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Review: Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Summary

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.

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Review

Hi, wonderful readers! Today, I would like to talk about Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. Now I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it. The only problem is I was so hesitant about starting it. What if it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be? Lately, I’ve been having more of these thoughts when I start a book, so now I give myself full authority to read five chapters and if it isn’t going well, I can put the book down. Obviously I didn’t put this book down since I loved it!

Another reason I was apprehensive about Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is that I didn’t know what to expect when reading this book. Tiffany’s personality isn’t discernible from the book jacket, so I didn’t have any inkling on if I would like reading in her perspective. But right from the getgo, I loved Tiffany Sly. It was really easy to relate to her as well as side with her opinion. I just got sucked into the story to the point where I audibly gasped on the subway. 😀

Since this was more of a character-driven novel, plot wasn’t as much of a concern in comparison. However, there was the deadline that was given at the start of the novel of a week before Tiffany’s other potential father shows up demanding a paternity test. Other than helping readers determine the chronology of the novel, it sets a tone and creates a tension that keeps both Tiffany and the reader in suspense. This deadline as well as the backstory of Tiffany Sly clashing with her current situation of living with a huge family means a lot to cover in one novel. This is the main reason I’m sympathetic that the author had some loose ends, which she didn’t pursue. All I can say is that the book is well worth the read!

Well, that’s all I have to say for now! I really recommend everyone who likes contemporary to read Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. If you have any questions or thoughts though, feel free to share in the Comments Section below.

Take care and keep reading!

–  Sumaya

ARC Review: Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

Summary

Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

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Review

Hey, everyone! It’s been a while since my last review, but I’m back to talk about Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes! From the moment I read the summary, I knew I had to read this book! Not only does it include online gaming, but it also has that fake relationship I love seeing in YA books! But if you think the book met my expectations, I need to tell you something. It didn’t.

It surpassed them!

First of all, I really loved Analee’s perspective. She was honest and relatable, to the point where you could root for her in almost any given scenario, even when you can admit she’s being unreasonable. I think it’s because I knew where she’s coming from since we’re given access to her internal monologue. While she isn’t as open with everyone else, as a reader, you can see the contrast between her personality when she’s more comfortable with people versus when she isn’t as comfortable. To be honest, I liked how this book tackles social anxiety and how it affects both the socially anxious person and the people around them. The book doesn’t magically cure her in the end just because she starts hanging out with a boy, but it does show Analee’s resolve can overcome her anxiety when she really wants to accomplish something, whether it’s reading in front of children to making a toast at her dad’s wedding.

Additionally, I liked the depiction of connections Analee had in the novel, past and present. You see her older relationships through flashbacks while the newer ones are forming within the novel and become more concrete as the novel progresses. Analee doesn’t shy away from the grief she feels since her mother’s funeral, which is a big part of the novel. It did leave me teary a lot of the time, but I also wanted to read those beautiful moments between her and her mother! You could see similar flashbacks in regards to her father and friend as well since the bonds between them changed drastically within two years. It helped convey the tension between them in the present pretty well.

I could say so much more about the novel, like how it was the first RPG book I loved since Gamer Girl, or how I loved that whole fake-boyfriend ordeal, where it really reminded me of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but I’m going to leave it here for now. If anyone wants to talk about it further, feel free to leave a comment in the section below! Ultimately, I admire how Analee handles things, especially at the end of the novel. It wasn’t the ending I expected, but that’s what made it so great! And for those of you who are interested, Analee, in Real Life comes out on September 18th, 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: Smothered by Autumn Chilkis

Summary

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

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Review

Hey, everyone! Another day, another review! Today’s review is on Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. Now, when I first heard about Smothered, I was pretty eager to read it. Not only is it more crossover than YA, it deals with what happens after college, how people attempt to become employed in today’s society, and whatnot. I’ll be honest: that was probably the main reason I wanted to read it. The smothered part was all secondary to me; I just really thought that the content would be relatable. But, in that regard, I was wrong…

First of all, it focused more on her relationship with her mother, which makes sense since the book is called Smothered. These moments were actually pretty funny, and I love how bold Lou’s mother could be at times, especially in comparison to Lou. She’s just trying to help Lou in the best way she knows how, even if it’s not exactly right for Lou. They just have to figure out a new dynamic to their relationship if Lou wants to be treated like an adult.

I also really liked the different formats of communication within the novel – such as emails, texts, Facebook messages – integrated into Lou’s POV. It made for some funny dialogue!

The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was that Lou’s privilege really shows. I think it’s intentional, since the writer has both Lou’s father and her boyfriend call her out, but it sure can be annoying at times. I get it; she’s from an upper-middle class family, living in LA, which probably means she will have a mindset geared towards that privilege and might not even realize it. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t cringe when she describes her hunger level at one point in a juice cleanse equivalent to Africa. Or when her friend Natasha goes to India to study and report about cultural violence against women. Firstly, not everyone in Africa is starving, and the fact that she thinks they are says a lot about her. That’s a whole continent of people! Obviously, there will be people who are struggling and people who aren’t, just like in any other place in the world. Secondly, it doesn’t make sense to me that her friend had to go all the way to India to study cultural violence when she cold have easily gone to a women’s shelter in her city. Maybe there’s some logical explanation for it all and I’m just overreacting. But just reading that one sentence got me ranting about how this all stems from the idea that Western countries are more civilized than Eastern countries, which is a dangerous idea to have. But I should cut this off before I start ranting even more.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Smothered by Autumn Chilkis. While I do appreciate more crossover novels in general and liked the mother-daughter dynamic, I feel as if this book could have benefited from removing assumptions about other cultures. If it’s meant to show how privileged Lou is, then readers can already get a sense of that without perpetuating these dangerous ideas and conceptualizing people in that way.

For those of you who are still interested though, Smothered hits stores this Tuesday, August 7th.

Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya

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

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

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Review

My rating:

red3-5

Hello, lovely readers! I’m back with another review. Today’s review is on Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz. I thought it would be interesting to read a Pride and Prejudice retelling after a long time. I think the last time I read a Pride and Prejudice retelling was 2012 or 2013. I just remember for a good moment I read them A LOT. To the point where I would only be reading Pride and Prejudice retellings. Never mind the fact that I didn’t read the actual book it was based on until my third year in university. I was lost in the sea of multiple retellings to the point where the original didn’t mean as much to me. Just the idea of it, I guess.

Anyways, I liked reading this retelling, because it mixed a whole bunch of things together, character-wise. For instance, at times, I felt as if Darcy Fitzwilliam was a combination of the Elizabeth and Darcy of the original Pride and Prejudice. Same goes for Luke Bennet. But I loved the original parts to the story as well, like Darcy’s job or her backstory in terms of her relationship with her family and hometown. I also liked how the novel didn’t leave me with any questions. It was pretty entertaining to read!

You might  wonder why I gave this book 3.5 stars instead of giving it 4 stars or more. That’s because while it was a quick and easy read (I finished this book in a few hours), I thought that it was a bit too “Hallmark movie” for me and did barely anything to subvert the genre. Also, at a certain point, I was ready to move on from the novel, but it kept on going with more plot. But I understood afterwards that the extra plot was meant to tie up any loose ends, which was a pretty good reason for it. And even though I liked Darcy’s POV, I would have liked to have heard from Luke as well.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz was a pretty quick read that I would recommend to people who don’t mind predictable stories (both because of the retelling aspect and the fact that it adheres to certain tropes and ideas). Have any of you read Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe or other Pride and Prejudice retellings? Let me know in the Comments Section below! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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

ARC Review: The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook

Blurb

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl. It’s no challenge—her readings have always been faked, but this time she has some insider knowledge. The kidnapping was supposed to be easy—no one would get hurt and she’d get the money she needs to start a new life. But a seemingly harmless prank has turned dark, and Skye realizes the people she’s involved with are willing to kill to get what they want and she must discover their true identity before it’s too late.

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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, everyone! I’m back with another review, this one being on The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook. In this case, I was trying to broaden my horizons by reading something different than what I normally read, so when I saw this title and read its synopsis on NetGalley, I thought that it was interesting and thrilling enough to give it a go. When it came to finally reading the book though, let’s just say that it wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be…

At first, it seemed like a typical contemporary YA novel, starting off with the protagonist at the end of her senior year wondering what’s she going to do with her life. But then it started getting dark and creepy in terms of the “prank” committed in this book and instead of merely enticing me to read more, I also felt conflicted about how boring things would turn out compared to the leaps my mind would make. I know that the events in the book wouldn’t match my theories, but at the same time, I wanted it to match the wildness of it. Even that big twist around the end was dulled by the fact that nothing was really done about it afterwards. Plus, the book as a whole left some open questions at the end that made the book seem less satisfying than it could have been, especially about the secondary characters…

Then there’s the fact that I had little sympathy for the main character. Even after you learn more about Skye later on in the book, I still couldn’t get rid of my dislike of her. To me, it’s one thing to have a morally ambiguous character, but one without any sense of a code? That’s really bad (in my opinion at least). Other than her fear, there was nothing that really made me connect with Skye.  So after that really bad first impression, and all the other little moments after that, my views of Skye couldn’t be salvaged.

Well, that’s all I have to say about The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook. While I didn’t like certain aspects of it, I think that anyone going in with an open mind would like this novel. And it did have unexpected twists and turns, I’ll give it that! If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. And for anyone who is interested, The Hanging Girl comes out on October 3rd, 2017. Take care, everyone! And keep reading!

–  Sumaya

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: Twisted Palace by Erin Watt

My rating:

black4-5

Hello, fellow readers! I’ve recently finished Twisted Palace by Erin Watt, the last book of the Royals trilogy, and it was great! So many things happened and the suspense was killing me. This book focuses on Ella and Reed’s perspectives as Reed is being charged for a crime he claims to be innocent of. Only Ella isn’t quite sure of that. With everything conspiring against them, Ella and Reed must find out what exactly happened, unraveling more than one secret in the process. Throughout the story, I kept on thinking, “whodunit?” and had lots of theories about the guilty party and their motives. I guess having all those theories paid off, because one of them was sort of right. And when I mean sort of, I mean I couldn’t guess the full story even if I wanted to! It was so surprising!

I just want to say is that this is the first time I’ve ever marathoned a series. At least for blogging, that’s for sure. Usually, I’d move on to another story and its world, because I couldn’t see myself invested in reading an entire series for that long. My mind would be thinking of other books I could be reading, along with the fact that most people had to wait awhile before getting the next instalment of the series, so I can too. But I just couldn’t do that after Paper Princess or Broken Prince. I had to see what would happen in Twisted Palace, and needless to say, things sure did get a little twisted! 😉

So many things happen in the last book that I cannot believe it didn’t come across as overdone. The book did poke fun at itself though, like when resident mean girl Jordan called Ella’s life a soap opera, saying “what’s going to happen on next week’s episode?” while laughing on the floor, unable to believe any of this is happening. Honestly, the only thing I had a problem with plot-wise was the investigative parts. I felt like there should have been more, or at least a bit more logical. I didn’t like it when people would be blamed just on likeability alone. That’s the whole reason why Reed’s in this mess! That and circumstantial evidence.

And even though we still didn’t get a focus on certain characters (*cough* Sebastian and Sawyer *cough*), we do get a bit more intel on other characters, including some that I never expected to hear about. We learn more about the Royals world, how it came to be, as well as how everyone fits in it now, including Ella. I really like Ella’s development within these three books. I already loved her in the beginning and as time went on, she just became more endearing to me. If she had learn anything from the Royals, it would be loyalty, which Ella had a problem with at first. She was always ready to run and never kept ties to people for too long. By the third book, though, readers can see that this has changed and she’s more willing to open up and make connections with others. Anyways, I was always Team Ella and I think I always will be! 🙂

Well, those are my thoughts on Twisted Palace. I really liked this series and I recommend it to anyone who’d like a little (I mean a lot) of drama in their read! If you have any comments about Twisted Palace or The Royals Trilogy as a whole, I’d love to hear about them in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day, everyone!

–  Sumaya

Review: The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras

My rating: black4

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

Hi, everyone! Another day, another review. This one is on a YA Contemporary book called The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras. It’s told in Viviana’s (the main character) perspective  and talks about her need to be perfect, especially after her ex sends out racy photos of her to the whole school. I’ll admit, it sounds generic with the classic overachiever, but there’s something more to it. I feel as if the experience surrounding her social and family life makes this book and its protagonist stick out a bit more than it would have.

First of all, this book had me right from page one!  I liked how the plot was set up, with Viviana dealing with the aftermath. It doesn’t dwell on the act but the reaction of the images going viral. I thought that the author handled the subject matter really well in showing through Viviana how a person would feel exposed in that type of situation. The only thing I wish I saw in this book is for Viviana’s ex to get what he deserves! I know it’s not really realistic, but I hated him so much! Other than that, I thought that the plot unfolded pretty well overall, although it was a bit predictable at times. Not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to genre fiction. You know something’s going to happen in a certain way that will eventually help develop the character.

The thing that really had me reading this book was its writing! The author made me fall in love with Viviana and her little sister Mila! I think that especially in Contemporary, writing is really important to make the book stand out. Also, I really liked how each chapter was set up as an SAT question that related to Viviana’s life. The first chapter also helped me establish myself as Team Viviana, forever on her side even while she does. Well, except in extreme cases… But I did empathize with her. The plot is semi-predictable, but it doesn’t mean that the characters have to be. I believe that at the end of it all, there has to be some sort of character development, otherwise, why bother reading the book? Unless you’re looking for a sadder tale, that is.

That’s all I have to say about The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras. While the plot was okay, it was really the writing that captured my attention and how the author portrayed the main character, Viviana. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the Comments Section below! The Best Possible Answer comes out next week on November 1st, for anyone whose interested. Thanks for reading!

–  Sumaya

Review: Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler

My rating: black4

Hello again, fellow bloggers! I’ve just read a really great book that I want to share with you all and it’s called Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies. It’s about a girl named Harper who becomes a summer intern for a teen magazine, only it’s not entirely on her own merit. Finding her personal experiences as boring and lacking the edge required for the application of summer intern, Harper uses the dating stories of her best friend, Kristina, and claims it as her own. Since she claims to be so experienced in dating, the magazine assigns her to be the dating blogger and teach people how to approach potential partners and all that… Something she has no experience in. Now, she has to figure out how to pass as a dating blogger before she gets caught.

So the story begins with our protagonist trying to compensate for something she doesn’t have- romantic experience. And the way she does this is so hilarious and delightful to read about. It’s like she’s following her dating advice at the same time as giving it, almost like a test subject. Harper herself is entertaining to read as a main character. A bit self-justifying, but that’s okay, since it’s offset by her immense guilt of lying to become an intern. She had a funny way of looking at the world and some serious writing chops, courtesy of the author! Even though she had no prior expertise in dating, I couldn’t wait to see what Harper would write, and I knew what she was going to write about. If that isn’t entertaining, I don’t know what is… As Harper starts to finally get used to New York and embracing a more confident side to her, she starts to succeed and it’s great to see! The only problem is that she gets a teensy (or a lot) overboard with pleasing people.

As for the plot, it was great! It was predictable in some ways, like the ending, but really engaging in others. Like when she’s exploring New York and learning funny concepts about the Upper East Side, like people giving their dogs bark mitzvahs… I also really liked how well Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies paired up with Gossip Girl, a show that was frequently mentioned by Harper and Kristina. In fact, I feel as if there are plenty of parallels between the show and the novel, so anyone who is a Gossip Girl fan would probably love reading this book! The only thing I didn’t like about the plot is the ending… not in its predictableness, but in the fact that it could have been expanded on a bit more. I felt as if a lot of the conclusion was oversimplified to enable a certain ending. Maybe if there were more pages in the book- not a lot but just under 10 pages- then the ending might have been as spectacular as the rest of the story.  😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler. If you love The Devil Wears Prada or Gossip Girl, then this book is for you! Anyone who has a comment or question is more than welcome to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

 

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