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Contemporary YA

ARC Review: Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

Summary

Fandom and first love collide for Iris on the film set for her grandmother’s famous high-fantasy triology—perfect for readers of Fangirl!

Unlike the rest of the world, Iris doesn’t care about the famous high-fantasy Elementia books written by M. E. Thorne. So it’s just a little annoying that M. E. Thorne is her grandmother—and that Iris has to deal with the trilogy’s crazy fans.

When Iris gets dropped in Ireland for the movie adaptation, she sees her opportunity: if she can shut down production, the Elementia craze won’t grow any bigger, and she can finally have a normal life. Not even the rascally-cute actor Eamon O’Brien can get in her way.

But the crew’s passion is contagious, and as Iris begins to find herself in the very world she has avoided her whole life, she realizes that this movie might just be amazing…

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Review

My rating:

blue4

Hey there, wonderful readers! It’s time for another review, this one being on Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy. Now, I remember seeing this title last year and feeling that I really wanted to read it. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’re probably aware of my love for books concerning the entertainment industry/ the arts! Musicians, artists, actors, you name it, I’ll read it! Added to that fact that this novel is also pretty fandom-friendly, I was obviously excited for Now a Major Motion Picture before I even got my hands on it!

Firstly, I’ve got to say that I was in love with the world built around the fantasy series within the novel! It was really well done to the point where I wanted to know more about Elementia! As for the world outside Elementia, it was great as well in terms of plot. One moment you think everything’s going okay and the next minute there’s a crisis. And then that crisis is averted only to have another one in its place! But I believe that these problems push the characters into who they become in the end; this was especially the case for Iris, at least.

Then there were the amazing characters of this novel. From bold Shoshanna  to heartthrob Julian and nerdy Eamon, to mischievous Ryder and determined Cate, to our headstrong protagonist, Iris! I really admired the character development Iris went through to become a lighter, happier version of herself compared to the beginning of the novel, when her nickname was Jaded Iris. I did like those moments when people had interacted with her dad, only to tell her, I get why you are the way you are. Because it’s true; her dad basically enforced his worldview on her. Thankfully, it gets better afterwards, but I still thought of the dad as the bad guy, even though he was made into a more complex character with some backstory. I kind of wish I heard more from Iris’ mom, though, or at least about Iris’ mom. I understand why I haven’t heard from her, but still…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy. It was a pretty quick read that I did enjoy!  I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a good contemporary novel! For those of you who are interested, Now a Major Motion Picture comes out on April 3rd, 2018! And if you have any comments or questions, let me know in the Comments Section below! Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Fallen Heir by Erin Watt

Summary

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.

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Review

My rating:

purple2.5

Hey there, fellow readers! I just finished reading Fallen Heir by Erin Watt and wanted to share some of my thoughts on it! After reading When It’s Real, I couldn’t wait to read Fallen Heir as soon as possible and get my Erin Watt fix! Sadly, it wasn’t what I had expected…

First of all, I’ve got to hand it to the author in terms of plot. That was set up pretty nicely. There was always something to be anxious about and made you want to keep reading, like Hartley’s past or Felicity playing the game. The story was filled with so much drama, which is what I loved about the previous books within the series as well. Plus that strong cliffhanger ending? That’s probably now the main reason for me wanting to read Cracked Kingdom, the next book in the series! So when it came to the plot, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest!

However, I was disappointed by the array of characters within the novel. Easton wasn’t really easy to read as the protagonist. Now, I know that not every action a character makes has to sit well with you; they’re meant to depict realistic reactions. It was just that a lot of the things he did didn’t sit well with me. Paired with the fact that he didn’t seem to develop much, other than a few epiphanies that seemed to be forgotten after a couple of chapters, Easton’s POV wasn’t all too enjoyable to read. And don’t even get me started on the novel’s romantic pairing! Let’s just say I wouldn’t root for them. Harsh, but true. As for the other characters, there were a few that I liked, but no one that really stood out, other than perhaps Felicity. Even though she was a real mean girl through and through, I did admire how much thought she put into her conniving schemes, which is more than I could say for Easton…

Well, that’s all I have to say about Fallen Heir. It wasn’t as enjoyable as I had hoped, but I did like the story structure, if anything. I don’t know whether or not I’ll read Cracked Kingdom at this point. Maybe Easton will clean up his act, and he’ll start to think of others beyond himself. All I hope for is that there might be another book after Cracked Kingdom so that his development ins’t too rushed to be unbelievable in the hopes of tying loose ends. Either that or, if Cracked Kingdom is the last book, he begins to develop and change some of his ways right at the end, leaving readers the promise of his future character development. Anyways, with that being said, has anyone else read Fallen Heir? And what were your thoughts on it if you did? Let me know in the Comments Section below! Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Summary

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

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Review

My rating:

blue4-5

Hi, everyone! Another day, another review! I’m really excited to talk about today’s book, though, which is American Panda by Gloria Chao! I remember being excited for this book as soon as I saw the announcement on Twitter last year! It just sounded so good! Now, I’ll be honest; I tried to keep my expectations low so I’d enjoy it, as that worked the last time I read a book. But I just couldn’t! It’s okay this time around, though, because the reading experience was amazing! 🙂

First of all, I really liked Mei as the main character. I believe that her voice made this book what it is. I really got a chance to relate to her as well, with her whole “going-off-to-college” experience. You rarely have YA go in that path (what characters are usually thinking about is getting to college, but rarely is their experience fully viewed). In fact, the only YA books I can think of with a college setting are We are Still Tornadoes and I Hate Everyone But You. It was that experience of discovering what you want to pursue, going to lectures, tests and whatnot that I enjoyed reading about. That and seeing how she handles it while balancing expectations from her parents in upholding her end of the bargain by becoming a doctor. I totally got that since at one point in my life, I was influenced into becoming a doctor and selecting my courses and major because of it. I understood exactly what Mei was going through, which is probably another reason of why I ate this novel up!

I also like how this story had a nice balance of humour and seriousness to it. All throughout, you’d get these fleshed out characters who you want to see more of! With the progression of the novel, the characters developed alongside until it was over and I was sad to leave them behind. The only character I actually didn’t want to see fleshed out was Eugene, a potential suitor for Mei. Shocking, I know! I’m usually complaining about the fact that a character isn’t developed enough and here I am wanting this character to remain flat. It’s just that I didn’t think that Eugene’s presence benefited the story’s plot in any way. You could leave his minor appearance out and it would still be the same. It was the idea of Eugene and arranged marriages in general that actually mattered to the plot.

Well, those are my thoughts on American Panda by Gloria Chao. I really liked it and I would recommend this book to anyone looking in the Contemporary sphere! If you have any questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. And for those of you who are interested. American Panda comes out on February 6th, 2018!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell

Summary

One week. That’s all Jessie said. A one-week break to get some perspective before graduation, before she and her boyfriend, Chris, would have to make all the big, scary decisions about their future–decisions they had been fighting about for weeks. Then, Chris vanishes. The police think he’s run away, but Jessie doesn’t believe it. Chris is popular and good-looking, about to head off to college on a full-ride baseball scholarship. And he disappeared while going for a run along the river–the same place where some boys from the rival high school beat him up just three weeks ago. Chris is one of the only black kids in a depressed paper mill town, and Jessie is terrified of what might have happened. As the police are spurred to reluctant action, Jessie speaks up about the harassment Chris kept quiet about and the danger he could be in. But there are people in Jessie’s town who don’t like the story she tells, who are infuriated by the idea that a boy like Chris would be a target of violence. They smear Chris’s character and Jessie begins receiving frightening threats. Every Friday since they started dating, Chris has written Jessie a love letter. Now Jessie is writing Chris a letter of her own to tell him everything that’s happening while he’s gone. As Jessie searches for answers, she must face her fears, her guilt, and a past more complicated than she would like to admit.

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Review

My rating:

green4

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review! Today’s review is on This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell. Now, when I started this book, I did try to keep my expectations low and it worked! I think I ended up enjoying my reading experience a whole lot more because of this!

First of all, I really liked the author’s writing style. The story was told in Jessie’s POV, focusing on the current situation of her boyfriend Chris missing. But it also used a lot of flashbacks to expand on their relationship, all their ups and downs, and how it might have related to the present. It made the story a lot more interesting than if it were written in a chronological manner. Not only did readers get to learn more about Jessie and Chris, but the flashbacks also served as a way to extend the story. In my opinion, the story would have been either finished much more quickly or stretched out if the flashbacks weren’t embedded  in the story.

Then there were the characters. To be honest, I actually liked how the author portrayed the characters within the novel. They were realistic with a capital R. You may not agree with everything they say or do, but that’s what make them the round characters they are. The point is that you understand these character’s motives and empathize with them, which I did for almost all of the characters (there were just a few characters that I didn’t empathize with). The only character that I didn’t get a sense of that roundness from was Tamara, who filled the role of mean girl for the novel. The author also used these characters to talk about relevant issues regarding racial prejudice, stereotyping, bullying and mental illness.

Overall, I thought that This is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell was a pretty good read. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to read something within the realm of mystery. For those who are interested in This is Not a Love Letter, the novel comes out on January 30th, 2018. Oh, and if anyone has comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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

ARC Review: In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira

Summary

The author of the beloved Love Letters to the Dead returns with a parallel story of a mother and daughter each at age seventeen. Marilyn’s tale recounts the summer she fell in love and set out on her own path. Angie’s story is about her search for her unknown father.

This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie’s father, James, who was African-American. But Angie’s never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she’s never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.

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Review

My rating:

blue4

Hi, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being on In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira. I was pretty excited for this book and had high expectations for it. While it might not have reached those high expectations (like 6 stars expectations), I still liked it overall. I just was interested in some areas of the book more than others.

This is my second time reading a intergenerational novel and I’m really glad that In Search of Us was written this way. If it was written with only one POV from a certain time, it wouldn’t have been the same. In fact, I believe the book would have lost something. It was incredible to read where Angie and Marilyn come from. I also liked the fact that it wasn’t chronological at all, but started off with Angie’s POV and then switched back and forth between Angie and Marilyn. Like you were getting pieces of the story before seeing the whole picture. A picture that made me cry by the end, I might add!

As for the characters, I can say without a doubt that I loved how our two protagonists were portrayed. Since they were given the most voice, I felt as if they had the more room to grow and develop within the story than other characters. However, I still felt as if some of the secondary characters were round, too, like James, Justin, James’ and Justin’s grandparents, and even Sylvie. There were a few characters that didn’t appear as much as I would have liked and thus, I didn’t really get a sense of them. More like I got a sense of the roles they were meant to play within the novel. The funny thing about these characters are that they are tied to Angie’s POV and time (her friends, people she meets, etc). I’m not sure why that is, though. All I can say is I wasn’t as invested in reading about Angie’s friends and her relationships with them…

Well, that’s about all I have to say about In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira. It was pretty good overall; I just wish I didn’t put such high expectations on it! The next novel I go into, I’m going to make sure I have as little expectations as possible. That’s a promise! 😉 Anyways, if anyone is interested, In Search of Us comes out on March 6th, 2018! Oh, and if you have any comments or questions about this book, feel free to ask in the Comments Section below.  Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Busted by Gina Ciocco

Summary

Marisa wasn’t planning to be a snoop for hire—until she accidentally caught her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. Now her reputation for sniffing out cheaters has spread all over school, and Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

But when ex-frenemy Kendall asks her to spy on her boyfriend, TJ, Marisa quickly discovers the girl TJ might be falling for is Marisa herself. And worse yet? The feelings are quickly becoming mutual. Now, she’s stuck spying on a “mystery girl” and the spoken-for guy who just might be the love of her life…

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My rating:

red3

Hi, fellow readers! I’m back with another review! Today’s review is on Busted by Gina Ciocco. Now, I’ve been trying to broaden my reading horizons, so I thought I’d give this book a go since I don’t typically go for thrillers.  After that book though, I’ve decided to stay away from thrillers, at least for a while… I’m not trying to judge one genre based on one book (although this book did have a role to play in my decision), but after trying to read a couple of thrillers, I just feel that the genre isn’t for me.

Don’t get me wrong; the book had a super interesting plot with the amount of stuff going on! Just when you thought the book was going one way, it uproots you when it goes in a totally different direction! Honestly, by midpoint, I was 100% invested in finding out what was going on. I just didn’t agree with how Marisa, the protagonist, handled it. At. All. However, it did take a little while for me to get interested, since the beginning was a bit boring with all the setup. Oh, and by the end, when the mystery was solved, I didn’t really care for the story anymore. I was just ready for it to be over. But the middle was spectacular in terms of plot.

The characters, though, are another story… Like I said before, I couldn’t believe how Marisa handled things. And I’m not talking about a couple mistakes; more like a mistake every couple of pages! For someone who knows about the power of information, she sure likes to reveal her hand to people before it’s necessary, ruining the impact it might have had otherwise. Sure, there were some things that she couldn’t have possibly guessed would have happened, but a lot of the time, it was Marisa’s insistence in digging deeper and not learning from her mistakes that made me not care for her as a character, let alone the protagonist who gave readers the lay of the land. I honestly took everything she said with a grain of salt…

Well, that’s all I have to say on Busted by Gina Ciocco. While I did find it an interesting read, I wish its protagonist had developed a bit more… But if you’re searching for a good book, plot-wise, then look no further! Has anyone else read Busted yet? And if you have,  what did you think of it? If you have any comments or questions related to Busted, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

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

Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Summary

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

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Review

My rating:

green4

Hello, everyone! Just finished a pretty good book today: When It’s Real by Erin Watt! I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, ever since I finished the third book of The Royals series! Well, that and Fallen Heir, too! On a whim, I bought the book on Amazon Kindle and have been reading it since! Was it as good as I thought it would be? Yes, it was!

First of all, I want to start of by saying that I really like reading about fake relationships turning into something more! I don’t know exactly what it is about them. Maybe it’s the fact that both people have prior judgments about the other that are wiped away over the course of the relationship. Or it could be the fact that they become really vulnerable when they wouldn’t have otherwise. Maybe it’s the drama that results from it! Or all of the above! Regardless, I love it when a book includes a staged relationship into its story! Plus, When It’s Real had a lot to do with the entertainment industry since Oakley is a   famous singer and all! Those two things combined made this book super appealing to me!

As for the characters, I liked them well enough. They interacted nicely with each other and were pretty decent. On their own, they were okay as well. Sometimes, they’d play to their archetypes, though. Like Vaughn being the girl next door and Oakley being the jerky dudebro… But it made sense due to the story being told and for the progression of the plot. I was never bored, that’s for sure! But there also times where my heart would go out to them, especially Vaughn! While I might not have agreed with how they both handled things, I understood their reasoning and empathized because of it.

Well, that’s all I have to say about When It’s Real by Erin Watt! At least, for now! Honestly, I loved reading every bit of it! Even near the end! Mainly because I was really tense, more than I needed to be! 😀 Now I really need to read Fallen Heir because I obviously cannot get enough of books by Erin Watt! If you have any comments or questions about this book as well as The Royal series, feel free to leave them in the section below. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

Book Bargain: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Hey, there! I just wanted to let everyone know that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is available for 1.99 CAD on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, and iBooks! If you haven’t read it already, and are looking for a sweet, Contemporary YA read, then you should definitely read this book!

Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Summary

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

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Review

My rating:

red4

Hi, everyone! I bet you weren’t expecting another review from me so soon! Well, this review is on Mitali Perkins’ most recent novel, You Bring the Distant Near. It’s an intergenerational story (three generations, one story), dealing with a family’s ties and troubles. Fun fact: this is actually the first book I read that has multiple perspectives from multiple generations. I didn’t know what to expect from it, so I was pretty happy that it turned to be a good read!

So many characters in this one novel! But I really loved the middle generation, with Sonia and Tara’s perspectives! I feel as if I saw and understood them the most and really missed their POVs later on in the novel. They’re both so different, but interesting in their own way. And they always stuck by each other and supported each other as well! I really missed their camaraderie later on in the book, when it focuses on their daughters. I also liked the little bits I got to read from their mother’s perspective. You got to see her point of view and reasoning, especially when it came to relationship with her husband and daughters. As for Sonia and Tara’s daughters, while I thought their POVs were just fine, I wished for more Sonia and Tara, or even just more Sonia interjecting into Shanti and Anna’s POVs, since she was present, just not as vocal.

Also, can you believe I read this book in one sitting? Well, I did! I couldn’t bare to put it down and did most of my tasks with one eye on a page. 😀 I was just really invested in these characters and where they would end up! This story did not lack in terms of plot, which is kind of surprising to me, since I thought that an intergenerational story would deal more with character development and whatnot. But The Distant You Bring Near definitely had a good mix of both!

Well, that’s all I have to say on You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins! I’m pretty glad that I got to read that intergenerational story and cannot wait for the future ones I’ll probably read because of it! If you have any comments or questions regarding this book, feel free to share them in the section below. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.

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