Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Pushing Perfect
Blurb (from Goodreads):
A girl’s quest for perfection results in dangerous consequences in this layered, suspenseful YA novel by the author of Playlist for the Dead.

How far would you go to be perfect?

Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes.

But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.

This dark, emotionally resonant contemporary YA novel is perfect for fans of We Were Liars and The Secret History.

Pushing Perfect by Michelle Falkoff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pushing Perfect “Want me to erase these?
I’ll need a favor. Or two.”

This was a contemporary story about a girl blackmailed after buying drugs illegally.

I felt quite sorry for Kara in this story, she was so intent on being perfect that she stopped talking to her two best friends rather than tell them that she had a skin problem, and the panic attacks made things hard for her too. She could have made things a lot easier on herself if she had just been a little less vain though.

The storyline in this was about Kara buying a study aid called Novalert illegally to help her relax during her SATs. Unfortunately though someone took a photograph of the transaction, and then tried to blackmail her by threatening to expose what she had done. I have to say that I lost interest when the blackmail started though, and I struggled to stay focused for the rest of the book. I will say that I didn’t guess who the blackmailer was though.

The ending to this was pretty unbelievable for me. I just couldn’t quite believe that things with the blackmailer were solved as easily as they were.

6 out of 10

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
The Stranger Game
Blurb (from Goodreads):
The Stranger Game is a dark, suspenseful, and twisty young adult novel—perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart—about fifteen-year-old Nico Walker, whose sister returns home after a four-year disappearance.

When Nico Walker's older sister mysteriously disappears, her parents, family, and friends are devastated. But Nico can never admit what she herself feels: relief at finally being free of Sarah's daily cruelties.

Then the best and worst thing happens: four years later, after dozens of false leads, Sarah is found.

But this girl is much changed from the one Nico knew. She's thin and drawn, where Sarah had been golden and athletic; timid and unsure, instead of brash and competitive; and strangest of all, sweet and kind, when she had once been mean and abusive. Sarah's retrograde amnesia has caused her to forget almost everything about her life, from small things like the plots of her favorite books and her tennis game to the more critical—where she's been the last four years and what happened at the park on the fateful day she vanished. Despite the happy ending, the dark details of that day continue to haunt Nico, and it becomes clear that more than one person knows the true story of what happened to Sarah. . . .

The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Stranger Game “I think this is her.”

This was a YA mystery story, about a girl missing for 4 years who finally came home.

I felt quite sorry for Nico in this story, having her sister come back after 4 years, when she believed her to be dead couldn’t have been easy, and the media attention could only make things worse.

“I really don’t want reporters and media calling the house or coming by.”

The storyline in this was about Nico’s sister Sarah being found 4 years after she disappeared, and returning home to her family. We had a bit over mystery over how and why she had been taken, especially as she had amnesia concerning the event, and we also had the nagging question over whether or not the girl in question was really Sarah or not. This mystery aspect was pretty good, although I did find the pace quite slow.

"Sarah would kill me if I told them about the situation with Paula and Max."

The ending to this was okay, and I liked that we got concrete answers to all the questions posed.

6.5 out of 10

Monday, 24 October 2016

Miss E. by Brian Herberger

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to author Brian Herberger.
Miss E.
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Being the new kid in town is a way of life for Bets, but moving to California in 1967 is different. Her father leaves for the war in Vietnam, her history teacher gives an assignment that has the whole school searching for clues, and the town’s most mysterious resident shares a secret with Bets that has been hidden away for decades. When a peaceful protest spins out of control, Bets is forced to reconsider how she feels about the war her father is fighting and her own role in events taking place much closer to home.

Miss E. by Brian Herberger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Miss E. “With me away, your mother’s going to need you just as much as you need her.”

This was a YA story set in California in 1967.

Bets was an okay character and it was clear how much she loved her father. I also thought that the way they communicated without words at times was a nice touch.

The storyline in this was about Bets’ father having to leave to go to the war in Vietnam, and about Bets’ life while he was gone. We had a reclusive woman known as ‘Miss E.’ who Bets got to know, and an interesting history assignment too, which lead to an eventful anti-war protest. I did like the little mystery surrounding Miss E. and was quiet shocked when her secret was revealed. I also felt Bets’ fear when her father was deployed, and her worries that he might not return home safely.

The ending to this was pretty happy, although it still left us with a little bit of a mystery.

6.5 out of 10

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Harlequin (UK) Limited and NetGalley.
Something in Between
Blurb (from Goodreads):
It feels like there's no ground beneath me, like everything I've ever done has been a lie. Like I'm breaking apart, shattering. Who am I? Where do I belong? 

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what's expected of her. Pretty and popular, she's studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she's trying to make sense of her new world, it's turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she's not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

Something in Between “I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who found out that she was living in the US illegally.

I felt quite sorry for Jasmine in this story as she had her whole future planned out, only to discover that things weren’t going to go to plan at all, and that she may even be deported.

The storyline in this was about Jasmine finding out from her parents that they were living in the US illegally, and realising that this meant that she wouldn’t be able to accept the scholarship she was offered. We then had Jasmine fighting to stay in the country and trying to find a way to get a different scholarship as well as a green card, whilst also finding a boyfriend along the way. I did find that the book dragged a bit though, and the romance was pretty quick too.

The ending to this was fairly happy if a little predictable. This book did highlight an important issue though, and the author’s note at the end was a nice touch and gave us a bit more background to the story.

6.5 out of 10

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Amateurs (The Amateurs #1) by Sara Shepard

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Bonnier Publishing and NetGalley.
The Amateurs
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Everyone's dying to know the truth . . .

When Aerin Kelly was eleven, she idolised her seventeen-year-old sister, Helena, and they did everything together. They made Claymation movies and posted them to YouTube. They made fun of Windmere-Carruthers, the private school they attended, they invented new flavours for their parents' organic ice cream shop, and they dressed up their golden retriever, Buster. But when Helena went into senior year things started to change. Rather than being Aerin's inseparable sister, she started to push her away. Then, on a snowy winter's day, Helena vanished.

Four years later, Helena's body is found. Wracked with grief and refusing to give up on her sister, Aerin spends months trying to figure out what exactly happened to Helena and who killed her. But the police have no leads. A young, familiar officer named Thomas wants to help and suggests she checks out a website called Case Not Closed. Hesitantly, she posts, and when teenagers Seneca and Maddox show up on her doorstep offering to help investigate she accepts in desperation. Both have suffered their own losses and also posted to the site with no luck, so they are hoping this case might be the one they crack. But as their investigation begins, it seems that maybe it's no accident that they are all together, and that maybe the crimes have something - or someone - in common.

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

The Amateurs “She was never going to know the truth about Helena. What happened to her sister was going to remain a mystery – and a recurring nightmare – for the rest of her life.”

This was a YA mystery/crime story featuring a bunch of teens trying to solve a cold case.

The characters in this were all okay, although I didn’t really love any of them. Seneca was fairly smart, but easily offended, Maddy was a big surprise, Bret was a little obsessed with Aerin, and Aerin liked to flirt a lot. They did all seem invested in solving the case to an extent though.

The storyline in this was about Seneca, Maddy, Bret and Aerin coming together to try and solve the mystery of Aerin’s sister’s murder 5 years previously, after meeting on an online cold case site. They followed some leads, put together clues that the police had missed, and even developed ridiculous schemes to gain access to fancy parties where they could try to interrogate people. The whole thing just fell a little flat for me though, and none of the suspects really seemed all that likely to have committed the crime.

The ending to this gave us a big twist and really did make these guys look like amateurs. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next book.

6.5 out of 10

Friday, 21 October 2016

Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Bonnier Publishing and NetGalley.
Lost Stars
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Before her older sister, Ginny, died, Carrie was a science nerd, obsessively tracking her beloved Vira comet. But now that Ginny is gone, sixteen-year-old Carrie finds herself within the orbit of Ginny’s friends, a close-knit group of seniors who skip school, obsess over bands (not science), and party hard.

Fed up with Carrie’s behavior, her father enrolls her in a summer work camp at a local state park. Carrie actually likes the days spent in nature. And when she meets Dean, a guy who likes the real Carrie—astrophysics obsessions and all—she starts to get to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

  Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lost Stars “And then, for some reason, I hated my job twelve percent less.”

This was a YA story set in the 1980’s, about a girl whose older sister had died.

Carrie came across as the sort of girl who went out of her way to irritate people at times, and I could see why her father was so worried about her, especially after the death of her older sister.

The storyline in this was about Carrie being forced to take part in a bridge building summer job as a way to sort her out, and we also got a bit of mystery over how her sister died, and why her mother left and didn’t come back. There was a touch of romance towards the end, but this book dragged for me, and I found the details about sound proofing a room and building a bridge to be a bit boring.

The ending to this was okay, and things did seem to be looking up for Carrie a bit.

6 out of 10

Thursday, 20 October 2016

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl “A manic pixie dream girl is a character trope: a quirky, effervescent female who walks to the beat of her own drum and makes the male lead feel like she’s changed his world.”

This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who tried to stop her friends being bullied by using a mathematical formula.

Bea was an okay character, and it was noble of her to try and help her friends to become more popular and avoid bullies, I could understand why none of them really understood her mathematical formula though.

The storyline in this was about Bea trying to find a solution to a bullying problem by reinventing herself and her friends to be the sort of people that would be valued more. She also tried to reinvent herself to become a manic pixie dream girl to try and win her boyfriend back, but she was kind of clueless when it came to romance really. The book was entertaining, if a little cringe-worthy in places, and it was nice to see Bea change as the story progressed.

The ending to this was okay, and things seemed to work out fairly happily.

6.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Rose & Thorn (Ash & Bramble #2) by Sarah Prineas

Sponsored post: I was able to view a digital galley of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Rose & Thorn (Ash & Bramble, #2)
Blurb (from Goodreads):
This beauty isn’t sleeping! Discover the true story of Sleeping Beauty in Sarah Prineas’s bold YA fairy-tale retelling filled with thrilling adventure and romance, perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles and The Girl of Fire & Thorns trilogy.

After the spell protecting her is destroyed, Rose seeks safety in the world outside the valley she had called home. She’s been kept hidden all her life to delay the three curses she was born with—curses that will put her into her own fairy tale and a century-long slumber. Accompanied by the handsome and mysterious Watcher, Griff, and his witty and warmhearted partner, Quirk, Rose tries to escape from the ties that bind her to her story. But will the path they take lead them to freedom, or will it bring them straight into the fairy tale they are trying to avoid?

Set in the world of Sarah Prineas’s Ash & Bramble fifty years later, Rose & Thorn is a powerful retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale where the characters fight to find their own Happy Ever After.

Rose & Thorn by Sarah Prineas

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Rose & Thorn (Ash & Bramble, #2) Once there was a girl who lived in a forest cottage.
Upon her wrist she bore a birthmark in the shape of a newly opening rose.
A ticking triple curse was cast at the moment of her birth, and her
Time is running out.”

This was a YA fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

Rose was an okay character if a little na├»ve. She could have very easily died in the forest just because she thought she could get through it when others had told her she couldn’t, and it was only magic that saved her.

The storyline in this was about Rose and her three curses, but I had the same problems with this book as I did with the first; I found the story quite strange, I got confused, and ultimately I felt quite bored too.

The ending to this was okay, and we did get a happy ending, I was just pleased that the book was finished though.

5 out of 10

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Saving Red by Sonya Sones

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
Saving Red
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Molly Rosenberg may only be fourteen, but she’s experienced more hurt and guilt than most adults. With her home life a mess, Molly takes part in a volunteer event tallying the city’s homeless population. There, on a windy Santa Monica bluff, is where Molly meets Red, an enigmatic homeless girl with more zest for life than she’s ever encountered. The two spark an unlikely friendship that pulls Molly out of her sadness. Finally, Molly can open up to someone about her brother’s disappearance that she feels she’s to blame for.

But whenever Molly tries to get Red to open about her family—where they are, why they left her, or if Red left them—Red quickly changes the subject, or starts rambling on about things that just don’t make any sense. Molly knows she can’t change her own past, but she vows to help Red salvage her future. In Sonya Sones’ latest novel, two girls with a unique bond give each other a new perspective on the meaning of family, friendship, and forgiveness.

Saving Red by Sonya Sones

My rating: 3.25 of 5 stars

Saving Red “Maybe no one can give me
what I want for the holidays.
But I can give
that gift to someone else!”

This was a YA contemporary story, written in verse, about a girl trying to help a homeless girl.

Molly was a caring girl, and it was obvious how strongly she felt about trying to help Red. I did think that her ideas about getting her home to her family in time for Christmas were maybe a little optimistic, but I think this was in part due to her own experiences with her brother. I also felt quite sorry for her in that her friends had turned their backs on her, and Red ended up being her only friend.

“I didn’t even notice that, along the way
somewhere, she’d become my best friend.”

The storyline in this was about Molly befriending this homeless girl called Red, who had schizoaffective disorder, and heard voices. We also got a bit of backstory about Molly’s brother Noah who had gone missing the previous New Year’s Eve, and a fast but sweet romance between Molly and a boy she met on a Ferris wheel.

“I like everything about you,”

The ending to this was pretty good, and things were wrapped up reasonably well. This book was just missing a little something for me.

6.5 out of 10

Monday, 17 October 2016

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Penguin Books (UK) and NetGalley.
Holding Up the Universe
Blurb (from Goodreads):
From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Holding Up the Universe “Three years ago, I was America’s Fattest Teen. I weighed 653 pounds at my heaviest, which means I was approximately 500 pounds overweight.”

This was a YA contemporary story about a girl who had weight issues, and a boy who was face-blind.

Libby was quite a strong girl in that she managed to deal with the amount of bullying she’d been through, and came out of it the other side able to still face going to school. She didn’t just take what people said, but was actually willing to stand up for herself and punch people when necessary, which I bet a lot of us wish we’d been able to do!
Jack on the other hand was one of the popular kids, and did bow to peer pressure, although I felt sorry for him trying to deal with the fact that he couldn’t recognise faces.

The storyline in this was about Libby returning to school after being named America’s fattest teen, newly slimmed down, and Jack who was trying to deal with the fact that he couldn’t recognise people’s faces. We got quite a slow burning romance as Libby and Jack got to know one another, but the pace was a bit too slow for me, and my interest waned a bit.

The ending to this was pretty happy, if a little predictable.

6 out of 10