Apr
29

Title: The Upside Of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April, 2017 Penguin
Pages: 340
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess.

Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back. There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Final Thoughts:
Oh my…gah—why does it have to be over? Though honestly, I felt like it ended perfectly. I lived for these characters. Reading well into the early hours of the morning, I forwent sleep in favour of some extra time with Molly and her family and friends. Randomly bursting out laughing, I felt like this was exactly the book for me. Suffering from anxiety, a lot of the struggles were in her head, which I found immensely relatable. I really appreciated finding a book like this. I just clicked with her from the get go and got so absorbed in her world.

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Dec
28

Title: How To Repair A Mechanical Heart
Author: J.C. Lillis
Published: September, 2012
Pages: 255
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Eighteen-year-old Castaway Planet fans Brandon and Abel hate bad fan fiction—especially when it pairs their number-one TV crushes of all time, dashing space captain Cadmus and dapper android Sim. As co-runners of the Internet’s third most popular Castaway Planet vlog, they love to spar with the “Cadsim” fangirls who think Cadmus will melt Sim’s mechanical heart by the Season 5 finale. This summer, Brandon and Abel have a mission: hit the road in an RV to follow the traveling Castaway Planet convention, interview the actors and showrunner, and uncover proof that a legit Cadsim romance will NEVER, EVER HAPPEN.

A Brandon and Abel romance: also not happening. Brandon’s sick of his struggle to make “gay and Catholic” compute, so it’s safer to love a TV android. Plus Abel’s got a hot new boyfriend with a phoenix tattoo, and how can Brandon compete with that? But when mysterious messages about them start popping up in the fan community, they make a shocking discovery that slowly forces their real feelings to the surface. Before they get to the last Castaway Planet convention, Brandon’s going to find out the truth: can a mechanical heart be reprogrammed, or will his first shot at love be a full system failure?

Final Thoughts:
So, this was fanficcing-tastisc. Aside from, maybe, Fangirl, I’ve never seen so much fanfic love in a book. And here, both the main characters were gay! It had me gripped in the best possible way. I should lament—but I’m won’t—the poor disintegrating Sunday that met its demise when I started and finished this book that day. With so much to love about this book, from the cross-country convention road trip, flirting, internal warring over a religious upbringing, the geeking out and more flirting, I can’t help but want to recommend this book. I don’t want to let go of these characters—Brandon and Abel (and Bec) forever.

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Nov
22

Title: Openly Straight (Openly Straight #1)
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Published: May, 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 320
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate feeling different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

Final Thoughts:
Stumbling through the first chapter, I worried I wouldn’t be able to get into yet another boarding school story. I was wrong. I could barely put it down. Opening Straight had me fidgeting back and forth, trying to find a comfortable position to read in bed, long past midnight. The premise of going back into the closet, or even just trying to change people’s perception of you, was one quite easy to connect with. While the main character, Rafe’s, being gay (and hiding it) was a big part of the story, it wasn’t that big of a leap to extrapolate his situation into pretty much anyone having moved and wanting to reinvent themselves.

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Jul
10

Title: Me Before You (Me Before You #1)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: January, 2012 by Penguin
Pages: 480
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Final Thoughts:
Such an engrossing story—and it all comes down to the characters. I felt so involved with them. Not just main characters, Lou and Will, but their family members as well. With almost five hundred pages spent with them, I well and truly felt as if I’d become a part of their lives. So much seems to take place, the personal growth really surprising me. I loved it for that. There were struggles and struggles, and more struggles, whenever something good happened I think I appreciated it all that bit more never knowing how long it would last.

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May
28

Title: Who’s That Girl?
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Published: April, 2016 by HarperCollins
Pages: 535
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, her boss suggests an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgey, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.

Final Thoughts:
How can her books be so good? I just want to live in them forever and ever. While the plots have differed, they’ve all managed to draw out that elusive, yet familiar, ‘magical romance’ feeling in me. Sometimes I just feel like I must have become jaded, like the book couplings I’m reading are bland stick figures being pushed together for the sake of it, yet then Mhairi brings out a new book and I’m back. I actually want to stop everything and READ. Edie’s adventure just kept going and going and going. With so much emotion packed into this book, I couldn’t help but struggle through the pain she felt and cheer for her too.

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Dec
09

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Published: April, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Pages: 359
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other?and the power of their friendship?can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

Final Thoughts:
This isn’t your regular, fluffy romance full of swooning and kisses and happiness. It felt so much more real. There were a lot of sad moments, but the characters here just seemed to spark so much emotion. Watching Ari, a bit of angry loner, meet Dante, the boy with so much heart and charisma—it was such a journey. If you like something that’s heavy on the drama, this is for you. The growth of their friendship, and of themselves, it really made the book something special. I never wanted to let it go.

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Oct
24

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: October, 2015 by Macmillan
Thanks: Pan Macmillan, AU
Pages: 528
My Rating: ★★★★★ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Final Thoughts:
This was such a contemporary kind of fantasy. From someone that normally finds the prospect of dragons and mages a snore, I was so glad to find that this one focussed as heavily on the characters as it did. It takes you on such an emotional journey, getting to know each of them, while still keeping the plot moving on around them. The switching perspectives became a non-issue as each and every point of view was relevant, never dragging you away from where you wanted to be. It all just flowed, allowing you to connect to the story without feeling like things were all over the place. Full of romance and great characterisations, this is one book I am most certainly sad to leave behind. I want more, but still, I loved it the way it was.

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