Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.
As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha – even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

Yes. Yes. Yes. This book is such a good debut and such a pleasant surprise! I’ve been a tiny bit peeved recently because I’ve been powering through books on my shelf and I haven’t really been enjoying them as much as I’d like…until this.

Where do I even start? I’m used to contemporaries, and I have a soft spot for them. But this is a contemporary with one hell of a twist. I was enjoying this book, and about halfway through was left wondering what was happening, a little bored perhaps. It was lovely, fluffy…but that was it. I needed more.

Hell, did Fitzpatrick give me more.

““You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.”

Some people may say the twist was a little too intense for such a fluffy romance, but I am not one of those people. This book really needed the twist to pull it apart from the rest. But it wasn’t just the twist that I loved. For one, this book includes family and friends and such a large cast of characters, but I loved them all and I thought they were all so well built. Everyone played an important role in the story and Fitzpatrick is so good at creating well-rounded characters. I really liked Samantha, and I actually love that she was a rich girl. She challenged the whole rich girl stereotype and proved there is more depth to the spoilt princess we expect.

This book took me through so many emotions. Boredom, slightly, yes. But also love, confusion, tears, happiness, laughter and so much more. I spent some of this book trying not to cry, and other parts bursting out into giggles. It displayed the rollercoaster of Samantha’s life perfectly.

“”Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.””

So honestly, the best part of this book was definitely the characters, whom I adored. I loved the big Garrett family and the natural way they were represented. I loved George, who came across with traits of aspergers to me, and made him even more lovable. I loved the dynamic between Sam and her mum, because even though it was heart-wrenching, I think it was written beautifully.

My only criticism? The pace. As I briefly mentioned above, I thought halfway through this book that that was it. And later on, I felt the ending was a little rushed. I just think if the twist had happened a little sooner, with the first half of the book being more compressed and the second half having a little more longevity, it would have been absolutely perfect.

★★★★★
4.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker

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Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab…ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him.
Jaxon’s first date. Ever.
In rehab, he can’t blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can’t slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he’ll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date.
If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother’s absence, and maybe admit that it’s more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection.
Prepare to be cured.

Eh, this book. I guess I liked it, but why is there so much wrong? (someone remind me of the last time I actually liked a book).

I’ve heard this isn’t exactly an unpopular opinion, but I really didn’t like Jaxon, our MC. At first he just seemed like a nerd, but in the end he was rude, insanely self-centred and basically a jerk. I know we don’t always need to necessarily like a MC, but in this story it would have been really good to actually want to root for Jaxon. He had a lot he wanted to achieve and I really wanted to cheer him on, but in reality he treated everyone so badly who was trying to help him, that all I could do was dislike him.

“Just because something goes wrong in your life”

I didn’t dislike reading this book, in fact it was really entertaining in parts. Video game rehab is something original in YA that I haven’t read before and a lot of it was fast-paced and fun. It was incredibly fast-paced and I got through it incredibly quickly. It was definitely a page-turner. The unfortunate thing about the plot, however, was that Jaxon didn’t really get anywhere. Video game rehab is meant to help people with being addicted to games, which I understand in the modern world is something that could be really serious, and I’m glad this book discussed it. But instead of using his time in rehab to actually learn, he seemed to be pretty much back in square one towards the end of the book.

“doesn’t mean you get to become the wrong in everyone else’s.”

For some reason, the end of the book just seemed to go in a complete different direction. Instead of healing, Jaxon improved a bit socially and that seemed to be…it? I just wish the plot had been planned out better. But while reading the book, I enjoyed it and found in entertaining. It might not have been the best, but I did enjoy it somewhat.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

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Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

Firstly, hi on a Saturday! I know I usually post Stacking the Shelves on a Saturday but as I haven’t bought books this week (yay for self control), I thought I would post this. I’m really sorry if this is one-too-many reviews for a week but honestly, if I don’t post this right now I’m going to just have a backlog of reviews as I’m reading quicker than I can post! Which is awesome!

So onto this book, and I had mixed feelings about even buying this in the first place. I remember reading Am I Normal Yet? and finding the voice of the MC a little too young for me, and I was scared about this happening again. But I would say It Only Happens in the Movies had a slightly older feel.

“Love isn’t just a feeling. Love is a choice too.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I can see why it has so much praise. It’s just very real in many aspects – romance, friendship, sex, growing up, parent troubles, moving from home..everything.

But I can’t help it, I have these niggles, and I wish I didn’t but I just did. For one, I didn’t like Audrey all the time. She was just so damn angsty and constantly angry, and I know it was because of her circumstances but she’d just like blow up for no reason? It also annoyed me when she didn’t seek help for either her or her mum, even though she knew how much she was going through, she just isolated herself instead. Another really important point I’d like to make is something I read in another review – if the same thing that happened to Harry happened to Audrey at the end of the book, it would be a completely different story.

“And you may not be able to help your feelings, but you are responsible for the choices you make about what to do with them.”

But even though I did have some little annoyances, I actually mostly enjoyed reading this book. It was a little cliche for me, but Audrey was a really strong feminist character who I looked up to and loved her strength. I felt how relatable this book was, and even told my friend about it who had been through a very similar experience to Audrey. I felt like this alone tells everyone how important this book is.

★★★★
3.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Selection (#1) by Kiera Cass

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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I just saw a review on Goodreads that sounds exactly how I’m feeling about these books. They’re like cookies that are really bad for you – you know you shouldn’t like them because they’re full of trash but you just can’t help yourself by eating a whole packet in one sitting. Credit to Taneika for that one!

So right now, I’m feeling incredibly torn over this book. For one, I never thought I would like a book with a girl called America Singer. America. And talking of America, this girl tears me in half too. On one hand, she is so damn indecisive and I know it’s going to annoy me a tiny bit throughout the whole series. But on the other hand, she has a kind and sensitive soul which shines through above all.

“I hope you find someone you can’t live without. I really do.”

I actually really enjoyed the caste system and world. It only has a small touch of fantasy and the palace and it’s grounds are pretty well described. I actually enjoyed how the world and history was described. I would have loved a map in the front of the book, but the history lessons were through dialogue and actual lessons the Selected took part in. I didn’t mind this, because it kept the lessons short and informative, rather than just long pieces of information.

“And I hope you never have to know what it’s like to have to try and live without them.”

Sure, this book was absolutely and utterly far from perfect. It should really be easy for me to say it was bad. But I can’t help it, it was so trashy I loved it. It was the kind of TV you know you shouldn’t watch but can’t help it. It was so predictable, cheesy, fluffy and other wrong things that I should be hating on it. But I can’t help it, these books are fun and quick to read and I have already read half of the second book.

Help me.

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

This book honestly really surprised me! I thought I was over cutesy YA romances like this but it turns out I can’t help but have a soft spot for them. And it also turns out that my friend Amy knows me even better than I know myself, because she sent this to me knowing how much I’d love it!

Before I start, this book isn’t perfect. I’d rather finish on the good, so I’m going to start with the little bad there is. Even though I enjoyed it, it is predictable and all of the characters have their…problems. For example, there was a few places that made me cringeeee. Basically, Molly (the main character), talks to her cousin Abby and the conversation almost suggests Abby is a slut because she slept with her serious boyfriend of 4 months. Why is that even a consideration? It’s up to Abby whether she sleeps with her boyfriend or not. If they were ready at 4 months, great. If they were ready sooner, great.

“You would matter. That’s the thing. I get into this weird place sometimes where I worry about that.”

But apart from a few little things, I did love this book. I had to put myself into my mind a year or two ago, but I couldn’t help but really enjoy this. It is exactly how I felt when I was Molly’s age and crushing. She felt so real to me. I love how much I could relate to her and her situation. Molly wasn’t perfect but who is? And this book was so diverse, with so many LGBT and POC characters! Sometimes I struggled to remember Molly was still growing up (I was a little more mature than her at the same age), but that was just her as a person, and I could sympathise with that.

“I’ve never told anyone this – not my moms, not Cassie – but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”

Maybe this book says something about me, because I feel like I’m one of the only readers who didn’t find Molly a little annoying because I found her so relatable. I loved that Molly suffered with anxiety and that was part of her character. I loved that she was fat and that was discussed in relation to how she was feeling. I loved her addiction to Pinterest.

So overall, this book feels like a guilty pleasure to me. I just couldn’t help but fall completely in love with it. Molly is the perfect representation of a 17 year old girl with low self-confidence. Her story, and the stories of the people around her, brought tears to my eyes even though I kind of knew what was about to happen. If you love romance and have a secret obsession with contemporaries, please go and read this. It’s beautiful and perfect and includes many, many Mini Eggs. It’s the definition of cute and fluffy, but it warmed my heart so much.

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 
Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 
With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Wow, unpopular opinion much. I know there is much love around this series and I’m sorry, but my opinion seems to be the complete opposite of what everyone else thinks. Oops.

Oh my god. I didn’t think it could get any worse, but reading my review of Gemina, I think I actually liked this one even less. The bottom line is, I was just even more confused because there are way too many characters in these books! Let’s just have a quick throwback to me a couple of years ago when Illuminae came out. I was where everyone else was, fangirling over this new book with a completely new style of reading. I honestly think it was just so refreshing to read something so different, but since then, both books that followed just seem like retellings of the same world. I can’t help but feel that success, rather than love made the authors release the other two.

“May we meet again on distant shores.”

And another thing I hate about not only having so many characters, but also the camera surveillance way this story is told? I felt so damn detached. Yeah, this book is emotional and yeah, I loved the poetic parts. But I still don’t give a damn what happened. Sorry for my cold heart and black soul.

Like 80% (at least) of this book was just boring and I couldn’t focus. Only a small number of pages actually made me feel like I was invested or involved in the book at all. But on the other hand, this really small amount of pages…were awesome. I loved them, I felt completely in the world and I felt the emotion. And I guess I do have one popular opinion, because I LOVE AIDAN. Like, I flicked through the whole book looking for those black pages. I loved his parts, and I wanted so much more. If only the book was just AIDAN…

“Some place fine and far from here.”

But that’s where the good stuff ends, and other than that, I was so disappointed. I wanted it to all end so I could read better things. I’m glad I managed to finish this series, but that’s about it.

Well don’t let the fact that I disliked this one put you off – it’s such an unpopular opinion after all!

★★
2 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

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In Alaska, 1970, being a teenager here isn’t like being a teenager anywhere else. Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck strikes. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance, with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.
Four very different lives are about to become entangled.

The last time I saw my friend and co-blogger Pete, he gave me a book! It’s also one I’ve wanted to read for a long time – especially since his great review back in September.

I adore how unique this book is, and I felt it’s honesty. I felt the genuine, heartfelt location of 1970s Alaska so insightful and interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite the same, involving such a different set of characters and locations. Much like other books with more than one POV, I did find it hard to get into each character and their individual stories, but I ended up liking the differences.

“I’ll never understand how certain things that happen to us can climb under our skin and make us someone new. Big things can do it — like Sam going missing.”

This book strikes me as important. It tackles subjects I’ve never read about before in such detail, such as the statehood and problems Alaska and it’s people faced. It talks about growing up with abusive parents and not knowing your own family. It faces teenage pregnancy and the struggles of growing up.

I love how each character meant a lot, even the families and parents. Too many YA books focus entirely on romance, but this book felt like so much more. It talked about the relationships we have with our families and friends, and how we as people help and support those we love. It wasn’t just relationships or friendships, it was about everyone.

“Small things can do it, too, like having a stranger fall to pieces in front of you. I’m beginning to think that everything changes us to some extent.”

The focus of this book is how our lives intertwine and combine, no matter what. It talks about how we all work together, even though we have different backgrounds and interests. It talks about togetherness and the respect we should have for one another. I felt this book is so important, and definitely one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

★★★★★
4.5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

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When the Knight Bus crashes through the darkness and screeches to a halt in front of him, it’s the start of another far from ordinary year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter. Sirius Black, escaped mass-murderer and follower of Lord Voldemort, is on the run – and they say he is coming after Harry. In his first ever Divination class, Professor Trelawney sees an omen of death in Harry’s tea leaves… But perhaps most terrifying of all are the Dementors patrolling the school grounds, with their soul-sucking kiss…

I loved this book! In fact, I think I’d say it’s my favourite HP book so far. I didn’t think the first or second books could be topped, but I actually preferred this one.

Why? Becuase I found this book the most character heavy so far and I loved that. Instead of the action being all about chasing and capturing and killing, it felt like more. It felt like emotions and connections between these beautiful characters.

“‘I’m not going to be murdered,’ Harry said out loud.”

But even though this book was very character heavy, I also loved the plot. J.K. Rowling has such skill in making you believe something is going to happen and then completely turning the tables. There were so many ‘ohhh’ moments in this book. So many realisations.

And to make it even better, there were funny moments too! As showed in this quote and many others, there are just chuckle-able moments throughout this gorgeous read. I’m so happy.

“‘That’s the spirit, dear,’ said his mirror sleepily.””

Again, I loved so much about these books. I also adored the further wizarding world and the visits to Hogsmeade.

So what can I say. These books and this world has still managed to completely capture my heart. I’m stuck in Hogwarts and loving it, still. And even though the next book is, um, 800 pages long and the text is half the size of the first 3, I still can’t wait to start it.

★★★★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw

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Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.
When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. And if they ever find out what Scarlett truly thinks about them, she’ll be thrust into a situation far more dramatic than anything she’s ever seen on TV…

This book has left me with very mixed feelings. I loved it, and I was bored. It was easy to read, but I didn’t find it exciting or entertaining.

I wouldn’t say I disliked Scarlett as such, but I didn’t have much of a connection with her either. I don’t know how to describe this, but I found her…young. She was just so naive. Although I did like parts of her, I felt her character wasn’t developed that well. I also felt she could be a little nasty to some of the other characters for no reason. And her fascination with her crush?

  1. You’ve barely talked in 4 years
  2. He’s not, like…yours?
  3. Why do you like him? Again, I want more character development. I want to know more about who is as a person (other than he likes comedy).

“The best parts of life aren’t clear-cut or obvious—they don’t have neat endings”

I unfortunately felt similar feelings for all of the characters. I love that this book had a variety of different characters, but I couldn’t help but be confused among some. Take Ruth and Dawn for example. It took me like half the book to realise which was which.

I have to say, I found this one really easy to read. I literally read 80 pages in about 45 minutes. I got through this one so quickly and I loved it because of that.

I know it’s your inclination to skip to the end, but you can’t just focus on how it’s all gonna turn out.”

I also actually thought the fanfiction was done pretty well and I enjoyed the story within the story.

And one last criticism is the ending. I can’t remember much about it, but I wish more things were tied up. It just felt a little…empty.

So there’s plenty of negatives, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

★★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: The Territory (#1) by Sarah Govett

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Limited Space requires Limited Numbers
The year is 2059. Noa Blake is just another normal 15 year old. Except in the Territory normal isn’t normal. The richest children can download information and bypass the need to study. In a flooded world of dwindling resources, Noa and the other ‘Norms’ have their work cut out to compete. And competing is everything – anybody who fails the TAA exam at 15 will be shipped off to the disease-ridden Wetlands, to a life of misery, if not certain death.
But how to focus when your heart is being torn in two directions at once?

I have been provided with a copy of the book and payment by the author in exchange for an honest review. This has not changed my review in any way.

I started this book thinking it might take me a while to get into. Thinking it might be a little young and not something I’d usually read. But soon enough, I was picking this book up whenever I had a spare minute just to find out what was happening next.

Rather than this book being in chapters, it had a break every couple of pages and I loved that. It meant that I didn’t have to committ myself to sitting down and finishing 20+ pages, and that I could literally read this book whenever. And that’s one of the reasons I finished this one in under 2 days!

I also found the writing utterly captivating. Although this book read as though it would suit young teens, I still enjoyed it immensely. Because of this, the book was only 200 pages long and very easy to read, which I loved!

I adored the characters and world. The world had just enough relating to Earth as we know it to ensure I could picture everything clearly, but enough differences to make it stand completely on it’s own as something unique. And this book is just that – unique.

Noa lives in a difficult, dangerous and terrifying world and I felt I could really relate to her feelings. Her thoughts shone through incredibly in the writing and I felt her emotions clearly. Noa isn’t the only character I loved – this book actually has some really great side characters. I felt close to Noa’s friends and family and I felt everything they went through right along with them.

Overall, The Territory is intense, emotional and unique. It left me with tears in my eyes, and now I’m absolutely hooked and can’t wait to continue with the story! I would highly recommend this book for teens aged 12-16 and are readers of dystopia.

★★★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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