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

Vero Signature copy

Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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Goodreads Summary:

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

Review:

So FREAKING Adorable. The title says it all. Love & Gelato. Gosh I want to go to Italy now. Maybe I will…

Anyways moving on… Love & Gelato. I can’t get over how adorable and heartbreaking [in a good way] it was. I just want to hug it and absorb all its wonderful energy. I think Korea is getting to me. LOL

So we start of the book with Lina. Something horrible happened and she is now moving to Italy where she meets many attractive guys, but Ren shows up and ahhhhh who needs a guy that’s hotter than him when he is the sweetest person ever? Am I biased? You bet I am!

Love & Gelato is more than just a fluffy YA contemporary book with romance. It deals with hard subjects like death of a loved one, first love, others past affecting your own, and how to navigate the world on your own. This book is not all sweet like gelato, it can be bitter like coffee as well. I will say the balance between the fluffy and the hard truth are perfectly balanced and you end up feeling with a sense of reassurance and happiness at the end of the book.

If you’re looking for something heavy yet delicious then look nor further. I assure you that you will like this book!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: Outspoken by Lora Richardson

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Goodreads Summary:

Penny Beck is a girl who says yes when she means no. She keeps to herself, follows the rules, and does what she’s told. After a disastrous experience with her boyfriend, she’s determined to change from the spineless person she’s always been into the strong woman she wants to become. All she needs is a little practice.

On a cross-country trip to check on her grandpa, she strives to become bolder and more outspoken with the strangers she meets. Penny’s plan is to practice saying and doing what she wants without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

Then she meets Archer, an introspective loner to whom she finds herself drawn. She realizes she does care what he thinks, very much. Will Penny be able to stick to her plan, or will she revert back to her people-pleasing ways?

Review:

Let me start with a PSA. If you start reading this book and you think it’s a little slow, please keep reading. That was my mistake the first two times I tried to read it. Once you’re past the first 20 pages, trust me, you will be hooked. Lora’s writing style gives off a Sarah Dessen vibe, so if you like Sarah Dessen, please pick up her books!

Outspoken is Lora’s debut novel. As you may have seen, earlier this month Liz reviewed Lora’s sophomore novel which she loved! If you want to check that out after this review please click here! (Also, Liz interviewed Lora so that is also something you’re not going to want to miss.)

Outspoken starts of with Penny, a yes girl so to speak. She can’t say no for the life of her, but after a life-changing moment she decides she will no longer say “yes” even if it disappoints those closest to her. Penny has always tried to lead a life where she can make everyone happy, but herself. At the beginning Penny may not be your favorite person, you may want to scream at her and tell her what the hell is she doing, but as you go on this journey with her she starts to grow into a person we start rooting for and hope she gets the happy ending she deserves.

I will keep this review short as to not to spoil you, but if you are looking for a coming of age story that will make you question your own life’s journey then you should read it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

Disclaimer: I’d like to thank Lora Richardson for providing me with a copy of Outspoken. Receiving this book for free does not influence my opinion in any way.

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Goodreads Summary:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Review:

This last week of March is a very busy week for me, so I decided to re-read an old favorite. One I knew would fill me with joy and would help my thoughts come to a halt. I tend to think a lot when I’m busy.

This is my fourth re-read of Anna and the French Kiss and it almost felt like I was reading it for the first time. I think each time that I re-read it, I love it even more. Anna is such a great character that can stand on her own without St. Clair. I love that she calls St. Clair out on his crap. She doesn’t just fall over and let him hurt her per say. Wow, I feel like I am talking bad about St. Clair, but trust me that is not the case. Loneliness does a number to people and while I am not justifying his actions, the feeling of loneliness causes people to do things that not only hurts themselves, but those around him.

After all these years, I still love Anna and the French Kiss and if you haven’t read it, I suggest you do. It is a fun ride; one you will never want to get off.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Contemporary Conversations, Reviews, ya contemporary

ContempConvos: Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

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Goodreads Summary:

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Review:

Sigh

Absolutely adorable. I feel like Kenneally’s books are only getting better and better as time passes by. They are like fine wine. You feel good on the inside after you’ve read one.

Jesse’s Girl is about Maya and Jesse. Maya goes to Hundreds Oaks just like the rest of the characters in the Hundred Oaks series. Maya is Sam Henry’s little sister, Jordan’s boyfriend. We saw their story in Catching Jordan, the first book in the Hundred’s Oak series. I love that I get to see how my beloved characters are doing as time passes by. It makes my heart happy.

Anyways back to the main characters. Maya is the spunky girl who is on love with music of the eighties. She loves her Madonna and Prince. She dreams of making it in the music business so when shadow day comes up as Hundred Oaks High, she is paired with none other than Jesse Scott, the famous country artist that has taken over America’s teenage hearts, and also happens to be the principal’s nephew. You can only imagine how cocky Jesse is being used to getting all the attention, fame, and glory. But we all know deep inside he is a kinda southern gentleman.

Their story unfolds differently than other YA romance novels. No insta-love. Their relationship moves steadily forward throughout the course of the entire novel. We get to see the entire story from beginning to end.

Jesse’s Girl is like an ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day, a sweet melody that you unconsciously hum when you’re having a good day. I have all the praises for this book and I cannot recommend it enough.

Review: 5 out of 5

Vero Signature copy

Reviews, ya contemporary

Book Review: #16ThingsIThoughtWereTrue by Janet Gurtler

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Goodreads Summary:

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan’s mom gets sick, it’s hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn’t as far away as she thought…

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan’s getting to know the real Adam, and he’s actually pretty sweet…in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She’s not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend…and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can’t imagine living without.

My Initial Thoughts:

I was looking for a cute contemporary fluffy and saw this at Barnes and Noble and I thought, why not? And bought it. Afterward I saw Andi (Andi’s ABCs) had read it and gave it a 4 out of 5 so I got really excited to read it.

Review:

(WARNING: THIS IS A VERY SPOILERY REVIEW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED)

Oh Morgan. What am I going to do with you?

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The amount of things Morgan goes through in this book makes me want to cry. The summary promised me fun and adventure, and what I ended up getting was a book full of feels and drama and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled about that either.

We are promised a Mr. Jerk by the name of Adam and I kinda wanted to read a story about a jerk boy going good you know, and what I ended up getting wasn’t exactly disappointing per say, but Adam is totally not Mr. Jerk. Not even close. He takes Morgan to the hospital for gosh’s sake in the first few pages.

Now Amy. She’s something else. At first I really did not like her because she obviously lied and her actions made me think of her as a spoiled brat, but during the road trip we were given the opportunity to see a different side of her. I was so sad when she passed away. I would have been so happy to see her get together with Jake. In my head Jake and Amy would have been such an adorable and perfect couple.

The whole Dad issue in the book kind of opened a can of worms for me, but I’m glad that Morgan’s dad decided to try to have a relationship with her in the end. And OMG Morgan’s mom. I was so freaking pissed at her that I didn’t care how badly Morgan’s behavior was towards her mother (although now that I think about it, her actions weren’t that great and she should have been more respectful). I was mad for making Morgan believe that her dad didn’t want her. That is the worst.

I only wish the book was longer. I really wanted to see more of Amy, Adam, and Jake. I wanted to see more character development and actually see Morgan change some more. She was getting there, but in my opinion it ended too soon. I also found the whole Twitter thing adorable and that Adam started following her. So cute.

If you need a classic contemporary young adult novel in your life, you should definitely read this book!

 

Rating: 4 out of 5