Monday, August 14, 2017

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Lucky in Love
By: Kasie West
Released: July 25, 2017
Source: Purchased
Purchase the Book: Amazon

Can’t buy me love…Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment— She wins! In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.
Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?
(Goodreads)


I really enjoyed Lucky in Love! Kasie West is an auto-buy author for me and I couldn't put this one down.

Maddie's whole life changes when she wins the lottery. Her family is struggling financially and her parents are always fighting. The money seems like the answer to all of Maddie's problems at first, however, it also creates new problems for her. I really liked Maddie a lot and thought she was a well developed character. When she's not working at the zoo, she spends her time studying with her best friends. She is focused on getting into her dream college and her future. Her priorities start to change though when she wins the money. She's realistic and she makes mistakes.

There were several interesting side characters as well. I liked Maddie's best friends, Blaire and Elise, but I felt like I never really got to know either of them that well. My favorite was Seth though. He works at the zoo with Maddie and I especially wanted even more of him in this story. I loved the relationship between Maddie and Seth. Most of my favorite moments in this book were the scenes when Maddie and Seth were working together.    

The plot was paced well and I finished reading it rather quickly. There were plenty of fun and sweet moments throughout the book, but I also liked that West touched a bit on some more serious topics as well. I would have liked to see some of those more serious issues developed more though. However, I especially loved the setting at the zoo where Maddie worked. It was such a fun and lively setting and I loved how much of a role it played within the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Lucky in Love. It wasn't my favorite book by Kasie West, but I could still see myself rereading this one again. It was a sweet and fun story that I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys contemporary books. It will also make you wonder how you would spend all that money.

My Rating:



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

Coming Up For Air
By: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 1, 2017
Source: Netgalley
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat. All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win? (Goodreads)

I really liked Coming Up for Air! I love the Hundred Oaks books and this was another story that I couldn't put down. It wasn't my favorite book in the series, but I still enjoyed it a lot.  

Coming Up for Air is the story of Maggie whose whole life is centered around swimming. She loves to win and is training to qualify for the Olympics. However, swimming almost every day means that she doesn't have much time for anything else, such as hooking up with a guy. This leads her to asking her best friend, Levi, to teach her since they already spend so much time together anyway. 

Maggie was a well developed and realistic character. I loved how passionate she was about swimming and her dedication to it was clear throughout the book. She sometimes struggles with getting into the right mindset while swimming though and I could understand why. Maggie is under a lot of pressure and she has so little time to herself. Just reading about what an average day is like for her made me exhausted.

Levi and Maggie share a close bond because they've been swimming together since they were little. They understand how much of a commitment swimming is and Maggie goes to him for advice because she trusts him. However, I felt like the way everything develops from friendship to something more between them felt a bit forced. I wanted Levi to be developed more.    

I loved Maggie's best friends from school though. Georgia and Hunter were great side characters and I wanted even more of them in this book. I loved that they make the time to support each other. It was also fun to see the return of some characters from the previous books in the series as well and read what they are up to now. 

The plot was paced fairly well. As soon as I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I quickly lost myself in the story and before I knew it, I was reading the last chapter. It's one of my favorite things about Kenneally's writing. The plot had a good balance of humor, drama, and romance. There were quite a few moments in this book that even made me laugh out loud. However, I felt like there were a couple of loose ends left after I finished the book. 

Overall I really liked Coming Up for Air! If you're a fan of contemporary books or enjoy sports-related stories, I recommend picking this one up!

My Rating:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella 
By: Ashley Poston
Released: April 4, 2017
Source: ARC from NYCC
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first. Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again? Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. (Goodreads)


This geek loved Geekerella! It was such a fun retelling of Cinderella and I didn't want it to end.

Elle was a well developed protagonist who learns a lot about herself as the story progresses. She was definitely a character that I could really relate to. She doesn't get along with her stepmother or stepsisters and feels like she isn't wanted in her own home after losing her dad. She doubts herself a lot and questions her own self-worth. However, Elle does have Starfield and runs a blog dedicated to the classic sci-fi show. Starfield means a lot to her because she grew up watching it with her father. Now her favorite show is being rebooted into a movie though and Elle wants to enter the cosplay contest at ExcelsiCon with her father's old costume. 

Darien was a well developed character as well. He's a teen actor who will be playing the lead in the Starfield movie. Before he was famous, he used to love to attend cons and be a part of the Starfield fandom. However, he now questions if he is the right guy to play his favorite character. I enjoyed that the chapters alternated between Darien and Elle because it helped move the story along. I also loved reading about what Starfield meant to both Darien and Elle. It held a special place in their lives for both similar and different reasons.

This book was also packed with some great side characters too. My favorite character though was definitely Sage. Sage works in the food truck with Elle and I loved the friendship that develops between them. I wouldn't mind reading a whole book about Sage next  

The plot was paced well and I didn't want to put this book down once I started reading. My favorite aspect though was how Geekerella captured the feeling of belonging to a fandom and attending a convention. I've been attending Comic Con for the past seven years and Poston truly conveyed all of the reasons why I love attending conventions. She even captured the generosity and kindness of the people who attend conventions.

Overall, I loved Geekerella! This book made me smile and laugh. If you're a fan of contemporary books, then I definitely recommend picking this one up.    

My Rating:
 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give
By: Angie Thomas
Released: February 28, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. (Goodreads)


The Hate U Give is a must-read! This powerful book will stay with you long after you finish reading it. Starr's voice and story is certainly going to stick with me for the rest of my life. 

Starr was a well developed and complex protagonist. She lives in a poor neighborhood, but attends high school in a more wealthy suburb. She feels like she lives two different lives though and worries about letting those lives merge. Then one night, after a party in her neighborhood, she witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood best friend by a police officer. Starr knows the truth about what happened that night and she must decide for herself how she will use her voice.  

This book is also packed with several great side characters and relationships. I especially loved Starr's family though. The love and support this family shared was evident on every single page.

Just a few of the relevant topics that The Hate U Give takes on are racism, police brutality, class, stereotypes, and justice. This is definitely a book packed with so much that can start up a discussion after you listen to what this story is saying. The plot is paced well and I stayed up late reading because I couldn't put it down. Both the main plot and the subplots were well developed too. This book is infuriating, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Angie Thomas is truly a talented writer. Her writing style is stunning and I'm already looking forward to reading what she publishes next.    
   
Overall, I loved The Hate U Give! It's an honest, real, and important story that I highly recommend picking up. I will personally be recommending this one to everyone I know. If you only read one book this year, let it be this one.

My Rating: 
 




Monday, January 30, 2017

By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side
By: Kasie West
Released: January 31, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed By Your Side a lot! This book surprised me in the best way and was about so much more than I expected. I'm a huge fan of Kasie West's contemporary books and this was another adorable story that was difficult to put down.

By Your Side is the story of Autumn who accidentally gets locked in the library for a long weekend. She soon discovers that she isn't alone though. She's locked in with Dax, who is rumored to have spent time in juvie.

Autumn was a well developed and complex character. She worries a lot about what other people think of her and her choices. She can also become too caught up in her own head and tends to forget to take care of herself at times. Overall, I just found Autumn to be a realistic character that I could really connect with. I also loved how close Autumn was with her parents and brother. I especially loved Autumn's older brother and I would have loved to see even more of him in the book. 

Dax was a really interesting and complex character that I loved getting to know. He's quiet and tends to keep to himself. He doesn't want to get close to anyone or have any commitments. I loved the relationship that developed between Autumn and Dax though. I loved that at first it seemed like Autumn and Dax were polar opposites. However, as they got closer, they began to find that they actually shared a connection. 

The plot was paced well and it was so difficult to stop reading. I liked that there were a lot of flashbacks intertwined with the present because it helped develop the relationships that Autumn shared with her friends and family. There were also so many great moments throughout this book that made me smile and laugh. However, one of my favorite aspects of this book was how realistically West portrayed anxiety. She did a wonderful job showing a character who lives with anxiety.

Overall, I really enjoyed By Your Side a lot and reading Autumn's story. I already can't wait to reread this book again soon. If you're a fan of contemporary books, then I highly recommend picking this one up.      

My Rating:



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval 
By: Stephanie Garber
Released: January 31, 2017
Source: ARC from NYCC
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .  Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game. Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. (Goodreads)


I loved Caraval and I wish could read this book for the first time again. It was such a twisted and magical story. 

Caraval is the story of sisters, Scarlett and Tella, who escape from their father to attend Caraval. It's an invitation only game that happens once a year and the audience is a part of the game. Scarlett has been told that it's only a game, but Tella is kidnapped as soon as they arrive and whoever finds her first wins. 

Scarlett was a well developed and complex protagonist. She's always dreamed of seeing the Caraval performers and she is so excited when she receives the invitation to attend. However, she is also very cautious. She is Tella's big sister and does whatever she can to try to protect her little sister after their mother left them. Scarlett tries to place all of the responsibility on her own shoulders. She even agrees to an arranged marriage in the hopes that it can better the life of her and her sister. I respected Scarlett for her determination and I understood why she felt the need to be so cautious. However, I also understood why Tella would push her so much to live her life as well. I even found myself agreeing with Tella and wanting Scarlett to take a chance

There were also so many interesting and well developed side characters throughout this book. From the sailor, who helps the sisters get off their island, to Legend, the master behind Caraval. However, one of my favorite aspects of Caraval was that at the heart, it's a story of two sisters and how far each would go to protect the other. The relationship between Scarlett and Tella was so real. They have their differences and don't always agree on what's best. Tella is much more impulsive where Scarlett is more careful. They love each so much though and that was strongly evident on the pages within this book. I loved that even though Scarlett was the older sister, Tella would still try to protect Scarlett in the same way. 

The plot was paced well and I found it so difficult to put this book down. I loved how mysterious and twisted the story was because I genuinely didn't know what to expect next. There was a new surprise every couple of chapters and just as soon as I thought I figured it all out, there was another twist waiting. This is definitely one of those books where the less you know before reading it, the better.

Garber truly created a fascinating and magical world that I quickly got swept up in. I loved how colorful and unique it all was. It's definitely become one of my new favorite fictional worlds. Garber's writing was also stunning and there were so many lines that I found myself writing down. I'm looking forward to reading what she writes next.      

Overall, I loved Caraval! It was a beautiful and surprising story that you won't be able to stop thinking about long after you finish reading. The characters were well developed and the world was built with so much detail. Caraval is definitely one of the must-read books of this year!


My Rating: