36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant // AWWW.

Monday, 27 November 2017 0 comments
36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You, by Vicki Grant
Publication: October 17, 2017, by Running Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for joining the university psychology study that asks the simple question: Can love be engineered?
The study consists of 36 questions, ranging from "What is your most terrible memory?" to "When did you last sing to yourself?" By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they've laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back and driven each other almost crazy. They've also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?
Told in the language of modern romance—texting, Q&A, IM—and punctuated by Paul's sketches, this clever high-concept YA is full of humor and heart. As soon as you've finished reading, you'll be searching for your own stranger to ask the 36 questions. Maybe you'll even fall in love.

My Thoughts:

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You is one of the coolest books ever — it is written with an impeccable format that many authors should go ahead and pick up on. What is better than reading a book that is divided into chapters/sections in relation to each one of the thirty-six questions Hildy and Paul (our two main characters and YOU GUESSED IT, love interests) had to ask each other? Nothing is better than this format, let's just say that. Vicki Grant, through the premise of this story, has created something so memorable, so lovely and cute that I promise you; I will remember this book for years. 

In essence, Hildy and Paul's story starts off with the two of them not having any clue who the other is. They meet at the local university, where they both decide to participate in an experiment. Hildy participates in the experiment to gain some fun out of it, while Paul, on the other hand, does it for the money. However, little do they know that the experiment's goal is for the two of them to fall in love, which obviously makes things interesting. 

Vicki Grant's characters sure had personalities. Hildy and Paul were opposites of each other - and that's what really entertained me. Although readers were able to predict that the two would fall in love and generate some kind of romantic connection, they were so different that it was unbelievable. They both came from two different worlds - Hildy, from a wealthy family, and Paul from the opposite, however, what was shown thanks to the revelations of who the characters actually were, was that everyone has problems. Everyone has issues in their lives, no matter how many materialistic goods they were fortunate to own. What matters is that we take care of ourselves and stay appreciative of what we have. Agh. THE FEELS.

WHAT I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANTED from this book was a better ending. The one we were provided with was splendid, don't get me wrong, BUT what about the university staff? Were they satisfied/dissatisfied with the results of their experiment? That would've been so cute. *giggles*

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You was truly fantastic. I loved the writing, premise, characters, romance... all of it. I cannot help but recommend it to everyone — go ahead and enjoy it!

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

What is the cutest chick-lit book you have read recently?

Remember Me Always by Renee Collins // I Never Expected to Love This!

Friday, 24 November 2017 0 comments
Remember Me Always, by Renee Collins
Publication: October 3, 2017, by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Shelby is nervous to start her senior year after spending the whole summer away from home. After all, it's hard to be carefree when you're trying to protect a secret.
Shelby was in a devastating car accident, and everyone in town thinks that she was undergoing more physical therapy in Denver. Instead, Shelby's mother enrolled her in a clinical program to stop the panic attacks that started after the crash. The treatment erased Shelby's memory of the accident, but she can't help feeling as if a piece of herself is missing, that the treatment took more than the doctors claimed.
So when Shelby starts hallucinating a boy with dark and mysterious eyes, she knows it must be a side-effect of the clinical program. Except you can't kiss hallucinations. And this boy insists that they know each other and are in love...

My Thoughts:

Remember Me Always was unbelievable. UN-OMG-BELIEVABLE. After previously reading Renee Collins' debut, Until We Meet Again, I expected to sadly never pick up a book of hers again because of the weird mysterious fantasy she tried to create in that book. However, when word first was released about this new 2017 book of hers (and the fact that it had an aesthetic cover with gorgeous Polaroid photos), I was so in. Of course, I was skeptical that it would be a favourite of mine, as the premise... well, let's just say that it does not sound like the most promising book. FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING I JUST SAID. Remember Me Always is surely one of the best books I have read this year. It picked me out of a hideous, dreadful reading slump that I have experienced since the summer (!!!!), causing me to finish it in one sitting. There's nothing better than being on a road trip with a gorgeous story that keeps you going and not bored. Because let me just say it: some of the 'scenery' we can view out of the window is not always so... awing. 

THIS WAS ACTION-PACKED AND BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN. Collins has a poetic vibe to her writing which I totally appreciated due to how it made this story seem less fictional and more moving. This time around, Collins explores the effects of PTSD, a traumatic experience, loss/love and the setting of a small Colorado town. She mixed all of these various concepts together, and voila: this novel was born. The spotlight shines on Shelby, a heart-warming, real protagonist who has spent her entire summer before senior year in a hospital in Denver trying to forget. To forget the memories that scarred her so much. It turns out that Shelby was in a tragic car accident, leaving her with tragic memories and panic attacks that wouldn't stop occurring. When her mother discovers a clinical program that will relieve the panic attacks and fade some memories away, Shelby is sent off for a month, discovering that the memories are blurry. Except for those involving a mysterious boy. 

When the boy starts appearing in Shelby's 'memories,' we immediately expect that this guy could be a ghost or some supernatural figure. However, FORTUNATELY, he is not: he's real. And Shelby meets him, discovering that she once knew him... quite well. And even though this book is a total love story, as the cover suggests, it focuses on a lot more than just the love. Renee Collins captures the reality of living in a small town with citizens who literally have their nose in everyone's business. Imagine hiding Shelby's huge secret (of losing her memory) in a place where everyone knows everyone. It felt as if there were so many characters in this story in comparison to other books. I loved learning about the personalities and lives of so many — I find that it is often difficult to connect with characters in books, but this one had no flaws with that, or anything, for that matter.

Shelby was a protagonist who I know I will compare others to. She had the right amount of down-to-earth-ness and intelligence and empathy to the extent that she was not letting anyone around her use her. I appreciated her so much - the book would have surely been different if she wasn't around. AND THE LOVE INTEREST? Auden? He's my lover. New book boyfriend. New favourite character. AGH. If you like a mysterious, interesting man, you now know which book to read. YAY FOR THEIR FLAWED, BEAUTIFUL ROMANCE! Collins showed, through this lovely book, that love is so flawed, that there is no perfection involved.

Remember Me Always is a book I (and you, if you read it) will never forget. I loved the pacing, premise, characters and most of all, romance, which was the opposite of perfection. How can I relive what I felt during this book again? To remember it always.

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

What book would you want to remember, always?

Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone // *shrugs*

Friday, 3 November 2017 0 comments
Changes in Latitudes, by Jen Malone
Publication: July 25, 2017, by HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

All Cassie wants is to get some solid ground under her feet following the shock of her parents’ divorce. So when she learns of her mom’s plans to take Cassie and her brother, Drew, on a four-month sailing trip from Oregon to Mexico, she’s stunned. There is absolutely nothing solid about the Pacific Ocean.
Cassie is furious. And nervous. It’s been hard enough keeping Drew sheltered from what Cassie knows about her mother’s role in breaking their family apart, but living in such close quarters threatens to push her anger past its tipping point.
Enter Jonah, a whip-smart deckhand who’s as gorgeous as he is flirtatious. Cassie tries to keep him at a distance, but the more time they spend together—wandering San Francisco, riding beachside roller coasters, and exploring the California coastline—the harder it is to fight the attraction.
Cassie wants to let herself go, but her parents’ split has left her feeling adrift in a sea of questions she can’t even begin to answer. Can she forgive her mom? Will home ever feel the same? Should she take a chance on Jonah? With life’s unpredictable tides working against her, Cassie must decide whether to swim against them…or dive right in.

My Thoughts:

Changes in Latitudes was expected to be amazing by me. I thought that I would adore it because I really enjoyed Jen Malone's Wanderlost, which was a traveller's dream story. Wanderlost made me feel as if I needed to read more contemporary romances and travel the world as much as possible. This story, however, was disappointing. I surely did enjoy it, however, I found that it was missing something... some concept/characters I would enjoy and learn from. Some content that I did not see before. Yes, the whole 'sailor' story was completely new, however I felt that the types of characters who were introduced were plain. Boring. 

This book featured a protagonist, Cassie, who explored a new pace of life as she began traveling by boat along the West Coast of America. WOW, RIGHT? And along the way, she stereotypically (and unsurprisingly) falls in love with Jonah - who introduces her to a world of fun, especially since her parents recently got divorced. Jen Malone takes us through San Francisco, Oregon, on the way to Mexico, which seems to be a reader's dream itinerary. I couldn't help but fall in love with the premise of this story, but what was lacking was a racing story that made me addicted. This was just a book that I can classify as "meh." I've read better things, more action-packed stories, but it is what it is.

Cassie was kick-butt. I loved her attitude and how she was all about trying to gain some kind of positivity in life. In the midst of her life, she is battling several demons, such as dealing with the fact that she was miles away from her friends and senior year. And then the romance with Jonah began and I just fell in love with everything the story was promoting. Although the ending was mediocre, I still liked it.

Changes in Latitudes was a book with a great story with a nice premise and set of characters (including the romance), but there were flaws that prevented me from really enjoying the book. Aside from the slow-moving of the story and the ending, I'd highly recommend this one. Grab it and head on a cruise ship, exploring the destinations as you sail around the world!

Are there any other YA books about traveling on the sea?

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu // A Beautiful Premise

Sunday, 22 October 2017 0 comments
Afterward, by Jennifer Mathieu
Publication: September 20, 2016, by Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Abuse
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

My Thoughts:

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu is a story I am so grateful to have finally read. I loved everything that it was about, everything that it was inspiring and trying to tell readers. The author did a fabulous job at writing this story as if the main characters, Caroline and Ethan, were real, and if the kidnappings of Ethan and Caroline's brother actually did occur. As the title suggests, this story takes place as the aftermath of the kidnappings. Instead of the mystery part that every kidnapping story seems to deal with (the victims trying to escape), this focuses on the emotions the characters are enduring and how they feel they can strengthen.

This is a beautiful story that I cannot forget about. Once I began reading, I was not able to stop and it became so addictive. And although I would normally not be the biggest fan of a book involving a romance between two characters who are both dealing with some kind of personal issues, this somehow worked. Mathieu used her brilliant writing skills to create a balance between remedy (of Ethan's), acceptance (Caroline's acceptance of what occurred to her brother), and love. It just shows that everyone is meant to recover from many of the traumas they experience. 

READ THIS NOW. It's an underrated story that has so much potential to please readers. I enjoyed its characters, premise, writing style - all of it. By the end, I was completely pleased and ready to read more like it.

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

What are some other kidnapping YA books?

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum // Promising and... Good.

Saturday, 14 October 2017 0 comments
What to Say Next, by Julie Buxbaum
Publication: July 11, 2017, by Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 292
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Rating: ½

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

My Thoughts:

Julie Buxbaum's What to Say Next looks as promising a glass of iced, cold pink lemonade. No jokes. When I first saw its cover and read the summary, I discovered that this could be the cutest summer read ever. The word I can use to describe this book is "good." It surely was not amazing or phenomenal or *insert extremely positive adjective here* but hey — I enjoyed it. I loved the back-and-forth perspective change between the two protagonists, Kit and David, who were interesting, conflicted characters, who, by the end, I discovered were quite similar.

Buxbaum introduces us readers to this book by making it seem as if high school is like what we see it is in movies. That's acceptable; this is a chick-lit book, after all. However, learning who Kit and David really are helps us understand that everyone is conflicted in some sense - that we are all able to create different personalities that do not describe us well. Kit, the so-called popular girl at school who seems to be getting everything she wants in life, finds that her life completely changes when her father dies in a car accident. And everything starts crumbling. She finds that her friends are acting too fake, not wanting to address what actually happened, and that her mother is hiding more secrets about her and her father's relationship. 

Her life collapses until she starts to pay attention to the "weird" David Drucker. And I loved that David was Kit's remedy, and that she was his. That's the kind of love I want - the one that you do not expect and that fits so well in your life. Agh. I guess you can tell that I totally supported the characters' relationship and loved it.


There's always a but.

It felt forced. I felt that Kit kind of moulded herself into David's arms without really wanting to. Buxbaum wanted to create a relationship that was unlike others, so she put the 'weirdo and popular girl' together. And of course that will cause audiences to go mad and excited, because it's different than all of the other contemporaries out there. Yay for that - but meh. In addition, I was bored every now and then, which made me take around two weeks to finish this. *frowns*

What to Say Next makes me feel like I do not really know what to say next. It was DEFINITELY GOOD. I loved the concept and relationship, and aside from a few negative spots, I definitely recommend it.

*A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for a honest review. Thanks so much!*

What is the coolest, most atypical relationship you have seen in books recently?

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings // Hawaii Plus Romance Equals Awesomeness

Thursday, 12 October 2017 0 comments
Juniors, by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publication: September 22, 2015, by G.P. Putnam's Sons BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life.
Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage.
Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she's willing to change in order to fit into their world.
Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

My Thoughts:

WE FINALLY HAVE A BOOK TAKEN PLACE IN HAWAII, THE LAND OF MY DREAMS. Kaui Hart Hemmings created a lovely Gossip Girl-esque story that I will never forget about because it's different than everything else. I just visited three Hawaiian islands this past March, and found that the state is my favourite place in the world. I felt so spiritually and emotionally connected to the beauty and stress-free life that it holds, and I was so happy to see that I recognized so many of the references Hemmings made in her writing to Oahu. The beaches, hikes, streets - I knew them all and it just made my day and year. I cannot admit that this was the best book I read this year (because then, I would have given this a 5 star rating), however, it was definitely an enjoyable one that I cannot recommend enough.

Juniors is about an angsty teenager who moves across the world to a place that has no meaning to her. I mean, I wouldn't have been complaining if I were in Lea's place, moving to the gorgeous island of Oahu, however, she was. Her mom is an aspiring actress, and her newest project requires her to move to Hawaii to film. Lea ends up going to a preppy boarding school where she feels excluded since she's the "new, weird girl" often described in novels/chick-lit films. Lea ends up becoming friends with Will and Whitney West, the siblings whose house Lea and her mother are staying in. 

And I guess you can kind of imagine what comes next. Boy meets girl, one (or both) of them plays hard-to-get, and they fall in love. BOOM. But, somehow, this book turns out lovely and different than others. I started to fall in love with this instantly as the Hawaii setting came along. I also really started to like Lea's character from the beginning as she had some kind of toughness in her - it really made her stand out as a character and female protagonist. It was also interesting how she was the one who made her own decisions in terms of her relationships. Yeah, there was kind of a love triangle, but at least Lea initiated it and realized what her feelings were telling her.

Yay to it all. This was so great. Read it, drink some pineapple juice while you're at it, and enjoy.

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

Are there any other books that take place in Hawaii?

Wanderlost by Jen Malone // I Want to Travel the World Because of This Novel!

Saturday, 7 October 2017 0 comments
Wanderlost, by Jen Malone
Publication: May 31, 2016, by HarperTeen
Format: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 321
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

My Thoughts:

For anyone who knows me, I am a travel geek. I want to travel the world, see as many countries as I can, stay in luxury hotels, meet locals, take gorgeous photos, and be happy forever. Those are (some) of my life goals, and I get SO jealous when people are doing all of that. But, of course, to acknowledge my hidden envy, I love reading books that take place in foreign countries. Especially books that take place in multiple countries. Jen Malone did that all for me with the phenomenal Wanderlost. I was introduced to a hilarious plot filled with secrecy, cute boys and destinations I NEED to visit (like Italy, duh), all in the midst of a great story that I will NEVER forget about.

Look at this: I read this book almost two months ago and I remember all of it. What is important to highlight is the author's storyline: this is about an accidental trip to Europe that the protagonist, Aubree, does not want to take part in. I guess you might be questioning AUBREE'S CRAZINESS and how she did not want to go, but THAT AIN'T THE POINT HERE. The point is: Europe. *insert heart, impressed eyes* Aubree takes the place of her sister, Elizabeth, on a tour across Europe. The catch here is: it is a tour for senior citizens, and SHE HAS TO LIE. Why? Because the tour company would never let Aubree do this on her own without any studying and maturity. Elizabeth wants a good reputation, so obviously, she does not tell anyone about this. 

AND BAM. The story begins, and Aubree is whisked off to foreign countries without any knowledge about them, finding that there is a romance waiting for her. And the romance starts with the tour company boss' son.

OOOF. I can imagine your jaw dropping right now. Now you're smiling because you realized I was right, right? Heh. I just want to mention how lovely this story was and how every character was special, important and unforgettable. I loved Sam, THE GORGEOUS love interest (who shared special phone calls with Aubree every night) and all of the senior citizens. There was constant drama, perfect to cause readers to become obsessed and intrigued.

You will love every page, every word that Jen Malone writes. This is a unique story, written by an author who was inspired by her own travels throughout the world. YAY! 

Wanderlost made me so lost in reading and I cannot help but squeal and fangirl. THIS IS A BOOK FOR ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. Go and enjoy it. (Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to find my own Sam!)

What is the best travel-around-the-world book you have read?