Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say by Leila Sales

 

Goodreads Summary:

Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person.

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things? What then?

When Winter Halperin—former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert—gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life explodes. All across the world, people knows what she’s done, and none of them will forgive her.

With her friends gone, her future plans cut short, and her identity in shambles, Winter is just trying to pick up the pieces without hurting anyone else. She knows she messed up, but does that mean it’s okay for people to send her hate mail and death threats? Does she deserve to lose all that she’s lost? And is “I’m sorry” ever good enough?

First and foremost a novel about public shaming in the internet age, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say is also an exploration of the power of words, the cumulative destructiveness of microaggressions, and the pressing need for empathy.

Review:

Let’s get started.

I’m not sure if I liked how cyberbullying and racism was dealt with in this book. Maybe my perspective is different because I am a part of the minority, but in my eyes the main character didn’t fully realize the wrongness in her comment, but then I also don’t think cyber-bullying people is the key to making a person realize their wrong doing. That just leads to them becoming a victim too. Most of the book dealt with Winter being a victim, than about racism. I wish more had come out of the severed friendship with one of her friends. Then we could have really talked about racism. It was nice though that she realized that it is not easy for those that don’t look a certain way. That scene at the gas station I applaud.

Overall, I think it was a good attempt at raising awareness, but it felt short. This won’t stop me from reading future books by Leila as I like some of her past novels, I just don’t like how she handled the sensitive topics in this one.

Rating: 2.5 of out 5

Note: I received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program.

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Reviews, YA Fantasy

Book Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)

GoodReads Summary:

Months after the explosive events in A Court of Wings and Ruin, Feyre, Rhys, and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Liz’s Review:

I’ve always really loved Sarah J. Maas’ books. She’s a good writer, provides good backstory, gives characters depth and meaning. HOWEVER, A Court of Frost and Starlight fell short for me. It doesn’t surprise me that these characters are having a difficult time adjusting to life post-war. Its a very real thing, PTSD. And I felt like this “mini-novel”- because it isn’t a novella and it isn’t a novel either- didn’t take us anywhere, didn’t help the characters.

We, again, saw most of the events through Rhys and Feyre’s perspective, and we still learned nothing new. The others were there, but it didn’t build upon their story. Their chapters also didn’t bring us any closer to understanding their PTSD. I felt like this was fluff, but a fluff I didn’t need. A fluff that could have been inserted in the true 4th novel with flashbacks, or some other story driving force. Sadly, this just felt like a waste of my time.

On Goodreads, I gave it three stars, and that was generous.

Rating: 2 stars

Veronica’s Review:

This is what I wanted and what I did not want. Let me explain. My heart hurt to see them so… broken.

The book was told through four POV’s, Rhys & Feyre (not surprising) and Cass & Nesta (Interesting). I assume Sarah did it this way to start getting us familiarized with Cass and Nesta being the main POV’s from here on out. Now onto the good stuff.

I really thought the book would be more happy, but who am I kidding? I should have known how broken and sad the characters were going to be. I was surprised with Nesta’s actions. I always thought her rebellion would be manifested a different way, but alas I was wrong.

Overall, I expected more from this book, yet I was pleased with how she managed to wrap up Rhys & Feyre’s story in order for us to move onto Cass and Nesta’s. I wish we could have seen more of Az or the other characters of the inner circle and seen their struggle after the war, but I do understand that the focus was Rhys and Feyre. All the past books in the series had weight to them while this one was just a transition book which is why I am not being so hard on it.

My fangirl heart gave this book a 5 on Goodreads, but really…

Rating: 4 stars

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.

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

Vero Signature copy

NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Goodreads Summary:

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

Review:

DEBUT. NOVEL.

How the heck is this Hoover’s debut novel. It’s so freaking good. *dead*

Many of you that have been following this blog for a while now know how big of a fan I am of Colleen Hoover. That woman writes masterpiece after masterpiece, making the book community talk about tough topics no one wants to talk about (Ex: It Ends With Us and Ugly Love). In my book this lady is boss!

Alright, I’m going on a tangent… let’s go back to Slammed.

We have Layken (aka Lake) and Will.

Did I mention Will?

Y’all I’m thankful I never had a teacher like him in High School because I would have been a goner like Lake. *Swoons*

The book starts of as Lake is making the move from Texas to Michigan. Her father recently died and her mom is moving everyone to Michigan to begin anew. Then enters Will, the hot boy-next-door who not so long after meeting her asks her out on a date, and of course she says yes. The rest of the book is their journey navigating the discovery of him being her poetry teacher in high school once she finally makes it to school, and many other challenges that come along the way. As I try to keep this as non-spoilery as possible, I appreciate the fact that Hoover kept this as PG 13 as possible, which I’m assuming relates to the sensitive issue of a possible romance between a teacher and a student. Lake is 18, so she is an adult, but the fine print that keeps them apart is that she is still a student… at least for the next year.

My only “ehhh” feelings about Slammed is that the secondary characters didn’t come to life for me except for Eddie. She was amazing and her story is one I hope Hoover expands on one day. And as a last note, I want to talk about the poems within the story. They are profound and moving. I only WISH I could write poetry like Hoover. It even makes me want to go to a poetry slam session. As a writer, I am very jealous of Hoover’s ability, but I do tip my hat to her. Talent like that needs to be recognized.

Slammed is Hoover’s metaphorical mic drop in the publishing world and one can only keep expecting great stories from her.

Rating: 5/5

Check out Colleen Hoover’s other books here:

My Reviews:

Maybe Someday, Maybe Someday (Re-read review), Hopeless, Losing Hope, Finding Cinderella, Confess, Ugly Love

Liz’s Review:

Hopeless, November 9

NA Romance, Reviews

Book Review: Come Back To Me by Mila Grey

Goodreads Summary:

Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend’s sister, Jessa – the one girl he can’t have.

But Kit’s not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa’s falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer’s over and it’s time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa’s finally following her dreams and Kit’s discovered there’s someone he’d sacrifice everything for.

Jessa’s prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they’re forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

Review:

Holy freaking crap. That ending. That entire book. Even today that I am writing this the day after, my feels still cannot be contained. I was so wound up last night, I ended up cleaning my entire house.

Jessa and Kit. Jessa… and… Kit. I can’t with them right now. I think we need a gif to explain my feelings.

From the beginning of the book where we are foreshadowed a character’s possible death (This is not spoilery because we are literally foreshadowed that in the first three pages. I. AM. NOT. JOKING.) to the amount of feels and sexual tension between Kit and Jessa at her birthday party you’re in for one hell of a ride.

I really liked how real the book was. As a reader you are able to relate to the characters even though A. You’re not a marine like Kit & B. you’re not even close to being Jessa. Let me give you an example about what I mean.

I can’t count the times I’ve thought about telling Jessa how I feel, but to be honest I’ve never been sure if she’s interested. And admitting something like that to someone is purely a one-time deal. If it’s not reciprocated then not only do you look like a prize fool, but you also lose a friendship. I don’t care so much about the fool part because she probably already figures me one, but I do care about losing Jessa as a friend.

-Kit, Page 19

No one can tell me that they have not been right there in that type of situation at least once in their life. My feels were dying then and it was only the beginning of the book. I had to read the entire book in chunks at a time or I would have been a pool of feels on my apartment floor for at least a week.

I don’t want to give away much of the book, but I do want to say that you need to read it. I had rated it 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads because the Epilogue did not give me what I wanted… but looking back now it really deserves a 5. It’s been a week by now and I’m still not over it. Now that is some impactful writing.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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

Vero Signature copy