Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: September 5, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Goodreads || Book Depository

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

In the tradition of Before I Fall and If I Stay, They Both Die at the End is a tour de force from acclaimed author Adam Silvera, whose debut, More Happy Than Not, the New York Times called “profound.”

MY THOUGHTS

I received a review copy of this novel from HarperCollins Canada. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love contemporary and I love Adam Silvera but I did not love They Both Die at the End. I found it to be quite underwhelming in its world building and plot and didn’t really connect with it at all. Adam Silvera’s two previous novels both made me cry but I didn’t really feel a single thing as I was reading this book (besides a moment when one of the characters visited his dad who is in hospital… but only because my dad recently passed).

The plot and premise of the novel itself is quite intriguing. Main characters, Mateo and Rufus, both find out from Death-Cast that they are going to die that day. But they don’t know when and they don’t know how. Both of them sign up to an app called Last Friend and become each other’s Last Friend, meaning that they get to spend the day together, doing things that they would never do otherwise. Now this sounds like a wonderful story with lots of adventure and character development (at least until they die), but I was quite disappointed with the plot. The book lacked excitement and adventure and I felt like I was literally just watching two kids walking around New York City, not doing much at all. The premise of the book reminded me of Denton Little’s Deathdate, which I highly enjoyed, and was kind of disappointed that They Both Die at the End didn’t really live up to my hype. And don’t even get me started on the ending…

I also had a really big problem with the lack of world building and explanation in this book (and now that I think about it… Adam Silvera’s other books too). There was no explanation of how Death-Cast works or how it even came about. While I can forgive this in a near-future contemporary, I can’t really forgive it in a book that is set in 2017. I wanted much more background on the whole system and there was really none given at all. Because I’d already read about a very similar system in Denton Little’s Deathdate, this novel and this world really needed a lot more to capture my attention.

I did like Mateo and Rufus as characters and I enjoyed how different they were. Mateo was very much the quiet and passive one of the two and Rufus was kind of the bad boy. I liked what they did for each other and how their characters grew throughout the course of the day that they spent together. But I didn’t really find their friendship to be that special and I also didn’t really feel any spark between them. Which brings me to the romance in the book. I found the romance to be quite unnecessary and I felt that it detracted from the story. It felt forced and really reinforced my current dislike for books that throw in a romance even though there are stronger and more important themes to be explored in the book.

Despite all my criticisms, I did like the writing in the novel. Adam Silvera’s prose is beautiful as always and I really liked the extra POVs of minor side characters that he threw in. It added to the narrative of the book and I found that it made the novel much more interesting to read. They Both Die at the End is definitely not one of my favourite contemporaries of this year but it did tick all the boxes when it came to writing and tone.

Advertisements

Review: Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release Date: September 7, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 400
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Cos people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …

From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

MY THOUGHTS

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that I love Sarah Crossan’s books and Moonrise was definitely no exception. It might actually be my favourite of all of Sarah Crossan’s books. It involved such a hard-hitting topic and the way that Sarah Crossan’s writing made me feel has definitely skyrocketed the book into one of my top five favourite books of the year so far. In fact, it affected me so much that I couldn’t bring myself to write a review until now.

This novel is about 18-year-old Joe whose family has been torn apart since his older brother, Ed, was arrested 10 years ago. Joe hasn’t seen Ed since he was arrested but now finds himself moving alone to Texas after Ed’s execution date was set. While staying in a filthy apartment and trying to work to keep himself alive, Joe finds himself visiting and spending time with Ed, all the while wondering whether Ed is innocent or guilty… and whether he can live knowing the answer. It’s a story about family, loss, and life and death, and Sarah Crossan definitely does all of these themes justice with her story. I thought the topic was handled brilliantly and the importance of having conversations about issues like these really came through. I loved how raw and emotional the novel was and how much it made me feel. I definitely had a big ugly cry fest at the end of it but the story was just that good.

I loved all of the characters in the book and how they were all flawed in some way. There is Joe who may be too forgiving, according to some of the other characters in the book, but is also willing to do whatever it takes to have a roof over his head and food in his belly. There’s Ed, who Joe remembers to be a warm and loving brother, but may have committed a crime worthy of the life penalty. There’s Aunt Karen who may have given up on Ed too soon. All of these characters added something to the story, no matter how badly you wanted to hate them or love them. And there’s really nothing I love more than when every character is integral to the story.

‘Be happy,’ Ed says.
‘It’s your duty to me, man.’

As always, the verse poetry as beautiful and added to the emotion of the novel. There were so many poems that I absolutely loved and wanted to share with everyone who would listen to me. Every page that you flip to contains a wonderfully quotable poem. Sarah Crossan’s writing is just so impactful and beautiful to read and I cannot wait for her next release.

Blog Tour: If Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Release date: June 29, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

MY THOUGHTS

Welcome to my stop on the If Birds Fly Back blog tour!

If Birds Fly Back is a summer contemporary about missing people and those who are left behind. The book follows Linny and Sebastian and is told from dual perspectives. Linny’s sister, Grace, ran away from their stifling home environment and Linny has been trying to understand what happened ever since. When she shows up to her volunteering job at a nursing home and finds Alvaro Herrera, who was presumed dead three years ago, she decides that this is her chance to figure out why people disappear in the hopes of bringing her sister back. Sebastian is in Miami in search for his long lost father, whose identity he has only just learned. His and Linny’s paths cross and both mysteries start to unravel.

I enjoyed the concept of this novel a lot and thought that it had a wonderful message. However, I didn’t find the plot to be very engaging and I had a little bit of trouble staying invested in the story. It was a bit of a slow-paced novel that didn’t have a lot of plot so I found the middle third of the novel to be a bit hard to get through and slightly forgettable. The themes weren’t as fully developed as I would have liked and the whole book felt a little bit too light despite the heavy topics that it was tackling. However, I enjoyed the reveal towards the end and the way the story came together at the end. I also really enjoyed some of the alternate formatting in the book, such as the film transcripts, and appreciated what they added to the story.

My favourite part of the book was the characterisation. I loved both Linny and Sebastian’s characters and liked how well-developed they were. Linny is a film geek and it was great to see that she was so passionate about it. Sebastian is an aspiring astrophysicist and I also really enjoyed seeing him display his knowledge of scientific theories. It was these aspects that kept the book enjoyable for me. I also liked the side characters for the most part but they had very minor roles in the novel and were a little bit forgettable. Having said that, Linny and Sebastian more than made up for this and I would happily read another book about these two characters.

Despite how much I loved Linny and Sebastian as individuals, I wasn’t as big of a fan of the romance. The novel really isn’t about the romance so I found it to be a little bit unnecessary, especially in the middle of the novel where nothing was really happening except the romance. However, I thought it was really cute and they were wonderful together. I just wish that more focus had been placed on the plot and the themes rather than the romance.

Overall, I enjoyed If Birds Fly Back and thought that it was a unique story that I haven’t really encountered before. The  characters were beautifully written and I enjoyed the relationships in the novel.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Carlie Sorosiak lives in London via North Carolina. For the last five years, she’s split her time between the UK and the US, hoping to gain an accent like Madonna’s. Her pastimes include petting cats and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: May 16, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 384
Goodreads || Book Depository

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: the boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: the brooding, dark-souled guy who is dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose the Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be—whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

MY THOUGHTS

I love supporting Aussie authors and I was so excited to check out The Love Interest because it had an intriguing synopsis and a really stunning cover. But I was left feeling really disappointed because I don’t think the book lived up to its full potential.

The book is told from the perspective of Caden, who is a Love Interest. He grew up in this secret organisation where he was groomed to become a Love Interest to someone important or powerful enough to have an impact on the world. Love Interests are spies who are expected to report back to the organisation with secrets about their partners. However, in order to be in the lives of their partners, they need to first have a fight to the death with another Love Interest who is also vying for the attention and love of that partner. When the partner makes their choice, the Love Interest who has lost is killed. Caden and Dylan are Love Interests fighting for the love of Juliet, who is a genius scientist and inventor. But a friendship between them forms when they realise that nobody else in the world understands them better than each other.

I actually really liked the first 70 or so pages of the novel. I was captivated by the concept and the world of the Love Interest organisation and I found it to be addictive in a reality TV show/The Bachelor kind of way. But as I progressed through the book, I became a little bit bored with the lack of plot and the lack of development in the story. There wasn’t very much that happened and it just came across as a boy trying to get a girl to fall in love with him using very dramatic and unrealistic methods. I couldn’t connect with the story because of how unrealistic and cheesy it was. I struggled a lot of how little of a learning curve Caden needed to fit into the real world when he’s never actually been in the real world. He seemed to know exactly where to go at school and he seemed to have zero problems starting a job at Starbucks. I know Caden fitting into society wasn’t the focus of the book, but I was just extremely disconnected with everything that happened because there was so little realism.

My biggest problem was with the characterisation. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters in the book, though I did really like Dylan. They just weren’t developed very much and they all kind of just came off as the same person to me. I felt no emotional connection to the characters and this was probably due to the fact that the novel didn’t really explore any of the characters’ emotions. We got to briefly see Caden’s doubts about what he was doing and the guilt he felt at being responsible for Dylan’s death if he won. But none of this was explored in very much detail, which again made me feel like there was a wall between myself and the novel and its characters. The character that I felt the most frustrated with was probably Juliet. She was described as a genius who had been inventing things from a young age. But that never really came across to me throughout the book. She came off as a regular girl, sometimes whiny, and there didn’t seem to be anything special about her. The only time her inventions and her ability came into play was in a very deus ex machina kind of way towards the end of the book, and by that time, it was too late for me to change my opinion of her.

Overall, there wasn’t very much that I could latch onto. I did like the first 70 pages and maybe the last 30 or so pages but aside from that, I was kind of bored and disappointed with the novel.

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster’s Books for Young Readers
Release date: May 2, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 336
Goodreads || Book Depository

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

MY THOUGHTS

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the third and final book in the series so this review may contain spoilers for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

I think my rating for this book is probably closer to a 4.5 stars but it’s inflated just because of sentimental reasons. I’ve been waiting for this book since the first book came out. I really liked P.S. I Still Love You but this was the book that I wished that one was. If you love Lara Jean and Peter together, this is a must-read for you. There are no love triangles, I promise!

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is about the final few months of Lara Jean and Peter’s senior year of high school. Peter’s been accepted to the University of Virginia already and Lara Jean is convinced that she’s going to be accepted too. She’s already planned out her college experience with Peter and is extremely excited about being able to be with Peter, as well as close enough to home to visit regularly. However, things don’t always go to plan and suddenly Lara Jean and Peter find themselves having to alter their plans and learn who they are as individuals away from each other.

I really loved the plot of this book. It’s been a long time since I graduated from high school, but I felt really connected with this story because my co-blogger, Aila just graduated and was going through some similar experiences recently. I really connected with Lara Jean’s struggles when it came to figuring out what she wanted to do after high school, especially after her plans fell through. I enjoyed watching her character development throughout the book as she learned to become more independent and put her own needs and wants before others.

But of course, my favourite aspect of the book was the adorable romance between Lara Jean and Peter. This is the first book in the series where we get to see the two of them together for the entire book and it was so worth the wait. The two of them are so perfect together and I loved how Peter just indulges Lara Jean’s quirks. I enjoyed how they worked through their problems together and I just thought their relationship was sugary sweet and everything I needed.

I’m so glad that Jenny Han decided to come out with this third book in this series. I wasn’t super happy with how P.S. I Still Love You ended because I wanted more of Lara Jean and Peter’s story. I’m extremely happy with what we got in this third novel and I’m going to be binge rereading this on sad and rainy days for a long time to come.

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release date: April 26, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads || Book Depository || Booktopia

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

MY THOUGHTS

I received a review copy from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have read and loved all of Jennifer E. Smith’s novels and Windfall was definitely no exception. It was beautifully written and had such a captivating story that I sprinted through the book. I thought it was cute and uplifting and definitely one of my favourite contemporaries that I’ve read so far this year.

The book starts with Alice buying a lottery ticket for her best friend, Teddy’s, 18th birthday. They’ve been best friends for 9 years and Alice has been secretly in love with Teddy for almost the entire time. They’ve bonded over their bad luck for years and years but things change when the lottery ticket turns out to be the winning ticket. Teddy’s life changes in the blink of an eye and Alice finds herself slowly losing Teddy and the friendship that they used to have. What I loved most about this novel was that it wasn’t just about the romance. At the forefront of the novel is a coming of age story and I highly enjoyed it. We got to learn a lot about Alice’s past and what happened to her parents 9 years ago that left her an orphan. We got to see Alice embrace who she is and who she wants to become and step out from her parents’ shadows. At the same time, we also get to see Teddy become a more responsible person as his life rapidly changes.

I adored the characters in this novel. I connected with Alice almost instantly and was really able to understand all of her fears and concerns, not only about her future but about her deteriorating relationship with Teddy. I really enjoyed her character growth throughout the novel and admired her strength at the end of the book. I also really loved Leo, Alice’s cousin, and the way that he was there for her and has been there for her the entire time that she’s lived with his family. I love seeing close relationships between siblings/family in YA novels and I found their relationship and bond to be really heartwarming. I also loved Leo’s personal story and his romantic with his boyfriend, Max. Teddy was a character that took me a little while to like but he grew on me throughout the story when he started to grow as a person.

The romance was probably my least favourite part of this novel, not because it wasn’t adorable, but because I couldn’t really connect with it. I felt that it needed a little bit more development and that everything progressed really quickly, which is probably understandable considering Alice and Teddy have been friends and probably harbouring feelings for each other for years. It just wasn’t really my favourite of all the friends to lovers romance that I’ve read. I felt like their friendship together was a much stronger bond and I enjoyed reading about that aspect a little bit more.

Overall, there wasn’t really much that I didn’t love about Windfall. Jennifer E. Smith never ceases to wow me with her contemporary novels and I loved all of the different themes that were explored in this book, especially the coming-of-age elements.

Review: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release date: February 27, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Goodreads || Book Depository

Kate O’Brien has always been known as the scholarship kid, running away from a terrible past and overcoming obstacles, some more sinister than others. She’s determined to make a better life for herself. She deserves it. And at the elite Waverly school, Kate is willing to do whatever it takes to climb the social ladder and land her spot at Yale.

There’s one girl in particular that catches Kate’s eye. Olivia Michelle Sumner, all born blonde and rich and just messed up enough for Kate to latch on to. As for Olivia, she’s a damaged girl, looking to be mended. She finds something promising in Kate. A study buddy. A best friend. A sister she never had. But even a vulnerable girl like Olivia has her own dark past to contend with.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he manages to woo the whole student body, paying particular attention to Olivia – an affair she very much wants to keep to herself, especially from Kate. And as a man who knows just how to get what he wants, Kate realises that Mark poses a huge threat, in more ways than she is willing to admit.

MY THOUGHTS

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is one of my all-time favourite books and I was extremely excited to check out Beware That Girl, even though it falls in a genre that I don’t typically gravitate towards. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with Beware That Girl. I found it to be a bit confusing and wasn’t really what I expected.

The book starts off with two girls in hospital – one as patient and one as a visitor- and it’s unclear who is who or what happened. If it wasn’t for this mystery aspect of the book, I’m not sure that I would’ve stuck with it until the end. But it kept me intrigued as I pushed through the novel and I’m glad that I finished it but I do have to say that the ending felt a little bit unresolved for my liking. Beware That Girl is about Kate, a scholarship kid, social climber and master manipulator, who has zeroed in on Oliver Sumner as her new target to take her to the top of the social ladder and to her end goal of attending Yale. Olivia, who has battled with some demons and secrets in the past year, is happy to rely on Kate for friendship and company. But when an older man comes between them and becomes involved with Olivia, things turn dark and the two have to rely on their friendship and honesty to get out of trouble.

My main problem with the book was that for the majority of it, I didn’t really know where it was going. It wasn’t until I got past the 200 page mark that I was able to get into the book and stick with it until the end. The first two-thirds of the novel was a little bit boring and I felt like nothing was really happening. I expected a little bit more build up and suspense to keep me intrigued and invested in the story and it was kind of lacking for me. The plot itself was slightly predictable, in my opinion, and some of the things that happened in the novel made me feel quite uncomfortable. I did like that there was a focus on psychopathy, which is something that I personally don’t see a lot of in YA, and I found it to be quite accurately represented in the book. But as a whole, the narrative left me uncomfortable and disappointed.

The novel jumps between Kate and Olivia’s perspectives and I can’t say that I really enjoyed either of them at the start. I found Kate to be very manipulative and dislikable at the start of the novel and it took quite a while to get used to her character. I did start to enjoy her a little bit more as the book progressed and we got to learn about her past and who she is as a person. Olivia was a bit of an enigma throughout the novel and I felt like I still didn’t really know her by the time I reached the end. This might have been because her chapters were written in third person narration, instead of first person like Kate’s. It was just a bit hard to relate to her and understand where she was coming from. Overall, I felt like the characters in the novel were kind of stereotypical rich girls and I would’ve liked a bit more depth in their characters.

Beware That Girl wasn’t the thrilling and engaging story that I expected but there were some great mental health elements in the book. I just found the plot to be slightly confusing and uncomfortable to read and I couldn’t really latch on to the story or the characters.

Beware that Girl was released on 27th February, 2017 and is available at all Australian retailers for $19.99.

Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: January 26, 2017
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 373
Goodreads || Book Depository

Love chose me, and I tried, but I couldn’t stop the arrow in its flight.

As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, fifteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of using her extraordinary sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love.

All while remaining incurably alone.

For Mim, the rules are clear—falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school existence—taking up a sport and limping away flush from victory, joining the debate club and saying things like “That’s a logical fallacy!” Having a boyfriend.

When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the school soccer star to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that when it comes to falling in love, the choice isn’t always hers to make.

MY THOUGHTS

I have a few Stacey Lee books at home on my shelf but The Secret of a Heart Note is the first one that I’ve picked up, and it absolutely blew me away. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and this was just what I needed. It was not only cute and a feel-good read, but also a really refreshing contemporary story with a sprinkle of magical realism.

This book follows Mimosa, who is one of two aromateurs left on the planet. Her role as an aromateur involves making love elixirs and playing matchmakers for the clients who visit her and her mother for help. These elixirs are based on the scents or notes of her clients and there are lots of intricacies involved. Mim has a superior sense of smell because of her being an aromateur, which brings a lot of pros but a few cons as well. There are lots of rules involved and not all of the rules are agreeable to Mim, especially the one dictating that she must never find love in her own life, or she’ll cease to be an aromateur due to her superior olfactory senses fading away. Having just recently gotten her reluctant mother to allow her to attend high school, rather than continuing to be home-schooled, Mim finds her time as a student in jeopardy when she accidentally gives the wrong target a love elixir. In order to fix this problem, she requires the help of Court, the rich boy and school soccer star, but quickly finds herself falling for him.

I thought this story was so adorable. It was whimsical and fun and I have to say that the magical realism really added to the story here. It made it a really unique and refreshing read and I fell in love with it from page one. But that wasn’t the only thing that I loved about the story. I really enjoyed all of the relationships that were explored in this book and I loved that it wasn’t only about romance but was also about familial love and the relationship between Mim and her mother. With the weight of the world and the family aromateur legacy on her shoulders, Mim has always felt that she needed to be exceptional in order to not disappoint her mother and to uphold the legacy of her family, even though she longs to just be an ordinary girl. It was really great to see Stacey Lee explore that in detail and to focus on those family elements in the novel. But that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the romance between Court and Mim. I found it to be really endearing and sweet, and I looked forward to every scene with the two of them. I liked the dynamics of the relationship, especially the forbidden love aspects, and it’s one of my favourite romance stories that I’ve read so far this year.

I also loved almost every single character in the book but Mim was definitely my favourite. She was an extremely relatable character because, while she had an extraordinary gift, her wants, desires and though processes were really ordinary and relatable. I admired her tenacity and her wanting to set things right whenever she made mistakes and I loved following her on her journey. I also absolutely loved Court, even though sometimes he made rash decisions that frustrated me. The other side characters in the book were all a lot of fun to read about and I really loved the reading experience because of how much fun I had reading about the characters and their antics.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Secret of a Heart Note. It was an extremely unique read and I finished it in two sittings because I was so captivated by the story. It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve read so far this year and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a light read that will leave you with all the warm and fuzzies.

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan

we-come-apartPublisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Release date: March 1, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Goodreads || Book Depository

Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess’s home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?

For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the last page.

MY THOUGHTS

5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I have no words for how much I love this book. It was raw and honest and I could not have asked for anything more from it. I loved the themes of racism, immigration and love in the novel and it was just one of the most poignant stories I’ve read in a while.

We Come Apart is a story that is written in verse and from dual perspectives. If you’ve never read anything by Sarah Crossan, you must because her ability to tell stories in verse is out of this world. I’ve previously read One and The Weight of Water and they were both amazing. I haven’t read anything by Brian Conaghan but this book made me really excited to check out his solo work. I really loved the two perspectives in this book and I thought they worked wonderfully together. The book alternates perspectives every few pages and I really enjoyed this because it gave me a really good idea of what they were both thinking about a certain situation or event. The book doesn’t have headers telling us whose perspective we’re reading from but it’s completely clear who is speaking because the voices were so different.

Nicu, our male lead, is an immigrant from Romania and speaks in very disjointed English. I particularly loved his voice and never found it to be difficult to understand. The reason why I loved his voice so much was because he expressed every thought and feeling in a pure and honest manner because of his inability to speak English fluently. The way that he tried to describe his thoughts was just so unflinching and relatable that it was impossible not to love his voice and his character. I also highly enjoyed Jess. Her voice wasn’t as ‘meaningful’ to me as Nicu’s but I thought she was still a very relatable character and even though, she’s very different to who I am as a person, I still connected with her story and empathised deeply.

i was extremely taken by the story of We Come Apart. Jess and Nicu meet at a Reparation Scheme for juvenile offenders. They are both having trouble with their families and this draws the two of them together. Nicu’s family is staying temporarily in North London so that they can earn enough money to pay for teenage Nicu to take a wife back in his village in Romania. Despite his repeated protests, Nicu’s family has no interest in what Nicu wants and are determined for him to return to Romania and get married as soon as possible. Nicu wants badly to stay in London and get an education, but at school, he is severely bullied by his classmates and teachers for being different and a person of colour. Jess lives with her mother and abusive stepfather, who regularly forces Jess to video record while he beats up her mother. Jess’s mum doesn’t seem to have any intention of leaving and Jess isn’t strong enough to do anything about it either. She spends her days lashing out by stealing and engaging in behaviours that would be frowned upon. But when she meets Nicu, the two of them open up to each other and are there for each other. What I appreciated about this friendship and relationship was that there was a very natural and gradual development. The two don’t start off as fast friends but gradually develop into two people who understand each other. I loved the development in their characters and Jess’s change from being a prejudiced teen like her schoolmates to being a more tender and empathetic person.

If I had one small criticism, it would be that the ending of the book was a little bit rushed and not very resolved. I finished the book feeling like the authors left me hanging a little and would’ve liked more resolution. However, I was still extremely satisfied with how the book played out and how relevant the issues it explores are to society today. It’s an important story that needs to be read!

We Come Apart is released on March 1st, 2017 by Bloomsbury Australia. It is available at Australian retailers for $17.99.

Reviews: Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told & How Not to Fall in Love by Deirdre Riordan Hall

love-hate-and-other-lies-we-toldPublisher: Self-published
Release date: January 17, 2017
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Pages: 364
Goodreads || Book Depository || Amazon

Let go from her job and feeling lost, Navy Carrington takes a position as coffee-girl at a publicity firm. Their newest client is Carrick Kennely, the former love of her life and her fiercest adversary. She thought she’d let go of the past by playing it safe with book boyfriends—and avoiding frustratingly sexy guys like Carrick.

When Navy’s roommate finds the Boyfriend Book, a silly relic leftover from Navy’s teens, it prompts a dare; Navy is to go on five dates and pick one to be her Valentine. Despite her reservations, she can’t say no, especially if it means proving to herself and Carrick that she can move on.

Navy chronicles her brief romantic entanglements with the Hottie in 7G, the Man-Bun-Barista, the Gym Stud, and the Book Boyfriend who turns out to be a toad—not the kind that when kissed turns into a prince—, on The Boyfriend Book Blog. She doesn’t want to let her readers or herself down, but as Valentine’s Day nears, none of the guys comes close to being her one true love.

Except Carrick. He’s infuriating, attractive, confusing, catnip…and it turns out he has a secret.

With a love letter and a plane ticket in hand, Navy leaves her baggage behind and must decide between love, hate, and the lies she told to protect her fragile heart.

Told with humor and heart, Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told may appeal to readers who enjoy Alice Clayton, Sally Thorne, and Emily Giffin’s work.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

I received a review copy of the book from the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It’s been a while since I’ve read any women’s lit and Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told was just what I needed during my mini-reading slump. It was light and easy to read. If you’re looking for something fluffy and romantic that is perfect for Valentine’s Day, this is a great novel to pick up.

In this novel, the main character, Navy, is a young woman in her mid to late 20s who has never really had a proper relationship. She’s an introvert and tends to keep to herself, indulging in fictional worlds and characters. Her best friend and flatmate, Katya, is determined to help Navy get out of her shell and find love by Valentine’s Day. She dares Navy to go on dates with the first five men that she encounters and Navy decides to go through with it, and blog about her experiences. But in a strange turn of events, her fifth guy is an old flame from the past, who has played a huge part in Navy being a single pringle. I really, really loved the plot of this book and enjoyed how much fun it was and how light-hearted it was. I loved Navy and all of her dates and how disastrous some of them were. My only small criticism of the plot was that I felt that it was a little bit slow at times. I would have liked a little bit of a stronger story arc. There were times when I felt like things were jumping around a bit and it would have made a better reading experience for me if there was a more logical story arc.

I really liked the romance in this novel. It has one of my all-time favourite romance tropes, which is second chance romance. I liked the dynamic between Navy and Carrick and really liked their interactions. My main complaint about the romance is that I felt like I didn’t really get the full backstory and it wasn’t completely clear exactly what had happened between them in the past. I think I would have enjoyed the romance a little bit more if there was more Navy and Carrick in the story as well. Having said that, it was really sweet and I loved both Carrick and Navy a lot separately. I also really enjoyed some of the other guys in the story as well and had a really great time peeking in on Navy’s dates.

I absolutely loved Navy as a character. She reminded me of myself a lot because I’m a mid-20s single pringle and it was just nice to read about an experience that is or would be similar to mine. I found Navy super relatable and easy to connect with, and really enjoyed reading about her story.

Overall, I thought Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told was a really lighthearted and engaging story that is perfect for Valentine’s Day.


how-not-to-fall-in-lovePublisher: Self-published
Release date: February 14, 2017
Format: ebook
Source: Author
Pages: 146
Goodreads || Amazon

Katya’s middle name may be Aphrodite, but she has no interest in relationships. In fact, she has three rules she lives by:

1. Never spend the night.

2. Never sleep with the same guy twice.

3. Never fall in love.

Oh, and number 3.1 is never order the same coffee two days in a row.

That’s a lot of nevers, but when she breaks every single one of them, repeatedly (her undoing was a vanilla latte with a heart in the foam, BTW), she begins to wonder…

Actually, it was a batch of chocolate chip cookies that started her downward spiral. Never mind, scratch that, it was Spencer—her neighbor. He’s also a banker, a player, and seems to know just what Kat wants, which isn’t love.

Until they start to spend a lot of time together…

Until she finds one of his socks at her place…

Until they go to a ski resort for a long weekend…

Until he has a snowboarding injury…

As Kat struggles with the part of her that wants to be strong, single, and on the scene and the mushy, melty, romantic within, she tries desperately not to fall in love. But what’s wrong with falling if you have someone with dark tousled hair, refined yet ruggedly handsome features, and chiseled abs to catch you?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

How Not to Fall in Love is the companion novella to Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told, but can be read as a standalone romantic comedy.

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

How Not to Fall in Love is a companion novella to Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told and it follows the story of Navy’s best friend, Katya. I actually loved Katya’s story more than Navy’s and I especially enjoyed the romance between Katya and Spencer.

Katya and Spencer are both commitment-phobes but when the two hook up and develop feelings for each other, they’re unable to escape the other because they’re neighbours in the same apartment building. I really loved how the two characters interacted and how their romance developed throughout the novella. It was really interesting to see the different qualities that they brought out in each other and I just loved Katya and Spencer so much! I especially enjoyed Spencer’s baking abilities and if I had a neighbour who baked chocolate chip cookies 24/7, I’d marry him on the spot haha.

The novella was short and sweet and I finished it in one sitting. My copy of the novella also included recipes for the chocolate chip cookies and dirty brownies and I’m definitely going to be trying them out soon, even though I’m not really much of a baker. I’d definitely recommend picking up this companion novella along with Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told… or even just on its own because it was a super fun and romantic read.