Book Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

16068910The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: May 20, 2014

Pages: 384 (Paperback)

good good

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HarperTeen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

The Art of Lainey isn’t a book for everyone. Sure, for some,  it’s cute and light and a great book to read in between heavy novels but for others, it’ll be annoying and unrealistic. This novel has both good and bad qualities and although I liked it, I wished I could have liked it more. Hopefully Paula Stokes fixes these problems with her next novel.

Like I said before, Lainey is a hit or miss kind of character yet I found myself in the middle with her. She’s refreshing with her sense of light humour but she only thinks about Jason and soccer. It’s like nothing else exists to this girl except these two things which isn’t very realistic and really annoying. Another thing that I had a problem with is the lack of history the characters have. Because of this everything felt very forced and fake to me, there are only a few examples of how things were with characters before they got dumped like the relationship that Jason and Lainey had before. It’s pretty non-existent to the reader because there aren’t many examples of how much fun they had together or many flashbacks. The book mostly consists of Lainey telling readers how much she loves him and nothing more.

Every chapter in the book starts off with a quote from The Art of War which I thought was really good because it summed up some of the chapters. I liked how Paula Stokes decided to use a quote and then write a chapter surrounding that quote, it’s well done. What I love most about cute books like this one are the relationships between the characters, the way they interact and make each other laugh, cry, scream, etc. With Lainey and Micah, it’s so much fun! Their bickering and sarcastic banter is light-hearted and cute and my favourite thing about The Art of Lainey. Moreover, I just adored Micah! I loved his whole tough guy personality because it’s actually meaningful. He’s not doing t because he’s dying to fit in, or because he’s mad. He’s the way he is because he’s comfortable with himself despite the world and I loved that. I also loved his sarcasm and how realistic he is. The ending is fairly well done, I liked how things aren’t straightforward and the many obstacles that stand in Lainey’s way of happiness.

All in all, I still found this book to be really cute. Lainey learns a few things and I liked how her character grows throughout the story, understanding the views of her friends instead of just blindly following. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cute books with a plan to get an ex back.

3 Clouds

3 Clouds

A Night of Fun with John Corey Whaley!

Hello, everyone!

On wednesday, May 21, 7 pm EST or 4 pm PT John Corey Whaley will be on Shelf Pleasure Radio to talk about his novel, Noggin! A novel that I adored and recommend! So if you haven’t already checked this book out, read my review, then go buy the book and then tomorrow, tune into Shelf Pleasure Radio via LA Talk Radio! It’ll be a night of fun, I bet and below is a little bit about Shelf Pleasure Radio as well as Noggin by John Corey Whaley.

Shelf Pleasure Radio is a weekly show for women who love to read. The show presents unique show segments (high-profile author interviews, the latest publishing news & trends, fun reading features etc.) that will engage women bibliophiles. 

18051349Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Pages: 342 (Hardcover)

good good

 

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

Book Review: Wicked Little Secrets (Prep School Confidential#2) by Kara Taylor

wickedWicked Little Secrets (Prep School Confidential#2) by Kara Taylor

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genre: Mystery and Young Adult

Release Date: March 16, 2014

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

good good

Anne Dowling—a fresh, original, and funny new YA heroine whose knowing, irreverent voice will remind readers of Pretty Little Liars and Private—is back for her second semester at Wheatley Prep. Although things have settled (somewhat) since her roommate Isabella’s death, Anne’s still kind of obsessed with the disappearance of Wheatley student Matthew Weaver thirty years ago, since she found a picture of him and his crewmates with the words “they killed him” scrawled on the back among Isabella’s things.


When Anne learns that her boyfriend Brent’s dad is one of the now-powerful Wheatley alumni who rowed crew with Matthew, and that the crew team continues to induct new members with a creepy-sounding ritual called “The Drop,” she knows further investigation could put her relationship with Brent in danger. Determined to discover the truth, she reaches out to Anthony, Isabella’s townie brother, who helps her delve deeper into the secrets in Wheatley’s past. Secrets someone would kill to keep hidden. As the school’s Spring Formal—and its notorious afterparty—approaches, Anne sees the perfect opportunity to do some off-campus digging into the lives of Wheatley’s VIPs in this thrilling, unputdownable read—but if she’s not careful, she’ll be the next student who never comes back.

opinion

 

The excitement and fun never seems to end in this series. Wicked Little Secrets doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome, instead it charges forward and demands readers attention. I loved reading about Anne and all of the trouble she can cause in just a few hours. It’s a thriller that isn’t all about the planning and clues, it also doesn’t have an overbearing romance. It has just the right amounts of almost everything.

That being said, there are a few things that are off. As a person with a pretty small tolerance for info-dumping I found the beginning to be a little like even dismissing the recaps for the first book. Another problem that I had is with our protagonist, Anne (I still adore her though) and her friendship with her friend Chelsea. For someone she calls her best friend, Anne never talks to Chelsea and only mentions her in passing. I wanted more from this friendship because Chelsea is part of the old Anne, the one that I’m sure many people want to know more about and I felt let down by this. Hopefully her best friend is in the last book.

Nonetheless, this book is still great. I loved the writing, it’s still as smooth as ever and the romance isn’t in your face. It’s a lot laid back than I thought, only finding cracks in the story to seep into. Although I’m team Brent, the romances with both guys are really well done. Another thing that I enjoyed about the story is the action because it isn’t boring and there’s a constant stream of it with not too much planning. The characters for the most part are great, Anne is a lot wilder and committed than ever (she punches a guy in the face to defend her friend!). The problems that I had in the first novel are pretty much gone in this one. Remy feels a lot more real, letting her past and emotions through this time. Moreover, the sarcasm is so good! It’s not constant that it feels annoying nor is it far between that it feels forced. It’s perfection.

Wicked little Secrets is pretty intense but in a more fun than dark way. The ending will keep readers at the edge of their seats and craving for the last one. I recommend this series to anyone looking for a thriller that isn’t boring and straightforward. I’m hoping that the last one is just as good.

4 Dreamy Clouds

4 Dreamy Clouds

Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

18635076The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Mystery and Young Adult

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

good good

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long-buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review. opinion The worst kinds of books are the ones that start out promising and then just decide not to deliver anything good in the end. The Secrets of Lily Graves is that kind of book. It starts out pretty good, there’s a creepy girl who likes to hang out in the cemetery and wear black all day with a dark sense of humour. The author could have made this novel fucking golden yet decided that she wanted an idiot main character who does stupid things because she’s in love with a stupid boy. All in all, don’t read this because you will be let down depending on how much you enjoy different main characters.

My first problem with this book is when Erin is dead. Not much details are told about it yet Lily somehow knows how she died.  Lily also doesn’t even suspect that Matt could be the killer, not even for s second because she knows him for a few months  and that he never would do anything like that. This leads to my next problem with the novel-Lily. For someone so smart they’re awfully stupid. I don’t want to give anything away if you decide you may want to check this out but for fuck’s sake, why would you stand there with incriminating evidence in your hands and then try to walk away with it in plain fucking sight when someone sees you? Do you not know how people work? Do you need a brain to understand that you run and then ask questions later before someone sees you? Stupid. I also had a problem with the romance because it feels extremely contrived and fake. The feelings Matt have for Lily feels too forced to be real and it didn’t help that he says, “I’m so sorry. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll explain everything. I really, really like you,” everything second her gets (which is every second he’s in the story). Adding onto that, the pacing of the novel is slow and everything is boring, even when the killer is caught, things are resolved fairly quickly. The ending is actually kind of predictable and so is the killer if you actually think about it.

Although I didn’t like this book as a whole, I did enjoy the sarcasm. It’s funny, dark, and refreshing. Moreover, I liked that some things happen in the cemetery because it’s quite a different scene and gives this book a bit of originality.

The Secrets of Lily Graves isn’t the best mystery book. It’s more about the forced romance than anything. Lily felt forced to solve the murder to me than actually doing it for a good reason. The police didn’t even suspect her until she kept digging and she just met Matt, who cares about him. Overall, I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re in the mood for some good humour and nothing else.

1.5 Odd Clouds

1.5 Odd Clouds

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

18339662We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Pages: 227 (Hardcover)

good good

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Delacorte Press for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

We Were Liars relies heavily on its setting to tell the story and despite the rating I really liked this one. It’s different from the other novels I’ve read with the writing style and the atmosphere. If it weren’t for the setting and the fact that it’s so well put together, I think that this book would have been boring and typical. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading about this, Lockhart made the writing work and held my attention for most of the book. 

My biggest problem is how Lockhart dealt with the truth. She could have went in a ton of different directions yet she didn’t. And I had to lower my rating because of that. I skimmed a few reviews so I already had a vague idea of what happens or what ‘they’ are and I think that that’s well done.The characters delicately use the information of the past to remind our protagonist yet in a way that wouldn’t trigger another episode and keep readers guessing as to what really happened. However well the characters react, I still didn’t actually like them. They’re all rich and spoiled and whiny especially the mothers. I didn’t understand Cadence’s mother and felt that Lockhart left her unfinished or undecided because she’s mean and then she’s loving in a way that doesn’t make enough sense. 

Although I disliked the characters, I surprisingly liked the writing style and I really hate the poetic writing with close to no dialogue at all but it fits the story, giving it a unique style in a pretty confusing way. I also liked the stories and variations that are included because they’re different, dark, and exciting and I loved how the variations connected with the chapter that it’s featured in. Like I mentioned before, the setting really makes We Were Liars and I can’t stress enough how important a setting is regardless and the author does a fine job with it.

All in all, I liked this book, truly. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys reading about rich people complaining about being less rich and writing that’s more poetic and boring than anything but the mysterious setting and creepy truth does make up for it. At least, it did for me and for anyone who enjoys confusing stories and a different way of a story being told and don’t mind weak characters.

3 Clouds

3 Clouds

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi Blog Tour (Character Spotlight)

17586458The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 352 (Paperback)

good good

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

Hello, everyone! A few months ago, I did a review on this novel and I really enjoyed it. Today, the author, Jessica Verdi is here to do a character spotlight on her character, Matthew! 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Abbe, and for asking me to spotlight one of the secondary characters in The Summer I Wasn’t Me. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the character who seems to be everyone’s favorite: Matthew. 🙂

In the book, the main character Lexi is assigned to a group of four—two boys, two girls—who will be her core group for the entire summer. And so we are introduced to Carolyn, the girl Lexi has a crush on; Daniel, the shy boy who so desperately want to change because of his religious beliefs; and Matthew, the outgoing boy who thinks the conversion camp is pure B.S. and is only there because he was forced to be by his parents.

Matthew Hilson is seventeen years old, he lives in San Diego, California, and he has a boyfriend named Justin whom he’s head over heels in love with. He does community theater and works part-time at a dog groomer. He’s been out since he was fourteen. He has a ton of friends back home, and for good reason—he’s awesome. He’s fun and brave and honest. He believes in seeing the good in people, and he’s a romantic at heart.

There are a lot of very difficult things that happen at New Horizons summer camp (all based on the harsh realities of reparative therapy), yet as an author I had to be careful to not put my personal feelings on the story. That wouldn’t be interesting for anyone—and it would be a very short book. If I were Lexi, I never would have gone to New Horizons in the first place. And if I did somehow end up there, I would have called B.S. on them on the very first day and gone home. Haha. But Lexi is not me, and if I put my personal feelings on the story too much, I’d be doing her and the book a disservice. Because not every kid who is sent to a camp like this sees things so black and white. For many of them, there are many shades of gray, many factors for wanting to become straight, stemming from their religion or fear or family obligation or any number of things. I wanted to tell a real, honest story about what the experience might be like for those kids, and what they might go along with or subject themselves to, all for the sake of an impossible goal. I wanted the story to be nuanced and emotional, and I wanted all readers, regardless of their religious beliefs or sexuality, to feel like they understand the motivations of the various characters.

So writing the character of Matthew was incredibly cathartic because he was the one character who was able to say all the things I was thinking as I was writing and researching. He was able to be the voice of reason in so many instances. Whenever there was a moment where my heart was breaking as I put my characters in a difficult situation, I had Matthew to say what I was thinking, to lighten the moment, to show a difference perspective. I needed him, and I love him.

He’s also just really cool and funny, and the consensus between readers and reviewers has been that everyone just really wants to friends with him. And so do I! 🙂

Book Review: Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

18118614 (1)Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy and Young Adult

Release Date: May 6, 2014

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

good good

Putting the dead in deadline
To Bee or not to Bee? When the widely disliked Honeywell Stingers football coach is found murdered, 17-year-old Millie is determined to investigate. She is chasing a lead for the school newspaper – and looking to clear her father, the assistant coach, and prime suspect.

Millie’s partner is gorgeous, smart-and keeping secrets
Millie joins forces with her mysterious classmate Chase who seems to want to help her even while covering up secrets of his own.

She’s starting to get a reputation…without any of the benefits.
Drama-and bodies-pile up around Millie and she chases clues, snuggles Baxter the so-ugly-he’s-adorable bassett hound, and storms out of the world’s most awkward school dance/memorial mash-up. At least she gets to eat a lot of pie.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

When I was younger, I hated reading. I really did, my mother forced me to stand in front of her and read to her and it felt like a complete hassle to do it. Yet, this one series of books (Cam Jensen and the so and so) made all that bearable and although wasn’t the book that made me start loving books, it did help. Cam Jensen will forever be one of my favourite protagonists and I see a lot of similarities between that series and this book. There’s a mystery, there’s the main character with the photographic memory who is also a redhead, the cute quiet boy, as well as other thing. Although these books are similar there’s one thing that makes Cam Jensen stand out–her badass attitude and the way she never fucking whines about anything.

Buzz Kill should not be targeted towards young adults, it should be targeted towards middle schoolers because that’s the only time that realism is not needed in stories. The characters are all flat and boring. They’re cutouts of traits that are popular in YA novels and thrown in to make an unbelievable cast. I hated how they all are supposed to be adults or almost adults yet they act like they’re in elementary school with their petty fights over who boys and assignments. Hell, no one even swears! You cannot tell me that teenagers don’t swear because that is a lie! I also had a problem with the romance is forced and typical (confused girl is the only one who understands the beautiful broken boy) and not very realistic. Aside from Millie’s stupidity, there’s no legit reason for why she wants to find the killer and her photographic memory didn’t add anything to the story.

I don’t mind thrillers, I just have a hard time believing them especially when they involve high school students. This book is made out to be quirky and corny but I just found it annoying and stupid. I only recommend this if you enjoy No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale and enjoyed it a lot because this one is a lot like that. Under no other circumstance should this book be read because you will most likely fall asleep.

1 Lonely Cloud

1 Lonely Cloud