Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The Year We Fell Apart Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

My Review: 4 Stars

I really enjoyed getting to see all the different relationships unfold in this book.  There was some drama sometimes, but that didn't keep me from liking the book.  There were a lot of various relationships, including family, friendship, and romantic relationships.

There were a lot of different friendships in this book.  There was Cory, a boy who had been best friends with Harper since they were young children.  There was never anything other than friendship between them for either of them.  He was also best friends with Declan, so it sometimes was hard for him to see him and Harper struggle with their relationships, especially when they had broken up in the past.  Harper also becomes friends with Gwen and Mackenzie who are in a photography class with her.  She takes a little bit to warm up to them, but the friendship with them is good for her.  The main reason she seems to be wary of them is because she thinks Declan likes Mackenzie, but that doesn't really end up being a problem.  Sadie is another of her friends and isn't very good for her at all.  Sadie seemed selfish and only into partying and hooking up with guys.  She always seemed to ditch Harper for guys and leave her with some guy that Harper wasn't really interested in.

This book also explored Harper's mom's sickness since she has cancer.  It was tough to read about some of that.  Clearly, this wasn't good for her family.  Luckily, though, I do think her mom was going to live.  And it was interesting to explore this beside Declan's mom having been killed by a drunk driver, which was very sad.  Having struggles with their mom was something that Harper and Declan could understand about each other.

I think Harper and Declan work well as a couple, even if it took them a while to get past their problems.  They had been friends since they were kids, so they really understood and knew each other.  I also thought they were pretty cute sometimes when they were joking around and teasing each other.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Exit Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear “I love you,” Polly says suddenly when I’m almost to the door.

“I know,” I say.

Hermione Winters has been a flyer. She’s been captain of her cheerleading team. The envied girlfriend and the undisputed queen of her school. Now it’s her last year and those days and those labels are fading fast. In a few months she’ll be a different person. She thinks she’s ready for whatever comes next.

But then someone puts something in her drink at a party, and in an instant she finds herself wearing new labels, ones she never imagined:

Victim. Survivor. That raped girl.

Even though this was never the future she imagined, one essential thing remains unchanged: Hermione can still call herself Polly Olivier’s best friend, and that may be the truest label of all.

Heartbreaking and empowering, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of transcendent friendship in the face of trauma.

“I love you,” I say, because I really, really do.

“I know,” says Polly.

My Review: 5 Stars

I really loved this book and how it dealt with so many things in a different way than I've ever seen before.  It showed a rape victim who was surrounded by support and refused to be seen as a victim.  It showed cheerleading as something that takes a lot of athletic ability and should be respected for it.

Hermione is the main character of the book and she is a great one.  She is raped at cheerleading camp, and she doesn't remember any of it.  She doesn't let this define who she is.  That doesn't mean that things are easy for her, because she still does struggle.  But she doesn't want people to see her as "that raped girl."  She wants to continue cheering with her team, and competing with them.  She isn't going to give up because something bad happened to her.

One of my favorite characters in the book was Polly, who is Hermione's best friend.  She is so supportive and is there with Hermione through everything.  She is also the type of person who is very good and sticking up for people, and people are a bit intimidated by her, so they listen to her.  I loved reading about the friendship between Polly and Hermione.  And while most of Polly's story was shown in relation to Hermione's story arc, she also got her own story arc, which I loved.

I also enjoyed reading about Hermione meeting her therapist and her interactions with him.  Even though she jokingly said he was the worst therapist ever, I think he was really good for her healing process.  (Despite the comments that he made about cheerleading and cheerleaders).  It was really important for her that she had someone who wasn't going to try to make their career out of writing books about working with her or something like that.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, March 25, 2016

ARC Review: South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

South of Sunshine What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.

My Review:

I read an ARC of this book back in December and really liked it.  I had started it during college but then it got close to finals and I had to put it aside for a bit, but once I got back to it and had time to read on break, I really sped through it.  It had great characters, and a great storyline as well.

I loved how the book was set in a distinctive Southern small town and how important this was to the story.  In this small southern town, homophobia was quite common, so it wasn't easy for Kaycee to be herself openly there.  There were some people who were pretty awful there.  But there were also some people who were accepting, which surprised Kaycee sometimes since she expected them to react badly.  Her mom wasn't very happy, yet she didn't react completely horribly in the end.

I liked the development of the romance.  The only thing I didn't like about it was that it did seem to happen a bit quick, like they both kind of just knew they liked each other without there really being any discussion about this.  But I did like seeing them together, and seeing them struggle to make their relationship work, especially in a town like theirs.  

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Review: Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath

Liars and Losers Like Us Keep calm and make it to prom night—without a legit panic attack.

For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a freak. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because Maisey Morgan, the school outcast nominated as a joke, declined. She apologizes to Maisey, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with their class’s cruel Pageant Queen, Maisey commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, her parents’ divorce, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating-love-triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and head to prom to avenge the death of the school outcast—as a party of one.

My Review: 4 Stars

This book was a good read and a quick one.  It had a lot of drama, but I was fine with that in this particular story.  This book was overall about fairly light topics, but then it also had some serious stuff mixed into it.  I enjoyed reading about the different characters and their various relationships.

The relationship between Bree and Sean Mills was definitely cute.  I liked the slow build-up when it was clear they both liked each other and wanted a relationship, yet they weren't officially together yet.  And then they had the moment when they actually defined what their relationship was.  At the beginning, it seemed like Sean would be more of an unattainable crush type of character, until he made his feelings about Bree pretty clear fairly early on.  The two of them weren't without their problems, but I really liked them together.  They were both able to really open up and be honest with each other, which is an important component in a relationship.  

I also really enjoyed reading about the friendship between Bree and Kallie.  They had been best friends since they were little and I feel like their friendship really grew and developed throughout this book.  Their friendship wasn't perfect, and it felt very real.  Bree had kept the secret of her parents' divorce from Kallie for a while.  And then a bit after that, Kallie and Bree had an argument that left them as not friends for a bit.  Despite this, when Bree finds out that Kallie's boyfriend is cheating on her, she still feels that she needs to tell Kallie. 

The most serious part of this book was the part about Maisey Morgan.  Maisey went to Bree's school, and she was bullied very often.  People called her Maisey Mouse, and sang songs about her and made squeaking noises when she walked by.  It was awful to read about how horrible people were to her.  She ended up committing suicide.  Later in the story, we find out that there were even more awful things happening in her life beyond the bullying, and it was very sad to read about.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Releases I'm Most Excited For

March 1st:
In Real Life by Jessica Love - This sounds like an interesting story about an online friendship becoming a real life one.
The Girl Who Fell by Shannon Parker  - This looks like a great book that is also dark.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro  - This sounds like it will be a really good mystery book based on Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

In Real LifeThe Girl Who FellA Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)

March 8th:
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner - This sounds like a good book, and I've heard many good things about it and am prepared to be heartbroken by it.

The Serpent King

March 15th:
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter - This sounds like it will be a good story for reading about familial relationships.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by EK Johnston  - This sounds like a really good book that deals with an important tough issue.

The First Time She DrownedExit, Pursued by a Bear

March 22nd:
This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang - I really liked Amy Zhang's first book, and this sounds like a book about an important issue, which is date rape, so I'm excited to read it.
The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith  - This sounds like a really important and great and powerful read about an important topic, which is rape.

This Is Where the World EndsThe Way I Used to Be