Category Archives: ya fiction

The Impossibility of Us – Book Review

Title: The Impossibility of Us

Author: Katy Upperman

Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Published: July 31, 2018

Summary:

The last thing Elise wants is to start her senior year in a new town. But after her brother’s death in Afghanistan, she and her mother move from San Francisco to a sleepy coastal village.

When Elise meets Mati, they quickly discover how much they have in common. Mati is new to town too, visiting the U.S. with his family. Over the course of the summer, their relationship begins to blossom, and what starts out as a friendship becomes so much more.

But as Elise and Mati grow closer, her family becomes more and more uncomfortable with their relationship, and their concerns all center on one fact—Mati is Afghan.

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Love & Luck – Book Review

Title: Love & Luck

Author: Jenna Evans Welch

Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: May 8th, 2018

Summary:

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

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Review:

Give me all of the YA travel/contemporary romances, because I am obsessed with them. There’s something about reading a book that features travel that I just love to read in the summer. I love a good summer vacation as much as the next person, when I get the chance to take one, I jump on it. And for the times that I can’t, I read as many books with a travel story as I can.

I thought the idea of Addie following this guidebook for getting over heartbreak while in Ireland was absolutely hilarious. The fact that such a guidebook would exist was oddly specific and I found the whole concept to be ridiculously funny. I think that some of the advice in the guidebook actually wasn’t half bad, either.

This book focuses on a real issue that a lot of girls, and sometimes guys, face all too often. She trusts someone with something incredibly personal and private, and that trust is betrayed, and shared with everyone. It’s such a terrible thing to have happen, and Love & Luck shows how difficult it can be to deal with, and not just from Addie’s perspective.

While I was really hoping to love this book just as much as Love & Gelato, it didn’t quite live up to all of my expectations for it. That’s not to say that I didn’t still love this book, but I had really high hopes for it that just weren’t quite met. That being said, I still gave Love & Luck 5/5 stars because I really enjoyed the story and the setting, though it did feel a bit ultra-touristy at times.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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Now a Major Motion Picture – Book Review

Title: Now A Major Motion Picture

Author: Cori McCarthy

Pages: 400 (paperback)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Published: April 3, 2018

Summary:

Iris Thorne wants to blaze her own path. That’s easier said than done when you’re the granddaughter of M. E. Thorne, famous author of the Elementia series, hailed as the feminist response to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And with a major motion picture adaptation of her grandmother’s books in the works, Iris can say goodbye to her dream of making her own way in the music industry.

So when Iris and her brother get invited to the film set in Ireland, she’s pretty sure the trip will be a nightmare. Except Iris can’t deny the rugged beauty of the Irish countryside. And brushing shoulders with the hot, young cast isn’t awful, especially the infuriatingly charming lead, Eamon O’Brien. Iris even finds the impassioned female director inspiring. But when the filming falls into jeopardy, everything Iris thought she knew about Elementia—and herself—is in question. Will making a film for the big screen help Iris to see the big picture?

Review:

Now a Major Motion Picture was such a fun read, and had me dreaming of going to Ireland and exploring all of the beautiful places that are described in this book. Iris Thorne wants nothing to do with her grandmother’s famous fantasy novels, or the film adaptation that’s in the works. Her little brother desperately wants to go, and their father decides Iris will go and chaperone him, much to her dismay.

Throughout the book, Iris grows a lot, and learns what it means to be Iris Thorne on her own terms, and not based off of her father’s expectations for her. Iris meets a lot of strong women who help her to come into herself, and learn who she really is. The cast of characters in this book is really strong, and so diverse, which is always a positive in my book. The world needs ALL of the diverse books.

NAMMP does a great job of showing the other side of fandom and fan culture. The fans of Elementia are extremely passionate, and they have no issues making their thoughts known. I think a lot of people can relate to the fans in this book, wanting an adaptation of a book to be just right, and scared that it won’t live up to their expectations. I’d never even thought about what that would be like from the actor’s perspectives until I read this book. It was an interesting perspective that I had never considered.

One of the things that I love most about Cori McCarthy is that their books are all so different. There’s Breaking Skywhich follows group of badass pilots, and You Were Hereabout a girl who goes through a tough time after her brother’s passing. Cori’s writing is so versatile, and everything they write captivates me and keeps me flipping the pages. I really loved Now a Major Motion Picture. I give it 5/5 stars, and you should definitely go pick it up when it hits shelves.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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Prince in Disguise – Book Review

Title: Prince in Disguise

Author: Stephanie Kate Strohm

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Published: December 19, 2017

Summary:

Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan-especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises-including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.

Review:

Oh my goodness, I loved this book so much! I need at least a dozen more like it! Prince in Disguise has everything I never knew I wanted in a contemporary. It has travel, sassy Southern belles, and sexy Scots. Dylan and Jamie’s dynamic is so hilarious and cute, and at times it just makes you cringe how awkward and obvious things are between them.

There is also a reality tv element to this book, and I think it really added to the drama and hilarity of the book. I’d like to think that some of the things that the production crew in this book do are so far-fetched that they couldn’t possibly be true, but I majored in broadcast communications and did a lot of reading about reality tv production in school, and I don’t doubt for one second that every thing that’s mentioned in this book has happed on some reality show.

One thing that I absolutely love about books set in foreign countries is that it really makes me want to travel more to see all of the amazing sights our world has. I’ve wanted to go to Scotland for so long now, so reading a book that is set there almost gives me that experience, at least enough to hold me over until I actually can convince someone to go with me. I swear, I don’t just want to go because I love Outlander so much…

Prince in Disguise is a fun, quick read, perfect for getting you out of a reading slump, or when you’re looking for the right book to enjoy on a beautiful rainy day. It’ll definitely make you swoon and wish that you were in Dylan’s situation. I would absolutely love to see a sequel to this book, because I am dying to know what happens to all of the characters! I give it 5/5 stars.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Starry Eyes – Book Review

Title: Starry Eyes

Author: Jenn Bennett

Pages: 432 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: April 3, 2018

Summary:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Review:

I am a big fan of contemporary books taking on tough issues. A lot of times, contemporaries can be just sweet and “fluffy,” for lack of a better term. There’s obviously nothing wrong with this, as I’ve read more than my fair share of these kinds of books. In fact, they’re kind of my guilty pleasure. But when a book can touch on tough topics that are incredibly relevant in today’s world, such as cheating and divorce, I absolutely love it.

Zorie is faced with a lot of tough decisions throughout the course of the book, that really give her a chance to grow and discover who she is outside of a family setting. Zorie is a character who typically plans everything down to the tiniest of details, so when things start going wrong and throwing her plans out the door, she has to decide if she can learn to roll with the punches.

I did not expect this book to make me nostalgic for camping, but it sure did, and now I feel the need to go camping this summer. Starry Eyes has a lot of fun and hilarious moments, and I absolutely devoured it. I felt like the characters were extremely easy to relate to, and they show a lot of growth and character development. I gave Starry Eyes 5/5 stars. It’s a perfect summery read.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

In Her Skin – Blog Tour and Book Review

Welcome to the In Her Skin blog tour!

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi’s identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.

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Winner Take All – Blog Tour and Book Review

Welcome to the Winner Take All blog tour!


Summary:

For Nell Becker, life is a competition she needs to win.

For Jackson Hart, everyone is a pawn in his own game.

They both have everything to lose.

Nell wants to succeed at everything—school, sports, life. And victory is sweeter when it means beating Jackson Hart, the rich, privileged, undisputed king of Cedar Woods Prep Academy. Yet no matter how hard she tries, Jackson is somehow one step ahead. They’re a match made in hell, but opposites do attract.

Drawn to each other by their rivalry, Nell and Jackson fall into a whirlwind romance that consumes everything in their lives. But when a devastating secret exposes their relationship as just another game, how far will Nell go to win?

Visceral and whip-smart, Laurie Devore’s Winner Take All paints an unflinching portrait of obsessive love, toxic competition, and the drive for perfection.

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The Chaos of Standing Still – Book Review

Title: The Chaos of Standing Still

Author: Jessica Brody

Pages: 403

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: November 28, 2017

Summary:

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

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Review:

I have never spent overnight stranded in an airport, but if I had, this book pretty much sums up everything that I imagine happens in situations like that. The Chaos of Standing Still is such a fun story, and while it has a lot of lighthearted moments that come with contemporary novels, it also touches on some tough topics, such as coping with the death of a best friend.

Ryn has a lot of interesting quirks, one of which is that she compulsively Googles things. I thought this was such a unique trait to explore, because I also Google the answers to random questions that pop into my head all the time! Not nearly to the extent that Ryn does, but still, I could relate.

The cast of characters that Ryn meets while stranded in the airport are absolutely hilarious, and they add a lot of comedy to the story. This is great, because it helps to lighten up the story, which could have otherwise been very serious and sad. Ryn manages to get herself into a lot of… interesting situations with her new friends.

I also really loved that Jessica Brody chose some interesting names for her characters! Ryn and Xander are such unique names, and while a name might not seem like the most important part about a character, I think that each of their names really fits with their personality.

I give The Chaos of Standing Still 5/5 stars. It strikes the perfect balance of hitting on hard topics while maintaining that fun feel of a contemporary novel.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*

Love, Life and the List – Book Review

Title: Love, Life and the List

Author: Kasie West

Pages: 384

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: HarperTeen

Published: December 26, 2017

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

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Review:

After being rejected from an art show because her work has “no heart,” Abby decides to make a list of things that will help her grow as a person, and thus, grow some “heart” to put into her paintings. While this might sound like an incredibly corny idea, I think that it was executed so well. Abby learns so much about life, and really grows as a character throughout this book. She not only grows emotionally and mentally, but she learns to step outside of her comfort zone and rethink the way that things have always been. I think that a “Heart List” is something that everyone needs, because we can all stand to learn more, no matter our age.

Abby has so much drive and passion for what she does. I love that when she is told her art has no emotion, she doesn’t just give up, she works hard to develop feeling in her work. I love books that have characters who are great role models, and Love, Life and the List is definitely one of them.

The friendships in this book are great, from the longstanding friendship between Abby and Cooper, to the new friendships that Abby forms throughout the book. There’s something to be said about friends that are always there for one another no matter what, and who are so close that they might as well be family.

Love, Life and the List is the first book in a set of three standalones with cross-over characters, and I am SO excited to see what other stories we get with these characters. Based off of who was present in Love, I can imagine who the other two books will focus on. I love books like this, where an author will have cameos from characters in their prior books. Morgan Matson does this with her books and I think it’s so cute. To anyone who picks up the book, it reads perfectly fine as a standalone, but to those who have read prior books, it’s a fun Easter egg.

I was so happy that I loved this book as much as I do, because I was pretty disappointed by Lucky in Love. I gave 5/5 stars to Love, Life and the List, and I can’t wait for the next two books in this crossover series.

The Hazel Wood – Book Review

Title: The Hazel Wood

Author: Melissa Albert

Pages: 368

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Published: January 30, 2018

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

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Review:

The Hazel Wood is not the kind of fairytale that you were told as a child. It is a story full of mystery, intrigue and horrors you don’t want to imagine. The Hinterland is nothing like Wonderland, and Alice most definitely does NOT want to fall down the rabbit hole, but if she is to save her mother, that’s exactly what she’ll have to do.

It took me a long time to read this book, and once I finished, I wasn’t all that impressed. I started reading this book a little bit before Halloween, and didn’t finish it until the very end of the year. I never found myself needing to read this book to find out what would happen. In fact, I almost had to force myself to finish it just so that I could enter the new year on a clean slate and not in the middle of any books.

I think that this story will appeal to many readers, but it wasn’t for me. There are a lot of parallels to Alice in Wonderland, and at times it felt like it drew too much influence from other works. Overall the book felt slow, and dragged on forever in the first 2/3 of the book, and then the end felt so rushed and like everything was being tied up hastily without much thought for the story.

I think because this book is so hyped, I had really high expectations going into it, which made me all the more disappointed when I couldn’t get into it. I give The Hazel Wood 2.75/5 stars, and that’s really only because I liked the dark fairytales from Alice’s grandmother’s book, Tales from the Hinterland. It’s a shame the rest of the book couldn’t live up to my expectations.

*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.*