Oct
09

Title: All Wrapped Up (Geek Girl #1.5)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: November, 2015 by HarperCollins
Pages: 220
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
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Harriet Manners knows a lot about Christmas.

She knows that every year Santa climbs down 91.8 million chimneys.

She knows that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was almost definitely a girl.

She knows that the first artificial Christmas trees were made out of goose feathers.

But this Christmas is extra special for Harriet, because four days ago she had her First Ever Kiss.

Now she just needs to work out what’s supposed to happen next…

Final Thoughts:
Harriet is addicted to Christmas—that’s pretty much what this novella tells you from the get go. There’s even a gift receiver’s checklist included for rating Harriet’s Christmas gifting prowess. I’d missed that kind of wackiness as it seems to have dissipated in the later books. Still, it was weird stepping back in time, trying to remember where everybody was at. Set earlier in the series, Harriet is enthralled with her Aussie model boyfriend, Nick, waiting to hear from him about their first date. If you ship Nick/Harriet, you will eat this up. I’m not their biggest supporter, but even I enjoyed this.

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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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Sep
20

Title: Head Over Heels (Geek Girl #5)
Author: Holly Smale
Published: March, 2016 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Pages: 451
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 
Purchase: The Book Depository

Harriet Manners knows many facts:

Fourteen squirrels were once detained as spies.
Snakes and Ladders and Chess were both invented in the same county.
Astronauts’ hearts become rounder in space.

And for once, she knows exactly how her life should go. If only everyone else would stick to the plan…

Final Thoughts:
It’s always fun coming back to this series and the familiarity of it. There’s always some sort of drama going on, but it manages to maintain its underlying feel good vibe. It’s about modelling, but it’s not. The characters are what shine through here—and Harriet’s personality certainly does. I don’t think I could stomach Harriet in real life, but she’s amusing to read. Not always as smart as she thinks she is, Harriet can grate on your nerves with how clueless she can be. I had moments where I wanted to tell her what was going on, to think of others, but her big personality pushes through and tells the reader not to worry about things like that.

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Aug
13

Title: Loathing Lola
Author: William Kostakis
Published: 2008 by Pan Macmillan
Pages: 346
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
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Fifteen-year-old Courtney Marlow didn’t exactly think it through. She thought the offer to have her life broadcast on national television was the perfect solution to her family’s financial troubles.

She was wrong.

Mackenzie Dahl, the show’s producer, promised to show Australia a real teenager. Courtney was going to be a positive role model, someone on television without a boob job and an eating disorder.

Soon, everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame via a little bit of Courtney – especially her conniving friend Katie, and her stepmother, Lola. And Courtney is just beginning to realise that ‘ordinary’ does not translate to ‘entertaining’…

Final Thoughts:
Perhaps having read Will’s later published books first left me at a disadvantage going in to this. It was hard not to compare the differences and notice how much he has grown since this book. Loathing Lola, while not feeling as polished, did still have a fun plot. It was kind of like Degrassi in its tone, along with the high school setting taking the forefront, but very much Australian. Had we gotten to know the characters a bit better, to see what made them tick, I think I would have enjoyed it more. Although, taking it for what it was, it had more than enough humour and angst to keep me turning the pages.

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Aug
06

Title: After You (Me Before You #2)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: September, 2015 by Michael Joseph
Pages: 407
My Rating: ★★★½☆ 
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Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. And when an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

In a church basement, with the motley crew of the support group Moving On, Lou attempts to kick-start her life again. And when she meets strong, capable Sam Fielding things seem like they are going in the right direction. This is until a figure from Will’s past appears out of the blue . . .

Final Thoughts:
I went into this expecting too much. Or something different. I’m not quite sure. It IS about Louisa moving on with her life, but much of the book is taken up, or rather, derailed, by Lily, a teenage daughter of Will’s, unbeknownst to him at the time of his suicide. And yes, that gets brought up, throwing around blame, that the knowledge of her existence could have possibly changed his mindset. The book really comes across as the Lily story, with Lou on the outside, having the occasional life problem of her own as she tries to bend to Lily’s whims. This is pretty much where my problem with the book lies.

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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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Jun
23

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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