2018 Book #45 – The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

51-IuvSNclLTitle: The Opposite of Here
Author: Tara Altebrando
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Young adult, suspense
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 5 2018
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

There’s no hiding on a cruise ship-not even from yourself. 
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The plot for this book on the cover description sounded pretty interesting, so although I didn’t know much about the author I decided to give this one a try. It was a little too teen angst-y for my tastes personally but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you then this would be a pretty good book for you. The plot line is pretty good and takes some interesting twists and turns. The twist at the end of the book is probably the best one and kind of wrapped up all the plot and the characters into one little circle. And while I liked it, the story overall was still just so very sad. And I felt awful for Natalie, I felt like she was just like a doormat and everyone kind of walked all over her. One of her friends betrayed her pretty badly and the girl barely even apologizes but Natalie’s still fine with it. So anyways, overall I kind of liked the story but I think it would be a better fit for an actual young adult.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2016 Book #15 – In Real Life by Jessica Love

41NZ+T0vkHLTitle: In Real Life
Author: Jessica Love
Date finished: 2/24/16
Genre: Fiction, thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages in book: 224
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: The Reading Room NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Blue Cover” square, since it has a blue cover. This book is about a girl named Hannah who decides to start breaking some of her rules. All her life she’s been the good girl and the obedient one. But now she is a senior in high school, she’s on spring break, and she decides that its high time she went to Las Vegas (only 4 hours away from her). Not to gamble but to meet the boy that she’s been talking to (pretty much non-stop) for the past four years. He’s her best friend and possibly more than her friend and she’s going to surprise him by showing up at one of his band performances.Little does she know that she’s the one who is going to be surprised (gasp).
So Hannah, her sister Grace, and her best friend Lo travel to Las Vegas and spend the night with Hannah’s best friend Nick. Along with him they also spend time with Nick’s brother Alex and friends Oscar and Jordy, as well as Frankie, Nick’s girlfriend (double gasp). What ensues is a wild night out on Las Vegas for a girl (Hannah) who is only used to following the rules. Hannah learns how to let lose and have fun and not just do exactly what she’s supposed to do.
Overall I thought this was a cute story. I connected with Hannah a little bit since I too was a goody two-shoes in high school. I have to be honest though, she and I were very different in the teen angst department and I found that piece of the book somewhat frustrating. I was never one to keep my mouth shut when I liked a boy so my angst was always of the “oh he doesn’t like me that sucks, oh wait look there’s some new shiny thing” while Hannah’s angst is more “oh I love this boy to pieces but I’m going to keep it to myself and be sad that he doesn’t know I like him.” I find that angst to be overly frustrating because how are you ever going to know if he likes you back if you don’t say anything. Other than that though the characters were cute, the story line was funny, and it was a quick read. Perfect read for this summer when you’re looking for something light to read on the beach!

The bottom line: This was a quick, light, and cute read. High on the teen angst scale but other than that it is a cute story about a girl taking chances and falling in love.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #71 – Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

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Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Date finished: 7/12/15
Genre:  Young adult
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Pages in book: 286
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from Amazon:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.
An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I haven’t read much by Sophie Kinsella but her Shopaholic series is on my TBR list. I saw the movie they made of the first book and loved it. So when I saw that Kinsella had a YA book coming out I wanted to read it.This story is (mostly) about Audrey, a young girl trying to learn how to cope with depression and anxiety after it appears she had a mental breakdown resulting from an “incident” at her school. I have to be honest, part of me finds it extremely frustrating that we never learn the specifics of this “incident.” There are vague references to what happened, and the reader is left to piece together what probably occurred. While I found this frustrating though, I thought it really spoke of some of the main points in the book. Audrey (the narrator) says multiple times in the book that she has learned through her therapy books that everyone has the right to privacy, your thoughts and feelings are your own and you have the power to say no to anyone. And towards the beginning Audrey says to us that she knows we (the readers) are curious but that the actual incident itself doesn’t really matter, what matters is what happened after that. Which is true of the book, the point of the book wasn’t to get into the gory details of why Audrey had the mental breakdown, it was about her road to recovery and about feeling more like herself again. So long story short, while I found it frustrating, part of me also appreciated that the author didn’t include exact details of the incident.
Along her road to recovery, Audrey becomes friends with her brother’s friend Linus. Linus ends up being a big support for Audrey and helps nudge her along on the  experiences she needs to be more functioning in the regular world. They end up developing a romance which is very sweet. The mother’s fixation on Frank’s video games became frustrating at times, it felt almost a little overdone. That seems to have been the point though, for part of the story the family is a bit tense and edging towards shambles but they learn to appreciate each other more and as Audrey awakens from her shell of depression we see more of the family’s loving side.
Overall I thought this was a sweet and touching book. It was a fairly quick read but full of insight into the lives of those dealing with depression and how frustrating it can be to want to feel normal and just not be able to accomplish that due to some dumb chemical reactions in your brain. The characters were all funny and interesting, I found myself laughing out loud at multiple points in the book. Great read!

The bottom line: I thought this was a good book. Some parts were overly frustrating but overall I think this is a touching story and I would recommend it!
Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #58 – The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Title: The Wrath & The Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Date finished: 6/16/15 (12:02am so technically the 16th, lol)
Genre: Young Adult – Fairy tale retelling, romance
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Pages in book: 388
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Saga of Shahrzad and Khalid

Blurb from the cover:

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book with a love triangle” check box since there is a love triangle between Shazi and Khalid and Shazi and Tariq. Just as a quick aside, I never understood why its a love triangle. If you think about it, both boys are in love with Shazi but they’re not like in love with each other so why are they technically connected in the last leg of the love triangle? I think it makes more sense just to call it a love angle. I don’t know, this has bothered me. Anyways, I saw this book listed in a few recent publications, including a recent BookPage newsletter, and here and there on listings of books to read this summer or books to look out for. This is the author’s first book and it was just great!
So this book was inspired by A Thousand and One Nights which is a collection of stories and folk tales, also known as the Arabian Nights. I think that these stories are fairly widely heard of, and the premise is well known. The connection between the inspiration and the resulting novel is obvious, though this story is entirely its own and I thought it was very creative. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else like this. And not only was it creative but it was beautifully written and the descriptions of the clothing and the scenery and just everything was wonderfully done. I was hooked into the story from the beginning, dying (ha) to know why a bride had to die each morning. I love Shazi’s character and her growth through the novel was easy to follow and enchanting to experience. I really don’t want to talk too much about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. There are a lot of different pieces in play in this novel and I had no idea that the story was going to continue after this book. I think it was my lack of knowledge that left me feeling overly frustrated in the end, especially since we will have to wait a year for the second book to be released. Overall I really just loved this book though and I will wait patiently (or at least try to) for the next book to come out.
The bottom line: EVERYONE GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I don’t know how I will be able to continue living until the next book comes out NEXT YEAR! I loved this book. Just loved it.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #50 – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Date finished: 5/27/15
Genre: Young adult – romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Pages in book: 325
Stand alone or series: Stand alone

Blurb from the cover:

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough… Eleanor.
Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises… Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book set in high school” check box since it is in fact about two high school students. I had heard a lot of good things about this book and after reading Fangirl recently, I definitely wanted to get my hands on this one. I saw it a couple weeks ago at my local library and snatched it right up. Almost from the very beginning I was hooked on this book. I have to be honest in saying that I find some young adult romance novels overwhelmingly frustrating because everything is so angst-y all the time and it ends up feeling like the characters are just whining a lot. I have never in my life before had a book make me feel what this book did. I had a high school love, most people do, and even if you didn’t necessarily have a love, most people have felt the thrill of having a crush. Does he like me too? And then once you think he does, there is the thrill of the first time he holds your hand and the first time you kiss and just the thrill of being young and in love. This book dug deep inside my memory banks and brought back all those feelings I experienced in high school to the forefront. It really was astounding for me.
Eleanor has a lot of family issues (Park has some too I guess but Eleanor has way more and they’re more serious) that are discussed in the book. An abusive stepdad, a mom that won’t stand up for herself or her 5 children, an absentee dad, I could just go on and on. She doesn’t have a toothbrush until halfway through the book for goodness sake. Eleanor’s life and her family as it is described in book added a darkness to the book. The harshness of Eleanor’s life really was a great contrast to the joy and light blossoming inside her as she develops her relationship with Park. I mean her home life is awful and I was frustrated with her mom for pretty much the entire book but the fact that Eleanor was able to trust Park was unexpected and it shows how her character grows throughout the novel.
Overall I very much liked this book. I couldn’t put it down, it was one of those that sucks you in and two hours you look up and think “where am I?” The feelings that will consume you while reading this book are overwhelming, so just be prepared. They’re good feels though so don’t panic. The characters both grew a lot in the novel, Park specifically learned that you shouldn’t care what everyone else thinks, which I think was a great life-lesson for him. There are many parts of their relationship that seemed so realistic, especially for high school students, like Park being embarrassed about the way Eleanor dresses only because of how other people think of it. The ending I think is as it should be but I can see how some might like a more neat and defined ending. I like to think that in the future, Eleanor and Park end up together forever and get married and are happy throughout their marriage like Park’s parents.

The bottom line: I would definitely recommend this book. Falling in love for the first time all over again is not something that can usually be duplicated, but this book does a damn good job. Go buy it now, you want to have these emotions!

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #39 – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Date finished: 4/28/15
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Pages in book: 355
Stand alone or series: There is a sequel to this book coming out next month (P.S. I Still Love You)

Blurb from the cover:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?
Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book you can finish in a day” check box mostly since I finished this book in a day. I had seen this book on a lot of other blogs with rave reviews so when I saw it at the Harwinton Public Library I decided to give it a try. I have to be honest though, this was not one of my favorite books. I mean the book itself was a fine book and I can see why many people like it. It was just a little too much teen angst for me, which is one of the reasons I haven’t read many young adult novels since I was in high school. I am trying to get back into them because many of them have only a medium, tolerable amount of teen angst and that’s fine. This book though just had a little too much for me, I was so frustrated with Lara-Jean in the beginning of the book that I just wanted to scream.
I wasn’t a fan of this book in the beginning and then as the story progressed things seemed to get better. I began to like the story more and I was slightly hooked and wanted to keep reading. About 50 pages before the end though, things started going downhill for me again. I guess I just don’t get the point. I started to think that the point was that we liked Peter. But he cheats on his tests, he is continually hanging out with his ex-girlfriend that he’s still in love with (umm can anyone say red flag??) and he did not make an effort to dispel Gen’s evil rumor that he and Lara-Jean had sex in the hot tub on a school trip. Excuse me, but this doesn’t exactly sound like a stand up guy to me. Certainly not one I would want to date. But then after Lara-Jean’s mad for awhile she pretty much just let’s it go and starts writing Peter a letter. Is she doing this to get back with him? To be done with him for good (my vote)? The book just ends there. And I get that there is a sequel but honestly I was kind of mad. I put all this time and effort into reading the story and I can’t even leave off with the heroine being happy with a good guy? It was just too much frustration for me.

The bottom line: Was too much angst and not enough resolution for me. Although this is altogether a popular book, I would probably not recommend.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page