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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie WestTitle: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: February 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

bookreview1

I’m a huge Kasie West fan and all of her books are auto-buys, regardless of my reviews for them. Usually I pre-order and I somehow missed this one so I picked it up on audio so I didn’t have to wait!

FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS fell a little flat for me. When it came down to it, I felt like none of the characters were really all that likable. I didn’t really like Lacey that much and I didn’t find her character relatable either. I thought she seemed a little unreasonable at times and maybe she was a bit too much of a dreamer for me. While I don’t think an acting career is unrealistic, I had a hard time with how much she wanted to push off the end of high school to continue on her acting career when she could have easily managed both from the way that the book sounded. There were times when I liked her lack of filter and it felt genuine to hear some things pour out of her mouth but other times I felt she was rash and quick to assumptions.

I also just find that I don’t really enjoy books about acting or the movie/TV business. I think the only book that I did enjoy like that was GEEKERELLA and only half of the main characters were actually involved in the biz so it brought something a little different to the book rather than it being the only main narrator. I’m not sure what it is… just not being able to relate? I don’t enjoy the business or behind-the-scenes? But for some reason it just doesn’t hold me.

I also wanted just a bit more chemistry between Lacey and Donovan. I really started feeling it towards the end when they finally had some quiet moments together, allowing themselves to be relaxed and cute. I didn’t enjoy all of the tutoring scenes where it was so frantic on-set and Lacey’s co-stars and friends kept popping in and out.

I also thought the sabotage angle was a little cheesy and made it almost a mystery towards the end. I thought it took away from some of the reality of the book and I would have just loved to see more from the characters and a more character-driven novel. I could have dropped that part of the plot and just enjoyed the romance and character relationships.

Not my favorite Kasie West book by far. I think it’s my least favorite and I’m a little bummed about that. The character cameos were fun but they were from LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST which was also another not-favorite so it wasn’t as exciting.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cute contemporaries. I always love a light, cute contemporary. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was just the kind of tone I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just feel like everyone was so surface-level. I didn’t really like much about any of them and that was really disappointing.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

If this wasn’t Kasie West, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much and sadly, it may be my least favorite Kasie West book yet. I do love her books so much and would recommend her no matter what, but this one was a miss for me.

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BOOKS LIKE FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS

             

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine – Sally ThorneTitle: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 10, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Hating Game

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

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THE HATING GAME sprang onto the scene as an adorable rom-com beloved by so many so the anticipation of 99 PERCENT MINE was naturally quite heightened. As much as I don’t like comparing two books that are in no way related, I admit that 99 PERCENT MINE fell incredibly short compared to my love for THE HATING GAME.

Firstly, 99 PERCENT MINE felt much more serious. THG was so cute, cheeky, fun, and had amazing tension. 99PM felt like it was much more in the way of a serious romance, despite Darcy’s cheek and sass. The difficult part for me is that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was incredible boring and monotone and didn’t have the flirtatious fun that THG’s narrator did, so that affected my take on the tone entirely as well. She read it as a serious book so whether it was or not, that’s how I felt about it. Her narration affected me a lot, and not in a good way. It only exacerbated how much I wasn’t enjoying the plot and made for a difficult read. I really didn’t want to continue but pushing me forward was the fact that I knew I could finish quickly. My problem wasn’t the fact that it was a more serious book, but the cover matched that of THG with a sass and cuteness that didn’t really reflect the story inside. I was just expecting the same tone and it really wasn’t for me.

Okay, onto the story itself. I didn’t much like the feel of the characters and I hated how they treated each other. You know I love a good friends-to-more romance and the situation between Darcy and Tom was best friends as kids, reunited as adults and the tension is still there. He’s the only guy Darcy ever had strong feelings for and the childhood crush/teenage bigger crush carried into adulthood and Darcy still has it bad for this guy, all hidden under a very hard exterior. The hard exterior isn’t false — Darcy is tough and can handle herself, but it all felt like a bit TOO much. Leather pants, swearing (don’t get me wrong, I love swearing), teasing guys, a nipple ring… Meh. It just wasn’t for me and I just didn’t click with it. There was something that just felt really off about her character. Jamie (her twin) was a little too black-and-white, stripped down to the basics of a character. Tom was a little better but also still a little too melodramatic for my tastes. And I just hated the way everyone treated each other. Darcy basically tried to force Tom into liking her back (she knew he did but she put him in uncomfortable situations) and she and Tom were so afraid to talk to each other. It was constant aggressive moves, then not wanting to talk, hiding things from each other and making up for it afterwards. All of the relationships just made me cringe instead of having me swoon.

The book finally made up for it some in the end when the two do finally get together (no spoiler there, that’s the whole point of the book so if you don’t see that coming…..) and I finally got a feel for some of the chemistry without the secrets and non-sensical reluctance to be in a relationship. They both loved each other and the only thing holding them back was themselves. Meh.

I also really hated this dependency and ownership. The “99% mine” thing is kind of cute until you realize that Darcy actually wants to make Tom “hers” and keep him all for herself. She thinks her brother, who is best friends with Tom too, has too much of him and she keeps counting up the percentages until he’s all hers. It’s just such an unhealthy way to think of relationships and the fact that she couldn’t even share him with his friends was off-putting. I get a sibling rivalry of sorts, but Darcy and Jamie actually liked each other and had a good relationship (until a stupid fight which they have to overcome) so it bothered me that she wanted to steal Tom away from an important person in his life as well as hers, which would hurt her brother in the process too.
The dependency came in where both Darcy and Jamie felt they would die without Tom, Darcy quite literally with her heart condition… And that took it too far. Things can be romantic and her heart beating faster and responding to Tom was cute, but dying without him? I get the point being made, losing your soulmate and I suppose I do believe the possibility of dying of broken heart, so to speak, but it just didn’t fit in this situation and the concept just didn’t seem to jive. I never got a good handle on Darcy’s character with her pushing everyone away and then clinging so tightly.

The characters really didn’t pull me in and this is a character-driven novel so without some other plot (besides Darcy’s heart, which also irritated me because she could have taken care of herself but chose not to), I just didn’t connect with it. Thinking about two stars but I’m not sure yet.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary. I don’t read a lot of adult contemporary romances but I think I want to get into more cute and fun ones! This was an instant read for me thanks to THE HATING GAME and I think I’d like to read more cute contemps!
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. Among other things, I would have loved to see the chemistry sooner. There was too much time putting it off because the two main characters were afraid or hesitant. We missed so much good emotion time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

There are so many mixed reviews on this book that I don’t know what to tell you! I felt let down and disappointed but other friends really loved it. I guess it depends on what you’re aiming to get from this book and I didn’t get it.

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BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate StrohmTitle: Love A La Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publishing Info: November 27, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

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LOVE A LA MODE was an overall enjoyable book! It was compared to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which are big shoes to fill in my book since I re-read that every year, but honestly aside from the Paris setting, it really shouldn’t be compare to ANNA. Not in a bad way but they’re really not that similar, and I actually feel like Paris had even less to do with LOVE A LA MODE because it wasn’t explored and didn’t mean as much to these main characters. The main focus here was the cooking and baking, which was a lot of fun to read about! I used to get into watching Chopped and the Cooking Channel (though I don’t much anymore) and I do enjoy cooking and baking on a basic level, so it was fun to read about something new to add a theme and a unique concept to a book! I think the cooking and Paris setting helped it stand out a bit from other contemporary YA novels but I also think it could have had a little more that helped it stand on its own two feet.

I think overall, I feel like everyone and everything could have had just a little more depth. I would have loved to see more from the main characters aside from their crushes, more of the Paris setting… We did see a lot of cooking but as much as I enjoy cooking and baking, it’s not really on a technical or fan-based level, so I wasn’t as connected to that. I enjoyed the book overall and I think the maturity level and interactions between these teens was accurate, but I still felt like we could have learned even more about them, their stories, something to make them more well-rounded characters. We dipped into some family histories but there wasn’t a whole lot there to really bring the characters’ experiences to the page until later on in the book.

There was a bit of a love triangle but I also liked that it wasn’t really Rosie truly caught between two boys. There was an instant attraction to Henry and then she had a crush on a TV star’s son (who is also a bit of a TV star). Once she gets to know the star, she figures out her true feelings for each of the boys, but it isn’t dragged out to be going back and forth between the two. What I didn’t really enjoy were Henry’s jealous feelings, which were valid but it was another case of “if these two just talked we wouldn’t have an issue”. I know that’s not always how life works but sometimes the way it plays out on the page can be a little frustrating, and this time it got the best of me!

Overall, I did enjoy listening to LOVE A LA MODE on audiobook. The narrator was actually the author and I really enjoy listening to authors narrating their own works! You know that everything is being said exactly how they want it to be said, inflection and all. I think she was a good narrator, not my favorite, but enjoyable to listen to. The story was cute, had a unique spin, and an easy read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cooking and baking. There are a lot of characters in books who enjoy baking and this book took it to a whole new level with a cooking school! I didn’t connect as much because I don’t know things on a technical level but I think it was really fun to read about!
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I would have loved to see more personality and character depth! They could have been a bit more well-rounded, I think.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was enjoyable and a lot of fun! I think it’s definitely worth the read. It was cute and interesting!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LOVE A LA MODE

             

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie WestTitle: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Publishing Info: December 26, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

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LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was another wonderfully put-together Kasie West book! You know I’m a sucker for friend-to-more romances and this was another one that I really loved. The friendship was so great and enjoyable and I really liked how everything felt so realistic with the way that Abby handled her crush on her best friend. Did I love how Abby acted in every situation? No, and that’s what made it so realistic. Teenagers (and hey, even adults) don’t make very good decisions when feelings are involved and I know we’ve all made some choices that have hurt people when trying to figure out our love lives. I actually really appreciated that everything wasn’t perfect and smooth.

I will say that after reading this book, it kind of made BY YOUR SIDE seem a little less realistic with it the way that the anxiety issues were handled. It’s hard not to compare sometimes and LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST handled Abby’s mom’s agoraphobia much better than the anxiety issues in BY YOUR SIDE.

While LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST is still not my favorite out of all Kasie West’s contemporary books, it was so strong, realistic, and just really well done. I loved the sarcasm, banter, and friendship and all of the different friendships throughout the book. There were so many moments that felt natural and not forced and I really appreciated how Katie West handled so many of the situations here. I could have even gone for a few different endings but I was also really happy with how everything wrapped up!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Messy romances. I’m sure every romance in a book is a little messy and has its drama, but really there were so many different ways that this book could have ended. I could have gone for a few different endings, but I actually kind of liked that it was so complicated that I didn’t know how it would end and who Abby would choose.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I could have used a bit more time with Abby and Cooper actually together without the animosity of the other girl.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’m a big fan of all of Kasie West’s books. Even the ones I don’t love as much, they’re all so solid and great.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST

             

The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) – Richard Kadrey

The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) – Richard KadreyTitle: The Everything Box (Another Coop Heist #1) by Richard Kadrey
Publishing Info: April 19, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: June 18, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

2000 B.C.
A beautiful, ambitious angel stands on a mountaintop, surveying the world and its little inhabitants below. He smiles because soon, the last of humanity who survived the great flood will meet its end, too. And he should know. He’s going to play a big part in it. Our angel usually doesn’t get to do field work, and if he does well, he’s certain he’ll be get a big promotion.
And now it’s time . . .
The angel reaches into his pocket for the instrument of humanity’s doom. Must be in the other pocket. Then he frantically begins to pat himself down. Dejected, he realizes he has lost the object. Looking over the Earth at all that could have been, the majestic angel utters a single word.
“Crap.”

2015
A thief named Coop-a specialist in purloining magic objects-steals and delivers a small box to the mysterious client who engaged his services. Coop doesn’t know that his latest job could be the end of him-and the rest of the world. Suddenly he finds himself in the company of the Department of Peculiar Science, a fearsome enforcement agency that polices the odd and strange. The box isn’t just a supernatural heirloom with quaint powers, they tell him.

It’s a doomsday device. They think. . .
And suddenly, everyone is out to get it.

bookreview1

Well, I went out on a limb and selected a book that literally none of my friends have read and this was it. I was looking for a clever book with humor, interesting characters, and a well-crafted novel. THE EVERYTHING BOX definitely had its humor and gave off some serious Dogma (movie) vibes, but I didn’t really connect with the plot or the characters like I had hoped.

The book started out a little too silly, then started softening out to a more well-balanced flow. Then around the second half of the book, I just felt like I lost it. I couldn’t focus and there were a lot of different POVs/perspectives but I felt like they sort of bumped around a little too much. Each perspective added something to the story, yes, but it felt like a few of them didn’t really need to be separate perspectives. There just ended up being a lot of characters and they didn’t stick around long enough for me to feel like there was any development. Even with the main characters, new people kept coming onto the scene and it was just a large cast that I didn’t make a good connection with.

The plot itself was also not the greatest. There was a lot of moving around, lots of plotting and even a heist or two… but it seemed like it was all kind of pointless. There just wasn’t a whole lot going on to push the plot forward and it just all felt a little jumbled. Ultimately, that was probably what took me out of the book the most. There were a few different story lines involved here and they would just bounce around, featuring new characters we hadn’t met before, and that took a while to adjust to.

I doubt I’ll continue the series because I just didn’t feel any strong feelings for this book. There were a couple decent points throughout the book but it really didn’t come together for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Reads that not a lot of people have reviewed. I really wanted to get into something to form an opinion for myself without seeing any reviews at all, maybe “discover” a new great book. This wasn’t it, but I really did enjoy trying something new!
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I didn’t love how things really jumped around a lot from concept to concept.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series and it wasn’t something I was keen on recommending.

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BOOKS LIKE THE EVERYTHING BOX

              

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara Holland

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara HollandTitle: Everless (Everless #1) by Sara Holland
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: May 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

bookreview1This book surprised me! I had heard a lot of good things about it but wasn’t really sure what to expect and I was definitely captivated the whole book! It’s definitely YA and has the young adult feel but also has a sense of maturity that I haven’t been seeing in a lot of YA reads lately. I was so happy to get that sense of a more put-together voice.

I love anything that has to do with time so the whole concept of this book was an instant attraction to me. EVERLESS features a concept where the currency is time and time is bound to blood so those who don’t have currency in excess pay with years of their life. It was fun to see a unique magic system and concept! I was a little worried because it kind of sounded similar to dystopian concepts which I haven’t been jiving with lately but it was really well-done! Add in the twists throughout and it made it even more appealing! I also really enjoyed all of the world-building presented in this book and I’m so curious to learn even more history and details in the upcoming novels!

Finally, I really liked how the romance was handled as well. There was a lot more beneath the surface and I appreciate how everything evolved and what came to light. There were some interesting concepts and I really appreciated how everything unfolded. It broke through a few commonly used tropes and it’s not like you can really create a new romance trope but just the way that it was put together was really great.

Oh, and the main character and I share a birthday 😀

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique fantasy concepts. I hadn’t read a book like this before where time was connected to blood/currency. It was really well put-together and fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I did love so many things but looking back a few months later, I wish there was more of shining personality to win me over. The characters aren’t really too memorable looking back.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really fun read and I appreciated so much that happened here! I’m definitely interested in book two and I can’t wait to see how the world continues to evolve.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERLESS

              

The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia HandTitle: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Publishing Info: October 24, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Retelling
Date Completed: May 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: My Lady Jane

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change...

bookreview1

THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE was such an interesting adaptation of the Christmas classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. It was really fun to see a different sort of retelling and I really enjoy adaptations that aren’t just fairy tales. The concept was fun, unique, and well-done!

The book itself was really interesting. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but not in a bad way. I was expecting it to be a little darker and a little bit more of a straight retelling rather than having a paranormal twists with actual ghosts. It gave it a more quirky and light vibe, which wasn’t a bad thing. I actually may have preferred that over a serious take, given the option, but I think either way, Cynthia Hand knew what she was doing with this concept! It was fun, but I definitely had a very different expectation.

This book was really enjoyable from start to finish! I had a great time listening to the audiobook and it was a really fun, easy read with some great messages. Of course the Scrooge concept is still there, but it was neat seeing it taken to a young adult level with the Scrooge character being a teen. There’s a lot more wickedness to pack into a shorter timespan in order for the character to be the one you want to turn around and yet still root for at the same time.

I also really, truly loved that ending. I wasn’t sure I was liking the way that it was going and I really, really, really appreciate what Cynthia Hand did here! I won’t share any spoilers of course, but like the whole book in general, the ending took its own unique spin and didn’t fall into predictable, happy and sappy YA plot. Things stayed real and I loved that not everything wraps up perfectly because life doesn’t always wrap up perfectly.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Different retellings. I loved seeing a new retelling with this CHRISTMAS CAROL adaptation!
Left Me Wanting More: Atmosphere. The book had a lot of levity to it, which wasn’t bad at all but I did want a little more… spookiness? No, that’s not it. But some sort of atmosphere that gave it a little more feels.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s a fun book! I did enjoy it a lot and thought it was a unique concept, quite different than what I was expecting!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE

              

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) – Becky AlbertalliTitle: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) by Becky Albertalli
Publishing Info: April 25, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 24, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

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Bee doo bee doo, unpopular opinion alert! For as much as I adoooored Simon (both the book and the character) and as much as I appreciated Leah in Simon’s story, I didn’t really connect with her like I wanted to in this book and I was really, really surprised by that.

There were a lot of things that I loved about LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT. I always enjoy the relationships that Becky Albertalli crafts and there are just so many amazing ties and connections going on there, whether those relationships are romantic or platonic or familial. Leah has a great relationship with her mom, the obvious friendship with Simon, and we get to see some new friendships from Leah’s perspective here as well.

There is, obviously, a noticeable difference in tone from Simon to Leah, which is great that they don’t feel the same because they’re quite different in so many ways. This book doesn’t get stuck in the rut of the same tone no matter the character focus and I think Becky did a really great job of making this Leah’s book and Leah’s voice. I love her sarcasm and her voice is so much fun to read! But it was also sort of weird seeing things from her point of view. On the one hand, it’s great to see the insecurities from Leah’s voice since a lot of what we see in SIMON is her confidence in her friendships and I feel like she was such a strong presence. On the other hand it was kind of weird to see everything so exposed like that! It is really great to be able to see how well-rounded this character is.

I don’t know how much people are supposed to know about the romantic aspect in this book so I don’t want to give any spoilers away but something about it didn’t click for me. To be fair, I haven’t yet read THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED, so although that was just more of a companion/not as related, I don’t know if there was something that I’m missing… I think there was also conflict in SIMON that I latched onto and never let go of so I had a hard time being in the right mindset for this pairing. (I also think maybe the movie didn’t help that conflict/what I remember about it either.)

It was an enjoyable book for sure, and I read it (listened to the audio) all in one day. I loved being able to spend more time with these characters and to get to know Leah better! Ultimately, something just didn’t flow for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Creekwood… verse? These characters are so much fun and it was wonderful to see some familiar ones as well as meeting new friends too!
Left Me Wanting More: Flow with the timeline of SIMON. I just feel like there was a bit thing in SIMON that was totally glossed over and even changed from that book to this one. Maybe we only got things from Simon’s perspective and that’s why it felt off? I think I just feel misled on Leah’s connection with another character from that book to this one and it didn’t feel right.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you loved SIMON, I think you also need to read Leah’s story! I’m really bummed I didn’t make the connections that I wanted to here but for some reason I just didn’t feel like certain parts of the book felt right. I mean, obviously I’m not the author and she knows best but I personally had some qualms.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT

              

Girls on Fire – Robin Wasserman

Girls on Fire – Robin WassermanTitle: Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: April 4, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.

In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.

By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, Girls on Fire is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.

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Anything that’s about toxic friendships is an immediate draw for me. When I first read about GIRLS ON FIRE, I knew I wanted to read it so I had some high expectations upon starting it! Things started off well and interesting and then the book started to lose me.

This book was what I expected and also took a couple turns. I found myself kind of losing interest a little towards the middle and I felt like things kind of plateaued a little early, even though there still was more to come. It was gripping and also a little horrifying witnessing such toxic friendships but it’s also a really interesting from a psychological aspect. While it felt genuine and plausible, it also was just lacking some element that really allowed me to connect with it and get sucked in like I had hoped.

The pacing really just threw me off and once the middle hit, I was starting to really lose focus. I thought it was an interesting concept and story but the book just didn’t flow and I thought it could have been set up a little bit better.

If you’re looking for a book about toxic friendships, this one definitely fits the bill. There’s also a mystery and other coming-of-age topics (relationships, friendships, family), but it just didn’t quite fit for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Toxic Friendships. It’s so interesting and slightly horrifying to read of friendships like these, mostly because they really do exist in such extremes.
Left Me Wanting More: Flow. The pacing was off and the book really just didn’t flow for me. I found myself losing focus about halfway through.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It wasn’t a bad book or anything but I just had a hard time staying interested. I just didn’t quite love it and it didn’t help that I had some expectations and it didn’t quite get there.

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BOOKS LIKE GIRLS ON FIRE

              

The Final Six (The Final Six #1) – Alexandra Monir

The Final Six (The Final Six #1) – Alexandra MonirTitle: The Final Six (The Final Six #1) by Alexandra Monir
Publishing Info: March 6, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 10, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

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First of all… I did not know this was a series going into it and it really does affect how you view a book. I kept waiting for things to lift off (quite literally) and this just didn’t have the action that I was expecting. It really felt like THE HUNGER GAMES meets Space Camp and I was looking for way more (or any) space action actually IN space. The ending was a surprise and I didn’t realize that we were going to get zero answers or resolutions, which even for a cliffhanger was kind of disappointing. There really was no wrap up even for the first book and it was just left totally open on nearly every account.

Besides my series rant, this book was… okay. I’ve been in a YA slump because maybe I’ve read too many books (GASP) or something but I feel like a lot of books have really been misses for me lately with concepts that have been done before, books that need more meat on their bones, or tropey romances/plots that have been done way too many times. Obviously you can’t please everyone, but I think this book could have benefitted from less romance and I’m not saying take the romance away but I would have loved that personal bond that wasn’t all head-over-heels. BUT ALAS, that is often how teenage love goes so it’s not like it’s unrealistic. I don’t like using the term instalove because I don’t not believe in REAL instalove that lasts but this felt like a more… shallow instalove that I just didn’t latch onto. I felt the connection and I actually liked it, but then it reached a point where it was that “can’t live without you even though we just met” thing again and I was over it at that point.

And for a book that’s all about going to space……… no one spent any time in space, and that’s what I was here for! Okay, okay, I get it. It’s a series and you didn’t know that, Brittany, blah blah but we could have spent like, a little time in space. In transit? Just a little? I was really expecting something to happen in that respect and to be honest, I was expecting the whole book to take place on a moon/planet so the fact that none of that happened in the first book was a let down. The ending also rapidly got very cheesy and a little silly and after my other frustrations, it just wasn’t enjoyable after that.

THE FINAL SIX started off well and had my interest but a lot of things added up to just really miss the mark for me. It was still an interesting concept but grand ideas turned into believable plot for which I just couldn’t suspend my reality enough. Will I read the next book? I’m really not sure. I didn’t love the writing in THE FINAL SIX but if we’re actually getting to the space part, I’m definitely interested. But the instalove might kill that desire to read it because the love story really turned me off near the end of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Space Race. You see so many things about Jupiter’s moon having the ability to host life forms so I’m kind of a sucker for anything where people try to inhabit it or terraform a planet. It’s just fascinating (and maybe a little terrifying).
Left Me Wanting More: Friendship. The romance here just really brought me down. Things got way too dramatic so quickly and it ended up being annoying.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I really like the concept for the series but I REALLY wish this book had been combined with whatever is coming in book two. I felt like there was far too much time spent at training and not enough getting to the point of things. As with a lot of books lately, I feel like this could have benefitted from better editing to really push the story forward.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FINAL SIX