Tag Archives: contemporary ya

Book Review: Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and her monsters

Eliza and her Monsters

Release date: May 30th 2017

4.5 stars

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community, and has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea‘s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

I loved Made You Up by this author so I was really excited to see a second novel. I thought the way the story was told using illustrations from the character’s webcomic and screenshots of her online chats and the fan forums made for a very unique reading experience. I’ve read books that involve seeing characters’ text messaging before but with the online world being so important to Eliza, it felt like an extra way to connect with her.

I absolutely loved Eliza. I could definitely relate to how she felt about finding solace in online fandoms in a way that she couldn’t in the real world. The online world was just so much easy to navigate for her. The real world had so many people and variables that were out of her control and social interactions/cues that she didn’t get. She was a quiet bookworm with anxiety in a family full of loud, seemingly confident athletes. It was an interesting dynamic to see them all try to relate to each other but it was clear there was a lot of love in that family. I could understand why she kept her webcomic such a secret from everyone expect a few select people and why she didn’t reveal too much about how big it had become to her parents – who she didn’t feel wanted to know or hear about her online life.

The relationship between Eliza and Wallace was really interesting. There were many times I would be cringing in sympathy for Eliza because I knew there was no way keeping her identity as Monstrous Sea’s creator a secret would end well but I could understand why she did it. There were other times I actually felt proud of her for doing something outside her comfort zone – like meeting Wallace’s friends or going to a Halloween party. Their relationship was sweet and they understood each other in ways only they could.

I also thought the author did a great job in showing Eliza’s anxiety and panic attacks through the books. It was a very realistic portrayal of a young woman living with a mental illness and how much it can affect your life and how it doesn’t magically go away just because you might be happier or more confident. This ended up being one of my favourite reads so far this year.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

Kat and Meg

Kat and Meg Conquer the World

Release date: November 7th 2017

Goodreads: Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different.
Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to new people. The only place she feels safe is in front of her computer, playing her favorite video game.
Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. Friends. Her boyfriend. Even the stepfather who raised her.
But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: their obsession with the online gaming star LumberLegs and his hilarious videos.
Meg’s pretty sure this is fate. Kat doesn’t know how to deal with someone who talks faster than she thinks. But if they can stick together and stay out of their heads, they might figure out how to help each other—and build the kind of friendship Kat never knew she wanted and Meg never believed she’d find.

Why I’m excited: Female friendship? Sign me up! I’ve fallen in love with this book already!

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Weekly Reading Recap

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Well, hockey playoffs didn’t last too long in this house. More time to read:)

Currently reading: dreamfall

Finished reading: Four weeks Five PeopleGirl out of waterEliza and her monstersAntisocial

Reviewed: WarbringerDefy the Stars

What I’m hoping to get to next week: avengedThe Gauntlet to read

Girl out of waterEliza and her monsters to review

Books read it 2017: 69

Debut authors read in 2017: 21

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Weekly Reading Recap

14836299-stack-of-books-books-stacked

Hockey playoffs have started, which means lots of time to read while my mom is watching the games.

Currently reading: Antisocial

Finished reading: No Good DeedDefy the Starsinconceivable-life-of-quinnWarbringer

Reviewed: Windfallone-of-us-is-lying

What I’m hoping to get to next week: Four weeks Five PeopleGirl out of water to read

Defy the StarsWarbringer to review

Books read it 2017: 64

Debut authors read in 2017: 18

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Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

one-of-us-is-lying

One of Us is Lying

Release date: May 30th 2017

4 stars

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

I really enjoyed this Breakfast Club vibe meets Pretty Little Liars mystery. It had some interesting twists, great characters, and it really drew me right into the story. Putting a Breakfast Club vibe into a book is a sure way to get me to pick it up and I was not disappointed.

The book was told in many POVs as we followed the four main characters trying to figure out who was framing them for Simon’s death. I liked all four pretty equally. Maybe Bronwyn and Cooper edged out the other two but not by much. Even with the book being less than 400 pages and very fast paced, there was still a lot of growth for all four characters. The story was as much about their growth as it was about the mystery and I really enjoyed that.

I wasn’t a fan of how the cops handled the whole case but I could see why they were so short-sighted. They had four teens in the room with the victim, all who were about to be exposed and all who had access to Simon and to the epi-pens in the nurse’s station. With all the publicity the case was getting, of course they wanted to solve it quickly, but they just ended up looking a bit incompetent. I thought the book did a good job showing how their narrowed focus affected the case and the teens and using some outside media sources to call them on their dropping the ball.

The mystery held my interest and I was looking for clues everywhere. It was the type of mystery where the reader could simply read to enjoy it and hopefully be surprised at the twists, or they could try to pick up the clues and solve it. It made it a book that was impossible to put down.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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Book Review: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

Windfall

Windfall

Release date: May 2nd 2017

3.5 stars

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.
At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.
As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

This book was very typical Jennifer E Smith, in the best ways possible. It was a light read with quirky characters and that familiar writing style that has me reading until the last page. It dealt with a lot of topics other than just focusing on an eighteen-year-old winning a massive lottery and it changing his life. It dealt with death, survivor’s guilt, first love, heartbreak. I thought the book did a wonderful job showing how different people would react to winning and how they would choose to spend the money, which Jennifer E Smith was able to do by having her main character be the friend who bought the lottery ticket instead of the person who won.

Alice was a character I found myself both relating to and not quite understanding. Loving seeing her friend happy, worried he would change with all that money, worried people would use him, not wanting to confess her feelings, all those I got. Even being afraid of accepting some of the money in fear it would change her I could understand. The part I had a hard time with was that she could be very judgemental but that was part of her growth arc. With Teddy, we got to see his growth arc through Alice’s eyes and he had to learn what having all that money meant to the people who were suddenly appearing in his life. I couldn’t blame him for going a little crazy with it all at first. Even the adult in me knows I would too.

I love the friendship between Alice, Teddy, and Leo. They were a perfect balance to each other. Leo was very practical and seemed a lot more mature than the other two. Alice was a good girl, trying to make her late parents proud with her volunteer work but still looking to find who she really was. Teddy was the more brash and impulsive of the three of them and was the one often reminding the other two to have fun. The friendship was strong between these three, even with the feelings between Alice and Teddy. I liked that Leo wasn’t easily shoved to the side the second something started to develop between Alice and Teddy.

The plot went pretty much where I was expecting it to go but it was still a fun reading journey. It did a good job balancing the more fun aspects of the story like an eighteen year old suddenly having so much money and going a little crazy with it to and the more serious tones like Alice still dealing with the deaths of her parents and the downside to having all that money. It was a quick read and I would definitely say this is one of my favourite Jennifer E Smith books so far.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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Waiting on Wednesday

New WoW

This is a feature started on Breaking the Spine that puts the spotlight on upcoming books.

This week’s pick is:

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: July 18th 2017

Goodreads: Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.
Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.
When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

Why I’m excited: The synopsis goes on to say for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, two of my auto-buy contemporary authors. Here’s hoping it lives up to that praise.

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Book Review: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue

Release date: May 9th 2017

2.5 stars

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

So far Julie Murphy has been pretty hit or miss with me. I wasn’t a fan of Side Effects May Vary but I loved Dumplin’. Ramona Blue had the potential to be on either side and, unfortunately, the more I read, the more I found myself thinking it belonged with Side Effects May Vary in terms of enjoyment. The pacing was slow, it felt like it was really dragging in the middle, and so many characters had very little development.

I think this will be one of those books that ends up dividing readers. Ramona was a girl who had always identified as a lesbian who started to have confusing feelings for a childhood friend who’d come back to town – and that friend was male. Her journey of exploring what those feelings meant and what it meant for it is not something I feel like I have a right to comment on, even with it being a fictional character. I did enjoy her relationship with her sister and her two friends Ruth and Saul, and the dynamic between Ramona and Freddie’s grandmother was something I wish we’d gotten a lot more of.

The supporting characters were where this book lost me the most. None of them were very developed. There were a lot of them but they could have been condensed into two more well-rounded characters. They were fun and I liked them but they were mostly just there and had very little to do with the plot except for when Ramona needed a sounding board. I do wish we’d gotten more of Adam in some fashion, whom I got very attached to even with his limited page time.

I did expect swimming to play more of a role in the book, based on the synopsis. It was present and it was something Ramona loved but for the most part it was in the background compared to her arc and her family. The swimming and the training was another thing I wish we’d gotten to see more of during the book. Overall, I think the book tried to focus a little on too much instead of choosing a few things to focus a lot on.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review*

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March Wrap-Up/April TBR

Another month done, another month closer to Summer.

March Wrap-Up:

royal-bastards Royal Bastards – Andrew Shvarts. 4/5 stars. Review. I enjoyed this world and the misfit feel to the group of characters.

hundred-lies-of-lizzie-lovett The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett – Chelsea Sedoti. 3/5 stars. It took me a while to get into this one. Once I did, I thought it got better but it still didn’t pull me right in.

hidden-memory-of-objects The Hidden Memory of Objects – Danielle Mages Amato. 4/5 stars. Review. I loved the twist with the main character being able to see memories attached to objects.

the-crowns-fate The Crown’s Fate – Evelyn Skye. 4.5/5 stars. Review. A great follow-up to one of my favourite books from last year.

upside-of-unrequited The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli. 4/5 stars. Review. Another great follow-up to a favourite from last year.

geekerella Geekerella – Ashley Poston. 4/5 stars. Review. So cute and I enjoyed picking out the parallels between this story and Cinderella.

Blacklist Blacklist – Alyson Noel. 3.5/5 stars. I missed the competition aspect from the first book but this one definitely upped the mystery factor.

Lotterys Plus One The Lotterys Plus One – Emma Donoghue. 3/5 stars. It was a really cute story but it did feel like a MG-written story.

Miss Ellicott's School Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded – Sage Blackwood. 3.5/5 stars. Another cute story and I really enjoyed the magical world.

starfall Starfall – Melissa Landers. 4/5 stars. Review. I did miss that the misfit crew from the first book was less present in this one but it was still great going back to this world.

flame-in-the-mist Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Renee Ahdieh’s writing and this one already has me excited for the next one.

image After the End – Amy Plum. 3/5 stars. I really enjoyed the Revenants series so I had high hopes but it took me a while to get into this one.

image The Last Thing You Said – Sara Biren. 3.5/5 stars. The way the two main characters kept hurting each other out of grief was very realistic.

image Maud – Melanie L Fishbane. 4/5 stars. Review. It was a little strange at first, reading a fictionalized version of LM Montgomery’s life when I grew up in PEI but it was good.

image Wild Beauty – Anna-Marie McLemore. 4/5 stars. There’s something very magical about Anne-Marie McLemore’s writing and the characters she creates.

Metaltown Metal town – Kristen Simmons. 3/5 stars. This was another one that was hard to get into. The pacing was a bit uneven.

The Midnight Dance The Midnight Dance – Nikki Katz. 3.5/5 stars. I really enjoyed the dark and twisted spin the plot took but there was a lot of things that could have been explained better.

April TBR:

Ramona Bluetraitors-kissWindfallone-of-us-is-lying

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Weekly Reading Recap

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Sometimes I feel like all I do is read. And I’m perfectly content with that. Actually, I’m ecstatic.

Currently reading: The Midnight Dance

Finished reading: Metaltownimageimageimage

Reviewed: flame-in-the-miststarfall

What I’m hoping to get to next week: traitors-kissRamona Blue to read

imageimage to review

Books read it 2017: 51

Debut authors read in 2017: 15

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