Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Published April 2014 by Walker Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

I’ve been in a YA contemporary mood lately, and I figured Open Road Summer was a great choice for my next read. Even though I didn’t love it the way I loved her other books, I still really liked it.

I liked Reagan and Lilah, and they have such a great friendship.  Lilah’s tour was definitely an adventure for both of them, and I think it was a great way for the two girls to get away.  Reagan in particular seemed to have a lot going on, and things with her stepmother, while rocky, seemed to get at least a little bit better at the end of the book.  At the very least, Reagan seems to understand her a little bit better.

There are a lot of ups and downs over the summer, and I liked seeing Reagan and Lilah navigating the tour and fame and how it changed and affected their friendship.  I liked that they have each other, and that it didn’t change their friendship drastically.

I loved that Lilah was the same Lilah mentioned in one of Lord’s other books, and that the t.v. show that Reagan watches is mentioned in another one of Lord’s books.  It just makes me feel like her books are all set in the same universe, and I hope we see things like this in her other books.  It’s a nice touch, and I’m not sure why I like it so much but I do.

It definitely made me cry at the end, and if I need a good cry, her books are always a good choice.  This book was no exception, but not to the degree that her other books did.  I did like it, just not as much as I thought I would.  And not as much wanted to.  Still, it has the complicated family relationships, romance and friendships that I’ve come to know and love, and she’s great at writing very complicated relationships.

4 stars.  I really liked it but I didn’t love it.  I also wish I had a lot more to say about Open Road Summer, but I don’t.   It’s worth checking out, especially if you like books about road trips!

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Book Review: Don’t Tempt Me by Loretta Chase And The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Book: Don’t Tempt Me by Loretta Chase

Published June 2009 by Avon Books|353 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Fallen Women #2

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

Spunky English girl overcomes impossible odds and outsmarts heathen villains.

That’s the headline when Zoe Lexham returns to England. After twelve years in the exotic east, she’s shockingly adept in the sensual arts. She knows everything a young lady shouldn’t and nothing she ought to know. She’s a walking scandal, with no hope of a future . . . unless someone can civilize her.

Lucien de Grey, the Duke of Marchmont, is no knight in shining armor. He’s cynical, easily bored, and dangerous to women. He charms, seduces, and leaves them—with parting gifts of expensive jewelry to dry their tears. But good looks, combined with money and rank, makes him welcome everywhere. The most popular bachelor in the Beau Monde can easily save Zoe’s risqué reputation . . . if the wayward beauty doesn’t lead him into temptation, and a passion that could ruin them both. 

I really liked this one!  I liked Zoe, and I liked her with Lucien.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but it feels like the last romance or two that I’ve read has a main character who needs help getting introduced into society.  Maybe it’s just the books I happen to be picking up.

At any rate, I really liked Zoe, and she and Lucien are an interesting match.  They’re pretty good together, and I thought they were both hysterical.  Zoe’s a free spirit and headstrong while Lucien is still not over the death of his parents and brother, and the disappearance of Zoe.

Zoe definitely had a hard time adjusting to life in London.  Her sisters were pretty irritating, and for some reason, they reminded me of the Bennett sisters from Pride And Prejudice.  Zoe seemed pretty smart and observant, and I really liked that about her.  It took her a while to get used to everything in London, and I liked seeing her navigate a completely different world.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked Zoe, and I liked her with Lucien.  I liked their romance, but I wish we saw more of their life after they got married.  It just didn’t seem like enough.

Book: The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

Published April 2007 by Grand Central Publishing|372 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Princes Trilogy #2

Genre: Adult Romance/Historical Romance

THE ONE THING A LADY MUST NEVER DO 
Wealthy Lady Georgina Maitland doesn’t want a husband, though she could use a good steward to run her estates. One look at Harry Pye, and Georgina knows she’s not just dealing with a servant, but a man.

IS FALL IN LOVE…
Harry has known many aristocrats-including one particular nobleman who is his sworn enemy. But Harry has never met a beautiful lady so independent, uninhibited, and eager to be in his arms. 

WITH HER SERVANT. 
Still, it’s impossible to conduct a discreet liaison when poisoned sheep, murdered villagers, and an enraged magistrate have the county in an uproar. The locals blame Harry for everything. Soon it’s all Georgina can do to keep her head above water and Harry’s out of the noose…without missing another night of love.

I really liked The Leopard Prince.  I’ve read a few of Hoyt’s books, and I really like that she always has a fictional story in her boos.  At least, she has a fictional story in the books I’ve read of hers, and that hasn’t been many.  This book has the tale of the leopard prince, but unfortunately, I’m super fuzzy on the details, so don’t expect a lot of details or mentions of this fictional story.

I liked Georgina, and I liked the relationships she had with her sister and her brothers.  They’re pretty protective of her, and I liked that she was protective of her sister.  She really did try to look out for her sister, and I felt like she was pretty supportive of her.

There was more mystery than I was expecting for a romance novel, but I vaguely remember the first book in this series having a bit of a mystery as well.  I don’t know how I feel about Georgina and Harry together, though I really like them as individual characters.  I just don’t know I how feel about them as a couple.  There are a lot of obstacles, considering he’s her servant, and the local magistrate is pretty much out to get him.  Maybe I just didn’t completely love them as a couple, but I do think they’re good together.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t love The Leopard Prince but I still really enjoyed it!

Book Review: Love And Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Book: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Published May 2018 by Simon Pulse|303 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

I loved this book!  I loved it a lot more than Love & Gelato, and I’m glad I picked this one up!

Love & Luck (like Love & Gelato) had this Anna And The French Kiss sort of feel.  I’m not sure why I’m reminded of Anna, but I think it’s the girl in a different country part of it.  Addie was mentioned in Love & Gelato, and this book focuses on her.  Lina does make an appearance later on in the book, and it was nice to see her.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I loved this one more than Gelato, but I did.  There’s something about the relationship she has with her brothers, especially with Ian.  I loved seeing Rowan take her on all of these adventures based on a guidebook Addie found while Ian was off doing his own music-related things.  It wasn’t the trip Addie expected, but I think it was a good adventure for her.  I liked that things were able to get better with her brother, and they definitely have a good friend in Rowan.

I really liked the way she explored Ireland, and it’s definitely different, but I think it worked for what Addie needed.  I wish we had seen a little bit more of Ireland, but overall, I didn’t mind it.  I think it’s because Ian and Addie (even if Addie didn’t necessarily realize it at the time), had something in mind for what they wanted to do.

Ian obviously had his own plans, which ended in a music festival.  While the indie music obsessed characters can be a little tiring at times, I didn’t mind in this book because Ian wasn’t a main character.  His adventures led to Addie’s adventures, and I really liked seeing her adventures.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and it was fun and cute and what I needed.

Book Review: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi And The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Book: Aru Shah And The End Of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Published March 2018 by Rick Riordan Presents|355 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Pandava Quartet #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Mythology Re-Telling

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

I really liked Aru Shah And The End Of Time!  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini stop the Sleeper and save time.

I liked Aru and Mini, and they seem like such an unlikely duo.  I thought they worked well together, and I’m curious to see if we’ll meet the other 3 Pandava sisters in the rest of the series, or if we’ll just see Aru and Mini.

One thing I thought was interesting was how surprised people were that the legendary Pandava brothers were, in fact, sisters.  It made for a unique twist, and people seemed to underestimate these two girls.  It makes me wish that I knew more about Hindu mythology because it would have been fun (and pretty cool) to know the real stories that Chokshi drew from.

Also, I love that Rick Riordan acknowledges that this was not a story he could have written, and that he believes Chokshi can.  I think it’s cool he’s giving other writers a voice and the chance to re-tell the mythology that they’re familiar with.

Back to the story, though.  I really liked seeing Aru and Mini work together to save the world.  They’re scared and not always ready for what’s in store, but they get it down, and it’s a pretty interesting adventure for the two of them.  I also loved their pigeon sidekick, who was pretty funny.

I loved how smart Mini and how she’s obsessed with anything and everything that can make you sick.  Aru, even though she just wanted to fit in with the popular kids and ends up starting this whole adventure because of it, is funny and curious and determined to make things right.  They support each other, even when they fight, and they really do have a great friendship.  It’s nice to see in a middle grade book, though I feel like we see more of it in middle grade than YA (at least, in my experience).

My Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t love but I still really liked it.  I’d recommend it everyone, but especially Rick Riordan fans.

Book: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Published February 2018 by Scholastic|351 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Kiranmala And The Kingdom Beyond #1

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary/Re-Telling

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMON SLAYER
(Only she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.

To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

I really liked The Serpent’s Secret!  It’s another mythology-inspired re-telling and this one is inspired by Indian mythology.

Kiran, on her 12th birthday, goes on a very unexpected adventure.  Spells are broken, and she learns that the stories her parents have told her about being a princess are not just stories.  They’re real, and she’s from a place that is not the world she knows.  I definitely felt like we were on this journey with Kiran as she learns what is real and what is not.

There are a lot of stories I was not familiar with before reading this book, and I love seeing stories I’m not familiar with because it makes me want to learn more.  I really felt like these were stories that DasGupta loved growing up, and I felt these were stories she knew really well and wanted to share with everyone else.

It was silly at times but also really fun, and I felt like we knew who Kiran was.  She didn’t feel older or younger than she really was, and though the book was longer than what I expected for a middle grade, I really liked Kiran as a character.  It felt like the book was the perfect length for the story DasGupta was telling, and it didn’t feel too long or too short.

It’s also funny, and there were quite a few times when I laughed or smiled.  Mostly when TunTuni was involved, but sometimes serious things need some not-so-serious-moments.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it and I loved how fun and funny the book was.  I can’t wait to read the next book!

Book Review: Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan

Book Review: Girls Of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan

Published November 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Girls Of Paper And Fire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

I absolutely loved this book!  I wasn’t sure about it at first but I ended up loving it, and while it’s not my favorite book from this year, it’s definitely one of my favorites.

One thing I wanted to start off with is the trigger warning for sexual abuse and violence.  I loved that this book had one at the beginning, but I feel like it could have been slightly more obvious.  Still, I’m glad it’s there but keep that in mind if you decide to pick up this book.

I thought Ngan handled both very delicately and respectfully.  You really felt for Lei and the other girls as they were taken from their homes, and given to the king.  The world Lei lives in, particularly once she goes to the palace seems beautiful, but danger lurks beneath the beauty, and she has to do things she doesn’t want to do.  She says no, but is ultimately punished for that.  It’s haunting, and even though Lei’s world is not real, quite a bit of the book is all too real.  The way the king uses fear and power to control the Paper Girls, and they are seen as nothing but objects.  It broke my heart to see what they had to go through, but I also loved that there was hope that things would change.

I loved Wren, and though she’s not the main character, she really was my favorite character.  I just loved her story and everything about her.  It took some time to warm up to Lei, but I ended up really liking her.  And Aoki was really interesting as well.

I also loved the world.  The author drew from her life growing up in Malaysia, and everything was so vivid.  I wish we saw more of the world that Lei lives in, but we’ll have to wait until the next book, because we’re limited to just a few places in this book.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it, especially if you like diverse books and fantasy!

Book Review: Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Book: Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J Maas

Published October 2018 by Bloomsbury USA|992 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Throne Of Glass #7

Genre: YA Fantasy

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world…

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

I was so nervous going into this book.  I wasn’t sure how Maas would tie everything together but I ended up really liking it.

This was a great way to end the series, and I can’t believe it’s over!  I loved seeing everyone try to fight Erawan, and seeing what was going on with Dorian, Manon and Aelin.  I really loved seeing what happened to Manon and the Thirteen, and I really loved how much Manon changed.  I think, to a degree, Manon’s story was what I wanted Aelin’s to be.  I don’t know why, but I really liked Manon’s story, and she’s pretty awesome.  I felt so protective of Abraxos, and Manon is lucky to have him!

There’s a lot that needed to be wrapped up, and I think it could have been condensed just a little bit.  It felt really long (it is just under 1000 pages, so it makes sense) and it felt a little long and drawn out at times.  Even with re-reading most of the series (I skipped Tower of Dawn just because I wasn’t in the mood to read it), I had a hard time remembering everything that happened.  It was a little hard to keep up with everything going on, and I wish each person we followed sounded a little more distinct.  It always took a while to figure who was where, and who we were following.

I really felt for Aelin, especially with everything that happened with Maeve and Chairn.  Though Tower Of Dawn is my least favorite book in the series, a lot of what happens in this book makes a lot more sense.  It did set up some of what we see in this book, and maybe, one day, I’ll re-read it.  Aelin really does withdraw into herself in this one, and I don’t blame her.  She’s really changed from the Aelin we see in Throne Of Glass, and while her arc isn’t my favorite, it’s been an interesting journey to see her become queen of Terrasen.  And like Tower Of Dawn, I hated that her scars were magically gone after her time with Maeve.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but that was one of my least favorite things about the book.

With as long as this book is, I feel like I don’t have a lot to talk about.  It wrapped the series up pretty well, and I obviously don’t love as much as everyone else seems to, but I really did enjoy the book and catching up with everyone, even though there were a few moments that broke my heart and had me sobbing.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and it’s a really good ending to the series.  It was a little too long, but Maas did a great job at wrapping up everyone’s stories.

Book Review: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Book: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Published October 2018 by HarperTeen|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I really liked this book!  When I heard she was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it, especially since her Shatter Me series is pretty awesome.  I was curious to see what a YA contemporary written by Mafi would like, and it didn’t disappoint!

I really liked Shirin, and I thought she was a great character.  I understood where she was coming from, and she was pretty guarded.  I don’t blame her for being so guarded, and I probably would be too if I had to deal with everything she had to deal with.  We feel her isolation and how different she feels, and we see how people make assumptions.  I also don’t think I’ve seen a character who liked break-dancing, and it’s different in a good way.

I loved the relationship she had with her brother, and with the other guys in their break-dancing club.  Shirin and her brother are very different people but I liked their bond.  He’s a great character, and while we see him quite a bit, I wish we saw more of him.  He’s definitely one of my favorite characters.

I think I would have been fine without the romance- it didn’t really do anything for me, especially since Shirin was dealing with people’s stereotypes and racism in a post-9/11 world while Ocean’s biggest concern was not wanting to be on the basketball team anymore.  I get they have very different experiences and things going on in their lives, and I do appreciate that dating Shirin was eye-opening to what other people are going through, but I felt like they were at very different points.

And while I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, I think I might have been at least somewhat okay with it had it happened.  But maybe not, considering I would have been fine without the romance.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and wanting Shirin to be with anyone else.  Yusuf had a lot of potential as a character (not just a love interest for Shirin), and I wish we saw more of him.

4 stars.  I really liked A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, and this book is worth checking out, even if Shatter Me was not your thing.  It’s beautiful and heart-breaking, and Shirin was amazing.

Book Review: Love And Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Book: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Published May 2016 by Simon Pulse|389 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

I went into this book thinking it sounded cute but not sure I’d like it.  Especially since I picked it up on a whim at the library.  But I ended up really liking it!

I wasn’t surprised by a lot of the story- when her mom started talking about this guy, I knew he’d be her dad, and she’d go off to live with him.  I was a little bit surprised by the life-changing secret, but thinking about it now, it should have been a little more obvious.

I liked seeing her learn more about her mom, and seeing her discover Italy.  I expected more gelato, considering it’s in the title, but Lina had a lot of adventures in Italy.

Something about it made me think of Anna And The French Kiss.  Maybe it’s a girl exploring a new country and falling in love and learning more about herself, but there was something about Love & Gelato that made me think of Anna.  I think this book could be a cute book for fans of Anna, but maybe that’s just me.

I love how connected she was to her mom, and how the journal helped her deal with the loss of her mom.  She learned a lot about her mom’s time in Italy, and she met some really cool people along the way.  Things weren’t what she expected, and I really liked seeing her become more open to staying with people her mom trusted and liked and being more open to staying in Italy, even when she was initially just planning to stay there for a few months and trying to get back to the U.S.

Other than what I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have much else to say about Love & Gelato.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I wasn’t expecting to!  It’s cute and fun Lina is a really cool character.

Book Review: All The Rage By Courtney Summers

Book: All The Rage by Courtney Summers

Published April 2015 by St Martin’s Griffin|321 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

I’ve wanted to read this book for a while, and it’s one of those books that have been pretty hyped.  Unfortunately, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype, and it didn’t live up to the expectations I had for it.

We see Romy after her rape, and how she’s treated.  No one believes her, and she’s ostracized and punished for speaking up and saying something.  People are terrible to her, and it seems like the entire town is against her.  Especially when something something happens to one of her classmates- and they all wish it had been her instead. I wasn’t expecting things to end the way they did and I hated seeing how no one cared about what she went through.  I was angry at how people treated her, and it’s sad and horrible that there are so many others who have experienced what Romy experienced.

What I thought was interesting was that we don’t really get what happened before- we know she said something, because of how she’s treated by her classmates and some of the people in town.  It seems like her mom and her stepfather know but it’s not clear what they do know.  Well, who I’m assuming is her stepfather, since it’s not explicitly stated what their relationship is, and it seems like this guy is not her biological father, but it’s hard to say, since it’s never clearly mentioned what happened.

At any rate, we don’t know if there were charges pressed or if she went to the police, or if she just told people what happened.  We don’t get that story, and all we know is that something happened, and it might have happened to other girls as well.

I think that was one of my problems with the story.  I don’t need every single detail, but I wish we at least had a little background or a vague idea of what happened.  What happened to her was horrible, and the aftermath was horrible, but I think have a little bit of what happened what have gone a long way.

The timeline was also really weird, and it jumps from now to two weeks earlier to after, and the timeline of when things happened was never really clear for me.  It made it hard to follow what happened.  Everything’s jumbled, and maybe that fits with what’s going on with Romy, but it made things confusing to me.

It also felt like the summary didn’t match what actually happened in the book.  Kellan barely showed up in the book, and I felt like we didn’t see Romy struggle with speaking up or staying silent.  I felt like the book described is not the book we got.

It’s not that I wouldn’t recommend this book, because it worked for a lot of people.  I wish I were one of them, but I do think there are better books out there that deal with the same subject matter, like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Some Boys by Patty Blount.

2 stars.  This book didn’t work for me, but I can see why people love it so much.

Book Review: On The Edge Of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Book: On The Edge Of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Published March 2016 by Amulet Books|456 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Apocalyptic/Sci-Fi

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

On The Edge Of Gone wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I really wished I liked it more.  I can see why people like it, but it just wasn’t for me.

The idea behind it is really interesting.  A comet is about to hit, and some people have left earth, while others have stayed behind in shelters.  I liked seeing Denise fight to get to the shelter she’s been assigned to, and then fight to stay on a ship that needs all passengers to have a skill that would allow them to stay on board.  I get her fears that she won’t be able to stay on board, especially with her mother, and I can appreciate she’d do what she could to help out and have a better chance at survival.

The story felt pretty slow and unfortunately, it felt like it took place over a really long period of time.  It felt like it took place over weeks, that’s how slow it felt.  In reality, it probably took place over the course of a few days, but it was so slowly paced that it felt longer.  It also felt like absolutely nothing happened, and I expected a lot more action, considering it was the end of the world.  I kept waiting for something more exciting to happen, and for me, it never did.

I never felt completely invested, and while I felt for Denise and what she was going through and experiencing, I also never completely cared about what happened to her.  I mean, I knew it was going to be a survival story, but I don’t think I was expecting it to be a slow-paced survival story.  I think, overall, I had a really hard time getting into it, especially since nothing excited happened during the book.

One of the best things about the book was seeing a female character who’s autistic.  We were very much in her head and what she was going through, and you felt her sense of panic and worry as she fought for a place on the ship before it took off into space.  You saw how people (particularly one of her former teachers) didn’t realize she was autistic, especially because she was a female person of color.  People don’t see her as autistic, because she doesn’t match up with their stereotype and image of who an autistic person is or should be.

The setting is pretty cool as well, and I liked seeing an apocalyptic survival set in a place that isn’t the U.S.  While I am not at all familiar with Amsterdam, I felt like we got to explore at least part of it.  The author is from Amsterdam, and it was clear that the author was drawing on her own experiences living there.  It definitely came across that she knew the city.

2 stars.  I liked Denise’s voice, and I felt for her as she tried to survive a comet hitting earth.  But the story was too slow, and it felt like nothing happened.