Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Jenny Han

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (2017)
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Book 3
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 336 pages
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

Review

I admit, I was kind of ambivalent when I first found out that Lara Jean was getting a third, previously unplanned book. I felt like we’ve got pretty much everything we could from P.S. I Still Love You and wasn’t sure if another book is necessary. As it turns out, however, there’s something lovely about watching your protagonist grow up… which is exactly what Always and Forever, Lara Jean is all about.

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ARC/Book Review: Waste of Space – Gina Damico

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Title: Waste of Space (2017)
Author: Gina Damico
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Extent: 368 pages
Release Date: July 2, 2017
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space.

The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.

And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Review

Waste of Space is a very interesting book, one that I have no doubt would be quite polarising among the YA audience. It’s wacky, it’s ridiculous, it’s surprising as hell, and even now I don’t feel like I have the vocabulary extensive enough to describe it the way I actually want to. Hell, I’m not even sure how I feel about it, weeks after finishing it.

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ARC/Book Review: Flame in the Mist – Renée Ahdieh

Title: Flame in the Mist (2017)
Series: Flame in the Mist – Book 1
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 400 pages
Release Date: May 18, 2017
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Goodreads Description

Mariko has always known that being a woman means she’s not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden – the emperor’s son – Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued… or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.

Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan’s hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

Review

I’ve been looking forward to Flame in the Mist ever since I finished The Rose and the Dagger last year. Shazi and Khalid’s love story was one I happily immersed myself in, and I loved every word and enjoyed every minute of it — which is why I was supremely disappointed, to say the least, that Flame in the Mist didn’t quite manage to captivate me in the same way.

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ARC/Book Review: One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us is Lying (2017)
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Extent: 368 pages
Release Date: June 1, 2017
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads Description

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Review

By nature I’m not a huge mystery-thriller reader: while I love the whodunit nature of stories in this genre, I scare remarkably easy and tend to shy away from anything that might make me feel creeped out. I could not, however, resist One of Us is Lying — anything with a group of misfits banding together is right up my alley. Even more so when they all have secrets of their own… and the characters in this book definitely do.

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Book Review: Goodbye Days – Jeff Zentner

Title: Goodbye Days (2017)
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 416 pages
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

Review

Jeff Zentner is the brains behind The Serpent King, a contemporary YA novel so realistic and unique, it’s still in the back of my mind a couple of months after reading it. Goodbye Days is his sophomore novel, and boy, does it also deal with some really, really tough issues. I mean, the premise alone is enough to send me into a loop of despair — and I tend to be quite unemotional when it comes to fictional characters!

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