Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Review:

I was surprised by this book many times. At first I thought it would be an angsty “woe is me” book. Then I was like ahhh something horrible is going to happen towards the end and it will ruin my ship. But none of my theories or guesses happened (except for who Shay was).

We start of at the Police station. Tatum, her friend Ashley, and Ashley’s boyfriend are arrested. Why are they arrested? Because Ashley’s bae decided to steal a whole bunch of smartphones. Now Tatum is stuck with a fine and community service even though she knew nothing of what Ashley and her bf had planned on doing that day they went to the mall. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The story progresses as Tate struggles with being under house arrest under her stepmother’s watchful eye. Her stepmother Belen is very harsh on her and her step sister Tilly hardly acknowledges her existence. To make things worse, her father goes out of the country so she is left alone with her step-family. Throughout the entire book, Tate learns that the people closest to you can disappoint you, that making new friends may not be as bad as she thought it would be, that forgiving others is always good even though it takes time for the person you forgive to realize their mistake (Yes, I am talking about Ashley) and that you shouldn’t judge others, especially if you haven’t taken the time to properly get to know them (Her stepmother Belen and her stepsister Tilly).

My favorite character’s were Abby (Her new friend and journalistic wiz) and Blanche (Belen’s mother, Tilly’s grandmother). They both brought humor and the reality check that Tate needed. They were great support systems, yet they didn’t baby Tate. Loved this!

Overall, It Started With Goodbye, is a solid debut. I will keep a lookout for Christina June’s next novel.

(P.S. I didn’t write about the romance/ship in this novel because while it is in the story, I liked that it wasn’t the main point so I shall keep it that way.)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Blink/Harper Collins for providing me with an ARC of this novel. Receiving this novel for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Summary:

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

Review:

So I’m not exactly sure why but I LOVED Lola and the Boy Next Door waaaaaaaay more than the first time I read it about 5 years ago. I remember being annoyed by Lola the entire time. This time around though I’m not sure what changed, but I was able to empathize with her. And I also think Cricket is part of the reason I like Lola and the Boy Next Door now.

As I am sitting here trying to gather my thoughts, and the one thing that stood out to me this time was the theme of forgiveness. Lola has to forgive the Bell twins, her biological mother, and her musician boyfriend (who becomes the ex thankfully because he sucked). The entire book is a journey of looking at the mistakes that were made, and finding redemption through forgiveness and understanding.

We also see the theme of second chances. Lola gave both her mother and Cricket a second chance. Having your heart-broken by two of the most important people hurts, but if both parties are willing to put in effort, relationships can be restored.

I was very into my feelings as I read Lola this time, and it could be why it’s gone on my “You should read this book” list (and why this review turned deep. Sorry guys, no fangirling today).

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

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

How to Make a Wish

GoodReads Summary:

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:

From the first moment that How to Make a Wish was announced I was incredibly excited to read it. I had read Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake and fell in love with her writing style and story telling. And while this review is coming out on the day How to Make a Wish is published, I read this novel over two months ago when I received the ARC.

How to Make a Wish grabbed me from the first sentence. A story of loss, love, acceptance, and future, Ashley weaves an intense tale of two teen girls finding each other at the right moment. Of complex stories that intertwine. Of having to handle that moment of “coming-out” to her family and friends.

I like both character’s right away and their “meet cute” was the perfect way to start their relationship.

With Grace launched into the adult world too soon, having to take care of a mother who is unpredictable, she is resentful that she doesn’t get a normal childhood. She is also looking toward her future, thinking about college, worried about her mother, worried about her best friend, feeling helpless. She is a very well-rounded character.

Eva on the other side is suffering the death of her mother and mentor. Forced to move to a town and in with a family she doesn’t know. Finding connection with Grace’s erratic mother.

On a deep scale, this book is about relationships; coming to terms with who an individual is, who a person wants to be, acceptance, love, friendship.

My Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group for providing me with an ARC of this novel. Receiving this novel for free does not sway my review. Blog Signature

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

The Problem with Forever

Goodreads Summary:

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

My Review:

Something I have always loved about Jennifer L. Armentrout is her ability to take mental illness and weave them realistically into lives of her characters. Having seen her a few times in person, she is incredibly passionate about mental illness and being true to them when writing stories. She has previously written two other stories about mental illness, both of which I loved- Scorched and Frigid.

The Problem with Forever is about a Malory who grew up in the foster care system with abusive foster parents. She shared that home with a boy- Rider- whom was like a protector. Eventually Mallory is adopted by a new family, but she still has to deal with the after affects of the abuse and foster care system.

Mallory and Rider are both complex characters, each with their own coping mechanisms. The importance of this story is the acknowledgement  of these complexities and how their family and friends supported them, but also how they supported each other. This novel also sheds light on old “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” idea. All people come from different backgrounds, and, especially given today’s issues, it’s important to not judge before knowing someone.

Rating: 4 out of 5Blog Signature

 

Reviews, Special Review, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Book Review: The Bad Boy Bargain by Kendra C. Highley

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Goodreads Summary:

Baseball player Kyle Sawyer has many labels: bad boy, delinquent, ladies’ man, fearless outfielder… Only one of them is actually true. But then sweet ballet dancer Faith Gladwell asks him to help wreck her reputation, and everything goes sideways.

Faith knows a thing or two about love, and what she had with her cheating jerk of an ex wasn’t it. When he starts spreading rumors about her being an Ice Queen, Faith decides it’s time to let a little bad into her life.

Lucky for her, Kyle Sawyer—dark, dangerous, totally swoonworthy Kyle Sawyer—is landscaping her backyard over Spring Break. Shirtless. And if she can convince him to play along, “dating” Kyle will silence the rumors.

But Faith’s plan threatens to expose Sawyer’s biggest secret of all…and that’s a risk he’s not willing to take.

Review:

The Bad Boy Bargain exceeded my expectations. I was expecting for Kyle to be an actual bad boy, not a “fake” bad boy. To think he was the complete opposite of the persona he put off just so he could cruise through high school without having to be bullied or sought after for the wrong reasons is heart-breaking  and made him more adorable. Faith is a whole other story. She is Ms. goody two shoes who seems to be dating doochebags all the time. Especially this last one, Cameron, is a real piece of work. And the thing is that Cameron and Kyle have some unfinished business so when Cameron cheats on Faith and Faith breaks up with him, she decides to get revenge by going out with the notorious bad boy Kyle.

The Bay Boy Bargain is a story that deals with the pains of teenage life. It shows how one small action can change your school life. To us who are older it may seem silly that it’s so life or death per say in the teenager world, but we all know that in that point of our lives it feels like life or death.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dsiclaimer:

I’d like to thank Entangled Publishing for providing me with an ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

The Lovely Reckless

GoodReads Summary:

I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My Review:

I received this book through Miss Print‘s ARC Adoption Program. And I have to say when I received it I was so excited to read it. The synopsis sounded amazing and I know Kami Garcia is a fantastic writer. Her Beautiful Creatures series is just that, beautiful.

But as you can see I haven’t posted a review in a while.

There have been many changes in my personal life, ups and downs, that have lead to me reading less. And while these changes were occurring, I was reading The Lovely Reckless. So my feelings on this book, I think, are a bit biased because of my personal life.

I do have to say The Lovely Reckless was enjoyable, but not as enjoyable as other contemporary books have been for me. I enjoyed Frankie’s character growth over the course of the novel, but I felt disconnected from her. I also had a difficult time with the Frankie/Marco instalove story. It felt a little like  Romeo and Juliet? I guess when you’re that young (I am 28) and you have stopped caring about life and people, instalove does happen. But I felt disconnected with that too.

I did enjoy the background characters more, though I was disappointed with how lacking the parent existence was as well as Frankie’s attitude toward them when she did speak to them. Lexi was funny and I really enjoyed how loyal she was to Frankie. Cruz was super cute.

But overall the story just felt lacking. And again I think, due to personal circumstances, I liked this book less than I would have at another time. Due to this I did not finish it. And I hate DNFing a book. There have been few books that I’ve done that to and it guts me.  Don’t let my attitude toward this book stop you from reading it. I know so many people who enjoyed it immensely.

Rating: DNF

Thank you to Miss Print and her ARC adoptions for the opportunity to read this novel. Receiving this novel for free doesn’t sway my opinion.

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Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Review:

I love reading an authors work as the years pass by because you see how their writing changes and how much better it gets overtime. It is pretty incredible really. At least I think so. From the very beginning I loved Miranda’s writing and that still has not changed. Especially if her writing keeps getting better which I didn’t think it could be possible. Alright enough gushing over her, let’s get to the real reason I am writing this review.

Defending Taylor is not your ordinary story. We get a glimpse into the life of a powerful family, yet it is not all the color of roses. The story also doesn’t follow your typical rich girl in a political world story. Taylor is just a girl who decides to cover for her boyfriend whom she loves and doesn’t want him to lose his scholarship to the private school they both attend. She thought she could cover for him because her father is a senator, but little did she know her father would not move a finger to help her. She ends up having to change schools and goes to Hundred Oaks now. There she learns to navigate the world and that any decision you make whether good or bad has the potential of being life altering.

I do want to point out that I loved how great and supportive Ezra is throughout the book. He is literally her other half. He is working through some issues and with encouragement and help from Taylor he is able to overcome his shame and get help.

Defending Taylor is about growing as a human being and being careful about the decisions you make. I know I may have made this book sound too deep maybe, but it is a great story with great characters. Like I said… Miranda’s writing is on point yet again.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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