contemporary, young adult

Book Review: Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

breathing underwater by alex flinn

Title: Breathing Underwater
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 304 pages, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick’s anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn’t realize how far from perfect Nick’s life has become is Nick himself.

Review:
This book is scary. Not in a thriller, horror movie kind of way but in a real life, this could happen to me kind of way. I originally read this in some life course everyone at my high school was forced to take. The class was supposed to give you morals and lessons for life. Honestly I hated the class and thought it was a waste of time which means I totally dismissed this book. Oh, how I regret that.

This is a book I think everyone needs to read in high school and I’m sad it’s not apart of every high school curriculum. Despite dismissing the book, I still carried the lessons with me through school and learned to recognize when guys were being abusive to me.

This book is also scary because it puts you in the shoes of an abuser and makes you see his side of things. Makes you sympathize with Nick. I understand where he’s coming from even if he’s wrong and in the end I like Nick. He realizes he’s wrong and what he’s done.

I can’t really say more than this on the book. It was such an emotional read. This time around I read it in on 4 hour sitting, tearing through page after page. By all means, if you have abuse triggers don’t read this. But I think everyone should at least try. To learn the signs of an abusive relationship and be able to recognize if you or a friend is in one.

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contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Length: 448 pages, Special Edition Hardback
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review:
This was a reread for me. I originally read it in January of 2014. I had some spare time while driving from Illinois to Minnesota to visit my Grandma on winter vacation. I read it basically in a day then and I did this same this time around as well. I just can’t ever seem to put it down once I start. When I did have to put it down, I was thinking about when I could start reading it again.

Cath isn’t my favorite character but I also love her for that. She kind of annoys me and I feel like she needs to grow up but that’s part of what makes this novel so good because she does grow up and you get to watch it happen.

The side characters are amazing even when annoying. Levi is sweet but a bit naive and kind dense. I love the relationship between Cath and her roommate and I love seeing how Cath’s relationship with Wren has shifted over the years.
I think the book also holds a lot of good lessons about growing up, love, fandom, and thoughts about shunning those who “don’t” read. Things that a lot of people should read about and try to understand more of.

I love this story as much as the first time I read it and I’m glad I got the chance to reread it.

picture of the last little blue envelope
contemporary, young adult

Book Review: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

picture of the last little blue envelope

Title: The Last Little Envelope
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 288 pages, Paperback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Note: Haven’t read the first book in this duology? Here’s my review of 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

Warning: Blurb and review may contain spoilers for the first novel in the series!!

Blurb:
Ginny Blackstone spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how the adventure was supposed to end.

Now a mysterious boy has contacted Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally she can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a whole new one, and Ginny must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

Review:
I loved this book almost as much as the first book. There were a few things that I was kinda eh about but the adventure and emotion was just as present. I actually read the 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope back to back I took a break in between to write the review for 13 Little Blue Envelopes and I didn’t want to change it to make it a series review.

Moving on, I loved the new character introduced. He was mysterious but sweet. I hated watching how he was treated. I’m glad Johnson did what she did but some parts were very hard to wach and it made me absolutely hate characters I had liked in the first book. I won’t go further than that.

I do think this book could have had a little more depth. I wanted to see more of the new character and I wanted more interaction between Ginny and new character. I think the book could have done well to be a little longer. I think more depth would have made the ending more plausible and satisfying.

However, other than wanting more depth, I have no complaints. I read this book, like the first, in three hours and loved every second of it.

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.

Fantasy, middle grade, young adult

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Length: 224, paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Rating: HOW DO YOU RATE HARRY POTTER – ahem – 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

Review:
Harry Potter is so iconic that I can’t begin to legitimately review it. Instead this will be insight I gain from rereading the book and a comparison to what I remember of it. This will be very spoilery because I highly doubt there are people who don’t know what happens in Harry Potter even if it’s only from the movies.

Everytime I reread Harry Potter I learn something new both about myself and the books. It’s been a good two years since my last reread. Last time I reread The Philosopher’s Stone I was highly annoyed with the writing. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through the book. It read too young for me. This time, however, the book was perfect.

I don’t know what’s changed with me between now and then but I know something has because I thoroughly enjoyed my reread. I’m already half way through Chamber of Secrets as I’m writing this one and I’m so glad I’ve chosen to reread the series at this juncture in my life.

Harry Potter is the series that got me into reading. Actually, I hated reading when I was young. It felt tedious and I wondered why people enjoyed it so much. I was almost held back in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade because I refused to read.

One day during SSR (sustained silent reading) in fifth grade, I picked up Harry Potter because everyone seemed to be reading it and wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Suddenly I knew why everyone loved to read. I read books 1-5 in about 5 months which was miraclous to my teacher considering how she fought with me before this.

Enough with the reminiscing though, I really enjoyed this reread and I can’t wait to continue rereading the series.

dystopian, young adult

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Length: 576, Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Rating: 5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

Review:
This is the kind of book that reminds me why I loved YA dystopian so much in high school. I enjoyed every second of reading it which is why I finished it in two days. It was paced perfectly, the romance was kind of insta love but not cheesy and it took second place to the plot, and Tris is as badass as I could want in a female heroine while still remaining original.

I truly loved how fast paced this plot was. I needed a book like this to pull me from the reading slump I was sinking into for sure. It kept me interested and I didn’t want to put it down. There were no slow points (for me) and it reminded me why dystopian is such a great genre.

The characters were also felt very real. Tris was flawed and it showed on almost every page and I love that. She was badass but she could be hot blooded and she had a hard time not standing up for herself and doing what she wanted even if that could put her in danger. I enjoyed every second of her narration.

Four did fall a little flat at times but I enjoyed that he wasn’t a big focus for the book even if there was instalove there. It worked for me. I can enjoy instalove if it’s not the main focus of the book and here the plot was definitely more important than the romance.

The side characters all felt very fleshed out as well. I understood their reasons for acting out of character and they responded and acted like real people. Which is to say, they didn’t have 4 characteristics in total. They seemed completely fleshed out.

If it’s not obvious by the amazing rating, I really enjoyed this book. I understand why it was hyped and I’m glad I went into with my expectations a little lower because the hype has fled from it. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much but I thoroughly loved this!

dystopian, romance, young adult

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 401, Kindle edition
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Rating: 2.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn’t about to make the same mistakes.
But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government’s radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Review:
I did not love this book. I thought and hoped I would. The first 100 or so pages flew by but after that point it go so incredibly slow that I was legitimately falling asleep at some parts. The book could have been about 150 pages shorter and I would have liked it better. I felt like absolutely nothing happened for at least 150 pages. I understand the need of some of it but for the most part it was just plain boring.

I didn’t hate Lena. I think she was a little indecisive and a tad bit annoying but I enjoyed that she tried thinking for herself and not taking everything at face value. However, I do think that she fell a little flat as a character. I also HATED that she only changed because of a boy. Hana, her best friend for years, had no part in the change and she almost stopped being friends with Hana when Hana did try to change her. I just I hate when a guy is the only reason a girl develops. It’s just not right and it shows girls they should be dependent on boys and I’m not about that life.

Speaking of Lena’s best friend, Hana is the only character in the book I absolutely loved. She understands her limits, is an amazing friend, and is trying to fight the system but knows that she really can’t. I just really enjoy her all around.

Alex was kind of eh for me. His lines were cheesy, and he also fell flat for me. Considering he was the main reason for Lena’s change, I would have hoped he’d be a bit more 3 dimensional.

I might read the next book in the series if I find it really cheap on kindle or see it in the library but I have no desire to go out of my way to read what happens next even though it did leave off on a pretty solid cliffhanger. I think this is another dystopian book that kind of coasted on the dystopian craze that was going on when it was published.

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.

dystopian, young adult

Book Review: Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: Never Fade
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 544, Paperback
Genre: Young adult, dystopian
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

See my review of the 1st novel in the series, The Darkest Minds, here.

Blurb:
Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children-and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts-has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future-and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam-and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart-she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Review:
This book took me an absurdly long time to finish. If you keep up with my WWW Wednesday’s at all you’ll know it was on hold for about three weeks. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for it during those weeks because once I decided to seriously pick it up again, I finished it in one sitting.

The first 250 pages were almost mind numbingly boring. I understand why they had to be there. They connected the first book to the second book perfectly. But man was it hard to read. However, the last 300 pages or so FLEW by. I would give this book 2 folded pages based on the first half and 4.5 based on the second. I settled on the 3.5 which I think is a just review.

I don’t want to give much away but I think what I hated the most about the first half of the book was how much Ruby had changed compared to the first without any awareness. I now know that there was a novella that bridged the first book to the second but I don’t think that was wise. I’m not inclined to buy or read novellas often and it made the beginning of Never Fade seem abrupt.

Still once the action picked up and things were better explained I ended up really enjoying it. I probably won’t read In the After Light until it releases in paperback and maybe that will give me enough distance to want to pick the story back up.