Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1).
Title: To All The Boys I've Loved Before (Book #1)
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher 
Format: ARC
Pages: 368
Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

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.
Jenny Han is just an amazing contemporary writer. To All the Boys I've Loved Before was one of my most anticipated books of 2014.. and basically a book I was waiting from Jenny Han ever since she wrote The Summer trilogy… and that was years ago. To say I had high expectations of it is an understatement. But To All the Boys was everything I ever wanted in a contemporary, it was so so cute, adorable, fun, have I mentioned cute? and I love love loved the main protagonist Lara Jean. She's half korean and I LOVED that. I am such a huge fan of the korean culture and even went on vacation to South Korea so reading up about her culture and background just made me so happy. The synopsis is one of the best synopses I've ever read in a contemporary novel. She's a genius, seriously. Her secret letters to all her crushes get mailed to them all? the catastrophe! the awkwardness that will ensue, and the promised hilarity were just too exciting! 
Of course, without a doubt, Jenny Han delivered. She was able to let these characters come to life and imprint on the readers.. I still remember them all, Lara Jean, Kitty, and Margot, known as the Song girls, as well as Josh and Peter. Also, Han knew how to write a book from a teenage girl's perspective.. it was believable and it showed through the writing. Lara Jean herself was such an adorable character and I loved her to pieces. The situation she was put in was so embarrassing but the way she handled it was just how any panicky teenager would. I especially loved young Kitty and her cute yet lethal temper. That girl can hold a grudge and I just loved her know it all attitude too. As for Josh and Peter, and all the other boys in the letters, I really liked them. I truly loved one of them but I don't want to say which one in order to not skew your perspective before starting the book. However I adored him and I just loved his relationship with Lara Jean. It was swoon worthy yet innocent yet cute yet frustrating, yet (insert every other emotion you can think of). Basically, these two were one hell of a team! 
To All the Boys isn't just fluffy, as with all of Han's books, all the characters go through character development and you witness that gradually. Lara Jean in the beginning of the book is a different, yet the same, Lara Jean at the end. She's more mature, has more life experience that made her grow, and a, not better per say, more developed version of her self. I loved the dynamic between the Song girls and I wanted to get in their sisterly hugs because of how adorable they were. I can't say enough positive things about this book. I loved it to pieces and I will be re-reading it soon because I need to get back into Lara Jean's world, it puts a smile on my face and gives me happy feelings <3. I can't wait for the second book, P.S. I Still Love You, and I am so impatient.. but one thing I know for sure, I am going to love it! 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me
Title: The Geography of You and Me 

Author: Jennifer E Smith
Publisher: HBG Canada
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Mystery)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 324
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.
I have read Smith's previous two books, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and This is What Happy Looks Like. I personally liked the first more than the second but even then, both books didn't wow me. I am a huge contemporary fan so I read a ton of contemporaries and I felt I was missing the wow factor. However, I wanted to read The Geography of You and Me because I wanted to give her writing another try and because of the intriguing synopsis. While I also wasn't wowed by this book, I can point out that this would be many people's cup of tea. I ended up giving it 3 stars which is a rating that means I liked the book but I did have a couple of issues with it. So the synopsis, have I mentioned how awesome it is? I like books told in 24 hours or we witness the lives of the main protagonists at a slower pace than we're used to. Also the whole idea of getting stuck with a hot stranger in an elevator made it sound exciting. However, I just felt that the author didn't grasp the full potential of such a setting. The whole elevator scene was short, as well as the night they spent exploring Manhattan. I wished we got more. I feel that I always say that for Smith's books. I wanted more exploring, more adventure, activities, and more emotions.  
Lucy and Owen meet up for that half day then each are whisked into their own lives. Lucy has to move across the atlantic ocean while Owen's dad is going traveling across the US in hopes of getting a job. There was some great background with both their families and just emotional depth but I just wasn't invested. I honestly don't know if it's a "it's me, not you" thing with Smith's books. I can never fully enjoy them while so many people do. I did start getting interested when Lucy and Owen started building up their own lives alone.. but then I get pushed right out of the caring circle because of their obsession for each other. They've only known each other for 24 hours, at least a third of that was spend on them asleep so I just don't get how they just couldn't move on from this. They both get a girlfriend/boyfriend but all their thoughts are on each other. I just found that really crappy of both of them and unfair to their partners. I wished there was more at stake, a better root for their love towards each other.. because no matter what, they were infatuated by each other and that doesn't logically result in them spending months thinking and obsessing over each other. Maybe i'm a cynic, but I just can't wrap my head around it. I do have to point out that I love how the relationship between Lucy and her parents got better in a nondramatic way. It was all because of lack of communicating their thoughts and feelings to each other and I liked how they were able to get past that. 
Basically if you were a fan of Smith's previous two books then this is for you. Also if you don't mind insta-love contemporary books then you would also enjoy this. I did enjoy it, hence the 3 star rating, but it isn't a book that I will remember a couple of months from now.
 Check out my mini review of The Geography of You and Me along with Don't Look Back! 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Review: Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back
Title: Don't Look Back

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: HBG Canada
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Mystery)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 384
Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?
Armentrout has done it again. Proven she can tackle a completely different genre (contemporary mystery) and still manage to make it an addicting, mysterious, head scratch inducing, romantic, and favorite read. I devoured Don’t Look Back in a day because I read it everywhere. I couldn’t guess the mystery and I thought the main protagonist has a really good voice.

So Samantha finds herself walking in the middle of the road, the cops stop her, identify her and she finds out she has been missing for some time.. and not just her, but also her best friend. Samantha doesn’t remember a single thing a couple of weeks before her missing period as well as her missing period. We know nothing, and I just found the way the mystery was introduced to be so addicting. So her best friend is missing and everyone has hope once again that they might find her. However, Samantha discovers some weird things about her old self, for one she’s the meanest of the mean girls, treats her family like crap, and parties hard, the clich├ęd rich kid wrecking their car because she was drinking, and right down to having fake best friends. So yea, if you’re not intrigued now, maybe the next part will make you want to pick it up?

Enter Carson Ortiz, Samantha’s brother’s friend and the help’s son. Of course she used to treat him like crap, including her parents. As soon as Samantha sees him, she gets that feeling when you see a guy and you immediately crush on him? He is of course wary of her because of how she treated him. Still, Samantha starts to become super aware of Carson even with her constant reminding that she already has a boyfriend that she’s been with for several years. I just thought the romance was deliciously done and I really really love Carson. He is filed under “Guys that allow me to have hope for our male species”. He was a friend she really needed and was very honest and truthful and was always there for her even when no one else believed her. Their relationship was one I was rooting for from the start. Also, I liked Samantha’s brother and how protective he was of his sister. I feel there are a ton of secondary characters worth mentioning but it’ll end up being too long of a review. This proves how talented JLA is because I read this book over a month ago but I still remember everything.

The mystery aspect of the novel was also magnificently written. I honestly couldn’t guess who the perpetrator was at all. It came as such a big shock when it was revealed. I had a lot of theories and I am usually good at predicting them but for this one I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out. I really really recommend this novel so hard for contemporary mystery fans.. even just contemporary fans or just YA fans in general. I was blown away by Don’t Look Back and I am really excited to read any new book she writes in this genre.
Check out my mini review of Don't Look Back with The Geography of You and Me! 

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Review: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

Title: 16 Things I Thought Were True
Author: Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire 
Publication date: March 4th, 2013
Genre(s): Young Adult (Realistic Fiction)
Source: NetGalley
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 283
Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.
Having read some of Janet Gurtler's previous books, 16 Things I Thought Were True is probably by far my favorite one out of the bunch.  16 Things I Thought Were True talks about a twitter maniac, whose name is Morgan. When her mom gets sick, she starts to panic, especially since her mother is single. Morgan has two older brothers, but Morgan has always felt like she still needed to find out who her father is. After an embarrassing video that went viral, Morgan doesn't really have real friends anymore. Despite having no real friends, Morgan says that her "twitter" friends are as real as they can be. During her summer job, she meets a very enthusiastic girl named Amy, and their very mean boss, Adam. They have all been stressed out for various reasons, so the three of them suddenly decide to go on a roadtrip, and are determined to find Morgan's birth father. 
Plot wise, the story may not have been as unique, because I remember reading something like that in some previous young adult books. Despite that, I can't say that the story wasn't enjoyable or was even predictable. The characters were all very diverse, unique, and very funny. It was also a very sad book at times. Many moments where the characters were put in tough positions. We also got to learn a lot about each of the characters. There were a few "roll your eyes" moments that I just couldn't deal with, but leaving those aside, it was a very well written book!
Overall, if you're looking for a contemporary book that has a bit of romance, humor, and friendship, then 16 Things I Thought Were True is the book for you! I will definitely be looking forward to future books by Janet Gurtler, and I really hope she delivers a very different book in the near future!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Review: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

Title: The Museum of Intangible Things

Author: Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Publication date: April 10, 2014
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 304
Hannah and Zoe haven't had much in their lives, but they've always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah's beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life's intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity,insouciancekarma, and even happiness.
I had really high hopes for The Museum of Intangible Things because I loved Wendy Wunder's previous novel, The Probability of Miracles (Review here). First of all, she is blessed with beautiful book covers as well as very memorable book titles! The Museum of Intangible Things first got my attention because of the road trip aspect. You guys know how much I love road trips in my books! also, it is a best friend novel and I sometimes love my friendship books, void of romance. Overall, I did enjoy this book but I did have a couple of issues with it that didn't allow me to enjoy this novel as much as her previous one. 
This book fails to mention something very important, that it deals with a psychological disorder. One of the friends, Zoe, has bipolar syndrome. The road trip.. wasn't a fun road trip, it was about doing whatever Zoe wanted, and Hannah following her and hoping she doesn't drive off the edge this time. I do like her loyalty to her best friend, it is something I admire very much, but I hoped the way everything was handled had been handled differently. Also, the road trip? took over 100 pages for it to happen. You guys know how much I dislike when the synopsis mentions something that doesn't happen immediately in the book. I would have preferred not knowing they'll be going on a road trip because I was waiting for it as soon as I started reading. Also, the writing made me a bit uncomfortable, maybe it was how true it was to what teenagers think and go through nowadays but I just disliked the way these characters talked and thought.. it made me like them a bit less (am I making sense) but maybe this is just a case of "it's not you, it's me" where the author purposely did this to not romanticize teens' lives because I know we all want our YA characters to live happily ever after. 
However there are things I highly enjoyed in this novel and the first is the labeling of every chapter. Through the road trip, Zoe is teaching Hannah to ease up on life and to, for once, think about herself instead of her sorry excuse of a dad and barely present mother. I really liked the connection between the two girls and how even in the middle of all the crap they're going through, they still stuck by each other and wanted the best for each other (yes, even Zoe who tends to get her way with things). It was basically two girls against the world and it was refreshing to read YA contemporary novel with minimal romance (yes, there is a very diluted romance in there). I would definitely recommend it to contemporary fans who want to try something different.

Check out my mini video review of The Museum of Intangible Things along with Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg