The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

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Title & Author: The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen

Publisher/Year: Katherine Tegen Books/May 10, 2016

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By the Author: The After Girls

My Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

First let me start off by saying this is a summer based book and if you don’t know by now, I am obsessed with summer themed books. Leah Konen’s other YA book, The After Girls, has also been on my TBR list (as well as my bookshelf) for a while now and I definitely need to start reading it. The Last Time We Were Us was so, so good. It had me feeling so many mixed emotions throughout the book and had me racing through the pages at the end to see what had happened.

The romance in The Last Time We Were Us was insanely intense. I had no idea what was going to happen and definitely wasn’t expecting the ending to play out like it had. I can’t say I was shocked, but I also feel like some of the characters got what they had been asking for throughout the book. The book is also packed full of drama between multiple characters which kept it entertaining as well as kept me sucked into the book turning page after page. The book itself was longer than most I’ve read lately (almost 400 pages) but I was hooked and breezed through it.

I really liked the characters in The Last Time We Were Us. I have to admit though my favorite character was Jason Sullivan and I can’t really say why he was without giving anything away. I had mixed feelings about the main character Liz. There were times when I liked her and was rooting for her and other times when I wish I could have reached in the pages and smacked her. Innis Taylor was quite the character, once again can’t say much about him without giving things away. Liz’s friend MacKenzie was alright. She had a few good friend moments, but I felt like a majority of the time she was immature and over reacted to certain situations.

Overall if you’re into young adult contemporary and/or romance I definitely think you’d enjoy this book. It’s one of the better books I have read in 2016, it’s in my top 10 as of now. I could easily see this as a book I’d reread again in the future.

’89 Walls by Katie Pierson Book Tour!

book tour

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Title & Author: ’89 Walls by Katie Pierson89WallsCover

Publisher: Wise Ink

Release Date: June 5, 2015

Format & Pages: Paperback & 240

Genres: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Other Books By Katie Pierson: Debut Book!

My Rating: 4hearts

SYNOPSIS

College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity. 

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.

BOOK EXCERPT

Quinn used the three extra minutes before class that day to turn in her cap-and-gown order form at the office. She made sure no one was looking before skipping down the marble staircase like a little kid. She watched her light-green sundress rise and settle with each bounce. The translucent afternoon sun had managed to warm the foyer by the entrance doors as if spring might actually stick. A tiny breeze jiggled the branches of the narrow pine trees framing the building’s entrance. The stretch of blue sky spanning the transom window reassured her, like it was telling her that years of self-conscious high school angst were almost over.

Only Trish understood how crucial Quinn’s façade of success was to the fact of it. As long as she stuck to the script—Take the advanced placement classes. Study. Join the debate team. Perform.—she could hold herself together. She could no more drop the script than let her bones dissolve.

Quinn hated the debate team.

She stomped on the final step. As she rounded the bottom of the stairwell, she saw Seth walking to class from the opposite direction. His dark-blond hair looked like it wanted to cover his eyes but was failing at it. Even looking at him made her feel defensive.

He drew near enough for Quinn to read his T-shirt. A cartoon of Uncle Sam silk-screened in black-and-white on the front said, “Join the army. Travel to exotic, distant lands. Meet exciting, unusual people. And kill them.” On the inside, Quinn rolled her eyes; why did liberals like him act as though people like her invented war and they alone wanted peace, love, and teddy bears? Quinn read his shirt again. Okay, maybe it was kind of funny. But it looked out of place on a guy who never smiled.

They had less than a minute before the bell rang, and the hallway had emptied out. He probably wouldn’t acknowledge her; he never even said hi unless she said hi first. But he passed the classroom door. He was headed straight for her. His tan cheeks glowed bright pink, and his eyebrows scrunched together. Quinn felt her shoulders creep up as their eyes met. Was he going to call her out on something right now?

She saw Ilene slipping into the classroom and waved at her. Quinn tried to veer out of Seth’s path; if he wanted to tangle, he’d have to wait until class, when Mr. Levine could referee. But he sidestepped in front of her, forcing her to stop. What the hell? They stared at each other for several seconds. Quinn noticed that the dark brown of Seth’s eyes blended right into his pupils. He also had broad shoulders for a lean guy, but he was barely three inches taller than she was.

Seth started to say something but then kind of deflated. He pressed a limp, folded piece of notebook paper into her hand. Scowling at the floor, he mumbled something under his breath before charging into the classroom.

Quinn looked around in confusion to see if there had been witnesses. There hadn’t. She walked into room 105. She sat down next to Ilene and said hi back to a few people. Taking a huge, slow breath, she slid the letter into her folder and pulled a pen out of her backpack.

            Waiting for the slackers to trickle in, Mr. Levine strolled over to his desk and pried the lid off yesterday’s McDonald’s drink. He poured the light-brown liquid into the spider plant. Then he flipped off the lights and closed the door. He rubbed his hands together with that sinister glee that teachers saved up for things like pop quizzes. Then he slapped an outline on the overhead projector, on which he’d chicken-scratched the title “South Africa.” As the class groaned, Mr. Levine shrugged out of his sports jacket. He tossed it across his desk with one of the sleeves inside out.

As soon as he starting talking about apartheid, Quinn flipped open her folder to read the note.

Dear Quinn,

Here’s what I’ve wanted to say to you for a long time: I’ve liked you since the beginning of tenth grade. We haven’t had any big conversations, but I feel like I know you.

I know that you’re genuinely nice. Even though you have a lot of friends, you make a point of saying hello to people like me (the shy, antisocial types!). You’re really pretty, especially when you wear that green dress. You’re also smart. I hear George Washington University figured that out, too. Congratulations on getting in.

I wondered if you’d like to go to a movie sometime. I know it sounds weird coming from someone you’ve barely talked to (and especially from someone who would tease you about being a Republican), but I hope you’ll say yes.

Seth

BOOK LINKS

-’89 Walls is available on Amazon

-Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble

-Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Katie Pierson freelances for local non-profits, using her background in public policy and grassroots organizing to overthrow the patriarchy one introverted step at a time. When she’s not writing fiction, she returns library books, makes soup, and tries to be cooler than she really is by hip-hopping at the YMCA. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in American History from the University of Pennsylvania (where she dabbled briefly in being a College Republican) and a Master’s in American History from the University of Minnesota. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, and now lives with her family in a suburb of Minneapolis. ’89 Walls is her first novel.

MORE INFORMATION

-Visit Katie Pierson’s website

-Connect with Katie on Facebook and Twitter

-Find out more about Katie at Goodreads

-Visit Katie’s blog

MY REVIEW

I’m not usually a fan of books that take place in the past, even if it’s only 26 year in the past. I usually stick to present/modern day stories. ’89 Walls though grabbed by interest from the summary and it sounded like a book I would enjoy, and it most certainly was. In all it took me two days to finish this book. I will admit I even read it while I was at work and supposed to be paying attention. I fell in love with the main characters and had to see what was going to happen between them.

The book brings up a lot of political references from 1989 and there are debates between the two main characters, Seth and Quinn, along with Quinn and her father throughout the whole book. While I could see why this may be a turn off to some readers, I actually enjoyed reading the debates and seeing both sides. It also gave me some insight to things that were going on in the few years before I was born that I had never heard or learned about before. It also made me open my mind at times during the debate and I myself not only enjoy a good debate but also love any book that can open my mind up to new thoughts and ideas.

I really liked both of the main characters, Seth and Quinn. They both had their flaws but that only added to their stories. Seth was such a kind and caring guy who not only tried to please Quinn, but also takes care of his mother who is suffering from MS. Quinn was a strong, independent female character who in the end stood up for what she believed in even if it was a different view than her parents. They both made their fair share of stupid decisions and mistakes throughout the book, but in the end that made them they characters they were. There were also quite the amount of minor characters including Seth’s mom, Quinn’s parents, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend Jason and her friend Trish. Some I liked more than others, Seth’s and Quinn’s mothers, some really annoyed me during their brief time in the story, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend Jason, and other’s I just ended up feeling bad/sad for, Quinn’s father. Although they were only minor characters, they gave a lot to the story.

Once I finished reading ’89 Walls, I was a little more convinced that it is probably geared towards the older side of the Young Adult genre for some of the topics discussed and actions that took place, even though the two main characters are both high school students. I think ’89 Walls is a great book if you’re looking for a young adult romance with some depth to it and one that will make you think (politically not romantically). It was definitely refreshing, although familiar to other young adult romances at the same time. I cannot wait to see and read Katie Pierson’s next young adult book.

“Still,” she said, “it’s kind of embarrassing to cry over a book.”

“I like people who cry over books. It makes me trust them.”

-Quinn & her father

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

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Title & Author: Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn

Publisher/Release Date: St. Martin’s Griffin/June 9, 2015 (TODAY!)

Genre: YA Thriller, YA Contemporary

Format: Finished Hardcover

Source: St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for an honest review

Other Books by Author: Charm & Strange, Complicit

My Rating: 3hearts

What This Book Is About

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

When first reading the summary of Delicate Monsters I had thought it was going to be more of a thriller/mystery and thought, “I need to read this book”. As soon as I received it from the publisher I immediately began reading it that night. While it wasn’t what I had been expecting, I was instantly hooked from the beginning. The book is told in alternating chapters between the three main characters, Sadie, Emerson and Miles. Each chapter was short, yet left readers with just enough to want to know what was going to happen next.

The story itself had it’s thrilling moments and a lot of the storyline actually shocked me. It shows realistically some of the not so pretty things teenagers go through on a daily basis. It was actually a nice change of pace from all the lovey dovey young adult romances I had been reading lately. The characters themselves and their development throughout the novel is what had shocked me the most though. As the book went on, the dirtier the character’s secrets got. The end of the book really got me as well. I kind of suspected it to some degree but not in the way the author had ended up playing it out and I love when the ending is not what I had been suspecting throughout the whole book.

I will admit I did not exactly “like” any of the main characters. I think my favorite had to be May, both who was a minor character. Sadie Su was not your average teenage girl, dreaming of having the perfect boyfriend and into most teenage girl things such as shopping and hanging out with their best friends. Sadie had been expelled from three boarding schools for her behavior, which is incredibly cruel and is shown throughout the entire book. Emerson had to be my least favorite of all. While possessing some normal teen qualities, he also had some pretty sick and dirty secrets. I thought it was bad in the beginning but they continued to get worse throughout the book and my dislike for him only grew as well. Miles, Emerson’s younger brother, was the main character I liked the most. He was different and quirky, yet always down in the dumps which got a little old. I actually felt bad for Miles towards the end of the book though once his secrets were revealed and things had finally fallen into place and made sense. May was a minor character in the book and was only shown in some of Emerson’s chapters, but she seemed genuine, thoughtful and caring whenever she was present.

I really did enjoy Delicate Monsters and read the book within 2 days. It’s a light read page wise but subject wise it really makes you stop and think while you’re reading. I brought it into work with me the other day and already got a few coworkers interested in it. If you enjoy YA fiction of any genre I’d suggest you pick this book up and give it a chance.

Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

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Title & Author: Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel

Publisher/Year: Harper Teen/2015 (June)

Genre: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Infinite Days, Stolen Nights, Eternal Dawn

Rating: 5hearts

What This Book Is About

A luminous young adult novel that evokes Judy Blume’s Forever for a new generation.

Ever since Sarah was born, she’s lived in the shadow of her beautiful older sister, Scarlett. But this summer on Cape Cod, she’s determined to finally grow up. Then she meets gorgeous college boy Andrew. He sees her as the girl she wants to be. A girl who’s older than she is. A girl like Scarlett.

Before she knows what’s happened, one little lie has transformed into something real. And by the end of August, she might have to choose between falling in love, and finding herself.

Fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins are destined to fall for this story about how life and love are impossible to predict.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Let me start off by saying I loved this book. I would use the word ‘loved’ more than once, but the amount of times I’d use it to express how I felt about this book would make this post so incredibly long. If you’ve been reading and following my blog for a while you know I am a total sucker for summer themed young adult books. Throw in some romance and I am completely in love. A few days before beginning Between Us and the Moon I read a not so great review on Goodreads and I am so happy I read Between Us and the Moon despite what that person wrote because I completely disagree with it.

Sarah has lived in her sister Scarlett’s shadow her whole life so when they go on their yearly summer vacation to Cape Cod, Sarah decides she is going to do ‘The Scarlett Experiement’. Sarah figures if she dresses an acts like her sister, she will easily make friends and guys will like her the way they like Scarlett. When Sarah gets the attention of an older guy, Andrew, she pretends to be older. As summer goes on and Sarah and Andrew’s relationship progresses, so does Sarah’s lie. When summer comes to an end Sarah needs to decide between falling in love or being the Sarah she is on the inside.

I immediately loved the summary and knew I was going to fall in love with the storyline, along with the characters. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did.

Sarah, the main character, was pretty much a homebody in the beginning of the story. After her boyfriend/best friend breaks up with her because she “watches the world”. Once their vacation begins Sarah changes, but at the same time she doesn’t. She launches into ‘The Scarlett Experiment’, but after meeting Andrew, she still has a lot of her true features, like her love for astronomy, shine through past. Sarah not only lies about her age, but also that she is attending college, MIT to be exact, in the fall. Honestly, I don’t blame her for lying and it didn’t make me feel any differently for her character. I felt like I was easily able to relate to Sarah (other than having the same name) in many ways. I feel like we same(d) many of the same personality traits and characteristics when I was in high school. Also, let’s admit it girls, we all tell some kind of lie to a guy at least once in our life.

Andrew, a good guy with genuinely good hearted motives, is three years older than Sarah and a sophomore going to college in Boston. Him and Sarah continue to run into each other while Sarah is being a klutz and often tripping over her own feet. He finally takes the opportunity to introduce himself when he see Sarah on the beach. From there they begin a summer filled with romance. Andrew is so sweet to Sarah. He is also coping with the loss of someone close to him and dealing with the guilt he feels about it. Andrew is exactly the type of guy I personally would love to find in life. He is absolutely perfect that even the imperfections he does have just make him so much more appealing.

Of course there are several supporting characters throughout the novel that add to the storyline and without them, the book just wouldn’t have been the same. Sarah’s parents, her aunt Nancy, her Gran, Scarlett, and Scarlett’s boy for the summer Curtis just to name a few. They all were part of the story from the beginning to the end and each had something to contribute to the storyline. I really liked all of the characters, even the ones that were much harder to like than others.

Between Us and the Moon will be the absolute, perfect beach/summer book when it is published. It will make you laugh and smile and it will break your heart at times as well. At the end of the book I was so upset that it was over and I am definitely suffering a mild book hangover now. As I read Between Us and the Moon as part of a book tour and I will be mailing it out to the next reader later today, I will definitely be adding my on copy when this book hits the shelves in June. Between Us and the Moon is a book I see myself re-reading several times and I’m already looking forward to reading it for the second time. I of course would LOVE a sequel as a follow up for the next summer. I am unsure if there will be one but until then I will keep my fingers crossed!

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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Title & Author: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Publisher/Year: Balzer + Bray/February 10, 2015

Genres: YA Romance, YA Contemporary

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Debut Novel

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson. Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness. There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

When I first saw My Heart and Other Black Holes on Goodreads, I wasn’t interested in reading it at all. A teenage girl going on some website to find a suicide partner, definitely not something I thought I would want to read. I am so happy I changed my mind and decided to give this book a chance because I instantly fell in love. I was expecting a brooding, depressed teenager and just not a happy, love story. Right from the first chapter I knew I was wrong. Aysel was depressed at times but she still worked hard at school and maintained a semi-normal relationship with her family members. From the beginning she didn’t seem like someone you would ever expect to commit suicide.

I really liked the main characters, Aysel and Roman. I have to say I definitely liked Aysel more than Roman though. Although Aysel tries to convince herself that she is ready to end her life, she continued to look ahead to what her future may be like. She also stayed pretty motivated at school and kept a job as well. Her relationship with her family could have been better, but it wasn’t anything horrible. Roman on the other hand was exactly what I had been expecting Aysel to be like, a brooding, depressed teenager. I can understand why he is depressed, but him and Aysel were very different. He didn’t want to think of a future and had cut off his social life months before. When the two were together though I just fell in love with the concept of “them”.

In the end I was totally rooting for Aysel when she wanted to change her mind and live her life and she wants Roman to do the same. My heart almost broke at just the thought of Roman going through with it and Aysel being left behind. I don’t want to give the ending away but I am definitely pleased with how it ended. It may have not been the perfect happily ever after, but it was a lot better than many other alternatives. I would love to see a sequel, even if it’s a novella, of what happens next.

This is a book I will be buying when it is released and rereading then as well. I would recommend it to anyone who is into young adult fiction because I feel like anyone would enjoy it. While it’s not exactly a short book, it was a quick read because I couldn’t put it down.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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Title & Author: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher/Year: Knopf – January 6, 2015

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Debut YA Book

Rating: 5hearts

What This Book Is About

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this compelling, exhilarating, and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

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.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

I have certainly be lucking out lately with all of these amazing books that I have had the opportunity to read, and All the Bright Places is no exception. What drew me into wanting to read this book was it’s reference to The Fault in Our Stars. The character’s attitudes definitely reminded me of Hazel and Augustus, but that is where the similarities end. I love the alternating narration between Violet and Finch and watching their friendship evolve into so much more. I thought Finch and Violet were perfect for each other and enjoyed when they would go on their adventures for their class project.

When it came to the characters, I really liked both Violet and Finch, but I do feel like I liked Finch a little bit more and found myself looking forward to Finch’s chapters. Finch is supportive of Violet and helps her with a lot of her personal issues. Violet on the other hand was once part of the popular clique at their high school and often doesn’t want to be seen or talk to Finch where anyone will see them. That bothered me after a while, but it didn’t make me dislike her either. I loved the moments in the book where they were together and I felt like they helped each other a lot.

All the Bright Places is a book that will make you laugh and cry. My heart broke a certain points, but the author put it back together again. This is definitely a book I want to read again in the future and would recommend it to anyone.

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Tease by Amanda Maciel

How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental

3stars

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From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

(Summary from Goodreads)

First, before I continue to my review I have to say that this is the third or fourth time I have began to write this review and have erased everything to start over from the beginning. I have been debating on whether I share my true feelings and thoughts of Tease, or sugarcoat my review to make it sound like I’m this super sweet, nice person. Well after unsuccessfully trying to review this book so many times, I have come to the decision to be completely honest, even if it seems like I am “mean girl” or a bitch. I read and post HONEST reviews on books and I don’t feel like I’d be being honest by not including everything, the good and the bad. So, I apologize now if I offend you or for any offending words I may use. Now, let me also make one thing perfectly clear, I do not condone or encourage bully of any type. These are just my feelings towards the characters and situation in a fictional novel. This review will also include spoilers, which were pretty obvious to begin with, but if you plan on reading Tease and don’t want to know what happens then I would stop reading now.

When I first rented Tease from my library I didn’t really expect too much from the book. While this book is disturbing, I also loved it yet didn’t at the same time. Tease was emotionally real in some aspects of the book, while in other aspects some things were unrealistic and didn’t exactly make sense. For example, Emma supposedly committed suicide because she was being bullied. Yes she was being bullied, but she didn’t commit suicide until the guy she was dating cheated on her with his ex girlfriend who happens to be the narrator, Sarah. Do I personally feel like she committed suicide because she was being bullied? No. Throughout the entire book it is made perfect clear that Emma has had what could only be assumed as mental health issues in the past. She has transferred schools a lot, the reader can only assume from hints that it’s because she had issues at each one of those schools. Do I feel like had she not been bullied but Dylan still cheated on Sarah with her only to later cheat on her with Sarah and then decide it’s really Sarah he wants to be with (confusing I know…Sarah and Dylan were dating, Sarah caught Dylan and Emma making out at a party and then dumps Dylan, Emma and Dylan begin dating, at a party Emma is not at Sarah and Dylan hook up and Dylan tells her he is sorry and actually wants to be with her not Emma, Dylan admits to cheating to Emma, Emma then commits suicide the next day), she still would have committed suicide? Yes. From the hints and evidence the reader gets about Emma’s shaky mental history and previous school transfer history, along with the way she behaves and acts at school, I do believe Emma was mentally unstable and would have still committed suicide bullied or not. Now I am not saying she should have been bullied or that it didn’t make things harder/worse, I just don’t think the blame should have been completely on Sarah, Brielle, Dylan, Tyler, and Jordan. If her mental issues were that obvious to readers, than it should have been clear to her parents who were the ones to transfer her from school to school and to have her go see a psychiatrist. Her parents could have completely prevented what was happening to Emma, but they didn’t. They could have found a special school for her, they could have had her put on medication, or even transferred her to an all girls school. No more rambling, back to the review. The book did grab my interest from the beginning, mainly because I wanted to see the outcome of the trial. It took me two days to finish, in between school and homework. When I first finished the book I was like,  “That was amazing, totally 5 stars!”, now I’m like, “eh I don’t really like the outcome, 3 stars…”. Overall I think the book was enjoyable, although the topics are serious topics that students are facing everyday across the nation.

Onto the characters…Sarah, Brielle, Dylan, and Emma. Those in my opinion were the four main characters. Two other boys, Tyler and Jordan, were also pressed with charges but not really as big of characters as the other four. I’m going to do the character part of my review a little different than usual (this whole review is different than my usual).

Sarah – Sarah is one of the main characters and the narrator of Tease. She’s a junior in high school when all of this takes place and ends up missing a lot of school after Emma commits suicide and has to attend summer school. Her best friend is Brielle who is without a doubt the definition of a mean girl. Sarah tends to do whatever Brielle wants to do. Sarah is one of the biggest bullies to Emma. It only gets worse when Sarah realizes Emma is texting her boyfriend Dylan. She continues to go after Emma to try to scare her away from Dylan. At a party she catches Dylan and Emma making out. Sarah breaks up with Dylan and the bullying towards Emma only gets more intense from there. Later at another party she gets dressed up in an attempt to win Dylan back. When it works, they spend the night together with Brielle and her date going to the diner and other places. Dylan then decides it’s Sarah who he wants to be with. Sarah is charged with stuff like stalking, and other things I forget. She ends up taking the plea, although I was hoping she’s go to court and fight it. (I guess you could say I was team Sarah in a way. While I don’t agree with her bullying Emma, I did feel like she shouldn’t have been held responsible.)

Brielle – Brielle is Sarah’s best friend and the definition of a mean girl. She even physically bullies Emma in the locker room at one point. Brielle began as the leader of the bullying towards Emma. As things got worse, she often encouraged Sarah and took things to an extreme level like making fake social networking sites of Emma and commenting on Emma’s Facebook page. Brielle even at one point convinces Sarah to go with her to Emma’s house to warn Emma’s mother that Emma is sleeping around with so many guys, and some who are legal adults (making it statutory rape). After the charges are pressed against the girls, Brielle and Sarah no longer talk, or rather are not allowed to have contact with each other.

Dylan – Dylan is the middle point of a lot of the drama that unfolds in Tease. He is Sarah’s boyfriend, a senior, and the classic “super hot jock”. Sarah finds texts from Emma on Dylan’s phone and pictures of them together at a party Sarah wasn’t at. Dylan also begins to defend Emma saying she’s  “cool, nice girl” and that he thinks Sarah would get along with her. At a party Sarah catches Dylan cheating on her with Emma. Dylan later cheats on Emma with Sarah and then decides he made a mistake and wants to be with Sarah. Dylan goes and admits everything to Emma. After the suicide, he is also pressed with charges that are later dropped. He also continues to defend Emma to Sarah during the few times they sneak around together.

And I saved the best (ha ha sarcasm) for last.

Emma – Emma is a sophomore and the new girl at school. She immediately gets disliked by many of the upperclassmen girls at school. She is often referred to as a “slut” or “boyfriend stealing bitch”, along with similar names. Call me a mean girl, bully or bitch, but yes Emma is a slut, a boyfriend stealing bitch, along with everything else they called her. She is the girl who in high school had a new boyfriend every week and then moved onto the next guy. Both girls and guys knew she was easy and would put out. She also went after other girl’s boyfriends, Sarah and Dylan as well as Brielle and her boyfriend (I forget his name…maybe it was the kid Jordan?), for example. In public Emma cried a lot in attempt to gain sympathy from people, but alone she would be a bitch to Sarah. Emma knew what she was doing but constantly played dumb saying stuff like, “I didn’t mean for this to happen”, and other excuses that just made you shake your head and want to chuck the book across the room.

I felt like the author made it near impossible to feel sorry for Emma. I do feel like Emma brought a lot of the issues onto herself and she was full aware of what she was doing. Now I’m not saying anyone deserves to be bullied, but some people do deserve to be put in their place. I do feel like Sarah had every right to put Emma in her place after she went after Dylan knowing he was with Sarah. I know personally in high school had I found the school slut and my boyfriend making out, I would probably have thrown a few punches at the both of them. I also feel like Emma’s parents were partly to blame. I was kind of surprised that Sarah’s lawyer never made that point. Emma’s parents were full aware of the bullying going on and of her mental instability. They obviously had seen this quite a few times before and thought the simple solution was to transfer schools, not to get her serious help or homeschool her. I think that yes Sarah and Brielle should have gotten in trouble for bullying, but they in no way should have been held responsible for Emma’s suicide. As I think of it now, I also don’t believe they once ever suggested she kill herself. That idea clearly came from Emma herself. I feel like I am ranting now because this book really did piss me off the more I think about it. More or less, Emma really pissed me off.

Anyways, I hope I didn’t offend anyone and if I did I am really sorry. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t agree with or encourage of bullying in any form and I do think there should be serious consequences when it comes to bullying. I guess to easily sum up this book, I feel like the author didn’t do a good job portraying the true story of bullying when it leads to suicide. When I have read real articles about young/teen girls and boys who have committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied, I always have such disgust and hatred towards the bullies. I feel like Tease was lacking that as the author pretty much made Emma the antagonist of the novel. There is another similar book that I am interested in reading called The S- Word by Chelsea Pitcher. In a way I feel like it is really similar and that it will also leave me disappointed, but I am going to give it a chance. I’d say give Tease a chance. I mean it definitely will give you some emotion, just probably not the kind you’d be expecting from what this book is about.

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

After reading and enjoying an advanced reader’s copy of Liz Czukas’ new book, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, I was eager to read Ask Again Later. I was expecting a lot since TTCYC was so good, but I was a bit let down and confused at the end.

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental

3stars

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Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…

(Summary from Goodreads)

I feel like we have all seen a movie, TV show or read a book like this one. The main character ends up being asked to prom by more than one boy and the decision is just too hard to make. When I began reading this book I thought the reader was going to see what would happen had Heart’s choice been Troy, the jock and her choice if it has been Ryan, the theater geek and then in the end the two would tie together to show that the outcome would be the same either way. Well, that is sort of how the story went down. The chapters switched back and forth between “heads” and “tails” which made it more confusing than alternating chapters ever are. In the end the two stories did tie together for one overall outcome and the chapters were no loner alternating between “heads” and “tails”. What left me confused at the end was that Heart seemed to have actually experienced both proms. She would mention something that happened with her one date with Troy and her friends looked at her like she was crazy and then she would mention something that happened with her date Ryan and same thing happened. I have no idea who she actually went to prom with or how she somehow remembers stuff from both. I guess the point was that it didn’t matter what happened before, but what had happened after prom.

When it came down to the characters, I didn’t really like any of them too much. Heart was the most bearable but even then she still allowed herself to be pushed around and her attempts to stick up for herself were half assed. Troy was your typical jock, getting drunk at prom and trying to make his newly ex-girlfriend jealous, yet acting super immature. Ryan, okay maybe I liked Ryan the most. He was a sensitive sweetheart and even was there for Heart when she didn’t choose to go to prom with him (heads). He didn’t get all moody or cause any drama. Heart’s brother was a total asshole and it took her getting drunk at the prom afterparty to finally stick up for herself. At that point I was like, “Thank goodness!” and wished it had only come sooner. Schroeder (Chase) seemed okay at first, but right away it was so clearly obvious that he had a crush on Heart but was just too scared to tell her. Instead he decided to be rude to her all night and lashing out at her as if she should have just known without him telling her that he liked her.

The story line was ridiculous yet so realistic and perhaps that is why I couldn’t enjoy it as much. I graduated high school almost 3 and a half years ago and am over the drama and immaturity that came with high school. I wouldn’t say Ask Again Later was horrible, it just hasn’t been the best or my most favorite book I have read in the past few months. It was quick and easy to read and only took me a few hours to finish.

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Expected Publication: December 9, 2014

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour

4stars

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Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

(Summary from Goodreads)

Oh my goodness, when I began reading this book I thought it was going to be light story about a small town girl who falls in love with her best friends brother. It was much better and more intense than that. I love storylines where the main character falls in love with their best friends brother, not quite sure why that it but maybe because the relationships are so much deeper since the characters have known each other for so long before they get together. Anyhow, I loved the whole storyline. There was a ton of family drama, but it didn’t really kill my mood overall for the book. I felt like the family drama actually added a lot to the book and the reader a good insight on Amber and why she makes the choices she does.

I really liked the two main characters, Amber and Devon. Amber is determined and although she made some not so smart choices in the book, I really liked her. She seems super sweet, caring, and like your typical teenager. Like I said, she made some not so smart choices, but she always has the best intentions at heart. Her best friend Devon gave me mixed feelings, but in the end I really liked him. He is like a typical teenage boy, putting his love interest before many other important things. When he was in that stage he got on my nerves a few times, but he soon realized and changed his ways. Amber and Devon together made a great pair of friends. Devon supported Amber even in some difficult times.

There were other characters that I didn’t care for as much, but the story would not have been the same without them. Two of the characters were Amber’s sister and her sister’s husband who is a local drug dealer and has her sister under his control to do what he wants and when he wants it. Amber tries to be there for her sister, but her sister constantly pushes her away even after she is arrested and child protective services comes to investigate. The other character was Devon’s love interest, the new boy at school, whose name I cannot remember at this time (opps :-/ ). He seemed like your typical high school jocky, douchebag. My only wish would have been for Amber to sock him real good in the face and put him in his place.

In No Place to Fall, so much was happening at once and the story never had a chance to slow down to a boring speed. Whether Amber was dealing with her family, her singing, her confusing relationship with Devon’s brother Will or just typical high schooler issues, the story was always interesting. I finished this book in a day which surprised me. It was a bit lengthy compared to the last book I finished and I don’t have as much free reading time as I did before. Granted I did stay up way too late and was super groggy in class the next day, but it was so completely worth it.

Death Date by Victoria Laurie

I was really pleased with Death Date by Victoria Laurie. I haven’t read any young adult thrillers lately and her book definitely satisfied my needs for one. Death Date was also one of the better young adult thrillers that I have read this past year.

Death Date by Victoria Laurie

Expected Publication: January 13, 2015

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour

4stars

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Pretty Little Liars meets Medium in this fast-paced thriller and fantastic YA debut from a New York Times bestselling author

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who maybe connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?

(Summary from Goodreads)

Not only do I enjoy a really great young adult thriller, but I love when they involve ghosts, spirits or psychic abilities. When requested to read and review this book as part of an ARC tour, I had honestly been expecting a lot from Death Date. I have to say, Victoria Laurie definitely delivered. While the plot line itself was a bit different from what I had been expecting from the summary, I couldn’t help but turn page after page until the book was finished. I loved how original the idea for this book was and the idea that someone could see people’s death dates just by looking at them. I also loved how completely shocked I was when I was reading the final few chapters. All throughout the book I constantly thought I knew who the murderer was and every single time I was proven wrong and left guessing again. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when you can easily out who the murderer is a couple chapters into a book. In Death Date, I didn’t know until Maddie herself knew and I liked the element of surprise that came with it. In the final chapter, I liked how the author tied everything together in a way I also wasn’t expecting.

As for the characters, I liked some and didn’t really like a few others. Without giving too much away, there are a few characters you will get serious mixed feelings for. You go from liking them to disliking them within a few chapters or opposite. I really liked the main character Maddie. To me, she seemed like a strong female lead character. She put up with a lot throughout the book and never once backed down. She was determined to prove her innocence to everyone and no matter how rough or scary things got, she kept going. I also felt sympathy for her as she often blamed herself for her father’s death and would ask herself the infamous question numerous times throughout the novel, “What if?”. In a way I would say Maddie was easily relatable, but in other ways I would say she isn’t (obviously because I don’ see people’s death dates and have never been the suspect of a murder investigation).

Overall, I really enjoyed Death Date; it pulled me in and grabbed my attention from the beginning. It was a quick read for myself since I was unable to put it down for more than a few minutes at a time. Death Date is also original and unlike any other young adult thrillers I have read before and definitely makes my top ten young adult thriller list.