Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Review:

This was such a sweet, fun, and light read that I sped through quickly because I couldn't put it down.  I had to know how everything would end up turning out in Simon's life.  I love this book, and the characters, and everything about it.


I love Simon's character.  He is gay, and in the closet, and it's not necessarily because he thinks people will react badly to it; it's just that he knows people will make a big deal about it, and he doesn't want that to happen.  And his town itself is a bit more on the conservative side, so he suspects at least some people won't be supportive.  I like his voice, and his thoughts on sexuality, and on things like straight and white being the defaults, and how they shouldn't be, are really interesting to read.  

The email relationship between Simon (Jacques in the emails) and Blue (whose real name I will not say since it would be a major spoiler) was absolutely adorable.  I loved how they fell for each other's personalities before they even knew who the other was in real life and what they looked like.  It showed that there was no way their relationship could be a superficial one based on liking the way the other looked.  Yes, once they found out who the other was, they were attracted to them and their looks too, but they fell for the personalities first.  I also loved who Blue ended up being, and the actual relationship when they met each other in person, and how adorable they were as an actual couple.

Simon had a good group of friends, and I loved getting to read their dynamics.  They fight and they have their issues, but they are good friends to each other.  This book shows how adding a new friend to an established group can mess with the dynamics of the people in the group.  Leah and Nick have always been Simon's best friends, and Leah has clearly had a crush on Nick for a while.  When new girl Abby becomes part of the group, Leah isn't particularly happy about it, since Nick clearly likes Abby and not Leah.  Simon is torn between these two at times, and he has to try to avoid getting too involved in drama that could happen.  The friends do make mistakes and they do hurt each other sometimes, but they come out of it fine in the end.  I also loved how supportive they were of each other, and of Simon.

I love Simon's family as well.  They can be a fun group, and they each have their personalities developed well.  They do keep secrets from each other, because they have the tendency of getting overly involved in each other's lives, which is one of the reasons that Simon didn't want to come out.  If his mom made a big deal about discovering that Simon drinks coffee, then it makes sense that he thinks she would make a big deal of him being gay.  And then there's the fact that his dad sometimes makes gay jokes, not knowing how those hurt his gay son, since he has no idea that his son is gay.  I love this family, though, and I like how they support Simon in everything, and how they care about him.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

The Start of Me and You Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

My Review:

While I loved Emery Lord's debut, Open Road Summer, I think I may love her sophomore novel, which is this book, even more.  I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish reading the last 100 pages of this book, because I just couldn't wait until the next day to find out what would happen in the book.  And it didn't disappoint.  It was definitely worth staying up late to finish.


Just like in Lord's first book, there is a strong focus on friendship in this one as well.  While her first book was about two best friends, this book focuses on a slightly larger friend group.  The main character, Paige, is best friends with Tessa, and Kayleigh and Morgan are best friends, and the four girls are all friends with each other, so it was nice to get to read about a group dynamic.  During the school year, these four also become friends with two boys, Ryan and Max, who are cousins and best friends with each other.  These friendships are all done so well.  The girls do so many things for each other throughout the book, and they know they can rely on one of the others being there when they need them.  For example, when Kayleigh gets herself into a tough situation, Paige goes and picks her up when she calls.  When Tessa's parents bail on their plans for her birthday, Paige calls the other two and they prepare a birthday surprise for her.  The friendship between these girls is so healthy and wonderful to read about.

Now there are also the boys in this book.  Paige has had a crush on Ryan since middle school, and she wants to date again this school year after having her boyfriend drown two years ago.  She thinks that Ryan is who she wants to date.  She doesn't expect Max to suddenly pop up in her life.  While I like Ryan and I think that he is a good guy and a sweet guy, I never shipped him with Paige.  Max, on the other hand, I was shipping with Paige while she was still crushing on Ryan.  Max is a sweet, nice guy, and he had so much more in common than Paige than Ryan did.  He was on QuizBowl with her, and they both liked to read for fun.  I thought they had a lot of chemistry between them.  There were times when I wanted to reach into the book and tell Paige to start considering Max as more than a friend.  I loved their friendship too though.  She started telling him things that she hadn't told anybody before, sometimes things that she hadn't even told Tessa.  And he also told her so much about him.  I loved these two together, though I wish we could have had more of them being together as a couple in the book.

There was also a focus on family in this book.  Paige's parents are in a unique situation, since they have been divorced five years, and at the start of this book, they have started to date each other again.  Paige and her younger sister Cameron have different opinions on this.  Cameron is happy that they are dating again, because she wants them to get back together. Paige, on the other hand, remembers how miserable they were before the divorce, and she's afraid that if they get back together, that will just end up happening again.  It is a road for Paige to be able to accept their relationship but she gets better with it eventually.  Paige also has her grandmother with Alzheimer's who she goes to talk to. She spills many of her secrets to her grandma, since she knows her grandma won't remember them later.  Her grandma is the first one to say that she thinks Paige might like Max as more than a friend.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Releases I'm Most Excited For

April 7th:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli - The premise of this book is so amazing.  "You've Got Mail starring gay teenage boys with good grammar."  I think this will be a light and fun LGBT book, and I'm hoping that the romance will be awesome, even when it's only over email.
None of the Above by IW Gregorio - I've never read a book about someone who's intersex before, so I'm excited to read this book.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaNone of the Above

April 14th:
Forged by Erin Bowman - I'm excited to read the conclusion to the Taken series, since I have really enjoyed it.  I'm hoping for some good Gray/Bree romance in here.  Also, the cover is awesome.
All the Rage by Courtney Summers  - This sounds like it will be a really powerful story.  I've read two books by Courtney Summers before, and I liked both of them, so I look forward to reading this.

Forged (Taken, #3)All the Rage

April 21st:
Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook  - I read Kristin Halbrook's other book, Nobody But Us, and I thought it was good.  I look forward to reading another book by her, and this one sounds powerful.
99 Days by Katie Cotugno - I really enjoyed How to Love and thought it was a powerful story, so I look forward to reading Katie Cotugno's next book.

Every Last Promise99 Days

April 28th:
Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger  - I love the DUFF and have read it several times, so I'm excited to have a companion to it to read.

Lying Out Loud