Blog Tour Review: Tell Me Lies

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Synopsis:

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, TELL ME LIES follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires ofSweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go—even when you know you should.

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Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Atria Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 12, 2018.*

On the eve of her best friend and former roommate’s wedding, Lucy Albright is nervous because for the first time in years she will see her ex, Stephen DeMarco. As the moment Lucy will see Stephen draws near, author Carola Lovering takes readers back to the beginning. Through Lucy and Stephen’s points of view, Lovering demonstrates how their tumultuous and toxic relationship began and then ultimately came to an end.

I found the parallel POVs to be interesting because the way Lucy and Stephen viewed their relationship, if you could even really call it that, was vastly different. At first, Lucy wasn’t all that interested in Stephen, however as soon as Stephen saw Lucy he knew she would be his next conquest, because Stephen, unfortunately for Lucy, is a sociopath who doesn’t know how to be in a real relationship. And I don’t call Stephen a sociopath in a joking manner, I mean it was eventually deemed by a psychiatrist that Stephen is actually a sociopath, though I’m confident readers could come to that conclusion on their own. Unfortunately, Lucy could not.

I know that people, particularly women, can often be blinded by love, but Lucy’s tunnel vision when it came to Stephen was so extreme it was a little hard for me to believe. For most of the novel, Stephen was in a relationship with someone else while sleeping with Lucy, a fact Lucy was well of aware, but was able to look past, convincing herself that one day Stephen would just want to be with her. Honestly, Lucy’s POV was very hard to read because I often just wanted to shake her and tell her, “Stephen is honestly the worst and you deserve way more than what he’s giving you.” Thankfully, her friend Jackie was there to say all the things I was thinking, not that Lucy listened.

On the flip side, Stephen’s POV was hard to read because he was just so callous and had such a disregard for everyone’s feelings. Again, he’s a sociopath, but still. He was terrifyingly detached and a horrible person. While I understand why having Stephen’s POV was necessary for the story, I felt like I could’ve done without it. He just infuriated me so much, and while I know he’s not supposed to be a likable character it was just too much for me and I didn’t enjoy reading his POV at all.

There were two things that really saved this novel for me. The first was the great way Lovering used Lucy and Stephen’s Long Island history to tie their pasts together. I thought that was really well done and added another layer to this book that made me more interested. The second was Lucy’s relationship with her mother, CJ. While I found Lucy referring to the reason for her tenuous relationship with her mother as “The Unforgivable Thing” a bit irritating at first that was simply because I just wanted Lucy to tell me what her mother did, which was obviously Lovering’s goal. The mystery of it made me keep reading and I really liked seeing Lucy’s relationship with her mother evolve.

Overall, my frustrations with Lucy and my total dislike of Stephen really pulled me out of this story so I didn’t enjoy as much as I wished I’d had. That said, Lovering told an interesting story and while I can thankfully say I’ve never let a guy take advantage of me the way Lucy let Stephen take advantage of her, I know this story will be relatable to a number of people. So though this wasn’t the book for me, I would argue that it’s definitely the book for someone else.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.

Stars:

2 stars

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Book Review: Anger Is a Gift

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Synopsis:

Moss Jeffries is many things―considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else―someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school―he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations―it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change―but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Tor Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on May 22, 2018.*

As a person of color, I’m well aware of police brutality and the injustice that occurs to people who look like me. That being said, I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. When I went to school the only thing we had to go through was the doors. We had one security guard, who was a POC and was quite chill but besides that, you just showed your school ID and you went inside. That was it.

My point in saying this is I did not grow up in an environment like the one Moss and his friends go through. If anything, I’d say I’m more like his best friend, Esperanza, who goes to a different high school, and doesn’t truly understand all that Moss and his friends have to go through on a daily basis, both at school and with the police in general. And recognizing that privilege in myself was definitely uncomfortable, but that’s the whole point of the book.

Moss is a young black man who’s father was killed by the police six years ago. Since then, Moss has suffered from anxiety and after seeing all the protests that were done for his father and how that didn’t really lead to change, Moss tries to stay away from protests and anywhere else where there will be a heavy police presence. That is until metal detectors are brought into his school. When one of the detectors ends up harming one of his good friends, Moss is rightfully angry and he decides to take action. Together with the help of his mother, Wanda, his friends, and his community, they stage a walkout at school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well.

Over the course of the novel, Moss struggles with wanting to do something about all the injustice he’s seen, but also feeling defeated, wondering if there really will ever be change. I think this is something that many POCs experience. I know I have myself. But what Mark Oshiro does so well with this story is he keeps it real about how bad it really is for POCS, particularly in areas like West Oakland where Moss is from, but Oshiro also shows the hope and joy in these communities as well.

While this book made sad, angry, upset, and uncomfortable, it also made me laugh and smile. Moss’ relationship with his mother was heartfelt and something I could definitely relate too, being close to my mom. Similarly, Moss’ meet cute with a boy named Javier and the romance that ensued, also made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

And in between all of that, this book showed be a different experience that made me question my own worldview. Even having what I felt was a good understanding of police brutality, reading this book at times I found myself asking, “Is this legit? Do these things really happen?” When really I should be asking why does this happen and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? The fact that this book raises those questions and will hopefully spark those conversations, is reason enough for me to say you have to read this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.

ARC Book Review: Save the Date

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Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book while interning at Simon & Schuster Children’s. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on June 5, 2018.*

I haven’t read all of Morgan Matson’s books yet, but I’ve read enough to feel confident saying this is her best novel to date. I couldn’t put this book down no matter how hard I tried (and I had a 17 page paper to write so I definitely tried).

The novel follows Charlie Grant during the weekend of her sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Although Charlie wants this to be the perfect weekend with her family, especially now that her parents are selling their house and her mother’s popular comic strip, Grant Family Station, is coming to an end, everything that could go wrong does.

First, Charlie’s estranged brother, Mike, actually accepts his invitation to Linnie’s wedding and his plus one is his best friend, Jesse, who Charlie has a huge crush on and kissed, though she doesn’t want Mike to know about that. From there, everything begins to fall apart from the wedding planner being AWOL to a missing wedding suit. As hard as Charlie tries, her hopes for a perfect weekend slip further and further away and it becomes clear that her life isn’t exactly like the life her mother depicts in her comics.

Charlie quickly realizes that her family is more flawed than she thought and she’ll have to figure out how to deal with the truth that sometimes things change and the only thing you can do is continue to move forward. Unlike Matson’s other novels, I’d say this one is really more about family than romance, though the romance is certainly there. That being said, it was the family that really hooked me.

I loved all the Grant siblings, though J.J. was certainly my favorite. Additionally, Matson did a great job of showing just how close this family was with all their quirks, shared secrets, and games. I also really liked the character of Brooke, the girlfriend of Charlie’s oldest and favorite sibling, Danny, and Charlie’s best friend, Siobhan. As always, there are also cameos from characters in Matson’s previous novels, which I absolutely loved, and honestly they may have made this book even more special to me.

So if you couldn’t already tell, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. I can honestly see myself reading it again when it comes out. It’s just that good.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel

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Synopsis:

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 8, 2018.*

I haven’t read any of Goo’s books before, but I’ve heard only good things about her works so I decided to request this one and I was not the least bit disappointed. The novel follows Clara, a teen who loves to pull pranks, especially when it means ruining her enemy, Rose’s, day.

However, when Clara’s prank at prom takes things too far she suddenly finds herself having to work on her father’s food truck, the KoBra, with Rose, ruining her plans for the perfect summer and visiting her mom, Jules, who she doesn’t see often. Miserable and angry, Clara wants nothing to do with this task or with Rose, but the longer she’s forced to work with her the more Clara realizes Rose isn’t all that terrible after all.

I really loved this story because I think Goo did a really good job of showing where Clara’s needs for pranks came from and I really understood her as a character. On the flip side, I also totally got where Rose was coming from and I liked seeing these girls being forced to realize that even though they were different that didn’t mean they had to be enemies. I’m a big fan of girl friendship stories and this was a great one.

Additionally, Clara’s dad, Adrian, is definitely a DILF. I fell in love with him pretty early on and I have no regrets. I also really liked Clara’s romantic interest, Hamlet. He was so quirky and genuine and I thought that was a nice contrast to Clara, who definitely struggled with facing her real feelings about things.

Lastly, Goo did an incredible job of showing the relationships between Clara and her separated parents. I think it would’ve been really easy to make one parent look like the good one and the other look bad, but Goo did a great job of showing why Adrian was so awesome, but also how Jules was flawed but still tried. I thought it was amazing to see Clara learn more about her parents, because I think it’s something a lot of kids with divorced parents go through, where they realize their fun parent isn’t always the best parent.

Thus, overall, I highly recommend this book. I truly loved it and it made me incredibly hungry, but in the best way. Now I want to read all of Goo’s books so I think I’ll go do that. If you’ve read The Way You Make Me Feel, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Borrow or Buy: Definitely, buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: The Summer of Us

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Synopsis:

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?

Author Cecilia Vinesse delivers a romantic European adventure that embraces the magic of warm summer nights, the thrill of first kisses, and the bittersweet ache of learning to say goodbye to the past while embracing the future.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from The Novl. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on June 5, 2018.*

What is this? A book review? From me? Why yes, your girl is back! School is finally winding down, which means I can finally read the books I want, which includes a backlog of a plethora of ARCs. So without further ado let’s get to it.

True story, I kind of forgot I requested this book, but I’ve been in a contemporary mood as of late so I was excited to dive in. The Summer of Us is told in alternating close third person POVs of two best friends—Aubrey and Rae—as they embark on a backpacking trip across Europe with their other three best friends: Gabe, Clara, and Jonah. Except things in this friend group are totally complicated.

Aubrey’s dating Jonah, but three weeks ago she kissed Gabe. Oops! Meanwhile, Rae has a huge crush on Clara, but Clara’s so obviously straight…or is she? Naturally, as the trip goes on people’s secrets come out and drama arises, but at the heart of this novel is story about friendship and what it means when everything in your world is changing, but you want it all to stay the same.

I found this story to be very relatable, and it made me reflect on my own experience of graduating high school and being both excited to move on and start the next chapter in my life and also being totally scared of losing my friendships from high school. Cecilia Vinesse perfectly captured that feeling with her novel through both perspectives, and the romance was also a nice touch.

Overall, The Summer of Us is a quick read that will make you want to hop on the next flight to London and take your own backpacking trip around Europe with a group of your closest friends. I highly recommend this novel if you love tales of friendship and romance. It’s a perfect summer read!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it! I could see this being a book you want to read every summer.

Stars:

4 stars

Binged It: The Shatter Me Trilogy

I love series, but I hate waiting for the next book in a series to be released. That’s why I love discovering series that are already finished so I can just binge read the whole series from beginning to end. With that concept in mind I decided to do a new series of blog posts called “Binged It” in which I tell you all about a series of books I’ve recently binged and why I loved or hated it. So here we go.

Number of books: 3 (4 including the novellas bind-up; there will be three more books in the series)

Overall rating: 4/5 stars

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

First of all, the Shatter Me trilogy isn’t actually a trilogy anymore, it’s a series. There will be three more books released, beginning with Restore Me which is coming out on March 6. But I still wanted to binge these books since they’ve been sitting on my shelves for over a year and I wanted to see what the hype was all about.

Thankfully, the hype was well deserved. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it follows Juliette Ferrars who’s been locked up because her touch can literally kill people. However, she’s freed by Warner, who wants to turn her ability into a weapon to help the Establishment, the new government that’s taken over the world. In this dystopian world, the environment has been decimated and the Establishment was supposed to help the world recover and rebuild, but of course that wasn’t what happened at all. Instead, most people are still poor and struggling to survive, while the Establishment does more harm than good.

So, you have Juliette, the heroine, Warner, the villain, and then there’s Adam, a guy from Juliette’s past, who’s obviously the love interest. Except, is anything ever really that simple? No, of course not. This trilogy was filled with twists and even though I was prepared for one because of spoilers, I was still shocked by a few others.

What I loved most about this book was how the author Tahereh Mafi, effectively used the crossing out of some sentences and words in the text for the plot. Juliette keeps a journal in which she wrote down her thoughts while she was locked away and in it she often crossed out her thoughts just like they were crossed out in the books, and I found that so interesting. I’m also really interested to see how that works in an audiobook, because for me I did read everything that was crossed out. It was just a really interesting writing style and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also loved the characters. Juliette did annoy me at some points, but overall I really liked her. I don’t want to spoil anything by going into my feelings about the other characters, but I will say that I really liked Kenji, a character who becomes Juliette’s good friend. He was a great source of comic relief and I just want him to find his own happiness in these next three books. Also, the romance was great in this book. It gave me all the feels, and there was a good amount of angst and steamy scenes, but not so much that I was irritated.

Honestly, this trilogy really surprised me. I haven’t read a dystopian novel in a long time and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy these but I really loved them. I’m excited to see what the next three books have in store.