Category Archives: contemporary

What to Say Next – Book Review

Title: What to Say Next

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Pages: 272 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: July 11, 2017

Summary:

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Review:

 

I was so excited when I got an ARC of this book. If you’ve read my review of Tell Me Three Things, then you know how much I absolutely love Julie Buxbaum’s writing. I went into What to Say Next with pretty high expectations, and I wasn’t disappointed. I flew through this book so quickly, and instantly fell in love with the characters.

The first thing that I fell in love with about this book was the diversity of the characters. Both of the main characters in this novel are diverse: David is on the Autism spectrum, and Kit is half Indian. While each of these characters are unique, their personalities work extremely well together. Seeing their friendship develop throughout the book made me love these two so much. You know those books where you never want to leave the characters behind, even after the story is long over? This is most definitely one of those books. Kit and David’s story sucks you in and leaves you feeling so many emotions.

I also really loved the alternating perspectives in this book. It helps to show the back and forth between Kit and David, as well as what they are both thinking and feeling as things happen between them. Especially in some scenes, it was so great to see both sides of the story and really understand how things can be meant to come off a certain way, but are completely changed by someone else’s perspective on the matter.

I give What to Say Next 5/5 stars. On a side note, I am absolutely LOVING all of the diverse reads that we have been getting lately, and all I can say is “Give me more, please!”

Tell Me Three Things – Book Review

Title: Tell Me Three Things

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Pages: 328 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: April 5, 2016

Summary:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Review:

 

I am utterly obsessed with this book. From the very first page, I fell so hard for the story and  the characters. If I’m being completely honest, I really only picked this book up because the cover was adorable, and I thought it would make a great addition to photos on my bookstagram. But Tell Me Three Things is so much more than just a cute cover.

“My voice is smiling. I didn’t even know it could do that.”

-Tell Me Three Things, Julie Buxbaum

Buxbaum’s writing is so incredible. She manages to put words to thoughts and feelings that I’ve felt, but definitely couldn’t have described as eloquently. So many times throughout this book, I related to Jessie on such a deep level. It was almost as if Buxbaum had gone into my head, lived there for a while, and then wrote a character based off of her time there. There is really something special in reading about a character who you relate to so completely. Buxbaum also does a fantastic job of capturing an outsider’s perspective of Los Angeles and all of the weird, “trendy” things that people are into. I’ve lived near LA my entire life and I’m still amazed by some of the things that are considered completely normal here.

The characters in Tell Me Three Things are so lovable. Jessie has a lot of development throughout the book, and grows in so many ways. She is such a strong character who is undeniably herself. She is funny and witty, and I saw so much of myself in her character. There are also some very swoon-worthy guys in this book, and one who stands out above all the rest.

I also really loved the game that Jessie and Somebody/Nobody had where they would tell each other three things that the other didn’t know. It was such a cute way for them to get to know one another. Tell Me Three Things basically turned me into a big ball of feels, and I want to read it over and over until the end of time. I give it 5/5 stars, and recommend it to EVERYONE. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go read this book.

#famous – Book Review

Title: #famous

Author: Jilly Gagnon

Pages: 384 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Published: February 14, 2017

Summary:

In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Review:

#famous is an adorable story about a girl whose crush goes from a secret between her and her friend, to something that the entire internet knows about I’m just a few hours. Rachel is a girl who likes to stay under the radar. She’s quirky, and by no means someone who would be considered popular. So needless to say she’s pretty stunned when her post with a photo of Kyle goes viral. After all, she only has 20-something followers.

Once the photo goes viral, it doesn’t take long for Kyle to figure out who posted it. People, both online and at school, are bullying Rachel for dreaming to believe that someone as weird as she is could possibly get someone like Kyle. Kyle ends up getting a ton of positive attention from the incident, while Rachel gets a ton of crap because she’s not some beautiful, perfect supermodel type. This book does a wonderful job of portraying the different ways that women and men are treated in the media.

One aspect that I really loved about this book was the bits about the story being picked up on a talk show, which is basically the book’s equivalent of the Ellen show, and turned into a recurring segment on the show. As someone who studied broadcast communications and knows how the whole television business works, it is always fun to read about characters appearing on tv shows.

There were so many times throughout this book where I just wanted to yell at the characters. If only they would open their eyes and see what was so clearly right in front of them. But alas, that would be too easy.

I think one of the main things that readers should get from this book is that you never really know what is going to happen once you post something on the internet. After all, Rachel obviously didn’t expect her photo to go viral. I know we hear things like this all the time, but it’s so important to think about what we post on the internet, and the potential consequences that these things may have.

I listened to the audiobook of this, which I rather enjoyed, because there is a narrator for each perspective in the book. It really helped to add to the overall effect, because the story is told by both Rachel and Kyle. I give #famous 3.75/5 stars. It was a fun, quick read that I enjoyed quite a bit.

My June TBR

So far this year, I have read 76 books! That’s just crazy to me, seeing as though last year I read 82 books. So this year I decided to set my Goodreads challenge to 100 books, and I’m on track to almost double that as of now. So I’m pretty impressed with myself.  I am notoriously bad at sticking to my TBR though, so this is really more like a wishlist.  Click through to see what books I’ll be tackling this month. Continue reading My June TBR

I Believe in a Thing Called Love – Book Review

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Author: Maurene Goo

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Published: May 30, 2017

Summary:

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and never had a B. But in her charmed school life, there’s one thing missing—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet. When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it’s time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for years—in which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. All’s fair in love and Korean dramas, right? But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.

Review:

This book is one of my new favorite contemporaries! From the moment I picked this book up, I didn’t want to put it down. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is sweet and funny. Desi Lee is great at all things, except when it comes to boys. Her friends have lovingly coined the term “flailing” when it comes to Desi flirting: flirt failing. I could relate so much to Desi, because I, too, excel when there is a set list of “rules” for something. When things are left up to chance, Desi fails miserably, and often embarrassingly.

I’ve never seen a K drama before, but after reading I Believe in a Thing Called Love and seeing all of Desi’s “K Drama Rules for True Love,” I feel like I understand the genre a lot more, and might actually appreciate it if I were to go watch some of them. There’s even a handy guide at the end of the novel for getting into K dramas, based off of what genre you’re looking for, which I found to be really unique and helpful.

Have you ever watched a show or read a book that you knew was going to end in a huge disaster, and were just waiting for the bomb to go off? That’s what this book was for me. I just had this feeling that all of Desi’s ridiculous manipulations to try and snag Luca were going to end terribly! I mean, she makes some horrible decisions throughout the book, that no sane person could possible come up with, but I think that she also learns a lot about herself through the course of the book.

Maurene’s writing style is one that I really like. It’s engaging, funny, and kept me immersed within the story. The friendships that her characters share are absolutely amazing, and they are so supportive of one another. I constantly found myself wishing that I had friends like Fiona and Wes.

I give I Believe in a Thing Called Love 4.5/5 stars. Thanks so much to Maureen Goo for the ARC of this book, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it!

Anna and the French Kiss – Book Review

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Pages: 372 (paperback)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Speak

Published: December 2, 2010

Summary:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

Review:

This is one of my favorite contemporaries that I’ve read so far. I first read it last summer, and I just picked it up for the second time last week. I absolutely love contemporary books, and the mushier they are, the better. There’s just something about a great contemporary read that gets me in the mood for summer, and this is one of the best that I’ve read.

I first picked this book up because it takes place in Paris, and I was feeling a bit nostalgic about the time I had spent there in 2012. Not being able to travel pack to Paris, I decided to do the next best thing and pick up a book set in Paris, and I wasn’t disappointed. Anna spends her senior year of high school at a school for Americans in Paris. At first, she is very upset that she has to go, because she doesn’t want to leave her best friend and her crush behind, but Anna quickly warms up to Paris, and finds some amazing friends.

I think that the friendships in this book are stunning. No matter what happens between these characters, they are always there for one another. And there is quite a bit of drama that goes on in the group. But I mean, it’s high school, so it’s completely understandable. Through thick and thin, highs and lows, these characters are there for one another, even when they haven’t been the best of friends to one another. And I think that’s really important.

The romantic tension in Anna and the French Kiss is intense! There were so many instances where I wanted to yell at the characters that they just needed to OPEN THEIR EYES to see what was so clearly in front of them, but they were just too afraid to see things for what they really are. And I totally get it. I, too, am afraid of doing things that may seem scary, so I understand why these characters don’t want to admit their feelings. Don’t want to stand up to their parents. Don’t want to cause any conflict. I get it all, and I can relate to it on a really personal level, which is just another one of the reasons why I give Anna and the French Kiss 5/5 stars.

At First Blush – Book Review

Summary:

Who would have thought that a teenager could have a successful career creating makeup tutorial videos on YouTube? For Lacey Robbins, this dream has been her reality. An up-and-coming YouTuber, she has thousands of fans and can’t wait for the day when her subscriber count reaches the one million mark. And when she is offered a high school internship at On Trend Magazine, she figures that this could be the make it or break it moment.

But sometimes your dream job isn’t all that it seems. Her editor is only interested in promoting junk products, and her boss in the Hair and Makeup department introduces her to the larger world of makeup artistry, making her wonder if making tutorials online is all she is meant to do. To top it all off, when the magazine’s feature subject, musician Tyler Lance, turns his broodingly handsome smile her way, falling for him could mean losing her fans, forcing her to make a decision: her YouTube life or her real life?

Review:

I loved this book so much! Spring has sprung, and I am fully in the mood for all of the contemporary books. This book definitely didn’t disappoint me!

LaceyBlushes gets the chance of a lifetime when she’s selected for an internship at a magazine, where she’ll vlog all the behind-the-scenes deeds about the magazine’s guest editor, but the experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Lacey finds that while things are going great for her YouTube channel, she is losing her passion for making videos. And to top it all off, she’s falling for someone that she never expected to.

I think that this book really did a great job of portraying that sometimes our dreams aren’t all they’re made out to be, and that sometimes we may think that we know what we want in life, when in reality we don’t. I think that that is something that scares a lot of people, myself included. With my college graduation nearing in a couple months, I’m absolutely terrified that once I actually get into the field, I’m not going to love my profession. Only time will tell.

One thing that bothered me about this book was Lacey’s obliviousness to things that were blatantly obvious to everyone else. Over time, this changes though, and Lacey realizes what an idiot she’s been about many things, and things start looking up for her.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars. At First Blush goes on sale April 4.

Girl In Pieces – Book Review

Summary:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Review:

This book was my favorite read of 2016. The subject matter is heavy, and dark, but so important and done so well. Going into this book, I didn’t really know just how dark it was going to get. Charlie’s character has been through so much, and so have the people that she knows. This book made my heart heavy with sorrow for those who go through life feeling like they are alone and that things will never get better.

The writing in Girl In Pieces is absolutely beautiful. It is written in a diary-like style. In the beginning of the novel, the entries are short; Charlie doesn’t trust whoever it is that she’s writing to (herself, her therapist, just a diary?) with the truth of what happened to her. She is a selective mute, traumatized by her experiences. Over time, Charlie opens up, both to people in her life and to the reader. The writing manages to get so much emotion across without much effort.

I think the most important thing about this book is that it reminded me you never really know what people are going through, underneath whatever face they put on for the public to view. It reminded me to be kind to others, because you never know what might tip someone over the edge. Everyone should read this book.

I gave Girl In Pieces 5/5 stars. For me, it’s a definite must read.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett – Book Review

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett - Book Review

Summary:

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?

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Review:

Hawthorn sees the world differently, which is something that I always appreciate in a character. She is kind of an outcast, and she has a wild imagination. Hawthorn isn’t sure if she necessarily believes everything that she imagines, but she likes to believe that something strange or magical could exist, which I can relate to.

Hawthorn puts herself into some interesting situations, and its sometimes tough to wonder how she thinks that the things she is doing are okay. But that’s part of growing up, finding your way and making mistakes along the way. After all, it’s not as though Hawthorn has the best relationship with her parents and her brother. They don’t really understand her, and let her run wild because they figure that some socialization is better than being an outcast, which Hawthorn is for the most part.

Throughout the book Hawthorn learns who she is and what that means to her. She realizes that not everything is as it seems on the surface, and that people often have dark and difficult things going on in their lives that they don’t let on about. This book really shows that you can’t always assume that people are as happy as they seem to be, and that everyone is a different person in someone else’s eyes.

I give this book 5/5 stars. It was a great, interesting read and I flew through the pages. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from debut author Chelsea Sedoti.