Book List 2018

Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

leahTitle: Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA Fiction, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Review:

Leah is such a smartass and I love her. She is also bitter sometimes, which causes me want to give my head a shake, reach into the book and tell her to buck up. To trust the people she is friends with to accept her for who she is, her whole identity.

This book is filled with strife, and palpable angst. It is a young adult book through and through but yet is so very identifiable.

We’ve all had feelings for people we maybe shouldn’t have feelings for, we’ve all loved people who maybe we shouldn’t love.

This book is not as light as Simon, which is amazing to say, because Simon is not light. But this is heavy, and emotional, and often at times because of how frustrated I would get with the characters, was very hard to read.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, and that it was not well written because it definitely was. Becky Albertalli is one of my favourite writers, and I’ve pretty much established that I will read anything she wants to write. Literally anything.

This book is good. It’s solid. Read it.

 

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Book List 2018

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853Title: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: YA, Romance, LGBTQIA+

Summary: 

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Quotes I love:

“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.”

Review: 

It’s so sad in a way that I empathize and understand so much of the quote above now at 30 as I did when I was a teenager. Especially given that I’ve always been a few pounds or more over the average.

The characters in this book are not overly suave, they’re not perfect and sometimes they are awkward and yet they are always endearing.

Molly is so familiar to me, she is like a friend I grew up with, but in reality she is so much like I was that I can’t help but feel so amazingly attached to her. Becky Albertalli excels at writing extremely human characters who you can identify with.

They get angry with each other, they fight and they care so much and it made me, as a reader, care about them as if they were real, living people.

Reid is just adorable, actually they all are.

Read this book if you want to feel something real, and then feel something that makes you feel good.

Also, cannot help but love the appearance of Simon, Blue and Abby. This is a book I will keep on my shelf, and pick up again and again to read and try and make other people read.

Book List 2018

Review: Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

fawkes
Gorgeous cover art is always a plus!

Title: Fawkes

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Release Date: 10 July, 2018

Summary: 

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Review: 

This book has so much in it that I love, so I’m just going to start with that. I’ve been a fan of YA fantasy since…well since I was the age that YA is usually geared towards. However it was very rare that something as good as this came along, especially something that included real life historical events.

The plot of this book comes together really well, winding the historical facts in with the fiction, and the fantasy weaving it all together in one beautifully written package.

The magic within the book is encompassing and wonderful. It was interesting to read how the masks help the users control, or invigorate their magic.

The writing in this book, and the descriptive nature carried me through the streets of London at a time very different from now. It had me clutching my eReader in fear for Thomas, a character I grew to care about extremely quickly.

This is definitely one of my favourite books I’ve read this year. I wished for more the minute I turned the last page, and then proceeded to order a copy to be delivered to myself on release day. After all I am definitely going to lend it to everyone I know as soon as I can.

And I will be reading more of Nadine Brandes’ books for as long as she keeps writing.

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Book List 2018

Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

36101070
Gorgeous cover art.

Title: Emergency Contact

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Genre: YA

Release Date: 27 March, 2018

Summary: 

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Review: 

The verdict is in after much deliberation and I’ve decided I like this book quite a lot. It just took me a while while reading to come around to doing so, and I hate myself for the reason why.

I found it awkward to have a male character who wore his emotions on his sleeve so much, who felt so deeply that he couldn’t help but let it show.

I want you to know, people or persons reading this, that this is not a statement of something wrong with the book but rather a statement of what I have become as a reader, and as someone who didn’t even realize they bought into society’s shitty ideals of what people should be.

So thank you, author, for reminding me that there is nothing wrong at all with anyone of any gender who feels so deeply that it shows. In fact it is downright refreshing, as was much of this book.

It’s not your run of the mill oh let’s meet and fall in love kind of book. It is awkward, as romance can be awkward. It is angsty, and in some ways it hurts, but when it’s going good, it’s going extremely well. This book felt good to read. So good in fact that I read it twice.

Once I realized that I suck, the book got better. It’s a challenge in a way, and I’m not sure the author intended that but I would like to thank Mary H.K. Choi nonetheless because she re-opened my heart in a way, and I think that’s really all I can ask for.

So this cynic would like you all to read this book. Please. With an open mind.

Received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Book List 2018

Review: Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

almost midnightTitle: Almost Midnight

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Summary: Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

Review: 

Midnights is a beautifully written story, spanning many years, and all the same characters as they change throughout time. But some things, such as love, definitely stay the same, even flourish.

It is heart-warming, and wonderfully written by one of my favourite authors. Rainbow Rowell is a master when it comes to language, and making her readers feel something. This is sweet, cute, and to the point with a hint of nostalgia.

Kindred Spirits is a tribute to fandom, to the people that follow it, and love it, sometimes to their own sleepy detriment.

It is also a tribute to Star Wars, and what that franchise, and its characters has come to mean for the fans. It was sweet, and well written with just the slightest bit of conflict.

To me it was very Breakfast Clubesque, but with some awesome fandom references.

 

Book List 2018

Review: All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

all these beautiful strangersTitle: All These Beautiful Strangers

Author: Elizabeth Klehfoth

Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Scandal

Release Date: July 10th, 2018

Summary:

In the last day of summer, Grace Fairchild, the beautiful young wife of real estate mogul Allister Calloway, vanished from the family’s lake house without a trace, leaving behind her seven-year old daughter, Charlie, and a slew of unanswered questions.

Years later, seventeen-year-old Charlie still struggles with the dark legacy of her family name and the mystery surrounding her mother. Determined to finally let go of the past, she throws herself into life at Knollwood, the prestigious New Englandschool she attends. Charlie quickly becomes friends with Knollwood’s “it” crowd.

Charlie has also been tapped by the A’s—the school’s elite secret society well known for terrorizing the faculty, administration, and their enemies. To become a member of the A’s, Charlie must play The Game, a semester-long, diabolical high-stakes scavenger hunt that will jeopardize her friendships, her reputation, even her place at Knollwood.

As the dark events of past and present converge, Charlie begins to fear that she may not survive the terrible truth about her family, her school, and her own life.

Review:

This book was awesome. I delved into the pages, and the plot and the history of the story. The imagery that surrounded me was at times muted, and sepia toned, old memories brought to the forefront in the in between chapters; at other times it was vivid, and vibrant filled with fear and excitement.

The plot is a strong one, a mystery woven together eloquently, pulling the reader in and making them wish to stay to just learn a little bit more. There is scandal, and controversy and wonderment.

The characters are flawed, and spoiled and rich, but not unchanging. They grow between the words, and flourish, but aren’t without their shame.

Overall this is a book that is meant to draw you in and keep you there.

It is good for fans of YA fiction, of mystery, of suspense. It is cerebral in its intensity.

My only question remained: What happened to Dalton?

Received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Book List 2018

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

truly devious.jpgTitle: Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Genre: YA, Mystery

Summary: 

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Review:

Love it. Love it. LOVE IT.

This is not my first Maureen Johnson book, and though I was initially sad about not getting another Shades of London book in early 2018 I am certainly not disappointed.

Also, some people say don’t judge a book by a cover, and I try not to but can we take a moment to just stare at the eye catching cover of this book, because it is gorgeous. The blue drew me right in.

I also ended my supposed book buying ban for this book. I decided I needed it that much.

It was definitely worth the money and then some. In fact I bought it as an eBook and I have already decided I need a physical copy so I can lend it to everyone right this moment.

Ellingham Academy is attractive to someone who likes mysteries like me, and I guess Stevie. A supposedly solved but not really solved mystery? Is there anything better in this world.

(Well, I guess a world without killers would be good actually. Like…optimal…)

Stevie is a character I can identify with. While I appear normal, I am often the most awkward human in the room, with some really odd interests.

The other characters in this novel, without giving too much away are also interesting in their own right, each with their own uniquely defined personalities. And some of them don’t seem like they should be trusted.

This book has three mysteries within it, and one of them doesn’t even seem mysterious at first. I was wrong in thinking that, and was rather delightfully surprised. That’s nice for me because I can be downright cynical.

Maureen Johnson is masterful in how the plot of the past case, and the new are woven in, connected to each other and drawing the reader into the novel.

Definitely a good read. I cannot wait for the next book.

Book List 2018

Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon vs the homo sapiens agendaTitle: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Genre: Young adult, LGBTQIA+, Romance

Summary: 

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Quotes I loved: 

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Review: 

I can’t freaking even.

I loved this book like I love breathing. I need it to live. I might also now need this book to leave. I haven’t given it away to test it.

This was glorious. It was one of the most heart warming, wonderful, stupendous books I have ever read.

I would have loved to have read this book earlier in life, or had this book exist when I was younger because the subject matter is so damn important.

The characters are vulnerable, strong, loving, and flawed. They are beautiful, charismatic, amusing and just plain wonderful. Every word of this book was a freaking gift to me.

Love it. Can’t wait to see the movie. Can’t wait to read more by Becky Albertalli. Just love ❤

Book List 2018

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

a study in charlotteTitle: A Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro

Genre: YA, Mystery, Sherlockian

Summary: The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Favourite Quotes: 

“We weren’t Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. I was ok with that, I thought. We had things they didn’t, too. Like electricity, and refrigerators. And Mario Kart.”

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

Review: 

I bought this book as a vacation read and then proceeded to be so tired on my vacation that I didn’t pick it up. I definitely regret that now.

This book is good. That being said I will read anything remotely to do with Sherlock Holmes. I am that bad. Or good? I can’t tell anymore.

Charlotte and Jamie run the risk of being insufferable, annoying teenagers who think they know everything. But there’s a vulnerability to both of them that keep them from bridging that gap into dangerous territory.

The way the mystery was woven into the plot was quite nice, and there was a slow beginning but a rather speedy middle and end. It was a good romp, an adventure with a new kind of Holmes and Watson.

I will be picking up the next book.

 

Book List 2017, Reviews

Review: Eliza and her Monsters


64Title: 
Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Genre: Romance, contemporary, YA

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 fan fiction 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.

With illustrations from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums and snippets of Wallace’s fan fiction, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Review: 

This book. This freaking book. This wonderful book. These characters. Please just take a chance on this if you have ever considered yourself a nerd, or a geek, or for a time or even now find the online world a more comfortable place to be than the real world. You need to go to your local book retailer, or your library, or online and get a copy of this book.

I will start out by saying that I bought this book two days ago and started and finished it in one sitting. I devoured the words on the page, and the illustrations and I adored the meta within.

The setting is standard, a girl’s bedroom, her computer, her art, her whole life encompassed in one room and school the interloper in that life.

It’s possible I felt an affinity for this character because she reminds me so much of myself when I was younger. I often felt more comfortable online, behind a computer screen, only instead of drawing I would write feverishly, words flowing out about my favourite characters in TV, movies and books. My friends, encouraging me from around the world.

I was never a big name though, but did seek comfort from my anxiety in that world. Sometimes I still do.

This book is reminiscent of Fangirl, which is one of the things that appealed to me about it. It is a familiar world in this genre now and I am not complaining as it does remain set apart, without seeming to copy Rowell’s work. Eliza’s journey is individual, and wonderful on its own without the comparison.

The story unfolds with each anticipatory word, skillfully written, and each artwork, beautifully rendered. There is immense growth within the characters, and a bleak, hopeless moment or two that had me clutching my eReader, half panicked.

It is not without flaws, sometimes the characters seem a touch pretentious, but then don’t we all when we’re teenagers, thinking we know everything? Their self-absorption is as real as the words on the page, but so is their character development and their gaining strength.

It is a real, and sometimes upsetting portrayal of anxiety that really impressed me in this, the symptoms and the feelings of that vivid, and possibly triggering.

Favourite Quotes:

“That computer is my rabbit hole; the internet is my wonderland. I am only allowed to fall into it when it doesn’t matter if I get lost.”

“Monstrous Sea is mine.
I made it, not the other way around.
It’s not a parasite, or an obligation, or a destiny.
It’s a monster.
It’s mine.
And I have a battle-axe waiting for it.”

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends. They don’t just hold Monstrous Sea together. They hold me together.
Max and Emmy are the reason any of this exists.”

What I plan to read next by this author:
The Children of Hypnos
Made You Up