Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

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Title & Author: Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

Publisher/Year: HarperTeen/April 26, 2016

Format: Paperback ARC

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Another Little Piece, (Don’t You) Forget About Me, Among the Shadows

My Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their “important family legacy,” she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I’ve read Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn last fall and her other novel, (Don’t You) Forget About Me, has been on my TBR list for quite some time now. When I saw she had a new young adult book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of it and I am SO happy I did. I raced through this book in about 2 days and enjoyed every single page. The characters were awesome, the whole storyline was amazing and the author did a great job adding not only comedy but some dark moments as well. Kate Karyus Quinn also made a reference to Another Little Piece (and she may have made one to (Don’t You) Forget About Me as well but I haven’t read it yet). The books themselves aren’t sequels or a series but seeing one tie into another was pretty cool and original.

“May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one.” I’m not going to lie, this line will haunt me if I ever hear someone say it out loud after reading this book. Lennie heard her uncles say this many times when someone would come through to buy their moonshine and would make a wish and toast the first sip. Of course she never realized that this was much more than just a toast, so when she sneaks out several jars of her uncles’ moonshine to take to a party, she causes so much havoc. Some characters, such as W2 and Zinkowski, have hilarious wishes that some true, others are far more serious and a few are innocent. Watching each wish unfold was entertaining and seeing the outcomes of their wishes made you constantly wonder what would happen next and if Lennie would be able to find a way to make everything go back to the way it was before the party.

All of the main characters in the book were enjoyable, even the bad ones. They all brought something to the story and without even one of them there would have been something missing. Lennie may not be the smartest character, but in her defense she didn’t have any idea of her wish granting abilities until after the damage was done. She was genuinely caring though and was trying to fulfill her dead best friend’s wish of going to a crazy party. Lennie’s dad was evil in every sort of way, her mother was mostly absent but played a huge part in the family legacy, and Lennie’s uncles honestly seemed like the cool uncles you’d want to hang around at a family party. They were tough on Lennie but only wanted the best for her and to protect her. Lennie’s friend Dylan and Dylan’s twin Smith proved to be two key characters. Although we don’t get to know Dylan before she is murdered, we get an interested undead version of her thanks to Lennie’s wish. Smith on the other hand was a character I thought I was going to despise from the beginning but grew to love as the book went on. Last was Lennie’s friend Larry, who you ended up feeling sorry for a majority of the time. It was clear he had a thing for Lennie and would do whatever would please her. He was also such a goody two shoes and momma’s boy that you felt bad he got stuck in such a crappy situation.

Overall, I really enjoyed Down With the Shine, enough to want to purchase my own copy to reread once it is published. I’m also making a mental note now to also purchase myself a copy of her other book, (Don’t You) Forget About Me. I would love to see Down With the Shine turned into a movie, definitely think it would be awesome to see on the big screen and I cannot wait to see what book she writes next.

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Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

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Title & Author: Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

Publisher/Year: Balzer + Bray/February 16,2016

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Format: ARC Paperback

Other Books by Author: Through to You

My Rating:4hearts

What This Book Is About

WHO KILLED GRETCHEN MEYER?

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Lately I have been devouring creepy, thrilling books even though it has been the happy holiday season. Take the Fall had been on my radar so I was excited to be able to read and review it early. It definitely met what I had been expecting and I cannot wait to read Emily Hainsworth’s other YA novel now.

Take the Fall was definitely one of the best young adult mystery/thrillers I have ever read. I did not know who the killer was until I was reading it for myself at the end of the book. My shock level was easily a 9/10 as I had never seen that coming. Throughout the whole book I was constantly guessing and wondering who the killer could have been. It took me a total of 2 days to finish because I couldn’t put it down (aside from sleeping and going to work).

I thought the characters in this book were perfect. Sonia was the perfect grieving best friend who had all the right intentions of searching for her best friends killer as well as her attacker. Gretchen, while never alive in the book, was portrayed excellently through flashbacks and descriptions from her friends and enemies alike. Gretchen’s ex boyfriend Marcus fit the “bad boy” role quite well, but I found myself almost immediately siding with him and believing his innocence. Overall all the characters were great and there wasn’t one who I really didn’t like or couldn’t stand.

I did feel as though the beginning of the book was fast with Sonia’s attack, Gretchen’s murder and all the drama that followed. Towards the middle while Sonia was working with Marcus to clear his name and find the real attacker, I felt like the book kind of slowed down and not much was happening. Had the book been fast paced and had a few more unexpected twists I definitely would have rated this a 5. The ending though was so incredibly done and so unexpected that you need to read Take the Fall when it hits the shelves in February.

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title & Author: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Publisher/Year: Harper Teen/2015

Genres: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: ATW ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Debut Novel!

My Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

A fun, romantic read, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti!

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over a no-good ex-boyfriend. Graduate from high school without any more distractions. Move away from Orlando, Florida, where she’s lived her entire life.

But Matt—the cute, shy, bespectacled bass player who just moved to town—was never part of that plan.

And neither was attending a party that was crashed by the cops just minutes after they arrived. Or spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of.

Then Matt abruptly left town, and he broke not only Ella’s heart but those of their best friends, too. So when he shows up a year later with a plan of his own—to relive the night that brought them together—Ella isn’t sure whether Matt’s worth a second chance. Or if re-creating the past can help them create a different future.

In alternating then and now chapters, debut author Lauren Gibaldi crafts a charming, romantic story of first loves, lifelong friendships, uncovered secrets, and, ultimately, finding out how to be brave.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

When I first read the summary for The Night We Said Yes, I knew this was going to be a book I had to read. It was right up my alley when it comes to my favorite genre of young adult books and I loved the concept of the characters saying “yes” to everything in an entire night. I also enjoy books that show either two different perspectives or that switch back and forth between a ‘now’ and a ‘then’ because I feel like it gives the reader a better understanding of not only the story, but also the characters. Now onto the characters.

I actually liked the two main characters, Ella and Matt, a lot. I also really like Ella’s best friend Meg. Ella and Meg had an amazing friendship that was portrayed in the novel. Meg helps Ella out when she is down and Ella keeps Meg’s spirits up when she gets upset. A few chapters into the book I was already rooting for Ella and Matt to get back together. I also understood that it wasn’t going to happen right away due to what had happened between them before. As soon as Ella saw Matt again for the first time since he had left I wanted him to immediately apologize and explain why he had did what he did. I really loved the other relationship that began in the novel.

The characters really brought a lot to The Night We Said Yes and really made me fall in love with the story (and the characters too). I had a mini book hangover after I finished reading this and it took me a couple days before I could move on to another book. The only reason I gave it 4 hearts instead of 5 was that every chapter switched between ‘then’ and ‘now’, where I would have liked to see maybe a couple ‘then’ chapters in a row and then a couple ‘now’. I got confused a few times in the beginning and had to flip back to see what chapter it was. I cannot wait to purchase my own copy when The Night We Said Yes and if you enjoy young adult romance or contemporary, this is one you definitely want to add to your 2015 TBR list.

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

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19732381Title & Author: Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books/2014

Genres: YA Mystery, YA Thriller, YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Format: Paperback (U.K. version)

Source: Book Depository

Other Books By Author: Dangerous Girls (My Review)

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

It all comes down to this. Oliver, Ethan, and I. Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder …? Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together – a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces …

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Dangerous Girls was one of my favorite books last year and my most popular/viewed review to date on my blog. I was beyond excited to see that Abigail Haas had another young adult book coming out. Because I live in the US the only format available was the Kindle version and I’m not a big fan of electronic readers. I finally received a copy for Christmas and was super excited but unfortunately I had quite a few review copies I had to read before starting any “personal” books. As soon as those review copies were done, Dangerous Boys was the first book I read.

It didn’t even take me 2 days to finish it I was so sucked in. The same page turning thrills and mystery that was present in Dangerous Girls, Abigail Haas brought back in Dangerous Boys. I had no idea what was going to happen next, much less which brother survives. I loved that each chapter switched from different times, Then, Now, and The End just like her previous book. I also loved that the ending had my mouth hanging open with shock.

Without giving too much away, it is safe to say I definitely enjoyed one brother more than the other. They were the one I was rooting for throughout the entire book. The main character Chloe however had her moments where I liked her and many where I wanted to smack some sense into her. She at times could be a, excuse my language, complete bitch, but that definitely brought something more to the storyline and developed her character a lot.

With the amount of anticipation, hopes and expectations I had for Dangerous Boys before I began reading it, I am so happy to say that it definitely delivered. With just two young adult thrillers, Abigail Haas has become one of my favorites when it comes to this genre. I have yet to be disappointed (along with her other books) with her thrillers and am not only hoping but praying and looking forward to another mystery/thriller from her.

If you LOVED Dangerous Girls I would highly recommend you head over to Book Depository (or Amazon if you’re into eBooks) and get yourself a copy. If you have not read Dangerous Girls and you are someone who enjoys YA fiction, then you reallyyyy need to check it out. It was absolutely amazing and completely shocking.

Flirty Dancing (The Ladybirds #1) by Jenny McLachlan

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Title & Author: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury Children/July 3, 2014

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Love Bomb (The Ladybirds #2) – Coming March 2015

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.  

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

It took me a few hours to finish Flirty Dancing and I loved it and cannot wait to read the rest in the series. Being a dancer in the past I was instantly drawn to the storyline of this book. The dance groups are usually always my favorite on America’s Got Talent and since the talent competition in Flirty Dancing is compared to Britain’s Got Talent, I had a feeling I was going to really enjoy the book and of course I did! It was a quick, light read and it was refreshing to sit and enjoy the book without having to do much thinking. I was nervous after seeing a friend on Goodreads rate it low and say it was predictable. I wouldn’t say it was predictable at all because I actually didn’t expect the ending.

I loved how clean Flirty Dancing was when it came to the romance, but was a bit shocked how nasty the bullying got at times. To me (I’m 22) the characters seemed very young to be so nasty over a boy or a dance competition, then again kids these days may be like that. I did like that the romance in the book never went beyond a kiss. Any further would have been a bit much for freshmen. I also loved how even though this took place over in the UK, the author didn’t make a ton of references that I had to look up because I had no idea what they meant. It also put a fun, quirky twist on the references made that I did understand.

I liked the main character, Bea, for the most part. I wish she had stuck up for herself before the very end of the book because that would have given me some satisfaction. I also liked how dedicated Bea was to her dancing especially since she wasn’t learning a “modern” style such as hip-hop, tap or jazz that most girls learn when they take lessons, but she was learning how to jive. Reading the parts where Bea and Ollie were learning their routines actually made me want to learn how to jive as well. Ollie was just a total sweetheart and at first I had the wrong impression of him but I liked the way he turned out. As for the other characters Kat and Pearl, neither were on my good side. Kat was supposed to be Bea’s best friend but wasn’t really much of any friend at all throughout the book. Pearl on the other hand was, and excuse my language, a complete bitch. Considering the amount of times she called Bea that, she probably should’ve taken a good long look in the mirror at herself.

Overall I really enjoyed Flirty Dancing and was happy that I didn’t let my Goodreads friend’s review influence whether I read the book or not. That is why every time I write a review on a book that wasn’t exactly my favorite, I always stress that no one should let my review change their mind on a book you want to read. If you really just want to sit back and enjoy a fun, flirty, quick book then Flirty Dancing is perfect for you. I cannot wait until March when the second of The Ladybirds books is published so I can see what happens with another character.

Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

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Title & Author: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury USA Childrens/March 3,2015

Genres: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Debut YA Novel

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.

Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair – but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

When I first received Positively Beautiful in the mail and began reading it, I questioned at first why I requested to be on an ARC tour for it. At first it didn’t seem like it was my type of book and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get into it. I continued reading (thank goodness) and totally loved the book. I liked how Erin was like most typical teenage girls, but at the same time she wasn’t. Erin was self conscious and faced bullying issues at school when she began to stand out. I wouldn’t say she was a “strong” female lead character at all but that is what made me enjoy her journey even more. I found Erin easy to relate to in many ways and loved how she tried to connect with her deceased father by also getting into flying. I hate flying and airplanes so when Erin began talking about taking lessons I was just thinking, “No, no, please no,” in my head over and over. Reading the parts when she was up in the air made me actually want to fly, it seemed exciting and fun.

Once Erin finds out her mom has cancer, and that she too may carry the mutated gene that gives her an 80% chance of getting breast cancer as well, she goes online to try to find some answers. When she’s online she finds a message board and posts her thoughts and feelings and receives a reply from Ashley, a girl who knows she’s a carrier of the gene. Erin and Ashley exchange emails and phone numbers and talk throughout the book. At first it was kind of strange because Erin was so open about everything going on in her life and Ashley seemed more reserved. By part 2 or 3 when Erin flies down to Florida, illegally I might add, to meet her new friend and get away from the stress at home, everything about Ashley makes sense.

Although I really enjoyed all of the book, my favorite had to be part 2 or 3. The book is broken up into four parts and I enjoyed it the most when Erin was spending her time in Florida with her new friend. It was almost a mini vacation for me as well just reading it. I loved the little island she camped out on and it almost made me think of the movie The Blue Lagoon but don’t ask why haha. This definitely turned out to be an amazing book and I am so happy I finished it and cannot wait to get my own copy when it comes out in March of 2015.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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Title & Author: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Publisher/Year: Dial/2014

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books From Author: The Sky is Everywhere

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Wow is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. It was absolutely amazing and unlike any other YA book I have ever read before. When I first began reading it I will admit it took me some time to get into, which is why I gave it 4 hearts instead of 5. It wasn’t quite what I had been expecting, but once I got into the story I no longer cared. I loved how Noah told his and Jude’s story when they are 13, and then how Jude told their story when they are 16. Each chapter was long, which I loved and when it was finished I couldn’t wait to get back to Jude or Noah’s side of the story. It was almost as if I was reading two different books that had been put together to make one. The alternating between the years and characters really gave this book something special and unique.

I loved the main characters, twins Noah and Jude. I have a brother (2 years younger) and we were incredibly close growing up so I could easily relate to a lot of issues that went on between Noah and Jude as well as their friendship. I’m still not sure if I liked one character more than the other. There were times during Noah’s story where I would get frustrated with Jude, and then there were times during Jude’s story where Noah would frustrate me. I also liked the other characters that played a big part in Jude and Noah’s lives. Noah’s crush Brian had his moments where I didn’t like him, but in the end I think he was a great character. As for Jude’s crush, Oscar, I think almost every female who reads I’ll Give You the Sun will now have a crush on a fictional character. He’s the sensitive guy every girl says they want, he rides a motorcycle, and has an accent, plus the way he truly cares about Jude makes him my number one fictional character I have a crush on now.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed I’ll Give You the Sun. It was original, funny and heartbreaking and I would definitely read it again in a heartbeat. I hadn’t realized that Jandy Nelson also wrote The Sky is Everywhere until I saw the cover of this book. I purchased The Sky is Everywhere back in May and am definitely putting it at the top of my to-read pile now and I’d recommend you add I’ll Give You the Sun to the top of yours.