Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Releases I'm Most Excited For

October 3rd:
Top Ten by Katie Cotugno - I think this book will be good and has potential to be my favorite of Katie Cotugno's books so far.  I think I will like the main character, and I like how it focuses on a best friendship between a guy and a girl.  The format should also be interesting.

 Top Ten

October 17th:
Dear Martin by Nic Stone - This sounds like it will be a powerful book dealing with how black people are treated by the police sometime.  It seems like it would be a good read to be paired with The Hate U Give.  I look forward to reading it.
Like Water by Rebecca Podos  - This seems like it should be a good book.  I never read the author's first book, though I have a copy of it that I intend to hopefully read soon.  This book deals with Huntington's disease, so that should be interesting.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erica L. Sanchez - This sounds like it will be a good read dealing with heritage and culture.  It should be interesting to find out what the main character discovers about her sister.  According to reviews, it looks like this book also does a good job dealing with mental health.

Dear MartinLike WaterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Katie

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they're both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There's an app for that. It's called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

My Review: 5 Stars

So I read this book very quickly during college, which is surprising because I often barely read during my semesters.  And maybe I should have been working on lab reports instead, but it's alright since it was Friday night and I needed a break and I've finished a lot of my lab report by now so it won't be a problem.  But anyway, the reason I read this so quickly during a college semester was because I loved it and couldn't put it down.  I fell in love with Mateo and Rufus and their stories.  This book is heartbreaking but also hopeful at the same time.  And yes, you know how the book will ultimately end though you don't know specifically how, but the journey of the story is the important part.

The entire premise of the book is interesting.  I have no idea how Death-Cast actually knows who's going to die each day.  But that didn't really detract at all from my enjoyment (probably the wrong word) of this book.  I am curious, though, what would happen if Death-Cast knew who was supposed to die but didn't tell the people.  Because maybe knowing that they're supposed to die somehow makes some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy psychological phenomenon occur.  I don't really know though.  It's just a theory I have.  

I loved both Mateo and Rufus.  Mateo is just such a sweet guy who would never hurt anyone.  He's scared of going out into the world and doing things, because he isn't really about taking risks.  He wants his End Day to be as long as it can be, and he is afraid of anything that could potentially shorten it, yet he also wants to get out into the world and do things and have new experiences on his last day.  And Rufus I loved as well.  He may not have seemed like someone I would love when his first scene was of him beating someone up.  But I quickly learned that that wasn't really what Rufus is like normally and he definitely regretted.  He had some pent-up anger from the deaths of his entire family.  But Rufus was also a sweet guy.  And when he and Mateo met through the Last Friend app and began to bond it was really sweet and nice.  They both helped each other in ways.  And the development of their relationship was quick, but also made sense since they were trying to live the rest of their lifetimes in one day. 

Something I loved was how scattered throughout, in addition to the perspectives of Mateo and Rufus, were the perspectives of various minor characters.  Some of them were more directly connected to our main characters, and others were definitely more tertiary, but I enjoyed them all.  If you have read The Sun is Also a Star, it is similar to the other perspectives that were used in that book (and that book also took place over one day).  My favorite was probably Lidia.  She was Mateo's best friend and their friendship is so precious and adorable.  Lidia is a single mom who is raising her daughter, Penny, and Mateo is super supportive of her and helps her out with her daughter when she needs it.  This was such a great example of a strong, completely platonic friendship between a guy and a girl.  And if Adam Silvera wanted to write another book about Lidia, I would so be there to read it (except knowing Adam's books it would probably be tragic and I don't want that for Lidia since she's already lost her boyfriend and best friend).

If you like good books that are also sad, read this book.

Katie 

Friday, September 1, 2017

September Releases I'm Most Excited For

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera - Adam Silvera is a great author and I am so excited to see what he does next in this book.  And also I'm curious if it will really end the way that the title says.

They Both Die at the End

Katie

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

These Things I've Done A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.

Before:
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

After:
It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.


My Review: 5 Stars

I read this book over the span of one day, starting in the early afternoon and finishing at 1:30 AM.  This book made me feel all the emotions of the story, and it is a sad book for many parts of it, so I finished it feeling a bit sad.  And I realized I definitely cared about Aubrey dying even though she was a fictional character.  This story jumped between the timeline of present day (senior year) and the timeline of sophomore year leading up to Aubrey's death.  In the sophomore year timeline, I tried not to be attached to Aubrey's character since I knew she was going to die but I ended up loving her character anyway.

The book does a good job showing the strong friendship of Aubrey and Dara in the past timeline sections.  It is clear that they care a lot about each other and are there for each other when things are tough.  There is a slight rift between them that is created when Aubrey starts dating her first boyfriend, Justin, a boy who Dara had had a slight crush on before his relationship with Aubrey began.  Dara finds herself not always able to feel happy for her friend because she is instead jealous.  Despite this, I never felt that the friendship became toxic like some other friendships I've read in YA.  Instead, it was clear that they still both cared a lot about each other and really just needed to have a good talk and forgive each other's mistakes.

Ethan is the boy who Dara had thought of as just Aubrey's little brother and a friend for a long time, but now, after having been away for a year, she suddenly notices that he has gotten quite attractive in her absence.  And the feelings that she starts to have for him are not longer the type of feelings you would have for someone who is like a little brother to you.  Ethan is a really sweet guy and while Dara thinks he has the right to be angry at her, since her actions caused the death of his sister who was very important to him, he never once treats Dara in a way that shows that he blames her.  In fact, they have conversations about what happened and he specifically says it wasn't Dara's fault.  When their friendship evolves into something more, it is cute.  I think I would have also been okay with them staying just friends, but them becoming a couple also worked for the story.  I still wonder how they will get past the hurdle of his parents, since that wasn't really explicitly stated. 

I really liked Dara's family and how it showed how they struggled too to figure out how they should treat her in the present timeline.  Tobias was her little brother who had become kind of scared of Dara since she wasn't the same daring and fun older sister that she used to be.  Dara overheard her dad saying she should have waited another year to come back which led her to think that he didn't like her when really he was just thinking about what would be best for her.  Her mom is the one who seems the most caring throughout, though I'm sure she struggled plenty too.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Releases I'm Most Excited For

August 1st:
These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips - This book sounds amazing and also sad.  I look forward to seeing what happens in it.  I wonder what the main character did to accidentally cause her friend's death.  I know the author's agent loves this book a lot and has talked about it online.

These Things I've Done

August 8th:
Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert - I read Brandy Colbert's first book, Pointe, a few years ago, and it was good.  I'm looking forward to reading another own voices book by her.  And I like that the MC is both black and Jewish.

Little & Lion

August 29th:
Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens - Courtney Stevens is a great author, which is why I will definitely need to read her newest book about life in a small town.
You Don't Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow  - This book sounds really good.  It is about a girl who was given up for adoption who gets pregnant in high school and has to decide what to do about her own pregnancy.

Dress Codes for Small TownsYou Don't Know Me But I Know You

Katie

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June Releases I'm Most Excited For

June 6th:
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee - I have never read a book with an ace main character before, so I look forward to this one.  It also sounds like it has a great friendship and romance in it.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy

June 13th:
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios - Heather Demetrios is a great author, and I look forward to reading this book about a tough subject of an abusive relationship.

Bad Romance

June 27th:
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - This sounds like a great historical fiction book with a lot of adventure as Monty, Percy, and Felicity embark on a grand tour of Europe.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Katie

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.


My Review: 5 Stars

As someone who loves the Pitch Perfect movies, I knew that I had to read this book about a cappella.  And I had also read Riley Redgate's first book, Seven Ways We Lie, last year and I liked it.  But I definitely liked this book much more than her first book.  While her first book had the perspectives of many characters, this one focused on one main character and developed just Jordan's story as well as the other characters in her life.  There were so many topics that were well handled in this book.

I loved so many facets of Jordan's character.  She is Chinese American, figuring out her sexuality, and also poor.  She struggles with the fact that she has a scholarship to attend Kensington and yet she still isn't cast in any of the main shows because of her voice not fitting the roles.  It really shows her family's struggles and how it makes things like money a big deal to her while so many of the other kids at Kensington don't have any issues with money at all.  And her dad is a paraplegic which also brings up some issues with healthcare and welfare in the US.

I loved how complex the characters were and how well we got to know the guys in the Sharpshooters.  I often try to read books with good female friendships between girls but it was good to read strong friendships between boys in this book (and some between the guys and someone they thought was a guy).  My favorites of the guys were Isaac and Nihal.  Nihal was a super sweet guy who is a Sikh who really gets close with and confides in "Julian" (Jordan's fake name).  Isaac was Japanese and may have things going on in his life that he isn't telling the guys.  Jon Cox and Mama are roommates and close friends with each other.  Marcus is a freshman who really cares about politics and people voting in local elections.  Erik is a freshman who can be a bit annoying and worried about fitting in.  Trav is the music leader and intense and cares a lot about the group and a cappella.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this book.  I don't want to say too much about it but it is sweet and I liked the two characters together.  It is the kind of relationship that Jordan needs after her relationship with previous boyfriend Michael didn't end well.  The new guy is much better for her.  

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

The Names They Gave Us When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.


My Review: 5 Stars

I finished this amazing book last night and am still thinking about the characters and story today.  And I think for me that is what separates a good book from a great book.  If I finish it and then keep thinking about it, it is a great book.  I think of Emery Lord books this one and The Start of Me and You are tied for my favorite.   This book had such strong friendships and a slow burn friends first romance (which were also things I loved in The Start of Me and You).  I also liked the relationships shown in Lucy's family.  The only thing I didn't like was that I wanted a bit more closure at the ending.

I liked how the book explored Lucy's faith as a Christian.  She was struggling with this because her mom had gotten cancer again after already having been cured of cancer before. She has grown up as a preacher's kid who always prayed and believed in God.  But now she isn't sure if she believes since she thinks God would listen to her prayers and not give her mom cancer again.  I liked how the book dealt with this and showed Lucy's journey with this throughout the book, though it didn't take over the entire story.

I loved the summer camp setting.  I enjoy reading books that take place during the summer, especially when it is the summer and I realized I really like reading books about a camp too, since there are relationships built there that are fun to read about.  This camp was an interesting camp, since it was one for kids who had some kind of emotional trauma reason that allowed them to participate in the camp.  Some of them had been abused or in foster homes or were pregnant or had lost parents or other family members.

I loved the friendships that Lucy formed with the other counselors.  She had never really had a group of friends at her high school and her closest friend there had been her boyfriend Lukas who had put their relationship on pause for the summer.  She meets some other counselors.  But they had all grown up going to this camp and she at first felt like she was on the outside of their tight knit group.  But quickly she was welcomed by them and became friends with Anna, Mohan, Henry, and Keely.  I liked reading about their adventures on Friday nights off and how they would be honest with their feelings in telling their highs and lows of the week.  I liked how each of these characters that she became friends with had their own backstories and issues that they were dealing with and how they weren't just in the book without stories.  

I loved the romance that developed between Lucy and Jones (or Henry) who was another one of the counselors.  It was slow burn and started as a friendship first.  And it was cute, and they were also real about their feelings with each other.  They were able to communicate successfully and not have overdone drama due to not communicating.  Also this romance was interracial since Henry was black.  Lucy definitely had a stronger relationship with Henry than her previous relationship with Lukas.

Family was also an important part of this book.  This part was sad sometimes since Lucy's mom had cancer and Lucy was dealing with what things she would miss about her mom if she didn't make it.  I loved the relationship that she and her mom had though.  And there was also a scene that was great where she realized how great her dad really was.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Releases I'm Most Excited For

May 2nd:
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate - This book is about a girl who dresses up as a boy to audition for an all-male a cappella group.  Everything about this is amazing, and screams that this is a book that I will adore.  I can't wait to read it.

Noteworthy

May 9th:
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy - Julie Murphy is a great author, and I look forward to reading her next book, which has a cover that I love a lot.

Ramona Blue

May 16th:
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord - This book is by Emery Lord, which is about all I need to know to pick up an Emery Lord book after having already read 3 books by her.  It sounds like it'll be a good book, though, from the premise.  And this cover is beautiful.

The Names They Gave Us

May 30th:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon  - This book is about two Indian teens at a summer camp whose parents plan on setting the two of them up for an arranged marriage.  And the girl is the one interested in STEM and the boy is the romantic.  Everything about this premise is awesome and I can't wait to read and love this adorable book.

When Dimple Met Rishi

Katie

Monday, April 24, 2017

ARC Review: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

How to Make a Wish All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.


My Review: 5 Stars


I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and read it back in September.  This book was amazing, and since I've loved both this and Suffer Love, that's enough books to make Ashley Herring Blake one of my favorite authors.  And I also think her next book sounds amazing too, but it's a 2018 release, and I'm writing this review in September 2016, so...it'll be a while.  But anyway, this book was super great.  All of the character dynamics were done with nuance, and it was both beautiful and painful.  I'm so glad that I got to read this one early, and I think everyone else should read it too.

I loved the way that they portrayed the relationship between the mothers and daughters in this book.  Grace and her mom Maggie had never had a conventional mother-daughter relationship, and it was hurting Grace.  She was forced to grow up too young with an unreliable mother who drank a lot and had an endless string of boyfriends.  She was forced to go to seedy clubs with her mom and fend off older men hitting on her.  Obviously, it wasn't a healthy way for her to grow up.  And it's super interesting to watch the dynamics of Maggie and Eva.  Eva has just lost her mother who was very important to her, and Maggie swoops in as a mother figure.  Eva doesn't realize how much about Maggie she just doesn't know yet.  Grace doesn't really want Eva to know about Maggie, and there is a bit of jealousy in the fact that Maggie is making a necklace for Eva that she's always told Grace she'd make for her, and things like that.  All of these relationships show a lot of nuance.  Maggie isn't necessarily likeable, since I often didn't like her, but she isn't just a completely evil character.  She's a woman who lost the man she loved and didn't know how to deal with her grief, and how to really raise her daughter in his absence.

I also loved the relationship between Grace and Eva and how it developed.  It was a bit of a slow burn, and a bit painful, and also cute.  Eva captivates Grace right away when she comes into her life.  She is intriguing to her.  The two find exactly what they need in each other to help balance their pain and grief with something happy.  They are both a bit broken, but it isn't irreparable.  I loved their connection and the moments that they share on the lighthouse.  

Another part of the story that I loved was Grace's relationship with Luca and Emmy.  Luca was her best friend who was basically a brother to her.  There was never anytime when the two of them were interested in each other as more than friends, and it was great to see a solid, strong friendship between a boy and a girl where the two care about each other deeply but are never anything other than platonic.  Luca had times when he questioned Grace's decisions and wanted her to do things differently than she did.  And they did argue with each other sometimes, but it didn't mean that they didn't care for each other.  And I loved how Emmy was like a second mother to Grace, and probably more of a mother to her than her actual mother, Maggie, is.  I think Emmy has a really great heart.  And also, it was great of her to take in Eva and do the best that she could with suddenly becoming the guardian of a girl who was grieving.

I also liked how even secondary characters were written with nuance.  Maggie makes Grace move in with her boyfriend and his son, and his son happens to be Grace's ex-boyfriend.  It was clear that Jay had been a jerk when they broke up, but he wasn't completely bad.  He was still a bit of a jerk in this book, but he was also supportive of Grace and Eva's relationship, and there were times when he seemed to genuinely care about Grace's life.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie

   

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Releases I'm Most Excited For

April 11th:
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli - This is by the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so of course, I will be buying a copy and reading and loving it.  This also sounds like the type of book that I would really love, since it's for the late bloomers in relationships, which describes me well.

The Upside of Unrequited

April 18th:
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie - I loved The Abyss Surrounds Us a lot, so I can't wait to get to read this and find out what my favorite characters are up to now.
Fireworks by Katie Cotugno  - I have read and enjoyed both of Katie Cotugno's other books so far.  This isn't actually the 2017 Katie Cotugno book that I am most excited for.  That honor goes to October's Top Ten.  But this still does sound like a good story of friendship.

The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us, #2)Fireworks

Katie

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Releases I'm Most Excited For

March 7th:
You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner - This book sounds like a good story and the main character is deaf, which I haven't read before.
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner  - At the time of writing this, I have actually already been reading some of this one.  I am not yet finished with it, but it is an amazing and nuanced look at grief from the perspective of a teenage boy.

You're Welcome, UniverseGoodbye Days

March 14th:
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde - This sounds like a super fun and cute read with good friendship and romance, and I really look forward to it.

Queens of Geek

March 28th:
Dead Little Mean Girl by Eva Darrows - This sounds like an interesting read about high school stereotypes and how the people actually are in real life.

Dead Little Mean Girl

Katie

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also a Star Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


My Review: 5 Stars

I loved Nicola Yoon's Everything, Everything when I read it last year, so I was not surprised when I also loved this one.  It took me barely anytime at all to become invested in the characters, since I loved both of their voices and cared about them pretty much right away.  The dual POV with typically short chapters made the book feel like it flew by very quickly.  I had to know what would happen next, and I kept turning the pages to find out.
  
Natasha is a Jamaican girl who is being deported from America in a day.  I thought the deportation storyline was powerful, because Natasha was only 8 when her parents brought her over, and she didn't have any control over this, or choose to be in America illegally, and now America has become her home and she is being forced out of it because of a mistake that her dad made.  And her brother Peter was born in this country, but he actually is okay with leaving and going back to Jamaica.  Natasha is determined to stop the deportation.  I love how we got glimpses of her family, and how they didn't have a very good life always, and how the relationships between the parents and between Natasha and each parent had evolved over the years.

Daniel is a Korean American boy who is being pressured by his parents to become a doctor, even though it isn't really what he wants.  Daniel is a dreamer who writes poems and believes in true love.  He has a tough family life, with high expectations on him, and a brother who doesn't like him.  The relationship between him and his brother Charlie was slowly revealed throughout the story, and I liked getting glimpses into that.  I liked how we got to see bits of Korean culture, such as norebang (which is like a type of karaoke).

The meetings between Natasha and Daniel may have almost involved too many coincidences at times, but it was cute.  I liked their romance, though of course it progressed fast since the story took place over the span of one day.  I liked how Daniel was the one into the relationship, while Natasha was the one who was more skeptical about love.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.

Katie 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January Releases I'm Most Excited For

January 17th:
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera  - More Happy Than Not has cemented that I will read anything that Adam Silvera writes.  I expect this one will be amazing and quite possibly heartbreaking.

History Is All You Left Me

January 24th:
After the Fall by Kate Hart - This looks like an interesting read about consent.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson  - This sounds like it will be a really interesting read about a murder that the main character probably didn't actually commit.

After the FallAllegedly


Katie