Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch // I Now WANT to Go to Ireland

Tuesday, 26 February 2019 3 comments
Love and Luck, by Jenna Evans Welch
Publication: May 8, 2018, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 303
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.
So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.
And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.
That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

My Thoughts:

Love and Luck is a book I have been anticipating for over a year. After practically devouring Love and Gelato, I instantly sought more from Jenna Evans Welch, queen and master of writing chick-lit books that stem away from the rest and just leave readers feeling all giddy inside. This was such an entertaining read that I cannot stop thinking about to this day. The author's choice of writing this book in the setting of Ireland was honestly so smart; I do not know much about the country and its culture aside from pubs, greenery and four-leaf clovers, however, this book just opened my wanderlust and made me discover that I want to head on a similar road-trip that the characters went on. 

What made this book so special is the fact that it was not about the romance. It was more than that; it was about family and forming relationships that will last a lifetime, and learning about who we are, instead of kissing and making the 'most of the summer' in that way. Love and Luck was beautiful, and the best part was the relationship between Addie, our protagonist, and her brother, Ian, and the fact that the two of them had severe issues with each other, but spent the summer attempting to work it out in the best way possible: a good old-fashioned road trip across a foreign country, not knowing anything about the path that they are on. And of course, this was also a book about dealing with heartbreak and moving on after someone you once trusted broke that trust.

I also loved seeing an appearance by Leena and Ren, and the fact that this book did not take place during the same time as the first book. This was just a burst of entertainment and happiness for me. I am praying deep down inside that this series will continue; imagine if Addie's brothers will have their own stories coming up really soon!

Love and Luck was such a lovely read. There was just the right amount of drama, bits of romance, and moments that created a lovely story that every teen should pick up.

What books have the best settings around the world?

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian // The BEST Summer Read

Thursday, 14 February 2019 2 comments
Stay Sweet, by Siobhan Vivian
Publication: April 24, 2018, by Simon Schuster Books FYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

My Thoughts:

Stay Sweet was adorable, beautiful, scrumptious and practically everything I could've ever wanted in a summer read. For the entire summer, I have been reading contemporary book after contemporary book, searching for that perfect read that I will never forget about and make my summer, however, prior to reading this newbie by Siobhan Vivian, I had not found it. In the midst of springtime, the cover for this book was released and I fell in love instantly, knowing that there's no better book to describe summer than one about ice cream and falling in love. Additionally, it's about friendship and family, and a mix of all of those topics that are sure to leave you shedding some tears.

What is extra special about this story is the fact that it includes a historical aspect; the founder of Meade Creamery, Molly Meade, lived during the WWII era, and we readers get to take a look into her life and discover her greatest secrets through her diary entries (which, not to be picky about, but were difficult to read due to the font choice) which were a delight nevertheless. I saw many relations between Amelia, our protagonist, and Molly, showing that one's passions and ambitions can carry from one generation to another. *dabs at the tears streaming down my face*

Essentially, this novel is about Amelia, who is spending her last summer in her small town, Sand Lake, before she heads out to university far away. As she has done every summer in high school, Amelia is working as a scooper for Meade Creamery, an ice cream stand set up by Molly Meade, a woman who decided to make ice cream for her and her friends to forget about the fact that their boyfriends and fiancees were fighting in the Second World War. This year, Amelia has gotten promoted to Head Girl, giving her all of the major responsibilities it takes to work in the stand. Before the stand even opens for the summer, Molly passes away and Amelia is left unsure if the stand will continue, until Molly's grandnephew, Grady, comes into their lives, wanting to use the stand as a business investment.

This book just screamed out 'feminism,' and it's a perfect time and age to show it. I loved the fact that Vivian used such a clever idea and job for the girls in the book: ice cream scooping, to show a message: that everyone has the capability to do anything, even girls. In the novel, we get to see our protagonist, Amelia, managing a business and earning respect from Molly's grandnephew. And the romance was A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E. I cannot digress how much I adored Grady and Amelia. It was one of the most respected relationships ever.

Stay Sweet was gorgeous. I certainly will never forget about it due to its memorable characters, setting, and ending. I have never read anything like it; it truly changed my life. This was certainly Siobhan Vivian's best.

What is the best summer book you've read this year?

Lucky in Love by Kasie West // I Can't Get Enough of This!

Thursday, 24 January 2019 0 comments
Lucky in Love, by Kasie West
Publication: July 25, 2017, by Scholastic
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—
She wins!
In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.
Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

My Thoughts:

I AM IN LOVE. Kasie West keeps making me so obsessed with her books each time around, and Lucky in Love was no different. This was an unbelievable story with the most interesting premise and plot ever. I now feel inclined to buy lottery tickets with hesitance, because West has showed that there are downsides to every single decision we make in our lives, whether we like it or not. It was interesting to read about a teenage protagonist who becomes 'lucky' and wins a lot of money without expecting it, and seeing that we must be careful for what we wish for. In essence, the author attempted to showcase that it is best to be careful for what we wish for. I seriously cannot enough of this entire story; it was written beautifully and with a lovely set of characters and romance.

GAH. The romance between Seth and Maddie was such a dream. Why? Because I'm a sucker for romance and, more specifically, lovely relationships that I will never forget about. The pacing of the story was especially memorable, in the way that this was not instalove; Maddie and Seth previously knew each other. I cannot even tell you the number of times I freaked out whilst reading; this is a story to make readers feel all good and gooey inside.

Lucky in Love was entertaining and everything I could've asked for in a contemporary-romance. I am psyched to see what else Kasie West has in store for readers in the future.

Are there any other YA books about lotteries?

The Merciless IV: Last Rites by Danielle Vega // This Series Is Just SO Good

Wednesday, 19 December 2018 0 comments
The Merciless IV: Last Rites, by Danielle Vega
Publication: June 12, 2018, by Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Horror
Pages: 290
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

The ropes tighten on Berkley Hubbard's wrists. Blood drips down her fingers and lands with a smack on the cold floor of the church basement. She's trapped, bound, and petrified by fear. A knife punctures her fragile skin as Berkley's captors search for the mark of the devil on her body. They say they want to save her--drive the devil away and cleanse her soul--but will she make it out alive?
When Berkley arrived in Italy a week ago, the last thing she expected was that she'd end up fighting for her life. After spending six months at the Institute, confined to a room with the dangerous-yet-alluring Sofia Flores, Berkley was certain that a vacation in Italy with her two best friends would be the perfect getaway. But Berkley is hiding a terrible secret, one that threatens to undo everything. As she's forced to face her wicked past, she learns that the devil is always watching, and no one is coming to save her.

My Thoughts:

The Merciless series is my absolute love and treasure; each book keeps impressing me and scaring me to the point that I silently tell myself that I will never turn my lights off at night and will never watch a horror movie again. Let's just say that I never fulfill those promises I made for myself and I keep being addicted to the horror genre. As each of the other books, I was completely obsessed and terrified both at the same time. I was unable to stop reading once I flipped to the first page; Italy is the best setting ever for these kinds of books.

Last Rites introduces us to a new character in this saga: Berkley, a NYU student visiting Italy while her two friends attend a summer art program in a small town. Prior to her entering Italy, she had a major panic attack leaving her in an Institute, rooming with Sofia Flores. Once Berkley heads to Italy, she suspects that everything is good and no one remembers her dark past where she betrayed her best friend, however, strangers see her as a devil and will do whatever it takes to prove so. These 'strangers' capture Berkley and search for the devil's mark on her body, seeking the spot where Berkley is unable to bleed from. 

As you can already tell from the summary, this is messed up. There are points during the reading experience where you suspect that the story is a normal, YA contemporary novel, however, things always suddenly take a turn and leave you guessing. That's the best way to describe Danielle Vega's writing; she makes readers think that she is weaving an innocent story set in an innocent setting (such as Italy - who would suspect that an exorcism is on the agenda?) 

This book left me in shock, as the ending was unbelievable. It had both closure and opening, leaving the possibility for this series to continue (which I hope it will), but closure in the sense that if Danielle Vega feels that this must come to an end, it can. I just want to pray to the book gods that it doesn't end here. I feel that there's so much more that can happen. More chances for readers to be terrified and more chances to see our favourite character, Sofia Flores.

What are some enjoyable horror books?

The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone // SO Cute

Wednesday, 5 December 2018 0 comments
The Unlikelies, by Carrie Firestone
Publication: June 6, 2017, by Little Brown and Company
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Sadie is not excited for the summer before her senior year. It will be her first without her college-bound best friend and (now ex-)boyfriend by her side, so Sadie braces herself for a long, lonely, and boring season working at a farm stand in the Hamptons. But things take an unexpected turn when Sadie steps in to help rescue a baby in peril and footage of her impromptu good deed goes viral.
As she’s recovering from “the incident” and adjusting to her Internet fame, Sadie receives an invitation to a lunch honoring teem homegrown heroes. The five honorees instantly connect and soon decide to spend their time together righting local wrongs. Sadie and her new friends embark on escalating acts of vigilante Good Samaritanism, but might be in over her heads when they try to help a heroin-addicted friend. Are good intentions enough to hold unlikely friendships—and an even unlikelier new romance—together?

My Thoughts:

The Unlikelies was such a lovely surprise. After reading Carrie Firestone's debut story, The Loose Ends List, I was pretty impressed, but not to the fullest extent possible. I was truly hesitant to pick this book up, but I had a feeling I would enjoy it because it seemed to be not all about romance, which is what I was seeking. Too many books these days focus on cheesy, impossible romances that make me feel sad and hopeless. Carrie Firestone knows how to mix a gorgeous plot with a group of unforgettable characters who actually remind me of a less reckless version of the characters in The Breakfast Club. Each character had their own memorable twang which I really appreciated reading about. Instead of having rebellious characters who spend the book learning about their wrongs, this was about good characters. Characters I will never forget about. 

The book's main character is Sadie, who becomes an Internet sensation by doing a good deed and stopping a man from drunk driving with his baby daughter in the backseat. Afterwards, she gets invited to a lunch celebrating the Hamptons' 'homegrown heroes,' which Sadie feels that she doesn't belong in. Little does she know that the four honourees will become her new friends, especially during the time that she tries to live life after her other friends are going off to college while Sadie will be a senior.

I honestly was obsessed with this book from this start. I completed it in a span of two or three sittings, and adored the overall message that it presented, which was that each individual should be surrounded by others who do good. We should all take chances to do good to benefit others. This story just made me feel so happy, from the miniature piece of romance to the lovely characters. It surely was one of the best books I've read this year.

The Unlikelies truly made me smile and feel all good inside; more authors should look into creating genuinely good characters like the five 'unlikelies.' I'm in love!

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is a book you've read about genuinely good characters?

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris // THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER READ

Tuesday, 20 November 2018 0 comments
Bring Me Back, by B.A. Paris
Publication: June 19, 2018, by HQ
Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.
Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.
Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?
A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

My Thoughts:

Bring Me Back was honestly the best book I've ever read. Before picking this up, I classified B.A. Paris' other two books, Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown as my ultimate favourites, but this time around, this has stolen the prize. This was a book that kept me guessing and intrigued for the entire ride. It's the type of the book that leaves you making hundreds of predictions to find that you were completely wrong. Whatever I thought would occur did not. If it did, then I definitely would not be raving this much about the novel. I instantly fell in love with the book after the twentieth page or so, and felt that I wouldn't be able to put it down. I read this in a few sittings, but in the same day, from morning to night.

This isn't your typical missing persons case story. In fact, there's nothing typical about B.A. Paris' ideas and books; everything is as original as it can be. The story revolves around Finn, Layla, and Ellen, our three protagonists. Finn and Layla were together, in love, and on vacation skiing in France, and as they were returning back to England, they made a rest stop. Layla stayed in the car, and when Finn returned, she was gone. Ten years later, Finn is engaged to Ellen, Layla's sister, and Finn still struggles to let go of the past and the love he had for Layla. Suddenly, Finn gets a phone call from someone in his past saying that they saw Layla, and weird occurrences begin to escalate. 

Basically, the main questions surrounding this story were: is Layla alive? Is she back? Will Finn choose her over Ellen? Forget about that; there were millions of questions surrounding this complex story. I cannot even imagine how much work was put into deriving this story; there are so many clues and hints that all make sense in the end when everything is cleared up. Well, actually, the magic of B.A. Paris' stories is that everything is never perfectly cleared up. She always leaves readers off wanting more from the last few pages of suspense. 

Although I mentioned that there are three main protagonists, Finn is the most prevalent in the story. We constantly learn almost everything from his perspective, and we as readers get to see what he was like ten years prior with Layla and in the present with Ellen. It sounds impossible, but even he, the character telling everything from his perspective, is hiding secrets. I was so shocked in how everything was revealed at the perfect moment. He was both a likeable and unlikeable character, depending on the moment and decision he made. But this was not a flaw whatsoever; it's important for thrillers to have characters who are the best of both worlds, if you know what I mean.

This was just such a complex story. The most complex I've ever read. There's a grand importance to every hint, secret and symbol laid out by Paris; when you read about some scenes or moments in the story, you may view them as unimportant, but surely they hold a great importance; every single word, sentence and moment in this story is important, which really shows that B.A. Paris is the master of psychological thriller writing. In fact, she is the master of modern day literature and entertainment. I really am eager to see films sprout from her fantastic story.

If I could possibly rate books with a ten-thousand star rating, this would be the only book to deserve all of those stars. Bring Me Back shocked me, especially with that UNBELIEVABLE ENDING I will never forget about, and with all of those mini shocks and revelations shown throughout the story. Every psychological thriller writer should look at these stories and see how it's done. And every single psychological thriller reader and lover such as myself should grab this instantly.

What is the SINGLE best book you've ever read?