Oct
30

Title: Turtles All The Way Down
Author: John Green
Published: October, 2017 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

Final Thoughts:
I don’t know if this book helps with anxiety or makes it worse. Having just started meds for my own anxiety, this struck a chord, making me question my own thoughts at times, wondering just how many were my own and which ones were the anxiety talking. Aza’s condition seemed to be on the extreme side, having arguments with herself, trying to fight the impulses convincing her to do things she didn’t want to do. It was hard to read, becoming very disturbing the deeper I got, still, it does a great job at highlighting just how hard it is living with mental illness. The missing billionaire mystery helps bring in some levity, with the friendship between Aza and Daisy stealing the show. Sure, there’s a romantic sub-plot with the billionaire’s son, but the two main girls and Aza’s own issues are where the heart of the book is at.

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Oct
20

Title: In Other Lands
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: August, 2017 by Big Mouth House
Pages: 432
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

“What’s your name?”
“Serene.”
“Serena?” Elliot asked.
“Serene,” said Serene. “My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.”
Elliot’s mouth fell open. “That is badass.”

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

Final Thoughts:
With a wisecracking mouth, an air of superiority and little regard for other people’s feelings, I know Elliot was someone I wouldn’t want to be around. Yet, I couldn’t help but want to be more like him. His ‘no apologies’ attitude towards life and stupid people was one that I secretly wish I could adopt, or get away with adopting. Set in a magical world, with no hint of magic, instead filled with war training, politics and angsty teen romance, this quickly became a whole lot of fun.

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Oct
04

Title: Sunny Side Up (Geek Girl #4.5)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: June, 2016 by Harper Collins Children’s Books
Pages: 224
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.

A brand new summer story from the no. 1 bestselling and award-winning GEEK GIRL series!

Harriet Manners knows many facts.

And she knows everything there is to know about Paris… except what to do when you’re the hottest new model at Fashion Week.

Can Harriet find her je ne sais quoi or will it be sacré bleu! on the runway?

Find out in this hilarious summer special GEEK GIRL novella from the no. 1 bestselling author Holly Smale.

Final Thoughts:
Surprisingly, this time around, I don’t think Harriet managed to annoy me. Actually, I found myself really enjoying this novella, and can’t wait to get straight into the final book next. Ditching the majority of the cast, it’s just Harriet and Wilbur off in Paris for fashion week, and honestly, that worked for me. It gave Harriet more time to unravel all by herself. Finding mayhem with practically everything she does, this was a blast. And despite its short page count, it somehow manages to pack into it not one, but three modelling misadventures.

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Jul
31

Title: Been Here All Along
Author: Sandy Hall
Published: July, 2017 by Pan Macmillan
Pages: 224
Rating: ★★½☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee and having his choice of colleges. They do not include falling head over heels for his best friend and next-door neighbour, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do . . .

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong . . .

Final Thoughts:
With characters so vanilla, I kept wondering why I was reading this. It wasn’t inherently bad, I mean, I got through it in a few lunch breaks, but there was just no meat to it. Occasionally, some issue would arise and get my hopes up that there’d be some drama, something to invest in, but every time an easy out would appear to solve the problem. It seemed like all of the characters were made simply to be likeable, rather than to be real. Sure, it was sort of romantic, watching best friends realise they like each other, but it was just fluff.

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Jul
23

Title: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Published: June, 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 513
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Final Thoughts:
It’s strange thinking back on this one. I loved it to an extent, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Perhaps it’s the time it took me to finish it. I wanted to read it all the time, but I kept procrastinating each time I went to pick it up. Still, once I did, I’d find myself lost in the pages. Monty was a riot. He’s one of those protagonists that just amuses you from start to finish. His personality reminds me of all of the snark and quick witted humour filled books that hooked me on YA six or seven years ago. Except this one, it was set in the 1700s. Though don’t let that keep you away—anything but stale, many of the phrases turned read as though they’re in a contemporary.

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Jul
07

Title: It Looks Like This
Author: Rafi Mittlefehldt
Published: September, 2016 by Candlewick
Pages: 336
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

A new state, a new city, a new high school. Mike’s father has already found a new evangelical church for the family to attend, even if Mike and his plainspoken little sister, Toby, don’t want to go. Dad wants Mike to ditch art for sports, to toughen up, but there’s something uneasy behind his demands.

Then Mike meets Sean, the new kid, and “hey” becomes games of basketball, partnering on a French project, hanging out after school. A night at the beach. The fierce colors of sunrise. But Mike’s father is always watching. And so is Victor from school, cell phone in hand.

Final Thoughts:
This little book held me hostage. I went from loving it to wanting to strangle it and break free. With tears threatening my eyes, I read this book during my lunch breaks this week, surprised by how many emotions it managed to bring out of me. Mike’s story, while tragic, gave a refreshing (and angering) view into what it’s like growing up gay in a religious family. I don’t know if I would have wanted to read this back when I was figuring things out in my teens, but I could handle it now.

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Jul
02

Title: Girl In Between
Author: Anna Daniels
Published: May, 2017 by Allen & Unwin
Pages: 320
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Lucy Crighton has just moved in with some gregarious housemates called Brian and Denise …who are her parents. She’s also the proud mother of Glenda, her beloved 10-year-old …kelpie. And she has absolutely no interest in the dashing son of her parents’ new next-door neighbour …well, maybe just a little …

As the girl in between relationships, careers and cities, Lucy is facing some awkward truths – like her mum’s obsession with Cher, her father’s unsolicited advice, and the probability there’s more cash on the floor of her parents’ car than in her own bank account.

Thank goodness for Lucy’s crazy-but-wonderful best friend, Rosie, who’s around to cushion reality with wild nights at the local Whipcrack Hotel, escapades in Japanese mud baths, and double dating under the Christmas lights in London. But will Lucy work out what she really wants to do in life – and who she wants to share it with?

Girl in Between is a warm, funny, charmingly Australian story about life at the crossroads. Featuring an endearing and irrepressible cast of characters, it will have you chuckling from start to finish.

Final Thoughts:
Lucy is a flake. I get that she’s at a crossroads, but she has absolutely no direction in life. She would pick random career ideas out of nowhere and drop them barely a page later. About the only thing she seemed to want for in life was to have a baby, but even that wasn’t really a goal of hers. She wasn’t out looking for a husband, she wasn’t doing much of anything—it didn’t feel like she had any kind of mission, she just let things happen around her. Plus, the overdose of Aussie culture littering the pages of this book…I could probably write an entire review just about that.

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