Category Archives: Book Review

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Publication: May 5, 2015

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Purchased Paperback

Pages: 343 pages

Rating: 2 sm

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

“I don’t like the words ‘I’m fine’. My mom tells me those two words are the most-frequently-told lie in the English language.”

The Fill-In Boyfriend was not great. The more I think about it, the less that I like it. I feel like maybe I’ve outgrown these more shallow type young adult contemporary stories. The Fill-In Boyfriend follows a high school senior who is pretty and popular. She gets dumped in the parking lot at prom by her college-aged boyfriend. And honestly? Good on Bradley for breaking up with Gia. She really was this self-centered girl who only cared about how hot he was and showing up her “friend” Jules, who had apparently been challenging whether Bradley actually existed? Excuse me while I stand in the corner and cringe.

This was a quick read, it only took me a few days, and if I had the chance to sit down and read it in one sitting, I probably would have. However, I couldn’t connect to the story or the characters. The writing felt juvenile and lackluster. That being said, I did find the romance to be kind of cute.

Oh man, the characters in this book. I just. I couldn’t connect to them. I found Gia, our main character, to be shallow and annoying. Most of her problems or issues throughout the novel were things she brought on herself. And those that she didn’t, were so cliche. We had, “this girl hates me and is trying to sabotage my life” and “omg which boy do I really like”. Some of her issues could have been solved if Gia had simply just told the damn truth. However, I did like how she developed as a character. I feel like by the end of the book, she wasn’t the same shallow girl she had been in the beginning.

Hayden was the only character I didn’t really have an issue with. His sister, Bec, was alright at times but was extremely immature and hypocritical 90% of the time. Gia’s brother was an asshole. Her parents were dismissive, and her friends were seriously shitty.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. I’m sad to say that I didn’t enjoy this because I’ve heard so many good things about Kasie West’s novels. I do own another book by her and plan to give it a try. I have read some reviews of people who didn’t enjoy The Fill-In Boyfriend but have enjoyed other things by this author. Hopefully, I will enjoy another story by her!

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Publication: July 11, 2017

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Purchased Hardcover

Pages: 288 pages

Rating: 4 sm

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

“I think about my dad’s favorite expression: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. What is my house made of? Paper, I decide. Like in a pop-up book. Easily collapsible.”

Julie Buxbaum has done it again. I read this book in one day (with the exception of the 50 pages I read the night before). And for the most part, I read it in one sitting, only to break for food with a friend. Her books are just so sweet. I love her characters, her writing style that makes the books fly by, and her story telling. Not to mention, this book has some moments I was actually laughing out loud. And a few where I almost cried.

David Drucker is the sweetest cutie on the planet. I just want to hug him and love him for forever. I’ll stop now because I could go on like that for a long time. David has Asperger’s syndrome, though it’s only really mentioned a couple of times, and kind of brushed off by him. I don’t have much experience with autism, so I can’t say how accurate the representation was, but it was nice to read about a character with high functioning autism. I don’t believe I’ve ever read about a character with autism before.

David is very sweet, funny, and passionate about science. He undergoes some really traumatic things in this book, things he definitely did not deserve. I know high school kids can be mean (I mean, it’s only been almost seven years since I graduated), but damn.

Kit, at the beginning of the book, has recently lost her father in a car accident. She’s a character that I related to really well. I lost my father in high school, and could totally relate to her grief and feelings of dissociation. I feel like she didn’t go through gobs of character development, but she did work through her grief a little. I did appreciate that.

There are some occasions in which she stands up for David, and doesn’t let the fear of what people might think of their friendship get in the way. I really appreciated that, because I feel like anytime we see a character who is not neurotypical, the character that befriends them, at some point, feels embarrassed to be their friend. I never got that vibe from Kit.

Now, this could have totally been a five star book for me. It was definitely well on it’s way. However, I thought the plot twist at the end was not needed. While it did surprise me, and I wasn’t expecting it, it felt like too much. Along with that, the constant talk of how attractive the other was felt a little unnatural. We get it, he/she is cute. You don’t have to mention it literally every chapter.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s chalk full of cute, sweet moments. It’s full of so many other things like grief, friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships, discovering yourself, etc. The book was so engrossing, I just wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. I can’t wait to read more from Buxbaum.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel


Publication: November 3, 2015

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Series: The Book of Ivy Duology, Book Two

Format: Paperback

Pages: 288 pages

Rating: 5 sm

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural. She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty–forced marriages and murder plots–for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall’s borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy’s life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she’s fought for.

“That’s what love is, though, isn’t it? You don’t stop loving someone just because they disappoint you.”

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, murder, and suicide. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves. ❤

The Revolution of Ivy picks up just after the first book, when Ivy has been put out. She has nothing but the clothes on her back and has to learn how to navigate a completely new part of the world. She has to learn how to survive, and deal with the brutal people on the outside of the fence.

I thought this was a wonderful second book, and a great conclusion to the story. Again, most of this book isn’t action driven. The beginning a little, because Ivy is learning how to survive in what is essentially a new world. And the ending, because so much happens in the last fifty pages or so.

Again, I really loved the characters in this book. I can’t stand how much I love Ivy’s character development. I remember being slightly frustrated in the first book because I felt she was so brainwashed by her family. So willing to sacrifice herself for people who could barely love her back. If they even did that. She has a sort of awakening in this book that I really, really appreciated. However, that brings other issues to light that I think she works through well throughout the novel. I loved watching Ivy struggle and discover who she is and what it means to live in this post-war, post-apocalyptic world they live in.

Bishop. Oh, my little baby Bishop. He is top notch book boyfriend material, people. Seriously, there’s this huge “bad boy turned good boy” trope in Young Adult literature. And while I love that trope, and enjoy books that contain it, it’s nice to have a male character who is just good from the beginning. There’s no miracle girl that changes his ways and makes him a better person. He just is. I love his devotion and love to Ivy. I just. Ugh. I could gush about this romance for the rest of my life if someone would let me.

On top of that, we were introduced to new characters. People outside the fence that I loved, and one that I wanted to stab every time he was on the page. Once again, I loved Amy Engel’s writing. The story flowed so well and was at a perfect pace.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this sequel. This was such a wonderful duology, and is one of my new favorites. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about either book since I read them, and already want to reread them. And make everyone I know read them.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

wflp3raPublication: November 4, 2014

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian

Series: The Book of Ivy Duology, Book One

Format: Paperback

Pages: 282 pages

Rating: 5 sm

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual. 

This year, it is my turn. 

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president’s son—my soon-to-be husband—and restore the Westfall family to power. 

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

“For the first time, it sinks in that the horrors beyond the fence are the same as those inside it. People. And the brutal things we do to one another.”

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, murder, and suicide. If this triggers you in any way, I do not recommend picking this book up. Please beware and take care of yourselves. ❤

This is one of my favorite books of all time (series too, since I read both books in a week). It certainly reminded me of what I love about dystopian novels. The questions they can bring to my mind about our society and what could cause these things to happen.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that’s made me think as much as this one did. It was such a thought provoking book, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished. It brought to mind questions about what is right and what is wrong. But also how life is too messy for things to be one way or the other. Sometimes there is this messy gray area that no one really wants to actually talk about. It was refreshing to have a light shown on it.

The Book of Ivy is about two teens on opposite sides of a political war. While I think that it would have been nice to get a little more world building, I think it had a fairly nice set up at the beginning of the book. There was a nuclear war that left most of the United States in ruin. A small group came together, and then there was an internal war over who would be in power over the people.

Sixteen year old Ivy, is the from the founding family. The daughter of the man who’s father founded Westfall. She’s raised into this household, made to believe that the Lattimer’s are bad and that they don’t care about the people in their community. Bishop, is the seemingly spoiled son of President Lattimer, the leader of their town. A man who believes in the rules and regulations put in place in their community. Both are not exactly who they appear to be.

The romance in this book is slow burning, and in my opinion, was perfect for this story. I absolutely loved Amy Engel’s writing, and the way that she chose to tell this story. It’s definitely more of a character driven plot, than an action driven plot. But I think that worked really well for this particular book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend picking this up. I need more books by Amy Engel now.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardover

Pages: 278 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 5 sm

An urgent and provocative debut from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a book about community and ambition, love and friendship, and living up to expectation in contemporary black America.

It begins with a secret, then follows that secret through the lives of three different characters-from high school into adulthood-tracing it’s impact far beyond their Southern California youth.

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken seventeen-year-old beauty. She’ll be the first in her family to go to college, if she indeed leaves home as she intends in the fall. But meanwhile, mourning her mother’s recent suicide, she has taken up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, handsome but lacking direction, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables. They are young; it’s not serious; they keep their relationship to themselves. But the secret that results from this romance-and the subsequent cover-up- will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.

As Nadia hides the truth from everyone, including Aubrey, her chaste best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults, still shadowed by the choice they made in their youth, and by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

“Oh girl, we have known littlebit love. That littlebit of honey left in an empty jar that traps the sweetness in your mouth long enough to mask your hunger. We have run tongues over teeth to savor that last littlebit as long as we could, and in all our living, nothing has starved us more.”

The Mothers is such a phenomenal story. I absolutely loved Brit Bennett’s writing and the characters that she created. They all seemed so incredibly realistic, woven into a story that was breathtaking. It’s a story about life and love and loss and how the decisions we make can affect and change, not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us as well. It’s about how life happens.

All of the characters in this novel felt like real people. Like I could have walked out the door, down the street, to my neighbors house. (Okay, probably not. I live in rural America – so let’s be real here.) My point being that they didn’t feel like characters, they felt like people. And I absolutely love when an author is able to make me feel like that. They each have their flaws and their selfish moments and their mistakes. The same as any of us.

This is a book full of funny and smart and sad moments. Of fantastic, quotable moments. It’s full of life and love and hurt and regret. It’s a story about death and ruined dreams and betrayal. It is one hundred percent human. Brit Bennett is a wonderful storyteller and I cannot wait to read more from her.

I thought the ending was daring for a debut novel, but I found it fit the story perfectly. I wouldn’t have asked for it to end any differently. This story didn’t need a neat little bow on top of it. In fact, I think it’s point is made even more so without a tidy wrap up.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s a remarkable debut and I’m glad that I gave it a go. I will definitely pick up whatever she writes next.

*The image was taken from Goodreads and the synopsis was taken from the book jacket. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

Catalyst by Lydia Kang

Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Series: The Control Duology, Book Two

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 388 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 2½ sm

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they’ve come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something–a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister’s safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There’s more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined…aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.

I was a little bored reading this. I originally read the first book, Control, two years ago and really enjoyed it. I reread it earlier in December and didn’t enjoy it as much as the first time I read it, but still enjoyed it. I had fairly mediocre expectations for this. Like, I wasn’t expecting to be spectacular, but I was expecting to enjoy it a little bit more.

After reading almost 400 pages of this, I’m still a little confused as to what the actual plot of this novel was. To me, it felt more like she threw a few subplots together and tried to make them all work as the overall plot. Like, here’s problem number one. Oh, we solved problem number one. Let’s move on to problem number two. Oh look, we solved problem number two. Let’s move on to problem number three. Oh look, we solved problem number three. And that would have been fine, but each individual problem didn’t have much to do with the others? I just don’t think it worked as well as she wanted it to.

One of the big draws for me in the first book was the science that was involved. I’m a huge, huge fan of science fiction, and this second book felt very lacking in the actual science part. I just wanted more from this novel.

Pretty much every character in this book switched personalities from what they were like in the first book. And it just made me go “ughhhhhhh” while reading. I just don’t like it when characters change that much randomly. There were a few characters, such as Caliga, that I enjoyed more in this second novel. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the changed so drastically.

This book was just overall very anticlimactic for me. Which is not at all what I wanted in this conclusion novel. The ending didn’t feel creative and was just rather boring to be honest. There is this kind of fight scene right before the ending that just didn’t really seem to serve a purpose? It felt almost like it was there because she felt like she needed to have a fight scene at the end.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. This series overall was kind of a letdown. I’ve left it with a “meh” feeling, and that’s never a good thing.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 344 pages

Source: Purchased

Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 2½ sm

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This isn’t a three stars book but isn’t quite a two and a half. More like a 2.75, but I don’t really like to rate books that way, haha. I think the reason I had a hard time rating this is because of how much I loved the writing and the style that it was written in. I wanted to give it a high rating for that reason, but I can’t ignore the issues I had with it.

I really wanted to love this book. I did. I like the idea of love at first sight, and I think it was handled fairly well in this novel. Although, I did feel like Daniel was a little obsessed with Natasha and that made me a little uncomfortable.

I loved the diversity represented throughout the novel, with the two main characters being a Jamaican immigrant and a Korean American. I appreciated that it dealt with issues regarding immigration.

However, I absolutely hated the characters. There was not a single character in this book that I liked, and that’s a big thing for me. I have to like the characters that I’m reading about (or at least appreciate the roles that they play throughout the story). I found both of the main characters to be extremely selfish and not at all open-minded toward how the other thought/believed.

I didn’t really appreciate how the differences in belief between the two main characters all of the sudden basically became a nonissue. Especially when it was such a big deal between through the first 75% of the novel.

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy this book between disliking the characters and not really connecting to the romance. I think it just wasn’t the book for me, and that’s okay. I still would recommend picking it up and giving it a chance. I’ve heard a lot of people have really loved it and I’ll say it again, Yoon’s writing is fantastic. This won’t be my last book by her.

*The image and synopsis were both taken from Goodreads. Clicking on the “add to Goodreads” image above will take you to the Goodreads page for this book.*