Tag Archives: ya fiction

Top Ten – Book Review

Title: Top Ten

Author: Katie Cotugno

Pages: 320 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Published: October 3, 2017

Summary:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

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Review:

I feel like I can relate to Gabby a lot, which is probably why I liked this book so much. I’ve read a lot of reviews for this book in which people don’t like Top Ten because they can’t relate to the character, but that wasn’t an issue for me. Gabby has some pretty bad anxiety, and while my anxiety is nowhere near hers, I could still sympathize with a lot of what she feels, because I feel the same things to a lesser extent. I think that a lot of times, people don’t understand how tough it is to have feelings like this, and to see a character with such severe anxiety really helped me to feel like what I feel is more normal than I think it is. (I know anxiety is a huge deal, but it’s always hard to feel like you’re not alone in your symptoms.)

One of my absolute favorite things about Katie Cotugno’s writing is the fact that her books are never your “typical contemporary”. I always find that things never end the way you might expect or want them to in Katie’s novels. Sure, you might want things to end happy, with a neat little bow tied around everything, but that isn’t how life works, and it’s not how Katie’s books work either. And I LOVE it! Her characters are always flawed, and that makes them feel so much more real.

The format that this book was told in made it tough for me to grasp where in the timeline I was at times. It is told in an episodic structure, with each chapter being a different memory/story between Ryan and Gabby, and even though they were in chronological order, I was constantly confused about “has this already happened yet?!” I also think this confusion was slightly due to the fact I read this as an ebook, so it was much more challenging to be able to flip back to the beginning of a chapter and see when in the timeline that particular story was taking place.

I am a Katie Cotugno fan for life, and this book is no exception. I give it 4.25/5 stars.

 

*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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Neighborhood Girls – Book Review

Title: Neighborhood Girls

Author: Jessie Ann Foley

Pages: 368 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Harper Teen

Published: September 12, 2017

Summary:

When Wendy Boychuck’s father, a Chicago cop, was escorted from their property in handcuffs for his shady criminal practices, she knew her life would never be the same. Her father gets a years-long jail sentence, her family falls on hard times, and the whispers around town are impossible to ignore. If that wasn’t bad enough, she gets jumped walking home from a party one night. Wendy quickly realizes that in order to survive her father’s reputation, she’ll have to make one for herself.

Then Wendy meets Kenzie Quintana—a cigarette-smoking, Catholic-school-uniform-skirt-hiking alpha—and she knows that she’s met her savior. Kenzie can provide Wendy with the kind of armor a girl needs when she’s trying to outrun her father’s past. Add two more mean girls to the mix—Sapphire and Emily—and Wendy has found herself in Academy of the Sacred Heart’s most feared and revered clique. Makeover complete.

But complete is far from what Wendy feels. Instead, she faces the highs and lows of a vapid, toxic friendship, the exhaustion that comes with keeping up appearances, and the only loss that could hurt more than losing herself.

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Review:

 

Oftentimes when I start reading a book, I don’t like to read the description because I don’t want to “spoil” myself on what the book is going to be about. So while I did read the description before I requested this book, by the time I actually got around to reading it, I had no clue what it was about. Which is exactly how I like it.

Wendy has had a tough life in recent years, and she hasn’t exactly tried to make it any easier on herself. I think that there is so much character growth throughout this novel, not only with Wendy, but with a lot of the other characters as well.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about this book was the way that Jessie Ann Foley captures the strange ways that teenagers (and people in general, lets be honest) act. Sometimes its as if there is no reasoning behind certain decisions, but to whoever is making the decision, it just “feels” right. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve thought something would be a great idea, only to look back or be told by someone else how stupid it was. It’s just a part of life, but it is a part that Jessie Ann Foley captures in the most realistic way.

I am not a religious person, so the fact that religion plays a big part in the main character’s life had me a little hesitant to read this. I don’t really like it when things feel preachy, and like they are trying to push certain beliefs down your throat. A lot of this book takes place within a Catholic high school, and focuses around religious themes. But religion was handled so tastefully in this book, that I found myself almost forgetting it was even a factor.

Some of the pacing of this book felt a little off to me. At times, random stories or memories would be thrown into the main story arc, and it was a bit jarring, leaving me wondering how or why it fit into the overall arc. But overall, I enjoyed the story a lot, and give it 3.75/5 stars.

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

 

True North – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True North

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 400 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: April 4, 2017

Summary:

Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there’s been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.

While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters’ blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.??

As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA.

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Review:

If you haven’t read my review of the first book in the series, True Born, be sure to go check that out HERE.

True North returns readers to Dominion City, where the plague is continuing to wipe out the population. While I generally enjoyed this book just as I did the first one, there were a few issues that I had with it.

First, for a good chunk of the book, I felt like nothing was happening. Yes, I was reading words and some things were going on, but there was no advancement to the plot. The pace in the beginning of the book was slow and dragged on, causing me to wonder when something was actually going to happen. However, once things did start happening, it hooked my attention again and kept me hungry for more.

I love that this series explores a world that could conceivably be in the not too distant future, with such vast differences from the world we currently live in. While it’s hard for me to fathom that the world could one day have completely new countries, it’s entirely possible. After all, I’m sure the Romans thought they would be on top forever too.

In this book we get to see a lot more of the politics and the inner workings of the Upper Circle, which was very interesting. This really helped me to understand what kind of world Lucy is a part of, and just what motivates the characters in this novel.

I think that True North is an okay sequel to a great first novel. I’m not completely in love, but there is definitely enough intrigue to keep me reading to the third book when it comes out. I give True North 3/5 stars.

True Born – Book Review

To see all of the great blogs featuring True Born and True North on this blog tour, click on the banner above!

Title: True Born

Author: L. E. Sterling

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Published: May 3, 2016

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

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Review:

It’s been a while since I’ve visited some dystopian fiction, but I was very excited to dive into this book and see where its pages took me. I’ve had this book on my iPad for ages now but unfortunately had never gotten around to reading it. But then I saw that book two in the trilogy (True North) was coming out so I finally picked this up, and I am glad I did.

I think that it was very interesting to see a dystopian/plague-type novel from the perspective of an upper-class person, as I feel like most of the time with these novels we are only privy to the perspectives of the lower classes who are struggling the most. The rich perspective was done in such a way that didn’t feel like it was trying too hard to be what it was. Oftentimes, a perspective like this sounds unbelievable and overdone, but L.E. Sterling really managed to capture the tone and mood of the upper class as they perceive themselves, as opposed to an outsider-looking-in perspective,

Lucy and Margot are twins who were conjoined at birth, by a small area on their toes. And all those rumors you hear about twins being able to feel each other’s pain and whatnot are actually true with Lucy and Margot. They use this special connection to communicate with one another, and can also tell when the other is in danger, which comes in handy quite a few times throughout the novel. I thought that the connection between the sisters added something to the novel that helped to make the reader feel things for the sisters more deeply.

As with any YA book, there’s usually a love interest, and for our dear Lucy, this comes in the form of True Born Jared Price. From the moment Lucy lays eyes on him, she is intrigued by him (hello, insta-love!) yet once she gets to know him she finds herself rather annoyed by some of his behaviors. While I overall liked his character, I hated how he and Lucy were constantly hot and cold with one another. It seemed as though neither could make up their mind about how they felt about the other, and were constantly flip-flopping between liking one another and hating the other’s guts.

There were a few times throughout the novel where I got a bit confused as to what was going on with the story. This could be because some things just needed to be fleshed out a little more, or perhaps there are a few sentences that just needed some reworking. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed True Born and I am very excited to see what the sequel has in store about tying up the many questions I am now left with. I give True Born a solid 4/5 stars.

Be sure to look out for my review of True North, coming on Tuesday, April 25th.

Antisocial – Book Review

Summary:

Senior spring at Alexandria Prep was supposed to be for sleeping through class and partying with friends. But for Anna Soler, it’s going to be a lonely road. She’s just been dumped by her gorgeous basketball star boyfriend—with no explanation. Anna’s closest friends, the real ones she abandoned while dating him, are ignoring her. The endearing boy she’s always had a complicated friendship with is almost too sympathetic.

But suddenly Anna isn’t the only one whose life has been upended. Someone is determined to knock the kings and queens of the school off their thrones: one by one, their phones get hacked and their personal messages and photos are leaked. At first it’s funny—people love watching the dirty private lives of those they envy become all too public.

Then the hacks escalate. Dark secrets are exposed, and lives are shattered. Chaos erupts at school. As Anna tries to save those she cares about most and to protect her own secrets, she begins to understand the reality of our always-connected lives:

Sometimes we share too much.

Review:

I really liked this book, and it was such a quick read, I blew through it in less than a day. Antisocial was described as Pretty Little Liars meets WikiLeaks, which piqued my interest and had me putting this book at the top of my TBR pile (which is rather large). And once I got into this book, I wasn’t disappointed.

The main character, Anna, has some serious social anxieties. So when she returns to school after being broken up with by the coolest guy in school, she has some trouble readjusting, especially because she dropped all of her friends to start dating Palmer. Lucky for Anna, one of her best friends is there to save the day, even if the rest of her friends aren’t so ready to forgive her so quickly for leaving them in the dust.

Once the hacking/data-leak element of this book kicked in, I was hooked. I had to know who was behind the hacks and what their motives were. Were they ever going to be discovered, or were they going to get away without punishment for the chaos and pain and hurt and trouble that they caused amongst the students? I had to know.

I think that this book did a really good job of keeping me wondering just what was going to happen, and I never really felt like it was being predictable, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. However, I feel like the ending didn’t provide me with enough closure, and I was left wanting just a little bit more, despite all that we got in the end. All in all though, this was a great read.

Antisocial‘s message is so important in this day and age where every aspect of our lives is held somewhere online. The face that we present to the world online is hardly ever how we really are in person, and as such, there is a divide between who we want people to believe we are, and who we actually are. This book points out both the bad and the good that come with such an online presence, and made me think a lot about what I share online. Not in the “what if a future employer sees this?” kind of way, but in the “Does this represent who I really am?” kind of way. I give Antisocial 4.5/5 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.

Anomalies – Blog Tour and Audiobook Review

Anomalies - Book Review

Click on the banner above to see the other blogs featuring Anomalies on the tour!

Anomalies - Book Review

Summary:

In the future there is no disease. There is no war. There is no discontent. All citizens are complacent members of the Global Governance. But one summer is about to change everything.

Keeva Tee just turned fifteen. All of her dreams are about to come true. She s about to make the trip to Monarch Camp to be imprinted with her intended life partner. One day they ll have perfect kids and a perfect life. But in her happy, carefree life in the Ocean Community, something weighs on her mind. She hears whispers about anomalies citizens who can t be imprinted. No one knows what happens to them, but they never seem to come back.

When Keeva arrives at Monarch Camp, her worst nightmare becomes a reality she is an anomaly. After imprinting, the people she loves change, and she starts to doubt everything she s ever believed. What if freedom and individuality have been sacrificed for security? And what if the man who solves all the problems is the very man who s created them and what if he isn’t a man at all?

When Keeva finds a warning carved under a bunk bed she begins to understand: nonconformity will be punished, dissent is not an option, insurgents will be destroyed.

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Continue reading to see my review of Anomalies Continue reading Anomalies – Blog Tour and Audiobook Review