Genre: Contemporary

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Posted March 30, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 Comments

Review:  The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Series: standalone
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 348
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:half-flame

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?

I admit that I picked up this book because of the hype surrounding it lately. I felt like this book was everywhere and after finally managing to get a copy from my library to read it, I was excited. Unfortunately, this is why I am also sad to say I feel like a black sheep on this one. I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to and I did not understand the appeal of it.

Let me explain what worked and what did not work for me.

Instalove – Now this is something that I was warned about so it partially might have been my fault. I knew it was coming, but as I went into this book sort of blindly I was okay with giving it the benefit of a doubt. Still, it ended up not working for me. I would really have to suspend disbelief with this one and even thought I could in most cases, as a contemporary this did not feel realistic. Seriously, Daniel – the male in this book – basically stalks her. As someone who lived in the city, this was like beyond awkward for me to live and understand it. Also, half the time they talk about their flaws and what annoys them about each other. So not really sure how the whole can’t breath, can’t think about my life without you worked here.

Could not Connect – I did not feel the attraction between these two and just felt like I was on the outside looking in. I could not form any sort of attachment to any of the characters and had just the worse time connecting which I think really took away from the story when I found that emotional detachment.

Nothing Happens – almost nothing. This book could have honestly been summed up in 100 pages. Basically, it’s about these two unlikely teens in the city. Natasha is from Jamaica and is getting deported, thanks to her dad and Daniel is a Korean American from a very strict Korean family that has his life mapped from him. She is trying to find a solution to her deportations and while that is part of the story most of the book is honestly walking, talking, and some verbal fighting. I was bored, I was beyond bored. I just could not understand the appeal with this. If you like walking and talking books where that is literally almost the entirety of the book, then maybe? But with about 300 pages, my brain was starting to feel numb.

Family Dynamics – I did not like the family dynamics in this book. I could not wrap my head around Daniel and his brother’s relationship. There is so much hate there and the reason the author gave for it did not work for me I guess? Basically, it just felt like, this is it and there is no other way.

Open endings – UGH!! Okay, I DO NOT read books for opening, endings okay? Why is this now a thing? If I wanted an open ending in a book I would read it half way and just make up the rest of it in my head. This is just as bad as cliffhangers if not worse? In standalone novels, it feels like the ultimate killer. I almost gave this book 1 star because I ended up being SO MAD. Like what was the point of the epilogue if you are just going to leave it like that? It is the worse.

So what did I like?

I liked that these two kids came from two different worlds. I liked the different background cultures and I loved the different ethnic representation. This is probably why I felt so sad that I just couldn’t like it.

Also, I really enjoyed seeing how their interactions with other people in this book also effected these people in real life beyond their interaction. That was cool.

Overall, I really wanted to love this, but in the end I just did not understand the hype, and there was one too many things that just did not work for me.

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Review: The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Posted February 24, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review:  The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam RiveraThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Series: Standalone
Published by Simon & Schuster on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social lifePapi, for allowing Junior to become a NeanderthalJunior, for becoming a NeanderthalThis supermarketEveryone else
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.

When I got a copy of The Education of Margot Sanchez, I was extremely excited. A diverse book that takes place in the Bronx, being from New York City myself, yes please?

I went in with high hopes, I walked away strongly disappointed.

Margot and I started off on the wrong foot of the bat. The character was superficial, selfish and walked around with rose colored glasses on. After “borrowing” (stealing) around $600 from her father’s credit card on new clothes – Margot a.k.a Princesa is forced to work at her father’s supermarket. It’s the last way she wants to spend her summer, as Margot would much rather spend her days on the beach in the Hamptons swooning over a boy named Nick. But, on her first day on the job she meets a Latino boy named Moises. Moises is an activist in the Bronx with a sketchy past who has managed to reform himself.

I wanted to love this I really did, but there were several problems I had with this book.

1. Junior – Junior is Margot big brother who basically got kicked out of college. Junior is an angry person who treats Margot like crap. Apparently that wasn’t always the case as Margot explains that Junior was once a sweet and caring brother and she doesn’t know what happened to him and thinks much of his anger is aimed at something she did. I thought that as well, as it felt hinted through the story – unfortunately the big reveal wasn’t surprising but why was never really explained. I wanted to know what drove Junior to take up with the people he did and why he got into so much trouble.

2. Margot – I did not like Margot from the beginning and that feeling never changed. She was suppose to grow as a character, but none of that happened till like 5% left over in the book. Even after everything she went through, she still ends up pulling this horrible stunt that sends a lot of things into motion. Margot disrespects her parents, ditches people who are her actual friends, obsessed over some boy, and is friends with two girls who are really bad influence. She can’t be real around them, so she pretends to be something she is not. She is completely thick when it comes to what is going on around him at home and at the story as well.

3. The dreaded love triangle – don’t hold your breath, the romance in this book was completely horrid. First, the two boys have no personalities, what so ever. We see them so little and get very little feel for them all together. I didn’t like the romance and I especially did not like the events at the beach in the Hampton’s between Nick and Margot. It was reckless, did not make complete sense and it was kind of left unresolved. I didn’t believe that it didn’t effect her in any way.

4. The parents – They kept claiming they raised Margot to be better than she is, they could have taken their own lesson from that. I didn’t like the parents in this story. Did it feel real? Maybe, but maybe there needed to be more background. We don’t know why Margot’s father did what he did, there wasn’t much explanation behind his actions and everything ends with an open ending…which brings me to point number 5.

5. Open ending – the ending just wrapped up kind of weird, kind of open. We don’t get to find out what happens between Margot and Moises. We don’t get to find out if she has ever dealt with what happened between her and Nick. Not with what happens between her parents and not even as how they were going to go and save the store. If there was some sort of a message the author was trying to send with this book, I felt like it completely missed the mark.

The writing was fast paced, so I kind of enjoyed it. Made it easier to get through the book. Overall, the authors writing is actually pretty good. It’s the execution of the plot, underdevelopment of characters that was it’s ultimate demise.

Rating Report
Plot
2 Stars
Characters
1.5 Stars
Writing
3.5 Stars
Pacing
3.5 Stars
Cover
3 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars

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Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Posted February 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 35 Comments

Review:  P.S. I Like You by Kasie WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Series: Standalone
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 330
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 5 Stars

Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

I really wanted another book that would engross me and force me to pull an all-nighter and I got just that with P.S. I Like You. West was a new to me author, but I have heard some really amazing things from blogger friends about her, so I wasn’t afraid to throw myself fully into the book from the start.

What I got was an adorable, fluffy, heart fluttering, young adult novel about two very unlikely teens who become pen pals through shared interest and the boredom and chemistry class.

It was super sweet. Lily was so awkward and her humor amused me throughout the book. I found her to be someone I could relate to from my days in high school.(and not just with that fact that she has my name ya’ll) When Lily writes the lyrics of her favorite song, in pencil, on her chemistry desk she never expected for someone to reply to her. Nor did she expect to start exchanging letters with this anonymous teen. I enjoyed reading the exchange and how to letters started about music and eventually, with words, the two hit much more meaningful subjects that hit close to home and expose different layers of themselves. I loved that they could use words on paper to express a different part of each other, especially since Lily feels like she is more awkward in person.

I don’t think it was meant to be a secret as to who the boy that she was writing to be. Even though Lily isn’t aware of who her pen pal is for a while, the readers catch up on what is happening fairly quickly. What we do witness is how writing, interesting and music peals away layers and builds a strong relationship at a deeper level.

This entire book had such a positive vibe to it. I loved that even though Lily has a big family that drive her crazy at times, that they provide such a great support network. I adored that the parents were so awesome and not evil like some Young adult books paint them to be. There was no absent parent, no tantrum over not understanding, just positive, healthy relationship that tugged on my heart strings. Lily’s relationship with her friend was also a joy to read, because I loved how it prevailed in the end and how close to two girls really are.

The one thing I did not understand was the need for the mean girl stereotype. I get it, they do exist, but I felt like West could have gone away with maybe a little less of it. It bothered me that she kept getting away with it, meanwhile in one scene Lily get’s in trouble for the other girls actions

I loved this book and its characters so much I found myself saying aww a lot, it has been just so stinking cute, I never wanted it to end. I also really wished we got the other POV. I would have loved the boy’s side of the story as well. I felt like he revealed a lot of layers of himself to Lily and it kind of made me want to know more about him. I don’t feel like we got that from just witnessing Lily’s POV. The story would have been even more compelling.

Overall, this book totally rocked my world and I am glad I picked it up. It was exactly what I was looking for and the storyline was fun and excited. I adored the dialogue and the characters and thankful for the humor thrown in

 

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Review: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Posted November 11, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 19 Comments

Review:  This Adventure Ends by Emma MillsThis Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.

I picked this one up on the whim because a few of the book reviewers that I trust really enjoyed it, and I don’t regret it. What a pallet cleanser!
The story is actually pretty simple. It’s about a girl in high school named Sloane, who is newer to the area and doesn’t really have many friends and

She meets Vera and Gabe after stepping up and giving a guy at a party a tongue thrashing and the two twins immediately adopt Sloane into their friendship fold.

The friendship ends up meaning so much to Sloane, that when a painting that Gabe meant to save from his late mother ends up being sold, Sloane goes out of her way to try and get it back.

It was a cute story. I thought the writing was great and I absolutely loved the quick and witty dialogue. I think the interaction between the character was my favorite part of the book. The friendship between Sloane, Gabe and Vera was kind of heart warming. So was the fact that Sloane would have done anything for them in order to show the twins how much she loved them and what their friendship meant to them.

This Adventure Ends is not just filled with positive friendships in high school, but also positive parenting and interaction. The relationship between Sloane and her father touched my heart. It is always so nice when there is closeness and understanding in young adult books between the parent and the child because I am so tired with the bad parent trope that seems to be floating around young adult books lately.

In all honesty it was a quick light read. There wasn’t much heart ache in the book and the author handled what little that might have happened very well.

There was a bit of romance, but it’s a sub plot and doesn’t play a huge part in the book. But when it does happen, it’s pretty sweet and I adored it.

I also loved the fact that the author branched out with a mixed bag of characters both in race and sexuality. Also, Sloane’s father is a romance writer who is struggling with writing after a bad review, which I found interesting.

That being said, there is a bit of cursing in this book so be aware. It didn’t bother me, but some people might be taken back by that language in young adult. To me? It sounds pretty realistic.

Overall, a wonderful light read, with witty and quirky dialogue that sticks with you long after it’s over. If you are looking for something light hearted with positive young adult relationships with both friends and family – you need to give this book a shot.

Memorable Quotes

-“I didn’t need anyone’s help. Everything was under control.”
“So the part where he plied your face like Play-Doh was a critical step in your plan?”
The girl snorts, and Gabe shots her a glare.

“Where were you?” he asks when I come in.
“Hanging out.”
“Ooh, with who?”
“Some local youth.”
“You sound eighty.”
“And you look like a maniac. what are you doing?”
“I’m relaxing.” He rubs the towel. “Terry cloth is good for the brain. I read an article on it.”

“Hot Pockets- what were you really doing there?”
I turn to Gabe, that orange shirt glowing in the setting sun. “sorry?”
“Hot Pockets,” he says.
“cinnamon Toast Crunch,” I reply.
“Are we saying this we like?”
“It’s a thing,” he says. “You have to tell the truth. It trumps penguin party.”
“Nothing trumps penguin party.”
“Hot Pockets does.”

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