The Start of Me and You

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

“In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”

Goodreads’ Description:

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?

Review:

This book is EVERYTHING! Honestly. I love it. Emery Lord does it again. It is the perfect teen read with the right mix of friendship, family, love and search for meaning within the terrifying years of adolescence.

Sometimes I struggle with the YA genre as I am a lot older than the target demographic (college grad in her mid twenties rather than a teen in high school) but Emery Lord has this ability to create characters, emotions and storylines that transcend the genre and age level.

Paige is experiencing some hardships and trying to deal with them in the wrong way, however along the way she finds great friends, a potential new love and finds herself. 5/5 Stars.

5 Puple Stars

Holly Hearts Hollywood

Holly Hearts Hollywood  by Kenley Conrad

Book Description:

Holly Hart wants to be a star, but Shell Shocked Records just wants her voice. Combine her voice with Lacey’s looks and a star is born. Holly Hart is okay with living in the background of the craziness of Hollywood, until Grayson Frost walks in.

Grayson Frost is the bully of Holly’s younger days and now Lacey’s boyfriend. With the three of them constantly together, Holly tries her best to ignore him. But Grayson shows her he has changed her ways and soon sparks fly between the two, and when he confesses to Holly he fell in love with Lacey because of her voice, Holly is stuck in the middle. Does she follow her heart and tell Grayson or does she remember she’s contractually obligated to say nothing?

Review:

A really cute book about first love, Hollywood and your dreams. Conrad writes a wonderfully fluffy book that is a fun, quick read. Parts of it seem rather slow and I found it hard to buy into some of the things going on in Holly’s life.  I felt her mom and sister lacked any real reason to be there and they were randomly thrown into the story haphazardly.

The biggest drawback for me was the execution of the story. While I have nothing wrong with journal telling stories, I found it hard to buy into the fact that she would bring it with her everywhere – to premieres, parties, etc… Part of her big secret is that she is contractually not allowed to say anything – how has no one tried to swipe her journal and read it?

Overall it was a fun quick read if you are trying to find a simple book to read. 2.5/5 stars

Published: 2014

2 Purple Stars

Anne & Henry

Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Goodreads Description

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

My Review:

This is a wonderful modern retelling of Anne & Henry. For anyone who enjoys retellings with a modern twist, and I am one of them, this will fulfill your guilty pleasure. Ius creates a world that is believable and does a really good job at portraying the pressure Henry lives under, I felt stressed for him. While Ius took some modern liberties, the story is still as delicious and scandalous as the original. There are a few times that I wanted Henry to be more like the King Henry he was based on and be more powerful, he did seem consistently the weakest character between the triangle of Catherine, Anne and Henry.

Catherine is such a nasty character that Ius’ ability to create such a villain is extremely impressive. I found myself rooting for Henry and Anne and got frustrated every time Catherine managed to thwart them. I thought the writing was very good, my only issue was there were some things the characters did that I felt didn’t reflect their age properly, but I’m also very biased in how I think high schoolers should act so that is just my opinion. It was a fun dramatic read that was a fun retelling of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. 3/5 stars

Published: 2015, 304 pages.

3 Purples Stars

Trapped

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Goodreads description:

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. . . .

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision. . . .

Review:

I went into this book expecting a harrowing story of survival, sacrifice and hope. But I didn’t get any of that. None of the characters ever fully developed and because of that I did find myself rooting for anyone. Overall, the story just felt flat. Nothing really happened the entire book. I kept reading on in the hopes of a big twist, heartache or conflict but was left with nothing. This book made me feel trapped, 1 out of 5 stars.

1 Purple Star

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Book Description from Goodreads.

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died. So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty… no matter how much she wants him. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost. Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust… and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

 

My review:

I know I’m in the minority here, but this book was really hard for me to enjoy. I almost rarely struggle to finish a book, but this was one of them.  I loved the idea of a strong woman taking on non-believers who didn’t think she could succeed in military school. I really wanted to like it, but I struggled with liking the characters. I thought Sam was incredibly brave and such a strong character, but I thought she could have been a better character.  the actions of the supporting characters really irked me. I don’t know much about the military, but I felt some of the actions by the other characters would not be tolerated in military school. The writing was good and I enjoyed the premise,  2/5 stars
Published: 2014, 416 pages.
2 Purple Stars

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

“Maybe the world isn’t full of signs so much as it’s full of people trying to use whatever evidence they can find to convince themselves of what they hope to be true.”

Goodreads’ Description:

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

Review:

Jennifer E. Smith is my favorite young adult author. All her of recent novels inherit the rich and refreshing premise of the story unfolding over the course of  one night. Another aspect of Jennifer E. Smith’s writing that keeps me coming back for more is how weaves the setting through her book. The city her books take place the books take place in become important characters to the story, whether is it London in the The Statistical Probability of Love, New York City in The Geography of You and Me or Chicago in Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between.

What I loved about this story is that it didn’t fall into the cliche trap of a typical high school sweethearts leaving for college plot line. The story was real and the main characters of Claire and Aidan handled everything extremely maturely. As an older YA reader, I really enjoyed that aspect of the book because it didn’t cause me to groan and roll my eyes like I often have to do with YA books these days. And of course as a former Chicago resident, I obviously loved tall he references to the city I used to call home. Smith does it again, 4 out of 5 Stars.

4 Purple Stars

Alienated

Alienated by Melissa Landers

“It was both terrifying and glorious in it’s intensity. It was love.”

Goodreads’ Description:

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Review:

I’ve recently noticed that the sci-fi, alien genre seems to be the new trend in YA and as I am pretty much over the YA apocalypse, I thought I’d give this new trend a try. There was some much buzz surrounding this series, so not sure if I went into this novel with too high expectations or what, but I wasn’t impressed. Don’t get me wrong, Alienated is a fun, entertaining and easy read but that is about all it is. The writing isn’t amazing and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. The science didn’t hold together, the characters were pretty bland and feel in love way too fast without any true connection. But it was a quick easy read and I understand it is a YA read, so don’t want to fault it too much for the character immaturity. 3 out 5 Stars.

3 Purples Stars