May Wrap-Up

I’ve decided to start posting wrap ups at the end of each month where I briefly review each of that months reads. But um, don’t hold me to that? I’m lazy yet simultaneously incapable of writing mini reviews. They always turn into full length reviews and therefore I spend way more time on them than intended. And it’s exhausting. I’m just giving it a try for now. Buuuuuut the reason for my exhaustion could simply be the fact that I read a total of 17 books this month. And left all the reviews till the last minute. SEVENTEEN YOU GUYS. That’s the most I’ve read per month this entire year. So Phew. Here we go.

 

After the Fall by Kate Hart


Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was dark, gut-wrenching, tragic and very, very impactful. I found it interesting to read from pov’s of two characters, boy and girl, who weren’t each others love interests. Raychel and Matt have been best friends since they were kids, and one of them may or may not want something more, but they’re not necessarily a good match. Nothing in this book will go in the direction you expect it to.

This book is not a love story.  It has some romance, but it takes up very little of the book and is far from being all rainbows and unicorns. I was also surprised at how….problematic and frustrating Matt could be at times. Entitled, selfish and even a little misogynistic at times. I wouldn’t call him a horrible person, but he did come off as very morally grey at times. In the end though, I think he really learned from it all and went on to become a better person. This was one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking books I read this month, and I could not recommend it enough. But um…brace yourself…….and……..(spoiler-ish alert)……………………………………………………keep the title and cover of the book in mind. It’s called After the FALL for a reason ya know? *sobs into handkerchief*

5/5 stars

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


Synopsis:

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03. The auditorium doors won’t open.  10:05. Someone starts shooting. Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Thoughts: 

So, this one has been on my kindle for a while now but I hadn’t really given any thought towards picking it up any time soon. But then I found out via twitter that Marieke Nijkamp is an autistic (like me) author! And this dramatically increased my interest, so I started reading and finished the book within a day. A day! That’s how impossible-to-put-down it was.

It tells the story of a school shooting, so of course it’s full of death and blood and terror and grief. The accounts of the 54 minute shooting are told from 4 alternating pov’s-all of whom have some sort of connection to the shooter.

My heart was pounding the entire time I read and I grew so attached to these characters whose lives I only got a small glimpse of. I don’t think I spent a single second reading this book without wasn’t sobbing or fuming or shaking in terror.

By the time it was over I was exhasted, devastated and in a perpetual state of shock and awe, not wanting to say goodbye to Tomás, Claire, Autumn and Slyvia. I even felt a multitude of mixed emotions for the shooter himself, bullied and knocked down by life to the point that he enacted a cold hearted plan for revenge, sending his former classmates to participate in his terrifying game of survival.
5/5 stars

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Synopsis:

This romantic story of hope, chance, and change from the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is one Jenny Han says is filled with all of her “favorite things,” Morgan Matson calls “something wonderful” and Stephanie Perkins says “is rich with the intensity of real love.”

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. 


My Thoughts:

As you can imagine, after finishing those first two heart-obliterating reads, I wanted to read something a little lighter. So I picked up this gorgeous book about luck and love and staying true to yourself even when faced with major life changes.

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to win the million dollar lottery, right? Of course you have. Don’t lie. In Windfall, that’s exactly what happens to Ally’s friend Teddy after she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke for his 18th birthday. Teddy, whose been poor for years as he and his mom struggle to make ends meet in the aftermath of his fathers departure, is suddenly a millionaire. And both his and Ally’s lives are turned upside down.

Suddenly Teddy is buying everything he ever wanted and although he swore to Ally that he wouldn’t change, he’s already starting to become someone completely different. When Alice was just 9 years old, she won the worst possible lottery when her parents both died within a year of each other. Since then, she’s moved in with her aunt and uncle and her cousin Leo-whose become more of a brother to her-and it’s been her, Teddy and Leo against the world. Oh, and she’s in hopelessly unrequited love with her best friend.

But now, Teddy no longer has to worry about money and everything changes drastically. and although he offers Alice half is winnings, she isn’t so sure she’s willing to take on that kind of responsibility, especially as she watches Teddy struggle with his sudden fame and fortune and teeter on the verge of unrecognizable. I even found myself cringing at some of the things he said, did and bought. Teddy wasn’t perfect at all, he didn’t immediatly donate large ammount of money to charity, but Alice did eventually help him see all the ways he could make a difference, and once some of the excitement wore off, he began to open his eyes to all the good he could do-as well as all the things he couldn’t-with his large sum of money.

This was a cute, quick read, despite it being over 400 pages. I tore through it pretty quickly. I really loved the relationships between Alice and Teddy and Leo and appreciated Smith’s take on the well known theory that love can’t buy happiness, nor can it fix all your problems. In fact, it can even bring you even more problems; people who befriend you just for your money, strained relationships even with those you love most, unwanted attention and expectation and a whole lot of responsibility.
Although this book wasn’t entirely mind blowing or life changing, I thoroughly enjoyed it-the characters were multi dimensional, the story touching and thought provoking and light hearted, and the writing simple yet true. This is the first book I’ve read by Jennifer E Smith that’s written in first person as opposed to 3rd and I hope she continues to write more books in first person because I think she does it well. And I generally think that contemporaries are better off written in first person. Overall, this was definitely worth the read!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=006231064X&asins=006231064X&linkId=72acbeeaa360c81595d1ef514e346580&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Synopsis:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

 

My Thoughts: (possible vague spoilers ahead)

This book has been on my shelf for years, and although I was wary of picking it up because of the excessive hype surrounding it, I am so glad I did! It’s a compelling  examination of privilege and power in a world where a person’s worth is determined by the color of their blood-those with silver blood are high ranking and have powerful abilities, while those with red blood are powerless and living in poverty. But when Mare discovers she has abilities in spite of her red blood, everything she knows threatens to collapse.

Boy oh boy this book is FULL of unexpected betrayals and really really hard-to-like supporting characters. It’s full of nasty, over privileged silver bloods who think they’re better than everyone and don’t have an inch of sympathy for the red bloods living in poverty and basically enslaved by them. I was devastated (and still am) over one particular character whom I THOUGHT was trustworthy and different from all the other silver bloods but turned out to be the most malicious and dangerous of them all. IT TORE ME APART. I totally did not see that one coming. Seriously, I cried I was so shocked and upset. I’m dying to pick up the next book but I typically like to space my series out a bit so I don’t finish them too quickly. Plus, the fourth and final book doesn’t come out for another year. I HATE LONG WAITS.

I don’t even know what to think about the possible romantic love interests in this book. Everything about them is just so messy and unpredictable and I was torn between tolerating and hating them. God they’re so frustrating. I don’t even know if I like them but I’m still hoping for a particular outcome with one of the brothers, even if he, um…has questionable morals, to say the least. Can you see how worked up I’m getting? GAH.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=054481519X&asins=054481519X&linkId=3abbafceb8d74a8acf593c61b73a9510&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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Synopsis:

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. 

One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.

How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

 

My Thoughts:

Ever since I read Ashley’s debut novel Suffer Love in January, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. So when I found out she was releasing a f/f contemporary with a bisexual main character, I was ecstatic! And, as I mentioned a few posts back, I was able to snag an ARC copy at YallWest in April! I loved everything about this book-Grace’s uberclose but platonic relationship with her best friend Luca, the family drama and Grace’s strained relationship with her mother, and of course, the budding romance between her and Eva.

Grace’s life has always been difficult because of her mother, who’s constantly finding and losing new boyfriends and moving them in and out of new homes with each guy she inevitably breaks up with. Eva on the other hand, is dealing with the recent death of her own mother. So in some ways, they’re more alike than they realize; Eva’s mother is gone, and Grace’s mother has never really been much of a mother at all. And as Eva begins spending more time with Grace’s mom, Grace starts to feel jealous and left out, as she watches her mother do all the things for Eva that she never did for her own daughter.

Grace’s mom was SO. FREAKING. FRUSTRATING. She ENFURIATED me. I had no sympathy for her, despite what she’d gone through with losing her husband when Grace was too little to remember. She behaved selfishly and recklessly and blamed everyone else around her for her own mistakes and lapses in judgment. I don’t know how Grace even had the patience to put up with her. Kudos to her for putting up with as much as she did.

The development of Grace and Eva’s relationship was slow and sweet and perfectly paced. They both provided each other with well needed distractions from each others lives and the mischief they got into was hilarious. Grace’s best friend Luca was adorable and he was so supportive of her, even when she made things difficult and snapped at him for calling out her mom’s problematic behavior. If there’s one thing YA is lacking, it’s more platonic guy/girl friendships. Theirs was very touching and inspiring and I hope to see more of it in books.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=148141884X&asins=148141884X&linkId=088d30f460ef2a881d0acd9032e6f15e&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>All in Pieces by Suzanne Young

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Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young comes a heartrending new novel about a girl struggling to deal with anger issues while taking care of her younger brother with special needs.

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

 

My Thoughts:

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I would have liked, considering I’ve loved all other books I’ve read by Suzanne Young. I got through it easily enough. It wasn’t boring or slow, but I found myself unimpressed by the love interest, Cameron. And he takes up a lot of the story. He wasn’t all bad. He had good motives and cared for Savannah but his “I don’t care” attitude was a little tiring and he came off as a too nonchalant and somewhat cocky for my taste.
I did, however, enjoy the relationship between Savannah and her little brother, Evan, who was autistic. She took good care of him in the absence of their neglectful father, and it was clear she loved him with all her heart. Although she didn’t always have the most patience or the best methods for dealing with his meltdowns, she was obviously trying her hardest and wanted the very best for him.
I also liked her relationship with her friends and how protective she was of her brother. She always stood up for him, even ruining her relationship with (awful) her ex boyfriend in defense of him. So, all in all, this book was entertaining and touching in parts, but hard to fully appreciate what with the somewhat unlikable romantic interest.

 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0544932056&asins=0544932056&linkId=5c281cd7441042c68d9849d0fbdb3d86&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle (Dec 2017 ARC)

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Synopsis:

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. 
     When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?  
     This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading. 
My Thoughts:
I had never heard of The Letters of Abelard & Heloise-which this book is somewhat based on-nor The Love Letters of Abelard & Lily before I was handed a free ARC at the HMH Teen booth at YallWest last month.
It’s a December release, which is probably the reason it hadn’t caught my attention yet. I knew nothing about it when I was handed a copy, I was only excited to be getting more free books.
But when I read the synopsis on the back of the book, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that is what a love story between two neurodivergent teens-a main character with ADHD and a love interest on the autism spectrum, diagnosed with Aspergers.
The ADHD portion is “own voices” as the writer herself has ADHD. And although she isn’t autistic, I thought her portrayal of autism and her autistic characterization was well done and a well written representation.
As for the story itself, I did enjoy it a lot. The main character Lily, struggles a lot, with time management, and memory, and focus. A lot of symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of autism, which is why I think her portrayal of both were very well done. Abelard is realistically portrayed without being too stereotypical, and without being shown in a too-negative light because of his autism. The only complaint I have is that his personality fell a little flat to me. It’s common for autistic people to come off as a little expressionless and lacking feelings or emotions, so I don’t fault Laura for that, but I still felt as though I didn’t really get to know enough about him. I would have liked to see past his walls a little more.

The relationship between Abelard and Lily was sweet and complicated and believable, although I personally think things moved a little too fast. Lily fell for him a little too quickly and their relationship progressed to love a bit suddenly, but I guess it’s normal for teens in high school experiencing their first relationship to feel that intensely. All in all, this was a light, romantic, and mostly satisfying read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00YM6RDVC&asins=B00YM6RDVC&linkId=b0a99f816888608850640404206d3f12&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Love Me Never trilogy by Sara Wolf

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Synopsis:

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

 

My Thoughts:

This series was seriously addicting. I finished all 3 books within a week! As soon as I finished one, I immediately picked the next one up. The main character Isis is hilariously sarcastic and cynical, the love interest/arch nemesis is intense, brooding and intriguing, and the mystery of Jacks past unravels shockingly and unexpectedly.
The side characters are equally adorable; Wren is adorably dorky and Kayla is surprisingly sweet and loyal.
Isis is tough and witty and a master at hiding her true feelings, and so is Jack, which makes the banter between them frustrating because neither of them want to admit the attraction they feel or put aside their rivalry, but that just makes these books all the more fun! Isis is constantly spewing hilarious jabs and jokes and smart-ass comments so there’s never a dull moment. And she’s a strong person too, still dealing with the aftermath of her sexual assault and the bullying she endured for her weight. This trilogy was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.

 

Series Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1442429992&asins=1442429992&linkId=c56530e188f141df9775cce895bd8a43&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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Synopsis:

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba’s world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back. 
 
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba’s unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. 

 Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetic writing style, and an epic love story—making Moira Young is one of the most exciting new voices in teen fiction.

 

My Thoughts:

If you loved Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman as much as I did, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well! It’s full of old western slang and a similar plot of an eighteen year old girl who sets off on a journey across the plains to seek revenge and rescue her twin brother from the men who took him. Saba’s determination and bravery make her a likable narrator, even if she can be a little hot-headed at times.

Saba is captured and beaten and forced to battle opponents by a ruthless mad-man, distracted by her tag-along little sister who just can’t seem to stay put and do as she’s told ,and finds herself falling for a boy who joins her in her pursuit of the hooded horsemen who took her brother. It’s fast paced from beginning to end, with monsters of both the human and non human variety and the snark and banter between the characters will keep you entertained in between the action sequences.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0062418351&asins=0062418351&linkId=cc9d83129d0c91065daef2d74448c54a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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Synopsis:

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was on my must-read list from the very second it caught my eye. A bisexual, blue haired main character? An exploration of the ways in which sexuality can be fluid? Tight family bonds and friendships? Count me in! And Ramona Blue did not disappoint. Ramona is a very inspiring character; she’s comfortable in her sexuality and refuses to hide the fact that she’s attracted to girls and always has been. Her relationship with her sister Hattie, the way she supported her during her pregnancy was admirable and her confidence in herself was uplifting. It’s a very rare thing to come across a book with an openly gay character who falls for someone of the opposite sex, as opposed to the other way around.

I loved the way Ramona and Freddie’s relationship moved slowly from friendship to love, and I loved that this was a biracial relationship, as Freddie is black. Freddie is a total sweetheart and a gentle soul and I admired the way he accepted Ramona and allowed her to educate him and didn’t question when she began to fall for him despite claiming to only like girls. He didn’t ask her to label herself or rush into things and it was impossible not to adore him completely.

Ramona’s bond with her family is strong and heart felt; they’ve been through so much together ever since hurricane Katrina left them with only a trailer for a home, and Ramona does her best to support her family both financially and emotionally. And Freddie helps her see that, even though she’s poor, even though she feels obligated to stay and help her sister raise her baby, she still owes it to herself to find what makes her happy and pursue a life outside her small hometown. This is an important book for lgbtq teens and adults alike and if it isn’t already on your tbr, you should add it now!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1500209015&asins=1500209015&linkId=132fed8049e3e29816f1442d7d96a477&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Puddle Jumping by Amber l. Johnson

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Synopsis:

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an okay read. I enjoyed it for the most part. The only reason I really read it was for the autistic rep-the love interest has aspergers syndrome. And the rep wasn’t exactly horrible per say, I actually thought it was fairly well done. The story itself was just a little too insta-love and moved a bit too quickly for my tastes. The romantic interest also came off as a little too juvenile to me, which I know is pretty common for people on the spectrum, but I guess it just felt a little too stereotypical to me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0761388664&asins=0761388664&linkId=ff4cd6988829ed0e37f77dc5d7fd977a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Shadowlark (Skylark #2) by Meagan Spooner

Image result for shadowlark meagan spooner

Synopsis:

Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley’s wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She’s always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone’s savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone’s weapon. She might not have a choice.

My Thoughts:

This was another incredible addition to the Skylark trilogy! Shadowlark was just as creepy and mysterious as book one, with more romantic tension, more unforseen obstacles, and the shocking truth regarding Lark’s brother was equal parts devastating and a major turning point in the story. There were parts so creepy that I was literally hiding under my bed covers and shaking. Seriously. And Oren just becomes more and more endearing the more we get to know him and see past his steely exterior. We get to see so much more of his love for Lark in this book, their relationship progresses significantly.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0147511461&asins=0147511461&linkId=c3cae22f36fd27484f55c4043f588555&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Half Bad by Sally Green

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Synopsis:

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides.

Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was weird and different and intriguing, the writing style was unique and compelling, and I found myself already becoming attached to the characters. Which is why it sucks that I found out some not-so-great news about the series. Apparently the first two books consist mainly of queerbaiting-tempting the audience with the promise of a gay relationship, only to kill off the main love interest in book 3. Which is really not okay. The “kill your gays” trope has been worn thin and it’s really disappointing that such a promising series of m/m representation had to take such an over done, tragic turn. I most likely will not finish the series. I did enjoy this book well enough as a standalone to give it 4 stars, though.

 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01LL0346O&asins=B01LL0346O&linkId=e5719621da231a3faacb62824effd42b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Image result for eliza and her monsters

Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community.

Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, I just love books about fandoms and fangirls and creative, artistic, main characters. I loved that the author featured passages and artwork from Eliza’s web comic Monstrous Sea in between chapters. It made it seem all the more real, gave some more insight into the extent of Eliza’s passion and artistic ability and why her story and characters meant so much to her. Wallace was the perfect geeky love interest for this type of story and I loved how soft and shy and adorable he was, as well as open and honest.

I found it really touching the way Eliza’s younger twin brothers stood up for her and were there for her when her secret was revealed to the world. Until then, she had genuinely believed her brothers hated her, but the support they offered and the pride they had in her work was truly heart warming and open Eliza’s eyes to the fact that her family cared more than she gave them credit for.

Her parents were frustrating, however, as they didn’t see her web comic as anything more than a hobby, one that took up “too much” of her time, and I think that was the main reason Eliza felt out of place in her own home and generally hated being forced into family outings. Eliza’s character development and the growth of her relationship with her family was remarkable and by the end of the book, I was feeling hopeful that things between them could begin to change for the better. Her relationship with Wallace was super cute, as was their shared passion for Eliza’s web comic, the way it brought them together and helped them both open up and come out of their shelves. I loved this book as well as Francesca’s first book, and I definitely consider her a favorite author of mine.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1250129664&asins=1250129664&linkId=e03852a54b791bc958dba731eed28f92&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

Image result for flashfall jenny moyer

Synopsis:

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

 

My Thoughts:

Flashfall is right up there next to Meagan Spooner’s Skylark trilogy for favorite YA dystopian of the year. With a unique setting and stunning atmospheric plot, it was impossible to put down and I am anxiously anticipating the sequel. I liked the interesting exploration of a world that relies on the mining of cirium to protect them from a radioactive curtain.

One of my favorite romance tropes is the friends-to-lovers trope, so I absolutely adored the growth of Orion’s relationship with her mining partner, Dram. They relied on each other both physically and emotionally, watching each others backs as they searched the tunnels and scaled rock walls and providing one another emotional support in the aftermath of family members lost to the flash curtain.

Orion is the kind of character never to give up, no matter how dim the chances of survival, or how dire the prospects . That’s not to say she didn’t have her moments of self doubt or lack of faith when faced with life threatening situations, but she was always quick to pick herself back up and continue fighting. If you’re looking for a YA dystopian that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, then I recommend you pick this one up!

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

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And that’s that! Phew. I read a lot of books this month.

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