ARC Review || By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side by Kasie West
Publication Date: January 31st 2017 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC From Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository

Synopsis

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

I will love everything Kasie West will write. So far, I’ve read three books from her, including this one and I’m really looking forward to reading her other books!

Kasie West writes the best fluffy romances, we all know that and I dove into this book expecting the same level of fluff I got from The Distance Between Us and On The Fence. I didn’t get that here, but I was met with more relevant and important issues. Of course, the romance game was still on track but this book is more serious compared her other books and I love this kind of step-up.

Autumn has been struggling with anxiety and her friends have no idea about it. I don’t blame her, most of my friends does not know about mine either. I really connected with Autumn’s character. She’s so genuine and kind. Dax came off as a little obtuse and crass at first, but his character really grew on me and I really appreciated both characters’ development. Their romance was slow-burn and I loved how it played all throughout the book, plus points for their undeniable chemistry.

“Possibilities don’t hurt as much as realities. Possibilities are exciting and endless. Realities are final.”

I also enjoyed the relationship of Autumn and her family, especially with her brother Owen. The friendships in this book are strong too.

I really loved the whole “being stuck in the library with a cute guy” concept and this book immediately rose to the top of my TBR once I heard about the premise. I also appreciated that this book talked about mental illness and an absent family. See, while Autumn had a healthy relationship with her family, Dax had none. And I wish he had more closure with his family.

Most books deal with this issues too, but Kasie West’s writing made me really enjoy the whole experience because I was crying and laughing all the same throughout the book. There’s just something beautiful about her writing style that’s truly effective.

I just really enjoyed the fact that the conflicts were resolved properly and they weren’t too dragging. This book was crafted perfectly and I really recommend it!

ARC Review + Giveaway: Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh

ivory and bone

Ivory+HC

Title: Ivory and Bone
Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Publication Date: June 7th 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★
Amazon / Book Depository / Goodreads

Synopsis

A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

If I could use one word to describe this book, I’d say it’s captivating. The book is so captivating, it was really hard to put it down once you’ve started reading. This book had a great effect on me and I barely read historical YAs. It’s unique and I think it might actually be the first pre-historical YA I’ve ever encountered.

The book is told from Kol’s POV, but with a mix of a second person point-of-view, where the reader is referred to as Mya’s character. It’s weirdly interesting and well, I do admit it made me swoon a couple of times. Kol’s narration is intensely poetic at times, it’ll leave butterflies in your stomach.

“Some people need to see things to understand them.”

The plot is okay, the pacing is great, but really it’s the characters that stood out. The character development of Kol, Mya and the others is delightful to follow. Although, I sort of had a problem following the characters and their names because they’re pretty unusual and they’re really many. I felt like I was reading Game of Thrones because of the number of characters.

I also like the chemistry between Kol and Mya and how Kol is this awkward guy pining for a girl, and Mya is this strong, composed girl who always keeps her emotions in check. It was pretty cool to see their story unfold and I’m glad it wasn’t the center of the story.

“I can’t change the pain you suffered in the past, but I can do everything possible to prevent the pain you might suffer in the future.”

Overall, this book is a great start for a series, although I really wouldn’t mind if it’s a standalone because I loved the ending. It’s a mix of action, drama and romance. It’s refreshing to read because of Eshbaugh’s writing style. I definitely recommend it!

ABOUT JULIE ESHBAUGH

JulieJulie Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.

Author Links: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram

 

 

GIVEAWAY

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Julie is also having her pre-order gift and giveaway! Everyone who preorders the book will receive an IVORY AND BONE BOOKMARK. More details here.

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

girl against the universe

Title: Girl Against the Universe
Author: Paula Stokes
Publication Date: May 17th 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★★
Amazon / Book Depository / Goodreads

Synopsis

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of a review. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

This book is good luck. It got me out of my reading slump. It picked me up when I was really feeling down and I’m really grateful for this book and for the author, who’s a dear friend.

Last weekend, I got bad dose of depression. It was hard for me to be productive during those days. All I kept on thinking was, “I need to get up and do my thesis manuscript” but I got stuck in bed, feeling hopeless about everything. Then, I decided to take a break and read. I picked up several books but none of them appealed to me that time… and then, I finally opened Girl Against the Universe, just because I thought the universe was against me.

“Sometimes the Universe just takes what it wants.”

The first chapter got me really hooked and I loved it from the start. Paula’s writing style is fluent and gripping at the same time, one of the main reasons why I got hooked into the book. I previously enjoyed Stokes’s Liars, Inc. that’s why I was really looking forward to reading this book. Glad to say it didn’t disappoint.

Maguire, the main character, thinks she’s bad luck. A lot of bad things happened around her ever since her dad, brother, and uncle got killed from a car accident. Every bad thing that happened, she always get out unscathed, which led her to believe that she brings bad luck to people. She shut herself out from the world, while also trying to help herself by seeing a therapist, until she met Jordy.

“Relationships are messy,” Jade says. “But when two people like each other, they work it out.”

Jordy is an aspiring tennis star, who’s also got his own problems. He’s always been pressured by his family to focus on tennis and his academics. So when he met Maguire, he’s determined to take a breather, help Maguire in tennis and prove to her that she’s not bad luck as she thought she was.

The book is actually better than what I expected. Sports might be a typical part of a YA novel set in high school, but there are only a few that nails it perfectly and this book is one of them. It might actually be the first book I’ve read which features tennis and it’s pretty refreshing to read.

“How can something feel so crucial in the moment and then seem completely trivial after the fact?”

The characters are easy to get into. Maguire’s thoughts are very interesting to read and it was easy to follow her. She’s definitely relatable, also considering my mind’s state at the time I was reading the book. It actually helped me figure out my own thoughts as well. Maguire is very smart, vulnerable yet strong. Her inner conflicts are easy to understand considering her background. Her determination and courage are just some of her most admirable traits. I also love reading about Jordy. He’s very very very sweet and easy to love. I think he possesses traits which can lead to people labelling him as the cliche male lead, but really, I think we all need a cliche in our lives sometimes. Actually, the only cliche thing I could see from him is that he’s the sporty rich guy that hooks up with girls (which turns out to be a stinky rumor by the way), running in for the pro leagues. Jordy turns out to be this multi-faceted character that I learned to love and I really appreciated his character. Another thing I appreciate is the chemistry between Maguire and Jordy. I do believe I squealed “JOOOOOOOOORDDDDYYY” many times throughout the book, everytime Jordy was being super adorable.

The other characters in the story are perfect fits and they create a balance in the story. I do believe that no character has been left behind in the story. Penn, Jordy’s younger sister, is also a tennis player and I do love her character so much. She’s that cool younger sister who can be sarcastic and adorable at the same time. Same goes for Jade, Maguire’s best friend and fellow tennis player.

“The world is full of holes and uneven seams, wrinkled places that you can’t make smooth, no matter how hard you try.”

The tackling of issues such as death and mental health is really impressive. I think that this book stands far out from Paula Stokes’s other novels. She was able to write a book that perfectly depicts a teenager who’s trying to help herself overcome something big and traumatic. I also loved how healthy and positive the friendships and family relationships were depicted in the story. Maguire’s stepdad, Tom, really surprised me. This is actually the first time I’ve read a book wherein the main character and the step-parent has a good relationship. It might have started a bit shallow, but I loved seeing it grow. They actually got me teary-eyed. Maguire also has an excellent relationship with her mom and her step-siblings.

Overall, this book is really enjoyable to read. It contains complex characters, healthy family relationships, strong friendships and most importantly, it presents hope. Hope that will make us think that everything is going to be okay even if it seems like the universe is against us. I definitely recommend this book!

inah

 

Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup (ARC)

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frannie and truTitle: Frannie and Tru
Author: Karen Hattrup
Publication Date: May 31st 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★
Amazon / Book Depository / Goodreads

Synopsis:

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of a review. No compensation in any form was received for the review of this book.

The first time I’ve heard about this book, I immediately wanted to pick it up. So when Yani of Paper Boulevard was looking for bloggers to participate in the blog tour, I immediately signed up. Upon reading the synopsis, it’s pretty much given that the story was set with a dark aura, which gave off a mysterious vibe to the story.

It was difficult to get into the characters and relate to their situations. Growing up, I wasn’t really that close with my cousins so I’m sort of naive when it comes to the cousin situation. It was also obvious that Frannie was a bit of a wallflower, dragged by Tru in different circumstances that made her question things and learn from them. Frannie and Tru had a very complex relationship and it was great to see it unfold. However, I really wished that there was a wider character development for Frannie. Her personality was hard to catch and she mostly lowers herself. I think it went with the fact that she seemed to idolize Tru too much.

“We ran until my lungs burned and my legs ached. We ran from nothing. We ran for our lives.”

I also think that the book would have been more fun to read if some of the parts were in Tru’s POV. The guy was a delight to read and I would’ve really enjoyed to read his thoughts in the story.

I was enticed by the fact that this book has a gay character but it actually went beyond that. The book tackled pressing issues such as race, sexuality, family relationships, and friendships. I wouldn’t say each of these were tackled well but it was nice to see the effort. Overall, this book is a great debut

 

ABOUT KAREN HATTRUP

karenhattrup1Karen Hattrup grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her parents and brother, devouring books from an early age. At Loyola University Maryland, she studied journalism and spent a semester abroad in Thailand. She went on to become a newspaper reporter, first in Maryland and then in Indiana, writing features and serving as an award-winning arts critic. Karen later studied nonfiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Baltimore City with her husband, daughter, and son.

Author Links: Website / Twitter / Goodreads

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