Reading

We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez | A Book Review

We Are Not From Here - Jenny Torres Sanchez

Title: We Are Not From Here

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It follows 3 kids in Pulga, Pequeña, and Chico who attempt to make the journey from their hometown in Puerto Barrios all the way to the United States.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was looking forward to this novel as the premise sounded interesting and different from other books I’ve read. I like the title as well as the cover, both capture the essence of the story.

Characters: I adored the main protagonists. They are easy to relate to and likeable. I saw parts of myself in many of the characters. They develop so much, changing in such profound ways.

Quote:

“I guess sometimes lying to those we love is the only way to keep them from falling apart.”

Writing: The point of view alternates between Pulga and Pequeña. I loved the short chapters because they helped to build suspense and made me want to keep reading. The whole story is beautifully written but so heartbreaking at the same time. I enjoyed the Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect with the ending, but I think Sanchez did a great job overall.

I highly recommend We Are Not From Here. It’s such a timely, relevant read that will have resonance for years to come.


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Reading

Break in Case of Emergency – Brian Francis | A Book Review

Title: Break in Case of Emergency

Author: Brian Francis

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: Toby Goodman’s mom committed suicide and her dad left before she was born. But now her father, a gay, female impersonator, comes home. When Toby’s plans to end her pain goes awry, she has to learn to pick up the pieces of her life and put them back together.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the title and cover a lot. The premise intrigued me, so I was looking forward to reading it.

Characters: Toby develops a great deal throughout the course of the novel. Many of the characters are flawed in their own ways, which made it easy to relate to them.

Quote:

“It’s only when you lose something that you understand what it meant to you.”

Writing: The author explores topics such as mental health and suicide. In my opinion, Francis handles these issues really well. He doesn’t glamourize or trivialize anything.

The book isn’t too long, and the chapters are short. On one hand, it’s beautifully written; on the other, the story is so sad.

Final thoughts: The ending suits the rest of the story. Honestly, I wish I could’ve read this book when I was in high school.

I highly recommend Break in Case of Emergency if you want to read an emotional but important novel.


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Reading

How It Feels To Float – Helena Fox | A Book Review

Title: How It Feels To Float

Author: Helena Fox

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s a debut standalone that follows Biz who lost her dad when she was six years old. The story deals with loss, grief, and mental illness.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was drawn to the book because of the title and cover. I haven’t read many contemporary novels set outside of North America, so I enjoyed that it’s set in Australia.

Characters: Biz is an interesting character, and I enjoyed seeing her development. She has flaws, yet I found myself relating to her. The story mainly revolves around Biz, but the secondary characters are great too. I wouldn’t have minded learning more about their pasts or problems.

Quote:

“You can’t escape your history.”

Writing: The chapters are short. It’s well-written, lyrical even. Fox addresses issues like depression as well as losing a loved one, and she handled them well.

Final thoughts: I had no idea how the plot would play out, but I liked the ending. A lot happens, and everything makes more sense when I finally learned what happened.

I recommend How It Feels To Float to individuals who want to read a beautifully written novel about some difficult matters in life.


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Reading

Destroy All Monsters – Sam J. Miller | A Book Review

Title: Destroy All Monsters

Author: Sam J. Miller

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: Ash and Solomon both experienced a traumatic event when they were younger and try to remember what happened in order to work through it together.

I received an advanced review copy from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I wasn’t sure what to expect. At first, I had no idea where the story was going.

Characters: Ash and Solomon are interesting protagonists. As I learned more about their pasts, they grew on me. I liked their friendship. I also appreciated the LGBTQ representation with Solomon being gay.

Quote:

“We are not our trauma.”

Writing: The chapters alternate between Ash’s point of view and Solomon’s perspective. The latter has created a world of his own with human and animal monsters in it, so there are two different but similar storylines happening at the same time. Miller tackles important issues such as mental health and trauma.

Final thoughts: I enjoyed seeing the plot unfold. The ending is my favourite part of the narrative. It’s well-written and wraps up loose ends.

I recommend Destroy All Monsters to anyone looking for a contemporary, fantasy hybrid about art and friendship.


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Reading

Screen Queens – Lori Goldstein | A Book Review

Title: Screen Queens

Author: Lori Goldstein

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: Lucy, Maddie, and Delia find themselves on the same team for an incubator competition where they have to build an app.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The cover is beautiful, and I like the title. I was intrigued by the premise.

Characters: The three protagonists are great, and all of them grew on me. Lucy is a leader who believes in working and playing hard. Maddie’s a designer who didn’t expect to make friends. Delia taught herself how to code but isn’t very confident. I could see parts of myself in the girls.

Lucy, Maddie, and Delia are different yet well developed. I enjoyed seeing them put aside their differences in order to work together. The dynamic in the group felt realistic. I also appreciate the diversity with Maddie being Chinese and Irish.

Quote:

“I want to be known for what I do, not for what someone does to me.”

Writing: The book is written in the third person and alternates between three points of view. Goldstein does a good job balancing description with dialogue. I didn’t expect to feel as many emotions as I did while reading this novel. It was an emotional rollercoaster for me in the best way possible. There’s a little bit of romance, but it doesn’t overtake the main storylines. The author addresses some of the issues women face in a male-dominated industry.

Final thoughts: I love the ending. It’s an inspiring, empowering read. I’ve never read anything quite like this novel before.

I highly recommend Screen Queens, especially if you’re a girl interested in technology.


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Reading

Testimony From Your Perfect Girl – Kaui Hart Hemmings | A Book Review

Title: Testimony From Your Perfect Girl

Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: Annie has almost everything she could ever ask for, but when her dad is accused of scamming others out of their investments, she gets sent to live with her aunt and uncle over winter break.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the title, and the cover is interesting. I’ve never read anything by Hemmings before, but the premise sounded interesting to me.

Characters: Annie’s flawed, and she develops throughout the story. The story mainly revolves around her, but I wouldn’t have minded learning more about the secondary characters.

Quote:

“I feel so powerful, so in charge, and until now, I didn’t realize that this isn’t always a good thing to be.”

Writing: It’s written in the first person from Annie’s point of view. The chapters are short and simple.

Hemmings doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. She addresses issues like drinking and drugs. Some of the mature scenes would be more suitable for an older audience. That being said, there are lighter moments in the dialogue.

Final thoughts: The ending wraps everything up. I tend to enjoy epilogues, and this one is no exception.

Testimony From Your Perfect Girl is a short but solid read, especially for teens in high school.


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Reading

The Beauty Of The Moment – Tanaz Bhathena | A Book Review

Title: The Beauty of the Moment

Author: Tanaz Bhathena

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It alternates between the perspectives of Susan Thomas and Malcolm Vakil who meet at school, fall for each other, drift apart, and reconnect again.

This post is part of a blog tour hosted by Penguin. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I like the cover and title. Even though I don’t read a lot of romance, I found the premise intriguing.

Characters: I love the racial diversity. It was easy to like both Susan, the new girl, and Malcolm, the bad boy. The secondary characters complement the two main protagonists as well.

Quote:

“Nothing that’s truly meant for you can be taken away.”

Writing: The language is simple and easy to follow. I loved that the story is set in Canada. Neither perspective overtakes the other. I enjoyed the short chapters and the alternating viewpoints.

Final thoughts: I’m a fan of how the plot played out. Relationships are messy and imperfect after all. The ending is my favourite part of the novel. Bhathena crafted a realistic story that will resonate with many readers regardless of age, race, etc.

I highly recommend The Beauty of the Moment, especially for lovers of contemporary romance.


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Reading

Everyone We’ve Been – Sarah Everett | A Book Review

Title: Everyone We’ve Been

Author: Sarah Everett

Genre: Contemporary

About the book: It’s a standalone debut novel about Addison Sullivan who starts talking to a boy only she can see after an accident.

First impressions: I love the title and cover. I’m just now realizing the latter has a person of colour on it. The premise sounded promising. I didn’t mind the beginning.

Characters: Addison is far from a perfect character. The same could be said for Zach, the boy she falls in love with. They’re more likeable at certain points and less so at others. That said, I think she redeems herself at the end and finally learns from past mistakes. Also, there’s some racial diversity with Addison being mixed race.

Quote:

“You take the worst thing that’s ever happened to you and you tell it any way you want it to.”

Writing: There was more romance than I anticipated. Because I’m not the biggest fan of make-out scenes, I found the middle of the novel less interesting.

It’s told in Addison’s point of view, alternating between before and after the accident. I saw some things coming, but I liked the short chapters.

Final thoughts: I’m glad the novel ended the way it did. The story doesn’t have the happiest ending though.

I found it didn’t live up to my expectations. I would’ve liked more focus on Addison’s recovery with less emphasis on romance.

If you’re into contemporary romance with a bit of mystery mixed in, Everyone We’ve Been might be your cup of tea.


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