Review: Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse

PAGES: 389

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Upon a first glance, this novel sounds like my future autobiography. Alas, it is not. Really disappointing.

Everyone needs a good summer read. Qualifications for a good summer read (in no particular order):

  1. Must look good next to actual sand. On a beach. In the middle of some exotic location.
  2. Keep your mind occupied so you don’t think about the pile of stress you usually carry on your shoulders or the overwhelming debt you still owe to someone… somewhere.
  3. Enjoyable characters. Engaging plot. Exciting twists and turns. Effortless delivery. Basically, a lot of “E” words. Sorry not sorry.

Love and Gelato qualifies as a good summer read. Continue reading

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Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
 
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

PUBLISHER: Knopf

PAGES: 378

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I was almost in the throes of finals when I bought this book at a local bookstore. I remember hearing a lot of hype about this novel a couple years ago as it was released around the time of my book blogging beginnings.

I was a fan of this novel at first, feeling intrigued by the creative banter between Finch and Violet and Niven’s smooth writing. As much as I enjoyed The Fault in our Stars, I found the same fault in Green’s big hit as I found in Niven’s All the Bright Places. They both romanticize some very serious life experiences and I have to comment about it. This review will not contain spoilers, though I am so tempted to include a few. Continue reading

Review: Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

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Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books

Pages: 373

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I received this book from my June Uppercase Box right after graduation. Yes, this girl has graduated! This is my first post-grad review! Wow, I can hardly believe it.

Unfortunately, this review is not going to be all unicorns and rainbows. In fact, I believe this review is going to be much like the post-grad world: too realistic and just a bit disappointing for many of the YA optimists out there. My apologies. Can you tell I’m feeling sassy? No? Well, let’s count the ways… shall we?

Continue reading

Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

18196040730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

PUBLISHER: Little, Brown

PAGES: 432

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I was pretty much desperate for a good read when I randomly downloaded this book from my library. I don’t even think I ever read the book blurb–so this was a bit of a stretch.

I’m a big fan of diverse YA fiction, but I encounter it so infrequently that this book surprised me at first. Set in China, the characters have distinctly Chinese names and the setting of the Walled City was an actual location in Hong Kong once upon a time called Kowloon Walled City.

walledDoes that not look like the perfect setting for a Dystopian novel? Continue reading

Review: Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

25463009Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

PUBLISHER: Running Press Kids

PAGES: 304

Will Be Released: December 8, 2015

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A huge thanks to the Running Press Kids and to Tessa Elwood for a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

To be completely honest, I requested this book awhile ago on Netgalley and I just found it on my Kindle. I had completely forgotten I had requested it–I’ve taken a rather long break from book blogging due to finals and stress levels–but, I decided to take a chance on this one.

About eight paragraphs in, I almost gave up on this book. Terrible, right? I don’t have a very high tolerance for choppy, flowery writing. Instead, I urged myself on to continue reading this novel. While I’m glad that I did finish this novel, I have several major problems with this novel. Continue reading

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

11988046Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

PUBLISHER: HarperTeen

PAGES: 343

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I read this book on a plane to Dallas and finished it in roughly 24 hours. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that two of the most important factors of a novel are the writing and the plot. If the plot is amazing, I can often disregard poor writing. If the writing is amazing, I can often disregard the poor plot. Continue reading

Movie Review: The D.U.F.F.

fbI will never forget my experience with this movie. I will never forget this movie because I was invited to six advanced screenings. SIX. SIX?! You heard me right–I was invited to six advanced screenings. I almost feel badly disclosing that fact because I know that many of you have been waiting for this film with baited breath.

I’m not deserving. I’m just a regular 20-year-old book blogger whom Gofobo decided to bestow with the gift of abundant advanced screening glory. I’m not worthy. I am not worthy, but I thank you Gofobo gods. People on my dorm floor now see me as a harbinger of advance screenings; there is no way I will ever be able to achieve this level of floor fame again.

But, I digress… Continue reading