The Chase Book Review

Title: The Chase
Series: Briar U #1
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: August 4, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 378
Format: Kindle eBook

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother. 

And that his best friend has a crush on me. 

And that I just moved in with them. 

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates? 

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing? 

He knows where to find me.

Diving back into the stories of the college students of Briar U was something I was really looking forward to! I remember loving the original four books of the first series, instantly hooked on the hot hockey dudes and the beautiful girls they fell in love with.

This story, though? It… kind of fell flat for me. But that’s not to say that it still wasn’t enjoyable as far as entertainment value is concerned.

So let’s talk about the characters first:

Summer is Dean’s sister (he’s the main lead in The Goal) and as such, she’s drop dead gorgeous like her brother and has just a big of a personality as he does. And as much of a sex drive as he does. Of course she’s more than just that, and it’s often revealed and talked about throughout the story how she wants to be seen as more than just her family’s money or more than just her looks: she may not be academically smart, but she’s got a lot of passion for fashion, which is what she’s studying; she believes in woman power and building other women up instead of tearing them down; and she had an orbit about her that draws people in.

She’s also a lot of drama. Like. Holy crap, a lot of drama. I found myself often thinking that a lot of her reactions were over the top and that they didn’t really warrant to be as such for the situation. I get that’s supposed to be her personality, but a lot of the reactions seemed forced or even out of character.

Colin Fitzgerald is one of the hockey players for Briar U and he’s a tattooed, video game designing man who wants to work for a big game company when he graduates. He’s even made his own video game and has others he knows beta test it, which is pretty cool. He’s also very sexually driven, I found throughout this story, which is fine but sometimes I thought it was a bit much. He also has a bit of social anxiety, which is understandable given his back story and the way he grew up.

So, as far as plot goes: there was a lot of back and forth between Summer and Fitz (obviously, it’s not called “The Chase” for nothing) where they would often inner monologue how they’re very attracted toward the other and they want to get in each other’s pants, but never know what the other is thinking.

My biggest issue with this was how it made the characters feel so shallow and kind of two dimensional. So much of the plot centered around the sexual aspects that I felt it took away from the characters and their growth, because I actually did find the stuff happening outside and around them interesting.

I found that the anxiety was handled really well, though, and it was very believable how the characters tried to cope with their anxiety, either on their own or with help from another.

Overall, I found this to be a book that focused highly on entertainment value than on character development, which is fine, but I still wish we could have seen more come out of the characters. Some of the situations felt forced or rushed or pretty unbelievable, but otherwise it was a fun story with steamy scenes and some laughs.

★★★☆☆

Leah On the Offbeat Review

leahontheoffbeatTitle: Leah On the Offbeat
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 343
Format: Hardcover

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Well, let me tell you: this is the first actual novel I’ve read TO COMPLETION in… months. Many months. I still can’t believe it. It took me around probably six to eight hours to read the thing. And I really enjoyed it!

It was great jumping back into the world of Creekwood and it was great getting a story from Leah’s perspective, while also still seeing Simon and Blue (even though they weren’t the main focus). I loved her voice and how she really talks like a young adult – swearing, sarcasm, tumblr posts. She was such a fun character that really cared not only for her body as a plus sized young woman, but also as a bisexual person. Though she was only out to her mom (which is still awesome that her mom accepted her regardless), it only really start to make things difficult as time progressed in the story.

I found that the romance aspect of the book was done well, though sometimes it did feel like a little hiccup here and there with how it went. I overall thought that it was fairly realistic as to how it turned out, but I kind of wish I got a better feel for the love interest. I understand the strain on the friendship, but it still felt to me like I was missing some of the love interest’s personality.

I also didn’t really get a feel for just how tight knit the friendship between Leah, Anna, and Morgan were, despite it supposedly being so strong in the beginning. Although, if it were my friend, I would be very pissed about the comment that was made, too, but I don’t know if I would continue to be mad even after an apology. I don’t know, that felt rocky at best and I don’t really know how the friendships would have lasted after the end of the book.

Other than that, I felt like it was a fun, light hearted story, with dashes of drama inside. I like how Leah was both proud of her body, but also self conscious, because that really does show the two sides of the coin (as a plus sized woman, myself, I can speak to this very feeling). I think that the book overall was a great read, though I feel like I am missing out on a few threads that weren’t completely tied at the end (I don’t want to ask them here for fear of spoilers).

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, light-hearted story about a teen girl who’s trying to come to terms with her emotions as well as figure out who she is as a person, and the relationships she has around her, then definitely pick up this book! I hope that you’ll like Leah as much as I did.

I rated this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A Silent Voice Series Review

asilentvoice1Title: A Silent Voice
Series: 7 Volumes Total
Author/Illustrator: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Manga – Young Adult – Contemporary
Format: Purchased paperbacks

LEARNING TO LISTEN

Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favorite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?

This will be a series review, so I will be covering all seven volumes of this series. There may be spoilers, but I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler free.

This manga series is, in a word, stunning. I love the art and the characters and the story, and I’m so glad that it was so critically acclaimed in Japan because of the heavy subjects that it undertakes and how it’s executed in the story itself.

The story itself is about a boy named Shoya who always wants to have fun and never be bored. He often takes dangerous risks with his friends (such as jumping off bridges into shallow-ish water) in order to find those moments of fun and adventure. When his friends decide to cool it with all of the dangerous stunts, that’s when Shoko, a deaf girl, is transferred to his class and he thinks of her as kind of like a boss he has to beat in a video game.

Of course, that doesn’t exactly turn out well in his favor. He bullies Shoko without realizing he was being a bully by yelling at her, ripping out her hearing aids, and just causing chaos for Shoko. His other friends join in and eventually she has to transfer again.

That’s also when Shoya’s friends turn against him and he pretty much becomes a loner for the next six years.

I love how the story uses X’s over people’s faces because we’re seeing everything through Shoya’s point of view, and he doesn’t think about or care about anyone. Only when someone does something nice to him does that X fly off of their face and he sees who they are and becomes friends with them. I thought that that concept was demonstrated really well and that it was very important to the story itself.

When Shoya runs into Shoko six years later in high school, he returns the notebook she used to communicate with the other students to her and, to her surprise, he also learned sign language so he could communicate with her.

He tries very hard to redeem himself and make up with her and show her that he’s extremely sorry for the way he was as a kid, and though I thought this was sweet I oftentimes found that it became overbearing the way he was going about it. I did see immense growth in him, though, and I was glad to see that he was also affecting others around him in a positive way.

Shoko was a very defining character as well not only because she was deaf, but because she always tried to be kind to everyone and not let things get to her – at least on the surface. There are a couple of darker moments with her that made me want to reach out and comfort her. I thought that she was a very generous and warm character and I’m so glad to see some sort of deaf representation in manga (which I’ve never seen before).

There were also characters who were fat, or had a very ugly personality, or who was once bullied, or who tries her best in everything. Even Shoko’s younger sister is “different” in that she takes pictures of dead animals and dresses like a boy. I loved that there were so many varied personalities, body sizes, and disabilities shown in this series.

The plot, overall, was one that gripped me and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. It was cute in many places, and there were a few times where I felt some things were unnecessary or were just too extreme, but the main story was very gripping and I loved it to bits.

If you’re looking for a diverse manga set in Japan, then I highly, highly recommend A Silent Voice.

Each volume has it’s own rating, but for my series rating I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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The Sun is Also a Star Book Review

thesunisalsoastarTitle: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 344
Format: Received in November 2016 Uppercase Box

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

This book was both parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and I don’t know which one I’m feeling more of right now.

I thought that this book was very well written and that the sentences were strung together beautifully. I felt like the characters were real, that their problems, their universe, was real and that I was there with them experiencing everything that they were the whole time. They felt alive and so different but so connected, and I loved that. Plus there were situations that were going on in not just their lives, but in multiple people around them, and each felt real and genuine.

I felt that the plot was fluid and that it went from one scene and thought to the next smoothly, and I loved how there were chapters in between with different characters and also just fun chapters on things like love, eyes, the universe, and stuff like that. I could tell that Nicola Yoon did a lot of research because even I could remember these facts I had read on some of the more scientific parts of the story that were true. It felt like I could connect not only to the characters, but to the whole story in general, which was a very exciting feeling.

Natasha and Daniel’s chemistry together was one that melted my heart. I was afraid because of the insta-love feel of the story in the beginning, but it felt natural the way the circumstances occurred. Of course, I don’t know if this would actually happen in real life (maybe it has?), but I felt the plausibility of the situation and highly enjoyed it.

I found it interesting how Natasha always looked to the facts of things and didn’t believe in things like true love, destiny, and other concepts. I actually found it kind of refreshing, in way, because oftentimes the main characters are dreamers (like Daniel) and I think that because she relied so much on facts and data was actually very cool. Though I was glad she was warming up to the idea of those concepts as the day went by. I thought that she handled herself well in many situations, and I loved how she tried so hard to hide her expressions and emotions, but they slowly came out with Daniel.

And Daniel? Oh my God, he’s freakin’ hilarious! I found myself laughing out loud a lot while I was reading his point of view. He has a lot of jokes and a way with words, so no wonder he wants to be a poet. But otherwise I was glad to see him like his culture but still want to go for his own dreams. His family, though, made me very sad, much like Natasha’s, but in a different way. I understand family and culture and all of that, but still, I wish he could’ve had a better conversation with his father about what he wanted to do.

Overall I found this book to be very well done. The character I was most frustrated with was Natasha’s father because wow, how could someone regret having a family like that? I don’t know how to explain it cohesively, just the way he regretted meeting his wife and having his children irked me. And I’m obviously not one to endorse cheating, though I did kind of root for the lawyer and his secretary? It’s weird.

I found the struggle of deportation to be real, the need and want to be seen and heard and loved to be real, and I loved reading from the perspectives of a Jamaican young woman and a Korean young man.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it!

P.S. I Like You Book Review

psilikeyouTitle: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 330
Format: Received in August Uppercase Box

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

This book was adorable and it was nothing short of what I was looking for in a contemporary novel. I found the characters to be funny and real, the plot to be fun, realistic, and fast-paced.

The story started out with Lily being distracted in Chemistry class writing down lyrics in her notebook and her teacher telling her to pay more attention and turn in notes at the end of every class. When she starts to daydream and write lyrics on the table, the next day she sees those lyrics completed and she starts writing notes back and forth from there. For a large portion of the book the mystery of who was writing the notes was well hidden and she didn’t figure it out until about half way through who it was when she saw him while she was running errands for someone.

I thought that Lily was a great character. She was awkward and funny and kind, and she loves her family unconditionally, as well as her best friend Isabel. I love that she had some quirks that allowed her to be seen in a more realistic light, like how she has a nervous habit of chatting up a storm when she’s really nervous or put in an awkward situation, or how she’ll resort to humor – even if no one gets her humor sometimes. I loved that about her. (Probably because I do the same thing.)

Having her large family have such a big presence in the book was something I wasn’t expecting, and I thought that that was such a great part of the book. Of course she thought her family was difficult and everything to live with, but as an outsider I thought that her family was fun and very entertaining. With an older sister and two younger brothers, plus both parents, her house wasn’t short on fun. I also loved the way she talked to her siblings: like she cared and was patient with them. Of course there were moments of frustration, but she still really just showed how much she cared, and that they cared back, and I loved it.

Cade was interesting because when I thought he was being an arrogant dude, trying to make jokes and be humorous, it was his way of trying to make situations better for others. He has just as much of a big heart for people as Lily does, which makes my own heart warm. Not only that, but even during their fights I could tell that he wasn’t totally in it, and that there was something he wanted to say – especially as time went on. He was kind and funny just like Lily, a very great match for her.

Of course that’s not to say neither has their faults. Even when they fought and when their anger was explained, I still was kind of confused as to why they fought to begin with. Maybe it wasn’t explained, or it was and I missed it, but I thought that the hate-to-love romance that happened was gradual, realistic, and the cutest thing ever. *insert fangirl squeal*

I also appreciated the friendship between Lily and Isabel in here because I don’t often see YA friendships between characters stem out more than just a side role. But Isabel played a big role in Lily’s life and Lily often said that Isabel was much more important than some of the things that were going on, which was awesome.

And there was of course mini dramas here and there with the letters, another girl, and even with Isabel, but I like how things resolved themselves and how each character worked to fight for the important relationships to stay intact. It was mature of them all, and I was glad to see that.

I thought that this book was very adorable and that you should definitely check it out if you’re looking for a cute contemporary to read anytime soon.

I rated this book 5/5 stars and highly recommend it!