G. Bianco, 2019
In this young adult Grease-meets-Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda story, Sophie Gonzales’s newest novel Only Mostly Devastated tells the story of two boys figuring out how to love each other when circumstances change.
Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt's health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most.
The best word to describe this novel is cute! At first, it seems like just a copycat of the musical, Grease, but Gonzales makes the story her own and puts a modern twist on the musical classic. Ollie and Will aren’t exact replicas of Sandy and Danny, but the resemblance is there. The supporting cast of characters also resembles the rest of the Grease cast, but modern adjustments are made to make these characters more of parallels than doppelgangers.
This YA romance touches upon a lot of the plot points you'd expect: making new friends, adjusting to a new life, kind-of- unrequited love. But there is the underlying theme about learning how to be yourself and also how to be in a relationship with someone. Ollie learns that he can’t force Will to be with him and that relationships are a two-way street. Similarly, Will realizes that keeping his and Ollie’s relationship a secret because of his fear of being outed isn’t fair to Ollie. However, it takes him a LONG time to realize that he’s being unfair to Ollie and it gets a bit trite after a while.
Ollie must also deal with family drama and loss amidst the school and relationship drama. He learns that sometimes life is unfair and too short, so to make the most of it while you can, which helps him to work on his romance with Will.
High school cliches and YA tropes run rampant in this book, so if that's not your thing, then you might want to pass on this book. However, lovers of YA and retellings will really enjoy Ollie’s story and relate to his sarcasm and nervousness about figuring out life and love. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but nothing quite stood out to me to set this story apart from other YA romances.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Fans of Ransom Riggs’s young adult fantasy series, Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Series, have long awaited for the next installment. In the fifth novel, The Conference of the Birds, readers continue to follow Jacob’s journey to not only figuring out his place in the peculiar world, but also figuring out his family history that’s tied to the peculiar world.
With his dying words, H, Jacob Portman's final connection to his grandfather Abe's secret life, entrusts Jacob with a mission: Deliver newly contacted peculiar Noor Pradesh to an operative known only as V. Noor is being hunted. She is the subject of an ancient prophecy, one that foretells a looming apocalypse. Saving Noor means saving the future of all peculiardom. With only a few bewildering clues to follow, Jacob must figure out how to find V, the most enigmatic, and most powerful, of Abe's former associates. But V is in hiding and she never, ever, wants to be found. With enemies behind him and the unknown ahead, Jacob Portman's story continues as he takes a brave leap forward further into the world of the peculiar.
Like the rest of the series, Riggs uses one-of-a-kind, vintage photos that work in harmony with the text of the book. The way the photographs are used and incorporated into the story bring the novel to life in a unique way. Riggs continues to engage readers in the peculiar world by being so descriptive in his settings and characters. He also weaves together a wonderful plot that keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next.
While this wasn’t my favorite novel in the series, I found myself completely reengaged in the peculiar world and the wonderful cast of characters Riggs has created over the past few years. Jacob’s eagerness to find out more about his grandfather and the loyalty he has to his friends is endearing and makes the story that much more enjoyable. The gang’s travels across America and different time periods definitely keeps the story interesting and adventurous.
Those who are familiar with the series will definitely enjoy returning to the world of peculiars. With the cliffhanger ending from Riggs, you can bet that I will be anticipating the release of the next book in the series! I can’t wait to see what other adventures Jacob and the rest of the peculiar gang get involved in next!
Andrew David MacDonald’s debut novel, When We Were Vikings, is a moving and awe-inspiring story that will make you want to become a legend in your own way. Named one of Book of the Month’s January picks, this novel has been sweeping across the internet as one of the best books of the year.
For Zelda, a twenty-one-year-old Viking enthusiast who lives with her older brother, Gert, life is best lived with some basic rules, including “Fist bumps and dabs = respect” and “Strange people are not appreciated in her home.” But when Zelda finds out that Gert has resorted to some questionable—and dangerous—methods to make enough money to keep them afloat, Zelda decides to launch her own quest. Her mission: to be legendary. It isn’t long before Zelda finds herself in a battle that tests the reach of her heroism, her love for her brother, and the depth of her Viking strength. Sometimes life isn’t as simple as heroes and villains.
Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Perks of Being a Wallflower will enjoy this tale, as well as those who love to see what it’s like living in someone else’s world. It is binge-worthy and so easy to fall in love with Zelda and her quirky nature. She is an unstoppable force and her resilience is inspiring and awesome. Seeing Zelda’s first-person POV takes the story to a different stratosphere. The way Zelda rationalizes things and interprets the things around her is beautiful and distinct. Her thoughts truly immerse you in her life and paints a picture that her life is not much different that anyone else’s.
Another important aspect of this story was its portrayal of those with mental disabilities. Zelda, who is on the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum, shows that she is a human being just like the rest of us. She has feelings, she wants to live her life, and she is brave and intelligent. She just sees the world in a different way. On top of this, the reader sees other characters, like Marxy, who are on the spectrum, but are still at different mental capacities. It was interesting to showcase all aspects of the mental ability/autism spectrum and emphasize that each individual is unique in their own way and that the world should be accepting of them no matter what.
On top of this, Zelda’s relationships with everyone is so enjoyable to read about. Her unconditional love for her brother; her loyalty to AK-47; the love she has for Marxy; and her appreciation for other people in her life, including her therapist and boss. It really portrays Zelda as a loyal and kind person. However, throughout the novel, the reader sees Zelda realize who is good and bad and her vow to “protect her tribe against the villains” further shows her strength and loyalty to those she loves.
I don’t think I can sing enough Viking praise about this book! All I can hope for is more from Zelda in the future. MacDonald’s storytelling is genius and will leave you wanting more of Zelda and her tribe. When We Were Vikings is just an absolutely gorgeous book that everyone should read at some point in their lives.
I had never heard of Stephanie Fournet or her novel, Kind of Cursed. However, Amazon recommended her book to me and after reading the summary, I was intrigued. Looks like Amazon has a pretty good handle on what kind of books I like!
Every woman in Millie Delacroix’s family is cursed—kind of. Birth control just doesn’t work for them and going to the altar knocked up is pretty much a family tradition. And twenty-four-year-old Millie refuses to let that happen to her—again. Especially now that she’s responsible for raising her brothers and sister. A life of celibacy is her best defense—at least until the kids are grown and can take care of themselves. Ten years with no sex, no men and no love seems like a fool-proof plan. Until she meets Luc Valencia. The Mexican-American contractor is just trying to make his father proud as he takes over the family business. At this point in his life, professionalism has to be his top priority. At least until Millie becomes Luc’s client. Even with too much on her shoulders, the feisty redhead has the power to set him off, crack him up, or bring him to his knees. All they have to do is resist falling for each other as Luc remodels Millie’s kitchen. Easy right?
After reading this story, I was immediately taken by a sudden urge to tell everyone about this book! It was a really fun read, that also dealt with family and hardships. The pacing of the novel was fantastic and had me hooked from start to finish.
May we all have a relationship like Millie and Luc’s!! I absolutely loved Luc’s characterization! He was honestly, funny, kind, and respected Millie and I loved the way it was showcased throughout the story. And Millie’s attempts to fix her family and her fierce love for her siblings is amazing to read. I loved the emphasis on family and putting those you care about first. It made both Millie and Luc’s selflessness shine and display a quality I love to see in literature. I loved the way the characters interacted with one another: the way Luc interacted with the Delacroix kids and how the families intermingle.
And the story wasn’t just about the curse, which I liked. The novel instead centered around what it means to take what life gives you and shape your life around a new obstacle. And how that obstacle can bring new joy into your life.
The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the epilogue. It just felt a bit too long and cliche. However the rest of the novel was phenomenal! I just wanted Millie and Luc’s story to go on forever and I can't wait to read more of Fournet’s books!
Abby Jimenez’s debut novel The Friend Zone has been receiving accolades since it was published last year. This love story sets itself apart from other romance novels through its emphasis on self-worth and infertility.
Kristen Petersen is a no-nonsense kind of girl. She hates drama, is fiercely loyal to her friends and has no time for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children. Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.
Kristen’s sarcasm and doesn’t-give-a-sh*t attitude, on top of her physical and emotional strength and fierce loyalty to her friends, make her the perfect imperfect protagonist. She knows she has flaws, and the reader clearly sees them throughout the novel, but she ultimately comes to realize her mistakes and tries to do right by those around her. Even Josh’s big heart and kindness, along with his sexy fireman attitude, makes him a VERY likable character and makes him and Kristen’s romance even more ship-worthy!
While Kristen and Josh have goals and dreams in the beginning of the book, it is through their love for one another that those dreams shift, showing that love has the power to change people and the lengths that people will go to for the ones they love.
Not only do the main characters deal with infertility and self-worth, but loss and grief play big roles in their love story and it is through their struggles that they realize their love for one another has strengthened. It is important to have a support system through tough times and rely on those who care about you. Even if you think you’re sacrificing your happiness for theirs, pushing them away only does more harm. It is this distinction that makes this happy ending different from most romance novels.
Be warned: this romance is not all light and fluffy plot. There are a lot of deeper and more real issues that arise throughout the span of the story. However, it helps set The Friend Zone apart from other fun romance novels. Overall, this is a funny, heartbreaking, and amazing love story that really sheds light on real issues in people’s relationships.
“Come on, Bayview, you know you've missed this.” Fans of Karen M. McManus rejoice! The queen of young adult thriller and mystery is back with the fantastic sequel to her show stopping debut, One of Us Is Lying. Her new novel, One of Us Is Next, picks up about a year after the events of the first book, and follows Bronwyn’s sister, Maeve, as she tries to stop the gossip that threatens the peace in Bayview once again. However, this time the secrets are juicier and stakes are higher.
Since Simon’s death, a ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up. But in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one's been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one had the facts. Until now. This time it's not an app, though—it's a game of Truth or Dare. Phoebe's the first target. If you choose not to play, it's a truth. And hers is dark. Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare. But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous and deadly. If Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it's that they can't count on the police for help or protection. Even though Simon's gone, someone's determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there's a whole new set of rules.
McManus has done it again! This novel is masterfully written and will have readers looking for another Bayview story. Fan favorites like Bronwyn, Nate, Addy, and Cooper all make appearances, but the new stars of the book, Maeve, Phoebe, and Knox, really steal the show. Each character contributes to the story through alternating narration and adds layers to the mystery bit by bit. This novel is fresh and thrilling while still retaining some nostalgia from One of Us Is Lying.
It has the same “HOLY !*@?” ending you know and love from McManus! Just when you think you’ve figured it out, a bomb gets dropped on everything leaving you gasping at the end! McManus really knows how to dupe the reader into thinking they have everything figured out and then twisting it into the shocking ending readers love.
Fans of McManus will not be disappointed by this sequel. It will have readers laughing, swooning, and gasping throughout the entire novel. The secrets revealed get juicer with each chapter and readers will be shocked until the very last page.
Hi! My name is Elisa and my bookshelf is quite literally overflowing! Join me in my journey of reading as many books as humanly possible!