Mini Reviews #6 – Mini Mini Reviews

Mini Reviews #6 – Mini Mini ReviewsThe Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren
Published by Harry N. Abrams
on April 4th 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Amazon, Goodreads

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I have mixed feelings on The Last Thing You Said. I’m not really sure what it is. Honestly I loved some parts of it. I loved the part where both Lucy and Ben were dealing with their grief in vastly different ways. I loved the setting of the beach. I loved Lucy’s friend. But there was also a lot I was confused by. Honestly I hated how Ben treated Lucy and how Lucy let him treat her. I hated a lot of the things that Lucy did. I do admit the grief of Ben and Lucy and how much they missed Trixie was done really well. That was the one part of the story I felt and understood. But everything else was sadly just not for me.

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Mini Reviews #6 – Mini Mini ReviewsBy Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen
on January 31st 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon, Goodreads

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book. Oh this book. The more I am away from my read of it the more I realize just how much I didn’t really like it. This was strange for me because I have never not loved a Kasie West book. But By Your Side just didn’t do it for me. It had all the ingredients, library [check]; trapped [check]; opposites attract [check]; cute boy [check, check, check] but all of those ingredients just didn’t pan out. The library was 100% not used to its best ability and because of that I felt duped into the book we did end up getting. It was like once Dax and Autumn got out of the library I was reading a whole new book, and it was a book I never saw coming. In the end I just didn’t feel like I got what I signed up for and I was left disappointed.

 

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Mini Reviews #6 – Mini Mini ReviewsThe One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published by Penguin Teen
on May 2nd 2017
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon, Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. She lives under the careful watch of her parents, in a town she is familiar with, among people who are equally familiar with her story. She has not been able to recall any part of her past since she was ten, when the tumor that was removed from her brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. She lives under the careful watch of her parents, in a town she is familiar with, among people who are equally familiar with her story. She has not been able to recall any part of her past since she was ten, when the tumor that was removed from her brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this singular memory pierces Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake and their shared kiss are responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step in reclaiming her life.

With little more than the tattoo "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is, how old, where she lives, and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to the land of the midnight sun--Svalbard, Norway. There she is determined to find Drake, and to explore the romantic possibilities and hopeful future that their reunion promises her. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I’m not gonna lie, I struggled with this book. I didn’t struggle because it wasn’t good but I struggled because I was frustrated. And I felt terrible about being frustrated by it because I could only imagine what Flora was actually going through. But the truth is I had a hard time because this book was super repetitive. And believe me, I understand why it was, but it just kind of pulled me out of the story because I felt like I was reading the same page over and over. Really though, Flora had an incredible journey finding out how brave and strong she truly was and there was one part that I didn’t see coming until much later into the book. When all is said and done though, this book just wasn’t right for me. I do feel like it would have been a fun movie.

 

 

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Review: Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welsh

Review: Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans WelshLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse
on May 3rd 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon, Goodreads

A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

I was drawn to Love & Gelato by the cover. There, I said it, I judged a book by its cover and that’s why I bought it. I’m sorry, but I’m a sucker for ice cream-ish covers. After I got over the cover love, I got serious and looked up what the story was about. I was immediately invested. A mystery that unfolds in Italy and a story about a 16 year old girl and the father she never met? Yes please. It just screamed a me book, and it was…to an extent. Honestly I really enjoyed Love & Gelato. It lived up to my expectations in a way. But there was one part that didn’t do it for me and it was the romance.

Before I get into the romance part let’s talk about what I loved: the diary/journal mystery unfolding, the relationship between Lina and her father, and the use of Italy. The diary/journal part of Love & Gelato was truly the star of the show.  Reading how Lina learned about her mother’s history and find out a part of her life that she never knew about was such an amazing experience as a reader. By getting to know a part of her mother this way, Lina got to see Italy and what her mother fell in love with and she got to know her father. Without that diary Lina would have missed out on what Italy had to offer which would have been a shame. Instead she got an experience all her own with her mother’s guidance that was really one of a kind.

And I really wish the story ended at that. For me that was all Love & Gelato needed, the journal and the eye opening experience. Instead a romance was added in and it just took away from the story for me, which is super rare because I’m always team romance. I personally think that Lina didn’t need to fall in love or have a boy she was crushing on for Love & Gelato to be a truly great book. For me the story was Lina falling in love with the idea of new experiences and learning her mother’s history. It just didn’t need the romance.

All in all I enjoyed Love & Gelato. If I could have taken the romance out I would have been 10 times happier and the book would have been given a solid 4 stars. With that said though I really liked this one and the story it told. I suggest you pick it up and see for yourself how you will feel.

 

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Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You – Lily Anderson

Review: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You – Lily AndersonThe Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
on May 17th 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon, Goodreads

Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West--and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing--down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books--well, maybe not comic books--but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on--and they might not pick the same side.

I was told by a lot of people to read The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You. Gail actually told me to read it so much that I bought the book one day when I was with her. But then the book just sat and sat. Finally I just decided to pick it up and I’m so happy I did. It was cute and adorable and nerdy and fun. 

The Only Thing… is about a group of students that go to the super smart kid school. They are all nerdy geniuses that could test out of high school but instead go to a super competitive school for nerds together. Trixie is the main character and she has a goal Senior year and it is to beat her nemesis, Ben West, in class ranking. That’s all Trix wants and she is going to get it. That is until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and weird things start happening at school. Soon Trixie has no idea what she wants. All she knows is she needs to stop what’s happening and she may just need Ben to do it.

I truly loved this book. It was predictable, but one of those predictable books you don’t mind. Ben and Trixie had amazing banter and were super quick witted. I loved watching their idea of the other change slowly and not over night. And I loved the friends they had that aided this change. They both needed a shove in the right direction and they got it. Truly the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was because it was slow in the beginning. But once it got started it really kept me sucked in.

The Only Thing… is definitely a book I would recommended.  It had a great mystery, a great friendship aspect, and a great romance. There were a ton of nerdy references (I admit I only understood about half) and ‘geek duels’. It was just a fun book that I would recommend. But man I needed more kissing. 😉

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Review: The Black Key – Amy Ewing

Review: The Black Key – Amy EwingThe Black Key by Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #3
Published by HarperTeen
on October 4th 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon, Goodreads

For too long, Violet and the people of the outer circles of the Lone City have lived in service to the royalty of the Jewel. But now the secret society known as the Black Key is preparing to seize power.

And while Violet knows she is at the center of this rebellion, she has a more personal stake in it—her sister, Hazel, has been taken by the Duchess of the Lake. Now, after fighting so hard to escape the Jewel, Violet must do everything in her power to return to save not only Hazel, but the future of the Lone City.

I started on the journey of The Lone City (The Jewel, The White Rose, and The Black Key) in 2014 not really knowing what to expect. I had just gone on a binge read of The Selection series and I needed more book crack. To be honest I picked up The Jewel because of the cover. I’m not going to lie. It had a pretty dress and I just finished a series that had pretty dress covers. Thankfully it 100% worked because I fell in love with the story and the characters and the unexpected twists that lead to The White Rose and once again being sucked in. And luckily, The Black Key followed suite. I didn’t love it as much as books 1 and 2, but it really was a satisfying ending for a series I was very immersed in.

I can’t really say too much without giving away some of the plot twists of the other two books so this part is going to be very very vague. What I can tell you is that I loved the changes and the growth that happened for Violet. In the beginning she was so naïve about life and the world surrounding her. She was sheltered and unsure about everything. But by the end she was so strong and self-assured. She still made mistakes and didn’t always do what was the best thing, but she did do what she thought was the best at the time of the decision. She really grew up as the trilogy progressed and that was by far the best part of the series as a whole. I also loved how she was willing to be a leader. She took a ragtag group of people and made something out of them. It was very reminiscent of the final season on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it really worked in this story.

The other thing I liked was the gender switch that took place a lot through this series. Instead of a woman acting as the role of “escort” it was actually the role of men to play that part, to be the (for lack of a better word) whore. That was actually refreshing. And it was refreshing to see Violet, the woman, be the one telling Ash, her companion, that he couldn’t do something so that he would be safe. That doesn’t happen a lot in books. Stereotypical gender roles are almost always followed so I love that Ewing went a different route.

Basically, I can’t believe this series is over. It has been 2 years that I have been wrapped up in this world that Amy Ewing created and now it is over. I’m half sad and half satisfied, but really I just want more Ash and Violet in my life. Okay and all the other fantastic characters, and Amy’s writing. I don’t think that is too much to ask. Pick up this series if you’re looking for something entertaining to read.

Reviews: The Jewel || The White Rose

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Review: If I Was Your Girl – Meredith Russo

Review: If I Was Your Girl – Meredith RussoIf I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Published by Flatiron Books
on May 3rd 2016
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Amazon, Goodreads

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It's that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

I came across If I Was Your Girl completely by chance. Some friends were talking about it so I looked it up and  week later it was in my house on my “read” shelf. I knew reading the description that the book would be powerful but I didn’t know just how powerful until I read it. The thing about If I Was Your Girl is that it makes you think and it makes you feel things you don’t expect to feel and look at things you kind of take for granted. It has a way of opening your eyes to how everyone doesn’t not have the privilege of living an easy life and how just going to the store can take courage.

If I was Your Girl is the story of Amanda, a girl that moved in with her father to start off fresh where no one knows her. With her walls but, for good reason, Amanda starts on her new journey. Slowly she lets people in and lets her walls down. She begins to make new friends and find her place and she meets Grant and Grant is the last thing she expected to have in her life. But as she gets closer and closer to the new poplin her life Amanda struggles. She is keeping a huge secret from her new friends and she doesn’t know if she should share or not because what Grant and her now friends don’t know is that Amanda used to be a boy. Amanda is transgender.

It’s really hard to describe how this book will make you feel. My heart broke for Amanda as she struggled in a way that no one should have to struggle. I completely understood her fear and worry about her secret coming out and it made me so sad for her. It’s hard enough being a teenage girl as it is never mind for a person like Amanda that had another set of problem to think about on top of it. She was seriously one of the strongest characters I have read in a long time.

I also felt for her father. He was trying, he really was, but he was struggling too. He wasn’t mean or hurtful but he was just trying to understand something he never thought he would have to understand. Basically my heart just broke in general for everyone.

In the end I think If I Was You Girl is a book that should be read by everyone. It is powerful and thought provoking. It is a story that will stay with you for a long time an just open your eyes to hate and prejudice in our world that we all just wish would go away.  Definitely add it to your TBR.

 

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