  And her former best friend has two brothers who are adopted from Haiti, so there is racial diversity as well.

8.  One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva - The narrator of this book is gay and Armenian.  I have never read a book with an Armenian main character, and it was really interesting to read about his family, and especially to read the opening scene with his family in a restaurant.  This book is a light and fun LGBTQIA romance as well as opening my eyes to another culture.

9.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - This book is a very light and sweet LGBTQIA romance.  There are also racially diverse characters in it.  Simon has a friend named Abby who is black, and there are also some other black secondary characters in this book.

10.  The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi - This book has a main cast that is almost all comprised of LGBTQIA characters, since it takes place at a conversion camp.  This conversion camp was absolutely awful to read about, and they did horrible things to the people there.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

My Review:

This is a book that has immediately become one of my all-time favorites, since it was just so amazing and absolute perfection.  I fell in love with these characters and with the story, and I am so glad I own the hardcover so that I can revisit this book sometimes, since I know that I will want to.  This book had a beautiful romance ship, friendships, and familial relationships, and all of these received pagetime and were explored with the correct amount of complexity needed.

I ship Emmy and Oliver as a couple and also as friends, so much.  First of all, the fact that he liked her when they were little kids is basically one of the most adorable things ever.  But also, I love the teenager Oliver as well.  Sure, he's been through a lot with being kidnapped by his father and now ending up back home, but he doesn't let things get him down too much, and he has a lot of fun with Emmy, even if he doesn't really remember her as a kid that much.  There was certainly no instalove in this relationship, and it wasn't necessarily one that was easy, but it was one that was natural and worked well.  Also, the first kiss scene was adorable, so I loved it so much.  One of the best things about their relationship was how they truly supported each other, and were there for each other.  

I also loved the other friendships that Emmy has in this book, aside from the one with Oliver.  At the beginning of this book, we find out about her two best friends, Caro and Drew.  They were also friends with Oliver when they were kids.  I loved the friendships between Emmy and both of these characters, and I loved how they each had their own part in the story, and a small character arc there as well.  Something that I liked about these friendships were that things weren't always perfect and without problems, but they were strong enough to withstand challenges.  They each have their own storylines.  Caro is the youngest of six children, and her parents don't really care much about what she does.  Also, she has to live in a room with her messy older sister Heather, and she can't wait to move out of living with her.  Drew is gay, and his family is theoretically okay with this, but not so much in practice.  They are afraid to even let other people in their extended family know that they have a gay son.  

This book also has a large focus on family in it as well.  After Oliver was kidnapped by his dad, Emmy's parents became super overprotective of her, causing her to hide parts of her life from him instead of telling them.  For example, she know that they would never agree to her surfing so she just doesn't tell them about it.  Emmy tends to get annoyed with them often, but deep down, she really doe love them, and they love her too, which is why they are so protective.  Oliver's family is also important in the story.  He spent ten years with his dad, and most of the time, until near the end, he didn't know that his dad was the bad guy since his dad had painted himself in a good light, and Oliver's mom in a bad light.  Oliver struggles to navigate a relationship with his mom, as he doesn't really know how to talk to her anymore.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?

My Review:

This book has a unique story that leads to a very unique romance.  This was a great LGBTQIA book, and I really loved it, and found the story and the characters to all be very engaging. 

The romance in this book is one that I ship so much because the two characters are absolutely adorable together.  This romance is between Alix and Liana, who meet after Swanee dies and find out they were both dating Swanee.  So at first, they don't like each other too much, but it wasn't their faults that Swanee was cheating, and they that they are really mad at her and not at each other.  And Liana is so sweet to Alix at just the right moments, and it was all so cute how it played out.  I rooted for them to be together so much, and I hoped that Liana wouldn't be mad when she would someday probably find out the secret that Alix was keeping from her. 

I really loved the fact that Alix had a baby brother, and how she navigated that.  She was not very good with him at first, and it was cute seeing her trying to figure out how to take care of him, since she thought that he hated her because of an incident involving him choking.  Also, I loved how good Liana was with him, and how that helped her and Alix come together.

I was not a fan of Swanee because of all the lies that she told.  At the beginning of this book, she died, so we didn't get to read much that actually had her in it, but it was clear that she had built an entire life of lies from what Liana and Alix learned.  I didn't like how she hurt both of them since I really liked both of those characters.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride 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.

My Review:

This book was an interesting one with a fabulous hate to love romance.  It explored some issues in it as well, mainly illegal immigration.  

Carly Vega certainly does not have an easy life in this book, and I really cannot imagine having that life.  Her parents were deported 3 years before, and she works a late night shift at a convenience store to make money to help pay to smuggle them back in.  She lives with her older brother, who is working a lot as well to make money for smuggling them.  Carly wants to get an education so that she can make more of her life, but her parents and her brother, Julio, think that working is the most important thing.  It's a bit of a conflict of interest, since she has to keep working to please them, but she also has to get all her homework done in hopes of being able to get a scholarship to afford going to college.  

Arden Moss is the son of the sheriff, and he likes to prank people.  He needs a new "partner in crime," and he has his sights set on Carly.  Unfortunately for Arden, thanks to an incident at the convenience store, she wants nothing to do with him.  At first, I wasn't sure how I felt about Arden, because he did something near the beginning of the book that I did not like or approve of, but he really grew on me by the end, and I thought he was so sweet. 

As you can probably guess, the ship in this book is Carly and Arden, and I am totally on board this ship.  Hate to love is a romance trope that I love, since it typically causes the romance to develop slowly, as the characters really develop their feelings for each other.  I loved how much Arden cared for Carly, and how he did nice things for her because he wanted to, such as getting her a new job that had better pay.  I mean, he did have slightly ulterior motives of wanting her to go on adventures with him, but he also was just being a nice guy.  And he does something near the end that really risks himself for her, and I have so much love for him, and for his relationship with Carly.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia's confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

My Review:

This book was such a fun and cute and quick read.  It also has diversity, since the narrator is a lesbian with a Persian background, and there are also some diverse secondary characters, in both race and sexuality. 

There is a romance in this book between Leila and another girl, and it was adorable.  I won't say who it is because it isn't obvious right away.  This girl had had a crush on Leila when she was young, and how Leila found out, and the journey to them actually being together was so cute.  I rooted for them so much, and I loved reading about their moments together.  Also, there was a slow build to it when Leila had interactions with this girl when readers didn't yet know if this girl even liked girls or not.  Anyway, I shipped this so much.

I liked reading about Leila's background with her family.  Since they came from a country where being gay is illegal, this played into her fear of telling them that she was a lesbian.  I liked her parents, and how they did try their best to accept her as she was, even if it was a bit difficult for them to understand sometimes.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

If You Could Be Mine In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.

So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.

Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?

My Review:

This was an interesting read that opened my eyes to another culture (the culture of Iran).  It was interesting to see how different many things were there.  In Iran, someone can get arrested for being gay, or for showing their elbows.  In that country, homosexuality is a crime that is punishable by death, which really seems like an absurd punishment that does not fit the crime.

This story starts with the relationship between Sahar and Nasrin.  Sahar has always dreamed of marrying Nasrin, and the relationship between them is mutual, but also highly forbidden.  Sahar is devastated when she finds out that Nasrin's parents have arranged for Nasrin to be married.  While I was originally rooting for them as a couple, I also knew that the situation was dangerous for them, and I ended up thinking that Nasrin was pretty selfish.  She basically strung Sahar along for the ride, expecting her to still be with her when she had a husband.  Sahar cared about Nasrin, but what she needed was a real commitment from her. 

Something that I found interesting about the laws in Iran is that while homosexuality is illegal, being transgender is not, and the government even pays for the surgeries for people who are transgender.  Sahar wrestles with the idea of whether or not being with Nasrin is worth becoming a person that she is not (a man).  It is a really interesting struggle to read about, and you can see how she was torn, though at the same time, I thought Nasrin wasn't really worth all of that.  I'm not going to say whether or not she goes through with changing her gender.

If you like YA books about another culture, read this book.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

My Review:

Speechless is a great book that looks at important issues like bullying and hate crime through the lens of a narrator who isn't the most likable and first, and who is real and flawed.  This book is really a journey for this narrator, and it is a great journey to read and experience.

Chelsea Knot starts off the book as a rather unlikable character, due to her inability to keep secrets.  When she catches two boys together at a party, she wants to tell her best friend, and she tells her in front of most of the people at the party.  What Chelsea does not know at the time is how her inability to keep secrets will end up putting a boy in the hospital, thanks to a couple of homophobic jerks hearing what she told the people at the party.  My favorite part of this book was getting to watch Chelsea learn from her mistakes and grow as a person.  She becomes a social outcast after she turns in the jerks to the people, and her old friends don't like her anymore because those boys were in their friend group too.  Because of this, she has to find new friends.  I loved seeing how she really felt bad about telling the secret, and that she knew it was wrong now.

Because of Chelsea being kicked out of her old friend group, she has to find some new friends, and she does find some great ones.  First, there is Sam, a boy who she sits next to in art class.  Sam is the best friend of Noah, the boy who is in the hospital.  You might think that Sam would dislike Chelsea because she told the secret that landed his friend in the hospital, but Sam is really a good guy, so he doesn't do that.  He instead ends up bonding with her through their art project.  He is so sweet and good to Chelsea, and I love him so much for that.  Chelsea also becomes friends with a girl named Asha that she meets at detention.  Asha is a freshman, and she is really nice and bubbly, and she is a great friend to Chelsea.  Unlike Chelsea's former friends, she isn't someone who is shallow and cares about popularity, so I liked her much better.  This friendship was great, and I liked how Chelsea slowly realized how great of a friend Asha was.  Another interesting character in the book is Andy, Noah's boyfriend.  His feelings are complicated towards Chelsea, because he knows that Noah wouldn't have been beaten up if she hadn't told, yet he also knows that she had no idea that that would happen.  The development of the tentative possible friendship between Andy and Chelsea is interesting to read.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

My Review:

Something that both of Katie Cotugno's books have in common is that she isn't afraid to give her characters real flaws, and have them be not necessarily "likeable" characters.  I think it makes the characters seem much more like real people, since they make mistakes, and I still end up usually liking these characters.

As a reader, it is easy to see how Molly is torn between Gabe and Patrick, since I wasn't really one hundred percent sure who I preferred either, though I did have at least a slight preference.  There were different things that made me like Gabe versus Patrick.  I personally thought that I read more chemistry between Gabe and Molly, while Patrick and Molly had more of a cute shared history that I didn't want them to completely leave behind.  Of course, the way Molly was torn between the two brothers was something that was going to hurt both her and the brothers' relationships with each other.  

Julia was the sister of the two brothers, and she had at one point been Molly's best friend.  She was completely awful to Molly, and she shouldn't have really been that involved in something that was between Molly and her brothers.  Even when Molly was dating one of the brothers and came over to the house invited by him, Julia tried to get her to leave and thought that she shouldn't be there.  Julia was a bully to Molly, and while cheating isn't good, she didn't deserve that.

Something that I liked in this book was the development of the friendships.  One of these friendships is with Molly's former best friend Imogen.  Imogen is still hurt because Molly left without telling her where she was going or telling her anything.  It was clearly hard at first for Imogen to be friends with Molly again, but she really does make an effort which I appreciated.  Imogen has a new best friend, Tess, who Molly befriends in this book as well.  It's slightly awkward with Molly and Tess since Tess is Patrick's new girlfriend.  Tess was really sweet, though, and I really liked her.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July Releases I'm Most Excited For

July 7th:
Jesse's Girl by Miranda Kenneally - I've loved every Miranda Kenneally book so far, so I'm excited for this.  Also, it's cool that the main character is Sam from Catching Jordan's younger sister.
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes  - This one sounds like such a fun and quick read and I'm looking forward to it.

Jesse's Girl (Hundred Oaks)The Fixer

July 21st:
Damage Done by Amanda Panitch - This sounds like a really dark and interesting read.  I can't wait to read it.

Damage Done


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

The Night We Said Yes A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

My Review:

This book was one that I read through one day, and now I am writing this review on the same day that I read this book during.  I feel like it's fitting that this was a one day read for me, considering that this book takes place during two different one night long periods - one in the past, and one in the present.  I loved this book, and it was the perfect book to read in the summer, since it had a very summery feel to it.  It was a cute and fluffy book, with great characters.

I loved the relationship between Ella and Matt, even though they did have their challenges.  Matt made mistakes, the main one being that he disappeared with his family and didn't contact Ella at all.  Despite this, I thought he was a genuinely sweet and nice guy, which I loved.  They had immediate chemistry during the story of the first night that they met, and I was just waiting for something to happen between them.  When he came back in the present timeline, Ella had trust issues to work through with him after what he had put her through, but she clearly still liked him, and the chemistry between the two of them was still there and was still absolutely adorable.  I ship the two of them together so much.

There was another romance on the side that also got some focus in this book, since it was between two of Ella's friends, Meg and Jake.  I had more trouble getting behind this romance and supporting it for a while, since it seemed so unhealthy, and it seemed to be hurting Meg too much.  The two of them were constantly going back and forth between on again and off again, and they also had these passionate fights.  The thing was, though, Jake always came back to Meg after he had short relationships with other girls, because he really cared about her, and she took him back every time, even when he really didn't deserve it, because she loved him.  So, by the end, I was able to better understand these two, even if at the beginning, I thought I would never support their relationship.

Another great thing about this book was the focus on friendship.  Meg is Ella's best friend, and I liked seeing how much they were supportive of each other and understood each other.  They were both protective of the other when it came to boys, and didn't want to see each other get hurt.  Meg understood when one of the things from the night of saying yes would make Ella uncomfortable, and she remedied it, and Ella knew what things she shouldn't mention, usually in regards to the relationship between Meg and Jake when they were off again.  There is a scene in the present timeline near the end that I thought was very important and kind of cathartic for the two of them, but I won't say any more about it since I don't want to spoil it.

If you like YA fluffy and cute contemporary, read this book.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2015

This is a meme on the Broke and the Bookish.  I really like this week's topic, so I'm going to be doing it.  To narrow my choice's down, I'm only going to be choosing from books I've read in 2015 that released in 2015, and these will be in no particular order.

1.  The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord - I loved this book! It had the perfect female friendships, as well as a fabulous ship that I was rooting for long before the characters realized that they liked each other in that way.

2.  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - This was such a fun and fluffy read with adorable characters.  It made me really wonder who Blue was, and I was happy with who he ended up being and the romance that ensued then.

3.  None of the Above by IW Gregorio - This was a book that taught me a lot about something that I previously knew next to nothing about, while also having a great story and characters that I loved.

4.  The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - As usual, Kasie West delivered an adorable, fluffy contemporary.  I really enjoy the fake dating trope, and I loved it in this story too.  The romance and a new friendship that also forms were both great.

5.  More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera - This was an emotional and heartbreaking book, and I loved it.  It had a hopeful ending, even though there was so much heartwrenching stuff throughout.

6.  What We Left Behind by Robin Talley - This book doesn't release until the end of October, but I got an ARC and read it as soon as I got it, and this will definitely be one of my favorite books of the year.  I adored these characters, and I wanted their relationship to work out, and for the characters to really figure out their lives and find themselves.

7.  Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider - This was such a sad and yet also hopeful book, and it had such fun characters who all had their own quirks.

8.  The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes - This was a great survival story that really made me worry for the characters as they were lost in the woods.

9.  My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga - This was a book with a super unique premise.  It was one when I really wanted the characters to change their minds and decide to live even though they didn't want to at the beginning of the book.

10.  Made You Up by Francesca Zappia - This was quite the unreliable narrator story since Alex had schizophrenia.  I really wondered what was real and what wasn't.  I also loved the romance so much.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Extraordinary Means 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.

My Review:

This book was heartbreaking and beautiful and I loved it so much.  I don't typically cry during books, and I didn't cry during this one, but I did come pretty close, which is saying a lot in my case, since that doesn't happen very often.  This book really made me feel all the emotions, and I mean that in a good way.

The ship is beautiful and I love everything about this ship.  The ship is between the two narrators, Lane and Sadie.  Sure, it starts out with a bit of a misunderstanding when she thinks she hates him because she thinks he did something mean to her at summer camp when they were 13, but that gets cleared up pretty quickly.  After that is cleared up, they are bantery and flirty and adorable, and I love them so much as a couple, and as individuals too.  Of course, falling in love in a place for people with an incurable disease could easily be a setup for heartbreak, since people will either make it out alive and go back to the real world, where they live in different places and would have to have a long-distance relationship, or people will die in Latham House.

Latham House was an interesting place to set this story, since it was basically a place to hold these people and treat them until they either got better or died.  The "school" that they had there was basically a joke, since the doctors expected everyone to put their lives on hold while at Latham House.  It would seem that a book set in this setting would be all sadness, but that isn't true.  There were definitely lighter and happier moments in this book, especially with Sadie's group and Lane hanging out. 
If you like YA contemporary that is emotional, read this book.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Under the Lights (Daylight Falls, #2) Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

My Review:

I sped through this book in a very short period of time.  I started it in the evening, and I finished it by noon the next day.  When I woke up, I had basically done nothing but eat breakfast and read this book until I was finished reading this book.  This book was full of great characters, and a great storyline.

First, I'm going to talk about Josh's character.  I definitely am not in agreement with some of the things he did, like having many different sexual encounters all the time, but he was a good guy in one of the ways that really mattered.  I liked seeing him as the softer Josh who started to be really friends with Vanessa, even though Vanessa never would have guessed that he would become her friend.  He was also so supportive of her, and I really loved it.

One of the major parts of this book is, of course, the new romance that Van ends up having in this book.  When the book starts, Van is in a kind-of relationship with a boy band star named Zander, but they don't really have any chemistry, and she doesn't feel super committed to this relationship.  Then she meets Bri, her publicist's intern and daughter.  Bri and Van immediately have a lot of chemistry, and we know almost right away that Bri is bisexual.  Of course, at this point, Van thinks that she is straight, and that she and Bri are just friends, though that certainly doesn't stop her from flirting with Bri.  There is some drama on the way to them starting a relationship, but it's clear that they both want to be with each other.  The one thing that really causes the drama is Van being afraid that coming out will keep her from getting roles since she already has trouble getting roles as an Asian American actress.  

I liked the cameos of Ally and Liam.  I loved how both Van and Josh came up with #LiamProblems, since the problems that Liam had were girls liking him and getting many movie roles thrown at him.  There wasn't that much of Liam in this book, since he was often stressed out about filming shows and movies.  Ally was also in this book, and it was clear that her leaving for college did have an affect on Van, since she really didn't want her best friend to go all the way across the country.  I loved how they still tried to stay in touch, and how supportive Ally was of Van with everything.

If you like YA fluffy contemporary, read this book.