‘THE DREAM WALKER’ by Victoria Carless

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The weight of a secret can drag you under . . .

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Hart has been counting the days till she can get the hell out of Digger’s Landing – a small Queensland fishing hamlet home to fifteen families, a posse of mongrel dogs, and Parkers Corner Store (no apostrophe and nowhere near a corner).

But just like the tides, Lucy’s luck is on the turn, and as graduation nears her escape plans begin to falter; her best friend, Polly, is dropping out of school to help pay the bills, and Tom has been shipped off to boarding school, away from the flotsam of this place. And then there’s Lucy’s nightlife, which is filled with dreams that just don’t seem to belong to her at all . . .

When the fish stop biting, like they did when her mum was still around, Lucy realises she isn’t the only one with a secret.

Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of THE DREAM WALKER to review!

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I don’t really know how I feel about this novel. The blurb is really vague so I didn’t know what to expect. Originally, I thought it was a mystery novel with contemporary features, but after reading it I think it’s actually more magical realism, but I’m still not sure. It was one of those books that I finished in a day not because I couldn’t put it down, but because I just wanted to finish it and I didn’t want to dwell on it for too long.

I thought it was going to be touching and poignant with a deep meaning. But I didn’t really feel any of that. I’m not even too sure I understood the story. Lucy is a “dream walker” so she can walk in to other people’s dreams, but not everyone’s (I think). Her mum is dead and her dad is a bit scary, she has a friend (Polly) and there’s a guy (Tom) and there’s also a small town (just like every other Australian mystery novel). I couldn’t connect to any of these features of the novel. I had no attachment to Lucy or the story.

I don’t really know if it should even be considered as YA. It read more like an adult fiction or lit fiction. The writing style was very detailed and “literary” which I actually enjoyed. It might be what I liked the most about the novel. At times, the writing was even beautiful and captivating and it made up for the lack of connection I had to the characters and the story.

It’s not that I hated this book or that I wouldn’t recommend it. Personally, I just didn’t enjoy it and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I think it had the potential to be beautiful story, but it just didn’t do it for me.

If you’ve read THE DREAM WALKER, let me know in the comments below. Usually when I feel this way (when I’m not really sure what to write) about a novel that I have to review, I read other people’s reviews, but there aren’t many on Goodreads. I would love to hear some other people’s thoughts on the novel.

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young adult thrillers – ft. ‘THE POSSIBLE’ by Tara Altebrando

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What if…no one knows the truth about you?

It’s been thirteen years since Kaylee’s infamous birth mother, Crystal, received a life sentence for killing Kaylee’s little brother in a fit of rage. Once the center of a cult-following for her apparent telekinetic powers, nowadays nobody’s heard of Crystal. Until now, when a reporter shows up at Kaylee’s house and turns her life upside down, offering Kaylee the chance to be part of a high-profile podcast investigating claims that Crystal truly did have supernatural mind powers. But these questions lead to disturbing answers as Kaylee is forced to examine her own increasingly strange life, and make sense of certain dark and troubling coincidences…

Unusual and gripping, The Possible will twist the reader round and round as it hurtles towards a sensational climax. For lovers of We Were Liars, Patrick Ness and Derren Brown.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a copy of THE POSSIBLE for review.

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I read Tara Altebrando’s THE LEAVING last year when it was first released, and although I found the idea of it really interesting and it had a lot of potential, I ended up being unsatisfied with the ending. So I picked up THE POSSIBLE with not very high expectations yet still hopeful that I would like it. And I did like it. But I was left with the same feeling I was left with after reading her last book. It just didn’t thrill me in the way that a thriller usually would. Or should.

I was intrigued by the idea and concept of the story. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and of course talk about telekinetic powers. I got some Carrie and Matilda vibes and both texts were referenced throughout. I  also found Kaylee a likable character and I actually enjoyed reading her story. She had her issues and she went on a journey of discovering more about her, her mother, and her past. Her story was interesting for most of the way, I wasn’t bored or anything, but I wasn’t thrilled by it either.

I wasn’t too sure about the romance in the book and found it a bit necessary. Like, it could have not been there at all and it wouldn’t have made a difference. And who was the romance with? Because I actually liked the guy she had a crush on more than the best friend that she got with. However, neither of those characters were really developed and we didn’t get much of an insight into them.

*SPOILER PARAGRAPH*
Like I said before, I loved the idea of Kaylee going on this journey to discover if she was telekinetic and inherited it from her mother, or if it was all a hoax. So I was disappointed after I read the whole book to discover that there were no powers and it was all a lie (I think that’s what happened because I got a bit confused in the end). I finished it and I was just like; Wait, really? So I just read this whole book to discover that it was all a load of bull?! Anyway…

Comment below if you’ve read THE POSSIBLE or THE LEAVING and let me know your thoughts.

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So what I thought I would do is recommend a bunch of YA thrillers that I did love and that did thrill me. I’ve read a lot of well known adult thrillers, so I’m going to leave them out of this list (but Carrie and Gone Girl are probably my favourite!).

Black Ice – Becca Fitzpatrick

Britt Pheiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn’t prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

Black Ice

Inherit Midnight – Kate Kae Myers

Seventeen-year-old Avery VanDemere’s ridiculously wealthy grandmother has decided to leave the family fortune to the relative who proves him or herself worthiest–by solving puzzles and riddles on a whirlwind race around the globe.

Inherit Midnight

The Devil You Know – Trish Doller

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be.

The Devil You Know

Twenty Questions For Gloria – Martyn Bedford

Gloria is tired of her ordinary life. She barely recognizes the free-spirited girl she used to be. So when a mysterious boy bent on breaking the rules strolls into her classroom, Gloria is ready to fall under his spell. Uman is everything Gloria wishes to be. He can whisk her away from the life she loathes and show her a more daring, more exciting one. But Uman in not all he seems and by the time she learns the truth about him, she is a long way from home and everyone wants to know, Where’s Gloria?

Twenty Questions for Gloria

Close Your Eyes – Nicci Cloke

Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there’s a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything. But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be. Until one Tuesday, when the students are trapped inside the school building. And one of them has a gun.

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FAMOUS BOY MEETS NORMAL GIRL – ft. ‘When It’s Real’ by Erin Watt

 

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From #1 New York Times bestselling author duo Erin Watt comes the addictive contemporary tale of a teen rock star in need of an image makeover and the teen girl hired to be his fake girlfriend.

Meet Oakley Ford-teen celebrity, renowned pop star, child of famous movie stars, hottie with millions of fangirls… and restless troublemaker. On the surface he has it all, but with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry, and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley’s team decides it’s time for an intervention. The result: an image overhaul, complete with a fake girlfriend meant to show the world he’s settled down.

Enter seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett-devoted sister, part-time waitress, the definition of “normal.” Under ordinary circumstances she’d never have taken this gig, but with her family strapped for cash, she doesn’t have much of a choice. And for the money Oakley’s team is paying her, she figures she can put up with outlandish Hollywood parties and a team of publicists watching her every move. So what if she thinks Oakley’s a shallow, self-centered jerk? It’s not like they’re going to fall for each other in real life…right?

Thanks to Harlequin Teen for sending me a copy of WHEN IT’S REAL for review.

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I thought this book sounded fun after reading the blurb; “Normal” girl gets hired to play the girlfriend of a famous rock star. Every teenage girls dream, right? I’ve read a few books that follow this trope before, and I’ve always enjoyed them, so I really thought I was going to enjoy WHEN IT’S REAL. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. I guess it just didn’t reach my expectations, or perhaps my reading tastes have changed since I’ve read books like this one.

It was a good book. There was drama, romance, complex characters and the authors did a great job developing the characters and bringing the story to life. I finished the book in a day; it looks long but I seemed to read it quicker than I thought, and I think that’s because it is an easy read. If you’re looking for a light read about teen romance with a little bit of scandal, then I highly recommend picking up WHEN IT’S REAL.

Like I said, I didn’t not like the book. It’s not a bad book. I just couldn’t connect to the story or the characters which fell a bit flat for me. It felt juvenile to me, and quite cringey at moments, especially when Oak kept calling her “baby” and referring to her as “my girl” (BLAH). Speaking of Oak, I didn’t really like him, especially in the beginning. Vaughn was likable, but Oak kind of pee’d me off. The story line was predictable and nothing new or different to other books that I’ve read like this. And like I said before, if you like light and easy or fluffy romance reads, then you would probably like this about the book. However, I was grateful for the closed ending that didn’t leave us on a cliffhanger.

Speaking of books with the Famous Boy Meets Normal Girl trope, here are a few others that I’ve read and enjoyed;

  • Girl Online – Zoe Sugg
  • Songs About a Girl – Chris Russel
  • This Beats Perfect – Rebecca Denton
  • Geekerella – Ashley Poston
  • Cinder – Marissa Meyer
  • The Selection – Kiera Cass

Let me know if you can think of any more!

Have you read WHEN IT’S REAL or Erin Watt’s other books? Let me know in the comment section below what you thought about it. Also let me know if this trope appeals to you or not?

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‘RELEASE’ by Patrick Ness

 

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Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Thanks so much to Walker Books for sending me a copy of RELEASE for review!

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I read both The Rest of Us Just Live Here and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness last year, and I enjoyed both of them so I was highly anticipating his new release. The blurb mentions Mrs Dalloway which I was a bit weary about because (if I’m being honest) I did not like that book. I had to study it for uni last semester and I did everything I could to avoid doing any kind of assessment on it (successfully might I add). I just didn’t get it and I got bored with it. So I was a bit hesitant going into this book, but I kept an open mind and didn’t let that get in the way.

There definitely was similarities between Mrs Dalloway and Release. Despite both of them being set over the course of a day, their narratives and the way that the stories are told are similar. Despite being told in the third person, the readers get Adam’s conscious train of thought throughout the novel. There’s little dialogue, mainly description, and a lot of the time it goes on a bit of a tangent. To be honest, this is one of the things that I didn’t like about Mrs Dalloway, but it didn’t really bother me in Release. I didn’t lose focus and my mind didn’t go wondering because I was bored of the constant chunks of description. It actually kept the story interesting.

But there is so much more to the story than its narrative. The author note at the beginning states that this is an important and personal story to Patrick, and that was evident. Everything felt so real and raw and it added a nice touch to the story. There were so many aspects that panned out Adam’s day. There’s two boys that he loves, his religious family that always look down on him, his boss at work being an a$$, his best friend leaving the country, and probably more that I forgot. There was so much to grasp but it wasn’t overwhelming or confusing.

A list of things that I loved about Release;

  • I fell in love with (most) of the characters and the story despite it only being set over the course of a day
  • I also managed to finish reading it in a day
  • Adam is such a likable character that is going through a lot of crap but is still so precious
  • It has themes of religion but not really the good side of it. Adam’s parents try to love him in spite of being gay and it is one of the struggles that he faces throughout this dreadful day
  • Angela (Adam’s best friend) is THE BEST!
  • It focuses on friendships and how they can be just as much your family than your DNA
  • Complex teenagers just like in the real world
  • It is distressing and heartbreaking (I don’t know about you, but that’s a good thing for me when reading a book)

The part of the book that I didn’t really understand were the chapters that took place in between Adam’s chapters. There was a girl that was killed in the beginning and then she comes back as a ghost (I think) and then there’s a Queen and a faun (I think) and all this other stuff that I didn’t really get. I guess it was magical realism which I usually struggle to understand, so I pretty much just skimmed over those chapters. It was very metaphorical and vague and I’m sure a lot of people would appreciate that. I don’t really understand what it had to do with Adam’s story. This is a good thing (because it didn’t change my thoughts on Adam’s story and therefore it didn’t ruin the book for me) but it’s a bad thing because maybe if I did understand the connection, then I would’ve understood it a bit better. In saying this, it didn’t make me think or feel any less for the story that I read.

Overall, I really enjoyed Release and it was the perfect heartbreaking and emotional, yet important and touching story that I needed. I highly recommend picking it up if you like these kinds of stories, and if you’ve read and enjoyed Patrick’s other books.

Comment below if you’ve read Release and let me know what you think.

P.S. I got invited by Walker Books to go and see an advance media screening of A Monster Calls in a couple weeks. And I cannot wait!

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‘MY NAME IS VICTORIA’ by Lucy Worsley

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‘You are my sister now,’ Victoria said, quietly and solemnly. ‘Never forget it. I love you like a sister, and you are my only friend in all the world.’ Miss V. Conroy is good at keeping secrets. She likes to sit as quiet as a mouse, neat and discreet. But when her father sends her to Kensington Palace to become the companion to Princess Victoria, Miss V soon finds that she can no longer remain in the shadows. Miss V’s father has devised a strict set of rules for the young princess, which he calls the Kensington System. It governs her behaviour and keeps her locked away from the world. He says it is for the princess’s safety, but Victoria herself is convinced that it is to keep her lonely, and unhappy. Torn between loyalty to her father and her growing friendship with the wilful and passionate Victoria, Miss V has a decision to make: to continue in silence, or to speak out. By turns thrilling, dramatic and touching, this is the story of Queen Victoria’s childhood as you’ve never heard it before.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of MY NAME IS VICTORIA for review.

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I am a fan of historical fiction novels and recently I have become interested in Victorian Britain history after studying a Literature in Victorian Britain course last semester in uni. I didn’t have high expectations going in to this book because the blurb was quite vague, but I was still interested in how it was going to pan out.

This book is a great introduction to Queen Victoria and this time period. The character’s are young throughout the course of the novel, however, their life experiences definitely make them appear more mature. In saying this, I think the novel is directed toward a younger audience. If I was younger, say 12-15, I probably would’ve enjoyed this a lot more. I read a review saying, “adult me would give this a 3.5 but I think it’s a brilliant introduction to historical fiction and if I was younger I would give it a 4”.

But MY NAME IS VICTORIA focuses on so much more than the history. It is a tale of friendship between two girls who have lived completely different lives. Miss V and Princess Victoria are thrown together, and what we think is going to be a disaster ends up being the start of a beautiful friendship. The two characters go through a lot of ups and downs throughout the story and it was interesting to see how differently they both handled the situations.

Another aspect that I loves is that it is written by historian – Lucy Worsley. It is obvious that Lucy is passionate about what she was writing and has a lot of knowledge in the genre. The unique touch that she added to Queen Victoria’s story only made it more authentic and intriguing. I actually finished the book in one day (two sittings) because it was a page turner.

Comment below if you’ve read MY NAME IS VICTORIA and your thoughts on it. Also let me know what your favourite historical time period is to read about!

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‘WRECK’ – Fleur Ferris

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Tamara Bennett is going to be the first journalist to strictly report only good news. Finished with high school, Tamara is ready to say goodbye to her sleepy little town and part-time job at the local paper. O-weeks awaits, which means parties, cute boys and settling into student res with her best friend Relle. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when she arrives home to find her house ransacked and her life in danger. What is this mysterious note? And why does it mean so much to one of Australia’s most powerful media moguls? Caught between a bitter rivalry and dangerous family secret, who can Tamara trust? Or should she trust herself?

Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of WRECK to review!

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Our main character, Tamara, is just about to start university and she has the goal of becoming a journalist who only wants to report good news. That is, until she comes home one day to a ransacked house and a man who wants to kill her. Everything has turned upside down for Tamara, and it pretty much stays this way for the entirety of the book. However, she never fails to kick butt! Tamara is a likable character, but she’s also flawed, honest and brave, and her determination only yields the story. It was interesting reading the story of the present tense from Tamara’s perspective; she’s young, inexperienced and has her whole life ahead of her, but she’s been thrown into the deep end of this massive crime. She could’ve screamed and run, but she stuck her guns and proved herself right. (To be honest, I probably would’ve ran!).

Alternating between Tamara’s chapters on the current events, we have William’s perspective on the crime that occurred five years ago. William was also a really interesting character to read from and the events that occur in both character’s stories are intense and dramatic, yet are still able to unravel in a thrilling way throughout the whole novel. What I love most about the two perspectives is that the two are noticeably distinguishable. Both characters have their own voice and stories to tell which really made the book intriguing as a whole.

I love YA mystery and thrillers, but I haven’t read one in so long. I’ve also never read one of Fleur’s books before, but after reading WRECK I really want to pick her other books up. What I loved most is that it was so fast paced, yet still thrilling and suspenseful. I read it over two days, but I honestly could’ve read it in one sitting. It is a short and quick book, but still a lot happened in those 300 pages. I was on my toes the whole time, waiting to see what was going to happen next, and I couldn’t stop flipping the pages. So much thrill!!

So if you’re a fan of YA mystery/thriller books and are looking for more to pick up, then I recommend WRECK. Just be warned, you will spend the next few hours only reading this books because you will want (and need) to find out how the story unfolds!

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‘STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS’ – Jenny McLachlan

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Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her.

And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …

Fans fell in love with the warmth, wit, romance and fierce friendships in Flirty Dancing, Love Bomb, Sunkissed and Star Struck, and Stargazing for Beginners has all that and galaxies more. This is the best kind of real-life fiction – with big themes and irresistible characters, it goes straight to your heart.

Thanks to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS to review!

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Last year I was sent the final companion book in Jenny’s THE LADYBIRDS series which I read and review. I hadn’t read the first three books in this companion series, but I still didn’t really enjoy it. It wasn’t bad, but it was definitely directed toward a younger audience. But I wasn’t going to let my view on that book get in the way of this one, because even after reading the synopsis of STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS, it already sounded incredible and something that I wanted to read.

AND I WAS RIGHT! I read this book in two sittings over two night (I would’ve read it all in the one night but I was in the middle of binge watching the last season of Switched at Birth). It was an adorable book that focused on family, friends, and a little bit of romance too. But the story mainly focused on our main character, Meg, and her journey over the couple of weeks that her mother leaves her in charge of her little sister, and also herself.

There were so many things that I loved about this book, so I’m going to TRY and list them all right now;

  • Meg’s character development; opening up and growing and discovering more about herself over just a few weeks.
  • Meg’s relationship with her little sister and grandfather is so adorable and it’s obvious that they both mean a lot to her.
  • Her mother, who is kind of a pain and if my mum ever did that to me I would be pee’d off, is an important part of the story and integral to Meg’s development.
  • The friends at the Biscuit Club that Meg makes. They are all so different to each other, but they also have something in common and it was so nice to see them unite.
  • The theme of space was really interesting to me, and I actually learnt a lot. It was so nice to see Meg so passionate about it as well, and it’s one of many of her amazing qualities.
  • Meg’s struggle with her social anxiety felt so real and it was good to read about this in a book because I feel like I rarely ever see it in YA. Social anxiety is something that a lot of young adults experience, especially in school and with public speaking, so it was good to see that Meg is just like a lot of real life people
  • Adding on to representation such as this, a friend that Meg makes, Annie, has autism. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with an autistic character so it was interesting to read about it. Plus, Annie sarcasm is THE BEST!
  • Ed. Swoon. I love Ed so much. From the beginning, he comes off as a really casual and ‘doesn’t care about anything’ guy – which is similar to a lot of teenage boys. But there is so much more to him. He’s a science nerd just like Meg, and I loved seeing their ups and downs and how they connected over the things they loved. And what he did in the end… I just love him!

 

So if you can’t tell already, I loved this book so much. It covered such a wide range of topics and issues and made me feel such a wide range of brilliant emotions. If you haven’t read it yet, and it sounds like something you would like, then I highly recommend picking it up.

And if you have read it, comment below your thoughts because I would love to hear them!

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‘JUNIPER LEMON’S HAPPINESS INDEX’ – Julie Israel

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It’s hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

It’s been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper’s big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie’s handbag for luck – and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It’s mysteriously addressed to ‘You’ and dated July 4th – the day of Camie’s accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie’s secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.

But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie’s death – but without this card, there’s a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own secret: a memory that she can’t let anyone else find out.

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review!

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OH MY GOOOOSH! I don’t even have the words to describe how much I loved this book, so I’m sorry if this review is just a whole lot of rambling. I started this book at 4pm (June 7) and finished it ten minutes ago (10pm) and I just… I don’t even know what to write because this book made me feel so many things and my emotions are running wild and… okay (breathe, Gabby, it’s okay). Okay. Let’s get on with the review.

I’m going to start off with saying how gorgeous the cover of this book is. The water colour effect, the different colours, the font of the title, it’s just so beautiful. When I first got the book in the mail, from the site of the cover I thought it was going to be a simple fluffy romance story about teenagers in love and all that. It wasn’t until I picked it up this afternoon to read it and I read the blurb again that I was really intrigued with the story and I knew that I was going to enjoy it.

Juniper is such an incredibly strong character and we really get to see her develop over the course of the novel. She has her flaws, one of them being a bit nosey, but I still loved every single aspect of her character. She is grieving the loss of her sister and also having to deal with seeing her parents grieve in their different ways, which was really emotional to read about. Her best friend has also stopped talking to her, so Juniper is all alone in a time when she really needs a friend. All she has is her index cards which she numbers with the days since she lost her sister, and writes her personal notes on them every day. But when day number 65 goes missing, it begins a journey Juniper didn’t know she wanted, and makes many friends along the way.

All of these “side” characters are so important to Juniper’s story and really help her develop along the way. I loved every single one of them… I just loved every single aspect of this book! Brand is just… AH-MAY-ZING. I mean, he too has his flaws, but he was the light that Juniper needed. And their cutesy little friendship and relationship was so nice to read about and it definitely added a lightheartedness to the plot which was needed. Brand is also going through a hard time at home along with Juniper’s other friends (Kody, Angela, Nate and Sponge) who are all experiencing something that no one knows about. This really plays with the theme of not really knowing what’s going on in other people’s life. Everyone has their secrets (including Camilla) that they will do anything to keep from other people finding out.

The story line itself is so raw and emotional as it focuses on grief with mentions of bullying, parental abuse, death and suicide, and it was so honest and real. However, Julie Israel deals with this in a way where it wasn’t as “sad” or “miserable” as it would seem. I don’t know if it was her writing style, they way she wrote the emotional things, or if it was because the sad was balanced out with the happy, but either way the book left me feeling happy as opposed to the down mood that books like this usually leave me in.

*SPOILER IN THIS PARAGRAPH*
I got a bit teary toward the end, but I don’t think it was even sad tears. Everything was just wrapped up so nicely in the end. Although we don’t get closure on a specific something in the book, I feel like we really didn’t need to know who You was. He was Camilla’s secret, and she wanted him to be a secret for a reason. I kind of wish we discovered why he was this big secret, but either way I think it was handed nicely. But the burning of everything in the end and the characters getting their closure, gave me closure as well, and I was able to close the book with a smile on my face (but still sad because this incredible book was finished :().

Overall, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that you pick this book up. If you read and enjoyed The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson or Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (two of my favourite books), then you will definitely enjoy Juniper Lemon because there is definitely a lot of similarities between the three.

This would have to be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I won’t be surprised at all if it ends up in my top books of 2017, and my favourite books of all time!

Comment below if you’ve read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and let me know your thoughts. Also let me know if you plan on picking it up, because I need to talk to someone about this book!

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‘ONCE AND FOR ALL’ – Sarah Dessen

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As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna spends her summers helping brides plan their perfect day and handling every kind of crises: missing brides, scene-stealing bridesmaids and controlling grooms. Not surprising then, that she’s deeply cynical about happy-ever-afters, especially since her own first love ended in tragedy.

When handsome girl magnet Ambrose enters her life, Louna won’t take him seriously. But Ambrose hates not getting what he wants and Louna is the girl he’s been waiting for.

Maybe it’s not too late for a happy ending after all?

Thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of ONCE AND FOR ALL in exchange for an honest review.

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I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before, and to be honest I’ve never even heard of her before. When all the popular booktubers started receiving this book in a promo box (I’m sure you’ve seen at least one of these videos – they’re everywhere) I was surprised to hear many of them talking about this author that I had never heard about before. I was interested in the book, so when Penguin asked me if I would like to review it, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’m going to say up front, if you like summer contemporaries with cute and fluffy romances, then I think you would love ONCE AND FOR ALL. I really wish that I read this book in summer (it’s the start of winter in Australia at the moment) or at the very least when I was in the mood for an easy going contemporary, because I think I would’ve enjoyed it more than I did. However, if you are looking for a quick and cute contemporary that gives you all the feels, then pick this one up!

Contemporary is my favourite genre, and I’ve been reading a lot of it this year and very little of other genres. However, because I’ve been reading so much of it, I’ve been able to expand on what type of contemporary I enjoy, and I’ve started to realise that cutesy/fluffy romances are something I can only read when I’m in the mood for them. I’ve read a lot of contemporary books that focus on “dark” or serious topics, such as mental health, and books that really get me thinking about these topics or educate me or expand my mind. It isn’t to say that I don’t like books like ONCE AND FOR ALL, because I’ve read and love a lot of them, it’s just that they don’t give me the same feeling that they once did.

Okay, that’s enough of me being Miss Negative Nancy and making excuses for my reading taste. Let’s get to the book.

 

THINGS I LIKED:

  • Despite what I mentioned before, there is a little bit of “seriousness” or “darkness” in the story line that has to do with Louna’s first love. I liked how this mystery drew out throughout the book and we were able to see how it affected Louna
  • Weddings. I love weddings and love and parties and celebrations and all of that kind of stuff… aaaaahh
  • The relationship/romance wasn’t overbearing and didn’t take up a lot of the plot (however, this leads to a thing I didn’t like which I’ll mention later)
  • The characters were likeable; Louna is complex yet there was room for development, her mum and William were hilarious, and Ambrose was a babe

 

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:

  • I found the story line and plot a little bit… meh. I just felt like not a whole lot happened. During the second half of the book I was just waiting for something to happen, and it felt like it was taking too long to keep me interested
  • The romance between the two characters that we know are eventually going to get together took too long to get together. It’s like; okay we know it’s going to happen so just hurry up already!
  • The ending I felt was a bit rushed. Similarly to my point above, I was waiting for something to happen and it happened in the end and then that was the end of the book. Okay… so what happens now?

 

Anywaaaaaay, I liked the book, however I think there are light and cutesy contemporaries that I have enjoyed a lot more, and there is also the factor that these types of stories don’t intrigue me as much as they used to.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read ONCE AND FOR ALL or any of Sarah Dessen’s other books and tell me if you have similar thoughts to mine. Do you feel this way about romantic/light and fluffy contemporaries vs serious and thought provoking contemporaries?

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‘GEEKERELLA’ – Ashley Poston

 

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Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Thanks to Random House for sending me a copy of GEEKERELLA for review!

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SOOOOOOO as soon as I heard about this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. The cover is gorgeous, Cinderella is my favourite Disney tale (and I’ve watched the live remake at least fifty times), and I’m a massive geek about a lot of things (including Cinderella and books) so I knew this was going to my kind of book!

So I started this yesterday afternoon and finished it less than twenty four hours later. It’s a fun and quick read, focuses on a cutesy Cinderella-like romance, with of course the drama, friendships and crazy families. I really enjoyed this book a lot and if you’re looking for a quick contemporary/ fairy tale retelling, then I highly recommend GEEKERELLA.

Darien is sooooo adorable! He’s kind of like your typical famous teenage boy that’s depicted in YA novels; he appears as a brat, snobby and is only in it for the money, but once we get to know him we realise that he actually has a heart and is really cute. The only difference this time is that he’s a total dork which only makes him more adorable! Just like Elle, Darien has his own crap going on in his life, and it was nice to see him overcome that.

The Cinderella retelling in the modern world worked really well. The two characters meet via text message and this is where they first meet each other, the pumpkin is actually a vegan food truck, the prince is a teen star, the ball is at a cosplay event and after ball, and of course there’s still Cinderella’s shoe. I just loved it so much… I’m going to watch the Cinderella live action movie again tonight (no shame)…

I don’t have much else to say about it. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect book (I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads) but it’s definitely a fun and adorable read that’s perfect to sit down and read in a couple of sittings. Plus… Cinderella!

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Comment below if you’ve read GEEKERELLA and let me know what you think! Do you love Cinderella as much as I do?