Review: This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

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Title: This Mortal Coil

Author: Emily Suvada

Release Date: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: #booksfortrade

Genre: Dystopian/Action/Science Fiction

 

 

 

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Review:  First off, before I jump into my review, I just want to say that I’m glad that I went into this story only having read a very brief, vague summary of it. It made everything more surprising and exciting and suspenseful. I only read the official book synopsis after having finished it and I realized some of the revelations I’d found to be shocking and unexpected had actually been mentioned in the summary. BAH! How dare they.

That’s the reason I didn’t include the Goodreads Synopsis beforehand like I usually do when it comes to reviews. Maybe for some books I prefer to have a little more insight before diving in but in this case I’m glad I went in partially blind. I had NO idea what was coming and that made my reading experience a thousand times more splendid.

I started This Mortal Coil basically only knowing that it was a dystopian sci-fi based off DNA sequencing, featuring a boy and girl working together to save humanity. That’s about it. I didn’t know any of the key points of the plot that are given away in the synopsis and I’m so glad I didn’t. Everything was a surprise that way and I had no idea which characters I was meant to trust or grow attached to which made it all the more exciting. But maybe that’s just me! Just in case though, I try to be as vague as possible in my reviews as well.

This Mortal Coil is by far the most captivating and mind-blowingly complex book I’ve read so far this year. The story’s setting is unlike anything I’ve seen in YA, one in which people can implant technology into their bodies that allows them to re-write their DNA and alter their appearances and bodies.

Catarina Agatta is an expert gene hacker who’s spent the last 2 years trying to survive on her own in a world torn apart by a deadly plague; a plague that causes people to explode within weeks of contracting the virus, infecting anyone within a couple mile radius. But Cat’s father has created a vaccine and provides Cat with instructions on how to retrieve and release it. So it looks it’s up now up to Cat to obtain it and release it into the world. So she sets out to save humanity alongside a boy named Cole, a soldier working for Cartaxus, the very organization that kidnapped her father and his apprentice/Cat’s close friend Dax two years prior and forced the pair to work for them.

With a background in astrophysics and genetic engineering, Author Emily Suvada has significant expertise in the field that helps make the scientific aspects and the speculative take on DNA sequencing feel all the more authentic. The elaborate descriptions, mature and intelligent writing, and the complexity of the plot and world in which the book takes place will capture you and pull you in until, before you know it, you’re so invested in Cat and her companions story that it’s all you can think about.

Catarina is a whip-smart heroine who’s equal parts compassionate, courageous,  apprehensive and ruthless. She’s determined to rid the world of the virus that has drove humanity to near-extinction, but she has no idea who she can trust in a world where even DNA can lie. She has a lot to learn about the outside world she’s been hidden from for so long, and about the father she thought she knew so well, and about her own identity as well.

There was a certain character who I didn’t expect to have such an important role in the story, but I’m glad he did.  He went from someone I didn’t fully trust, understand or even like to someone I rooted for and swooned over and couldn’t get enough of…much like Catarina’s feelings towards him. Their relationship developed from that of two people who’d been thrown together against their will and had no choice but to work together, to one based on mutual honesty, respect and admiration.

There were characters I assumed would have larger parts than they did, and those who I thought were trustworthy but turned out not to be. There were plot twists and betrayals and non-stop action and it was a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to shocking end. It’s a science fiction that actually focuses a great amount of plot on the science aspects. It’s a slow-burn romance between two unexpected characters. It’s an action-packed dystopian adventure chock full of horror and suspense, with complicated yet lovable characters.

And guess what? It’s gonna have a sequel! Which I did not realize until I finished reading the last page and immediately rushed to twitter to ask the author if there would be a follow up…to which she replied that yes, there will be, and she’s working on it right now! We have to wait a whole year unfortunately, but it’ll without a doubt be worth it!

I almost want to pick up the book again and re-read it immediately, despite having just finished it earlier this month. I almost NEVER feel this way. Emily Suvada is truly a magician and she has me under her spell. I am in awe of her and her story-telling. And I promise you will be too. So what are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy from your local library or bookstore or buy it on your kindle right this very second! Or put it on your Christmas list! No time to waste! The extensive use of exclamation marks should show you just how hyped I am about this book!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Buy it here: Amazon

 

Also can we talk about how beautiful both the U.S and UK covers are?!

 

 

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Arc Review + Blog Tour: Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

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Title: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

Author: Adriana Mather

Release Date: October 3rd, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Source: received via publisher in exchange for review

Genre: Fantasy/Horror



Review:
When I first saw arcs of Haunting the Deep floating around on social media I had no idea it was a sequel, but the title and cover had me intrigued. So I looked it up and found it was the follow-up to How to Hang a Witch, which I’d bought on my kindle the year it came out but hadn’t gotten around to reading yet.

The first thing I noticed was that the author shared a last name with the main character, Samantha Mather. This had me wondering if the book were some sort of autobiographical account of the author, or a relative from the author’s weird, paranormal past, so I turned to the author’s note at the back of the book. It turns out Adriana Mather has quite the family history; she’s descended from relatives who started the Salem witch trials, as well as some survivors of the Titanic. Upon coming across some old family relics -including a stack of letters from the Titanic-in her grandparent’s house, she became interested in her own lineage and did some research on her ancestors and the history of Salem before writing her modern day paranormal duology.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying How to Hang a Witch, I was eager to return to Adriana’s magical and haunting version of modern day Salem and see how she wove more of her family history into Samantha’s story. So naturally, I was super excited when the publisher agreed to send me a review copy and asked me to participate in the blog tour.  Thank you so much to Margret Wiggins at Knopf publishing for sending me a copy!

Haunting the Deep follows the events of How to Hang a Witch, in the aftermath of Samantha Mather’s narrow escape from a deadly curse. Sam thought she’d left her ghost-seeing days behind her, so she’s unpleasantly surprised when early nineteenth century ghosts suddenly begin appearing at innoportune times. Then she begins to dream of being aboard the Titanic, not just as an observer, but as a passenger, to whom the people and the ship all seem so impossibly familiar. To add to the eeriness of it all, articles of Titanic era clothing start appearing on Sam’s doorstep left by an unkown person, and the upcoming school dance just happens to be titanic themed as well.

There were many new developments I was happy to see in Haunting the Deep. First was her relationship with the Descendants; the group of girls at her school who are descended directly from the witch trial victims. In How to Hang a Witch, they started off enemies, due to their suspicion and mistrust of Sam because of her reationship to Cotton Mather, the man behind the 1600’s witch trials fiasco. In the aftermath of surviving the curse together however, they came to trust Sam, and In Haunting the Deep they’ve even grown to become friends. Susannah, Mary and Alice are determined to help Sam break this new curse and the way they look out for her is admirable. I absolutely love when female characters go from enemies to good friends who look out for and care for each other, so this was something I was really happy to see.

Her friendship with Jaxon is more solidified too, although it became frustrating how often their lack of communication led to fights and a slight loss of trust between them. I wanted them to quit arguing so much and rely on each other more. I mean, all they had to do was talk to each other and so much grief could have been avoided!
We also get to see Sam’s relationship with her dad for the first time since he got out of the hospital. Sam and her dad are each other’s only remaining family members after Sam’s grandmother died, so the two of them were very close and I found their connection very heartwarming. It was clear that they’d been through a lot together but still remained strong and maintained a tight relationship.

There was also the return of a character from How to Hang a Witch that I thought we’d seen the last of, who returned to help Sam and her friends get to the bottom of the Titanic mystery and uncover the secrets regarding the sudden appearance of the unfamilar ghosts. It was someone I was very happy to see more of, someone who I had really missed!

I love books with witchcraft and ghosts, so I was really pulled in by the magical and ghostly aspects of the story as Sam and the Descendants performed spells and rituals to communicate with the dead, trace origins of cursed objects and break numerous curses. I’d love to read more books with Salem as a setting. It’s such an interesting place to read about, with so much dark history and old houses and relics that make it feel almost frozen in time. Adriana perfectly captured that feeling and the Titanic flashbacks felt very authentic and atmospheric as well. If you’re looking for a book that’s a little creepy and mysterious but not too heavy, Haunting the Deep is perfect read! It’s pretty light hearted despite all the dead people and curses and witchery, I promise.

Rating: 4 Stars

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I also had the privilege of meeting Adriana Mather just the other day! She talked about some of her creepy encounters in Salem and talked a little more about how her family history inspired her books.

Review: For This Life Only by Stacey Kade

 



Title: For This Life Only

Author: Stacey Kade

Release Date: August 30th 2016

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Source: kindle

Genre: contemporary



Review:
This book was both beautiful and devastating, an honest portrayal of a teenage boy struggling to cope with his twin brothers death, and his desperation for answers regarding life after death.

I’m glad Kade for decided to delve into this topic, for writing a character who questions whether people truly end up “in a better place” after they die. It was interesting to read from Jace’s pov as he struggled with the faith his parents were so desperate to hold onto in the light of tragedy. I felt like I could relate to him a lot, as I’ve never really been religious and don’t really know what to believe in terms of life after death.

This book made me SOB so so much. But it was worth it. It’s a book that makes you think and second guess your presumptions regarding the afterlife and Jace was a very strong, very real main character. The way he was written had me feeling very attached to him by the end, and I really came to understand each of his thoughts and actions and why he was the way he was.

Thera was a bit prickly and hard to like at first but she grew on me and I came to admire her honesty, her ferocity and the way she was there for Jace without really coddling or pitying him, although I personally would have liked to see more of a heart to heart between them, with Jace breaking down and spilling all his feelings of guilt and sorrow because well, I’m sappy like that. Overall one of my favorite reads of this year, and I can’t wait to read more by Stacey Kade!

4.5/5 stars 

Review: Alex Approximately by Jenn Bennett



Title: Alex Approximately

Author: Jenn Bennett

Release Date: April 4th 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Barnes and Noble

Genre: Contemporary Romance



Synopsis: 
In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent half of her junior year falling for a sensitive film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” Two coasts separate them until she moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist trap, the oddball Cavern Palace Museum. Or that she’s being tormented daily by Porter Roth, a smart-alecky yet irritatingly hot museum security guard. But when Porter and Bailey are locked in the museum overnight, Bailey is forced to choose whether she should cling to a dreamy fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex. Approximately.

Review: 

Alex Approximately is without a doubt one of my favorite contemporary reads so far this year. I adored the hate-to-love romance between Bailey and Porter and all the banter between them. I think the way their relationship progressed was very realistic and well written; things didn’t move too fast, the initial rivalry between them wasn’t overdone, and there was a fair amount of complications in their relationship.
I loved getting to know each of the characters and their back stories. I was a little shocked when I learned about Porters past, but I think it was a refreshing and unique twist, and same with Bailey. I almost thought Porter must have been joking at first, when he told Bailey his story. It just seemed pretty far fetched, although not implausible. I thought it was an interesting addition to Porters character. I also really appreciated the diversity, with Porter being racially mixed.
I thought it was so cute that they were both obsessed with classic movies and I found it really amusing how long it took both of them to connect the dots and for Bailey to realize Porter was Alex. I just loved stories like this, where the two characters have no clue that the person they’ve been chatting with online is the person they’re falling for in real life.
I loved the museum aspect too, I felt like that work environment really brought good atmosphere to the story and provided a good backdrop for the characters interactions and the many different obstacles they faced.
The ending was absolutely perfect…..as were the beginning and middle. The story flowed perfectly, there was not a single dull moment and when I finished the book I was left feeling completely satisfied and content. Which isn’t very common for me. Even with books I consider favorites. Overall, Alex was a very memorable romance, one I’d recommend to anyone looking for a quick, cute read devoid of any super heavy material!
Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review: Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler

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Title: Last Will and Testament (Radleigh University #1

Author: Dahlia Adler

Release Date: December 9th, 2014

Publisher: Smashwords Edition

Source: Kindle

Genre: New Adult Romance (17+)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.


But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.


Until he does.


Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.


Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.


Review: 

First off, I’ve got to say that Dahlia Adler is one of my new favorite authors. Her characters and story telling skills are amazing in every book, and she always includes diversity of some form-characters of color, lgbt characters, etc. In fact, our main character in LWAT is Filipina american. Now, on to the review:

College sophomore, Lizzie Brandt becomes guardian to her younger brothers when her parents die unexpectedly in a car crash, changing her life drastically as she’s forced to suddenly quit some of her reckless habits and behave as a responsible adult and role model for her siblings.

In desperate need of help in passing her classes, she turns to Connor, her hot/nerdy TA, for tutoring. Whilst adapting to the changes in her life, she finds herself falling for him, despite the 6 year age difference, and despite their relationship being forbidden. Although they were both consenting adults, his position as her TA technically made him her teacher, which made a relationship illegal, so they fought against whatever was brewing between them for as long as they could. But as he tutors her, and she gets to know him, she’s surprised to find he’s a good listener, a good babysitter, a good friend, someone she can count on after her life has fallen apart.

Their relationship was sexy, heartwarming and exciting, and it was realistically complicated. I thought their feelings towards each other felt real, their interactions believable for the circumstances. Connor dealt with feelings of self doubt, and couldn’t help questioning himself, and how easily he’d fallen for a student, despite the feelings between them being mutual and sincere. Lizzie battled against the guilt of putting Connor’s career at risk, and of being so caught up in her romantic life when her younger brothers so desperately needed her to take of them. They hit a lot of roadblocks along the way, and the romance between them never felt forced or built entirely upon lust. They fell for each other both emotionally and physically.

I loved Lizzie. She did some questionable things at first, and behaved selfishly, but I loved how snarky and upfront she was, unafraid to speak her mind and go after what she wanted. Her situation was heartbreaking, but in away, the change seemed to prompt her to get herself back on the right track. Some may say she didn’t appear torn up enough, but I disagree-everyone handles grief differently and she had a lot of distractions that didn’t allow her a lot of time to wallow in her misery. She also had her friends Cait and Frankie, she had Connor, and she had family friends, all offering their support and guidance.

The emphasis was on the romance, but Lizzie also changed a lot throughout the book-she matured gracefully, grew up. Overall, an impossible to put down love story about making the best out of a crappy situation, and not giving up on your life, or yourself, when tragedy strikes. I can’t wait to read Cait and Frankie’s stories in the next two books of the Radleigh University series!

 

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Mini Reviews: YA Contemporaries

 Here are some reviews for YA Contemporaries I’ve read recently!

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Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

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Title: Up to This Pointe

Author: Jennifer Longo

Release Date: January 29th, 2016

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Source: Local Library

Genre: Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

 

Summary: She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
 
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

Mini Review: Antartica? Ballet? When I first read the synopsis, I was intrigued by the unusal mix and knew I had to read this book, and I’m so glad I did. I loved Harper and the heart and soul she put into ballet, how she gave it her all even as she slowly began to doubt herself, and my heart broke for her when it all came crashing down. Through it all, her family was there for her, as was Owen, her brothers friend, who was so very humble and sincere and I loved him immediatly. Her brother Luke was equaly likeable.

Props to Longo for the interracial romance, and for making Charlotte, the Antarctican scientist, black. You can never have too much representation. I loved Charlotte so much, she was insightful, inspiring and fiercely independent and such a good role model for Harper to look up to as she tried to come to terms with the changes in her life.

I loved that the chapters went back and forth between her time in the arctic and the months leading up to it, it really helped capture exactly what Harper was going through and how strongly it had affected her, and why she felt that the only way she could move on was to temporarily run away, distract herself with studying the penguins and experiencing the northern lights of Antarctica. It was a beautiful, moving story that I recommend to anyone looking for a unique contemporary read.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

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No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

 

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Title: No Place to Fall

Author: Jaye Robin Brown

Release Date: December 9th, 2014

Publisher: Harper Teen

Source: Kindle

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

 

Summary: Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities. 

Review: This was a quick, sweet read about a girl who’s always been known as a ‘good girl’ who always follows the rules and does as she’s told. Amber yearns to find a life outside of her small town, to make it big as a singer, and she’s crushing on her best friends brother, who, although unavailable, she can’t help but feel attracted to. As she prepares to tryout for a competitive arts school, she finds herself making new friends and falling for Will more and more as her helps her practice for her audition.

Amber, while not at all perfect, always tries her best to keep everyone she loved happy. Even when they’d hurt her, she didn’t hold onto grudges or turn away from them: Not her reckless sister Whitney, no matter how rude she was to her, or how ungrateful she appeared towards Amber’s help in caring for her child and putting up with her asshole of a husband. Not her best friend Devon, as her started spending less time with her and more time with the new guy he was crushing on. Not her mother, as she desperately ignored her husbands lack of faithfulness and had trouble letting Amber grow up and go after her dreams.  Not even Will, as he continued to act hot and cold towards her and play with her feelings.

It was admirable how patient she was, although a little frustrating, because I wanted her to stand up for herself. To demand the respect she deserved. I loved the amount of music and singing that was in this story, and I think Brown did a wonderful job of portraying exactly how influential music can be. The romance, although complicated, matured gracefully and I loved how their relationship grew and how it all turned out. It was the perfect blend of family drama, embracing your passions and learning to believe in yourself. Although, I wish we could have seen a little more happen, the ending did leave me feeling mostly satisfied. Definitely one of my favorite contemporaries I’ve read this year so far.

Rating: 4 Stars

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First and Then by Emma Mills

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Title: First & Then

Author: Emma Mills

Release Date: October 13th, 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and CO.

Source: Local Library

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

 

Summary: Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Review: A short and sweet story about a girl’s growing and changing with her relationship after he comes to live with her family. Devon was not happy about this at first, but as they were forced to spend more time together, they became closer, sticking up for each other, sharing thoughts and feelings, and it was one of the most touching familial relationships I’ve ever read, the kind that makes you feel all warm inside.

I loved Foster, he was weird and sincere and didn’t judge anyone no matter how strange they were. Ezra was a very likable love interest, Devon had presumed him to be an asshole simply because of his jock status, but as he grows close to both her and her cousin, she begins to see that that wasn’t true at all; that he was sensitive, smart and selfless. The romance was perfectly realistic, it wasn’t rushed or clique, and all the awkwardness and conflict of high school was included so that it felt like it honestly could have been a true story. I loved the three of them together, they complimented each others differences perfectly. An impressive debut, and I can’t wait to read more from Emma Mills!

Rating: 4 Stars

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

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Title: I’ll Meet You There

Author: Heather Demetrios

Release Date: February 3rd, 2015

Publisher: Henry Holt and CO.

Source: Kindle

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

 

Summary: If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.

Review: Where do I start….?

I’ll start by saying that I absolutely loved to book, it made me feel such a wide range of emotions as Josh and Skylar endured the ups and downs of falling in love. The chapters are told back and forth between their alternating perspectives. Josh reminisces about the war and the trauma he went through, all the changes it brought to his life, and struggles to find a way to move on from the past as he finds himself falling for Skylar, who is counting down the days until she can get out of their tiny town, but terrified of leaving all her friends behind.

There were so many things I loved about this story: Skylar’s relationship with her two best friends, Dylan and Chris. I was satisfied that her relationship with Chris was mutually platonic, nothing more. I loved that Dylan had a kid but was never slut shamed or belittled for it. I loved Skylar, and her ability to forgive, her loyalty to her friends, and her zero tolerance for bullshit. I loved that Skylar did her best to care for her mom and wanted to see her happy, no matter how much hell she put her through. I loved the fact that Skylar was poor, and that we got to see how much of a struggle it can be to grow up in poverty. It made me grateful for what I have. I loved that Josh and Skylar’s relationship was slow building, that they’d known each other all their life, but in a way, didn’t know each other at all, and were gradually beginning to see the different sides to each other.

I even loved the fact that Josh wasn’t perfect, not even close. He honestly could be a huge asshole at times, and he made some homophobic remarks, but I was glad to see that they didn’t go excused, Skylar called him out on a particular comment of his, and he admitted it was wrong. I did feel frustrated with him because of this, and initially had a hard time liking him. He seemed to use what he’d went through as an excuse to be awful at times, but as he grew closer to Skylar, he began to become less and less of a jerk, and I could see he truly wanted to be a better person. I felt myself growing to love him right alongside Skylar, as their friendship blossomed and he opened up to her. He was determined not to hurt her, and had a lack of faith In his ability to do so, which made him very closed off at times, and he’d try to push Skylar away, only hurting even more in the process.

It’s not an easy love story at all, they go through a lot, and it takes them a long time to work things out, and I often found myself frustrated at the lack of communication. But overall I was content with how things turned out, the ending left a lot of room for a positive future for both of them, together, even as they had to continue down their separate paths. Despite the few misgiving I had about Josh, I still would have to say that this is one of the best YA books I’ve ever read, and I hope you like it as much as I do.

Rating: 5 Stars

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OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

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Title: OCD Love Story

Author: Corey Ann Haydu

Release Date: July 23rd 2013

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Source: Local Library

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

 

Summary: When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.

But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.

Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

Review: When I first read the title of this book, I was a little skeptical. I didn’t know what to expect-I wondered, is this truly a story about someone who suffers from OCD, or is that term just thrown in there to make it seem “quirky”? Will this story give an educated representation of what this mental illness really is, or will the term just be thrown around to describe some behaviors that most people think come from OCD but really don’t?

I was glad to discover that this was a very real portrayal of what life is like for someone suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Bea’s behavior was believable for someone who has both obsessions and compulsions-she didn’t realize that her habits were unusual, to her, they were necessary. She felt as though she had to follow certain rituals. If she didn’t, she’d have panic attacks from worrying that something would go horribly wrong. It was frustrating to watch her struggle to hold onto relationships even as her obsessions began getting in the way, and parts of her story even made me cry because I could feel how hard it was for her, how embarrased she sometimes was because of it.

I HATED her friend Lisha. She was kind of a fake-supportive friend; she’d help Bea carry out her harmful tasks instead of telling someone or trying to get her to stop, and at the same time she’d make fun of her, make her feel bad for her obsessions and compulsions instead of trying to understand what she was going through. She really pissed me off and I wanted so badly for Bea to stand up to her, to realize how bad of a friend she really was, but she didn’t, which was understandable for her, but still irritating.

Beck, on the other hand, I loved. He was a little messed up, like Bea. He had his own compulsions and obessions and sometimes, because of this, they’d clash. It was hard for them to help each other when they were both struggling to get better in their own way-or remain in denial. I loved how Bea didn’t care that Beck wasn’t perfect or normal; she liked that he was different, and she accepted his flaws, even as they got in the way. Their story was frustrating but believable for two teens trying to fit in and learn to better handle their illness. It was awkward, touching and complicated in all the right ways. If you’re looking for a good representation of OCD, read this book. I have a diagnosis of mild OCD myself, and although I didn’t relate completely-my obsessions and compulsions are much different-I was satisfied with the way this topic was written for this particular story.

Rating: 4 Stars

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Review: Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

 

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Title: Rules For 50/50 Chances

Author: Kate McGovern

Release Date: November 4th, 2015

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Source: Local Library

Genre: Realistic Fiction (14+)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis: A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life’s uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that tells her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother.

With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult-including her dream career in ballet and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool and gets an audition for a dance scholarship across the country, Rose begins to question her carefully laid rules.

Buy: Amazon   Add to TBR: Goodreads

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Review: Rules For 50/50 Chances was an eye opening read about what it’s like to live with a family member who has a very rare yet extremely debilitating illness, and the fear that comes along with knowing that you could possibly inherit it yourself.

Rose’s mothers illness has taken a toll on her entire family-and rather than her mom taking care of her, Rose has to instead take care of her mom, and the reversal of roles has put a definite strain on their relationship in the last 3 or so years since her diagnosis of Huntington’s.

It was obvious how frustrating and difficult it was for Rose to remain patient with someone who had very little control over her motor skills-she sometimes said inappropriate things at inappropriate times, was increasingly moody every day-snapping at everyone for everything even as they tried to help-and some days she could barely lift a spoon to her mouth.

Having to watch her mothers mind slowly deteriorate has Rose feeling pessimistic about the future. With a 50% chance of developing the disease herself, is it even worth it to pursue a career in ballet? Ballet is the only thing she’s ever dreamed of doing, but she knows that if she does have Huntington’s, her dream will be short lived, and she already dreads the loss of being able to dance and move, of having control over her body. She becomes paranoid, seeing possible symptoms of the disease in every part of her life-every time she trips, she wonders if she’s simply clumsy, or if it’s an indication as to what’s to come. The unanswered questions drive her to seek answers, no matter the possibility of negative consequences.

Despite warnings from friends and family, Rose decides to take the test the find out whether or not she carries the gene, as soon as she turns eighteen. She struggles with this decision throughout the book-is it best to know now how her life will turn out? Or is it better to keep on living her life without worrying about the future?

As she struggles with her anxiety regarding the future, she finds herself falling for a boy she meets at a charity walk for rare diseases. With a mother and sisters suffering from Sickle Cell, Caleb knows some of what she’s going through. Although she’s determined not to fall in love and possibly burden someone with a life of taking care of someone with a debilitating illness, she finds herself imaging a future with Caleb despite all her efforts to keep him from getting too close. He was persistent, and as their friendship turned into something more, Rose began to open up to him more and more.

Although not exploding in passion, their romance is sweet and realistic, as both of their family situations led to uncertainty and doubt as to whether or not the baggage they both carried was worth pursuing a relationship. I was also satisfied with the fact that this story contained an interracial love story, because diversity is something that can be very hard to find. It brought up a lot on the topic of racial discrimination and the advantages of white privilege.

Rose’s obsession with worrying over the future begins to negatively impact her relationships as she pushes people away, letting fear cloud her common sense. Is everyone right in trying to keep her from making such a permanent life-altering decision regarding her future?

Overall, a very honest read, and I promise it’s not as dark as it may sound, it was relatively light-hearted and heart-warming as well.

It was a bit slow at times, Rose seemed to get lost in her own head a lot and sometimes she was frustratingly negative, but this story is still definitely worth reading. Let me know if you enjoyed it as well!

Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Review: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

bb40Title: The Wrong Side of Right

Author: Jenn Marie Thorne

Release Date: March 17, 2015

Publisher: Penguin Group USA

Source: Kindle

Genre: Young Adult Realistic/Political Fiction (13+)

 

Goodreads Synopsis: 

 Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a camp Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Buy: Amazon     Add to TBR: Goodreads

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Review: For a book that centers around politics, The Wrong Side of Right had a surprisingly intriguing plotline, with a unique look at what goes on behind the scenes of a political campaign, and how it affects everyone involved. Not long after Kate Quinn’s mom dies, a man unexpectedly shows up at her door, claiming to be her father. But he’s not just anyone, he’s a republican candidate running for President of the United States. And he wants her to be come live with him in South Carolina to join his campaign.

We’re given an inside look into the drama that comes along with being a family member of a presidential candidate, and the pressure Kate faces from the media as she’s thrust into the spotlight as the Senators long lost daughter. The campaign managers treat Kate like a puppet, expecting her always to act the right way, to dress the right way, to say the right things, and I found it very frustrating the way she seemed unable to be herself, however realistic it may have been. There was a lot of sudden weight on her shoulders as she became a favorite among her fathers supporters. Her every move was watched closely, and she had to partake in many staged outings with the step mom and half siblings had only just met.

Her newfound relationship with her dad is complicated, as expected. They’d never before known that the other existed, and they struggle to adapt to the change in both their lives as they get to know each other and come to terms with the years they’ve spent apart. They have a lot of ups and downs throughout the book as the pressure of the campaign increases, creating arguments and conflict between them. It was equally heartwarming and heartbreaking, but overall, it was evident that they both were determined to form a relationship, and to make up for lost years.

I was pleasantly surprised at some of the very liberal views her father had despite him being a candidate for the republican vote. It was refreshing to be introduced to someone of the republican party who didn’t believe in all typically conservative beliefs, and didn’t rely on them as a tool in his run for office.

The one thing that really irked me was the fact that (besides the topic of immigration that makes an appearance later in the book) we weren’t really given that much insight into Kate’s personal views on the controversial topics that came up. She just seemed neutral, her mind void of any strong political opinions of her own, and I really wanted to know what direction she wouldv’e leaned towards if she hadn’t been the daughter of a politician with no choice but to publicly support his campaign. Maybe she was simply unintersted in politics, maybe she simply didn’t have strong opinions to begin with, I wouldn’t know, but it would have been a lot more interesting if she’d had been.

Overall, I’ve never read a book like this, but I’m glad at did. I enjoyed watching Kate’s new relationships unfold; the growing bond between her and her younger half-siblings, the mixed feelings between her and her new step mom, the secret romance that formed between her and the son of her fathers political rival. Adam provided some necessary contrast to the overall seriousness of the campaign, his playfullness and desire for rebellion against both his and Kate’s highly structured lives made the story all the more interesting. It all wrapped very nicely, and I’m definitely looking forward to Jenn’s next book The Inside of Out. So if politics hold even the slightest appeal to you, and if you like books that center around family matters and big life changes, I definitely recommend this one to you.

Rating: 4.5 Saturns

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Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

 

bc2Title: Illuminae (#1)

Series: The Illuminae Files

Author(s) : Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Source: Local Library

Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi (14+)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Buy: Amazon Add to TBR: Goodreads

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Review: Illuminae is by far one of the most thrilling, unique books I’ve ever read-it’s written in a series of manuscripts, hacked documents, interviews, files, emails, IM’s, medical reports and more-and follows an attack on the planet of Kerenza-home to Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, former boyfriend and girlfriend. It tells the story of their escape to separate evacuation spaceships and the problems they face as they travel through space, trying to outrun the enemy.

It was such an intriuging experience to read a story that was told through more than just the standard format-there are visuals of spaceships and explosions, and diagrams, and I just couldn’t get enough of the way both visual and textual clues were combined to amplify the mystery of the plot and foreshadowing of what was to come.We even got a look inside the perspective of AIDAN, the ships’ stubborn Artificial Intelligence System with a scary amount of power, which refuses to back down in its ruthless attempts to “protect” the surviving citizens aboard the Hypatia and the Alexander, even as it appears to be doing more harm than good.

The fast paced plot is brimming with romance, action, violence, suspense, and horror as Kady and Ezra work together to uncover the truth surrounded in corporate conspiracy whilst fighting for their lives-and the lives of those on board the ships-even as a deadly zombie-like disease spreads, the enemy attacks, and Artificial Intelligence systems go bonkers. Throughout their hectic journey I was cringing, sobbing and pulling at my hair in frustration at the never-ending obstacles and near-deaths. I never wanted to put the book down, the tension and anticipation was never-ending.

Despite the overall morbid tone of the plot, however, there’s certainly no lack of witty remarks and dry humor. I found myself laughing over the back and forth banter between the characters as they tried to hold onto their sanity and remain optimistic even in the midst of chaos and destruction, and in the aftermath of losing their planet, family and friends.

I loved the relationship between the two main characters and how we got to see the story unfold through several different viewpoints. Kady is fiercely intelligent, spunky and brave, and Ezra matched her wit perfectly with his mix of sensitivity, goofiness and arrogance, and equal amounts of snark , intelligence and determination. It was interesting to watch their relationship unfold through a series of emails and messages sent back and forth as they put aside their disagreements and looked to each other for support and guidance in coming to terms with the end of their life as they knew it. The attraction between them was evident even in the wake of their breakup and despite the impending danger and physical separation from each other.

Kady is one of those badass female characters that you’ll learn to love. Despite her initial impression as someone full of bitterness and conceit, she comes to present herself as someone who truly cares more about others than she does herself, as she risks life and limb to get to the bottom of the reason for Biotechs attack on her home planet, and fights to keep the enemy ship from destroying everyone’s only chance at survival. She’s extremely determined and independent, and her stubborn refusal to give into authority or back down is deeply admiring.

The only qualm I had was my inability to understand some of the Sci-Fi lingo and technological aspects of the story, so I was a little confused at parts because of my lack of knowledge regarding mechanics, engineering, and high-tech computer systems. This is a book that you have to pay really close attention to, there are a lot of small details that could be easy to miss.

Despite that, this book will most definitely remain a favorite of mine for years to come and I highly recommend it to any lovers of Sci-Fi, action and romance all wrapped into one.

Rating: 5 Saturns

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