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Single Sundays: The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The First Kiss Hypothesis (from Goodreads):

Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s…trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.
Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

breakdown

Author: Christina Mandelski
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Entangled Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think the H.BSc that I can attach to my name and the hopeless romantic in me requires that I read any novel that uses a scientific term in its title. I’m a fan of the best friends to more trope, especially in YA, and the promise of a scientific theory to back up why that might not be the case for these two? I was excited to see how this experiment would play out.

The Plot:

This story definitely felt like it was more of a coming of age novel than straight romance–and I really liked that. Eli and Nora have a lot going on in their lives now that they are seniors in high school. They’re beginning to feel the pressures from family and friends when it comes to deciding what’s next. Throw in their long buried crushes on each other and the mutual agreed upon love of pies and you’ve got a bit of a sticky situation.

This book had me at the start. I loved Eli’s goal to make Nora see him as more than a friend and I liked how Nora was unknowingly trying to counteract that. It made from some sweet moments between them. However, it started to lose me in the middle when everything just seemed to repeat itself with nothing completely new to add to the story. It rounds itself out in the end with some solid character growth but my interest did start to wane.

The Characters:

I’m really glad that we got both Nora and Eli’s POV in this story because it does shed some light on why they act like they do. They have their moments of immaturity but I did find that they grew up as the story progressed. I wasn’t blown away by either of them but they worked well for this story.

I do have to give a shout-out to Eli’s autistic brother Ari. He was fabulous and a breath of fresh air in this story. He really grounds the story in a way that benefits everyone.

The Romance:

These two are super cute together, no denying that. I liked that they always had these feelings bubbling up at the surface–I love the type of tension that brings to a story. It’s a touch cliché but these two have enough quirks to keep it interesting.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy cute coming of age stories where best friends fall in love, this perfect for you!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, best friends to more, coming of age
Avoid if You: high school romances

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Blog Tour: Saving It by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Saving It (from Goodreads):

Eden: Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that…

Josh: Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing…with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR (Netgalley)–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I think it goes without saying: if Monica Murphy writes it, I’ll read it. I always enjoy her works and this one sounded like such a cute one that I couldn’t say no!

The Plot:

I found it to be super refreshing to have Josh be the one who is the one primarily focused on losing his virginity. Most of the time, books look at this from the female perspective so it was really cool for me to get the teenage boy viewpoint. I know I forget the pressures that are put on boys in regards to sex because I am a girl so I really enjoyed that aspect.

The situation Eden and Josh find themselves in could happen to anyone anywhere in the world. Their fears and hesitations are so true for anyone who has ever found themselves in the same situation of realizing you may like your best friend as more than a friend.

I kept waiting for something over dramatic to happen as it often does with this genre but we get nothing of the sort. I liked that the focused stayed on the main plot of these two working out their feelings.

The Characters:

Eden and Josh are a great match and their connection and friendship is apparent from the start. They are great, true friends to each other and I loved that about them. The fear of ruining a life-long friendship, the pressures from their tight-knit group of friends; everything they go through is extremely relateable.

The Romance:

While I totally supported these two as a couple, I did want to see a little more romantic chemistry between them. Part of the reason this is somewhat neglected that is that it takes these two a long time to come to terms with their potential feelings. But I wanted more than just a few comments here and there about how attractive the other looked in their clothes. For a couple that had such a strong emotional connection, I just wanted those “swoon” moments to happen a little more often than they did.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall
Fans of the BFF to more trope will truly enjoy this refreshing and genuine romance.

Read if You Like: BFF to more trope, high school romance
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary
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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon// Kobo // Google Play // iBooks // Nook

Book Tour Organised by:

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Single Sundays: Offsetting Penalties by Ally Mathews

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Offsetting Penalties (from Goodreads):

Isabelle Oster has dreamed of being a prima ballerina her entire life, so when the only male dancer backs out of the fall production, she’s devastated. Without a partner, she has no hope of earning a spot with the prestigious Ballet Americana company. Until hot jock Garret practicing stretches in one of the studios gives Izzy an idea, and she whips out her phone. But does she really want this badly enough to resort to blackmail?

All-state tight end Garret Mitchell will do anything to get a college football scholarship. Even taking ballet, which surprisingly isn’t so bad, because it means he gets to be up close and personal with the gorgeous Goth girl Izzy while learning moves to increase his flexibility. But Izzy needs him to perform with her for the Ballet Americana spot, and he draws the line at getting on stage. Especially wearing tights.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a bit of blackmail, a lot of sarcasm, and an ending guaranteed to melt your heart.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Contemporary 2017
Author: Ally Mathews
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Dance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Entangled Teen Crush!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw the premise for this novel, I just had to read it! You see, the book that introduced me to the New Adult genre, Crash, featured a football player and a ballerina meeting and falling in love. One of my favourite tropes in romance is when two unlikely people meet and fall in love and this one fit the bill. Throw in a little blackmail, tights and a goth, this is a wicked combination that seemed like it would be both fun and heartwarming at the same time.

The Plot:


I had so much fun reading this book! Not only are Izzy and Garret charming characters but the plot was fun and definitely adorable. I found myself sucked into this book and easily could have finished it in one sitting if I didn’t have to go to work.

What I liked about this book is that it had a great flow and plot progression. It had that great balance between plot development, character growth and sweet, romantic moments. The evolution of Izzy and Garret’s relationship was awesome to watch.

The Characters:

I loved Izzy and Garret from the start. Individually, these two are genuine people who you can’t help but love. They aren’t over-dramatic or angsty teenagers; they react in the rational ways to the various situations they find themselves in. Their characters could easily have been a cliche but they had this edge of individuality to their presentation that separates them from what you expect.

The Romance:

Together, these two are positively adorable! They have fantastic banter and chemistry from the start. The romance had a bit of a slow burn aspect to it as they two take their time to get to know each other a little more. I loved watching them establish that deeper connection.

A big positive for me was the fact that the romance doesn’t cause them to lose their individuality. I like when couples bring out the best in each other and this one succeeds in that aspect without a doubt. This relationship doesn’t consume them and they don’t lose sight over what they want or need.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

If you’re looking for a cute contemporary romance about two unlikely teens falling in love while aspiring to make their dreams come true, I highly recommend this book! You will easily get sucked into Izzy and Garret’s story.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, enemies to lovers, high school romances
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary, don’t enjoy sport/dance stories

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Single Sundays: The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Symptoms of Being Human (from Goodreads):

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

breakdown

Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, GLBT
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This was one of the many must read contemporaries that seemed to be everywhere when it came out. I’m not a big YA contemporary fan but I like diverse stories I wouldn’t normally encounter in my usual reads.

The Concept:

I will be the first admit I don’t know much about what it means to be gender fluid. I’m not even sure if I knew what it was before I read the synopsis for this book. So I was looking forward to learning more and I definitely did. Not only does Riley explain what it means to identify as gender fluid but Riley also does a great job of showing what it means to actively live as a gender fluid teen.

It was quite the change for me to read about this particular story because Riley struggles with not being associated with a single gender whereas in None of the Above, the story I just finished the day before about an intersex teen, Kristin wants nothing more than to be seen as a girl. The contrasts and similarities between the two books would be the subject of a great essay but I’ll just say I had to leave one mindset and dive into another. Both books offer fascinating insights into the perception of gender in society.

The Plot:

I hate being one of those reviewers who constantly compares books to each other but I have to bring up None of the Above one more time. You can read my review of None of the Above here but one of my biggest criticisms of it was the lack of subplot besides the lead’s gender identity crisis. Thankfully, SOBH has a lot more going on than just Riley’s struggle to be “out”.

You have the political aspirations and influence of Riley’s dad’s career; you have Riley’s interest in a particular girl; Riley’s struggles at school; the blog and then the overall pressures of society to conform to a particular gender. Needless to say, this book is always moving forward with one plot aspect or another.

The Characters:

I liked Riley as a lead but I wouldn’t say I loved Riley as much as I have with other characters. I really did feel for Riley, no doubt about that. It’s easy to see why Riley would feel the pressure to hide who Riley really is and that broke my heart.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel is the fact that we don’t know whether or not Riley was born a male or a female. I think it further drives the point that society feels the need to confine people to a label because I will be the first to say I kept waiting to find out what gender Riley’s parents saw Riley as. But at the same time, what does it matter? At the end of the day Riley is a person and who cares if Riley wears a dress one day and a suit the next? It doesn’t change who Riley is as a person and I’m forever grateful that Riley reminded me of that in this book.

The Romance:

I almost wonder if I would have enjoyed this story more without the romance. It didn’t negatively impact the story but I’m not even sure if it added all that much to it either. Yes, it does add a layer to Riley’s development as a character but I think Riley would have reached that level without it.

The Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook. I think I would have missed some of the humour without having it enunciated to me just because I can be dense like that when it comes to writing. But it really pulled a lot of the emotions out of me so bravo!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you like books that will make you laugh, cry and just make you re-evaluate how you view the world and others, this is a great one.

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, diverse reads
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary

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Spin-off Saturdays: NSFW by Piper Lawson

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a novel or series that is a spin-off novel or series. It is recommended that you read the original first in order to get the most out of the spin-off but that isn’t always necessary. Here is this week’s offering:

NSFW is a spin-off of Play

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Author: Piper Lawson
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 11, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

When I read (and loved) Play last year, I finished the book asking one question:

Can Charlie have her own novel please?

She was hilarious! The pranks she pulls on their co-worker Avery were awesome. No one is safe from her antics and that was great to read about.

Well ask and you shall receive! (I wish I had that much power). Obviously, Charlie was a hit as a character. She just has a great energy, completes hilarious antics on a regular basis and has the most delicious tension with her boss. I couldn’t WAIT for this story to be published and see what happens when the sparks fly and ignite.

What I Loved:

–Charlie–

I grew to love Charlie as a lead in Play and it didn’t take me long to remember why I enjoyed her character so much when I picked up NSFW. She just has this fabulous presence. She’s such a badass in a way that isn’t rude or stand-offish. She’s tough and confident and she has no problem telling people how she sees it. I love that in a heroine.

But I also liked that she has her flaws too. Watching her grow as a lead and become her own person was awesome.

–The Tension–

The chemistry between Avery and Charlie was palpable in Play and it carries over seamlessly here (though you really don’t need to read Play to enjoy this novel at all). I love the whole “hate to love you” vibes these two had and seeing that evolve into something more. Their banter always put a smile on my face and was part of the reason I finished this book in one sitting.

–Character Growth–

I mentioned above that Charlie had great growth as a character and I’ll say it again here as well. And it’s not just in one aspect of her life either, which takes this up a notch from other new adult stories. Charlie is a little lost in everything in her life and I think that makes her super relateable as a character. She feels like her career is at a standstill, her family dynamic has evolved, she’s got some things from the past she needs to move on from and her romantic relationship leaves something to be desired. She deals with a lot and it rounds out her character nicely.

But I also want to give props to Avery too! Despite the fact that he doesn’t have a POV, he has a significant amount of growth as a character. I liked that he wasn’t this “perfect” hero that Charlie could only be with once she established herself. Rather, they both had things they had to work on individually before they could even fathom a relationship together.

What I Didn’t Like:

It’s over and I think I read it too fast 😛

Series Rating: 5/5

overall

I had high hopes for this novel and Piper definitely delivered! She brought these charming characters to life once again and created a story that was entertaining from start to finish!

Read if You Like: office romance, character growth, new adult romances
Avoid if You: dislike romance
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for NSFW (from Goodreads):

Being bad never felt so good…

The office is full of rules. Everything is off-limits. Making a charity calendar of the sexy guys on your floor? Not allowed. Shrinking your boss’ underwear when he sends it for dry-cleaning? Can’t do that either.

But those things keep the natural balance. See, Avery Banks, our resident rising star, is a shark. The tall, blond, and gorgeous kind with zero patience and even less forgiveness.

Good thing I’m the Mae West of executive assistants. I live to put grown men in their place.

He wasn’t supposed to find out…

Now he’s made it his personal vendetta to screw me the way I screwed him. I’m at his beck and call, 24/7, for every humiliating, meaningless request.

Until we stumble on a new game. One we both want to play. One we both need to win.

And once we start…I’m not sure Avery wants to replace me.

I’m not sure I want him to.

All I want is more of this. The fire under the ice. What happens behind closed doors.

It’s twisted, and so damn hot. But he’s my boss. And with the company coming off a scandal even I couldn’t engineer? What we’re doing is strictly NSFW.

Lucky for me, Avery and I have one thing in common…

We both suck at following the rules.

NSFW is a full-length standalone sexy contemporary romance. It’s the story of Charlie and Avery (from PLAY) – so if you love this one, pick that up too.

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Single Sundays: None of the Above by I W Gregorio

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for None of the Above (from Goodreads):

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex… and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

breakdown

Author: I W Gregorio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It seemed to me that 2015 was the year of “must-read” YA contemporaries. I marked off quite a few as TBR that year thanks to rave reviews from fellow bloggers. Not my usually genre but buzz can do that.

I was drawn to None of the Above for the intersex aspect. As someone who studied science–particularly health sciences–I know what it means to be intersex medically speaking but what does it mean as an everyday person? I was eager to explore that with this book.

The Plot:

As you might have expected, you follow Kristin’s journey from “normal” teenager to learning she is intersex and what that means for her going forward. It’s a heartbreaking journey at times because this girl really does go through a lot. (Truthfully, I lost a little hope in humanity with some of the things people say and do to her).

But there really isn’t much else to the plot. Which is fine because I like the focus on Kristin coming to terms with her diagnosis and becoming comfortable–I mean that’s why I picked up the book.

I do have one peeve with the plot that I have to get off my chest and it’s a spoiler so proceed with caution before opening it.

Spoiler

When Josh assaults Kristin at the club after he realizes she is intersex, I didn’t like that she doesn’t report the assault. I understand that she just got comfortable with other people knowing about her condition but her reasoning that “it being on file will stop him from doing it again” is such bullshit. He will do it again because he thinks he can get away with it. I really wish she would have reported it because it sets a precedence that it’s ok to defend yourself by filing charges but not following through. You aren’t being a hero by letting it slide.

[collapse]

The Characters:

Truthfully, I wasn’t a big Kristin fan. I can appreciate her journey and how she does grow up from the situation but she was a little too…stereotypical? (Not sure if that is the right word. Maybe cliche?). She’s your classic teenage girl who focuses on popularity, keeping her hot boyfriend and college. And those aren’t bad things necessarily–I just feel like she didn’t evolve from that.

While Kristin learns to accept her condition, her character growth remains pretty stifled. I really wanted her to have this big epiphany that there is more to life than high school and a good-looking boyfriend and she doesn’t really have that.

The Romance:

I’m a little torn on this. On one hand, I like that it wasn’t a huge focus. On the other hand, I don’t like how it is used as a validation that Kristin is a girl because a boy likes her. (Maybe I’m reading too much into it?)

I get that Kristin worries she won’t have that relationship because she isn’t a “true” girl. The difference between gender and sexual orientation is something that is unfortunately linked together. It’s something she struggles with and it does add to her story in a positive way. I just feel like she didn’t think she was complete until she got that “love” from a boy despite the great support from Gwen and her dad.

The Audiobook Version:

This was really well done. One of the nice things about listening to contemporary audiobooks is the emotions they convey. It’s like listening to someone tell you their life story and it’s so easy to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

While the subject matter of None of the Above is superb, it does sometimes slip into the typical flow of YA contemporaries instead of keeping its focus elsewhere. However, it is an eyeopening read that I recommend to everyone.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: (honestly, this is a book everyone should read)
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Single Sundays: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fave YA Standalone 2017
Author: Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, GLBT, Humour
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book was EVERYWHERE in 2015. Honestly, you couldn’t escape it. But I was really excited to read it because it sounded a lot like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson–two of my all time favourite novels. And I don’t been just because all three share GLBT themes. This book promised to be filled with wit, hilarity and a touching story about being comfortable with who you are.

I was so close to adding this to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge but opted to choose another series for the 2015 picks. But when I was browsing audiobooks to listen to, this one popped up and I knew it was the perfect choice.

The Narration/Audiobook Experience:

I have no doubt in my mind that I enjoyed this book 20x more as an audiobook than if I had read the paper copy. Oh, I would have enjoyed the written novel for sure but the range of emotions I felt reading this were all thanks to the audiobook.

It’s a totally different experience when you hear Simon’s narration aloud. The narrator does a fabulous job conveying the emotions Simon is feeling with his tone and delivery. It’s fabulous! I felt like it was my BFF telling me his experience and not just reading a book aloud. I could spend a whole post gushing about the wonderful experience I had listening to the audiobook.

The Plot:

For a contemporary novel, this had great pacing. I sometimes find contemporary novels get caught up in the mundane moments of everyday life but that is never the case here.

You get those moments with Blue and Simon that have you swooning and sighing thanks to the emails. (More on that in the Romance Section.) The mystery of who Blue was had me spewing all sorts of theories as I read and I couldn’t wait for the big reveal.

But you also have those moments with Simon’s character growth. Whether that’s through interactions with his family, friends or events at school–this story never had a dull moment. And I think part of that reason is Simon’s narration.

The Characters:

Wow, I haven’t loved a character as much as I have loved Simon in a long time! Not only is he hilarious and extremely witty–seriously, he had me in stitches!–he is also extremely endearing as a hero.

He just came across as so real to me. Sometimes it’s hard to connect to the humanity of a character in contemporaries–or at least for me–but I never had that problem here. He shares his fears and flaws but also learns from them. Watching his confidence blossom was so rewarding for me as a reader.

And the rest of the cast is also fabulous. Special shout-out to Simon’s parents who reminded me of the role parents should have in a YA contemporary series.

The Romance:

Swoon! I loved this! Simon gushing about his crush melted my heart. It just felt so real to me! Watching two people share their vulnerabilities and falling in love with them was so great.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

I found a new favourite! This is definitely worthy of sitting beside my all time faves, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Absolute perfection.

Read if You Like: humour, coming of age, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporaries
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Single Sundays: Me & Milo the Great by Michelle Schlicher

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Me & Milo the Great (from Goodreads):

My name is Holiday Sanchez. I carry a heavy burden.

But I’m not the only one.

There are others who know what it feels like to remember. Maybe they are the answer. Maybe we can help each other. Maybe I’ll finally get past it.

Maybe it just takes time—and a little bit of magic.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Must Read Author
Author: Michelle Schlicher
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Heat Rating: Cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 14, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Michelle Schlicher!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Earlier this year, I picked up Michelle’s other novel Come This Way and loved it! It was so insightful and touching and it was one of those books that had me going “wow” when I finished it (in a totally good way!).

So when Michelle asked if I wanted to read her latest novel, I immediately said yes! The synopsis had that allure intrigue (what’s Holiday’s burden? and how are the others involved? magic?!) and I just had to uncover it!

The Concept:

I don’t want to give too much away because the reveal of Holiday’s “burden” was a big “wow” moment for me. So I’ll just say it was a story that I’ve never read about and it captured my full attention.

The great thing about this story is that the chapters alternate between the “now” and “then” so you really get Holiday’s full story. You see how she has dealt with her past and how it affects the present, enhancing her character development. I really loved watching it all come together.

The Plot:

Like I said above, I enjoyed the back and forth nature of this book. I love stories that build and reveal parts at a time. It keeps you invested in the story and curious to see how everything links together. They always have the most satisfying ending when you see the bigger picture.

The Characters:

I really felt for Holiday as a character. She’s just doing the best she can with what she has and you can’t help but to empathize with her. Her growth from start to finish is just amazing and I loved watching her grow before my eyes.

Milo is great too! I thought he would play a bigger role/be the focus for the novel but he has just the right touch for bringing this story to life. He doesn’t distract from Holiday’s story but complements it in a way that enhances the entire novel.

The Romance:

Again, not a huge focus but it complements the story in a great way.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is a beautifully crafted story about how the past can alter our future but learning that it shouldn’t govern your life. Holiday’s specific circumstances won’t apply to everyone but her discovery of moving on from the past will resonate with many readers.

Read if You Like: character driven stories, past and present chapters
Avoid if You: want a romance driven story
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Single Sundays: Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don’t, and How to Make Any Change Stick (from Goodreads):

Say you want to start going to the gym or practicing a musical instrument. How long should it take before you stop having to force it and start doing it automatically?

The surprising answers are found in Making Habits, Breaking Habits, a psychologist’s popular examination of one of the most powerful and under-appreciated processes in the mind. Although people like to think that they are in control, much of human behavior occurs without any decision-making or conscious thought.

Drawing on hundreds of fascinating studies, psychologist Jeremy Dean busts the myths to finally explain why seemingly easy habits, like eating an apple a day, can be surprisingly difficult to form, and how to take charge of your brain’s natural “autopilot” to make any change stick.

Witty and intriguing, Making Habits, Breaking Habits shows how behavior is more than just a product of what you think. It is possible to bend your habits to your will—and be happier, more creative, and more productive.

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Author: Jeremy Dean
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help, Psychology
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 25, 2012
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked this book up in the hopes it would help motivate me to develop some good habits. See, I finally finished my post-secondary education and was about to start my career so I wanted to get some good habits started right from the get-go of my new lifestyle.

My hopes for this novel were that it would help me come up with some strategies to implement a routine that included work, reading, working out and writing!

The Concept:

The scientist in me really appreciated the use of psychology/sociology studies to explain why certain approaches were more successful than others. I like evidence and I don’t like books that just spew out ideas that have no support. So that really worked for me.

For me, I wanted this book to focus more on creating habits as opposed to breaking them and I felt that at times, this book geared more towards the breaking of habits. But maybe that is just what I got out of it.

The Writing/The Narration:

However, at times, I felt like I was just sitting in a psychology lecture because the first half of the book is so focused on the science of what a habit is and why it is hard to break. It was more educational to me than inspiring for the first 50% of the book. Though that did improve on the later half.

I’m glad I listened to the audiobook though. I think I would have felt like I was reading a textbook if I read the physical book. It was a very easy read.

Did it Impact My Life?

Perhaps not as much as I had hoped. I think I wanted some clear cut strategies for starting new habits and I didn’t totally get those. BUT, it helped to remind me that it can take a while to create a new habit; that I shouldn’t be afraid to try new strategies; that it’s ok to miss a few times or make a mistake. So I did find it a worthwhile read because it made me want to try and create some new habits.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

A very informative book but it didn’t offer too many everyday strategies for making/breaking habits. Instead the focus seemed to be more of why people struggle and that it is a normal occurrence to endure.

Read if You Like: nonfiction, psychology
Avoid if You: dislike self-help books

 

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Single Sundays: Smut by Karina Halle

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Smut (from Goodreads):

What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree, and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project, but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s a brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also may find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot, but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed? Or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction?

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SERIESous’ Top PicksFave New Adult Standalone
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 16, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Karina Halle is one of those authors that I have a ton of books by, but haven’t read. Ironic too that the first one by her I would read is from the public library and not my own personal collection. But, I was really excited to read this one when I found it on someone’s blog last year (sorry I can’t credit someone!). Thus, it made my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a pick for 2016.

I LOVE hate-to-love you relationships and this one sounded perfect! Lots of sexual tension to be had. And like most other book addicts, I have a soft spot for reading about characters who also love literature.

Oh, and the title is just super catchy and intriguing!

The Concept / The World:

I really adored the concept here of these two writing “smut”. Like Porn Star by Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone, this novel explores a market that is heavily stereotyped and judged: the erotica fiction. The writing is smart and you can tell that Halle has experience and done her research. But the story is also fun when it needs to be and I think fans of the romance genre as a whole will enjoy this concept being brought to life.

As for the setting, it’s on the west coast of Canada (Victoria, British Columbia actually) and as a proud Canadian, I love anything that mentions my home country.

The Plot:

I’m sure a lot of people will read the title and think that this book is only erotica with very little plot–but it isn’t. Actually, this is something the book tries to tackle as a whole (re above paragraph).

The story here is brilliant!

The romance develops at a great pace. There are more than enough comedic scenes that will have you laughing out loud. The characters have solid growth from start to finish. And there is just enough drama to add another layer to the story.

The Characters:

I was worried that I wouldn’t like Amanda because she seemed a little too stereotypical to me. A rich girl who realizes the life her parents have carved out for her isn’t what she wants and she breaks free. But I was happily surprised that she was a very interesting character that has so much depth! I loved watching her grow before my eyes and become confident in who she is.

The same goes for Blake. He’s the typical heart-of-gold player that I love to read about, but he too has a lot of depth.

And the rest of the cast as perfectly, providing humour and wit along the way!

The Romance:

Again, with a title like Smut you might think that the story starts hot and heavy–but that is far from the case! This is such a slow burn romance, but in the best way possible. You really get to see how these characters would work and the tension is so on point you can’t help but root for them to get together! Perfection!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is like the ultimate romance novel for romance fans! It has everything you want in a good book: great characters, a sweet romance and just superb writing. You’ll enjoy this for sure!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, slow burn, stories about writers
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a lighter read
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