With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★★★

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Review:

Okay so… I am absolutely obsessed with this book. It was my favorite young adult read of the year thus far. As a girl from Philadelphia, I needed this book in my life and I didn’t even know it.

It starts off with Emoni Santiago, a teen mom to a little girl named Emma, who loves to cook. She lives with her grandmother (her Abuela) and is a senior in high school. From the very beginning, you see that Emoni does everything for the two people that mean the most to her, but wants to have a successful career in the culinary industry. When a program comes to her high school, she signs up for the class immediately. With this class, there’s an opportunity to take a trip to Spain to learn more about the culinary arts and Emoni wants to go. It may seem impossible at that moment, but she wants to do everything she can to get on that trip.

When a boy in her culinary class starts to pursue her, Emoni doesn’t know what to do. He wants to be in her life and she doesn’t know what to do because of her past and current life. She worked, took care of her baby girl and her grandmother. Nevertheless, he persisted and Emoni found herself falling for him. This honestly was my favorite part of the book. Emoni found her feelings and really grew this part. She realized what was best for her and how things would turn out. Also, even though I am a massive romance novel buff, her love interest wasn’t the main focus of this book. Making this novel about her growth and showing herself what’s truly best for her and her child was the best part. This is why it got such a high rating from me.

Another thing that this book did so beautifully was give the perspective of a teen mom. They always get a bad reputation and Emoni really let herself PREACH all of the stereotypes and how wrong they were. She was a proving character that worked hard at a young age to provide what she needed to.

Lastly, let me just say, being from Philadelphia – this book will hold a special place in my heart. When hearing the terms “Center City”, “jawn”, “Oxford Circle” and more, I began to really swoon over this book because it held such an emotional connection for me. Elizabeth Acevedo really did her research because the terminology was phenomenal and I felt right at home.

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ★★★★

At once a twisted psychological portrait of a woman crumbling under unimaginable pressure and a razor-sharp satire of the contemporary art scene, FAKE LIKE ME is a dark, glamorous, and addictive story of good intentions gone awry, from the critically acclaimed author of I’ll Eat When I’m Dead

What really happened to Carey Logan?

After a fire decimates her studio, including the seven billboard-size paintings for her next show, a young, no-name painter is left with an impossible task: recreate her art in three months-or ruin her fledgling career.

Homeless and desperate, she flees to an exclusive retreat in upstate New York famous for its outrageous revelries and glamorous artists. And notorious as the place where brilliant young artist Carey Logan-one of her idols-drowned in the lake.

But when she arrives, the retreat is a ghost of its former self. No one shares their work. No parties light up the deck. No one speaks of Carey, though her death haunts the cabins and the black lake, lurking beneath the surface like a shipwreck. As the young painter works obsessively in Carey’s former studio, uncovers strange secrets and starts to fall–hard and fast–for Carey’s mysterious boyfriend, it’s as if she’s taking her place.

But one thought shadows her every move: What really happened to Carey Logan?

Review:

I have to say, I don’t know much about modern art or the art world. There was something about this book that taught me quite a bit, but also left me feeling like I wanted to learn more. Even though I didn’t know much about what was happening surrounding the art world, it didn’t give me a sense of confusion. I feel like I personally enjoyed it more because I was learning and reading an interesting novel.

There were some turns in this novel and I think that they were all handled efficiently. The characters were a big part of the twists that you find. There’s a big sense of the narrator stepping into Carey Logan’s shoes, but what I appreciated was that they kept their own identities. I loved the fact that Carey Logan and the narrator were two separate people and that the art talked about in this book is kept apart and they are both equally important.

The thing that I liked the most about this book was that I pretty much knew what the major twist was going to be. Some might be upset or mad that they knew what was coming. However, I felt really satisfied when everything become upended and then came back down to be tied all together.

I originally classified this novel as a thriller as that’s what it was claimed to be. However, I think this has many different genres. Women’s fiction, mystery, contemporary, all wrapped into one novel. If you’re looking for a fast-paced mystery and looking to learn, I’d recommend this book!

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ★★★

Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Review:

There isn’t a Kasie West book I haven’t read.

Every time I pick one up, I don’t even need to know what’s going on. I can gather it from the first few sentences and that’s why I love her books so much. I love the fluff in all of her books because she writes it so flawlessly. This book was interesting and threw me for a little bit of a loop. I didn’t expect to hear a story about teens on a movie set. It was cool to see the behind-the-scenes perspective.

I really enjoyed the characters. Lacey (what a GREAT name for a main character, haha) and Donovan. They were very similar and easy to like. They were stubborn, sweet, and driven to be better all the same.

One thing that I could complain about was the speed of this book. I feel like I was sitting in traffic that would open a little bit and then slam on its brakes. It was fast paced and then would dramatically slow down to the point where I was questioning if I wanted to skip over that part.

The other thing that I couldn’t really get into was the amount of sabotage that this book had in it. It kept me entertained in the beginning to see who it was going to be, but when nothing kept happening, I was beginning to get frustrated. I was wondering and wondering and it got old fast.

Overall, Kasie West books are always winners to me. If you are a young adult genre lover, then you need to read her books. There’s a lot of them so buckle down!

2019 Reading Challenge: 75/75

Well, that was fast! As of July 15, 2019, I finished my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Below is a complete list of the 75 books I finished with their ratings!

Average Rating: 3.5/5
Days Taken To Reach Goal: 197