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Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall

My rating: green3

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

Hey, everyone! I’m here with a review on Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall! It’s about two friends who realize that there is more to their relationship than just being best friends. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me a copy! I was really excited to read this book, because the last two books by Sandy Hall were amazing, so when my request was finally accepted, it made my day! Once I started reading it though, I had mixed feelings for it.

The first few chapters of the story were interesting and got me interested in the characters and their lives. But after? Been Here All Along kind of alternated between interesting and too simplistic. The story knew what it was doing and let readers in on it, too. There weren’t really any twists or turns; everything was laid out from then on out and by that point, I wasn’t really interested. The text itself sounded really artificial to my ears by the middle. Not that there wasn’t some good dialogue going on in the story, especially between Gideon and Kyle. It’s just that the main problem of the story wasn’t really interesting and was resolved pretty quickly. I saw there was potential for it to be more, but it was restricted by the characters unwillingness to be more complex, since no one wanted to be the antagonist of the story…

The characters were really flat as well. At first, like the plot, I really loved reading in their perspective, but by the end, I was ready to say goodbye. With a few exceptions (from secondary characters at that), all the characters seemed to be of a stock quality and do not break the restrictions they have, if that makes sense… Like one character being a cheerleader and greatly invested in their image or being manipulative… While there were explanations made that add to their overall character and establish them as more complex, I don’t think it helped that much. It felt like it was all tell and no show. It would have been much more interesting to see the characters act out their complexities than think it in their heads for readers only… Overall, I wasn’t really into the portrayal of the characters.

Well, that’s all I have to say about Been Here All Along. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section. Thank you for reading!

– Sumaya

Review: Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

My rating: blue4 copy

(3.75 stars)

Hello, everyone! Another day, another review; this time it’s on Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson. It’s a book about two people finding a connection through fandom and how they become friends because of it. Now, for those of you who don’t know, I love books about fandoms! But this book was different from all the others I’ve read; not in a bad way, at least where the fandom is concerned.

First of all, this book felt like two books instead of one. It goes from upbeat and lightish, to really dark and suspenseful. It’s not as if the subject matter of the book couldn’t be dark and suspenseful; it just came out of nowhere. And once it went down that path, I knew the lightness of the book’s beginning wouldn’t truly come back. Not with so little pages left in the story (the whole book was 287 pages). But it would have been nice to have so many questions answered, because I know this book will probably not garner a sequel (contemporaries almost never do, and even then it could be in another person’s POV). I guess it affected me that way because I loved how it started out in the beginning, with Gena and Finn becoming friends and how they were really sweet together! And then when they finally meet, that was something special! But somewhere along the way, the book decides to stop being the happy read that it was and starts being of a sadder tone. And while I’m not out to say that sad books are horrible, I’m just saying that it would have been nice to have a heads up because it kind of blindsided me…

As for the characters, I really loved them! There was Gena with her fics and poems, her brilliant imagination, her strength and vulnerability. Finn with her understanding, beautiful drawings, and friendship. And Charlie with his love and support. Reading the dynamic between characters was amazing as well as hearing their inner thoughts. I just wish (again) that the book didn’t take the turn that it did….

That’s all I have to say about Gena/Finn for now! Have you read this story? And did you like it or not? By the way, any comments or questions are welcome in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day!

–  Sumaya

Review: No More Confessions by Louise Rozett

My rating: blue4 copy

Hey, everyone! I’m back with another review and this time, it’s No More Confessions by Louise Rozett. No More Confessions is the third book in the series and focuses on a girl, named Rose, whose father died in Iraq and how her life is affected by it. Even though it’s been a long time since I’ve read the second book, surprisingly,  it didn’t affect my reading of the third book as much. The last book came out in 2013, before this one came out in 2015. Now, I must confess, I was a little on the fence about reading this last book, since it was only available on Amazon and nowhere else. I was hoping that the library would have it, or at least Indigo, because I didn’t want to invest in a book I didn’t think was going to be good. This is mainly because No More Confessions came out two years after Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend, so I was worried about the quality of the third book. But I finally caved in after reading a sneak peek and just bought it for my Kindle app (yes, that’s how good of a speak peek it was)!

The story starts in Rose’s junior year, after she and Jamie have split up. She’s trying to be better about her anger issues than she was in the last two books, and for the most part, that improvement has shown. Not to say that she still doesn’t get angry, but unlike Confessions of an Angry Girl and Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend, she’s more aware of the need to control it. Other than a few circumstances, Rose knew when to pick her battles and how to express her opinions more calmly. She also focuses more on being empathetic to others in the end (which is probably the main driver of this book: thinking about others). Compared to her younger self in the first book, she’s really matured. I’m so proud of her! 😀

There were some issues Rose still has to deal with, though, like her panic attacks and how affected she is by others. I think in the end, she’s beginning to break away from this train of thought (thinking of herself in terms of others), but only time will tell if she sticks with it.

And then there’s our main pairing! Romance-wise, Rose and Jamie are a mess of a couple, mad at each other one minute and passionate with each other the next. As much as I love when Rose and Jamie are together, even I can see that they are no good together at that point in their lives. Rose and Jamie do resolve some problems they’ve had with each other by the end of the book, but it’s left open ended for the reader to imagine what happened.

Overall, the plot pulled me in and I don’t regret reading this book at all. I’m really glad that Louise Rozett continued to write after Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend, because there was an enormous emotional cliffhanger 😉 . However, I hope that this is the last book of the series unless there’s a time jump (like 5 years). Not only because I’m still afraid about the quality of the book (although No More Confessions eased my concerns somewhat), but also because the title sounds so final. So if you liked the first two books of Louise Rozett’s Confessions series, you should really read this one. If you have any thoughts about this book or any others within the series, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day, everyone, and keep reading!

-Sumaya

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

My rating: red5 

(4.5 stars)

Hello, wonderful readers! Hope you enjoyed your weekend! I’m finally back with a review! I’ve been posting all last week, but it wasn’t the same without a review in the mix… The reason behind it is because I couldn’t get into the book I was reading at the time, which was A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. You might be wondering why in the world would I pass up the opportunity to read that title for a standalone contemporary instead. Well, the fact is that I just couldn’t get into the book; it seemed like it was taking forever to read. The book was even more harder to finish due to the fact that it’s really long. This is why I swapped A Court of Mist and Fury for This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. For a moment there, I thought I was in a reading slump, but then I read this book and I discovered that it was just A Court of Mist and Fury that was causing this slump. Anyways, back to the review!

I have to say, while I liked the premise of this book, it passed way beyond my expectations of how much I would enjoy it. This Song Will Save Your Life is about a girl who wants to be more liked by her peers and her development as a person. I had to remind myself constantly that I had assignments, which is the only way I could tear myself from the book. Other than that, my eyes were glued to the screen as I tried to find out what would happen to Elise. I always knew where the story was heading in a general sense, but I just loved the detailed execution of it! Another thing I loved about the plot was that there was a pretty big unexpected twist that I really didn’t see coming and I thought,”Really? This wasn’t what I expected.” It might not sound like much, but for the author to do that in a Contemporary is pretty nice.

And it also helped that Elise is a character you just can’t help but root for! She is quirky personified with her precocious behaviour and someone who has a sort of wisdom. For instance, she’ll say things that might sound simple, especially at the end of the novel, but are actually applicable to life. It might be me being sucked into her story, but I found myself agreeing with Elise a lot! 😁 Her development was enjoyable to read, and the way she was disillusioned about how the way things works is for the better. Most times disillusionment is seen in books or stories is when a character experiences a sense of losing their innocence. This time, experiencing that sort of disillusionment is a good thing, since it allows her to see thing for what they really are. The thing about this story is that while Elise grew as a character, she basically remained the same person she was in the beginning. It’s not to say that she didn’t change in some ways (she certainly does change her goals), but she ends up staying true to herself, something she’s been against since the beginning of the story.

However, since this story is about her, other characters  are put on the sidelines like her classmates and even Pippa, Vicky and her band. The ending was also slightly unrealistic… but I’m not sure if that’s my only from my perspective… Probably…

Overall, this book is great for those who like to read about the music scene, the socially awkward and staying true to yourself. While there are other books out there that cater to those separate desires, this book is particular enough to stand on its own and be different. That’s all I have to say about this book. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
– Sumaya

 

 

Which Cover Wednesday 22

Hey, wonderful readers! Hope you all are doing well this Wednesday! I’m back with another Which Cover Wednesday! Which Cover Wednesday is a meme I host where I compare two different covers of the same book and suggest which one is more appropriate for the book. And I’m not the only one who can participate; you can, too! Just leave your cover preferences in the Comments Section below. Here are our covers :

1. The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak (English and Italian)

25266817 or 28925120

In this case, I like the second cover than the first one. Both are great, but the second one is more appealing to me because of its abundance in colour as well as the fact that it doesn’t show the faces of our protagonists. That way, they can look however we imagine them to be… 😉

2. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

jkt_9780545334747.indd or 15812340

I love the first cover! While the second cover has amazing typography, the first cover is more connected to the story, seeing as it deals with Emme and her ability to trust her own talent, rather than relying on others.

3. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

15777621 or 21469098

First cover for the win! 😀 I love how the protagonist is so focused on this cover as well as the message in the letters of the title (LOVE). I think this particular picture on the first cover is from an actual passage within the book, so it’s more relevant than the second one, which is a bit too generic for my tastes.

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (English and Dutch)

15745753 or 27833446

This time, it’s all about the second cover. I think it plays with typography way better than the first cover as well as the fact that there are hidden images within images , like the school bus at the bottom of the tape cassette. I didn’t even recognize it until after a while! 😉

Well, that’s all for this week’s Which Cover Wednesday! Do you have any covers that you prefer? Or any suggestions for next week’s topic or titles? If you do, feel free to post your thoughts in the Comments Section below! Have a nice night, everyone! 😉

– Sumaya

 

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

My rating:  blue5

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

Another day, another book! This time, it’s The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak, and I have to say, it’s a great change of pace from what I’ve read recently (*cough* Every Last Breath *cough*). It was really easy to read and I couldn’t put it down, unless someone forced me to. When I first saw the cover on NetGalley, it made me want to see what it was about. Once I read the description, I was all in for reading it.

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As for the reading experience, I’ve got to say, I quite enjoyed it! The plot was kind of predictable, but in a good way. There were some twists, which I didn’t expect and was happy with but, for the most part, this story followed the conventions of Contemporary YA. Journeys, self-discovery, and relationships getting complicated are just some of the similarities shared by most Contemporary YA. Like I said, it’s not a bad thing; it’s just the genre declaring itself.

What I really liked about this book, though, were the characters. Stella at first seemed like a brat, but as time passed, was more and more likeable. I found her story interesting, in the way she holds onto the past when facing the future, how she is with her brother and sister, and mainly, how she is by herself. By the end of the book, it is apparent that she has made a transformation from a girl who was shouldering unnecessary guilt to someone who could leave that guilt behind. And even though there is romance involved with the lead singer, Oliver Perry, her growth barely had anything to do with the romance, but mainly with other characters throughout the novel. That’s not to say that the romance wasn’t fun to read. Because it was! Especially how they met and all.  What I’m trying to say is that I really think that adds to the book’s charm.

Speaking of Oliver, I found him to reflect Stella a bit, especially at the end. Other than that, I thought that his character was sweet, but a little demanding and a lot more complicated as the story went on. While his character is not as developed as our protagonist’s, we do get some information that fills in the areas we don’t know about him, which makes him understandable.

Another bonus was that this book wasn’t too dreary; actually, it’s pretty hilarious at some points. It’s nice to read a book where nothing too dramatic happens. Some might say that it’s not believable, but I disagree. There were serious topics that were spoken of, but it doesn’t mean that there is no hope for those in the same situation. Sometimes, when I read a contemporary, like The Fault in Our Stars, it would have a bitter sort of ending. This was not the case for The Heartbreakers. Instead, the story ends in a way that is more hopeful, which matches the tone of the book.

If I were asked to recommend a contemporary, this would be something I would share. In fact, as soon as I finished, I did just that and recommended it to my cousin. Have you read The Heartbreakers or any other of Ali Novak’s books? Comment below if you have any thoughts you’re willing to share. Keep reading!

-Sumaya

Thoughts on Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

My rating: blue3

Hey, everyone!

I’ve finally read Katie McGarry’s Nowhere But Here. I had the book for two months but between school and library books, I didn’t have the time to read it. Now that I’ve read it, I don’t think that it was as good as her other books. I don’t want to say anything bad about Katie McGarry. All of the books I’ve read so far by her have been amazing, moving me to the core. For the Pushing the Limits series, there wasn’t one book where I haven’t cried. Yet for some reason, my eyes remained mostly dry throughout the novel (except parts which will remain unrevealed for non-spoiler purposes). While I was sad in some parts, but I wasn’t wailing like in Take Me On.

It might have to do with the characters more than the plot. I wasn’t a fan of either protagonists, mainly because I thought they were kind of annoying. For most of the novel, Emily was paralyzed by her own fear of almost everything, while Oz was pretty judgmental of everything outside of his sphere. It got to the point where he was being hypocritical, not liking people who judged his community, while judging others based on that. I get that characters need flaws and everything to be relatable, but when it gets to the point where you can’t even identify with them (like Emily), it hinders more than it helps. There would be moments where Emily becomes an admirable character, and I would think, “Why can’t she be more like this throughout the novel?” And she was. Those moments are scattered in the novel and are one of the ways that makes reading this story bearable.

I guess one thing I could say about their characters that I liked was the fact that they were similar but didn’t even know it. Both are unwilling to venture out of their comfort zone, and are able to overcome their hardships once they break away from that. It just so happens that they have to overcome it together. There were also similar family-wise, with both of them unable to depend on their family during a point of their life and stopped depending on them ever since. I like how they try to rebuild these relationships, proving that it’s never too late to do so, and that you’re part of the problem sometimes, even if you think you’re not.

As for the plot, while it was okay enough for me to read, I wouldn’t have continued reading without the incentive of a) the secret surrounding Emily (which apparently wasn’t so secret) and b) the fact that I bought the book and thought that it would be a waste to DNF. Don’t get me wrong; the plot was okay, or at least better than the protagonists. But it was really predictable; I knew what the big twist was before it happened. I only needed it confirmed, which is why I read the whole book. And I haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy or West Side Story (which the book is apparently based on) , so I didn’t get any ideas from there. Sometimes I like parts of the book to be predictable, but not the main secret about the protagonist. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was too predictable for my taste, but overall, the book was readable and I liked how the characters developed.

All I have to say about Nowhere But Here. It was actually hard to write a review for this book because I felt like I had nothing to say about this novel, at least nothing good. And while I love Katie McGarry’s style in general, I have to be honest and say that I didn’t particular love or hate this book. More of a sort of like…. which is why I’m giving this book a 3.5 star rating. That’s all I have to say about this topic. Keep reading!

-Sumaya

The Lexie Project by Heather Demetrios

Hello everyone!

So, right now on the side bar, you can all see that I’m reading The Lexie Project by Heather Demetrios. This is the sister novel of Something Real in the POV of Chloe Baker’s sister, Lexie (for those of you who don’t know, Chloe is the protagonist of Something Real). It’s about Lexie’s experience in seeking fame and allowing us to understand her opinion on the media, rights to privacy and what it means to be a good person. For those of you who haven’t read Something Real, Lexie is different from Chloe, in that she actually wants the media’s attention and has a different personality when it comes to decisiveness, relationships, fashion and a lot of other things. Point is, they are not the same person and her story is not exactly a sequel to Something Real. It does contain characters who were a part of Something Real, as well as some new faces. Trust me on this one; if you liked Something Real, you’re bound to like this new story from Heather Demetrios.

Where can you find it. Well, look no further than Wattpad, where Heather Demetrios posts chapters every Wednesday. The story is ongoing at the moment, so if you still see it on the Goodreads sidebar after a few weeks, it’s because I’m still waiting for the ending! So access it while you still can and read it! Just look it up in the search bar on Wattpad or you could go to Heather Demetrios’ Wattpad page. Her username is @HeatherDemetrios, in case you’re wondering.

Also, I’d like to add that Heather does not only have a story for Lexie, but represents her in multiple forms of social media. Lexie Baker has a Twitter account, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest. So if you’re interested in more Lexie Baker, check those out as well! All I have to say for now! Keep reading!

-Sumaya

Review of Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

When I first heard this book was on its way, I was super excited. I loved Corey Ann Haydu’s other books and could not wait to get my hands on this one, cover lust aside.I remember reading those books, OCD Love Story and Life By Committee, and enjoying them. So I guess I had high expectations for Making Pretty as well. It’s about a girl named Montana, who is trying to find where she belongs in the world, while dealing with the fact that her father’s a plastic surgeon perfectionist, her friend and sister ditched her and she’s made a new friend that isn’t the best influence. That’s a brief summary of the blurb given. Here’s how reading it went down:

At first, I couldn’t get into it because of the way I’m introduced to Montana. I didn’t find her likeable (to be honest, she seemed a bit immature) , but I did think she was intriguing. There would be so many thoughts that I would find brilliant and worth saying aloud. The problem is she never says these things aloud. Even though she was on the losing end of the fight, I wanted to see what happened and if she would right the wrongs set in the beginning. I guess I’ll always love the underdog.

Montana is sort of a sad character but with given reason. Her mother left her, followed by several stepmothers. Her father is only looking to change her into the person he wants her to be, because apparently she isn’t good enough aesthetically. In this book, she has a confusing relationship with her sister, who does not want to share her sister with anyone and at the same time, leaves her sister out of decisions and events. Feeling left out of these relationships that should be a given, Montana seeks them out in other places, like a new friend or a boyfriend. Ironically enough, these characters are also seeking out a connection. Her boyfriend, Bernardo, is just crazy about love and loving Montana, while Karissa seems to want a connection for a different reason.

All throughout the book, there are instances where characters are trying to control a certain thing. Like when the father, Sean Varren, changes his wives and then divorces them. Or when Karissa uses her family’s “tragedy” to get what she wants. Montana eventually incorporates control in the way she thinks , labelling everything and everyone as “something”, because she cannot hand the unknown. In fact, she even goes to her step mothers and eventually her mother (even though it isn’t shown) to get answers from them, about why it didn’t work out. What this book shows is that sometimes you don’t need to control every little aspect of your life in order to be happy. Throughout the book, there is a lot of drinking going on, and in those moments, the characters are more honest, with truths being revealed that wouldn’t necessarily come out sober. Corey Ann Haydu turns what would be ordinary events in someone’s life into something worth reading, relating and reeling about. This is why I love her writing so much! To this book, I would give a four star rating!

I would love to hear what you all have to say about this book or any other books by Corey Ann Haydu. Please comment if you do. Any other tidbits on how to improve my post would be helpful as well! Until next time, keep reading!

-Sumaya

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