Oct
04

Title: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: December, 2008 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 368
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Final Thoughts:
It may have taken me five years to get around to this long-standing resident on my bookshelf, but time hasn’t diminished it. Even with the characters’ use of flip phones, I never found it dated. Brittany and Alex simply took hold of the story and drew me right into their complicated high school and home lives. With alternating perspectives, each are quite distinct, never confusing you as to whose head you’re in—Alex, the gang member, putting up a front to keep his family safe, and Brittany, the head cheerleader, putting up her own front to appease her parents, help with her disabled sister, and make their lives easier.

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Jul
06

Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Published: August, 2014 by Swoon Reads
Pages: 247
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

Final Thoughts:
Not going to lie, I picked this book up purely because one of the POVs is a squirrel, and my RPT (Random Page Test) landed me on the squirrel telling us how his friend’s tail got trodden on one summer and has never been the same since. That was all I needed. I bought it, took it home, and got stuck right into it. By the end of the novel I was in love. A Little Something Different is not only hilarious, and romantic, but as the title suggests, it provides us with a new way of experiencing the YA contemporary/ romance: from the perspective of basically everyone except that of the target ‘couple’.

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Jan
12

Title: The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2)
Author: Rick Yancey
Published: September, 2014 by Penguin Books
Pages: 300
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Cassie Sullivan and her companions lived through the Other’s four waves of destruction. Now, with the human race nearly exterminated and the 5th Wave rolling across the landscape, they face a choice: brace for winter and hope for Evan Walker’s return, or set out in search of other survivors before the enemy closes in. Because the next attack is more than possible – it’s inevitable.

No one can anticipate the depths to which the Others will sink – nor the heights to which humanity will rise . . .

Final Thoughts:
It’s safe for me to say this was one of the best, most intense books I read last year. I feel bad for not writing this review sooner, but I read it while on holiday and by the time I got back to my laptop I was halfway through The Bell Jar, and writing the review just disappeared completely from my silly brain’s agenda. Brett has told me that all YA trilogies have the essential “Empire Strikes Back” midpoint with tonnes of plot-twists to keep the reader enthralled and get them geared up for the finale. The Infinite Sea is such a fantastic sequel to The 5th Wave because it takes this E.S.B. formula and kicks you in the bloody balls with it. Bullseye!

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Jun
29

Title: Geek Girl (Geek Girl #1)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: February, 2013 by Harper Collins
Pages: 378
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things.

She knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. What she isn’t quite so sure about is why nobody at school seems to like her very much. So when she’s spotted by a top model agent, Harriet grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her Best Friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of the impossibly handsome supermodel Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

As Harriet veers from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, she begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

And as her old life starts to fall apart, the question is: will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

Final Thoughts:
Prepared to be irritated by a know-it-all character, I went into Geek Girl on the defensive, but Harriet quickly broke me down and had me cracking up page after page. It was seriously freaking hilarious. I think it came from her inane way of blurting out the most random things at perfectly timed intervals, or sometimes constantly. While I may be more inclined towards sarcasm and drier wit, she was simply that hilarious that she even had me on board. Coupled with an abundance of heart, this was one book I just couldn’t let go of. Even during my first time sitting beside the pilot on my employer’s private plane yesterday, I had my head buried in this book rather than looking out the front of the cockpit. Harriet was just so much fun.

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Jun
10

Title: Boofheads
Author: Mo Johnson
Published: August, 2008 by Walker Books
Pages: 267
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

When their English teacher sets an assignment to write a letter as Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, it gives Tom Sweeney the chance to prove that he is definitely not a boofhead. Getting inside a chick’s mind isn’t rocket science – he can “do the sensitive male thing” with the best of them. To prove his point, he becomes an agony aunt for his mum’s new magazine, PINK. Using the pseudonym Carrie Edwards, he ropes in his best mates, Casey and Ed, to help execute his dastardly plan. But being Carrie Edwards is harder than it looks and the three amigos’ lives begin to spiral out of control. Has it all come to an end for the Boofheads?

Final Thoughts:
The title was the first thing that reached out to me. I was in the mood for something funny and Australian, and “Boofheads” I think pretty much gave a good feeling. Not only did this novel turn out to be funny, but it was smart, engaging, and incredibly moving at times. It is such a cleverly written coming-of-age story about Tommo and his mates, Casey and Ed, as change sweeps in and threatens to tear their friendship apart. I spent the entire read hoping, and was glad to find out that it was at least on someone’s HSC reading list, because it reminded me so much of other must-read Aussie classics such as The Getting of Wisdom and Puberty Blues.

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Jun
09

Title: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: April, 2011 by Orion
Pages: 357
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now–reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers–not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for one of them, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

Final Thoughts:
Attachments has so much heart. I loved every minute I spent with this book. There were no chapters that felt like a chore to get through, rather, I found myself flying through it, struggling to put it down whenever I had to get back to other things…like work. Sure, starting out, I wasn’t sure whether I could get into Lincoln, the IT guy’s point of view, but with the way his character built and built and built, I couldn’t help but love his chapters just as much as the ones spent with the girls.

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May
09

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Published: November, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Thanks: Simon & Schuster, AU
Pages: 356
My Rating: ★★★★½ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

It’s 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on – and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they’ll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Final Thoughts:
I wasn’t into contemporaries back in 2011 when I got given a copy of this at a Becca Fitzpatrick event that Simon & Schuster were hosting, so I’m glad I waited before finally jumping into it. Perhaps I’ve grown tired of paranormals, but it’s as if a switch has since flicked and I can’t get enough of these kinds of books. While this one does feature Time Travel by way of a computer, it’s done in a way that I’d still class this as a contemporary read. It’s full of romance, high school angst, hanging with friends, fretting over possible futures. Basically, it was a lot of fun. I didn’t want this one to end. The fact that it was a standalone made saying goodbye to the final page even harder.

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