Review: More Happy Than Not

19542841Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Publisher: SoHo Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBQT

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?


4.5 / 5 Stars


Adam Silver is a brilliant storyteller. I loved the way the story was set up and flowed in More Happy Than Not. It was creative and not what I was expecting at all. There were twists and turns I never saw coming. It was amazing how seamlessly many different issues were woven into the story.

Not only was the way the story unfolded different and interesting, but so were the characters. The main character, Aaron, could have been very annoying and frustrating to readers because of the way he complained about the hardships and unhappiness in his life. Instead, Aaron was easy to relate to. I could empathize with him and liked him. I wanted him to achieve his ultimate happy ending. I rooted for him the entire time.

The other characters were whipped cream on top of the Aaron sundae. Thomas had a maturity about him, even if he was lost in life. You couldn’t ask for a better girlfriend than Genevieve. She stood by Aaron through it all, no matter what happened. I have to admit my favorite character was Me-Crazy, even if he was a horrible person. The fact that he gave himself that nickname was perfect. He had me laughing most of the time.

 

The only thing missing for me in More Happy Than Not was more information about what came next for Aaron. I kind of felt like I was left hanging a bit. I needed an epilogue or something. I’m dying for more!

More Happy Than Not is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. It’s definitely a book I would recommend.

 

Review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

7600924Title: Forbidden

Author: Tabitha Suzuma

Publication Date: May 27, 2010

Publisher: Definitions

Genre:New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.


Forbidden is probably the hardest book I have ever reviewed. I wish I could say I loved this book, but I can’t. The subject matter was just too disturbing and taboo to be enjoyable to read. What I can say is that it was beautifully written. Only an exceptionally talented writer could deliver a story so brutally wrong and still have you empathizing with its characters.

I felt sympathy for every character in this book. My heart went out to them. Despite their flaws, I loved them. There were so many wrongs committed to each of them on so many levels. I wanted happy endings for them all. Mostly, I wanted to be able to forgive Maya and Lochan their actions, but I couldn’t. It was frustrating and devastating because there could never be a happy ending for them. There could never be an ending that would be completely satisfying to me. What I was left with at the end of Forbidden was a deep sadness. It’s a book that will stick with me for a very long time to come.

You probably noticed there are no stars on this review. I honestly couldn’t come up with a rating. How do you rate a story which makes you super uncomfortable, but love the characters? I haven’t been able to figure it out. Would I suggest reading it? That depends entirely on the reader.

 

 

 

Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

224293501Title: The Start of Me and You

Author: Emery Lord

Publication Date: March 31, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Goodreads Synopsis:

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?


5 / 5 Stars


I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this, but The Start of Me and You  is the start of me and my love for Emery Lord’s books. Wow. Her writing is beautiful.

The title The Start of Me and You would lead one to believe this book is a romance. It is so much more than just a romance. It is a story of friendship and helping each other through the tough times in life. The romance most definitely played second string to the friendships in this book. Those tight friendships made the romance even sweeter.

I’m honestly kind of at a loss for words with this book. I feel like I can’t do it justice with this review. If you’re a YA contemporary romance lover, you should definitely read this book. It’s now one of my favorites. I can’t wait to read more of Emery Lord’s books.

 

 

Wicked Restless by Ginger Scott

Wicked Restless (Harper Boys #2) by Ginger Scott

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Synopsis:

Andrew Harper knows what people in his small town say about his family. His brother, Owen,  may have tried to protect him from the rumors and hurt, but Owen’s gone now. Andrew’s on his own now to prove everyone wrong.

Then, Andrew meets new girl Emma Burke at school. She’s the most beautiful girl Andrew’s ever seen. She’s also smart and sweet. Emma’s heard the rumors, but she doesn’t seem to care. It makes being stuck in the small town of Woodstock bearable.

Emma may not be the talk of the town, but she has problems of her own to deal with. Problems she’s keeping secret from Andrew. She knows she needs to tell him, but she just wants to be a normal teen for a while.

As Andrew and Emma are quickly falling for each other, they will be faced with a choice that will change the directions of their lives forever. Their choices will not only divide them but ruin them.

Five years later, Andrew can’t let go of the pain. He’s hurt and angry.

Andrew always wondered what he would do when he saw Emma again. Now, he knows: get revenge. He has the perfect opportunity to do it and he’s going to take it. But as he puts his plan in motion, the truth of what happened all those years ago starts to present itself — along with feelings he thought were long gone.

If Andrew and Emma can’t make peace with their past, they may lose out on their future.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Wicked Restless is the second book in the Harper Boys series. I couldn’t wait to read it because I absolutely loved the first book, Wild Reckless. (You can read my review here, if you’re interested.) Wild Reckless was about Owen Harper, while Wicked Restless is about his younger brother, Andrew. Each book can be read as a standalone, but there are some things that carry over from Wild Reckless to Wicked Restless.

Dude, socks. If you just wore socks, this wouldn’t have happened.

Wicked Restless started out sweet, cute and funny like many YA contemporary romances. Andrew and Emma’s instant connection during P.E. class is funny and cute. I was so excited for this couple!

“I want this girl to be the girl – my girl. The one I take to things and experience everything with.”

Then, everything gets all complicated and messed up. It turns into the angst filled NA romance I was expecting. It plays with my emotions in ways I didn’t expect.

The decisions Andrew and Emma make tear them apart. It tore me apart! It was heart breaking to read. I hurt for Andrew. He was trying to be such a good person and all it did was prove the rumors true. I couldn’t help but dislike Emma. I felt like she ruined his life. I kind of hated her. I honestly wondered how Ginger Scott could ever redeem her at this point.

Flash forward five years. Andrew has changed. He’s no longer trying to prove he’s not what people think he is. Andrew runs into Emma again. Understandably, he hates her and wants revenge. (I kind of want revenge on her myself!) He doesn’t care about anything but making Emma suffer.

It’s from this moment that every choice Andrew makes is gut wrenching for me to read. I didn’t like what the past five years had done to him. It was so sad to see who Andrew had become. When Andrew takes his anger out on Emma, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. I went quickly from hating her to understanding her. I wanted Andrew to understand her, too. I wanted the sweet and innocent Andrew back.

I’m not going to give anything else away from the story. Just know that I absolutely loved Wicked Restless. It played with my emotions in so many different ways. One minute, I was happy. The next, I was angry. It went on the entire book! Everything felt so intense. At times, the story took turns I wasn’t quite sure I believed. That didn’t matter, though; Ginger Scott’s writing is so good and packed with so much emotion that I could look past those things. Wicked Restless was an amazing follow up to Wild Reckless. Now, I hope Ms. Scott will give us a spin off in the form of Andrew’s roommate, Trent. Love that dude.

If you are a NA reader looking for an emotionally intense series filled with beautiful writing, I would highly suggest Ginger Scott’s Harper Boys series.

Other books in this series:

ARC Review: How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

 How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras

Publication Date: November 3, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Synopsis:

Georgia isn’t excited about starting her senior year of high school. She just lost her mother and isn’t quite sure how to go on. Her mother left her a letter telling Georgia who her mother would like her to be. Mostly, she wants Georgia to be brave and have the courage to try new things.

With the help of her best friend, Liss, Georgia decides to make a “Live Life List.” Together, they set out to complete the list. But nothing goes as easily as planned and soon Georgia find her life going places she never wanted it to go. Friendships are ruined, hearts are broken and trust is gone.

Georgia must be brave and take the steps necessary to put her life back together again.


My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


“It’s not you, it’s me.”

I feel like that pretty much sums up how I feel about How to Be Brave.

How to Be Brave started out strong. I really felt for Georgia and could identify with her. The writing was great. I loved the way Georgia’s memories were poetic. The issues in the story were important and relatable.  Then, it lost my attention fairly quickly.

To be honest, I think it was the tone of the book. It started out sad but optimistic. I was excited to see how Georgia was going to take her mom’s words of wisdom and where she would go from there. I had high hopes.

How to Be Brave just didn’t meet them. Instead of being a hopeful book about seizing life, it became Georgia’s decent into mischief and misery. It was depressing. While I understand why it took this direction, it wasn’t fun to read — at least for me. I kept reading in hopes that things would pick up and get better for Georgia. They did, but it just didn’t feel real to me. It felt like even her future might be depressing. I wanted to be uplifted. I wanted to see major growth throughout the entire book.

Something was just lacking for me in How to Be Brave. I have a feeling other readers are going to love this book. It was a good book — I just think it wasn’t for me.

**I received a copy of How to Be Brave from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Publication Date: October 12, 2013

Synopsis:

High school senior Fern Taylor knows she’ll never be beautiful like her best friend Rita. Fern’s got crazy red hair, glass and braces. If that wasn’t enough, she’s so tiny she could pass as a child. Fern knows she’ll never be beautiful enough to capture the attention of her crush, Ambrose Young.

Ambrose Young has it all. He’s not only tall and handsome, he’s smart and talented, too. The wrestling state championship has everything going for him, yet the pressure to be the winner his small town needs overwhelms him. So when the opportunity to be more presents itself, Ambrose grabs onto it. He enlists in the armed forces and convinces his four close friends to join him.

When tragedy strikes, Fern’s small town is torn apart. Five boys may have left for war, but only one will return alive.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I had to give Making Faces 5 stars. The message in this story is so important — especially to teens and young adults. It’s a story about looking past what you see on the outside to what’s on the inside of a person. Looks can be deceiving and words can be hurtful.

I almost gave it 4 stars because it took me a while to get into the book and understand its flow. I was a little confused by the different points of view. I thought there would be two: Ambrose and Fern. There were three. Bailey, Fern’s cousin / friend, was also a narrator. I wasn’t expecting that. There were also some flashbacks peppered throughout the book that I didn’t get at first. I knew it would all make sense, it was just getting further into the story to understand where it was all going.

The beauty and message of this story completely negated those complaints. Once I got a few chapters into Making Faces, I honestly didn’t want to put the book down. I forgot about my previous confusion. I read it in one day. The story was filled with such love and loss — not just for the main characters but for the entire small town. It was also filled with beautiful writing and a powerful message. It’s a book I wish I would have read in my late teen / early adult years when I put so much pressure on myself based on my looks.

Making Faces was an incredible story. It’s one that will stick with me for a very, very long time. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to consider it. To entice you, I’ll share one of my favorite quotes from Making Faces:

“If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?

Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?

Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?

Does he close the ears of a deaf man to make him more reliant?

Is the way I look a coincidence or just a twist of fate?

If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?

For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror, For the ugliness I see in me, for the loathing and the fear.

Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?

If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?”

Beautiful, right? Read it!

The Isle of the Lost: Review & Interview with the Kiddo

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz

Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

Note: This review is going to be a little different from my other reviews. Since I read The Isle of the Lost with my 7-year-old daughter, I’m going to give you a quick review and then I’m going to interview my daughter about the book.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


I decided to read The Isle of the Lost to my daughter after watching Disney’s Descendants movie. My daughter loved it, so I thought it would be a good way to get her interested in chapter books without pictures. I struggle getting her to read them because she wants all of her book to have pictures (in color, if possible). This was the perfect way to branch out.

The Isle of the Lost was a fun read. Since my daughter and I were already familiar with the characters, we could try to guess what was going to happen next or who was responsible for something. Each chapter wasn’t too long or too short. It was perfect for reading out loud for 10 to 15 minutes prior to bed. The story was entertaining and we were both excited to see how Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay became friends. There were new settings to see on the island and we even got a peak at what was going on with Prince Ben in Auradon.

If you or your child loved Disney’s Descendants movieThe Isle of the Lost is sure to be a big hit.


What My Daughter Thought of The Isle of the Lost

Me: If you could give The Isle of the Lost between 1 to 5 stars, 1 being worst and 5 being best, how many would you give it?

Kiddo: 5 stars

Me: What was your favorite part of the book?

Kiddo: Them going to the castle.

Me: Who was your favorite character?

Kiddo: Mal. I like her purple hair and purple clothes.

Me: What didn’t you like about the book?

Kiddo: Nothing. I wish it had pictures.

Me: Would you tell your friends to read it?

Kiddo: Yes!


Here is the trailer for Disney’s Descendants, in case you haven’t seen it yet.

Until Friday Night

Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) by Abbi Glines

Publication Date: August 25, 2015

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Synopsis:

Maggie Carleton doesn’t speak. She hasn’t since she told the police her father killed her mother two years ago. Maggie chooses to stay silent to protect herself from the pain.

Football player West Ashby is cocky, popular and too cute for his own good. He has girls lining up for a chance to be with him. What people don’t know is that he uses it all as a front to hide his pain. West’s father is dying slowly of cancer. He doesn’t want anyone to know, so he hides it with football, beer and girls.

When Maggie moves to live with her aunt and uncle in Lawton, she has no plans to start talking. She’s content to hide her pain within herself. What Maggie doesn’t count on is West. When he takes his pain out on her at a post-game field party, it starts the beginning of a friendship. West needs someone to talk to, someone who won’t blab his problems around. Who better to confide in than a girl that doesn’t talk? But as Maggie gets closer to West, she feels the need to share her wisdom with him — by talking.


My review: 4.5 out of 5 stars


I loved this book. Really, truly loved it. Abbi Glines created a group of characters that were so much fun, even if the story was a little sad. I loved the strength both Maggie and West had. Their friendship was so sweet. It was so much fun watching them try to avoid falling for each other.

I also loved the dynamic between West and his friends. Their dialogue made me smile! I really want a book in this series about each of them! I’m hoping that’s what Abbi Glines has planned since this is the first book in the series. I’m not quite sure with the way this book ended.

That brings to me to why I didn’t give it 5 stars. Even though the storylines were wrapping up, the ending felt abrupt to me. It ended and I was like, “That’s it?!?!” I wish there would have been a little bit more.

I would definitely recommend this to YA readers (FYI – There is a few sexual acts mentioned. Actual sex was not described. There is also drinking in the story.). Until Friday Night captivated me from the beginning. The writing was amazing. I think it just might be my favorite Abbi Glines book that I’ve read so far.

Juniors

 Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Synopsis:

High school junior Lea Lane recently moved to Hawaii with her actress mom. She hasn’t really made many friends on the island other than her childhood friend, Danny.

When her mom’s rich friends, Eddie and Melanie West invite Lea and her mom to move into their guest house. Lea’s not excited. Moving means living on her popular classmates’ property. She’s embarrassed to be accepting charity for Whitney and Will’s parents. Lea doesn’t want to be known at her posh private school as a charity case.

To her surprise, Lea finds herself becoming friends with Whitney and maybe something more with Will. She’s also experiencing more in life than ever before. But her friendship with the West kids may be changing Lea in a way she never wanted. Lea will have to decide if being friends with the West kids is worth losing the respect of the two people she cares the most about.


My rating: 3 out of 5 stars


I loved how Juniors started off. It was a creative start but something I could imagine happening in real life. Lea was a normal teenage girl trying to figure things out. I liked her the dynamic between her and Danny. It was a cute friendship. I also loved the nod to the Hawaiian culture and scenery.

Somewhere in the middle of the story, it lost me a bit. Lea got very immature and it was hard for me to read. A lot of it was very realistic but it still drove me nuts — especially her “relationship” with Will. I hated how she treated her mom, too. I was frustrated with the story and kind of wanted it to hurry up and end.

Then, right before the very end, the story picked up and went in the direction I was hoping it would the entire time. I wish it would have happened earlier. I would have liked more interaction between Danny and Lea. I would have loved for the entire book to have more Danny in it. He was the cute and funny part of it all.

Juniors wasn’t my favorite book by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The Descendants has that spot. I still think Juniors had a good message for teenagers, though. I would suggest it to young adults going through high school. It’s an excellent representation of what trying to fit in could be.