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When Life Gives You Lemons Instead of Lattes – Book Review and Giveaway

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Summary

Title: When Life Gives You Lemons Instead of Lattes

Author: Rayna York

Pages: 316

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Toad Tree Press

Pub Date: July 2, 2020

What if losing everything you have is exactly what you need?

Kylie’s summer after high school graduation was supposed to be celebrated in Europe, not some podunk town in Ohio. But when the FBI shows up at her parents’ California beach house looking for her father, the life she’s known, suddenly disintegrates.

With the family assets frozen and her father on the run, the only place left to go is a dilapidated house that once belonged to her great-grandmother. Now her family is broke, her social status is in ruins, and the only internet access is at a café where a nerdy barista boy wants to be her new best friend.

But life has a funny way of teaching its lessons, and being catapulted into this new reality might be the help she needs to learn that sometimes you have to let go of everything you know to discover what is real.

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Rules for Being a Girl – Book Review

Summary

Title: Rules for Being a Girl

Author: Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

Pages: 304

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

It starts before you can even remember: You learn the rules for being a girl. . . .

Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright―and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.

But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?

When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.

But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.

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Review

Take two of my favorite authors, team them up for a novel together and what do you get? An amazing, thought provoking, rage inducing book, that’s what! Add the cherry on top that our main character is a student journalist, and they’ve created the perfect novel for me. It’s like they’ve written a cooler version of me from high school.

Rules for Being a Girl touches on all of the things that bothered me about the school system when I was in high school. Sexist dress codes, incompetent school officials, double standards, etc. Marin is a bright young girl, with dreams of going to Brown University upon graduation.

Things get challenging for Marin when her favorite teacher, the one most of the female students have a crush on, Bex, kisses Marin. Granted, some sketchy things happened leading up to this, i.e. Marin lets Bex drive her home, Marin hangs out with Bex at a coffee shop, but all of that aside, Marin is clearly not okay with what happened. Bex lets it go, but starts being extremely antagonistic towards Marin, causing a whole lot of drama at school.

The rage Marin feels at being treated this way causes her to see many things in a new light, including how all of the school’s reading list is written by men. She starts a feminist book club, and is surprised by some of the people who join—and by those who don’t.

Rules for Being a Girl is absolutely one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Marin goes through many challenges and has a lot of ups and downs, which she doesn’t always handle gracefully. Her emotions and actions feel authentic, and she will not sit by while people tell her how a girl should behave. I give it 5/5 stars.

Scars Like Wings – Book Review and Giveaway

Summary

Title: Scars Like Wings

Author: Erin Stewart

Pages: 352

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pub. Date: October 1, 2019

Before, I was a million things. Now I’m only one. The Burned Girl.

Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. 

A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. 

But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

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Maybe This Time – Book Review

Summary

Title: Maybe This Time

Author: Kasie West

Pages: 368

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

Publisher: Point

Pub. Date: July 9, 2019

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

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Hot Dog Girl – Book Review

Summary

Title: Hot Dog Girl

Author: Jennifer Dugan

Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT

Publisher: Putnam

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland—ever—unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

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This Is Not a Love Scene – Book Review

Summary

Title: This Is Not a Love Scene

Author: S. C. Megale

Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

Lights, camera—all Maeve needs is action. But at eighteen, a rare form of muscular dystrophy usually stands in the way of romance. She’s got her friends, her humor, and a passion for filmmaking to keep her focus off consistent rejection…and the hot older guy starring in her senior film project.

Tall, bearded, and always swaying, Cole Stone is everything Maeve can’t be. And she likes it. Between takes, their chemistry is shockingly electric.

Suddenly Maeve gets a taste of typical teenage dating life, but girls in wheelchairs don’t get the hot guy—right? Cole’s attention challenges everything she once believed about her self-image and hopes for love. But figuring this out, both emotionally and physically, won’t be easy for either of them. Maeve must choose between what she needs and what she wants, while Cole has a tendency to avoid decisions altogether. And her failing lungs might not wait for either.

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From Twinkle, with Love – Book Review

Title: From Twinkle, with Love

Author: Sandhya Menon

Pages: 328

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: May 22, 2018

Summary:

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

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What If It’s Us – Book Review

Title: What If It’s Us

Author: Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Pages: 448

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publishing: October 9th, 2018

Summary:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date… or a second first date… or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

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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.*

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.*