Genre: Young Adult

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Posted May 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 23 Comments

Warning: This is unpopular opinion review post. It is okay for you to love this book as it is okay for me to hate it. If you feel like this review might offend you, you don’t have to read it. If you want to know why I gave this book the rating I did and can handle it, you can read the review below.

Review:  The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Series: standalone
Published by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen on April 11th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 1.5 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.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
Right?

Okay, now that we got that out of the way on to the review.

I’m putting it out there. I never read Simon. I do know it’s a beloved book for many, many people. I didn’t read Albertalli because of the hype. I read the book because I had an eARC and okay, maybe I was curious what the fuss is about.

This book is about Molly a self-proclaimed “fat girl”, her 27 unrequited crushes, a stupid “love-triangle” and Molly’s fixation about being the only person on the planet left without a boyfriend.

This was suppose to be a cute, fluffy, contemporary, feel good romances and I never felt cute or fluffy reading this.

The amount of body issues in this book, was overwhelming. The sister hate in this book, was overwhelming. The need to validate who you are through relationships, was overwhelming.

Maybe in Cassie’s world, you can do that and have it end in making out. But I’n not sure it works that way for fat girls. I don’t know I just like to be careful about this stuff.

Really, I could just let the quotes speak for themselves here.

Because if Mina thinks Olivia’s body is noticeably curvy, I’d like to know what she thinks about mine. No. Actually, I would not like to know.

She is letting her weight rule her, her need for a relationship rule her. To the point where she needs it to validate who she is as a person and feel better about herself, more confident.

She had twenty six? Twenty seven? Unrequited crushes? But Molly is 17 now, it’s summer, she has a job and somehow ends up with possibility of two different boys suddenly being an option. One is a skinny hipster named Will (aren’t hipsters in their 20’s, 30’s?) the other is a “husky” geeky co-worker named Reid. These people, where the most generic characters ever. Cause apparently, when you see geek, Reid had to be a total package. It’s like she looked up what geeks liked and combined it all together, Tolkien, Game of Thrones, World of Warcraft, Ran-Fair. I was like, cue some serious eye roll.

Guess who Molly ends up with?

Can we just mention a quick fact that Reid is just there? And has like no freaking character development whatsoever? Especially when he plays such a major role in this book.

The book felt stale, forced, boring, and it went nowhere. The entire time it was Molly whines about her weight and being the only person who doesn’t have a boyfriend. Am I repetition that? Well, that’s okay because the book itself, was super repetitive.

If it is a glance about me, I will die. We are amused by the sad chubby girl who is clearly enchanted by our hipster beauty.

And like there was so much diversity in this book (again, felt generic. It’s like, oh what will make people praise this book.) I did not understand how can everyone be so accepting about the sex in this book, but not the person’s weight? Like her grandma was so rude and downright mean about it and then she goes to a party, where apparently another kid mentions her weight.

This book put me in the dark place. It made me feel shitty about my own body. Like when Mina says that Reid is not the kind of person you have sex with, but a type of person you marry. Like … what… the ef? Did I connect with the book? Somewhat, I guess. Not in a good way. It brought back really shitty memories. I don’t think I’m fat. I might be a little overweight. But what is considered fat these days? Because by media standard anyone above size 1.

And then this happens

Here’s what I would never, ever admit out loud: a part of me always thought it was some kind of a secret compliment when someone got called a slut. It meant you were having sex. Which meant people wanted to have sex with you. Being a slut just meant you were normal.

Really, like what did I just read? Are you kidding me?

These kids didn’t read like 17 year old’s. I felt like they were 15 based on their behavior alone so when Molly’s age got mentioned I was a little baffled. Dude, you are not mature enough to have sex. Get your stuff straight first.

Why was having a relationship ruling her life so much? Like it felt like Molly had no personality in this book. I get she is crafty and likes pinterest. But what are her aspirations? Like, why is having a boyfriend in high school so damn important? Like it’s a small blip in your life and most relationships don’t last past that when you go your separate ways to colleges and discover yourself as an adult.

Why did this book focus on her body issues? I was surprised that the author works with teenagers and has a degree in psychology. Because if she was writing a book to make it feel like they can relate in a good way, she should have stuck with maybe avoiding body issues and body shaming in her book? It felt overwhelming and did she even realize that it can trigger some bad memories for these teens?

I myself spoke to teenagers about body issues in books and although some would love the MC to be curvy, they don’t like being constantly reminded how others treat them because of it, and the dark thoughts they might have because of that.They would much rather the focus was on the personality of the individual and let that rule who they are. I found I can relate to that way of thinking. I don’t like being reminded of this kind of crap in books. I read them to escape that’s why it’s called FICTION. This book just made me feel so shitty about myself.

Also, the sister relationship between Cassie and Molly was horrible. Cassie was so god damn horrible to Molly it just wasn’t even funny. Even in the end, the nastiness was unnecessary. But like, things smoothed out just because Molly finally had a boyfriend.

Oh, and get this.

Molly feels better about herself when she get’s a boyfriend. All the sudden, she sees herself as a beautiful girl.

So… You need a boyfriend to feel better about your body? Really?

UGH

This review

Is choppy and it sucks, but I just…

I did not understand the love this book received. I guess I felt like, if the author’s first book is a hit that she can do no wrong.

Also, the description of images and WHAT’S WITH ALL THE CAPS at the time was just blatantly annoying. Also, Molly’s raging anger towards Olivia was making my head spin. Also, I never felt there was enough positive about body image to combat all the negative.

I will never recommend this book to teenagers , especially those already suffering from body issues.

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 28, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review:  Alex, Approximately by Jenn BennettAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 4th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

If you guys are looking for a fun summer young adult read, look no further because Alex, Approximately might just be the right book for you.

It follows a girl named Bailey who is a completely classics movie buff. She meets a boy nicknamed ‘Alex’ online on a movie forum and they share a lot of things in common. Alex wants her to travel to California because they are going to have this big movie festival during summer and there is a movie he wants her to see, plus because they click so much, he wants to meet her. When her mother’s relationship ends up on the rocks with her current husband, Bailey feels like she has had enough drama and moves to California to live with her dad.

It just happens that Alex, also lives in the same city as her dad.

Bailey get’s cold feet and never tells ‘Alex’ that she is in town in hopes of scoping out the boy first, in case he is a creepy old man, and with her past she has every right to be careful.

Unfortunately the search for Alex hits home a lot closer than she thinks.

Can I just say I absolutely loved and adored this book. As far as romances go, this is like one of my top five favorites of this year so far. I had so much fun with this, with Bailey and Porter. I adored them.

When the two first meet at work, it’s a bit rocky. Porter comes off like an ass and Bailey does not want to cower in front of him.

In fact, right from the start he really pisses her off. The two end up arguing a lot, but when they don’t fight, sparks fly and magic happens. It turns out, Porter actually really likes her.

I just loved this I really did. I needed something light after reading a dark book and this helped a lot. Lately I’ve also been enjoying Young Adult Contemporary because I haven’t read a lot of them. Plus, it helps with the Adult Romance rot I am currently feeling.

Bailey and Porter were great together. Not only did I love their relationship. I enjoyed the positive family relationships as well as friendships that developed in this book.

I absolutely adored how everything unfolded and that Porter is actually Alex and how the two clicked offline, without actually knowing who the two really are. (This is not a spoiler, it’s in the blurb y’all)

There wasn’t much that I disliked about this book except for the part where Bailey felt a bit thick when it came to the big reveal. Porter kind of put the two and two together first and his reaction made me a bit grumpy, but I just couldn’t understand how Bailey did not see the missing puzzle piece when everything was sitting in front of her. Honestly, she should have put the two together a lot more quickly.

Also, the Davy storyline in this was a little rough and a bit weirdly unnecessary.

Overall, this was a great read – currently top 5 romance favorites this year. It was well written, with a wonderful storyline, great characters, positive relationships with friends, family and between Bailey and Porter.

I loved Porter, I really did. He really made the story for me.

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Review: Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller

Posted April 10, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael MillerShadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Series: Kaitan Chronicles #1
Published by Delacorte Press on March 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 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.

Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can't resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he's a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they're more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev's mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she'll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power--and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

I always enjoy experiencing new authors and since this was a science fiction book compared to Firefly, why not give it a shot?

I enjoyed the book for the most part. I really liked Qole, Arjan, Eton, Basra and Telu. I thought they were an interesting cast of characters all with their own special gifts and I loved how close knit they were.

I struggled with Nev at times, who is basically the male lead as this book is told from his and Qole’s POV. For someone so smart, he could be a bit thick at times when it comes to reality. I guess it isn’t completely his fault as it was how he was raised, but even in the end I still struggled with him a bit.

I think I am struggling with this review a bit also.

It’s about this world where they use Shadow to run things. There is a group of people that go out of their way and Shadow fish. Unfortunately, because of what the shadow does it eventually drives people mad and it’s a bit unstable when it comes to running everything so Nev believes his family can fix that. He needs Qole to submit to some testing, but all of it is for the greater good of everyone, as he assures.

I found the world building lacking at times. I did not understand how they used Shadow to run the things they did. (Maybe I fell asleep during the explanation?) I get it’s science fiction, but I found the explanation lacking. Interesting concept, but it felt a little weak without a supporting argument or explanation.

I wanted to know more about the world.

I felt the book was also a bit too long. The chapters weren’t quick and I found myself bored or falling asleep half the time. The pacing was way too slow at times. It picked up at the end, but I found myself not really caring. I also had a hard time with the ending because it did not seem plausible to me that 5 people can take on that many people.

Overall. I thought it was a decent read. A little long. The pacing a little too slow at times. But, Qole and her team were fun at times and the loyalty between them was heartwarming.

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Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)

Posted April 1, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd (Conception), Jim Kay (Illustrator)A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd, Jim Kay
Series: standalone
Published by Candlewick Press on March 12th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Pages: 206
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting-- he's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It's ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd-- whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself-- Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Guys, I am going to be honest here. I picked this book up because a ton of people asked me if I read it, with the movie out, I finally stumbled upon this book in the library and decided to give it a shot.

I went into this blindly. I never read the blurb or asked people what it was about and stayed away from detailed reviews. I was told when it comes to this book, that was the best way to go about it anyway. So I am having a hard time writing the review. I am going to keep it short and sweet and basically tell you that if you had not read it yet, read it. Don’t just pick up the ebook either. Go to your local library if you have to and get the physical book because the drawing in the book really add to the experience.

The actual idea of this book came from Siobhan Dowd, but it was Patrick Ness, who brought her vision to life after she was taken too soon by cancer. Patrick Ness did a beautiful job bringing her beloved characters to life, leaving us with a book that I will think span generations. When I read the book last night, I was rocked with emotion, but it wasn’t until the day after that I got to sit down, let it sink in and truly experience its effect.

The story is about a boy named Conor and his ill mother. It is haunting, it is beautiful, atmospheric and downright emotional. If you have dealt with loss, it’s grief and pain, I strongly suggest you read this. Even if you haven’t experienced loss yet, I strongly suggest you read this. But I think it’s safe to say most of us did at one point or another and this book just captures most of what we go through so well.

I expect this book will have a different experience and effect on everyone. Which is okay. I believe that’s the whole point anyway, as we each experience the monster and its interpretation differently in the moments of weakness and hopelessness.

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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 Dragon’s Price by Bethany Wiggins

Posted March 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review:  The Dragon’s Price by Bethany WigginsThe Dragon's Price by Bethany Wiggins
Series: Transference #1
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on February 21st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars
Heat:one-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.

Fans of Julie Kagawa’s Talon and Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn will devour this action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl who chooses to surrender herself to a deadly dragon rather than marry an enemy prince.
When two warring kingdoms unified against a deadly menace laying waste to both their lands, they had to make a choice: vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon.
Centuries later, everyone expects the sheltered princess Sorrowlynn to choose the barbarian prince over the fire-breathing beast—everyone, that is, except Sorrow, who is determined to control her own destiny or die trying.
As she is lowered into the dragon’s chamber, she assumes her life is over until Golmarr, the young prince she just spurned, follows her with the hopes of being her hero and slaying the dragon. But the dragon has a different plan. . . .
If the dragon wins, it will be freed from the spell that has bound it to the cave for centuries. If Sorrow or Golmarr vanquish the dragon, the victor will gain its treasure and escape the cave beneath the mountain. But what exactly is the dragon hiding?
There are no safe havens for Sorrow or Golmarr—not even with each other—and the stakes couldn’t be higher as they risk everything to protect their kingdom.

I really don’t know where to start or how to feel about this book, so I am going to go ahead and break it down into parts and generalize I guess? I was on a fantasy kick and had got this one for review and despite it not rating high on goodreads, I was like, well it’s here, it’s about dragons? WHY NOT?

Hoo boy, this book and I were just off to a rocky start from the beginning

Lack of World building – Like this book just barely had any of it okay? It’s a fantasy book, set in a world and we don’t know much about it and it just felt like we were told this is how it is and we are supposed to accept it. There is a ton of other races mentioned in this book, but we don’t know much about them or why they are at war and the things we learn feel like bits and pieces of a bigger picture.

So we got these two kingdoms that are bound by a promise a vow to marry their heirs to one another, or forfeit their lives to the dragon. Apparently it’s because many years ago a war waged and a dragon was released and now to keep the dragon bound by magic, this needs to happen every time there is an heir. There is a clause apparently because the horse lord heir does not have to take one of the Faodaran, they can reject them, feed an animal in place as a sacrifice and move on with their life until the next heir comes along. Or, the princess can reject the proposed marriage – should it come – and be fed to the dragon.

So Sorrowlynn (named because she was predicted to die by her own hand) does not want to marry the savage/barbaric horse tanned skinned horse lord and chooses the dragon instead – because she did not get the memo that ANY of the heirs can propose marriage.

Two things wrong here

One, as you might have figured Sorrowlynn is a white proper princess and the horse lords are tan skinned and are called savage/barbaric people… – sigh- am I the only one who sees racism here? I’m starting to wonder if this is the reason this book got the reviews that it did. I wanted to give it a benefit of the doubt, but every time she spoke of the horse lords, Sorrowlynn had a racism pouring out of her. Barbaric and savage were words used one too many times. Also, I think the author is a fan of game of thrones because this sounds a lot like Daenerys inspired storyline here?

So apparently Sorrowlynn binds herself to being dragons yummy yummy food before the young horse lord Golmarr steps forward and proposes marriage. Oh but when she learns that he can do that – even thought he hinted it prior – she is like oh okay I can live with that? Too late, you are bound and dragon food. Maybe Golmarr shouldn’t have spoken in riddles, since intelligence is not her strongest asset. Oh, but you know what is? Her virginity. If she wasn’t a virgin no one would want her and the royal family would go to war over it…Okay? Even thought the king absolutely does not like her very much, for reasons. So she is lowered into the mountain and Golmarr decides to throw his life on the line and help save the princess who was nothing but vicious towards him.

After a lot of walking and a lot of thoughts of suddenly wanting to kiss Golmarr we get to the special part of the book

Sorrowlynn who has no experience what so ever with combat, get’s lucky and slays the dragon. Not only giving herself the special kind of snowflake status, but inadvertently stealing his thunder and destiny.. Like thanks, you know? I get it, girl power and all that, but it was still kind of blah.

I felt like Sorrowlynn had zero personality. The only thing she was good at for most of the book is looking down at people. This is why I did not understand half the time why people were so willing to sacrifice their lives for her.

Overall, I felt like the writing was lacking a bit. It reads like a younger than Young Adult but there were a lot of subjects that read more adult. Lot’s of mentions of her special her virginity is and how Golmarr could not wait to marry her so he can take her to bed, ugh… Also, I found some inconsistency in the story but I cannot go into it without complete spoilers. Okay moving on.

The only reason I gave it two stars because the ending made me sort of happy, heh.

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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: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Posted January 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 21 Comments

Review:  Into the Dim by Janet B. TaylorInto the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim, #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Time-Travel, Science Fiction
Pages: 428
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

Phew, took me a lot longer than I thought to finish this book – almost a year. Into the Dim follows a girl named Hope who believes her mother to be dead, until her estranged aunt comes to find her and tells her otherwise. Now, Hope with a couple of friends, must travel back in time to her mothers last known location and rescue her.

I really wanted a good time traveling book, so I was really excited for this one, but it fell a bit flat for me. I loved the concept of the dim and how it worked in the way that you can only travel to a certain location only once to prevent yourself from running into yourself and causing some major disturbances. I thought that was kind of neat and different.

I had the hardest time connecting with Hope and all of the characters read and acted younger than they were suppose to be. Hope was homeschooled, she doesn’t know how to approach other people, boys are an alien to her, but she has a great photographic memory. Her actions at times were a bit annoying, especially when it came to the books two leading boys, Collum and Bran. Right away when you hear two leading boys, you go, uh oh right? Yup, there is a big potential for a love triangle on the horizon. Hope is desperately pinning over Bran and how handsome he is, and how a boy like him would never look at a girl like her – despite the fact that he was coming on to her clear as day. Bran and Hope are also connected in more way than one, but his biggest secret doesn’t seem to deter her from being all goo-goo eyed over the boy.

Collum was brave, kept to himself and his interaction with Hope leads me to believe he is developing feelings for the girl – even if she has wool over her eyes and can’t seem to get it through his actions because she is too focused on Bran.

Phoebe is Collum sister and honestly from her actions and her character, I thought she was like 8? But no, this girl is not only a teenager, she spends a lot of time clinging to her boyfriend before they are sent into the dim to help rescue Hope’s mother.

One of my main issues was the fact that somehow these adults in the book end up sending 3 teenagers into a very dangerous era, knowing well that there is a woman who is out to get them, purposely putting them in danger without the chaperone. Not only must they recover Hope’s mother, they must also seek out a stone that will allow them to travel wherever they choose to. So the result? These kids get almost killed, over and over again if it wasn’t for the Queen of the era they were traveling to overseeing their safety.

Also, the repetitiveness was strong in this one. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I found myself frustrated. No matter where these kids went, or did, they always got caught over and over again and had to find a way to escape over and over again. Honestly, I wanted to scream for them to just give up trying, it was only going to end the same anyway.

In the end, I guess a part of me enjoyed it, because the concept was interesting and now that I know that there seem to be only two books – I might eventually read the second just to see how it ends.

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