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, Special Review, ya contemporary

Book Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

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Goodreads Summary:

The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She’s made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she’s paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it’s all fine. That her “perfect” family is fine. But it’s not. And no one notices the lie…until she meets Flynn. He’s the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of “the wrong side of the tracks.” When Jess’s parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don’t get that the person who shouldn’t fit in your world… might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.

Review:

There is something about Janet Gurtler novels that just makes me binge read them. I stayed up late reading this one several nights in a row (even though I had to work early in the AM). I read #16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue a few months ago and I LOVED it. I apparently loved it so much that I went over to Kayla’s house and said READ IT. I don’t remember this, but she has it and she says it happened, so it probably did. Especially since she has my book.

I was really intrigued when I saw the synopsis of this novel. We have a boy who comes from under the poverty line, and then we have the girl who is rich. We never see the rich girl, it is always the rich boy helping out the poor girl (except in Crash Into You by Katie McGarry, but that’s a whole other story there…).

I really wanted to see how Ms. Janet would portray those who are below the poverty level, and I wanted to see if they would be accurately represented.

Throughout the novel, the issue of poverty is present and it is somewhat explored, but not enough. We barely get a glimpse of it. Yes, we have the soup kitchen, and yes we have that brief moment in Flynn’s house, but poverty isn’t described well enough for me. I do have to keep in mind though that Ms. Gurtler is from Canada and I live in the USA, so poverty will look a bit different in both countries. What I did like was Jess’ attitude towards Flynn on the whole not having money front. She didn’t discriminate, but I loved that Ms. Janet did show that Jess felt uncomfortable at times being in a place where poverty is so real. I hate it when a rich character goes into a poor area and is like, “Cool yo, no shame, I’m cool. It’s all cool.” NO IT ISN’T. That is not a normal reaction. Not believable at all.

Switching over to some less serious stuff… Really Flynn?! You were so cute and adorable until the end. I loved you. I believed in you and you crushed my heart. I forgive you, but I cannot love you as much as I did at the beginning. That ending just… ugh I’m not cool with it bro.

Overall, The Truth About Us is another great book under Janet’s belt. I enjoyed reading it immensely. I know I didn’t talk much about that, but The Truth About Us raises some very important issues and that is why I requested it on NetGalley, not because I wanted a fluffy read.

Rating: 4.50 out of 5

Disclaimer: Thank you Sourcebooks Fire 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.

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

NA Romance, Special Review

Book Review: More Than This (More Than This #1) by Jay McLean

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

Goodreads Summary:

When Mikayla imagined her prom night, she envisioned a fairy-tale evening full of romance. So when betrayal and tragedy come in quick succession, Mikayla is completely destroyed. Suddenly, everything she loved and everyone she relied on are tragically, irrevocably gone.

Jake, a handsome boy she just met, happens to witness her loss. With no one to turn to, Mikayla is forced to depend on this near stranger and his family, and he in turn is determined to take care of her. But Mikayla—thrust into adulthood with no one to guide her—is desperate to contain her grief and hide what she considers to be her weakness. Mikayla and Jake both want more, but despite their growing closeness and intense chemistry, she tries to keep her distance and protect her heart. As he does everything in his power to win her trust, Mikayla must choose between remaining alone and safe or letting love in.

Review:

All I can say is WOW. I decided not to read the synopsis and just dove into the book. To say it surprised me is an understatement. I totally thought this would go another way. Did not expect all the twists and turns at all. When I saw this was a part of a “series” I groaned thinking please don’t tell me they split up, please noooooooo, but I’m glad they ended up having their happily ever after.

I do have to warn people that there is some adult content. I did not expect it and I was like Ahhhhh, and skimmed ahead really fast. If you don’t like reading it you can just skip ahead. If I knew it had some adult content I wouldn’t have read it, but since I had requested this on NetGalley I kinda just skipped ahead every time it happened and stuck it out. Oh also, a lot of cussing. More than I thought there would be. Just a warning to those that don’t like reading books with that kind of stuff.

Anyways that aside, it wasn’t a bad read. I kind of thought it would be. It could be the very cliché new adult cover that made me come to that conclusion. I do have to say it was a tad dramatic at times and there were some parts where I literally rolled my eyes and said come on, but if you can get past those few eye-rolling clichés, it’s actually really good. I kind of want to read the rest, but after going to the author’s goodreads and saw she was classified under mature young adult fiction, I kinda of don’t want to.

But let me sidetrack and say MEGAN IS A HORRIBLE BEST FRIEND AND HUMAN BEING. OMG HOW COULD SHE HAVE DONE WHAT SHE DID.

If you want to read an over-the-top, crazy, dramatic, very swoony love story, this is for you. I’m sure you’ll like it.

Rating 3.75 out of 5

Special Review, ya contemporary

Blog Tour Part 1: Lessons I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy by Liz Maccie

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

Today is the fourth day of the Lesson I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy Blog Tour and I am happy to participate in the tour of this wonderful book. I’ve divided today’s festivities into two posts. Part 1 (which is this post) will focus on my thoughts of the book and such. Part 2 will consist of Ms. Liz Maccie’s guest post that she was so kind enough to write for my blog. Click Here to check out Part 2.

Lessons I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy (Small)

BOOK DESCRIPTION

“Liz Maccie’s debut novel is as tough, optimistic, and beautiful as her heroine, Roberta Romano. Roberta’s voice is heartfelt and funny. Her story is exceptionally moving and honest. I love this book and the hope it has for young women everywhere.” —Stephen Chbosky, New York Times bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The most important lessons aren’t learned in the classroom.

It’s the first day of sophomore year for Roberta Romano, but instead of the comfort of her local high school, she’s been thrust into the elitist embrace of the affluent Meadowbrook Academy.

Surrounded by wealth, Roberta battles her own insecurities to prove her worth and maybe land the boy of her dreams. With the help of two unlikely allies—and an inflatable toy raft—Roberta embarks upon a journey of dark secrets and self-discovery to learn the true meaning of friendship and acceptance.

“Roberta will charm and delight you with a voice that’s candid, hilarious, and hopeful, as she narrates her first day at a new high school, reminding us of the epic nature of each hour in our adolescent lives. Lessons I Never Learned at Meadowbrook Academy will make you laugh, cringe, cry, and cheer for the power of friendships that can change us in a single day.” —Ava Dellaira, author of Love Letters to the Dead

“You wish your first day of prep school was this epic! Every single page of Lessons I Never Learned sparkles with heart and humor. Like a teenage Bridget Jones, Roberta Romano will make you laugh, cry, and cringe as she tries to navigate her first day at Meadowbrook Academy. She finds friends and enemies, earns detentions and serious respect, and makes memories that will last her a lifetime.” —Siobhan Vivian, author of The List

Review:

Our narrator is none other than Roberta Romano. She is a spunky Italian teenager that will leave you laughing or cringing (in a good way) every step of the way. Roberta is a sort of oxymoron because she is just like your average teenager and at the same time, she is not. She has characteristics that a teenager and even someone much older can relate to because we have all thought the same things and acted similarly when we were that age.

What I really loved about LINLAMA is that it talks about issues that should be talked about. Ms. Maccie does a wonderful job at not only making a relatable character, but also showing her grow and learn some very important lessons along the way.

There are a few sections in the book that captured my attention and that truly spoke to me and made me pause and reflect on what I had just read and realize how true those statements were. Here are a couple of those statements:

“Next time I was told by someone they had experienced the most amazing food ever, I would remember to ask who they were with and what they were doing before I asked what they were eating.”

“In my life, I have cried a lot. And I have felt really bad about many things. To be honest, I’ve always thought that no one else in the world could possibly understand just how much things hurt sometimes. But sitting there, watching Annie, thinking about everything the three of us had shared day, I realized that there is a lot of pain in the world. And I’m not the only one who feels it.”

It is very important for YA authors to write these type of realizations into characters. Teenagers today need to hear they are not alone when it comes to suffering and pain. That the meal they eat isn’t so much about the food being eaten, but the company that they are sharing it with. I would have loved to had read this book 10 years ago when I was a freshman in high school myself and I could have understood sooner that in this life YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It may feel like you are at times, but you are not, correction, We are not alone.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Author photo

AUTHOR BIO

Liz Maccie was born and raised in New Jersey and attended Bucknell University.  After college, she moved out to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television writing.  She has had two movies produced, “The Thirst” and “Black and Blue.”  She went on to work at The Disney Channel until she found a home at the breakout ABC Family show, “Make it or Break it.”  She is currently adapting the wildly popular YA book, “The List” for MTV as a television show.  “Lessons” is Liz’s debut novel.

If you would like to know more about Liz Maccie or follow her on social media:

LINKS

Website: http://lizmaccie.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LizMaccieAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lmaccie

Purchase LINLAMA: http://diversionbooks.com/ebooks/lessons-i-never-learned-meadowbrook-academy

Special Review, ya contemporary, YA Mystery

ARC Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay2Thank you Random House for providing me with a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Description (on NetGalley):

Award winner and critically acclaimed writer Jenny Hubbard’s riveting account of a teenage girl whose boyfriend brings a gun to school and shoots himself. This is her story before, during, and after the tragedy.

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.

This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

Review:

I started reading this book at the beginning of this year and it has taking me this long to read it. 6 months to be exact. Why you may ask it has taken me that many months? Because I had to be in a certain mood to read it. It’s not a lighthearted book at all. It’s heart wrenching, and tragic. If you’re not in the correct mood, it might bore you or turn you off.

The writing in And We Stay is poetic. I could even say lyrical. What I really enjoyed were the poems after every chapter. I could picture Emily late at night writing the poems, letting out all  of her feelings into that journal and beginning the process of healing that she desperately needs. The entire book is about the beginning of her healing process and realizing exactly what Paul was to her, as well as learning the consequences of her actions and what saying the truth may lead to.

If I were Emily, it would have taking me longer to heal from this, but the again at the end of the book she is barely starting to heal.

I really loved Emily’s roommate toward the end. At the beginning I thought of her as a snotty, rich, drama-loving girl. When Emily tells her to invent her past, her roommate doesn’t hesitate to make up a sob story that everyone eats up.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It may not be for me, but I wholly appreciate the poetic writing that enraptured me two nights ago as I binge read the last 80% of the book I still had left to read.

Rating: 3/5

Uncategorized

ARC HAUL #1

I was recently approved for several ARC’s on NetGalley and Edelwiness. I was so excited to see that I was approved for all of these books that I almost did a happy dance.

These are the ARC’s I received:

(Click on the image to go to its Goodreads page!)

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Lot’s of good books!

I will be tackling Waterfell this week and I’ll post up a review of it soon!

Happy Reading,

Veronica