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.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

My Review:

This book was very good and filled with drama.  It was a book that kept you turning the pages to find out what would happen next, and to get some answers.  The only thing that I did not like was that this is the first in a series, so now I have to wait a year to get some answers to some of the mysteries.


First of all, some of the things that the girls did to each other were awful.  I don't know who was responsible for two of the worst incidents, which were the glass in the pointe shoe and the dead butterflies on the walls.  I thought I knew who could have done it, but now I have even more suspects, and no clue who really did do it.  I think I know who did the thing at the very end, though.  It's awful to think that these girls will do things like this just to try to make a girl leave so that they can get on top.  It's really horrible, how unsupportive of each other they are.  

I liked Gigi because she was actually sweet and wasn't trying to get on top.  Of course, she was already getting the top parts, but I feel like she never would have done to other people what people did to her, even if she didn't have the lead roles.  I felt really bad for her, since she was the nicest one there, and she deserved none of what the others were doing to her.  

I wasn't a big fan of either Bette or June, though I did feel bad for both of their family situations.  June wanted to know who her father was since her mom wouldn't tell her.  She also has pressure from her mom to get a lead role, because her mom will send her to public school if she doesn't get a lead part.  Bette is also under a lot of pressure, with her older sister as a principal in the company.  She also has a bit of a knee injury that happens when she works too hard because of a time when her mom pushed her too hard when she was younger.

If you like YA contemporary ballet books, read this book.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough.

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

My Review:

I flew through this book in less than a day, and I loved it so much.  It was so emotionally resonant, and I'm not going to forget it any time soon (I realize that this is a rather ironic statement to make, considering the subject matter of the book).  This book was not a particularly happy read, since it was pretty dark and gritty throughout. 


I feel for Aaron Soto so much.  He doesn't have it easy, and when you discover some things that I don't want to spoil, you'll realize that things for him are even more difficult than you thought they were.  First of all, Aaron's dad killed himself, and shortly after that, Aaron tried unsuccessfully to kill himself too.  Aaron lives in a small apartment in the Bronx with his mother and brother.  They are from a lower socioeconomic background, so they have to live in a neighborhood that is riddled with violence.  His friends are mainly his kind-of friends, and they are people who probably wouldn't want to be friends with him anymore if they knew the thing about him that even Aaron doesn't know at first.

Then Aaron becomes friends with Thomas.  He is a great friend for Aaron, and they form a true deep bond.  Unlike the rest of Aaron's "friends," Thomas doesn't like to get involved in street fights.  He is softer and more sensitive.  They talk to each other about real things, and they do fun things together, like watching movies on a rooftop.  During this friendship, Aaron becomes confused, because he begins to feel an attraction to Thomas, but he thought he was straight.  He thinks Thomas could be gay, and he really likes him, so he wants to make their friendship become more.  I won't spoil what ends up happening with this.

At the beginning of this book, Aaron is in a relationship with a girl named Genevieve.  I really feel bad for Genevieve, for reasons I don't want to say because I don't want to spoil.  I think she is a good person for Aaron to have in his life.  I think some of the things about their relationship, like how she had to ask him out, and then they had to "break up" so that he could be the one to ask her out.  I really like Genevieve and her supportive presence, and how she's been there with Aaron through everything.

If you like YA emotional contemporary, read this book.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: None of the Above by IW Gregorio

None of the AboveA groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

My Review:

None of the Above was a powerful and emotional read about a girl dealing with finding out that she is intersex.  It is the first book that I have ever read with an intersex character, so I'm glad that this book exists, because it helped to shed light on a topic that I knew almost nothing about.  This book was both a good read, and an educational experience.


Before reading this book, I knew just about nothing about what intersex really was.  This book really shed light on it and helped me to understand better what it meant.  I thought this book did a good job of being informative on the topic while also telling a story about a character.  The character had to learn what being intersex meant, so the reader got to learn right along with her.  I really liked this, because I think it was good that it explained being intersex, since a lot of readers weren't going to know what that meant and entailed.

There was a lot of bullying in this book that was awful to read about, and a lot of it is because of ignorance.  The people in Kristin's school don't know what being intersex means so they say she's really a man, and other things like that.  I didn't like that people reacted so horribly instead of showing human kindness and decency to Kristin when she was going through a tough time, but I thought that it was very realistic.  Maybe in some very progressive areas, no one would react badly to that, but in a lot of areas, people will react with ignorance to something that they don't understand.

Darren was a great character, because he was someone who liked Kristin because she was who she was, and he didn't care what chromosomes she had.  This was truly such a stark contrast to the reaction of the boy who was Kristin's boyfriend, Sam.  Darren was a genuinely good guy, and I was rooting for him to have a relationship with Kristin, or I would have been fine with it remaining a friendship, too.  I just wanted him to continue to be in Kristin's life in some way.  I was a fan of the way that their story arc ended.

I liked Kristin's father, and how he was doing the best he could do with things that were difficult for him.  He wasn't upset that Kristin was intersex, but he knew she wasn't happy about it, and he wanted to be there for her, but sometimes he struggled with knowing the best way to support her through her difficult times.  Also, she didn't always let him know everything that was going on, so he didn't know how tough things really were for her.

If you like YA contemporary and want to read a book with an intersex main character, read this book.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mark Your Calendars: 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?


I'm starting Mark You Calendars as a feature on my blog that I will use sometimes if I want to do a mini review of an ARC when it's still a while until it's release date.  I haven't gotten many ARCs before, and I still don't think I'll have very many, so this probably won't be a very regular feature.  Anyway, the reason I decided to start this was because I read the amazing and important What We Left Behind by Robin Talley, and loved it.  If this book isn't on your radar already, then put it on your radar.  Now I will give you some reasons why you should read this book.

1.  This book is full of diversity all around. There is a lot of diversity in sexual orientation and gender, and there is also some racial diversity.  The main characters of this book are basically all somewhere under the LGBTQIA umbrella.  I'm going to have a detailed paragraph on this in my full review, but for now, this is all I'm going to say on this.

2.  This book has a preestablished relationship at the start of the book, which I feel is really rare in YA books.  There are often the books that have a lot of buildup with the readers "shipping" the characters until they finally kiss, and this is not one of those books.  Don't get me wrong, I like those books, but it was refreshing to read something different.

3. This book is set in college.  I think many high school students would really like to read books that feature college life at the center of the story.  It was interesting to read a book about two people's freshmen year of college as a person who just finished my freshmen year of college.

Anyway, those are three of the reasons why this book is unique, and why everyone should read it.  Also, it should be a good sign that I dropped all other books to read this one as soon as I got the ARC, and I neglected all other books that I had been reading until I reached the final page of this story.  This book is scheduled to release on October 27th, and I highly recommend preordering your copy today.  I know I'll be buying the hardcover since it a fabulous book, and because I want that beautiful cover for my shelves.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

Anything Could Happen When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this read.  It was a light and cute LGBT read, with some serious parts as well.  I really enjoyed the characters and the story, and it was a quick read.


A lot of this story was a kind of coming-of-age story for Tretch.  He starts the book knowing that he is gay, but being completely in the closet, and by the end of the story, he comes out to some people.  He also is able to become comfortable with who he is even though he knows that the guy he likes may never like him in the same way.  He also does some dance routines at a dance party, which is something that he had been working at for a while, and he finally got to let it shine.

Two of my favorite secondary characters in this book were Matt's dads.  I thought they were good positive role models in Tretch's life, since they were both gay, and they were able to find love with each other.  I think this shows Tretch that there is hope for him to find a love like that too, even though his current crush is unrequited.

Reading about Tretch's crush on Matt was painful at times, since it was clear how much he really liked Matt and hoped that Matt was also gay and in the closet.  It was clear to me as the reader, though, that Matt was definitely straight, since there was a girl that he really liked.  I think Matt was a really good friend to Tretch, even though he could never feel the way that Tretch wanted him to feel.  From the beginning, I knew that if Tretch did decide to come out to Matt, I was sure that Matt would accept him because his dads were gay, so he should be comfortable being friends with someone who's gay.

I liked the storyline with the family.  Tretch's grandparents had a part in the story, which I've seen a few times before in YA fiction, but not very often.  I liked how important they were to him, and how upset he was when he heard that they might have some health issues.  Also, Tretch did come out to someone in his family, and this person basically said, "That's cool," and then they moved on with what they were doing.  I thought it was really cool that this person reacted that way, because it was nice to see family be accepting instead of being upset about a family member being gay.

I liked the secondary characters.  I felt bad for Lana because she really liked Tretch, and she thought that they truly had a connection over books at the bookstore.  Unfortunately, he never could like her in that way, so her crush on him was as unrequited as Tretch's crush on Matt.  I thought she was a good friend to Tretch, though.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, June 1, 2015

June Releases I'm Most Excited For

June 2nd:
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller  - I've enjoyed all of what Trish Doller has written so far.  Something Like Normal is one of my favorite books ever, and I have read it several times.
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer  - I love reading stories that focus on friendship, so this looks like a great one for that.

The Devil You KnowProof of Forever

June 9th:
Hello, I Love You by Katie Stout  - This looks like a fun read, and it's cool that it takes place in Korea, since I haven't read books set there before.
Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca  - This looks like a great summer romance story.

Hello, I Love YouLast Year's Mistake

June  16th:
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera - This sounds like a very unique storyline.  I like how the cover has a smiley face in the background.
The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi - I really like the colors on this cover, and the book sounds amazing too.  I can't wait to read it.
The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen  - I really liked 17 First Kisses when I read it last year, and this sounds like another fun read by the same author.

More Happy Than NotThe Night We Said YesThe Revenge Playbook

June 30th:
Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler - I really enjoyed Behind the Scenes when I read it last year, so I look forward to reading the companion story.

Under the Lights (Daylight Falls, #2)