Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett | Mini Book Review

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Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: May 17th, 2018

My Rating:🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it’s not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other.

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I like contemporaries that have cute romances and deal with real issues, and Starry Eyes was one of those contemporaries. This novel saw our characters go through difficult experiences (such as the loss of a parent, family struggles, and suicide), but it wasn’t a heavy read; it didn’t go very in-depth, but there was enough detail that I felt these issues were appropriately addressed. It also faced other small issues that still have a big effect on life, like falling out with friends and such.

Zorie, our main character, plans out every detail of her life, and I particularly liked how the novel touched upon how planning everything affected her life, and lightly explored what had led to her feeling like the only way to live was to plan everything out.

‘There’s comfort in knowing that when your plans fall apart, you can survive. That the worst thing imaginable can happen, but you can get through it.’

If a cute romance and real-life issues aren’t enough to make you add this book to your TBR, I’ll say this: diversity! This novel has diverse characters, which was so wonderful to see. Representation is essential, and I’m so glad this book had some.

And I have to mention the cover of this book! I own two of Jenn Bennett’s books, and they’re both so pretty. I’m so happy that the story lived up to its lovely cover!

Overall, this book was a cute read that had a unique twist for me, because I haven’t really read any books that include camping before (I hate camping myself, but it was interesting the journey they went on in this book – it reminded me a little bit of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour which I read beforehand), and it felt like a great contemporary to read during the summer.

If this book sounds like one for you, you can get it from Amazon here!

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Topic Awareness:

  • Death (and suicide – not descriptive)
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Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson | Book Review

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Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 4th May, 2010

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.

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This novel had been sitting on my shelf for years unread, because whenever I picked it up, I never seemed to be in the mood for it. I’d pretty much given up on the idea of ever actually reading it – it was just going to be one of those books that I couldn’t get rid of but would never end up reading.

A few weeks ago though, I found myself in the mood for a contemporary, and saw this book sitting on my shelf and decided I’d give it another go. I’ve so desperately wanted to find myself hooked in it ever time I’ve tried to read it, because Second Chance Summer by this author is so wonderful, and I wanted this novel to be as great as that one.

And I’m so happy to say that after all these years, I loved it.

‘The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren’t looking for them.’

I really enjoyed reading about our main character, Amy, and the emotional journey detour she ends up taking with Roger. There’s a lot of learning and healing that takes place, and as a reader I feel like there’s a lot that can be taken from this novel. It explores grief and how differently it affects people, and looks at other hard-hitting subjects, too.

And there was a really sweet romance aspect, as well. It made my heart fill up with feels throughout the book!

There were really cute additions to the normal prose which I liked – travel journal entries and playlists feature at the end of each chapter, and different photos and receipts are dotted throughout the book as well. It just added to the reading experience in a positive way.

‘We can’t know what’s going to happen. We can just try to figure it out as we go along.’

There are some books that tear your heart apart, but slowly put it back together again, until you feel more complete upon finishing it than you did before beginning it. This is one of those books. It had me laughing, it had me shedding a few tears, it had me feeling everything – and it was just wonderful.

I found it very inspiring. It’s about how you can’t predict what’s going to happen in your life, but you have to keep going because things work out in the end; don’t let yourself get stuck in the past!

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is the perfect contemporary read for the summer, and you can get it from Amazon here! I’m so ready to take a trip across America after reading this book haha!

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Topic Awareness:

  • Death
  • Addiction (Drug)

Remix by Non Pratt | Book Review

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I loved this book so much – the words flowed like music from the pages and into my head, where they stuck like a particularly catchy chorus and hit me in the feels over and over again.

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: June 4th 2015

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life… Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.

Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.

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This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last. It had this deep sense of reality that can sometimes be missed in YA contemporaries, and that really made it as wonderful as it was.

The characters were just so real and flawed, which was what made them so great. There was something about Ruby’s character that was so real, so genuine – she’s just a teen trying to figure out her life and have a good time while she does so. And Kaz – she’s not as careless as Ruby, she doesn’t seem as ready to jump into things without thinking them through, but she still has a tough time with things. It also explored the difficulties of growing up, not just in regards to friendship, but also family issues, and the stress of knowing where you’re going in your life, which really added to the reality of it all.

I love books that centre around friendship and all of its trials and tribulations, because friends are so important. My friends are wonderful, and make me laugh when I feel like utter crap, and I think it’s such an important topic to be featured in YA books. I liked how this book delved into how Ruby and Kaz’s friendship worked, even with them having such different personalities.

I felt like I went on a journey with the characters in this book, so I was a bit sad when I finished reading it, because I was enjoying it so much! I wanted the story to continue, to find out what happens next to these characters after the weekend is over. But it had to end somewhere, and I think finishing with the end of the music festival was the perfect way.

The overall message I got from this book was: it’s okay to mess up; nobody is perfect, people make mistakes, and regardless of your flaws, you deserve to be loved. Flaws are real, and everybody makes mistakes – how you deal with your mistakes is what shapes you as a person.

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

Topic Awareness:

  • Mentions of drugs and alcohol
  • Sex

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

Ruin & Rising is the third and final novel in the wonderful Grisha trilogy, with readers finally getting answers to the questions that have built up over the first two books, and it definitely wasn’t a let down.IMG_5062Genre: YA Fantasy

Publishers: Indigo

Publication Date: June 19th 2014

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

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I originally started this trilogy years ago and absolutely loved it, but never got around to carrying on with it. However, a few weeks back, I saw the series sitting on my shelf, begging to be revisited, and so I began rereading and immersed myself back into the world of the Grisha once again.

And I’m so happy I did, because it’s such a great trilogy! Leigh Bardugo is a Queen – what else can I say? She’s such a truly wonderful author, with a distinct writing style that hooks you from the get-go. Through-out the series, the way she builds suspense is brilliant, and kept me flicking through page after page for hours on end.

‘I remembered his words from so long ago: Make me your villain.’

The fictional world of the Grisha is so clever and unique! There’s nothing else that’s really like it, and that’s one of the best things about it. The series as a whole has featured such a broad bunch of characters – an unlikely heroine, a villain you love to hate, a love interest that is always just out of reach – and there are so many others I could mention, but the list would just go on and on.

There is one character I’d specifically like to mention: Nikolai. I love Nikolai so much, and his personality really added an extra sense of life and humour to the series.

‘Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.’

This book broke my heart and taped it back together again, with a few parts missing. The thing is I have a difficult relationship with endings: I love knowing what happens and how everything comes to be, but I hate knowing that that’s it – there’s nothing else for that story and those characters after that final page. It always makes me a bit emotional, and it was no different with this book.

But this was the ending that this trilogy needed – it couldn’t have finished any other way, and though a small part of my heart is hurting, I’m glad it ended the way it did.

If you like YA fantasy novels that have you hooked, you should read the Grisha trilogy!

Have you read this book or any other of Leigh Bardugo’s novels?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

Topic Awareness:

  • Death
  • Violence

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord | Book Review

The Start of Me and You was such a lovely read! It delved into the world of grief, and how to get back to living your life when you’re still trying to discover who you are (and, of course, it had the sweetest romance!).

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Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens

Publication Date: March 31st, 2015

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan.

First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal.

Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all.

But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

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First things first, I loved this book. It was emotional but so, so sweet. We see our main character face a bunch of hardships, and watch as she tries to piece her life back together through it all.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the characters. I wish it hadn’t ended where it did purely because I loved reading about them so much! I particularly adored Max – he was such a wonderful, nerdy sweetheart! Can I have a Max in real life, please and thank you?! Haha!

And the friendships! It was lovely how supportive Paige and her friends were of one another, regardless of what was going on. I think friendship is such a vital aspect of life, and I’m glad it’s taking on a more front-seat role in YA books, and not just being all about the love interest.

“In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”

Emery Lord has touched upon a number of heavy things in this novel, and has done it so well. Not only is our main character Paige trying to deal with the grief of losing her boyfriend after he drowned, she’s also having to come to terms with other events that take place throughout. The way we saw how these tragedies effected Paige was realistic, giving enough detail to be genuine but not going so deep that it changed the tone of the book.

I only had two very small issues with this book (and they were less issues and more just slight annoyances). I can’t talk about it much because it’s bordering on spoiler territory, but I will say I feel there was a certain emotional change in Paige that felt very abrupt, and a bit in-genuine. There was also a slight immaturity to her when it came to her crush on Ryan, but I’m totally happy to overlook it all because they were very minor issues, and I really did love the book.

“In books, sometimes the foreshadowing is so obvious that you know what’s going to happen. But knowing what happens isn’t the same as knowing how it happens. Getting there is the best part.”

I’d recommend The Start of Me and You to people who like YA contemporaries that dig a little deeper than your average romance! It’s the perfect book to read in the summer, or on a cold afternoon when you’re reminiscing about past sunny days.

Have you read any books by Emery Lord?!

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!

Topic Awareness:

  • Mentions of death (drowning, illness)
  • Illness (Alzheimer’s, strokes)

The 100 by Kass Morgan | Book Review

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The 100 was my first read of 2018, and I really enjoyed it! I do have something to admit though: I watched the TV adaptation before reading the book. I know, I’m a terrible bookworm!

*****

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia

Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers

Publication Date: March 18th, 2014

My Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟

Goodreads Synopsis:

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries — until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

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I was so determined to enjoy The 100 because I really love the TV adaptation, and I’m happy to say I did! For different reasons, both the book and TV show of The 100 are good, and I’m so happy I discovered this wonderful story that Kass Morgan created.

As with any book that’s been adapted for TV, there are a number of large differences between the adaptation and the book. For once though, instead of tearing my hair out about it, I actually liked the differences (though this is possibly because I already love the characters and story, regardless)! It was interesting to see how the TV show and book went about telling the same story.

“Maybe here in the ruins of the old world, they could start something new.”

There were certain elements of this book that annoyed me a bit – let’s just say, Clarke is such a bad ass, but there are certain things that obscure this in the book, whilst it comes through clear in the show. It wasn’t anything overly major, just little things.

This book is told from a number of different point-of-views, and one of the most major differences (and one that I can actually talk about without spoiling anything) is the characters, but in particular, Glass. Glass doesn’t exist in the adaptation, but her chapters in the book play an important role – she gives the reader an insight into what’s going on away from the main plot.

I really enjoyed Glass’s chapters (though her story broke my heart), and I found she’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much. I understand why she wasn’t included in the TV show – the role she plays is rather major, and it needed to be broadened, so she probably wouldn’t have worked for TV. But in the book her chapters were really good!

The writing flowed really well, and I found it easy to read. I liked how we also had flashbacks in most of the chapters – though I wanted to be in the present and find out what was happening, it was also really interesting to read about moments from before that had shaped the characters to be who they were.

The 100 was an interesting, easy read, and I’d recommend it to fans of dystopia/sci-fi! I’d definitely recommend watching the TV show too, because while the book is good, the series is great. They really developed and broadened out the plot and characters on the show, but all the possibility for greatness was there in the book.

This is a series I definitely want to continue reading, and I’ll hopefully read the second book soon!

Have you read The 100 or seen the show?

Thanks!

– Emma

Read On!