Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Dress Codes for Small Towns
Blurb (from Goodreads):
“A poetic love letter to the complexities of teenage identity, and the frustrations of growing up in a place where everything fits in a box—except you.”—David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite

"Courtney Stevens firmly reasserts herself as a master storyteller of young adult fiction; crafting stories bursting with humor, heart, and the deepest sort of empathy."—Jeff Zentner, 2017 Morris Award Winner for The Serpent King

"Courtney Stevens carries us into the best kind of mess: deep friendships, small town Southern gossip, unexpected garage art, and unfolding romantic identity."—Jaye Robin Brown, author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.


Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney C. Stevens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Dress Codes for Small Towns “I am dressed as a boy, I have kissed a girl, I have met people outside my usual web. No one cares. I am hidden. I am perfectly transparent.
This is it. This is living.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who wasn’t sure about her sexuality.

Billie was an okay character but I found it quite difficult to really connect with her, I’m not sure why this was, but it took me a long while to warm up to her.

The storyline in this was about Billie being unsure about whether she liked boys or girls, and wanting to kiss several members of her small group of friends just to see what it was like. We also got a storyline about Billie and her gang having to do some community service after accidentally setting fire to the church youth group room, and a competition to be crowned ‘corn dolly’ of the village. I have to say that I found the first half of this book incredibly boring though, and I kept wanting to put this down and not pick it up again. Things did pick up a bit during the second half of the story, but I still found that the book didn’t hold my attention well, and I didn’t like it as much as the author’s previous books.

The ending to this was okay, but I just didn’t enjoy this one much.



6 out of 10

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
The Art of Feeling
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places, this contemporary YA novel explores the friendship between a girl in constant pain and a boy who feels nothing at all.

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.

But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.


The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


The Art of Feeling “I do know one thing, and it’s that the blankness that I usually feel went away the second I got into his car and it hasn’t come back.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who had injured her leg in the car accident that killed her mother.

Sam was likeable character and I felt really sorry for her losing her mother the way she had. I also felt sorry for her that her leg was so badly injured and she was in pain all the time.

The storyline in this was about Sam making friends with a boy called Eliot who had insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. Sam found this a bit ironic considering that she was in pain all the time, and they slowly developed a friendship that seemed good for both of them. We also got a bit of mystery over who it was that caused the car accident which killed Sam’s mother, and a dog with epilepsy. We also got a little bit of romance right at the very end.

The ending to this was okay, and I was happy with how things turned out.



7 out of 10

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Our Broken Pieces by Sarah White

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Our Broken Pieces
Blurb (from Goodreads):
From Wattpad phenom Sarah White comes a steamy teen romance about one girl’s quest to find herself after a traumatic breakup.

The only thing worse than having your boyfriend dump you is having him dump you for your best friend. For Everly Morgan the betrayal came out of nowhere. One moment she had what seemed like the perfect high school relationship, and the next, she wanted to avoid the two most important people in her life. Every time she sees them kiss in the hallways her heart breaks a little more.

The last thing on Everly’s mind is getting into another relationship, but when she meets Gabe in her therapist’s waiting room she can’t deny their immediate connection. Somehow he seems to understand Everly in a way that no one else in her life does, and maybe it’s because Gabe also has experience grappling with issues outside of his control. Just because they share so many of the same interests and there is an undeniable spark between them doesn’t mean Everly wants anything more than friendship. After all, when you only barely survived your last breakup, is it really worth risking your heart again?


Our Broken Pieces by Sarah White

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


Our Broken Pieces “The betrayal came out of nowhere. If I didn’t see it for myself , I would have never believed that either of them was capable of hurting me so deeply.”


This was a YA contemporary romance story featuring a girl with a broken heart.

Everly was an interesting character and I felt so sorry for her; catching your boyfriend making out with your best friend would be awful, but for the best friend to then start spreading rumours about her was even worse.

The storyline in this was about Everly struggling to come to terms with what had happened, and feeling like she had no friends left as several friends had known about the affair and not told her about it. She then met Gabe at her therapists office, and they slowly became friends, and then more than friends. Everly didn’t think she’d be able to give her heart again after what happened, but slowly began to realise that things were different with Gabe, and that she could be happy again. The romance in this was quite sweet, and Gabe and Everly worked well together. There were a couple of sex scenes though which might not be suitable for younger readers.

The ending to this was pretty good, and I was pleased with the way things worked out.



7 out of 10

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Blight by Alexandra Duncan

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Blight
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta since she was found outside the gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again. A fast-paced action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.


Blight by Alexandra Duncan

My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars


Blight “Someone had to do it first.”


This was a YA dystopian story, about a genetically engineered blight.

Tempest was a strong character, although she didn’t catch on real quick that the people she was fighting for weren’t fighting fair, and continued to believe in AgraStar even when they were trying to kill her.

The storyline in this was about a group of rebels setting off a bomb near one of the AgraStar’s research and development sites, and accidently unleashing a blight which tore through all the crops. Tempest then found herself teaming up with one of the rebels in an effort to stay alive, and get some blight-resistant seeds to the people who might be able to help. This was an interesting story, although the pace did lag a little in areas. We also got a twist towards the end which was unexpected, but I did feel like the world building was a little lacking.

The ending to this was okay, but a lot of stuff was left unanswered, will there be a sequel to this?



6.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
These Things I've Done
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.

Before:
Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

After:
It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.


These Things I've Done by Rebecca Phillips

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


These Things I've Done “They’ll never let me forget that my best friend fell into the path of an oncoming pickup truck and was crushed to death right in front of me.
And they definitely won’t let me forget that I’m the one who pushed her.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a girl whose best friend died a year earlier.

Dara was an interesting character and it was clear how much Aubrey’s death had affected her. It was brave of her to go back to her old school and to face all the people who had labelled her a murderer though.

The storyline in this was split between the present day, and Dara’s Sophomore year in the weeks leading up to the accident. It was interesting to see what had happened then and what was happening now in tandem, and I was also waiting to learn exactly what had happened between Dara and Aubrey before the accident, and why people were calling Dara a murderer. We also got some romance in this, although that was also tainted by what Dara thought Aubrey would have thought to the relationship.

The ending to this was pretty good, and this was an enjoyable read overall.



7 out of 10

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
The Secret History of Us
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Gorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.


The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


The Secret History of Us “I don’t know who you are.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a girl with retrograde amnesia following a car accident.

Olivia was an okay character, although I expected her to be a little more frustrated by her lack of memories than she was. She did her best to get on with things though, and it was brave the way she tried to piece together her life after the accident.

The storyline in this followed Olivia after being pulled from the river and resuscitated, after her car went off of a bridge. She was diagnosed with amnesia, and had to then try and figure out who she was after being released from the hospital, re-meeting her boyfriend for the first time, and trying to work out why she wasn’t friends with one of her oldest friends anymore. The pace in this was quite slow, and I did guess the twist towards the end, but this was an enjoyable story overall.

The ending to this pretty good, and I was pleased with the way things worked out.



7 out of 10

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn't been able to paint anything worthwhile since her award-winning piece Food Poisoning #1 last year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is lying comatose in faraway Puerto Rico after suffering a stroke. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she never has before. She can share her deepest secrets and feel safe. But Mercedes can't take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. As her life continues to crumble around her, the Estate offers more solace than she could hope for. But Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls by Lauren Karcz

My rating: 3.12 of 5 stars


The Gallery of Unfinished Girls “The estate guides us to fulfil its needs,” Lilia says, “with art and music, structure and form, color and light. But it knows what you need, too.”


This was a YA magical realism story about a girl who was an artist, but had a bit of a creative block.

Mercedes was an okay character although she seemed to lack focus a bit when it came to her art, so it was good for her when Lilia turned up to help her.

The storyline in this was about Mercedes and her sister living alone for a short time while their mother went to look after their Abuela who was in a coma. Mercedes was having a bit of artist’s block, while her sister suddenly took to playing the piano that appeared in their garden one day. Then a new neighbour turned up – Lilia, who took Mercedes to an old building where she was able to paint, although the artwork couldn’t be taken out of the building without it disappearing.
We also got a storyline about Mercedes having romantic feelings toward her best friend Victoria, but the story didn’t really focus on the romance.

The ending to this was okay, but overall I found this to be quite an odd story.



6.25 out of 10

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

16 Ways to Break A Heart by Lauren Strasnick

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
16 Ways to Break A Heart
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Unfolding through letters, texts, and chats, Lauren Strasnick’s smart, sexy, page-turning new novel is the ultimate he said/she said breakdown of a relationship gone wrong.

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy—even inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before hot tempers turned to blowout fights. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly hidden in places only he will find. And as he pieces together her version of their love story, he realizes that she has one final message for him. One that might just send his carefully constructed life tumbling down.


16 Ways to Break A Heart by Lauren Strasnick

My rating: 3.12 of 5 stars


16 Ways to Break A Heart “Just don’t come crying to me when she boils your bunny.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a relationship that ended with a bad break up.

The characters in this both seemed a little self-destructive. Dan and Natalie didn’t seem like a good fit right from the start, and they both messed up within the relationship. Dan should have known better than to flirt with other girls over text, and Nat could have handled her jealousy a bit better than she did.

The storyline in this was about Nat writing letters to Dan chronicling the ups and downs of their relationship, with Dan then telling us his side of the story after each letter. There was a bit of mystery over what had caused them to break up, and we slowly got to know more as the book went along, but the characters also seemed to get worse as the story went along, and it was easy to see why they were better off apart.

The ending to this was a little unexpected, with Nat getting revenge on Dan, and there was no happy ending for this pair.



6.25 out of 10

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Everything All at Once
Blurb (from Goodreads):
From the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.


Everything All at Once by Katrina Leno

My rating: 3.12 of 5 stars


Everything All at Once “I know Aunt Helen is the one who died, but now it kind of feels like I’m next.”


This was a YA contemporary story, with a bit of a fantasy twist towards the end.

Lottie was an okay character and I felt sorry for her when she had to try and deal with anxiety and panic attacks. It was also quite sad that her aunt had died so young.

The storyline in this was about Lottie receiving 24 letters from her aunt after her aunt’s death, and slowly opening them and doing whatever her aunt asked her to do in the letter such as reading a book, attending a party, or buying a copy of her aunts favourite record. I didn’t find these tasks all that exciting though, and they really didn’t come across as ‘dares’ like the blurb suggests. We also got a twist towards the end which was more out of a fantasy story than anything, which was a little odd, and which I didn’t really see coming.

The ending to this was okay, and the book did have some nice messages about stepping outside of your comfort zone and really doing something with your life, but overall I just wasn’t wowed by this book.



6.25 out of 10

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
This is How it Happened
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Somehow I’ve become a liar. A coward. Here’s how it happened.

When Genevieve Grace wakes up from a coma, she can’t remember the car crash that injured her and killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTube star who had just released his first album. Genevieve knows she was there, and that there was another driver, a man named Brad Freeman, who everyone assumes is guilty. But as she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—that maybe she had something to do with what happened.

As the internet rages against Brad Freeman, condemning him in a brutal trial by social media, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house, where she can hide from reporters and spend the summer volunteering in beautiful Zion National Park. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident, or the terrible aftermath of it all.

Incredibly thought-provoking and beautifully told, Paula Stokes’s story will compel readers to examine the consequences of making mistakes in a world where the internet is always watching…and judging.


This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars



This is How it Happened “I’m sorry, honey. Dallas didn’t survive. He’s dead.”


This was a YA contemporary story about a girl involved in a fatal car accident.

Genevieve was quite a strong character, and I felt bad for her when she heard the news that Dallas was dead, and again when she realised her part in the accident. It was brave of her to do what she did in the aftermath though.

The storyline in this was about Genevieve waking up after the car accident which killed her boyfriend Dallas, and about her getting plagued by the media as Dallas was a You Tube star and had just released his first album. Initially the accident was blamed on the other driver, but as Genevieve slowly got her memories back, she began to realise that maybe he wasn’t to blame after all. This was quite a difficult story to read in places, as Genevieve struggled with guilt and not knowing what to do, and it was quite hard hitting.

The ending to this was pretty good, and things were wrapped up realistically.



7 out of 10.