We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Published: February 14th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.”

Review:

Wow. This was super, super sad. If you are an emotional reader, I would recommend having a box of tissues nearby. Marin is a girl who lost her mother at a young age. She was being taken care of by her grandfather and she doesn’t know how to cope when he doesn’t return home. Marin deals with grief and confusing feelings for her best friend Mabel. She up and leaves San Francisco to go to New York, leaving everything behind.

Marin is a young girl that shouldn’t have to deal with what she does. She is left alone and even though she has had many different people that loved her, she always felt alone all of the time. When her grandfather never comes home, she packs and heads right to New York, closing everyone off and not letting anyone in. Not even her best friend Mabel. Mabel, who Marin is in love with. Things get really confusing for both girls.

I think that Nina LaCour did a beautiful job writing how Marin goes through grief. There are seven stages, and I think that each stage was represented. Marin needed help and the author really showed her going through what she was. Things were really hard for her, and because they were hard for her, some parts were hard to read.

I feel like there was something missing at the end of the book. I felt like I was waiting for something, but it didn’t really take away from the book. This is my second Nina LaCour book, and I’m really starting to love her as an author. Can’t wait to read more.

Rating: ★★★★

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.”

Review:

I’m so happy I loved this book as much as I did since it was my 80th book this year and therefore, the end of my Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year! (Of course I’ll continue to read, but yay!). Jordan is a girl who is at a boarding school for performing arts who is struggling to receive parts in the musical for the last three years. Her mom doesn’t want her to be there if she can’t get cast in the musicals. When a spot in the boarding school’s most elite acappella group opens up, she does what she has to in order to get a spot. She dresses up as a boy and it turns out that Jordan, now as Julian, is exactly what the group was looking for. She goes through all of the measures to make sure that this works out. Of course, there are bumps along the way.

Okay but this book was amazing. There were so many great things! This was like Mulan (which is one my favorites) mixed with Glee (another one of my favorites) so it was just amazing to read. Jordan is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. The lengths that she goes through to make sure that she won’t get caught is unfathomable. She is so strong for dealing with so many things on her plate, but she doesn’t let it get to her.

Next, I love the different romances in this book. There were so many and it was awesome to see the straight, bisexual, and gay couples being so well loved. Riley Redgate really wrote these parts wonderfully.

The only thing that I thought could’ve been better were some of the characters. I understand that there are some people who are meant to be background characters and main characters. However, a lot of them were main and then background again, so there were some confusing parts that I had to reread. Other than this, I loved this book a lot. The writing style and story were something that I never really heard of so I was captivated from the start.

Rating: 4.5/5

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger (#1)

Published: June 6th, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

“Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts.

Review:

This book is about a girl named Tessa who has trouble leaving her bedroom after something traumatic happens to her the previous summer. Eric Thorn is a superstar who wishes he wasn’t. Even though he became an international heartthrob and every girl wants him, he’s never felt more alone. He’s nervous all of the time due to a He sees on Twitter than the number one trend is something called #EricThornObsessed. It turns out that Tessa had written a fanfiction about the one and only Eric Thorn. While being confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, she has picked Eric Thorn to be her entertainment. She has a twitter called @TessaHeartsEric with 30 thousand followers and growing. When Eric sees the trend, he gets angry and wants to know why they fangirl over him. He creates a fake account for himself called @EricThornSucks under the name Taylor. Tessa and Eric begin to DM over Twitter about Eric Thorn at first, but it quickly turns into more.

I absolutely loved this book. There were so many things going on that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Let’s break down the things that I really loved:

Characters: Tessa. Tessa. Tessa. Tessa. She was the cutest human alive and I wanted to hug her. I couldn’t imagine going through what she was going through. Agoraphobia clawing at the insides of her brain making her dizzy by the time she gets to the top of her steps. There were some times where I was curious if that was who she really was. You will have to read to find out. Next, Eric Thorn was perfectly written. I feel like he was portrayed exactly how I would think a celebrity would feel. It’s known that a lot of celebrities feel like they are being used and that they have no privacy. A.V. Geiger wrote Eric so perfectly that I could imagine him as a real superstar. I could close my eyes and see a boybander like Harry Styles or Shawn Mendes thinking just like Eric Thorn did.

Story: This is a story unlike any other. I think that the synopsis is what drew me to this book originally. It’s very contemporary and very current with today’s society. It really connects to readers that know Twitter and fandoms. I think it was easier for me to read this because I live in a social media world where everything is known about each other. I’m guilty of that, as well.

Ending: The ending had me screaming. Let’s just say that I’m grateful that there is a sequel because if there wasn’t, I’d be livid. The last page is what really gets you. There are so many questions unanswered and I’m saddened that I have to wait until next year.

Overall, this YA debut was absolutely wonderful. I read it very quickly and that’s because it definitely kept my attention from beginning to end. The coolest part was when I posted a short review on my bookstagram and A.V. Geiger noticed me: 19883688_10210947915466507_164585678_n.jpg

A fun read, definitely check it out!!

The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend

Published: March 7th, 2017

“A fresh, humorous, and timely YA novel about two teens conceived via in vitro fertilization who go in search for answers about their donor.

Milo has two great moms, but he’s never known what it’s like to have a dad. When Milo’s doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo’s extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he’s always wondered about.

Hollis’s mom Leigh hasn’t been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy—giddy, even—by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis’s half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.”

Review:

This story starts out when two lesbian couples go to use IVF to become pregnant. One couple have a girl named Hollis, while the other has a boy named Milo. They met at a very young age, and haven’t seen each other since. Milo suffers from severe allergies to many different things. Hollis has been dealing with a lot since one of her moms, Pam, died from cancer. Hollis’s other mom, Leigh, has been going a little out of her mind with the fact that the ghost of Pam still is with them, and when Milo reconnects with Hollis through Pam’s e-mail, Leigh believes it more than ever. It was a sign from Pam, according to Leigh. Leigh and Hollis hop on a plane to Brooklyn, New York where she spends a lot of time with her half brother and his best friend JJ Rabinowitz (winky face). When Milo and Hollis go through information, it turns out they have three other donor siblings (oh my god could you imagine!). Meeting again with the other siblings this time, they make a bond stronger than they’ve ever had before. This book was not only to show how donor kids feel (like they’re not good enough, etc.), but also shows that the other F-word – family, is the best thing you can have. Whatever life throws at you, your family is who will be by your side. I think this book definitely taught this very important lesson well.

There were many memorable moments in this book. I loved the fact that Natasha Friend brought some real issues and true definitions.

According to this article, “Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.” Natasha Friend wrote about Milo who had this awful issue with allergies to food, pollen, etc., and it wasn’t his biological mother who had it, therefore, there would only be one option left. He felt excited to possibly know who his father was to get some answers about his medical history. Hollis was different than Milo. Hollis didn’t want to know who her father was because she got the feeling of being “damaged goods”. Her father didn’t want her. He went to this donor building, why? She wanted the answers without having to meet him. She was depressed, still reeling from her mother’s death seven years prior. Natasha Friend brought some real issues to light and I’m very glad she did so.

Next, I want to talk about the characters. The character development in this book was very well written. The way that Hollis was in the beginning of the book was frustrating. At 14, she is pretty out of control. I guess it’s possible to blame the fact she is depressed and dealing with bullying throughout the school day, but she is pretty reckless. At the end of the book, her character really figures out who she is. My favorite character in this book is JJ Rabinowitz. His dialogue actually made me laugh out loud multiple times. He has this “I don’t care attitude”, but yet he struggles with his own demons of being adopted. Again, Natasha Friend brought the struggles that an adopted child might feel into this book.

The only thing that I disliked (I wouldn’t even call it that) is the fact that each character was written seeming a little older than they actually were. Hollis especially was a little bad with this. There were times in this book where she was hooking up with a guy named Gunner and skipping class just to do that. I mean I guess I could see it today where things are pretty sexualized, but I think at 14 years old, that’s a problem. She has a loving mother at home, and she doesn’t realize that what she’s doing is wrong. I don’t see how it’s justifiable for a 14 year old. If she was written at age 16/17, I would’ve been better with it.

Overall, I think this book really hit a lot of great topics that need to be discussed: adoption, IVF, cancer, depression, anxiety, family, etc. Natasha Friend’s writing captivated me right from the beginning. The first few sentences had me wondering what was going to happen at the end. The end did surprise me and I definitely wouldn’t be mad if there was a sequel. If there isn’t, I think it’s great just the way it is.

Rating: ★★★★ 

 

Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka

Published: August 1st, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Who Are You When No One Is Watching?

When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory. Compulsively readable and powerfully moving, Girl in Snow offers an unforgettable reading experience and introduces a singular new talent in Danya Kukafka.”

Review:

First, I want to say thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster, and Danya Kukafka for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a story of how a small town suffers loss as a young girl, Lucinda Hayes, is found murdered at the local park. The story is told between three characters: Cameron, Jade, and Russ. Cameron is a young boy who’s father is an ex-cop who went AWOL, leaving him and his mother behind in this small town in Colorado. Jade is a girl who used to be friends with Lucinda. She used to be a lot of things before she secluded herself to only herself, her home, and her sister. She can barely take those things. Lastly, Russ is a current police officer working in that Colorado town. He watched many things throughout the years, including what happened to Cameron’s father, Lee. The three struggle through the death of Lucinda in their own ways, but intertwine and help each other along the way.

The first thing I want to talk about is the cover. Goodness, it’s beautiful. The cover was the first thing that drew me to this book in the first place. After reading the synopsis, it sounded like a book that I would really enjoy. Originally, this book wasn’t marked as young adult, but personally, I believe it should be classified as such. It’s a high school story that anyone would enjoy.

I want to congratulate Danya Kukafka on having such a beautiful debut novel. She really wrote each character delicately, making sure that they seemed like they were living the lives that she had for them. I appreciate when there is more than one character in a book because it’s easy to forget when there’s only one. With three characters, the going back and forth between them all really kept my attention.

The only thing that saddens me is that I feel like there was just something missing. I think it was towards the end, I was waiting for a certain thing to happen between a few people, and it unfortunately never did. It might be just more of a personal preference of what I wanted to happen, but it fell a little short.

Overall, I gave this book 4 stars because it was a great read. The characters throughout were amazing and I really loved a lot of the scenes that Kukafka had written. I wish I could’ve given this five stars, but there were some things missing for me.

Rating: ★★★★

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Published: October 14th, 2008

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.

Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between “normal” and the rest of us.”

Review:

Jeff is not crazy. He’s not sure why he’s in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. After sitting in with meetings of the other members of the ward, he really knows he’s not crazy. So why is he here? He must stay 45 days for treatment since he tried to commit suicide.

This book had a very interesting standpoint. I enjoyed this book, but I felt like I was reading the same chapter over and over again. It wasn’t until the end of the book that it became strong and won me over. I hate when that happens because I have to drop my rating. Finding out what actually happened in the end, and how everything adjusted, was very good. I wish it was that good throughout the book.

The characters in this book weren’t my favorite either. There were a few that I didn’t like and then later in the book, I actually found to be good people. This shows good character development and I love that in a book. If I can switch back and forth from hating to loving and back to hating again, the author did a good job.

I really expected a lot more out of this book and I’m sad that I can’t give it a higher rating.

Rating: ★★★

The Razvak Hunter by Arel B. Grant

Published: February 28th 2016
Publisher: 
BZN Writing House

“Before…
Aelwyd has worked hard to become strong. As the Fairest One of Vallenthar, her power is formidable. Years of battle honed her into a fearsome warrior who never falters in front of an enemy.
However, there are shadows that when they come, they can swallow you whole.
After a hundred years of praying against it, the minute she walks into the chilling scene of death in front of her, she knows her personal nightmare is back.
He nearly destroyed her once, but she isn’t a victim anymore. This time, she will stop him, or she will die trying.

Now…
Dalbran knows nothing of friends, joy, or mischief. The orphaned ward of a ruthless warrior woman, she’s never showed him love or affection. Instead she fills his days with learning the art of battle, savage teachings of how to survive in their harsh world. Days are filled with pain and exhaustion, but nighttime used to be his own. Even that is now lost, though, for something lurks in the shadows of sleep, clawing at him the moment his eyes close. He tells himself it’s okay, that he can handle it. However daunting the voices may be, however cold the hand that chokes him in the darkness, as long as it stays within the nightmare, everything will be all right.

As long as it stays within the nightmare…”

Review:

I received this book in exchange for a review! Thank you again Arel!

There were many things that I liked about this book. I usually don’t read a lot of fantasy, but when I do, it has to keep my attention. This book certainly did!

The first thing that I liked was how the book switched from before and now. I love when a book does that because it makes you have to think about what happened from a few chapters ago, and it really keeps your attention moving back and forth. I loved looking back and seeing how each world was connected.

I liked the main characters and their stories as well. I especially liked Dalbran. He was very well written. Also, I loved that there was a lot of dialogue. I love when I can picture their conversation happening and I could do that a lot in this book.

There were some parts where I was a little confused and had to go back to read it again. Also, I felt like the characters could’ve gone more into depth about their cultures and how they were. There wasn’t much to describe a lot of the characters and that is where it lost some points for me. However, this does say it is the first in the series, so more might come out in the sequel.

Overall, if you are a YA fantasy reader, I would definitely encourage you to read this book. There were so many elements that were great and I am definitely looking forward to the sequel!

Rating: ★★★★