Mar
05

Title: Something Like Spring (Something Like #4)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: January, 2014 by Jay Bell Books
Pages: 452
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Nothing in this world is permanent. Friends, lovers, even family, can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Without these anchors, it’s all too easy to find oneself drifting.

Jason Grant doesn’t have much, aside from a beat-up old guitar and knack for getting kicked out of foster homes. His latest placement is set to be just another in a long line of failures. Then he meets Caesar Hubbard, a handsome guy who lives down the hall. For the first time in his life, Jason wants to stay, which means learning to be part of a family, and not letting his feelings–or his actions–ruin his first real chance of falling in love.

Final Thoughts:
I didn’t think anything could top Jace’s story, but Jason’s orphan tale is one that may have done it. With only a guitar to his name, he bounces around foster homes, his (intentional) bad behaviour getting him sent back to the group home, that is, until he meets the Hubbards. It’s hard to picture a family more frustrating to be in than this one. Attracted to your foster brother can’t be easy. With Jason lusting after Caesar, their eventual relationship was heart-warming, but also left me wanting more for poor Jason. Skip ahead a few years and Ben and Tim rejoin the book—this is where my love for the story really kicked off.

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Feb
12

Title: Something Like Winter (Something Like #2)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: November, 2012 by Createspace
Pages: 368
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

There are two sides to every story. When you’re Tim Wyman, sometimes there are three.

Tim hoped moving to Texas would mean a new beginning, a chance to spread his wings, but he soon finds himself falling into the same tired patterns. Until he meets recklessly brave Benjamin Bentley. Suddenly a whole new world opens up to Tim—love, sex, warmth… home. Certain that society won’t understand what he and Ben have together, Tim struggles to protect their relationship, even if it means twisting the truth. As his lies slowly push Ben away, Tim learns that the greatest enemy can come from within. Buried beneath a decade of deceptions, Tim must claw his way to the surface in the hopes of learning to fly.

Final Thoughts:
It’s hard to imagine finding Tim anything but unlikeable after Something Like Summer, especially in the wake of the amazing soul that was Jace, but surprisingly I found myself starting to warm towards Tim’s tortured persona in this companion novel. A lot more was going on inside his head, and around him, than Ben’s POV let on. There is some repetition as storylines intertwine, but this lessens once the high school years get left behind. Just like in the previous book, time jumps are used to progress the story, allowing us to feel like we’ve really experienced the lives of these guys, their struggles, loves and losses, rather than just a snippet with an open ended happy ending.

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Feb
10

Title: Something Like Summer (Something Like #1)
Author: Jay Bell
Published: January, 2011 by Smashwords
Pages: 292
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change.

The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart.

Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.

Final Thoughts:
I’m shocked. This was so much more than a high school YA. It starts out like one when Ben, the out kid, with a loving mother, but a lack of a love life, basically becomes obsessed with the new guy he keeps spotting jogging through his neighbourhood, but that’s only the beginning. Spanning almost a decade, this story seems so indepth, really letting you discover these characters despite its short page count. Twisting my emotions in a bid to keep me hooked, I ended up finishing this in less than a day. I just couldn’t stop reading–well, only to update my boyfriend on what was happening with these guys, I was that invested.

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Feb
08

Title: Kamikaze Boys
Author: Jay Bell
Published: March, 2012 by Createspace
Pages: 278
Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

If the world is against you, don’t give up. Find yourself a kindred spirit. Then you can start fighting back.

They say Connor, the one with the crazy eyes and creepy scar, tried to kill his old man. Lately he’s been seen hanging out with David, the gay guy who always eats lunch alone. They make an odd pair, the loser and the psychopath, and bad things happen to people who mess with them. Not that Connor and David are looking for trouble. Even when taking on the world, they seem more interested in each other than fighting.

Kamikaze Boys is a story about breaking the chains that bind you and using them to beat down anyone that gets in your way. Better yet, it’s about holding hands with the guy you love while doing so.

Final Thoughts:
Connor and David were quite the pair. With the chapters alternating back and forth between these two guys, it gave us a chance to see what made both of them tick. Connor was such a sweety, always looking out for David, trying to keep the romance alive for him. There were struggles, but I liked that it had very little angst for the first half of the book, making it a real feel good story if you looked beyond the bullying attempts. The second half is where it all kind of came crashing down, and I felt like I was reading a completely different book. Some of the chapters became hard to sit through, playing on settings I don’t really find comfortable, but it just made me power through to the end quicker hoping for that happy ending.

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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
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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