ARC: Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius The Great is Not Okay Goodreads Synopsis:

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Commentary:

tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo I received the arc for Darius The Great Is Not Okay when I attended Yallwest, all opinions are my own. tumblr_inline_niyn5ntHcI1ry72eo  ʕ灬→ᴥ←灬ʔ

I am trying to read as much as possible before going back to my fall semester of my senior year at university. I picked up Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram for my July book of the month. I was immediately drawn to the cover, the colors and details are by far my favorite.

Darius Kellner is a biracial teenager who suffers from depression. He fells outcasted in his school, and his family, especially by his father. Darius understands that he is not normal. He is a bit on the heavy side, nerdy, and doesn’t socialize with people. His father has his own ambitions for his son in order for Darius to fit in with the normal boys in school. In addition, Darius is a victim of being bullied often by the popular boys. I felt quite sad for Darius due his illness, and how it seem like nothing was going his way.

Darius also suffers from an identity crisis because he is biracial. Though he looks Persian on the outside, he is far more Americanized. Darius could hardly speak to his grandparents in Farsi. He feels socially awkward with his Persian family because he does not fit in, and mental illness is not spoken of. He compares himself with his younger sibling who speaks Farsi like the pro.

A family trip to Iran shakes Darius’s world. He is introduced to his mother’s homeland and experiences an overall change because of it. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Darius’s grandfather is slowing dying. The family trip is supposed to connect the family together, and bring Darius closer together to his Persian history. Darius experiences different events in his short trip abroad. He becomes best friends with Sohrab, who immediately accepts him, though Darius completely does not understand why. Darius feels he has multiple flaws, despite being surrounded by people who love and support him. (灬♥ω♥灬)

If you go into this book thinking it is a romance, that’s not the case. For me, I did feel that Darius had feelings for Sohrab because of their connection, and their trusting friendship. What stood out for me was the relationship between Darius and his father, Stephen Kellner. Though both have depression, each character handles their depression differently. Stephen Kellner expects Darius to be masculine, and be normal. He does not want his son to be a victim of bullying. There is miscommunication and tense conversations between Darius and his father. It was hard for both of them to come to an understanding. Another aspect that shone in the book was how older generations treat mental illness. Darius tried keeping his depression a secret from his grandparents. It is hard to communicate with family members when it comes to mental illness. This caused a lot of awkward moments.

The writing was quite interesting to say the least. I was not the biggest fan of the writing style, and it took me a while to get used to…and it honestly seemed there was going to be a romance between Darius and Sohrab. I was expecting it for the very last chapters of the book…and it left me disappointed. I would have loved if the author had explored Darius sexuality more. Some scenes did feel that Darius was flirting, but it was a bit frustrating that this never led anywhere. It also felt that Darius kept reminding readers that he is not fully Persian, nor will ever be. I understand his identity crisis, but it was a constant reminder in most chapters…it did get really annoying. (╬ Ò ‸ Ó)

Honestly, this was a fast read for me. Darius deserved the world and more, he was really sensitive, and he really needed love. Let’s say, I can relate with Darius when it comes to mental illness. It was good, but I am sure others will love it more than me. ٩(๑•◡-๑)۶ⒽⓤⒼ❤

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75)

 

ARC: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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goodreads-synopsis

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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I received an ARC on NetGalley.

This review will contain spoilers!

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So the story starts off with Lane Roanoke. She has a detached personality and can be very cynical. Her mother commits suicide and she is adopted by her grandparents in Kansas. Lane was never close to her mother, and she was relieved when her mother died. Initially, Lane had no clue that she still had family. When she arrives in Kansas, she instantly forms a bond with her cousin Allegra. Lane’s life is transformed. Lane is not used to living in a loving home. Though everything seems perfect in the household, there seems to be a lot of things off with her new family members especially Allegra. Lane never stays as a permanent member of the Roanoke clan and leaves immediately as the summer comes to an end. As the years go by, Lane looses contact with her immediate family. One day when her grandfather calls her about Allegra, Lane knows that she has to return no matter the consequences.

When I first saw the title of the Roanoke Girls, I thought it was going to take place during the Roanoke colony. This is not the case for the Roanoke Girls. As I read the synopsis I was intrigued by the mystery, and decided to give it a go. What I read was dark and this book is not for younger readers. Also, don’t read it if you’re triggered easily by rape and incest.

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As I’ve mentioned, the mystery of Allegra’s murder had me intrigued. But, the author revealed shocking secrets in the beginning chapters…thus making it obvious who was the killer was. The book would have been stronger if the author had revealed the incest and pedophilia secrets till the very end of the story. By the time I was halfway done with the story, I knew where the story was headed. There weren’t that many suspects to pick from.

The main story is told in alternating perspectives between adult Lane and teenage Lane. There are also chapters including the povs of the other fallen Roanoke Girls who have died. I really liked that the other perspectives of the Roanoke Girls were told, though their chapters were short. Other than that, it felt as if Lane had not changed at all in her adult years. Lane’s character stayed consistent throughout the book. Though she became a bit more destructive as an adult.

One thing I can say is that the characters were not likable especially Lane. Lane is distrusting and angry, and resentful all the time. Lane is extremely bitter at how her life played out. Though she didn’t suffer as much as her cousin Allegra did, Lane is very hesitant to change. She still sees herself as destructive due to life events. Honestly, I found it hard to like Lane. She made it difficult to feel sympathy for her due to her actions. Instead of moving on, or at least getting a form of therapy to cope with life, she chooses the destructive path.

Lane could have avoided the pain and trauma of that summer if she had spoken. If she had said something to the authorities, Allegra’s death could have been prevented. But no, Lane chose not to speak to anyone. She felt that there was no person that she could have trusted. In a way, I feel that even Lane played a part in Allegra’s demise.

As for the other characters, I can say the same thing: none of them were likable, except for Cooper. Like Lane, Cooper also had a horrible childhood. Cooper suffered more than Lane, but he chose to better himself and not end up like his abusive father. Cooper became wiser as the years went by and tried several times to get Lane to open up.

When it came to the big revelation, I was not surprised at all. Most of the time, Lane spent her time having sex than looking for clues. When the killer confessed to the murder, it happened instantly. All I can say is that the Roanoke girls suffered from abuse: sexually and mentally. The Roanoke girls had no help from anyone. All the girls suffered a sad fate, which was death. I really despised the grandfather and the grandmother, but more the grandfather. It was such as sad book to read, but there were so many frustrating moments that could have been avoided if characters had helped out.

Despite all of it, the ending was a bit sweeter than I had anticipated.

Book Release: March 7th 2017 by Crown

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

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I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

i'm not your manic pixie dream girlAuthor: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreadsgoodreads-synopsisBeatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?he-he1

spoilers

Imagine the movie you really like right, and it gets a sequel that no one asked for, but the sequel is sort of good. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil felt like that to me. It’s a standalone, contemporary, young adult novel that was released earlier this month.

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According to Urban Dictionary, a manic pixie dream girl is:

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

Guys, I really didn’t know how to feel bout this book. Let’s start with the cover art. Not my favorite, and yeah, I judged the book by the cover. My sister looked at the book and said it looks bad. She didn’t read the synopsis. Anyways, I decided to read it. Honestly, this book is extremely cheesy…to the max. Like an extremely cheesy version of a Disney Channel Movie. (Not bashing on Disney Channel Movies, I actually like watching them.) As for my reading experience, oddly enough I couldn’t put this book down. It became a guilty pleasure despite how stereotypical it was.

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Beatrice is known as the “math girl” in her school. She has a passion for math and hopes to win the scholarship to MIT. She and her group of friends aren’t popular.  There’s Gabriel who is the ambitious, “nerdy” journalist friend, who happens to be hated by jocks because his article fired the football coach. There’s also Spencer who is sarcastic, moody, and an artist. It’s obvious that he is in love with Beatrice but the girl is oblivious. She starts dating Jesse who constantly drops hints that she should be more outgoing and try to more social. I thought he was somewhat sweet, but I still didn’t trust him.  Beatrice hopes for a better senior year. Unfortunately, she and her friends are still being bullied by the most stereotypical jock bullies who are irrelevant.

Beatrice the genius she is, comes up with a wild idea that will guarantee popularity for her friends and stop the bullying. Beatrice applies math to solve her situation. She knows numbers like there’s not tomorrow. The formula is useful for Beatrice because she decides to use it as an experiment in order to win the scholarship for MIT.

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Only she and Gabe are thrilled about applying the formula for instant popularity, while Spencer is against the idea. Long story short, all three friends apply Beatrice’s math formula. Gabe, who is gay by the way, becomes the most stereotypical version of himself by being super flamboyant, and Spencer doesn’t do much to his image besides advertise his art to people. Beatrice becomes a stereotypical version of herself by offering free tutoring to the popular folks, but she’s the only one that does not become popular.

Remember Jesse? Beatrice’s boyfriend. There’s a new girl in school that is a manic pixie dream girl. Her name is Toile Jefferies, and she steals Jesse away from Beatrice. Beatrice applies the same formula to herself and becomes a manic pixie dream girl, who ends up being Toile’s rival.

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Alright, so I summed up pretty much what happens during the first half of the story. Beatrice becomes Trixie who becomes one of the most popular girls at school. Beatrice becomes confident and far more outgoing in her Trixie persona. Everything seems to be going great for her and her friends, but what Beatrice did not expect her formula to fail her. Spencer is the voice of reason throughout this whole ordeal. He constantly reminds Beatrice that what she’s doing is foolish. He was a jerk, but the boy was being honest. He didn’t want to “change”, but did it to support Beatrice.

What ends up happening is that Beatrice becomes obsessed and competitive towards Toile. Girl literally forgets that the reason she changed her persona was to win her boyfriend back. Although Trixie is popular among the students, she almost loses her friends in the process by constantly hurting them even though she feels she’s doing the right thing. I called the ending and I didn’t stumble upon spoilers if you’re asking, it was very obvious from the moment I started the book.

What I liked from this book:

  • Spencer. The made the most sense from the cast of characters. Yeah, there were moments where he was a jerk, but he was being honest.
  • Supportive friends: It took Beatrice a while to understand she was hurting everyone, but her friends still loved her despite everything.
  • The romance: I admit that it’s not so great, but Beatrice realizes who she loves and she doesn’t get with him till the very end.
  • The comedy: This book reminded of Mean Girls. Ha ha. There were some moments that had me laughing. I enjoyed reading Beatrice’s pov, especially the situations she put herself into.
  • The rivalry

What I didn’t like:

  • Jesse….bye-felipe
  • The nerdy rival…I forgot his name, but he was so unnecessarily extra. Hated that he got a happy ending because he was a pie-hole.
  • How stereotypical the book was. This book is geared to a younger audience. I rolled my eyes a lot, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
  • The cover

Overall, I was mildly surprised by I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Final rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

maybe someday.jpgAuthor: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Contains exclusive content: songs from Griffin Peterson

Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

Maybe someday…

Colleen Hoover draws you in to this passionate tale of music, love and betrayal…

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I’ve never read a Colleen Hoover book until now. I’ve notice that readers have a love-hate relationship with her books. I came in with no expectations of her books. Maybe Someday is everyone’s favorite. My favorite reviewers absolutely love Maybe Someday, and I was hoping for the best when I picked this book.

Maybe Someday had an interesting concept since it dealt with cheating. Starting off, Sydney’s life is turned upside down when she discovers her boyfriend and best friend having an affair behind her back. She feels betrayed by both of them, and she was completely unaware of what was happening to her. The best that Sydney does for herself is packing her belongings since she can no longer call her apartment a home. Ridge is her neighbor that lives in the apartment complex across from her. He is the mysterious guitar player that Sydney feels a connection to. For the first couple of chapters, the book alternates between the past and present. Ridge isn’t some stranger as I had initially thought. Ridge and Sydney become friends due to their shared connection of music. He writes the music, while Sydney is the lyricist. Because of Sydney’s almost homelessness when she leaves her apartment, Ridge decides it is best for Sydney to live with him and his roommates for the time being. The chemistry between Ridge and Sydney is undeniable. Maybe Someday is a slow burn romance filled with a lot of unnecessary angst.

Maybe Someday was an interesting book, because I had a love-relationship with the story. Starting off with what I enjoyed was how likable Ridge started off in the beginning. I’ve never read a book where the male protagonist was deaf. It made the book far more interesting than I had anticipated. He was sweet and caring, and I found myself liking Ridge. Also, I enjoyed the soundtrack that accompanied the book, which was really cool. I’ve never read a book that had a companion album until this book. My favorite song off the soundtrack was I’m In Trouble. I found myself liking Maggie far more than I like Sydney. Though Maggie was a secondary character, I enjoyed her far more than the main protagonist. She was fun, mature, and overall such a nice character. It was hard to dislike her even though Sydney was the main protagonist.

I disliked Sydney a lot. She was very troublesome for me. I felt she was being unnecessarily extra. At some points of the book, I found her to be mature, but most of the time she was acting like a child. She was very angry during certain situations. She was very jealous, and the same goes for Ridge. Ridge, the guy who I found to be charming became the opposite. He was very controlling over Sydney even though he had a girlfriend. Spoiler alert: I was bothered with how he and Sydney decided to stay silent over the kiss fiasco and he never told Maggie anything. He and Maggie have been together for years, and he never decides to tell her what went on with he and Sydney. I found Ridge far more guilty of cheating that Sydney.

One of my biggest issues was how SYDNEY WHO RECENTLY BROKE UP WITH HER BOYFRIEND FALLS IN LOVE WITH A TAKEN MAN. SYDNEY DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO PROPERLY HEAL AND SHE FALLS IN LOVE WITH RIDGE. (I’ve never used caps lock for any review until this book.) I sympathized a lot with Warren when it came with the Sydney situation.

I did not like the way Colleen Hoover described certain female characters. For example, Tori was described as a bimbo Barbie and most of the time Bridgette was labeled a bitch. I felt uncomfortable with those characters descriptions. It felt as if Colleen was trying to make Sydney seem far more likable, which was the complete opposite for me. As for the ending of the book, I felt it could have ended in a nicely, wrapped package but did it really have to end with the characters having sex??? The chapters before the sex scene could have ended the book on a far happier note. I would have given it a higher rating, but then they had to had sex for the final chapter. I have no issues with sex in books, but after all of what both characters went through, it made the book weaker for me. Maybe Someday more like Maybe Not. Lastly, Maggie rocks.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

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Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

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I received One Paris Summer in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

Over the weekend, I finished reading One Paris Summer. Now, I didn’t have high hopes for this book, but I was in the mood to read a contemporary book. One Paris Summer is about siblings who are forced to go to Paris for their summer vacation. Sophie, the protagonist, loathes the idea of going to Paris. Why? The reason why she doesn’t want to travel to Paris is because her father left her. Abandoned. Gone for good.
It is understandable why Sophie feels bitterness towards her father. Did he even try to win her or her brother back? Not really. One Paris Summer was jammed packed with a lot of drama. Much more than I had anticipated. I’ve seen some comparisons to Anna and the French Kiss since both books are set in Paris and contemporary. Anyways, Anna and The French Kiss is a delightful, fluffy read while One Paris Summer is a bit more dramatic.

As for the characters, I really liked Sophie. She was stubborn most of the time, and she wasn’t allowing herself to enjoy Paris, let alone learn the language. She constantly feels betrayed by her father. He left without saying goodbye, left the country to live abroad, and remarried. Sophie’s father never bothered to even email or call his children. I found myself annoyed at the actions of the father. Worst YA father of 2016, calling it already. Her new stepmom is surprisingly not evil, but a kind lady who wants Sophie and her brother to feel like family in her home. Life would seem great, but Sophie has an evil stepsister that makes Sophie’s summer vacation nearly impossible to enjoy. Sophie doesn’t have a backbone. She endures all the malice coming from her sister. Sophie doesn’t have anyone to defend her expect her older brother. I like how much the book focused on Sophie’s relationship with her brother. At first, they were the typical siblings that didn’t get along, but as they moved to Paris for the summer, they had to team up in order to survive. He is a good older brother towards Sophie; he cares for her and stands up for her against Camille. He may be a bit overprotective when it comes to guys.

As for Camille, I actually liked her. She was bitter to no end, and was the only “villain” in this book. She was a walking cliché. She is extremely good looking and a “boyfriend” stealer. She is manipulative and makes Sophie feel like a constant outcast. She controls her group of friends to go against Sophie and her brother. Camille was very petty throughout the whole book. She doesn’t get any character growth till the very end of the book.

Moving on to the romance, I wasn’t a huge fan of it. Alright, so it is very instalove. Sophie is a crybaby, and she becomes very emotional especially when Camille is involved. She meets the mysterious stranger and instantly feels a connection towards him. The love interest randomly shows up whenever Sophie cries, but he does have a crucial role in this story. Mathieu is Camille’s ex-boyfriend, and he is instantly drawn to Sophie. He keeps mostly to himself, and tries to avoid the wrath of Camille. He is sweet to Sophie, but Sophie takes his kindness the opposite way. She thinks that Mathieu will hurt her in return. As the story progressed, there were some cute interactions between Sophie and Mathieu, but there was a lot of drama between them. Honestly, I would have been happier if Sophie was single.

Lastly, I thought the world building was beautiful. It felt like I was experiencing Paris. I liked that the author was very descriptive. I would actually like this book to be made into a movie only to see Sophie’s musical abilities. Other than that, Sophie was the most likable character.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

ARC: The ‘Ohana Tree by Rebecca Addison

The 'Ohana TreeAuthor: Rebecca Addison

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: The first book in the ‘Ohana Series by Rebecca Addison.

On a small island in Hawaii, twenty-eight-year-old Kai is contemplating his life.
He’s a talented singer-songwriter, stuck playing other people’s music for tourists at the local bar. With his own songs and with that voice, he has the potential to be the next big thing. But as much as he lives and breathes to play music, Kai knows he will never leave the island to pursue his dream.

On an old bus rumbling along a winding road, a girl named Tessa looks out the window. She sees frog-green plants clinging to the side of sheer cliffs, snatches of a bright blue sea. She’s come to Hawaii to reconnect with the only person who really knows her. And to escape. She’s a winged seed on the breeze, never settling long enough to grow and put down roots.

In her second novel, Rebecca Addison tells a soul-stirring story about family loyalty, love and loss, long-held secrets and the chance for new beginnings.

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 I was kindly provided the arc by the author for my honest opinion. One of my new years resolution was to read more indie authors, and luckily this book fits the criteria. I’m trying to read different genres, instead of sticking with the same old genre.

The ‘Ohana Tree begins with Kai, an inspiring musician that constantly puts his family’s needs above his own. Kai’s father and brother rely on him on just about everything. Kai dreams of leaving the island and pursuing his dream. Kai is stuck on the island and he doesn’t believe that he’ll ever leave.

Perhaps that was the problem. Nothing out of the ordinary ever happened to me. I was still young, my body strong and my head full of dreams and ideas. But I felt old, and my world grew smaller and smaller each passing year. There were expectations. That I would stay on the island. That I would look after our land. That I would watch over my family.

One day he meets Tessa, an equally gifted musician who constantly travels. Kai is immediately captivated by Tessa, especially her music.

She was free, spontaneous, curious and independent. It made me happy. But it felt risky, too. I knew that I was in a dangerous waters with Tess. There was a real chance that she was going to give me a glimpse of a a magical, high definition version of my life, only to leave me to live out the one I had instead.

Tessa is a girl who doesn’t want to fall in love because she has many failed relationships. Tessa is attracted to Kai as well, but she knows that she’ll end up hurting him if they start a relationship. Tessa decides to push Kai away, but Kai never gives up on her. Kai and Tessa manage to form a relationship even though both protagonists have tragic backstories.

I haven’t read in a male point of view in such a long time, so it was a refreshing change.  As for the characters, I really liked them equally, but if I had to pick my favorite, it would be Kai. Kai was the perfect boyfriend to Tessa. He hardly has any faults. He sacrifices his needs and puts others above him.  Kai loves his ‘ohana more than anything. Though Tess wants to keep her privacy, Kai never gives up on her. Both characters bring out the best in each other. Tess made Kai feel that anything was possible, especially leaving the island behind. While Kai helped changed Tess’ perspective on love and family. Kai and Tess’ relationship is really stable, though there were some moments that they bickered.

The secondary characters were just as great. I felt sad for Kai’s father. Though Kai never had a loving relationship with his father, his father cared deeply for him. Tess saw another side to Kai’s father that Kai was not seeing.

Why do you do that?

Do what?

Make it sound like he’s this callous, evil man. You don’t have to thank me for hanging out with him, Kai. I like him and I like spending time up there.

Akamu (Kai’s younger brother) is very supportive of Kai’s relationship with Tess. There were many funny interactions with Akamu being a third wheel.

Before I started reading The ‘Ohana Tree, I didn’t know what to expect. After reading the first book, I was amazed at how emotionally invested I was with the characters and their situations. Also, this book had several steamy moments. I really enjoyed reading The ‘Ohana Tree and I can’t wait for the sequel. This book felt more like something I would take on the beach, and it’s set in Hawaii.

My favorite quote:

Ohana isn’t just your blood, Tess. It’s the family you choose for yourself. Family isn’t just the people who made you; it’s the people who love you.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Website: http://rebeccaaddison.com/

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ARC: The New Guy And Other Senior Distractions by Amy Spalding

Goodreads Review: A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year-early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college-and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.

At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.

—-

* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.

** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.

***Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

Commentary: I was kindly provided the physical copy of The Memory Book by The Novl.

I wanted The New Guy And Other Senior Distractions by Amy Spalding to be hilarious and cute. Funny thing is that my sister told me this book was going to be awful just by reading the synopsis. I gave it a chance despite her warning and oh boy, she was was right. All the contemporary books that I have read so far in this month have been terrible, one after another. This book is no exception. Also, spoilers!

The story starts off with Jules, a overachieving high school senior that wants everything to go according to plan. She dreams of attending Brown University and getting the editor in chief position at her school. She may not be popular, but she has a supportive group of friends. Dating guys are not on her top priority at all, and everything changed when the new guy, Alex transfers to her school.

Alex used to be in a boy band and had a one hit wonder, now he’s focusing on having a normal life. He is immediately attracted to Jules, even though she has no time for dating. There are immediate sparks between both characters, but both experience a roller coaster of emotions because of his “betrayal”.

This book was so silly, and not in a good way. I was hoping that the betrayal was going to be much darker, and honestly I don’t believe that Alex betrayed Jules at all. Jules took it out of proportion. In the span of almost a week, she suddenly drops Alex out of her life because he is her “enemy”. Alex happens to be in Talon, the school’s official newscaster team that has taken all of the Crest’s (the school’s newspaper) popularity away. Since Talon is popular among the students, the readership of the Crest has suffered tremendously and has threaten the school’s tradition.  Jules declares war on Talon and hijinks ensue.

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I wanted to like Jules, I really did and I tried. I couldn’t because her character was really wishy-washy. Everyone admires Jules because she is a natural born leader and is very hardworking. A loyal friend. I found her rather selfish and a horrible friend. For example, Jules was so caught up on destroying Talon that she ignored her best friend Sadie’s messages for several days. And then her relationship with Alex was really dramatic. One moment Jules is happy to be with her hot boyfriend, and in the next moment she questions if he’s liar and a cheat. They constantly break up…I couldn’t take their relationship seriously. Alex was a bland character, and to be honest I didn’t think their relationship was healthy. Like I’ve mentioned before, all these emotions of love and hatred happen in the span of about a month.

Other than that, this book was so cheesy and over the top. The only character that I did end up liking was Sadie, though she’s a secondary character. Sadie was supportive to Jules throughout the whole book, especially when Jules has problems with Alex. There are a couple of things I liked in this book. It’s set in the Eagle Rock/Highland Park area, and since I usually go there on Sundays I know the places that Jules visits. I did like Jules and Natalie’s rivalry, though I would have liked it even more if there was a bigger reason why those two didn’t get along, instead of misunderstanding each other.

Recommendation wise, I would recommend this book to a younger audience. It wasn’t for me.

Final Rating: ⭐️ (1.5)

Release Date: April 5th 2016 by Poppy

 

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Goodreads Synopsis: They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

Commentary: I was kindly provided the physical copy of The Memory Book by The Novl.

When I first read the synopsis, I was beyond excited to read this book. I admit it, I did hype it up a bit. I thought that The Memory Book was going to be similar to one of my favorite books: Flowers For Alergnon by Daniel Keyes, which I highly recommend reading. Anyways, going back to The Memory Book and how I felt about it as a whole: I loved the first chapter, but everything kinda went downhill. And yes, there will be spoilers.

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The book was not entirely bad, but one of my biggest issues was how forgettable the book was to me. I really did not like the protagonist’s choices. I loved how socially awkward she was and how she was an overachiever, but that’s just it. After reading several chapters, I was not enjoying what I was reading. And I even considered putting the book down, but I kept telling myself to finish it, and so I did. If I was twelve, maybe I would have liked it much more, but certainly not love it. I didn’t feel an emotional attachment to Sammie. Even if she didn’t have her disease, I still wouldn’t find her likable.

Moving on to the love interests…I found each of her guys equally boring. First there is Stuart, her man crush from high school. She has always found him fascinating since he is a writer and ha . I was very displeased with Sammie especially what she did to Stuart. Sammie had sex with Cooper and cheated on Stuart while he was out of town. It happened out of no where.

Now about the ending, well I didn’t cry. The way it ended sorta felt bittersweet because I didn’t think it was going to happen so quickly. I would have liked the book a bit more if it

  • focused more on Sammie’s struggles
  • didn’t focus a lot on the love interests
  • had no love triangle
  • had a better family dynamic
  • had more guest posts describing Sammie and her condition
  • had better writing

Though I found this book quite tedious, others might like this book more than me. The Memory Book has a unique synopsis, and I would actually recommend this book to a younger audience.

Also worst quote ever…

Then he took my arm-that’s right, you read correctly-he took my arm, and turned it over, as if he were administering a shot. He brought a pen out of his pocket, uncapped it with his teeth and wrote his email. Each curve of each letter of his name was like, I don’t know, having sex. I have never had sex, but have you ever had someone write on you? Have you ever had a writer write on you?He might as well have been doing it with his fingertip.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Goodreads Synopsis: The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?

But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past….

Commentary:

rolls eyes

The synopsis sounded very interesting, but it wasn’t what I expected. Let me break this down: one of the worst contemporary novels that I read so far. I’ve been having great luck with contemporary novels so far, but this one was not worth it.

As much as I didn’t love the book, I read it much quicker than I anticipated. Anyways, this story is about Ivy, a very talented girl that doesn’t realize she has a lot of potential to be anything she wants to be. She constantly feels pressure by her grandfather and feels that she is not good enough. All the women in her family have been blessed with talents, but at the same time, all the talented women die at a young age. Ivy was raised by her grandfather since her mother abandoned her, and her father is irrelevant since he plays no role in this story.

Life seemed perfect for Ivy, until her mother reappeared into her life. Ivy has depended on herself and grandfather, she feels bitter towards her mother which is understandable. Ivy’s mother, Erika, was a terrible character. She’s probably one of the worst mothers in YA fiction. There is nothing redeemable about her. Erika is constantly bitter, and it seems she has feelings of jealously towards her own daughter. She doesn’t acknowledge Ivy as her daughter. Ivy has two half sisters that refer to her as their aunt because of Erika. Tragic. Ivy is everything that Erika was meant to be. Erika is a horrible mother, but only behaves nicely to her youngest daughter. Erika has many emotional problems, and has problems remaining sober. I would have liked if Erika’s backstory were explored more. Erika and Ivy constantly bicker, and there is a lot of drama in this book! It felt more like a soap opera to me.

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Now moving on to the love interests, I wasn’t a big fan of either guy. First off, there’s Alex who is Ivy’s best friend. Alex likes Ivy, but she doesn’t feel the same for him. She feels like she’ll jeopardize their friendship if they become a couple. All her other friends root for Ivy and Alex to be a couple. Alex wants to be Ivy’s boyfriend so badly, but Ivy pushes away his feelings. The other guy is  Connor, who happens to be her grandfather’s top student, and really hot. Seriously, he’s nothing more than a hot guy with a love of poetry. Connor hardly gets developed at all!! There is a love triangle, but Alex never has a chance to be with Ivy. Alex was constantly jealous, and Ivy left him for Connor, a guy that she hardly knows. If I had to pick, I would chose Alex since he’s known her all her life, though he was a major jerk. Anyways, Ivy and Connor become a couple and almost have sex…by the way, this story takes place in the span of ten days. They hardly know each other…their relationship is much more passion than anything else. I would have liked their relationship way more if the relationship was more developed.

The ending was a let down, and I definitely don’t recommend reading this book. I rolled my eyes a lot when I was reading this story. There were several diverse topics that should have been explored more. My original rating for this book was much higher, but after much thought, I will give it a much lower rating.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Release Date:May 3rd 2016

 

The Start Of Me And You by Emery Lord

Goodreads Synopsis: Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

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?

Commentary: I read The Start Of Me And You because it is the book of the month for the We The Book Dragon’s group on Goodreads. I’ve been telling myself to follow my resolutions by being more active on Goodreads groups, I’m trying! Anyways, this month’s choice was excellent!

The story begins with Paige, she is known as the girl whose boyfriend died. If I can sum what this story is about in one short sentence it would be this: A book about self discovery and learning to live once again. I enjoyed this story much more than I would have thought. I went into this book with medium expectations, I didn’t expect myself to love this book. But, I did! I really had a lot of fun reading the book. I even cried twice near the very end of the book.

Paige has a tough life. She keeps having nightmares about drowning and her parents are divorced, and the one person that she can be completely honest with, her grandmother, has Alzheimer’s. Luckily for Paige, she has a group of supportive friends that would protect her at all costs. Paige wants to start over again by the time she enters her junior year of high school. She writes down a list of what she wants to complete by the year.

Paige has always had a crush on Ryan Chase who happens to be one of the popular boys in school. Paige is absolutely smitten by him that she can’t speak coherently when he is around. When Paige learns that Ryan is single, she makes it her mission to date him. Just when fate seems to lead her to Ryan, she ends up striking up a friendship with Ryan’s cousin Max. In order to get closer to Ryan, Paige becomes friends with Max.

The friendship started because of shallowness, but soon Paige finds herself completely comfortable around Max. Max isn’t the type of guy that Paige is attracted to. Though Ryan is her crush, Max is much more involved in her life.

“Ryan Chase was my eighth-grade collage, aspirational and wide-eyed. But Max was the first bite of grilled cheese on a snowy day, the easy fit of my favorite jeans, that one old song that made it onto every playlist. Peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies instead of an ornate cake. Not glamorous or idealized or complicated. Just me.”

I really enjoyed reading The Start Of Me And You! It took me two days to finish this book! It’s the quickest book I’ve read. I connected with the characters. I loved the banter between Max and Paige. One of my favorite scenes in the book has to be when Paige and Max argue about Pride and Prejudice. Paige sees herself as an Elizabeth, while Max sees her more of Jane.

Here are my reasons why you should read The Start Of Me And You:

  • Seeing Max and Paige’s relationship grow – one of the most developed relationship in YA! They have a lot of cute moments. The ending of the book is so, so worth it.
  • Girl Power: Paige’s friends are amazing!! They help her out so much! They defend her, they love her. I like that they play a huge role in her life:

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

  • If you’re looking for a cute story with not a lot of drama, then this one is perfect.
  • There are a couple sad moments that made me cry in this book. Bring out the tissues.

This book is amazing! I would love to see this book get adapted into a movie. I highly recommend reading this book!! Originally I was going to give it a 4.5 out of 5, but the more I marinated my whole reading experience, it was best to give it a perfect score. There isn’t anything that I would change about it.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️