Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ComtempConvos: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything

GoodReads Summary:

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Liz’s Review:

This was my first book by Sarah Dessen and I really enjoyed it. It is a classic of what I always assumed high school novels should be- uncomfortable interactions, personal growth, loss of innocence (not sexually), betrayal, tragic vanity, illusion vs. reality. These play out in the different relationships Sydney has- with her parents, brother, friends, love interest.

Dessen does an exceptional job at asking, and answering, questions that as teens we all have at some point. What meaning does my life have? Am I significant? Can I handle the events taking place? Do I have my best interest at heart? Are these people truly my friends? What do I want for my future? And even the simple questions- do I like this boy? Am I comfortable?

We are taken through the story by Sydney, who asks these questions, and has to evaluate what would be best for her, given the situation with her brother, and the lack of anything significant from her parents- emotionally and physically. Through out the book, she grows as a person- from a girl who just went along with her parents and didn’t ask anything of, because her parents have made her brother the center of their universe to a person who finally does what is best for herself, standing up to her parents, taking control back from her mother. Sydney is a complex character. Her friends are perfectly written as well, but are not without their own flaws and tragic backstory.

Side note about the mom- I really hated her. Once Peyton went to jail, it was all she thought about. Basically forgetting she had another child who needed her. And because she refused to acknowledge that what her son had done was wrong, Sydney was forced to take on that guilt. And when she finally did notice her daughter, she was a helicopter parent, afraid Sydney would make the same mistakes as Peyton.

This is a wonderful coming of age story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Coming of Age Intro (and Week 1 Wrap Up)

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And the first week is done with! This is going by much faster than I anticipated it to. I don’t know about you, but I certainly thought I had much more time to read all the books. Gah!

For this week, we shall be reading and celebrating all things Coming of Age

If you aren’t sure what classifies as Coming of Age, think  along the lines of Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, Heather Demetrios, Abby McDonald, etc. You get the picture.

Week 1 – Thriller/Spy – Wrap Up

Let’s have a great week 2!

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, YA Mystery, YA Thriller

ContempConvos: Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Goodreads Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

Review:

Oh my gosh.

I am dead. No pun intended.

I was a huge fan of The Naturals, but Barnes just went ahead and blew me away with the sequel.

Killer Instinct is everything you’ve wanted. It’s dark, it’s gritty, and addicting. You have the action, the sick twisted mindset of the killer, and the relationships between the naturals. I wish this were a tv show.

In Killer Instinct we have the gang in the aftermath of what happened with Cassie and “agent” Locke. As Cassie deals with the aftermath, a copycat shows up, but it’s not just any killer he is copying, but Dean’s dad. MO right to the t. The entire time we are dealing with the team trying to solve who is the copycat, if the naturals program will be dismantled with Agent Sterlings presence now in the mix, and Cassie’s inner turmoil of Michael or Dean.

Now don’t be turned away because we have love in the mix. Ms. Barnes does it in a very tasteful way which actually adds to the story and doesn’t take away from it.

At the end of the day, if you haven’t read Killer Instinct (or The Naturals) please do so. You will not regret that decision.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ComtempConvos: We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

We'll Never Be Apart

GoodReads Summary:

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half of the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

My Review:

We’ll Never Be Apart is quite an interesting book and the twist and turns I definitely didn’t see coming. Emiko Jean’s writing is on point and satisfying.

Jean addresses the serious issue of mental illness and how a person copes with traumatic experiences. She does it through the lens of twin sisters and the death of a loved one.  Alice has taken her experiences and tried to see the good in them. Celia (Cellie) is more the rebel and only causes destruction. When they end up at Savage Isle, Alice meets Chase, a boy who has his own troubling background. Through Alice’s writings in her journal and the help of Chase, we come to understand the traumatic experiences that put Alice in the mental institution.

I found this book quite intriguing. Mental illness is something that we look down upon. If people aren’t able to get their stuff together, then, as a society, we believe they aren’t capable of anything. And looking at mental illness through the lens of a thriller novel is even more exquisite. You watch the story unravel to this big ending that I definitely did not see coming. This book made me realize what your brain is capable of doing when coping with traumatic experiences.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Week 4 Wrap Up

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We did it! Week 4 is over! I am so excited we did it and at the same time I am really sad because Contemporary Conversations is almost over. We have two days left.

Below is a list of the posts that were a part of “Conspiracies/Spies/Drama” week. If we missed your post or discussion by any chance, go ahead and leave it down in the comments below and we will add it to the list accordingly.

Reviews:

Discussions and Fun:

I want to thank each and every one of you who participated in some shape or form in Contemporary Conversations. We couldn’t have done this without you! I want to apologize as well because I had so much planned for week 4 in the review department, but the books that were going to be featured (which Penguin kindly provided) ended up going to a wrong address. Penguin kindly resent the books, but they arrived halfway through week 4. Such a bummer. But either way you will be seeing reviews of those book shortly so stay tuned for those!

We will be announcing the giveaway winner through both Kayla’s blog and mine on Tuesday! (Kayla thinks it’s Wednesday but I checked our shared calendar 🙂 )

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Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, YA Mystery

ContempConvos: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down

introduction:

Did any of you guess this was the book I would be reviewing? If you guessed All Fall Down, click the rafflecopter link and get your extra giveaway entry! a Rafflecopter giveaway

I saved this book specifically for this week. I bought the book right after it was published in January and I was even approved by Scholastic and given an arc before that. But I saved it for this week because it would have been a tragedy if Ms. Ally Carter did not make an appearance during the Spy/Conspiracy/Drama week of Contemporary Conversations. She is so dedicated to this genre and I am so thankful for that. Let’s proceed with my review. I hope you enjoy it.

Goodreads Summary:

A new series of global proportions — from master of intrigue, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter.

This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Review:

I just finished read this and I am speechless. I did not see that ending coming. I am still reeling with that ending. I am shocked. Like people like to say I CAN’T EVEN.

The title All Fall Down finally makes sense. Falling means many different things in this book, but it is Grace’s fall that we focus on the most. We see Grace’s entire journey and we slowly see her start getting madder and madder until she breaks… she falls.

The only thing that was a little weak for me in the story was Noah as a character. He felt… lacking. Something wasn’t there for me. It could be that I missed something because I was devouring this book, but he is the reason why I can’t give it 5 stars. I felt his character a little two-dimensional. This is the first book in a series, so I hope we get to see more of him and he can turn into a character that I love.

One of the reasons why I am such an Ally Carter fan is because she can turn things I would normally see as boring, intriguing. I will never see ambassadors and their children the same again. I also have a higher respect for them. Their job is so important and it is something that day-to-day we don’t even think about. Her books always make me think.

Also, there is NO ROMANCE. None. Zilch. Nada. That is so refreshing. I can’t rave enough to give this book justice.

If you want to get into the world of spies, government agents, and conspiracies, Ally carter is the author for you. Pick this story up. Trust me, you won’t be bored.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion. (I bought a copy of the book once it was released)

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, Special Review, YA Mystery

ContempConvos: I Am The Weapon by Allen Madoff

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Goodreads Summary:

They needed the perfect assassin.

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends, and doesn’t stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend’s family to die-of “natural causes.” Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, moving on to the next target.

But when he’s assigned to the mayor of New York City, things change. The daughter is unlike anyone he has encountered before; the mayor reminds him of his father. And when memories and questions surface, his handlers at The Program are watching. Because somewhere deep inside, Boy Nobody is somebody: the kid he once was; the teen who wants normal things, like a real home and parents; a young man who wants out. And who just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program’s mission.

In this action-packed series debut, author Allen Zadoff pens a page-turning thriller that is as thought-provoking as it is gripping, introducing an utterly original and unforgettable antihero.

Review:

O.M.G. I was not expecting this book to end how it did. Or to start how it did. I did not expect anything at all. And speaking honestly here, it was a breath of fresh air! I honestly felt like I was reading a script of a crime/covert operations type of show.

Zach Abram is Mr. Nobody. No one sees him arrive into their lives and no one notices when he leaves. I want to say he is like a shadow, but shadows leave something behind (if someone knows here to look) and he doesn’t. I really liked the way his back story was revealed in snippets through the entire book. It created this mysterious aura that helped form his character.

There was something that I loved about this book. Normally when an assassin or trained operative comes into play, no one sees him, he leaves nothing behind, but in this book the trained operative makes a mistake! He assumes that the family of the target does not know how to recognize people like him. He has all this training yet it fails him for a good portion of the book and it is through those mistakes that we learn that even the coldest person has feelings. The main character in a way is the anti-hero of his own story.

Gosh this was such a good book that I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone. If you are a fan of Jennifer Lynn Barns and/or Ally Carter,  I think you’ll like this book. It does have some flaws, but overall it is a good novel. It felt wholesome and the world was well established. I may have to get the second book because that ending… so did not see it coming! EEEKKKKKK!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Little, Brown Books and  NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this book for free does not sway my opinion.

Key word: Falling

Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Spies, Government Agents, and Conspiracies

Contemporary-Conversations-Banner2 This week I’m not starting off with a review, but with a discussion post! Something that really irks me is the lack of YA Contemporary novels that deal with Spies, Government Agencies, and Conspiracies. We have a wide variety pretty much of any sub-genre, but not this one. Why is that? Is it because there isn’t such a big demand or there aren’t enough authors writing these types of stories?

Yes, we have spies, assassins, and government agents in dystopian novels, sci-fi novels, and fantasy novels, but not in contemporary novels. I say that it isn’t fair. Sometimes I just want some spies in my life you know? One of the reasons I love Ally Carter is because Spies, Government Agents, Conspiracies, Con-artists are the things she writes about in a pure contemporary world. Jennifer Lynn Barnes who is Ally Carter’s friend also writes in these sub-genres. Apart from them, I don’t know other authors that focus solely on that.

I would have included “The Name is the Star” by Maureen Johnson, but it is a paranormal contemporary novel. It’s not pure contemporary and that is where it irks me. We have action movies that do not have sic-fi, paranormal, fantasy, or dystopian elements to them, but where are the books that are just pure action and suspense? That is my question. That is what I want people to answer me.

I want to hear from you now. Do you like to read these type of novels or do you prefer this spy, assassin, etc., thing when it is in a dystopian or fantasy world (ex: Delirium , Throne of Glass, etc.)? and why?

Hopefully you will shed some light on this subject because it’s just not fair. Not fair at all.

Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Week 3 Wrap Up and Spies, Revenge, and Conspiracies Week Intro

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Life happened at the end of this week and I didn’t have this post scheduled so I apologize it is coming a little bit late today. But…

WEEK THREE IS OVER! WOOO!

I can’t believe we are almost at the end of this. One more week and Contemporary Conversations is over.. *cries*

I’ve had tons of fun doing this and I hope you guys have had as much fun participating as well. Below is a list of the posts that were a part of “The Re-Reads” week. If we missed your post or discussion by any chance, go ahead and leave it down in the comments below and we will add it to the list accordingly.

Reviews:

Discussions and Fun:

Week 4 is the week I have been anticipating the most since the very beginning. It focuses on several sub-genres I am very passionate about. This week it is all about  spies, conspiracies, and drama. I am a sucker for those sub-genres and I wish they were more popular than they are.

We will be having a challenge this week too! Throughout the week, on both Kayla’s and my posts, you’ll find clues hidden around. All of the clues will put together the answer that you’ll need on Friday – the correct answer gets you an extra point in our giveaway!

Who is excited for this week?!  I AM!

*cheers*

Contemporary Conversations

ContempConvos: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

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Introduction:

Yes, I have reviewed this book before. If you want to read my original review click here. I almost didn’t re-read it because Kayla reviewed it for Disabilities week, but then I said the heck with it! I want to review it for reread week because I want to reread it. So here I go!

Goodreads Summary:

At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her—and she’s forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

Review:

Dear Lord have mercy on my soul, heart, everything. This book destroyed me and built me up. I texted both Anjie and Kayla right after I finished it… Guys I’m floating…

I seemed to have picked the perfect books to reread because both ORS and now Maybe Someday seemed to be better than I remembered them to be. Maybe Someday is perfection. I know not everyone likes the story because they have an issue with a certain part of it, but I just think that the journey makes it okay.

The characters are so honest and raw that it feels as if I know these characters personally. That I am their friend and I am first-hand seeing them go through all of this chaos. My heart broke, clenched, sped up, and beat along with Sydney and Ridge.

I can’t get over my fangirling right now. I want this review to be comprehendible, but I think I will just unleash the fangirl I can’t seem to hold back. *cracks knuckles*

Just like ORS, I love that this centers around music as well. Like I said before, sucker for music influenced books, and a sucker for musicians. It can’t get any better than this.

Is it horrible of me to say that I kind of aspire to be Sydney, not what happens to her of course, but the qualities she possesses, she is so selfless… it’s amazing!

Ridge and Sydney (about 95% of the time) handled everything with such maturity that I only wish if I was ever in any type of difficult situation I would be as mature as them.

I first read this book when I was younger than the characters and I saw them all grown up and independent, but this time around, I’m older than the characters and I was not only able to relate to them, but I also felt older. Crazy really. I’m probably a little more sensitive to age right now because I turned 24 two weeks ago.

My concluding thoughts are these. I am so happy I reread Maybe Someday. It makes me happy and warms me on the inside. Rereading is the best!

Rating: 5 out of 5