contemporary, young adult

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnsono

Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 368, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.

The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.

Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Review:
I loved this book so much that I read it in one 3 hour sitting. It was amazing. It made me tear up and it was just what I needed to read I guess because it pulled me out of the slump I’ve been in for the past month. At least, I hope it has.

Ginny is a very endearing character. She’s trying to be bold and interesting despite how uncomfortable and not like her the tasks in the envelopes are. I also enjoyed watching her growth in the novel.

The vast array of side characters are interesting and surprisingly 3 dimensional for the very little amount of time each is given. Most characters don’t last more than a few chapters at best and yet I still felt like I could see different sides to most of them.

The romance was awkward and weird but I feel like it fit with the tone of the novel because the main character is like that and the adventure she goes on is like that.

Long story short, the novel was cute and easy to read. It made me laugh out loud and cry. It made me think for hours after I was finished with it. And it made me thirst for the sequel (that I thankfully already bought). Honestly, I don’t want much more from any novel that I read.

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Title: Girl Online
Author: Zoe Sugg (Zoellaaaaaa)
Publisher: Atria/Keyword Press
Length: 352, Hardback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
I have this dream that, secretly, all teenage girls feel exactly like me. And maybe one day, when we realize that we all feel the same, we can all stop pretending we’re something we’re not. That would be awesome. But until that day, I’m going to keep it real on this blog and keep it unreal in “real” life.

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, high school drama, her quirky family, and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse at school, her parents accept an opportunity to whisk the family away for Christmas at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There, she meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love—and capturing every moment she spends with “Brooklyn Boy” on her blog.

But Noah has a secret, too, one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover—and her closest friendship—forever.

Review:
This book was cute. When I saw Zoella from Youtube had written a book I knew I had to have it. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was slightly disappointed. I think I’ve reached an age where YA contemporaries are going to be a bit difficult for me.

My biggest issue with this book was how immature Penny seemed to be. She read like she was 12 instead of 16. Maybe it’s just my perspective at the ripe age of 22, but I feel like she should have been a little more mature than she was in the book.

My other issue is that her love interest is 18. I’m not sure if this isn’t a big deal in England but here it’s not really allowed and it made me kind of uncomfortable. The saving grace is that Noah didn’t really read like an 18 year old but a 15 year old.

The overall story was cute and for the most part the pacing was good. There were a few slow points that were a little hard to slog through but for the most part I enjoyed reading the novel.

For me this novel was cute but a bit problematic. I bought it because I love Zoella’s videos and it’s a way I can support her aside from watching said videos. The other thing is that the novel was actually ghost written by Siobhan Curham. Which is fine. I understand the need of ghostwriting and whatnot, but it makes the novel read disjointedly. I’m not sure I’ll be picking up the second in the series anytime soon.

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London

Title: Aimee and the Heartthrob
Author: Ophelia London
Publisher: Macmillian
Length: 260, Kindle Book
Genre: Romance, contemporary, young adult
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
He never noticed her before, but now she’s all he can see…

Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister–and off-limits–but won’t even give him the time of day…

As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested.Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.

But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…

Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts I really enjoyed and other parts had me rolling my eyes and skimming the pages until it got good again.

I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so. It was cute and I enjoyed how true to character Aimee stayed. Even around Miles she tried her hardest not to let her old feelings resurface instead of succumbing to them like what happens in similar books.

However, I think this book switched from young adult to new adult and back. Sometimes it felt like they were early 20 year olds and not 16-17. I didn’t enjoy that. There’s a line there that shouldn’t be crossed sometimes and the parts that felt new adult were a bit too sexual.

I do think the romance was super cute. It was just the kind of swoony and cheesiness that I want and expect in YA romance contemporary novels. Even if it sometimes felt a little too mature for the ages of the characters.

I’ll probably pick up the rest of the books in this series just because I’m curious to see what happens to the other band members.

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book Review: About that Fling by Tawna Fenske

Title: About that Fling
Author: Tawna Fenske
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Length: 321, Kindle book
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
As the top PR person for the Belmont Health System, bright, beautiful Jenna McArthur knows how to spin bad news and make it sound good. But when her adorable Aunt Gertie—a secret romance writer—urges Jenna to embrace her wild side, Jenna tumbles into bed with Adam Thomas, a guy she’s just met, for a fun and fantastic one-night stand. Too bad Adam is the one guy who’s totally off-limits. There aren’t enough clever words in the world to spin the story in a way that won’t wreck Jenna’s closest friendship or destroy her job.
With the irresistible Adam always around her at work, wearing an aura of temptation like a fabulous cologne, Jenna has to hold tight to her senses to avoid falling for him. Will he take her to the heights of pleasure again—or will their attraction destroy everything she’s worked for?

Review:
I got this book as an Amazon Kindle First and I really enjoyed it. I finished it in about 6 hours so it was an awesome light read while I was marathoning the All Souls trilogy.

My favorite thing about this book is that it was laugh out loud funny. My family kept giving me weird looks because I would just crack up and not be able to stop for a minute or so. I can’t remember the last time a book made me laugh like that. Fenske’s writing is quick and witty and I enjoyed that.

Not onto the not so good. I couldn’t stand Jenna’s inability to tell to the truth. There was absolutely no reason for her to lie so much. I suppose the whole she covers things up for a living could help but seriously there was no reason to lie that much.

The other thing is the very abrupt ending. I won’t give anything away but I just didn’t like how fast it all drew to a close. I think the pacing was off for it. There needed to be just a little more build to the climax and definitely a lot more resolution. The way it wrapped up left a sour taste in my mouth.

Aside from that I think it was a cute, fun read. The characters (even Jenna) felt very real. I always like when books have characters that I feel could be a person in real life. This is definitely far from what I usually read but I’ve been in a romance mood lately. I’m assuming you will see more of this kind of genre soon on my blog. Apologies in advance if you don’t enjoy these kinds of books!

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 432, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Sydney has always felt invisible. She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

Review:
I honestly can’t say enough how much I love Sarah Dessen. Her books deal with topics that everyone struggles with and gives girls someone to relate to and look up to no matter how they handle their problems. Dessen achieves this and more in Saint Anything.

I truly loved Sydney. She was flawed but cohesive as a character. She made consistent choices and while I sometimes found her hard to read, it was more than I couldn’t deal with what was happening in the book because of her choices than her character. I physically cringed and had to stop reading at certain parts because it was hard to handle but Dessen covers a sensitive issue.

The pacing was good for the most part. I think there were a few points where it slowed it a little too much for my liking and parts that also went a little too fast. Which is why I can’t give this book five folded pages.

However, I truly enjoyed it and it just adds to my Sarah Dessen love. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been rereading her books lately and I can’t wait to dive back into more of them!

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss By Stephanie Perkins

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Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Speak
Length: 400, Paperback
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

Review:
Honestly, I’m still not sure of my feelings for this novel. On one hand I really enjoyed it. It had me smiling and laughing and tearing up. On the other hand, I HATE that guy saves all crap.

I have a hard time rating this one. Half of me just wants to enjoy it for what it is but the other half me of knows this is why girls tend to half unrealistic expectations. I think I’m going to go with the first half because by now, I hope, most girls know that this isn’t how dating and romance really works even if it is fun to read.

I really liked Anna. She could be a bit annoying and she was definitely obtuse but I could see bits of myself in her and that’s what I love in main characters. She was relatable. St. Clair was also super relatable and I enjoyed all the moment Perkins set up between them.

However, I wish we had more moments between Anna and Meridith, or Anna and Rashmi, or hell even St. Clair and Meredith. I feel like certain plot points dropped out of no where because we didn’t really see a lot of interaction between people other than Anna and St. Clair. We had a few scenes here or there but I would have liked a bit more time to know the other characters and without it the characters fall a little flat.

I wish I could say I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did because there are definitely some points where I was WTFing. I’m going to read the other books in this loose series and hope that the message held within them is better.

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

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Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Length: 448, Hardcover
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun.

He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

Review:
I think The Moon and More was the first Sarah Dessen novel I read right after it’s release. And then, just like now, I feel like it doesn’t really compare well to her other novels. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely loved it! But there just feels like there’s an emotional disconnect. It didn’t really make me laugh out loud or tear up like her other novels have and I expect that from her work, which is why it’s such a disappointment that it doesn’t happen with this one.

Emaline is a very believable well-rounded character, but I don’t get that feeling from Luke, Theo, her family or her friends. It’s like Emaline is a 3D character walking in a 2D world and it doesn’t do Dessen’s writing justice. This is probably part of the reason I couldn’t connect emotionally.

The plot was really good. I love the lesson Dessen wove into the storyline (like she always does) and how it was resolved I just wish I could have connected with the emotions more.

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Length: 422, paperback
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Rating: 4.5 folded pages

Blurb:
Unlock your heart and the rest will follow.

Ruby is used to taking care of herself.

But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.

Plus there’s the adorable boy next door.

Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?

Review:
There is something about a Sarah Dessen novel that is indescribably relatable. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had similar experiences to the main character or side characters. Whenever I open a Sarah Dessen novel, I know I’m in for a story that I will in some way relate to and it is no different when rereading Lock and Key.

At first I was worried, I haven’t read a Dessen novel in years and I decided randomly to start rereading her books because I remember absolutely loving them. I’m happy that I wasn’t disappointed. Lock and Key was almost just as good as I remembered.

Ruby feels completely real. She’s flawed and makes mistakes and is so very human. I love that most about Dessen’s writing. All her characters are unmistakably human. Even the side characters like Nate, Cora, Jamie, and Olivia all had very real personalities that were believable. Every character came alive on the page. None of them felt flat. A problem I’ve been having with recent novels I’ve been reading.

I also love that as a contemporary novel the romance is believable but also not the central focus. More and more the romance is the sole point. The boy saves the girl from herself or her past or who she’s pretending to be but Nate isn’t the biggest factor in Ruby’s story and I absolutely love it.

The only real issue I had is that some of the sentences were very awkward. I found myself rereading certain lines or paragraphs because they were oddly worded. Here and there sentences felt like a word was missing so I understood what was being said but it was obvious something was amiss.

Aside from this small factor, I absolutely enjoyed reading this novel again. So much so that I read it in one sitting. Not an easy feat for a 422 page novel. Still I flew through it like it was my first time reading it and I’m so glad I picked it up again.

contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Sugar book cover

Author: Deirdre Riordan Hall
Publisher: Skyscape
Length: 276, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary
Rating: 1 Folded page

Blurb:

I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia wasn’t always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn’t gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she’s large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar’s life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their run-down home—cooking, shopping, and, well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan—his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother.

Soon Sugar will have to decide whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

Review:

I’m sad to say I got about 50 pages into this novel before stopping. I can’t force myself to finish it. It’s nothing against the book, I just don’t think it’s for me. This book isn’t technically released until June 1st. I got it from Kindle First. In case you don’t know, if you have Amazon Prime one of the perks is getting a novel that hasn’t been released yet 1-3 months before it’s released. You get to choose from four different books for this. For the month of April (I think not sure) I chose Sugar.

The book is very gritty and accurate in its description of binge eating. I definitely appreciate that. The writing is also very well done. I like the voice of Mercy, known by her pet name Sugar to most, as well.

So what is the reason I couldn’t finish it? Honestly I’m not sure. I just don’t think the book was for me. I don’t enjoy the idea of Mercy being saved solely because a boy can see her for who she is and not her body. But I think the plot is very slow moving. While reading the first 50 pages, I felt like a lot of things were repetitive and there wasn’t a real plot that I could feel. Nothing makes me drop a book faster than a slow plot.

I think this book could be good for others, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.