Tag Archives: contemporary ya

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:

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes

Release date: April 3td 2018

Goodreads: Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Why I’m excited: I’ve heard good things about Jenn Bennett’s writing and this reminds of me another book(The Distance Between Lost and Found) that I really enjoyed.

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Book Review: The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

The Color Project

The Color Project

Release date: August 17th 2017

3.5 stars

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.

This book had made its way on to my must read list a while ago and once I had it in my hands, it didn’t take me long to settle in to read it. I really enjoyed the friendships, family dynamics, the relationship between Bee and Levi, and the whole concept of The Color Project. It’s the type of book that can make the reader want to go out and get involved the way these characters did. I also really liked all the scenes that involved Bee at her job at a florist’s, especially once she began designing her own arrangements.

Beatrice, Bee, was the second oldest in a family of four and I found she was a very easy character to relate to. When she found a project she believed in, she threw herself into it, like with The Color Project. She loved her family, sometimes they could annoy her, but when they needed to pull together or comfort each other, they were there. She had some great friendships with Gretchen, her best friend who had recently moved, with some of her brother’s friends, and new friendships with some of the workers at The Color Project. She went by her nickname, Bee, instead of her full name and only a few people even knew her full name. I liked that Levi made a game out of guessing her name. It was cute and playful.

The relationship between Bee and Levi was a huge part of the story so I was glad I enjoyed it. There was an immediately attraction and interest between them but it was a slow developing relationship. They were good for each other and I thought it was a believable relationship with the issues that ended up appearing, like the big one from the synopsis with Bee not wanting to reveal her full name. There were times when I wanted to yell at them to just talk to each other and to actually listen to what the other was saying, but it showed that as cute as they were together, they were not immune to having problems in their relationship.

There was a few times the book felt a little long. From the synopsis, I knew there would be an illness in Bee’s family but it seemed to take forever for it to be revealed. I think I was about halfway through the book before that storyline took place. It did make me feel like the story was dragged out a bit, even with all the cute interactions between characters(which I am always a fan of). I did find the plot easy to predict but the character dynamics did their best to make up for it.

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

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Book Review: Like Water by Rebecca Podos

Like Water

Like Water

Release date: October 1 2017

4 stars

In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.
That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I started to read this book. I had an ARC of it and the cover caught my attention but I’d just glimpsed at the synopsis. It seemed interesting so it was the one that ended up getting picked from the TBR to read. It ended up being a very good, very relatable read. What I thought was going to be a pretty quick, light read turned into a very meaningful reading experience.

Savannah, or “Vanni”, was a girl who knew what she wanted from life. She had a plan to get out of her small town and make a life for herself that wouldn’t have her coming back to her hometown in a few years like most people who left. Her plans were derailed when her father got sick and she pushed away her friends, not wanting their presence to remind her of the future she thought was now out of her reach. When she met a new boy and his sister, she began to rediscover herself. She ended up with a new job and new feelings.

I loved the relationship between Vanni and Leigh. Both girls were searching for something and found it in each other. Both of them needed the other in different ways and I loved that their relationship wasn’t perfect in terms of no bumps in the road, but it was meaningful and great to read.

I really enjoyed the strong sense of family and community that flowed through the book as well. It was a huge part of who Vanni was and a huge part of her growth arc as she had to figure out where she fit into the world and her future. It made for a very character-driven plot and a much deeper book than I was anticipating. In a good way.

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

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Book Review: Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Dramatically Ever After

Dramatically Ever After

4 stars

Senior year is not shaping up to be the picture perfect movie Em Katsaros had imagined. Her super hot leading man is five thousand miles away. Her dad just got laid off. And Em can kiss her first-pick university goodbye if she doesn’t snag a scholarship.
To turn this Shakespearean tragedy into the Academy Award-winning dream Em has written for herself, she enters a speech competition and manages to cinch a spot in the US Youth Change Council national round. She gets to spend a week in Boston and her prayers might be answered if she can kick butt and win one of the national scholarships.
Everything seems to be going by the script until she finds out Kris Lambert–senior class president, stuck-up jerk, and her nemesis–is going, too. Cue the dramatic music. In Boston, Kris is different. Nice. Cute, even. But she knows his game way too well–be nice to your opponents and then throw them under the bus on your way to victory. Instead of becoming his next victim, Em decides to turn the tables by putting her acting and flirting skills to work. Unfortunately, as they get close to the final competition and judging, reality and acting start to blur.
Can Em use the drama from the stage to get the future she’s been dreaming of?

This companion novel to Bookishly Ever After brought me back to a cast of characters I fell in love with and, this time, put the spotlight on theatre and the world of competitive speeches. There were so many movie and theatre references, along with some of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon(those were definitely my favourite). This book was really cute, had great character growth, and I had a lot of fun going back into the Ever After universe. I can’t wait to see who will be staring in the third book.

Em, the main character in this sequel, loved the theatre, loved performing, and often made references toward movies and actresses she loved. Her ability to act and harness her emotions into her scenes really helped when she delivered speeches. I really loved seeing her grow into herself as the story went on, becoming more confident in her own abilities instead of hiding behind a character. The dynamic she had with Kris was a lot of fun to read and reminded me a bit of the Anne/Gilbert dynamic from Anne of Green Gables. They drove each other crazy and argued all the time but there were definitely always underlying feelings.

This group of friends was so much fun to read. They were all so close, the chemistry in that group of friends that was a huge draw in the first book was back in this one. Even with Em in Boston for a lot of the book, we still got to see the group of friends interacting, either before, after, or by phone and text throughout her speech competition. The romance was also a lot of fun. I loved seeing Em and Kris debate over everything.

I really liked the speech writing aspect of the story as well. Em was vying for a scholarship so she could attend the college she wanted instead of her parents’ choice but she was insecure about her actual talent for writing since she thought performing was where she excelled. It was interesting to see her work with her mentor to improve her speech and see her perform the final result.

This book was a very cute read, one perfect for sitting outside in the Summer or curling up in a chair by a fire. This is a universe I really have come to love and I can’t wait to visit it again.

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

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Book Review: The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

Art of Feeling

The Art of Feeling

Release date: August 15th 2017

3.5 stars

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.
But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.

This book ended up being a quicker read than I’d originally thought it would considering it was dealing with a family grieving and attempting to move on with their lives after the death of the mother of the family. It also dealt with a boy who couldn’t feel pain and how the teenage daughter from the family and the boy became friends. They were helping each other in ways no one else could. Both teens had interesting family dynamics. Both family fought quite often but they also very obviously did care about each other.

Sam was a likeable character. She struggled with the fact that she’d been in the car with her mother during the crash and has been unable to remember any details about the other car or person who took off. She’d pushed away all her friends during her time out of school right after the accident and was finding it hard to connect with them again when she returned. That led her to becoming friends with Eliot, who both intrigued and frustrated her with his lack of self-preservation. Their dynamics was really interesting and I loved seeing their friendship unfolding.

Sam’s family were all struggling with their grief in their own ways. Her father lost his soulmate, her brother was self-medicating his pain away, and her sister simply stayed away as much as she could. Eliot and his older brother had a very interesting dynamic. His older brother was his primary guarding because their parents were never around. Eliot resented his brother trying to be a parent and his older brother struggled with balancing letting Eliot have independence and making sure he was safe.

Other than these two characters’ developing friendship and Sam’s struggle with her grief, we had some side plots of Eliot being bullied, both of them caught up in being targeted by a childhood friend of Sam’s who was trying to rebuild his image as a tough drug dealer, and the mystery of who was in the other car that hit Sam and her mother. None of them felt too overwhelming and they all tied nicely into the main plot. I thought the author did a good job making sure everything connected.

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

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Book Review: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L Armentrout

If there's no tomorrow

If There’s No Tomorrow

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications and to maybe let her childhood best friend, Sebastian, know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances. Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything. Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened. For what she let happen. With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?

Jennifer L Armentrout has been a favourite author since I fell in love with the Lux series and as long as books like this one keep coming out, that isn’t going to change. It didn’t take long to get sucked into the plot, feel a connection to Lena, and just generally fall in love with this book.

Lena was a character I liked immediately. She started off pretty early talking about books so that is always a way for a character to win my heart. It was her senior year and she was looking forward the parties, volleyball games, and just having an epic last year before her group of friends graduated. When the tragedy alluded to in the synopsis happened, we saw Lena struggle with guilt and grief. It was hard to read but also very realistic. It was Lena’s struggle to move on and her grieving that was her story arc.

I really enjoyed Lena’s relationship with Sebastian. It was the familiar plot of best friends where one was in love with the other but they were still great together, either as friends or maybe one day more. I loved how supportive he was of her.

This was a very, very emotional book. It didn’t take long for the waterworks to start and once they did, they were impossible to stop. There was also laughter, the book wasn’t all darkness and sadness. I love when Jennifer L Armentrout’s characters are bookworms because they often read books that actually exist and it’s always fun to see them reading books that I also love.

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

 

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Book Review: This Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis

This Darkness Mine

This Darkness Mine

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved. But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all? Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

It’s hard for me to say that this was my least favourite of the Mindy McGinnis books that I’ve read because I did really enjoy it. It’s more that the other ones I read blew me away and this one didn’t quite live up to them. It still had the dark tone, twists, and great characters that I’ve come to expect from her, and I can’t say that I was disappointed in it, I just didn’t like it as much as her other books. Still liked it though.

Sasha was a very interesting character. She could definitely be described as a goody goody but also a mean girl. All that was thrown into question when she got a text from bad boy Isaac after she supposedly gave him her cell phone number but she remembered nothing of that. The plot took a turn to the dark and strange when we found out Sasha had a twin in the womb that she absorbed and this twin could take control of her body. It added a creepy vibe to the plot that made the book impossible to put down.

I really liked Isaac. Bad boy with a sweet side might be a cliché but it’s also a huge weakness of mine. I liked the supporting cast as well. It was Sasha’s story but they still had some great standout moments.

I loved how much the book made me second guess myself. Sasha was an unreliable narrator but I wanted to believe her. It was one that kept me second guessing to the end. I love when that happens. This is great for anyone looking for a creepy, twisty plot that will hopefully keep you guessing as well.

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

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Book Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud

Genuine Fraud

Release date:

3.5 stars

The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge. Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

I was excited for this book since I enjoyed We Were Liars and this seemed like it could be a good mystery with a twist type of a read. I liked the non-linear storytelling, flashbacks showing the friendship between the two girls and how things escalated to the point where they ended up, and seeing Jule in the present. The characters felt like they were love them or hate them type of characters and I liked some and disliked others.

The novel was very character driven. Jule, the main character, was definitely sketchy in the morals department and had me questioning if I could trust her narrative. That made her interesting and made me want to learn more about her. The supporting cast wasn’t as strong and with less than 300 pages not too many of them got to show a lot of growth.

The main focus was on Jule and the mystery surrounding her. The book was inspired by The Talented Mr Ripley and I definitely saw similarities, to the point where I wasn’t too surprised in regards to a lot of the supposed suspenseful twists. It actually took away a lot of the suspense for me. I do think it’s a book that can be enjoyed by mystery lovers, E. Lockhart fans, and more, it just didn’t grab me in the ways I was hoping it would.

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

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June Wrap-Up/July TBR

How did it get to be halfway through the year already?

June Wrap-Up:

Words in Deep Blue Words in Deep Blue – Cath Crowley. 3/5 stars. This was a really cute story with some angst. A good option for a summer read. I did find it a little predictable though.

Internet Famous Internet Famous – Danika Stone. 3.5/5 stars. Review. I loved how this one had some elements of All the Feels but showed the darker side of fandom.

lucky-in-love Lucky in Love – Kasie West. 4/5 stars. Review. Super cute but it is Kasie West so I expected that:)

Furthermore Furthermore – Tahereh Mafi. 3.5/5 stars. It was enjoyable but I did find I had a hard time getting into it. I think it was more me and the timing than the book. Will probably try re-reading to see if I can get more into it during the Fall.

Warcross Warcoss – Marie Lu. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Marie Lu and this book shows why. It’s addicting and has some amazing characters.

Our Broken Pieces Our Broken Pieces – Sarah White. 3/5 stars. It was a good read but the characters weren’t my favourite. I had a hard time relating to them

Dress Codes for Small Towns Dress Codes for Small Towns – Courtney C Stevens. 4/5 stars. Review. I love Courtney C Stevens. Saying this book was my least favourite of her three doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, just that I really loved the first two I read. This was more character driven and just friends hanging out and discovering who they were.

The Beautiful and the cursed The Beautiful and the Cursed – Page Morgan. 3.5/5 stars. I was really hoping to be blown away but I wasn’t. I had a hard time getting into this one as well.

Roar Roar – Cora Carmack. 4/5 stars. I enjoyed this one. The main girl was sassy, I liked the world that was created, and the supporting cast was great.

Dazzling Heights The Dazzling Heights – Katharine McGee. 4/5 stars. Review. This sucked me in just as much as the first one did. I can’t wait to see where this is going.

The Glass Spare The Glass Spare – Lauren DeStefano. 3.5/5 stars. Review. This one went to places I wasn’t expecting and I liked that. And amazing sibling bonds!

Frigid Frigid – Jennifer L Armentrout. 4/5 stars. Might not be my favourite by her but it was still great.

Genuine Fraud Genuine Fraud – E Lockhart. 3/5 stars. I had high hopes after We Were Liars but this one was very predictable.

This Darkness Mine This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis. 4/5 stars. This seemed to be the month for reading books by favourite authors and being a little disappointed. This one was still great, loved the darkness and the characters, but not as great as The Female of the Species.

If there's no tomorrow If There’s No Tomorrow – Jennifer L Armentrout. 4/5 stars. Really enjoyed this one, especially the main character.

Laney big Laney – Joann I Martin Sowles. 3.5/5 stars. I was in the mood for some vampire and hadn’t read this series yet. It’s interesting so far.

Darkness Darkness – Joann I Martin Sowles. 3.5/5 stars. I was in the mood for some vampire and hadn’t read this series yet. It’s interesting so far.

July TBR:

One Dark ThroneBefore She IgnitesArt of FeelingEven the Darkest Stars

 

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Book Review: The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee

Dazzling Heights

The Dazzling Heights

Release date: August 29th 2017

4 stars

New York, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amidst high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…
LEDA is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden–even if it means trusting her enemy.
WATT just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?
When RYLIN wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.
AVERY is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him… no matter the cost.
And then there’s CALLIOPE, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York, determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.
But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. And in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

I really enjoyed The Thousandth Floor last year, it was one of the books that surprised me with how much I got into it. It was like a futuristic Gossip Girl in some ways. This sequel stuck with the similar format that the first book had. Start with a scene from the future then go back a few months to show how events led up to that point while alternating between the POVs of a few characters. I found the multi-POV really worked because all the characters were so different. It was easy not to get them confused.

Watt and Rylin were my two favourites. Maybe it was because they came from lower floors so they weren’t the rich elite and I found them a bit more relatable than Leda and Avery, or even new character Calliope. I was a bit surprised at how much I found myself feeling sympathetic toward Leda in this book. She wasn’t my favourite in the first book, not by far, but she was paying for a lot of the mistakes she made, mistakes that maybe could have been prevented if her father had been more truthful. Avery I went back and forth on. Sometimes I felt empathy toward her but sometimes I was wishing she would stop to consider other people’s opinions. Calliope was a good addition. She and her mother were con artists and offered a new insight into the characters she met.

The plot centered mostly around the characters dealing with the events from book one and trying to move on in various ways. Their plans didn’t quite happen the way they were expecting or hoping and new wrinkles would appear just as they thought maybe things were turning their way. Calliope was the only character POV who wasn’t present for the first book so it was interesting to see her thoughts as they were fresh to the whole story.

I thought the author did a great job with the pacing, sucking me right into the plot, and with the varied POVs. There wasn’t one time I was wishing to be in someone else’s POV. This book, even with all the healing the characters were trying to do, ended up being a little darker than the first. We see just how far people are willing to go to protect their secrets. It also means the setup for the last book is fantastic.

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

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