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Book Review: The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls

The Nowhere Girls

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story. Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three: Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head. Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant. Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android. When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students. Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

There seem to be a lot of books coming out that tackle the issue of rape culture, and real life proving that there can never be enough of these types of books. There were three very relatable main characters but we were also introduced to many others with small snippets in many POVs of many different girls who were being affected by the events of the book. I really liked seeing these girls come together, fight for each other, and have such open discussions with each other.

Grace, Rosina, and Erin were the three girls we spent the most time with, the main characters. Grace was the new girl, having moved with her parents after her mother needed to find a new job; Rosina was the eldest girl in a large, extended family so she was overwhelmed with family duties; Erin had Asperger’s and was dealing with a mother who spent more time on autism chat rooms than understanding her own daughter. These three were the girls who were behind The Nowhere Girls, giving girls at their school a safe place to speak their minds. The friendship that formed between them was amazing.

I loved all the additional snippets from other characters, some agreeing with the group and some not. We saw girls from all different perspectives and I thought it was very realistic that not everyone agreed with everything, even if they agreed with some of it. I also loved the secret meetings and how open the dialogue was between the girls during these meetings. It was great to see the girls actually talking and educating each other instead of judging and bullying, though there were still a few times a comment would slip in.

There was also a blog run by one of the male characters that we saw posts from, countering and commenting on what the girls were doing. It was disgusting and sad, especially knowing there are people who agree with it. It was good that we saw decent male characters in the book as well so not every male was bad.

It was a slower read, mostly due to the heavy content. It’s not something that should be an easy read and it’s definitely one that will stick with readers.

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

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Book Review: Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier

Rules of Rain

Rules of Rain

Release date: December 5th 2017

3.5 stars

A dramatic new novel about the bond between a teen and her twin brother.
Rain has taken care of Ethan all of her life. Before she even knew what autism meant, she’s been her twin brother’s connection to the hostile world around him. She’s always prepared—when her father abandons them, when her mother gets sick, when Ethan is tortured by bullies from school—Rain is the reliable, stable one holding them all together. She’s both cautious carer and mad chef, preparing customized meals for her family and posting crazy recipes on her cooking blog.
Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and she’s sure that nothing will ever change—until one night when her world is turned upside down by a mistake she can’t take back. As her new romance with her long-time crush and her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, she discovers that the fragile brother whom she’s always protected has grown into a young man who no longer needs her. And now, for the first time, she finds that she needs him.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect going in to this book but it turned out to be a quick, cute read that had some great supporting characters and some very good character growth for the main character. There were interesting family dynamics, romance, and amazing friendships. I really liked Rain’s blog entries with her food suggestions and Ethan’s experiments.

Rain started the book as someone who pretty much lived to take care of her brother. As he started to become more independent, she struggled with losing her own sense of self. Who was she if she wasn’t her brother’s caregiver? That, and trusting other people with her brother, were something she was struggled with the whole book and had to learn to let go. The relationship she had with her brother was sweet but also could be a little co-dependent.

The romance was sweet, though sometimes Liam did seem a little too perfect. The friendships were a huge highlight and I would definitely read a spin-off featuring either Ethan and Hope or Marcus and Kathy. I was surprised at how invested I got into their stories considering they weren’t the main focus. I loved the way the group interacted with each other. They seemed like they would be a lot of fun to hang out with.

The plot was very character focused so if the reader didn’t like Rain, it might be hard to enjoy the book. It was quick to read and I got way more invested than I first expected.

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

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Book Review: When It’s Real by Erin Watt

When It's Real

When It’s Real

4 stars

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.
Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

This book was very cute, perfect for a summer read or curling up under a blanket or in bed and just losing yourself in the characters and the plot. I do love the hate-to-love trope and I thought this book handled it very well. I loved the dynamics, not only between the two main characters, but between all of them. It was entertaining to read and very easy to completely lose myself in the story.

Vaughn was a good girl, never really in trouble, helping out at home, and when the opportunity to to pose as a teen celebrity’s girlfriend and take financial strain off her older sister came up, she had to say yes. I really liked her. She wasn’t afraid to speak up when Oakley treated her badly but, no matter how angry he could make her, she was still willing to listen to him when he opened up to her. Oakley was someone who’d had a lot of success at a young age and, while he was still young now, was in a bit of a creative drought. He needed to prove he was a serious artist to work with the best of the best and his team thought dating a ‘normal’ girl was the way to do that. I liked that there were little scenes early on to show he wasn’t just a jerk, there was a decent guy underneath his celebrity persona.

The pages really flew by, even at over 400 pages it was a quick read. I really liked seeing Oakley and Vaughn getting to know each other, getting on each other’s nerves, bickering then making up, everything they did was fun to read. Their relationship was what drove the plot so if the reader wasn’t too invested in their romance, fake or developing, they might not get as absorbed into the book as I did. I loved them and I’m very glad I have 3 of the Royals series to dive in to now that I’ve finished this one.

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Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Release date: October 17 2017

4 stars

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES. And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

This book was a fast read and I found it to be very unique. Told from the POV of Will in the verse style, the chapters were short but very engaging. It made it very easy to say one more chapter until the book was finished. Almost the whole book took place within the length of the elevator ride from the eighth floor to the lobby and it did so without feeling like the plot was being stretched out.

Will was someone I found to be a relatable character and he had a voice that really resonated, that stayed with me long after I closed the book. He was grieving for his brother and he wanted revenge, he knew he had to follow the rules his brother taught him and as long as he could focus on that, he had a purpose. He was hurting and angry and just wanted someone to pay.

I liked seeing who was going to come on to the elevator next and what they would add to the conversation. Each person had a connection to Will, even if he didn’t know it right away, and they all gave him and the reader something to think about. Jason Reynolds could have doubled the amount of floors and stops and I’m sure I still would have loved it because the conversations were so great and important.

The verse style worked well for the subject matter. It drew attention and highlighted the parts of the conversations that ended up sticking more in my mind and it made for a quick read. I wasn’t fully prepared for just how much this short book shook me but I know I won’t be forgetting it.

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

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Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Afterlife of Holly Chase

The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Release date: October 24th 2017

4 stars

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
She didn’t.
And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.
Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.
But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

I am a huge fan of Cynthia Hand, she’s never disappointed me with one of her books, and this one kept that streak alive. It was a re-telling of A Christmas Carol and I enjoyed seeing other Dickens’ works tied in to this one, with some of the characters having names like Havisham and Dorrit. The book was short, her shortest one yet, and it ended up being a very quick read. It could easily be read in a night, sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace(or in bed, or wherever someone wants to read).

This book wasn’t just a re-telling of the original in a modern world or with a female main character. It took a Scrooge in Holly Chase who was spoiled and mean and just an absolute brat and showed the reader her punishment for not changing, for not considering the warnings of the three ghosts. After her death, she was sentenced to work for Project Scrooge, trying to save other Scrooges from her fate. Her target this year was seventeen-year-old Ethan, a teen who was very similar to her before her death so this time she found herself getting more invested.

Holly wasn’t too likeable at the beginning, first as a spoiled rich girl while she was alive then just going through the motions of her job with little respect for anyone. The feeling of being drawn to Ethan due to their similarities was what started her to open her eyes. They had great interactions and were a lot of fun to read.

There wasn’t a whole lot of time for a lot of character development in supporting characters. It was really focused on Holly and Ethan, which was a little disappointing because I usually find a favourite character in Cynthia Hand’s supporting cast. Even with the short amount of pages, there were still twists in the plot and it was a quick, fun read.

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

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Book Review: Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Kat and Meg

Kat and Meg Conquer the World

Release date: November 7th 2017

3.5 stars

Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos.
It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.

This book was a quick read with great moments of female friendship and both main characters showing a lot of growth. I enjoyed the way their love of a video game and YouTube star brought them together. They were such complete opposites but they worked well as friends, first more as a convenience since neither really had any friends and then as someone they could trust. It stayed pretty light but still tackled some issues like mental illness(anxiety, panic attacks, and ADHD).

Kat was the one I found myself identifying with more than Meg. Kat was new, quiet, and getting paired with Meg for a science project was a huge nightmare. She was the type of student who would rather work by herself and know she would get a good grade than chance her partner bringing her down. Meg was more outgoing, very open with her love for Lumberlegs, and wasn’t the most reliable when it came to schoolwork. Her antics drove Kat crazy but she also pushed Kat to try new things so they balanced each other very well.

I enjoyed the YouTube/Lumberlegs plot line. Both girls loved watching the YouTube star Lumberlegs playing a video game, one that Kat also loved to play and Meg was learning to play. It was relevant to today with so many YouTube stars making names for themselves. It was nice to see their love of the video game tie into their science project, which was another major plot of the book. The science project was their big assignment for the year and was a big source of disagreement between the two girls due to their difference of work ethics.

The plot was predictable but enjoyable. It was fast to read and I will definitely be looking for more books from this author in the future.

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

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Book Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Moxie

Moxie

Release date: September 19th 2017

4 stars

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.
Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

This book was a lot different than I was expecting, in a good way. It wasn’t just about a girl finding her voice, it wasn’t just about standing up against sexism, and it wasn’t just about feminism or girl power. I was completely drawn in to Vivian’s story, her journey, and I just couldn’t put this book down.

Vivian was a girl who liked to stay in her comfort zone. She was a good girl who had her group of friends and was happy staying on the outside of the school social scene. Deciding to do something about the sexism wasn’t easy for her and even doing something anonymously was hard for her since it was so out of character. But I loved that it brought her closer to new friend Lucy and to love interest Seth, plus it added an extra dynamic to her group of friends. Vivian learned to stand up for herself and she inspired many other girls in her school to do the same.

I thought the romance was well done. Seth was a great addition without taking away the focus from the main storyline. It gave the story a good guy who wanted to support the cause but who also sometimes didn’t quite “get it”. Seth was a very good guy and he was open to listening. He and Vivian managed to have a healthy relationship, which was great, and even through their ups and downs, I was hopeful they would stay together.

Mostly, I loved the positive female relationships in this book. There were so many different ways we saw girls supporting each other and every time someone tried to tear one of them down, they were there for each other. It still showed that not all the girls had the same mindset when it came to how to handle things like sexism and feminism but I loved that the book was open to showing that.

This is the type of book that makes you want to blast girl power songs, sing along at the top of your lungs, and start a revolution.

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

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Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die At the End

They Both Die at the End

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

Adam Silvera is 3/3 at making me fall apart while reading his books. This one was very unique, each of his books are so different from each other, and I fell in love with this cast of characters. They pulled me right into their story, these two completely different boys and their friends, and I both didn’t want to stop reading and wanted to run away because of the title and anticipation of all the crying. It was an Adam Silvera book after all.

I enjoyed the multi-POV with the focus on Rufus and Mateo. It was mostly told through the eyes of the two main boys but we got little glimpses into a lot of characters who played a role in the day’s events. Sometimes they were character who’d also gotten to call, sometimes they were friends of either Rufus or Mateo, and sometimes they seemed like a random POV. Everything tied together very well, something I’ve come to expect from an Adam Silvera book.

I like the contrast between the two main boys. Mateo was quiet, much less adventurous, and was dealing with anxiety. Rufus was harsher, abrasive, but underneath very caring. Neither of them deserved to get a call from Deathcast saying they were going to die that day but they did and they both chose to make the most of it. I really liked the idea of an App where someone who’d gotten the call could find someone to spend their last day with and that were places they could go to have an amazing experience.

The whole idea of Deathcast had me wanting more, not in the ‘it wasn’t explained or built well in the book’ way but in the ‘this is so fascinating’ way. I could read about its creation, about the person who got the first call, about the people left behind. There could be so many stories written in this universe and I would read them all. And probably cry a lot because it’s Adam Silvera. Maybe one day I’ll make it through one of his books without crying but it wasn’t this one.

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

 

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Book Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints

All the Crooked Saints

Release date: October 10th 2017

4 stars

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.
At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.
They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

I loved Maggie Stiefvater’s books that I’ve read so far so I was very excited for this one. It’s so easy to get lost in Maggie’s writing and the worlds and characters that she builds. This was no exception. The book was slow, but not in a way that dragged. Instead it worked perfectly with the world she was creating to completely draw me in and fall in love with her characters.

The plot centered around the Sorias family, in particular three teens, Daniel, Beatriz, Joaquin. Daniel was the Saint of Bicho Raro who granted miracles. Joaquin dreamed of being a radio DJ. Beatriz was the one who tied everything together, the engineer, the builder. The three of them started an illegal radio show and right from the beginning, their bond was evident. I really liked all three of these characters and they each had their own journey. The supporting cast were all great as well and I liked seeing all the little insights into them all that tied back into the overall mythology of the story.

I really liked the mythology of the Saint of Bicho Raro, the granting of miracles, and having to face a fear before that miracle is granted. The Sorias family was forbidden from helping the ‘Pilgrims’ face these fears under threat of being confronted by their own darkness. The imagery Maggie Stiefvater used to decribe the darkness of the ‘Pilgrims’ was fantastic. It was so easy to picture what was happening and so easy to get lost in her story.

The book was very character driven, which I didn’t mind because I loved these characters. It made the pacing slow but again, it didn’t mater because I was so lost in the story. As long as Maggie keeps putting out books like this and The Raven Boys, she remains on my auto-buy list.

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

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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Release date: September 5th 2017

4 stars

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.
Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

I love fantasy books and I love re-tellings so this book seemed like it would be a perfect choice. There was definitely a lot that I found entertaining about the story, the characters, and I enjoyed the dual POV, especially in the beginning when we saw Mina’s childhood versus Lynet’s childhood. I thought it still worked well later in the book when Mina was grown and Lynet was still a teenager. They had an interesting dynamic and having seen that glimpse into Mina’s childhood made her a more sympathetic character than beginning the book with her as an adult.

Both girls had very distinct voices so I found it easy to tell which POV I was in, which was good since there didn’t seem to be a clear format(like switching every chapter). Both girls also had similar journey arcs through the book, different enough so it didn’t feel like I was reading the same thing from a new POV but similar enough so they felt connected. The relationship between Mina and Lynet was key to the plot and was my favourite part of the book. Their dynamic was so much more than just a stepmother who hated her stepdaughter for a seemingly shallow reason. Instead they had a complex relationship where Mina had known Lynet for years, helped raise her, and Lynet had always admired her.

The romance was slow burn, very slow burn, so anyone reading simply for the romance might be a little disappointed in the lack of it. It focused on Mina and Lynet’s relationship, their growth as individual characters, and their desire to be their own person instead of the people their parents wanted them to be. I would have liked to have seen more world building, especially in regards to magic and how it was used, and it would have been nice to have seen more interactions between more characters instead of most of the character interactions being between a small group. Other than that, it was a very enjoyable read.

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

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