You’re Welcome, Universe

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

3 stars

This book started out strong and then midway through kind of fell off for me. It’s about a deaf teenager named Julia who likes spray paint art. When there is a graffiti tag insulting her best friend she covers it up with her own art, and then gets expelled from her school for it. Now she’s in a new school with no friends, one that isn’t for deaf students so she needs an interpreter. Julia is having a hard time and doesn’t fit in, and doesn’t want to fit in.

I think Whitney Gardner nailed the portrayal of a perspective from a deaf teen because this book wasn’t about that only, the story was more about fitting in at a new school and her struggles with her art and the illegal side of it. I also think Gardner presents interesting ideas and perspectives about graffiti versus tagging, the art side of it and the not so great parts.

Ultimately this book didn’t work for me because halfway through I was a bit bored, and near the end I felt a lot was unresolved. I also stopped caring what happened with the characters which is sad because they started out the book pretty strong.

An arc was provided in exchange for an honest review

By Your Side

By Your Side by Kasie West

3.5 stars

Kasie West is one of those authors who I will read anything she writes. I preordered this book and found time to read it. I enjoyed this story, but she’s given us better. I do think lots of teens will relate to the characters in this book, the MC with her anxiety disorder, and the love interest in foster care. But I felt she could have gone a bit deeper, everything felt very surface level when dealing with issues. Like a teen afternoon special on TV.

I have to get one thing off my chest, I have worked in libraries for 13 years, we do extensive checks before closing the building AND it is a violation of safety codes no to have an emergency exit in a building. So the whole getting stuck in the library thing I had to really bust out the suspension of disbelief. (Yes I understand it was all for the story, but it was too much for me).

The Edge of Everything

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

3 stars!

“If you kill him, you’re as bad as he is,” Zoe said. “It’s not our job to punish people.”
X lowered his head.
“Perhaps it is not yours.”

The Edge of Everything is one of the more gruesome young adult novels I’ve ever come across. One of the more unique ones too. It’s the story of a creature named X who is a sort of supernatural bounty hunter who encounters a family one night when he is sent to claim a soul. X becomes attached to them and the teenage Zoe and it changes everything about the world he knows.

First off, I enjoyed this book, but it was a little bit too grim and dark for me. I do think it will be a gigantic hit amongst many of those who read in the YA genre. It’s very unique and very descriptive, Giles has a very cunning mind. There were moments when I actually felt nauseous from the descriptions and that’s the mark of a fantastic writer!

I loved the character of X and his story, the creepy and harsh world he was raised in. X was the best part about this book for me. Zoe, well. She’s a teenage girl and she was written like one, which means she grated my nerves a bit, but ultimately she was a very realistic teen character. I would have liked to see more growth from her throughout the progression of the story.

My other favorite parts were the characters Ripper and Banger, they were so much fun to read about and I kind of hope they get their own novellas and/or novels.

I do think a lot of people will love and embrace this book.

An ARC was provided

Holding Up The Universe

Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven

4 stars!

“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”

This book shocked me with how much I enjoyed it! Holding Up the Universe is about Libby and Jack. A couple years back Libby had gained so much weight that she needed to be rescued from her house to be saved. Jack has a secret, he cannot recognize faces, not even his own.

The two become connected after Jack does something he regrets, and a friendship begins. Through friendship becomes an attraction, but both have personal barriers they need to get past.

“We’re all weird and damaged in our own way. You’re not the only one.”

I really enjoyed this book, way more than I thought I would. I am not a fan of All the Bright Places, it was one of those books where everyone loved it except me. But I was intrigued by this book and I liked Niven’s writing style so I wanted to give it a shot. I myself am overweight, and while I am nowhere near Libby’s size I could easily relate to a lot of what she was going through, even though I am an adult. High school is hard enough without adding in the fat shaming factor and I really admired her strength and tenacity when dealing with the hateful comments of others.

Jack’s story was very interesting, I knew little to nothing about face blindness before reading this book. I think Niven did a great job of describing what day to day life would be like living with this condition. Jack himself was one thing I didn’t love about this book. He had a lot of growth by the end, but ultimately I still feel Libby deserves a better guy than him.

Beautifully written, Niven has sold me on anything else YA she writes in the future. I always love when an author has a book I didn’t connect with has the ability to write something different, it shows variety in her writing style.

“It’s my experience that the people who are most afraid are the ones who hide behind mean and threatening words.”

Steelheart

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

4 stars!

Steelheart is about a boy named David who watched his father murdered by the Epic named Steelheart. Epics are advanced beings that came to earth and took over, like super villains instead of superheroes. Now ten years later Steelheart rules Newcago and the city remains in a constant state of darkness. David has thought of nothing but revenge for the last decade and needs the help of a group named the Reckoners to carry out his plan.

David is tentatively accepted by the Reckoners, but he must convince them that he is useful to their group.

“Sometimes, son,” my father said, prying my fingers free, “you have to help the heroes along.”

I really enjoyed this book, the prologue was just phenomenal and mind blowing. Reading that I knew this would be a good book. To me this book had a very Watchmen feel to it, but instead of the Epics being the center storyline it’s the humans fighting super villains. I definitely want to know more about how the Epics came to be and see more shades of gray in that area.

The only reason I didn’t love this book and simply really enjoyed it, was there were some information overload moments that went a bot beyond my comprehension. I know it all had meaning to the plot and I was definitely wowed by the end with how some things came together. But those parts I kind of set down the book and walked away for a bit.

Anyways, the end of this book just left me wanting more, so I am off to start the next one!!! Yay!

“I know, better than anyone else, that there are no heroes coming to save us. There are no good Epics. None of them protect us. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Tell Me Three Things

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

3.75 stars!

“Just because you’re strong doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for help sometimes. Remember that.”

This book is the straight version of Simon Vs. the Homo-sapiens Agenda, and while they are very similar, it actually didn’t bother me that much. I enjoyed each book for different reasons.

Tell Me Three Things is about a girl named Jessie whose mother died a couple years ago and now her father has found new love. This means selling her childhood home and moving to LA to live with her new stepmother and stepbrother and leaving everything she knows behind. A few days into her new school and Jessie gets an anonymous message, reaching out to her to help her, but never divulging their identity.

Jessie begins to rely more and more on SN, and as time goes by adjusting to her new school gets easier.

“Perfect days are for people with small, realizable dreams. Or maybe for all of us, they just happen in retrospect; they’re only now perfect because they contain something irrevocably and irretrievably lost.”

I think this is a book a lot of teens (and adults) can relate to because it’s all about coping in new environments and feeling like you’re alone. Jessie is a very relatable character, trying to navigate a new school and a whole new family when she feels no one is on her side.

I will say I guessed who SN was fairly easily, I won’t tell you how because spoilers. But even pretty much knowing who it was I enjoyed the book. I wish more had been developed in this book, like Jessie’s relationship with her dad and her new family, I felt a lot of that was brushed over or quickly wrapped up. It was a huge part of her life and it seemed second to her issues in high school (which were just as bad, but still).

A quick read if you want to read something cute with a good ending.

“Other people can’t make you feel stupid. Only you can.”

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

2 stars

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”

Being a giant fan of Marissa Meyer and her Cinder series, it’s incredibly disheartening that I didn’t like this book. BUT a bit to my fault, I found out after starting this book that the style has been compared to Gregory Maguire, the author herself said that was the inspiration.

I friggin hate Gregory Maguire’s books. So I think this book was doomed for me from the start.

I love the idea and concept of Heartless, the prequel to Alice in Wonderland. The story of the famous villain the Queen of Hearts.

If you watched the movie growing up, you are familiar with her heart full of venom and hate. This book gave us the story of how she came to be that way (meaning obviously it’s not the happiest of tales).

Heartless is the story of a girl named Catherine who wants to open a bakery with her friend. Her mother has higher hopes for her and wants her to marry the King. While at one of the palace balls, Cath meets the new Joker, Jest and is enchanted by him.

Over time it becomes more and more clear to Cath that she wants a life with Jest and not the King, but she’s tangled in a web with the King and her family and feels hopeless in controlling her own life.

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.”

As you can tell, I didn’t love this book. I felt it was drawn out and near the end I was speed reading to just get it over with already. The beginning of the book was so slow and then everything was rushed together at the end of the book, I wish the pacing had been better. I also didn’t connect to a single character in the book, nor did I feel sympathetic for them (and I think as readers we were intended to).

The thing I liked most about it was the concept and I think Meyer did a fantastic job of making the characters her own. But a lot of things felt obvious and unoriginal, and I didn’t actually feel the love between Cath and Jest. Which is sad because I think Meyer delivered brilliant romances in the Cinder series.

I think fans of Gregory Maguire will enjoy this book, but it was not to my tastes or liking at all. It’s as simple as that.

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”

The Unexpected Everything

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

4 stars!

“You have to try. You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail – especially if you fail – come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell. And then later you can say, without regret or hesitation… ‘Once, I dared to dare greatly”

Morgan Matson has proven once again she is the queen of contemporary young adult novels for girls. This book is the story of Andie, responsible daughter of a politician recently under fire from the press. When her scheduled summer plans fall through, she’s left without a plan for what to do with her life for the summer. Every one of her friends already have plans, and Andie finds a job as a dog walker. What lies ahead is a summer of learning new things, romance and the test of friendship.

“I could do this. If whole galaxies could change, so could I.”

I really enjoyed this book, I think like Matson’s other books it gives teen readers a hint that life isn’t all you plan it to be and to sometimes let things go and see what happens. The beginning was pretty slow, I really had to push to get to a point where the book really flowed. My favorite parts of the book were when Andie and her father spent time together and learning more about the character of Clark. I like that the author brought in a quirky, nerdy hero instead of some kind of life guard stud or something. Yay for the nerd boys!

I was very much enthralled by the book, but once I put it down I noticed some things didn’t match up entirely. There were subplots that seemed to go nowhere, friendship drama that seemed unnecessary except for the sake of drama, and this book was way too long. I had a few moments where I wondered if long paragraphs were important to the plot (spoiler alert, they weren’t). But this is a fantastic teen contemporary read, great for the summer time. Once I got in the flow of things I found it hard to put this book down!

“The idea that you could rethink the thing you’d always thought you wanted and change your plan – it was almost a revolutionary concept. That you could choose what would make you happy, not successful.”

Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

3.5 stars

Gender fluid: a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. -Source: gender wiki

This is an incredibly interesting book and I learned a lot of new terms and subjects, as well as it changed the way I think about other people. This is the story of Riley, a gender fluid individual who is struggling to cope with anxiety and other issues such as starting at a new school.

When Riley’s therapist suggests starting an anonymous blog, Riley is shocked when it becomes popular. But then someone discovers that Riley runs the blog, and everything just sort of explodes from there.

“The world isn’t binary. Everything isn’t black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it’s not a switch, it’s a dial. And it’s not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval.”

I think this is an important book, like I said earlier I learned a lot from it and think others will too. My issue with it was it was more information strong than plot strong. I learned all of these things, but I don’t feel there was much of a story. The side characters were there only to enhance Riley, and there were a few personal tidbits thrown in, but they didn’t feel real to me. Just there to supplement Riley’s issues.

I also felt for a teen struggling with issues of gender fluidity that Riley was very in touch with his/her thoughts and had way more insight than a struggling teen would have (this is just my opinion everyone, I can already feel people ready to argue with me). Plus the story always had perfectly timed issues where something would happen and I found myself thinking “wow that’s convenient timing.”

I sound like a grump. I did like this book, but sitting down after reading it I found way too many head scratching moments to really love it. The surface of the story was scatched but I felt it could have gone much deeper. I wish for more with the parents, more of a development of Bec and Solo, heck even Vickers. BUT many teens will love this, and I hope the right teens read it and it changes the way they think. I know I found myself wanting to know Riley’s gender at the beginning before thinking later that it didn’t matter. And I will do my best not to put people into categories.

“I can’t blame you for trying to categorize me. It’s a human instinct. It’s why scientists are, to this day, completely flabbergasted by the duck-billed platypus: it’s furry like a mammal, but lays eggs like a bird. It defies conventional classification.
I AM THE PLATYPUS (Coo coo ka-choo)”

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

4.5 stars!!! 
This book was:

I had my reservations going into this book. An inaccurate account of Lady Jane Grey mixed in with fantasy elements? I was not sold. In fact I almost passed it over. But when I opened it and my eyes landed on the dedication, I knew I had to read it.

“Dedication:

For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door.

And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.”

SOLD!

So, the plot. Jane is the cousin of King Edward and would like to spend all of her time with her nose in a book. Edward is dying of “The Affliction” and needs to pick a successor since he was too young and sick to leave an heir. When one of his advisors suggests Edward marry Jane off and name her child as an heir, Edward agrees. And so Jane is married to Gifford, who spends his nights as a man and days as a horse.

A horse you say? Oh, did I neglect to tell you that there are shapeshifters and in this book many people called Edians can transform into animals (not always at will). Soon it is discovered there is a plot to kill Edward in a strong power move, and it only gets more interesting from there…

“No horse jokes,” he said.
“My lord, I apologize for the horse joke. If you put down the book—unharmed!—I will give you a carrot.”
He brandished the book at her. “Was that a horse joke?”
“Neigh.”
“Was that a horse joke?”

So I was a history major in college and reading books with historical inaccuracies used to drive me CRAZY. But lately I’ve been loosening my grip and enjoying things not exactly accurate **cough cough REIGN cough cough** so with this book I straightened my back and LET IT GO.

Exactly Elsa!!!

Anyways, this book was so friggin funny. When compared to Monty Python I was worried, because that isn’t my humor. But to me this was more along the lines of Princess Bride humor, or more subtle British humor. There were many times when reading this book I chuckled out loud. And that doesn’t happen very often as I have RBF. (Resting book face).

I can only imagine the amount of fun the authors had writing this, I had so much fun reading it. Honestly, there isn’t another book out there I would be able to compare it to. History, humor, shifters and murder? Not a combo I would have guessed would work. But it did!

It’s one flaw? Way too damn long. Almost 500 pages dude.

If you need to read something a little bit different, something that will put you in a good mood, this is your book.

“You’re wrong,” Lord Dudley said. “You’ve always been a fool.”

“The fool thinks he is wise,” G retorted. “But the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

3 stars

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”

Six of Crows was one of the top books of 2015 for me, it reinforced my love for Leigh Bardugo after the Grisha series. I fell in love with the characters and the possibilities, and after the ending I was dying for the next book.
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It didn’t live up to my expectations.

After finishing this book I thought on it a lot and I think what didn’t work for me was the first book was heavily character driven, and had so so many feels that I ate right up. With Crooked Kingdom I honestly didn’t feel much for the characters. The plot was the main focus and it was like there was so much crammed in that there was no room for feels, only a few feels made the cut.

“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Things I enjoyed:
-The development of Wylan and Jesper as characters. In the first book, while they were MC’s, the other four caught my attention more often. That was not the case here, I found myself wishing for the POV chapters of these two. We got a lot more background on Wylan and his family, same with Jesper. It helped develop them immensely and connected me to them as a reader.

-Bardugo’s writing: her lyrical writing is what made this book a three instead of a two. I found myself lingering on some sentences and the power behind the words. The imagery was stunning, world building two thumbs up. Bardugo has only improved her writing style with time.

What didn’t work for me:
-Kaz and Inej: after the build up for them as a couple in the first book I found this one lacking. I wasn’t longing for their POVs because nothing was happening, they didn’t go anywhere for me.

-Nina and Matthias: Same thing with them, HUGE build up in book 1, felt totally brushed over in this book. And one huge spoilery thing happened……… I didn’t feel a thing :/

Anyways, I think I am in the minority. Many other people loved this book, and you may too. Six of Crows is still hands down one of my favorite YA novels ever, so don’t let this review deter you from reading that book.

“How many times have you told me you’re a monster? So be a monster. Be the thing they all fear when they close their eyes at night.”

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

4.5 stars!!

“Sometimes it seems like everyone knows who I am except me.”

So I want to say I am just such a cool person I picked this book out from every other book in the library because of some hipster mojo magic. Whelp, I picked it up because it was the very first book in the teen section, first shelf, first book in the row. I am such a badass I am! Anyways, I found myself needing a major genre change, I basically binged romance the entire year and after a few duds in a row, I needed a change of pace. Hence, my first original love: the young adult genre.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book that blows you away with how highly addictive and fun it is. It’s very high school in a sense. I know, duh, it’s a YA book. BUT, Simon himself was just a very believable high school kid. He had a few crushed (because who didn’t?). He messes up a bit with his friends, and makes a few mistakes. Simon was just a very human and realistic character.

“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

When I was a teen I didn’t care for GLBT books, but now as an adult I find I love them. This one stands out so much from others in the genre, because the issues were simple, and yet so big at the same time. Reading this book was almost like erasing all of the duds that came before it and I am excited to read more. I praise and curse the author for this being her debut novel because WOW and at the same time I WANT MORE!!!

I think any reader could find something they would like in this book. Any reader could find a piece of themselves in Simon, or Blue, or any of the other side characters. In short, this was a fantastic book, and I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future (please write more).

“Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

P. S. I Like You

P. S. I Like You by Kasie West

4 stars!

PS I Like You is the You’ve Got Mail of the young adult genre.

^^^Yeah, I said it. But I friggin love the movie You’ve Got Mail and this book came my way at exactly the right time so I was happy to read a cute and predictable YA romance.

PS I Like You is about teenage Lily, a quirky musician who speaks her mind and makes snap decisions. Out of boredom in her Chemistry class, she scribbles some lyrics on her desk and is surprised to see a response the next day. What ensues is a secret passing back and forth of notes between Lily and a mystery person. The more they write, the more they come to understand each other. But when Lily discovers who she’s been writing to, it turns her world upside down and her perceptions of others may be wrong.

Was this book predictable? Hell yes. There’s not doubt about that. But as I said at the beginning this book came at the right time when I needed a sweet escape from reality. I think this is a good book for teens to read because it teaches them there is more to a person than what we all see on the surface. Many times people can make quick judgements without considering all of the possibilities and it’s important to give more consideration.

I thought the passing back and forth of written notes was a cute idea; I am beyond glad this wasn’t two people texting. The letters added a nice touch to the book and was better for the plot than instant messaging or texting. Also, I do wonder if all of the bands mentioned in this book are fictional or real, I should probably look that up.

This wasn’t a full 5 because the ending felt unresolved in some aspects, but I enjoyed reading this book nonetheless. If you want a cute summer YA romantic read, this is the book for you!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

3.5 stars

So I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I grew up with the series, became an adult when the characters did. This is a series that affected my life. I wasn’t eager to read this book as some HP fans were because it wasn’t really written by Rowling, so I honestly didn’t get the big deal. Yes, she was involved and it’s based on her story but it’s not another Harry Potter novel, at least not to me.

I enjoyed the plot, seeing where all of our favorites ended up and the introduction of new characters. Scorpious was probably the best part of the book. I can’t say much without spoilers, but I liked the idea of how the past can affect the present and how little moments can change the course of the future.

But overall, I wasn’t in love with this book. I’d like to see a production, but I wish it hadn’t been published as a play and instead as a story JK Rowling wrote herself. There were several awkward moments written in the play’s instructions that I had long pauses at. And mostly I wish Ron hadn’t been turned into a bumbling idiot. That and I felt it dragged on a little bit too much. Near the end there was a plot twist that came out of left field and the explanation even more bizarre.

Overall like I said I enjoyed it (but I can’t talk about what I enjoyed because SPOILERS). But ultimately this book just made me want to reread the originals.

The Problem with Forever

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

3 stars

This book………… it had the right idea, but the execution just wasn’t quite right. JLA is one of my all time favorite authors, many of you know that because I’ve been screaming about her books since I discovered them. I enjoyed this book, and I love the concept of it. I just didn’t like the execution of it.

This is the story of Mallory, a foster kid who doesn’t speak much because of PTSD and conditioning from her previous foster home. Four years later and a nice couple have taken her in and homeschooled her, but now she’s going to fulfill her senior year at a public school. On the first day of school she runs into the boy she never thought she would see again, her protector in her old foster home. They are happy to see each other, but their time in that horrible house has left it’s mark.

I think Mallory’s story was an important one to tell, social anxiety stemming from her issues is a tough subject. I feel teens will be able to relate to her as a character and easily empathize with her. It’s important for teens to have books they can relate to so they don’t feel alone, and this is a perfect one to hand to a teen who has issues with public speaking/ptsd. What I didn’t love was this book was looooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggg. Like, the message could have been executed in 350 pages instead of 470. Because for me, this book dragged big time. I never had that excitement to pick it back up again once I put it down.

I think I am one of the few with this opinion, so please pick it up and try it for yourself. JLA is still one of my favorite authors and I will gladly read anything she publishes in the future, this just wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. And oh! This book has a pretty cover. That’s another bonus 🙂