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Contemporary YA

ARC Review: Paper Hearts by Ali Novak

Blurb

Felicity has her entire future planned. Ever since her older sister ran away, she’s had the full weight of her mother’s expectations on her shoulders. So she works hard to get straight As and save for college.

Except sometimes the best things in life are unplanned-like when Felicity meets a handsome, masked stranger while she is volunteering at a charity masquerade ball. She never thought he’d flirt with her. And she certainly never thought he’d turn out to be a member of the world-famous Heartbreakers band, Alec.

Then Felicity uncovers a shocking family secret. Suddenly, she, Alec, and her two best friends are off on a road trip to find Felicity’s missing sister. And she’s about to discover that unexpected turns have a peculiar way of landing her right where she needs to be…

Sourced from Goodreads 

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Review

My rating: red3-5

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello there! It’s time for another review, this one being on Paper Hearts, the second book in The Heartbreakers Chronicles, by Ali Novak! When I first heard about this book on NetGalley, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! After all, I did read The Heartbreakers and loved it so much! I honestly thought Paper Hearts would pull my heartstrings in the same way… but it failed to have the same effects as its predecessor.

Don’t get me wrong! There were times when I seriously loved the book, like when it would go into Felicity and Rose’s relationship. I really liked the emotional and physical journey Felicity went through to understand her sister’s point of view. It was something she needed to do in order to move on with her life and not be so stuck, for lack of a better term. While the healing process in Felicity’s family is far from over, by the end of the book, you could tell that there is some effort to make amends, which sounds really promising!

Instead, it’s the romance that takes centre stage in this story. While I understand that the romance was meant to be a main part of the novel, it didn’t stop me from almost zoning out at times when all these misunderstandings would happen between Felicity and Alec. It also didn’t help that I kept comparing them to Oliver and Stella, who were so much more interesting to read in the first book! Or maybe it was the fact that while Felicity and Alec as a couple were okay, they didn’t make me want to happy dance or root for them…

As for the plot itself, it was really interesting at first, but then slowed down in the middle to the point where a whole evening took multiple chapters… I know that there was probably a point to what seemed like a huge filler, but I just couldn’t get on board with it, wanting to know what happens afterward.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Paper Hearts by Ali Novak! It wasn’t as good as the first book for me, but I’m sure anyone who loves a slightly lighthearted contemporary will like this book! For anyone who is interested, Paper Hearts comes out on July 1st, 2017. If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below. Have a wonderful day!

–  Sumaya

Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Blurb

Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Sourced from Goodreads

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Review

My rating: purple4

Hey, fellow bloggers! Hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend! Anyways, I’ve finally gotten around to reading Geekerella by Ashley Poston! Now I remember hearing about this book and being so excited for its release. However, while I’m glad that I read Geekerella – since it was pretty good – it wasn’t everything I expected it to be…

It probably had to do with how closely this book was following the Cinderella/Ashputtle storyline. While I did like seeing the parallels between the stories, and how Ashputtle was woven into Geekerella in terms of Starfield and her parents’ legacy, I also found it to be a bit lacking in terms of a few characters, mainly the stepmother. You see, even though readers get a glimpse into the stepmother’s mind when she interacts with Elle sometimes, she bounces right back to the evil stepmother trope that I love to hate! I just wish Catherine, Elle’s stepmother, could have been more complex instead of being relegated to the role of antagonist, or at least had some sort of satisfying resolution that included her. The other characters were really something, though! 🙂

Then there’s the pairing of Elle and Darien to consider. And let me tell you, they do make the book pretty cute to read! From their shared interest in Starfield to their strong chemistry, I loved them right from the start! This is one pairing that I’m willing to root for! As you might have noticed in previous posts, I’m not the biggest advocate on romance lately, especially when it doesn’t do anything for the story. But when it works, it works! 😉

Another thing that made this book fun to read was all things Starfield! I’ve always had a thing for fandom friendly stories, like All the Feels, Queens of Geek, Fangirl and so much more! So how could I not love all the additional information given in the novel about the fandom that Elle loves? Plus, I could feel the love that Elle has for Starfield, with it not only being a huge connection to her parents but also to anything remotely positive while she lived under her stepmother’s reign. It just made me appreciate her fandom even more! Overall, I loved the fandom that the author incorporated into her story.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Geekerella by Ashley Poston. While it might have not been my favourite fandom friendly book, I thought that it was still a good read. If you have any thoughts or comments on Geekerella, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

 

Review: Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg 

Blurb

You resent her. You can’t stand her. You might even hate her.

But you don’t know her at all.

Hope knows there’s only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that’s how the universe works, even though it’s so completely wrong.

Parker doesn’t feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they’d never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn’t making it any easier. . . .

In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls — and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.

You think you have an enemy. But she’s just another girl.

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Review

My rating: blue3

Hey everyone! I recently finished reading Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg and I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts with you about the book! To be honest, I’ve always loved Elizabeth Eulberg’s novels, from when I first read Prom and Prejudice to reading Better Off Friends (I didn’t read We Can Work It Out because I thought that The Lonely Hearts Club didn’t need a sequel and wasn’t the least bit curious about it). So when I heard that she was writing a new book, I was super excited! Especially with the premise behind it! But then I actually read it, and I’m not sure if the anticipation made it worse ( it probably did), but it fell flat to me…

At first, I was a little dismayed at how long it took to get from one perspective to the other. When it comes to dual perspectives, I prefer a switch between one or two chapters. All I would hear about was Hope’s complaints, which got really tedious after a while. I honestly wanted to hear from Parker and what she had to say. That was actually the main reason why I wanted to read this book, other than the author. To read a complex character that’s usually made into a one-dimensional character for others to hate. However, once I got to Parker’s perspective, I initially failed to connect with her. I really, really wanted to! Especially with all the horrible circumstances she had to face. But try as I might, I didn’t feel any personality coming from her words. It almost felt like it was a documentation of someone else’s life. Even Hope had a little more going for her in that department. In the end, Parker felt more like a cautionary tale for Hope to learn from rather than her own person.

The plot itself was okay, in that it made sense. It was also pretty easy to read as far as books go, as I finished Just Another Girl within a day. I really wanted to know more about Parker and what had happened to her as well as see Hope think more about people other than herself. The way the novel withheld information was probably the only thing that had me reading on until the end. That and the potential development of our two protagonists.

Overall, I didn’t like Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg as much as I thought I would. It was probably my high expectations that affected my reading of the novel, but personally, I didn’t think it was one of the author’s best (that honour goes to Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality! 😉 ) . Well, that’s all I have to say about Just Another Girl. Have you read it? What did you think of it? By the way, any comments about this book or others by Elizabeth Eulberg are welcome in the Comments Section below! Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Love and Vandalism by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Blurb

He calls it fate. She calls it blackmail.

Rory has a secret: she’s the vandal who paints graffiti lions all over her small town. If her policeman dad knew, he’d probably disown her. So when Hayes, a former screw-up on the path to recovery, catches her in the act, Rory’s sure she’s busted. Instead, he makes her a deal. If Rory shows him around town, he won’t turn her in. It might be coercion, but at least the boy is hot.

As they spend more time together, Rory worries she made the wrong choice. Hayes has a way of making her want things she shouldn’t want and feel emotions she’s tried to bury. Rory’s going to have to distance herself from Hayes or confront a secret she can’t bring herself to face…

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Review

My rating: pink4

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hey, everyone! Another day, another review and this one’s on Love and Vandalism by Laurie Crompton Boyle! As far as NetGalley books go, this one really intrigued me due to the author, which I’ve read before, the description and, let’s face it, the cover! So, once I got the request, I was really excited to start reading it!

At first, though, I found myself not really liking the protagonist, Rory. It might have been because of her attitude towards other people in general that threw me off. Or it might have been her tiff against Starbucks (I’m such a Starbucks fiend, it isn’t even funny). As I got to know her, however, I started to empathize and like her more and more. Partly because I understood that she was going through a really hard time and partly because I thought that she was growing as a person by developing connections with others, and not just on the romantic front.

I was also interested in how Rory’s relationship with her art. I find with most YA novels I read involving art, the protagonist is usually looking for some form of recognition for their work, whether it’s praise or monetary success. It’s just something I’ve been noticing at times. But I liked how Rory was using her art to express herself and in an attempt to manage her grief.

On the romantic front, I thought that Rory and Hayes were a good mix of cute and intimacy, sharing the darker parts of themselves with each other. But I like how the author treated their relationship as neither of them trying to improve the other; rather, they were more focused on themselves. I honestly felt like it was more compelling to read. I’ve read too many books where love is the cure-all for everything, so it was intriguing to see that even though they did care for each other, their problems didn’t just disappear. As for Rory’s relationship with her dad, I really wish that I got to read more resolution from them. Sure, the ending was satisfying for them, but I felt as if it was just the beginning of their reconciliation and wanted to see more!

Well, that’s all I have to say about Love and Vandalism by Laurie Crompton Boyle for now! For anyone whose interested, Love and Vandalism comes out on May 2nd, 2017. Warning though: if you are not in the mood for some heartbreak, then this is not the book for you! Otherwise, keep on reading and let me know what you think! Thanks again for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Internet Famous by Danika Stone

My rating: green4

(4.25 stars)

Hello, again! I’m back with another review, this one being on Internet Famous by Danika Stone. Now when I first heard about this last year, I thought it sounded great! It’s about a blogger named Madi, living in New Jersey and a foreign exchange student named Laurent, who lives in New York. These two meet through the comments section of Madi’s blog, MadLibs, and start to build a connection that has the potential to be something more. Meanwhile, Madi’s also facing adversity in the form of troll who is not in the mood to be ignored. Anyways, you know when you hype up a book in your mind and once you finally read it, it doesn’t deliver in the way you expected it would? Well, this book… did no such thing! 😄

While the beginning might have been a bit slow for me, by the time I read a few chapters, I was hooked! I loved all the extra stuff, like the blog posts (made me want to participate in the Comments Section of MadLibs), tumblr and snapsed (the book’s equivalent of Snapchat) pictures! The sad thing was that I really wanted to follow MadLibs after reading this book. Too bad it isn’t real… but who knows, maybe there’ll be a site up for Madi soon like there is for Liv and Xander from All the Feels, Danika Stone’s previous YA novel! Hopefully!

I was also on the edge of my seat as I was trying to figure out who the troll could be! Honestly, I suspected everyone until near the very end; that’s when it became clear. But it wasn’t obvious to me before and I liked the author could hide that info so well! In real life, I wouldn’t like it as much. I’m just thankful that the community in a part of is so supportive and friendly! Thanks, everyone! You all are rockstars! 🎸

Another cool thing about this book is that it’s set in the same world as All the Feels, and you see these references to Starveil, Spartan and those amazing fanfics from that novel! 😍 And while those mentions were nice, it kind of made it hard for me to like the new set of characters at first, because I kept on comparing them to characters from All the Feels. For instance, at first I thought that Laurent is no Xander, but by the end of the book, I was thinking,”Well, Xander sure is no Laurent!” And while Madi and Liv share a few similarities, I find Madi to be more assertive than Liv, and I love the strong relationship she has with her sister, Sarah.  Overall, once I got past seeing the characters through an All the Feels lens, I was championing them like nobody’s business! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Internet Famous by Danika Stone! I really thought this novel was something! I recommend this to anyone looking for a cute contemporary with a modern romance as well as any fans of All the Feels! If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to share them in the Comments Section below! And for those of you who are interested, Internet Famous is out on June 6th, 2017! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received this copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes

My rating:

red1.5

(DNF review)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello, everyone! Another day, another review, and this one is on Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes. When I first requested it on NetGalley, I think I only had to read the first paragraph of the blurb to find it interesting. It’s about a guy named Eddie who works as a reporter in a small town called Kusko after flunking out of the University of Anchorage. And at first, I was really invested in it. Especially in the reporter aspects of the novel and the funny articles. But once I read about a third of the novel, and it became less about reporting, I started to lose interest and skimmed. A lot. So much so that I would lose chunks of the story yet somehow still know what’s going on. In the end, what started out as something really enjoyable became something I just couldn’t read anymore.

As I’ve said before, the novel did start out interesting with Eddie’s reporting and articles in The Delta Patriot, the newspaper he works for in Kusko. It was cool to see Eddie go all out for a career he loves, even though the place is less than ideal for him. Everyone tries to warn him about it, but instead of just quitting at the first sign of trouble, he sticks it out, which I had admired. I just wish he kept that resolve later on in the book.

Then there was Eddie’s logic on his staying at Kusko. While I thought it was admirable that he was willing to make up for his mistakes and prove that he is serious about journalism even after his mistakes, all that resolve goes out the window because of a girl he had just met. I’d say it was on a whim except he makes decisions affecting him in the long run because of it. At the very least, Eddie could at least stick to one plan, whether it was to go or stay, and not base it off how a girl treats him. That kind of decision making gets him into all sorts of trouble that’s more than it’s worth…

Overall, I wasn’t as invested in the story as I was in the beginning where it had shown a lot of promise. Partly because of what happens as the plot progresses and partly because of Eddie becoming less of a likeable character. Well, that’s all I have to say about Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes. It wasn’t the novel for me, but I’m sure that had to do with my biases more than the writing itself. If you have any thoughts or questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

My rating:

red3

Hey, everyone! Today, I’ll be reviewing the book Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Now, when I first picked up this book, I thought it had an interesting concept: a girl in Florence, Italy being led by her late mother’s journal in order to connect with her. Maybe that was my downfall, since the book was not what I thought it would be. It could also have been the timeframe within the book, which was less than a week, which affected my reading. Anyways, the point is that I did not enjoy the story as much as I thought it would.

My dislike started with the beginning of the novel, in which nothing really happened to Lina, our protagonist, in Florence. While nothing interesting occurred within the first few chapters, it did not stop me from reading Love & Gelato. Plenty of books have started off at a slow pace, so I gave the book a chance. Once I did, I realized that Lina’s point of view was not as interesting as her mother’s untold story. Even though Lina’s story has a happier ending, I actually liked the sadder story of her mother. In comparison to her mother’s story, Lina’s narrative seems uneventful.

Then there’s the timeframe and how it impacted the book as a whole. I feel as if the time within the book is shorter than it should be, given the amount of development within the story. Instead of the events unfolding within months, at least, they unfold within days. It does not make sense for Lina’s relationships with others to develop so quickly, especially in regards to her love interest. Nowadays, narratives tend to move away from instalove, seeing as readers are usually more satisfied with developed relationships. Fitting so much development into a small timeframe resulted in a formulaic story that does not possess much realness to it. Having more time represented within the book would have benefited the story being told.

Another problem with Love & Gelato was its ending. Unlike the middle of the book, the ending was stretched out more than it should have been, adding unnecessary plot to the book. After the metastory, I was ready for Love & Gelato to be resolved, but it was not. If the main goal of the book was for Lina to learn more about her mother, didn’t it already accomplish that? The Acknowledgment pages couldn’t come soon enough!

There were some great parts though, like the metastory of Lina’s mother as well as the setting of the city. I love reading books about Italy, especially when the author goes into detail about the surroundings and its history. The folk stories about Italy were really enjoyable, whether they were in the mother’s time or her daughter’s. Overall, this book was okay to read but I wouldn’t recommend it to people.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. Have you read Love & Gelato? And if so, what did you think of it? Any thoughts or questions you might have about this book are welcome in the Comments Section below. Thank you for reading, everybody!

– Sumaya

ARC Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

My rating: black4.png

I’d like to thank Chapters Indigo for providing me with this advance reader’s copy that in no way affected my review. 

Hey, everyone! I’ve just finished reading Fireworks by Katie Cotugno, and in one day, too! It was really easy to read, and found myself at the Acknowledgements page before I knew it! Set in Dana’s perspective, Fireworks is about her and Olivia, best friends who get chosen to be part of a singing group right after high school. The catch is Dana never meant to audition for this new signing group: it had always been Olivia’s dream to be famous. As the singing group turns competitive, and tension gnaws away at their friendship, only time can tell if it will survive the journey they’re taking together. By the way, this is my first time reading a book by Katie Cotugno, and I’ve got to say that I really liked it! I can’t wait to read more of her books soon! 🙂

While the plot was slow to start with, I was delighted with the story once Dana and Olivia started their professional training, side by side. I’ve always been a fan of books about the entertainment industry or focusing on the arts, and this is no exception. That’s probably why I was invested in the story once they started training: because I feel like it had just begun. For the most part, the story jumped from being predictable in some ways, like with the romance aspect of it all, and totally unpredictable in others! And by that point, the pacing was pretty great, never dragging things out too long and you always wanted to know what happened next.

As for characters in the story, I really liked the ensemble the author cooked up. Dana was a treat for me to read about; it wasn’t anything in particular, but that she felt real to me. This is a girl who has just finished high school in a small town wondering “now what?” like most people. She doesn’t want to stay stuck in her town forever, but she doesn’t know what else she can do, which is why this opportunity is great for her. It gives Dana the chance to discover what she wants out of life while having some cool experiences (as well as not-so-cool ones) along the way. Even when she makes mistakes, I empathize with her and what she’s going through. So I guess I’m Team Dana! 🙂

Then there was Olivia, Dana’s best friend. To be honest, I didn’t like Olivia as much as Dana. Whether it was because of Dana’s POV clouding my judgment of Olivia or witnessing all the ways their friendship was threatened because of Olivia (and sometimes Dana), I just didn’t have it in me to think as highly of her as I do of Dana. And far as the other characters go, they were a nice addition to the mix, enhancing the story and providing a complex background for our characters, while not just remaining archetypes, but people who have their own thoughts and feelings. Well, almost everyone…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Fireworks by Katie Cotugno! If you like to read about best friends, singing, and competition, then this book is right up your alley! 😉 Any comments or questions are welcome in the Comments Section below. For those who are interested, Fireworks comes out on April 18th, 2017! Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

My rating:

blue2.5

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hey there, fellow bloggers! It took me a while, but I finally finished Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally. To be honest, I thought I’d finish sooner but between being busy and my lack of interest in the book, it actually took a few days. Which is pretty funny since I remember finishing the last Hundred Oaks book in a day… But enough about that- for now. Coming Up for Air is told in Maggie King’s perspective. She is a competitive swimmer trying to make it to the Olympics and realizes that she’s never made time for anything other than swimming and her tight-knit group of friends. She’s never even had a real boyfriend or experience in that area. And she realizes she wants that sort of experience before college but trusts none other than her best friend, Levi, to “teach” her. As you can imagine, drama ensues. 😉

What I liked about this book was the fact that we got to see characters from earlier on in the series again, so readers can know what they’re up to and whatnot. Especially with the epilogue! That was just pure sweetness! I also liked the book’s main message about how people have experiences within their own time and that they shouldn’t compare themselves to others. The important thing is that whatever you’re doing matters to you. It doesn’t mean that I fully understand Maggie’s reason to practice with her best friend to ensure no drama occurs. Mainly because, to me, that seems like a recipe for drama.

Other than that, I guess my problem with Coming Up for Air  was that I was hoping for more. All Maggie ever does is swim or want to hook up. There’s not much else going on other than funny anecdotes from the her interaction with secondary characters. Sure, she has her moment to shine in the end when she figures a few things out, but I felt as if she was single-minded in her endeavours. We only hear how her swim meets went and how her love life is going. The issues between Roxy and Maggie never get resolved, or at least hashed out, and other than merely mentioning their problems, we never hear from secondary characters unless it’s to comment on Maggie’s life. Why can’t they get some sort of resolution as well? Maybe I’m asking too much for such a short book, but do I have so many questions left unanswered!

Well, that’s my take on Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally. It was probably my least favourite Hundred Oaks novel, but I recommend this to anyone who likes short contemporary novels, though! Coming Up for Air comes out on July 1th, 2017, for those who are interested. Oh, and any thoughts or questions are welcome in the Comments Section below. Hope you all have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

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