Book Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

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Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: June 2nd 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

My Review

This book is amazing! And here is why:

  1. The protagonist, Elyse, is incredible. She may not be able to speak but she still finds ways to stand up for the people she cares about. Her passion and resilience really inspired me. And despite all the ways she’s perfect, she’s also flawed enough to be human. Her character grows so much throughout the book and I can easily say she’s one of my favorite protagonists.
  2. Not surprisingly, the rest of the characters were just as well-developed. Christian, the love interest, did not turn out the way I expected him to. I expected him to be a cliche playboy but he was anything but cliche. He was incredibly strong and patient with Elyse, willing to wait however long it took to read her lips. He treated her the way she deserved to be treated and that is really it all it took. Christian didn’t actually fit any of the cliches I expected the author to use (since his family is wealthy). And guys, his little brother Sebastian is so cute. His dad annoyed the hell out of me because of his reactions toward Sebastian’s desire to do certain things. I honestly just wanted to jump into the book and give Christian’s father a good talking-to about how he doesn’t deserve to have such wonderful children. It’s really been a while since I was so heavily invested in a book.
  3. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids also happens to have some great themes. For most of the book, Elyse, struggles to overcome a tragedy that changes the course of her life. This book is about trying to fit in and trying to find a home in a place where you don’t feel like you belong.

To sum it all up, this book is incredible and if you haven’t read this yet, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for 🙂 

[Comment down below and let me know what you thought of this book. And since I don’t do a lot of “list-reviews,” I’m curious whether you prefer this format to other reviews I’ve done.]

Book Review: Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

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Publisher:Dutton Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 15th 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

My Review

What I Loved

  • This book is realistic while having this romantic movie feel to it. The characters are dealing with real issues, yes but they also happen to have amazing jobs when they’re just in High School! Then there’s the fact that they happen to discover a letter from a Hollywood legend…which leads to something else entirely!

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  • The character’s sexuality wasn’t a big deal. Now I know, in real life, that not everyone you meet will actually be this accepting but for once, it was nice to read a book where nobody gives a damn that the MC is lesbian. Also the fact that (for the most part) she’s over that “coming out” stage is a plus.
  • Charlotte and Emi’s friendship is amazing. Seriously. Charlotte actually wakes up in the middle of the night because Emi needs to talk about a script she thinks is amazing. Then she proceeds to actually read the whole thing! That kind of loyalty and support is great and Charlotte’s willingness to be there for Emi made me wish she was my friend. The best part is that Charlotte is the kind of friend who won’t stand by and let Emi make bad decisions.
  • Emi’s relationship with her brother is so great! I’ve been an only child all my life and it’s books like this that make me wish I had siblings. Her brother’s character is also really developed even though he goes in and out of the story.
  • Lastly, a lot of the things Emi struggles with are pretty relatable. For one thing, she’s single and struggling with her feelings for her girlfriend who’s working on the same movie as her. For another, her emotions are really all over the place and she’s confused about her feelings for another girl. I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be lesbian to relate to that.a

What I didn’t like:

The plot could be really predictable and most of the time, I had a feeling I knew where it was going. BUT this didn’t bother me as much as it usually would because I just fell in love with everything else. It was almost soothing actually because I had a feeling that whatever happened, everything would work itself out so I wasn’t really feeling worried.

Overall:

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Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Release Date: May 12th 2015

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Adult

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Aliveexplores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My Review

To say that this book is intense would be to put it mildly. It deals with a ton of issues (anxiety, bullying, eating disorders, depression, and sexual assault) and at times I felt rather uncomfortable. But the fact was that I was simultaneously wishing I wasn’t reading the book and wishing I had more time to read it! I know..that makes no sense but that’s the point! That and you will have multiple what the fuck reactions while reading this book! Everything about this book grabs your attention and holds it. Even the main character has an unusual name: TifAni.

TifAni, the protagonist, has the “perfect life” in New York. She’s rich, has a fiance and even works at a women’s magazine. She’s obsessed with everything being “just right” – as in the right weight, hair color, purse, vacation, and fiance. But there’s a lot more going on underneath that facade and she clearly has a “past” she’ll be discussing in an upcoming documentary.  

There is a lot of switching between the past and the present and I personally enjoyed it like that. The author successfully manages use these switches to up the tension and suspense. AND it means we get a nice mix of dark/edgy memories and lighter/fluffy stuff. To be honest, the chapters surrounding her HS life could be a lot more interesting at times but when combined together it made for an addictive read.

Ani’s relationship with basically everyone is…weird. (Of-course there’s a reason for the weirdness..) And even Ani, herself, is hard to describe. So yes, I didn’t really like the protagonist but for once, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. I would totally recommend this and don’t be put off by the cover (or the comparison to Gone Girl if you didn’t like Gone Girl).

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Release Date: May 26th 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 3 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

My Review

Warning: This review contains unpopular opinions and some spoilers.

So I read the first book a while ago but I didn’t really like it that much. Since there was all this hype going around about P.S. I Still Love You, I decided to give it a shot anyway. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to give it the same rating as the first book: 3 stars.

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Of-course I want to put it out there that this is a good book and I’d still recommend it people because it’s diverse and it deals with a lot of important issues. I like how the author addressed the double standard society has for boys and girls through Lara Jean’s life. For example, when there’s a video going around of Lara Jean and Peter making out in a hot tub – Lara Jean is affected a lot more. Her teachers come up to her and people think she’s a slut. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, is treated like some kind-of hero because it’s okay for him to do those things but not okay for her. Basically, this is not the light/fluffy read I expected.

The dynamics of her relationship with Kitty and Margot were my favorite part of the book. There was some sweet sisterly love going around and I couldn’t help wishing I had some siblings too. For some reason, I felt like they all had stronger bonds in this book. Margot and Lara Jean were spending time hashing out their relationship problems and having girl talks and Kitty would comment alot on LJ’s love life.

But the characters, especially Lara Jean kind-of annoyed me. Let’s start with Gen. For most of the book she was this classic bitchy ex-girlfriend who LJ kept blaming for everything bad in her life. I get that there are those girls who are just flat-out bitches and sometimes they don’t even need a reason..but I mean why do they have to be the ex-girlfriend?! This bitchy ex-girlfriend trope is so popular in YA and it’s just starting to drive me crazy because I know Gen didn’t have to be portrayed like that. She didn’t have to be that kind-of character.

Then there’s Lara Jean, herself, who was a jealous hypocrite (that I found hard to sympathize with). And she’s really obsessed with Gen and the fact that she’s Peter’s ex-girlfriend. She’s also pretty obsessed with the concept of sleeping with Peter and how he might miss sleeping with Gen. This annoyed me so much because Peter is so laid-back and he actually didn’t mind waiting until she’s ready to do it. And obviously what Peter did with his ex is none of her business and she has no right to keep bringing it up and making him uncomfortable.

And I couldn’t really make up my mind on Peter. He was just there and I didn’t really like his personality but I found it hard to flat-out hate him. 

This book was actually one of my “highly anticipated 2015 releases” but I got bored. However if you were highly anticipating it too, by no means let me discourage you from reading it. I have a feeling I’m in the minority here.

ARC Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)

Release Date: July 2 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

My Review

Disclaimer: This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

It was refreshing to read something featuring characters with voices that made them feel so real to me. Each chapter of the book was a letter from either Ollie or Moritz. They would describe their past and present and often banter with each other. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

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Both of the characters are struggling with a kind-of disability that prevents them from “fitting in” with “normal” people. Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz has a pacemaker. They’re the opposite of each other in almost every way. Ollie is loud and cheerful and extroverted in his letters while Moritz is a bit more hesitant and eloquent. But the fact that by society’s standards they aren’t normal, is what brings them together.

I don’t think I could have picked a favorite! I loved Ollie because he chose to live in the best ways he knew. Despite having seizures when he came in contact with electricity, he still did the craziest things like running at a powerline. Moritz was equally fascinating because he didn’t have eyes but could see the world around him using echolocation. I felt for him more than Ollie because while Moritz had the opportunity to go to school and experience things Ollie might never get to, Moritz also had to deal with bullies and classmates who avoided him because of how he looked.

So while this book initially seemed to be a contemporary, it did contain some sci-fi elements (like the narrators’ strange conditions). I was okay with that. In fact it intrigued me and I felt like it made the premise even more unique and different. But what I do feel the need to point out is that this book isn’t a 100% realistic contemporary. 

The best part about this book would probably be the characters. They took this book to the next level and if you like me, are all about the characters then read this. Fyi, I think the plot is great but not amazing so if you’re looking for something with more action in it, then this isn’t the book for you.

DNF Review: A Million Times Goodnight by Kristina McBride

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Publisher: Egmont USA

Release Date: July 28 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 2 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

A teen Sliding Doors. One choice creates parallel dual narratives in this romantic contemporary mystery-thriller perfect for fans of Just Like Fate and Pivot Point.

One Night. Two Paths. Infinite Danger.

On the night of the big Spring Break party, Hadley “borrows” her boyfriend Ben’s car without telling him. As payback, he posts a naked picture of her online for the entire senior class to see.

Now Hadley has a choice: go back to the party and force Ben to delete the picture or raise the stakes and take his beloved car on a road trip as far away from their hometown of Oak Grove, Ohio, as she can get.

Chapters alternate to reveal each possible future as Hadley, her ex-boyfriend, Josh, and her best friends embark on a night of reckless adventure where old feelings are rekindled, friendships are tested, and secrets are uncovered that are so much worse than a scandalous photo.

My Review

Disclaimer: This ARC was provided by Egmont USA via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I was expecting something dark and edgy and this book did not deliver.

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Basically, Hadley borrows her boyfriend’s car without telling him so he posts a naked picture of her on Facebook. Then Ben, the asshole boyfriend, calls her up and announces that he’ll take down the picture if she returns his car. At this point, the storyline diverges because Hadley (the main character) has two choices: return the car or steal it and go for a joy-ride. What’s a girl to do right? Well apparently we get to find out the pros and cons of each of these options because both of these possibilities are explored in alternating chapters. (Don’t bother asking me why this is the case because I have absolutely no clue..especially as it doesn’t really go anywhere!)

Then there’s the fact that the main character seriously pissed me off. I just did not get the skewed logic behind half of her decisions…and while she was all determined to do something, nothing actually happens. (I mean I don’t even understand why she thinks committing a crime is the best way to take revenge..and her naked photo is still floating around the internet! It’s like Hadley thinks avoiding her problems will make them go away.) I kept anticipating drama but got nothing. To be honest, her friends didn’t really interest me that much either.

So somewhere along the way, I decided not to finish this book. It wasn’t for me but if you’re interested, you should still give it a go!

Book Review: Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

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Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: April 28th 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend’s house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with— secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder’s the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can’t stand—a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there’s one small catch: he thinks he’s been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she’s the girl he’s really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

My Review

Warning: There are spoilers! 

The book started off well but then it started to go downhill.. 

Sonny is this compulsive liar who ends up falling for Ryder Cross (the guy who she thought she can’t stand)..The only problem is that Ryder is into her best friend Amy. So of-course Sonny has to concoct millions more lies to get Ryder to like her but hate Amy. 

Maybe I expected too much of this book…but there’s basically no plot. (Sometimes this actually works out great but not in this book.) There just wasn’t enough happening and I got bored. The storyline was pretty predictable too but I stuck with it just to see if things would happen the way I thought they would…and they did.

Apart from Sonny, the rest of the characters weren’t really that great. (And Sonny isn’t likeable either.. but she is quirky and flawed so that’s something!) Ryder was annoying and assumed things too easily. His banter with Sonny was cute but their interactions in real life kind-of sucked and even when they were supposedly boyfriend/girlfriend, I still felt like it was very one-sided. Amy was kind-of spoiled and she couldn’t seem to stand up for herself. She annoyed me because she often fixated on her own problems when Sonny was freaking homeless because her mother abandoned her.

Amy and Sonny’s friendship was the best part of the book but of-course it got messed up because of Sonny’s lying and obsessive crush on Ryder. 

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BUT I’d still recommend this book because it was interesting and the premise is pretty original…so go read it and tell me what you think!!

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: April 7th 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Lgbt

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

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.

My Review

Lately it seems there are a lot more YA books that deal with lgbt and coming out but of the ones I’ve read so far, this one would definitely be in my top 10. It’s so incredibly cute and adorable that after reading it, I felt like I was just wrapped in this blanket of happiness. I, also, couldn’t stop thinking about Blue and Simon and just what an amazing ship they are! And let’s not forget oreos which I couldn’t stop craving.

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To be honest, there isn’t actually much of a plot in this book but the fact that it’s very realistic and relatable is what made me love it so much. Even though Simon vs is really fluffy, it delves  into important themes like identity, and coming out/being lgbt). The best part is that Simon is portrayed as normal. The whole controversy surrounding the concept of being lgbt makes it easy to forget that we are all humans and feeling a certain a way about someone of your own gender doesn’t change that. In the book, Simon doesn’t stand out as this “other.” He feels like he’s different because he’s gay but at the same time he’s dealing with the same things an “average” (straight) teenager does.

Becky also addresses all the turmoil and controversy surrounding coming out about being gay to your friends and family. Even though Simon’s friends and family turn out to be very accepting, there is still this awkwardness Simon feels about sharing this part of himself with them. In fact, I feel like this book is very relevant to our generation because it explores all the issues related to coming out from the perspective of a truly adorable and likeable character.

I loved basically everything about this book….The writing style, dialogue, and emails exchanged between Simon and Blue were some of my favorite parts of the book. Nothing felt forced or unrealistic and the characters were very unique. The dynamics of Simon’s friend group are also really interesting and the way they all just fit together made me wish I could meet them all in real life.

So basically, go read this book! And then tweet me @inkylove16 and tell me what you think. 🙂