Title: A&B
Author: J.C. Lillis
Published: November, 2016
Pages: 318
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: Kindle

Eighteen-year-old Barrie Krumholtz is a super-tall optimist hell-bent on a single goal: securing a slot on Pop University, a reality show for singer-songwriters helmed by her #1 musical idol. When she humiliates herself on national TV and loses a spot in the finals to smug balladeer Ava Alvarez, the door to Barrie’s well-hidden dark side swings open. Never a quitter, she uses her bitter envy of Ava to shape a bold new artistic direction, and people love it. But when Ava ropes her into a secret collaboration, it sparks feelings neither girl expected—feelings that might threaten their creative identities and distract them from their professional goals.

Can love and ambition live side by side? Is happiness an art-killer? They’ll figure it out with the help of a blue guitar named Fernando, a keyboard named Rosalinda, and a few new friends who feel like home.

(Rated R for Rivalry, Romance, and Really Neat Subplot featuring Brandon and Abel from HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART.)

Final Thoughts:
Being the companion to my much loved, and favourite book read this year, How To Repair A Mechanical Heart, I’m probably going to judge this one harsher than if it were a standalone. Barrie and Ava were great characters, but fresh off the first book, my heart still lies with Brandon and Abel. Luckily for me, they did more than just cameo briefly—they got their own subplot! A decade has passed and the guys are now my age, so seeing where their lives had taken them was heaps of fun. But the heart of the story lies with Barrie, and her jealousy/humungous crush on the reality show contestant that knocked her out of competing in Pop University, Ava.

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Title: Anything Could Happen
Author: Will Walton
Published: May, 2015 by Push
Pages: 288
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody’s in everybody else’s business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels — and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.

Final Thoughts:
Having tried starting another book and failing to have it hold my attention, I switched it out for this one and found myself basically unable to function. I had to read this book. I haven’t switched on my TV since I started this one—that’s how much I needed to keep reading it. Tretch—while he may have had a weird name, he was very easy to sympathise with and cheer for. His plight may not have been anything ground breaking, but it reeled you in with its loveable characters and kept you wanting the best for them. Finding a YA book with a good coming out story 10 years back when I was a teenager was next to impossible, so it makes me happier to know that books like this one are out there now.

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Title: Rules Of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry #2)
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published: April, 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 326
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Carlos Fuentes isn’t happy about leaving Mexico to start the “new” life his older Brother, Alex, has planned for him. Carlos like his freedom; living life on the edge and carving out his own path – just like Alex did.

Kiara Westford doesn’t talk much; preferring instead to shut the world out. And when Carlos bounds into her life she struggles to understand him and his wild ways. Carlos is sure that Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, which is just fine because he’s not interested anyway, right? But when they finally open up to each other, the connection they feel shocks them both. Can they overcome their fears and realize that sometimes opposites really do attract?

Final Thoughts:
Much like Perfect Chemistry, I couldn’t get enough of this one. Rules of Engagement is so similar in tone, but does so without feeling like a rehash of the first book. A couple of years have passed, and now we’re focusing on Alex’s younger brother, Carlos and his love interest, Kiara. I think I found these two even more enjoyable than Brittany and Alex (who make plenty of cameos)—there’s less gang stuff this time around and more of a focus on the romance and snark.

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Title: Onyx (Lux #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: June, 2012 by Entangled Publishing
Pages: 366
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Thanks to his alien mojo, Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarro connection. So I’ve sworn him off, even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But we’ve got bigger problems.

Something worse than the Arum has come to town…

The Department of Defense are here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And there’s this new boy in school who’s got a secret of his own. He knows what’s happened to me and he can help, but to do so, I have to lie to Daemon and stay away from him. Like that’s possible. Against all common sense, I’m falling for Daemon. Hard.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. And I have to tell Daemon, even though I know he’s never going to stop searching until he gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies…

Final Thoughts:
Having taken a four-and-a-half-year gap between Obsidian and Onyx, I went into this a little worried, but having just closed the book, I don’t think that hindered my enjoyment of this one. While it did take me a little longer to get back into the sexy alien mindset, once I got there, I was back! It did take me around 10 days of lunchbreak reading to finish this one, but it was by no means a bore. I found the Katy and Daemon angst brought a grin to my face, especially adding in all of the alien/government drama. It brings back memories of Roswell, yet managing to do its own thing. I have no doubt I’ll be continuing this series, with the rest of the books on their way to me now.

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Title: Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel
Author: Sara Farizan
Published: October, 2014 by Algonquin Books
Pages: 304
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.

Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.

Final Thoughts:
Having just had to put another book aside, I was so glad to find this one so devour-able. With my lunch breaks stretching longer and longer, I found it quite hard to put this one down and get back to work. Leila’s story drew me in and really got me feeling like I was back at high school again, worried about when or how to come out. It really is a coming out story, but I liked that Leila knew she was gay and had already had a fling with another girl before the start of the book. That left the book for a different kind of angst and plenty of time to focus on the struggles and triumphs of relationships.

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Title: Tell The Wind And Fire
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: April, 2016 by Clarion Books
Pages: 368
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Final Thoughts:
Nobody seems to like this book. I don’t know why. Before I hit Goodreads to check the ratings, I was dashing madly through this one, relishing each lunch break when I could get back into it. Sarah Rees Brennan is one author that just gets characters right. Regardless of whatever the plot may be, she hooks you with the people. I think it’s why I loved the Demon’s Lexicon series so much even though each book took on a different POV. Here, the main cast is kept quite small—just Lucie, her boyfriend, Ethan, and his doppelganger, Carwyn. Told through a single perspective, Lucie really shines as the lead in this story. While she may have had magic rings on her fingers, she didn’t spend the book doing spells. It delves much deeper, getting political with topics such as class, racial discrimination and feminism.

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Title: The Sidekicks
Author: Will Kostakis
Published: February, 2016 by Penguin
Pages: 256
My Rating: ★★★★☆ 
Purchase: Booktopia

The Swimmer. The Rebel. The Nerd.

All Ryan, Harley and Miles had in common was Isaac. They lived different lives, had different interests and kept different secrets. But they shared the same best friend. They were sidekicks. And now that Isaac’s gone, what does that make them?

Will Kostakis, award-winning author of The First Third, perfectly depicts the pain and pleasure of this teenage world, piecing together three points of view with intricate splendour.

Final Thoughts:
Divided into thirds, each one housed a different perspective of the remaining friends of Isaac, showing us how they coped with life as a teenager after his sudden death. Without having seen the four of them together, initially it was hard picturing how they’d been friends. Although, it was pointed out a few times that they weren’t—that the three of them merely orbited Isaac, getting along with the others merely a part of being in Isaac’s life. And with him gone, their quasi-friend group quickly fell apart. I think seeing that happen felt quite realistic. Pretty much all of it did. Reading Sidekicks took me back to what is was like being young and insecure, making the wrong decisions but feeling like there were no other ones to make.

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