Book Review: Girl Against The Universe

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Original Release Date:

May 17th 2016

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4.5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Maguire’s story gave me anxiety – and I kind of came into it expecting a supernatural vibe – that she really is bad luck – but its a PTSD-related contemporary and I have to say I enjoyed it as that more than I thought.

If memory serves, they don’t outright say PTSD – but it seemed very strongly like what it was portraying. I liked that they showed the steps of the recovery process, little and big, and that back-sliding was more or less inevitable but help was not weakness. And that a boy couldn’t fix her problems. She isn’t cured but working towards recovery which was kore honest than most mental illness contemporaries.

I liked the sports aspect – mostly because it required absolutely no understanding of tennis.

The romance was cute and a slow burn. And I loved all the character inter-actions and their growth through out the story. Especially Maguire’s improving relationship with her step-dad.

It was a great story, well written and with a great portrayal of PTSD without brushing off symptoms for the sake of the romance or stereotypes.

 

Book Review: Not If I See You First

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Original Release Date:

December 1st 2015

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

3.5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

The Rules:

Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I really liked this book, liked its portrayal of blindness as a fact of life needing accommodation but not pity – Parker is fully capable. And as a disability rarely seen in YA, I liked its representation (though I cannot claim it to be accurate as I have no experience be it first or second hand).

I did like the character development and the backstory that is built through out.

What I didn’t like was the abrupt nature of the ending, of her forgiveness of Scott after one conversation. The love triangle was unnecessary and the ending felt rushed. Even if the romance between her and Scott was cute.

They raised questions of her dad’s death – that it may not be an accident – without resolving them. Why raise questions if they don’t progress the story at all? And her aunt felt very “Cinderella’s step-mother” in the beginning and I disliked it.

Thats why I rated it a middling 3.5 stars.

 

 

 

Netgalley Review: It’s All Absolutely Fine

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

November 17th 2016

Date I Read The Book:

December 2016

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Standalone /  graphic autobiography

Official Summary:

IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE is a darkly comic, honest and unapologetic illustrated account of the daily struggles with mental health. Ruby Elliot, aka Rubyetc, is the talent behind the hit tumblr account, ‘Rubyetc’, which has over 210k followers and growing. Taking readers on a journey through the ups and downs of life, the book will encompass everything from anxiety, bipolar disorder and body image to depression and identity, shining a light on very real problems – all framed with Ruby’s trademark humour and originality.

Ruby balances mental health with humour, making serious issues accessible – and very funny. With the superb talent to capture the essence of human emotion (and to make you laugh out loud), this book is as important and necessary as it is entertaining. IT’S ALL ABSOLUTELY FINE will include mostly never-before-seen material, both written and illustrated, and will be an empowering book that will make you laugh, make you think, and make things ok.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Sorry this review is so late…

Whoops.

This is a pretty great book. It’s an illustrated memoir – it is unflinchingly honest but also sidesplittingly funny.

It is down-to-earth and relatable to nearly everyone, and it a great portrayal of mental illness in the multi-dimensional – good days and bad days.

I recommend it greatly.

 

 

Book Review: Ask The Passengers

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Original Release Date:

October 23rd 2012

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

3.5 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl struggling to break free of society’s definitions, Printz Honor author A.S. King asks readers to question everything–and offers hope to those who will never stop seeking real love.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

While I enjoyed this book alright, I was disappointed in it.

So many book-bloggers and book tubers LOVE AS King and I just…didn’t. It was merely okay.

The writing was good, I liked the style. I liked the realism of her characters and her story.

But it felt too open-ended for me, we didn’t get enough resolution, the character growth didn’t seem earned – like it happened when we weren’t looking. We didn’t get enough backstory – like Astrid and her mom don’t get along, but we never really find out why. Her parents aren’t homophobes, but they don’t accept Astrid and its never really talked about.

I did like that it was diverse, its a lesbian romance with multi-dimensional characters and not-heavily stereotyped.

I liked the little plane passenger excerpts too.

I liked the book – I just had such high expectations I was underwhelmed by it.

I will check out some of her other books though, and I’d recommend it her anyone who can take it with a grain of salt – it won’t be the best book ever, but it is a pretty good one.

 

NetGalley Review: Get It Together, Delilah!

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

April 4th, 2017

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

A story about falling in love, literally.

Seventeen-year-old Delilah Green wouldn’t have chosen to do her last year of school this way, but she figures it’s working fine. Her dad is on a trip to fix his broken heart after her mom left him for another man, so Del’s managing the family café in his absence. Easy, she thinks. But what about:
– homework and the nasty posse of mean girls making her life hell
– or how one of Del’s best friends won’t stop guilt-tripping her
– and her other best friend is so in love with his tutor he might go to jail for her if Del doesn’t do something

But who cares about any of that really, because above all else, she can’t stop thinking about beautiful Rosa who dances every night across the street until one day Rosa comes in the café door . . .

And if Rosa starts thinking about Del, too, then how in the name of caramel milkshakes will Del get the rest of it together?

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Delilah is awkward and stubborn and I loved her, even if I wanted to smack her silly for not telling her dad about things and for dropping out of school which made me stressed out FOR HER, despite being a fictional character. Her motivations are real, and she is well developed. All the characters are.

The romance is super cute, and slow going, its very realistic, there is no immediate happily ever after, most of the characters act like idiots very often but by being fallible they are real.

I loved the setting and I loved the story, all the little details brought it to life and I highly recommend it!

 

NetGalley Review: Royce Rolls

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

April 4th 2017

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Bentley Royce seems to have it all: an actual Bentley, tuition to a fancy private school, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes along with being an LA starlet. But after five seasons on her family’s reality show, Rolling with the Royces, and a lifetime of dealing with her narcissistic sister, Porsche, media-obsessed mother, Mercedes, and somewhat clueless brother, Maybach, Bentley wants out. Luckily for her, without a hook for season six, cancellation is looming and freedom is nigh. With their lifestyle on the brink, however, Bentley’s family starts to crumble, and one thing becomes startlingly clear–without the show, there is no family. And since Bentley loves her family, she has to do the unthinkable–save the show. But when her future brother-in-law’s car goes over a cliff with both Bentley and her sister’s fianc inside-on the day of the big made-for-TV wedding, no less-things get real.
Really real. Like, not reality show real.

Told in a tongue-in-cheek voice that takes a swipe at all things Hollywood, Royce Rolls is a laugh-out-loud funny romp with an LA noir twist about what it means to grow up with the cameras rolling and what really happens behind the scenes.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This entire book is essentially satire and I loved it!

Mind you, I was unsure of this book, as I am the sort of person who’d arguably rather gouge out my yes than watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Which this book is literally a parody of.

But Royce Rolls is self-aware of that, and makes fun of its self for it essentially. Which means I enjoyed it immensely.

The book is funny and witty, and mixes tropes and parody from a bunch of different reality shows in a way that comments on and makes fun of them.

The book is told in a mix of email/news reports and Bentley’s first person POV. Literally mixed media. The over-arching story keeps you on your toes, and there is twists that I didn’t see coming, I love seeing the way things unfold when you’re not expecting it to be as hardhitting/intelligent as it actually was. It is more than dumb comedy.

The characters and the romances are all great, and I didn’t see the ending coming at all, which was good.

I will say that it got bumped down to 4 stars because the ending felt a bit like it was getting ahead of itself, it confused its own timeline a bit, and didn’t address some of the things it brought up (ex. why a certain someone left home in the first place).

Other than that, I thought it was a fun read. I recommend it!

NetGalley Review: Zenn Diagram

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

April 4th, 2017

Date I Read The Book:

October 2016

My Star Rating:

5 Stars

Chronology:

Standalone contemporary

Official Summary:

Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues.

Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realizes that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.

Zenn Diagram, Wendy Brant’s sparkling debut novel, offers an irresistible combination of math and romance, with just a hint of the paranormal. Readers will swoon over Zenn and connect instantly with Eva, the most fully drawn prodigy in teen fiction today.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I am a huge fan of prodigy stories, I’m pretty sure it stems from my love for JJ Abrams Star Trek version of Chekov. Pretty sure.

I loved this book, I read it in about two days instead of doing AP Chem and Calc homework (I still got it done don’t worry).

Certain parts of the story are a bit predictable, but not in a bad way, in the way most contemporaries end up being predictable. I loved the way all the characters were portrayed though, none were 2 dimensional or used as a plot device, all had depth, and lives outside of our protagonist’s existence and I loved the way her gift was used to show that.

I also particularly loved her family, especially the quadruplets (Quints was one of my favorite movies as a kid, it reminded me a bit of that). I loved her parents and her family history, and the way it mentioned her family’s focus on religion without ramming it down the audience’s throat. The background relationship of Josh and Charlotte was also great.

I also felt like I could relate to Eva more than I could to most contemporary protagonists. I don’t really go to parties, and I too, am immensely stressed about college applications and scholarships, and I loved the way that was portrayed in the background of this story, like YES, realistic life in YA! Also, minus most of the trauma and romance, Eva’s general awkwardness is so me. Her cup of tea discussion? Totally something I would probably do, considering I have spent many a breakfast/lunch in school discussing foster care, health care, various legal statutes, and vaccinations with my friends. For fun. I am that kind of person.

If you are also that kind of person, or if a cutesy, off the beaten path, contemporary appeals to you, I’d recommend this book.

It was a bit different than I expected, but I loved it.

Read If You Like:

  • The Love That Split The World
  • Because You’ll Never Meet Me
  • Learning To Swear In America

 

Book Review: Milk and Honey

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Original Release Date:

November 4th 2014

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Poetry Collection

Official Summary:

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This poetry collection is short and bitter-sweet. Eye opening and heart-breaking but well written and nicely organized – it doesn’t shy away from the harder topics that most consider taboo.

I liked the organization of the free-verse poems and good for fans of feminist poetry like “The Princess Saves Herself In This One”.

I’d recommend it.

 

Book Review: The Princess Saves Herself In This One

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Original Release Date:

April 23rd 2016

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Poetry Collection

Official Summary:

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This is a great poetry collection – though depressing for most of the time, it is eye opening.

The poems are interestingly formatted (I am a fan of free-verse) and easily understood, well written.

I liked the fairytale analogy theme that flowed through the book and it was organized well.

If you like poetry, members, or consider you’re self a feminist, I’d recommend this.

 

 

Book Review: How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe

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Original Release Date:

September 7th 2010

Date I Read The Book:

January 2017

My Star Rating:

4 stars

Chronology:

Standalone

Official Summary:

National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner Charles Yu delivers his debut novel, a razor-sharp, ridiculously funny, and utterly touching story of a son searching for his father . . . through quantum space–time.

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.

Wildly new and adventurous, Yu’s debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space–time.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This is one of the few adult books I’ve read and enjoyed. I generally don’t like reading adult sic-fi, no matter how much I link sic-fi, because it always seems to delegate to science and interesting-ness to the second tier and keep action/fighting/war in the forefront.

This book doesn’t do that.

Its a great book, following Yu’s journey through space-time to find his dad who’s lost in time. Told in flashbacks, time travel and paradox unravelling.

Its marked down to 4 stars because the last few chapters are a bit confusing – but its meant to be. The science is all very realistic, with physics backing in the footnotes and everything and no mindless space wars but rather real universe building.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I loved the meta-ness of the book – we are reading the book in the book. Written by the narrator of the story who is the author of the book in the book.

If you like sic-fi, like that of John Scalzi (see my review of Redshirts) – then you’ll like this.