ARC Review: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon’s EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, and is the perfect reminder that risks are worth taking.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Book Summary from Amazon:

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.  

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

I love books that are told in different formats, such as diary entries and texts, so I knew right away that EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING could end up becoming one of my favorite books. And it did.

It took less than a day for me to get through this book, and that’s not because of a lack of content or anything like that. I simply couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen, and if things between Olly and the main character, Madeline, were going to work out.

Madeline is allergic to the world, and lives in a sterile house that doesn’t see many visitors at all. Only her mom and nurse are near-constant fixtures in her life.

Then Olly comes into Madeline’s life like an explosion of energy, wearing nothing but black. Madeline is quick to notice this boy who runs up walls and jumps onto his roof like it’s what he was born to do.

There’s no way the two of them could ever work. Yet despite it all, they fall in love. But, of course, it’s hard to make the most of being in love when you can’t even step foot outside your own house.

Nicola Yoon expertly weaves a tale that will make you laugh and cry, and make your heart fill with love and happiness just before it aches for Maddy and Olly. The illustrations drawn by Yoon’s husband add even more beauty and depth to the story.

The twists are ones you probably won’t see coming, but even if you do, they’re beyond satisfying. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is easily one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and heartfelt books I’ve ever read.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who need a reminder that even the biggest risks are worth taking.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I received a digital ARC of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: EMMY & OLIVER by Robin Benway

Robin Benway’s EMMY & OLIVER is a heartwarming coming-of-age love story filled with the perfect amount of suspense.

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Book Summary from Amazon:

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life. . . . She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart. . . . He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who had kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing, and his thoughts swirling.

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will devour these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

My favorite books are those that make me unable to move on to another book right away. Those that have characters I love so much that I feel like I just can’t let them go or even begin to connect with a whole new world.

I knew after just one chapter that Robin Benway’s EMMY & OLIVER would end up being one of my favorite books. It reminded me a lot of MTV’s FINDING CARTER, but with romance at the forefront.

Emmy is a total sweetheart, and even when she has to lie to her parents to keep them from worrying, everything she does seems justified. Oliver is beyond kind and caring, and would do anything for Emmy, despite not having seen her in ten years. I was rooting for them to get together from page one, and felt incredibly invested in their lives and their stories as well.

The pacing of the book is perfect, too. While primarily full of romance, the book also includes dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking moments that give a sense of suspense to an otherwise heartwarming novel.

As I read, I was pretty sure I knew what everything was building up to, but I was still surprised by a few subtle twists at the end. And speaking of the ending, it was also fantastic. All loose ends were tied up, but it still left an opening for more of Emmy and Oliver’s story. I don’t know if that’s something we’ll ever get, but I sure wouldn’t be disappointed if we did.

EMMY & OLIVER is perfect for fans of FINDING CARTER, or for anyone who loves a nice romance with plenty of stakes and realistic suspense involved. I highly recommend it. It’s a book I’ll never forget.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I received a digital ARC of EMMY & OLIVER from HarperTeen through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: FAKING PERFECT by Rebecca Phillips

Rebecca Phillips’ FAKING PERFECT is an edgy and honest coming of age novel that will make you laugh, cry, and never want to fake being perfect again.

Faking Perfect

Book Summary from Amazon:

When Lexi Shaw seduced Oakfield High’s resident bad boy Tyler Flynn at the beginning of senior year, he seemed perfectly okay with her rules:

1. Avoid her at school.

2. Keep his mouth shut about what they do together.

3. Never tease her about her friend (and unrequited crush) Ben.

Because with his integrity and values and golden boy looks, Ben can never find out about what she’s been doing behind closed doors with Tyler. Or that her mom’s too busy drinking and chasing losers to pay the bills. Or that Lexi’s dad hasn’t been a part of her life for the last thirteen years. But with Tyler suddenly breaking the rules, Ben asking her out, and her dad back in the picture, how long will she be able to go on faking perfect?

I love books that somehow manage to feel relatable even when I can’t relate to a whole lot of it. I’m not in high school anymore, my parents are both great and in my life, and I don’t feel the need to fake being perfect for boys. Yet I still connected with Lexi and felt for her, whether she was happy or sad, embarrassed or on top of the world, or anything else.

While some parts of the book felt a little exaggerated when combined with other parts, I still really enjoyed reading it. It’s not over-the-top in a way that makes you want to stop reading, but in a way that feels like watching a really dramatic TV show.

What happens with Lexi by the end of the book is slightly predictable, but I didn’t mind that either. I was thrilled with the ending, and once I got about a quarter of the way through, I couldn’t stop reading.

The best part of this book is the message behind it. It’s a story about how important it is to avoid faking perfect, and about how we are the way we are for a reason. The best versions of ourselves are the versions of us that are genuine, real, and imperfect.

If you’re looking for an uplifting read that’s still brimming with plenty of drama, twists, and turns, you’ll love FAKING PERFECT.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DISCLAIMER: I received a digital ARC of FAKING PERFECT from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han

Jenny Han’s TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE reads like a letter from Lara Jean herself – sweet, romantic, and all about love.

Book Summary from Amazon:

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

It took me a long time to get around to reading this book. When I finished, it was bittersweet. The only bitterness came from my own regret that I hadn’t read it sooner. But the sweet part was I finished it the day before P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU was released.

When it comes to books that are heavy on romance, I need there to be some stakes involved. Those stakes don’t need to involve anything life-threatening, but there needs to be something that keeps me reading. TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE definitely had some stakes involved. For one thing, Lara Jean is in love with her neighbor, who also happens to be her older sister’s boyfriend. The drama surrounding this kept me frantically turning pages to find out what happened.

I had so many questions while I was reading, which is always a sure sign that I’m loving a book. I wanted to know who she would end up with: Peter, a boy who receives one of Lara Jean’s letters and who she pretends to date, or the kind and caring neighbor, Josh. I wanted to know who sent the letters. I wanted to know if Lara Jean’s big sister, Margot, would ever find out about Lara Jean’s feelings for Josh, and what her reaction would be if she did.

On top of the stakes, the characters themselves are loveable (with the exception of Lara Jean’s former best friend) and seem like real people. I grew attached to them quickly, and had an empty feeling in my chest when the book ended. I didn’t want to let them go.

I had heard so many good things about TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE that I was doubtful it could live up to the hype. I had high expectations, and this book not only met those expectations, but exceeded them. If it’s any indication, I was quick to buy some more of Jenny Han’s books, including P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU. I highly recommend TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE to anyone looking for a sweet story with some twists and turns.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Review: DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige

The Wizard of Oz is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was excited to finally read DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

In DOROTHY MUST DIE, Kansas resident Amy Gumm gets swept up in a tornado and lands in Oz, just like Dorothy did. Amy has seen the movie and read the book and has an image of Oz in her mind. But this isn’t the Oz she expects. Instead, she finds a place where Good Witches aren’t to be trusted and Wicked Witches might be the good guys. Even the road of yellow brick is crumbling.

The person to blame: Dorothy. She found a way back to Oz, seized power, and let it go to her head. Now everyone is in danger.

Amy has been recruited and trained to fight by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. Her mission: kill Dorothy.

I’m always a bit nervous when I start reading a fairytale retelling. I have it in my head that no one can pull off a retelling like the writers of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. But after hearing nothing but great things about DOROTHY MUST DIE, I decided to give it a chance.

Immediately I was swept up into the world. Danielle Paige’s vivid descriptions put me right there in the middle of Oz. The reader learns a lot at the same time as Amy, so it’s easy to feel exactly the same way she’s feeling. Nervousness, excitement, distrust, sadness, and even fear all rushed through me as I flew through the book.

I read the book so quickly, in fact, that it’s a miracle I didn’t get hundreds of paper cuts from flipping the pages. I loved and rooted for Amy, along with the rest of the good guys in the book, while I loved to hate the villains like Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Lion.

I was desperate to find out the ending to the story, and was glad the sequel was already out when I got to the end. I’ve already recommended the book to friends and family and I’m sure I’ll read it again myself so I can enjoy it all over again.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a book with high-stakes and characters that stick with you long after you finish reading – and not just because those characters are already famous for other reasons. It’s a fabulous, richly written story that will keep you up reading at all hours of the night.

Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Review: VANISHING GIRLS by Lauren Oliver

I have a bit of a weakness for psychological thrillers. Don’t get me wrong, romance is great, but I need something else to keep me up into the night until I finish a book. VANISHING GIRLS is exactly the kind of book I love.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

VANISHING GIRLS is about two sisters, Dara and Nick, who used to be inseparable before a bunch of things happened to pull them apart. Nick lost her best friend, Parker, when Dara kissed him. And the sisters got into a car accident that scarred Dara’s beautiful face. After all of that happened, the two stopped speaking. But Nick wants to get it all back, and wants to do so over the course of the summer.

Dara messes up those plans when she disappears on her birthday, though. At first, Nick thinks it’s just Dara playing around, but as Nick searches for her, she starts to think that her disappearance might be linked to that of a nine-year-old girl named Madeline Snow.

The book goes back and forth between each sister’s point of view, with a few photos, diary entries, text messages, and local news articles thrown in.

My absolute favorite books are those that keep me up until I’m fighting sleep with every blink, unable to stop reading. VANISHING GIRLS did just that. As I got closer and closer to the end, I felt more and more panicked, like I just had to figure out what was going on and what was going to happen. And then when I got to the twist, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put the book down until I finished it.

I won’t give away the twist itself, but I will say that I was totally shocked. I was sure I had figured out every possible way the story could end, but none of my guesses were right. Lauren Oliver did an amazing job of telling a story that leaves you curious the whole time, right up until the twist when you say, “Of course! Why didn’t I realize that before?”

VANISHING GIRLS is easily one of my favorite books I’ve read recently. I haven’t read others’ reviews to see their opinions of the twist, as I didn’t want them to influence my own opinions about it. But I personally loved the twist, and thought it provided a nice shock while still keeping things plausible.

I still haven’t stopped raving about this book to my family and friends. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

ARC Review: THOSE GIRLS by Lauren Saft

A couple of weeks ago, I received an early review galley of THOSE GIRLS by Lauren Saft from the NOVL newsletter. Before I jumped into it, I read the note that NOVL sent along with it, which made it sound like this book was going to be pretty shocking. They actually called it “one of the rawest reads we’ve ever encountered.” I didn’t think that was possible. Then I started reading it.

Those Girls by Lauren Saft

Before I get into my thoughts about the book, let me just quickly explain what it’s about. Three girls, Alex Holbrook, Mollie Finn, and Veronica Collins, are best friends and their school’s resident party girls. Each of them has their own issues and worries. Alex is in love with her neighbor and has secretly joined a band. Mollie is the mean one, and her boyfriend is basically a sociopath. And Veronica flaunts her body and everything she can do with it, just so she can fulfill her need for love. As you might expect from the sound of this, there’s plenty of drama, lots of betrayal, and tons of emotions. Their junior year could bring them closer than ever, or it could ruin their friendships for good.

The point of view alternates between each of the three girls, and the first three chapters are the most shocking, at least initially. At first, I thought the swearing, smoking, and talk of sex seemed a little forced. Let’s put it this way: it definitely wasn’t something I’d want my parents or anyone else reading over my shoulder.

But once the first few chapters were out of the way and the initial shock was gone, I was able to get more of a feel for who these girls were. I found myself on a roller-coaster with each of them. Every few chapters, I was sure I knew which girl I hated and which was my favorite, but a little more reading would change my mind. By the end of the book, I had loved and hated each of them plenty of times.

Alex, Mollie, and Veronica aren’t exactly likeable, even by the end of the book, but in my opinion, they don’t really need to be. While I was reading, I imagined myself back in high school, thinking of the girls who were popular but overly-sexual. The girls who drank too much and were proud of it. The girls I wasn’t exactly fond of, but who fascinated me anyway. That’s what I’d compare these girls to.

They’re those girls you love to hate. Those girls you know have some reason for all their craziness deep down. Those girls who are like walking train wrecks you can’t look away from. Those girls you’ll never fully understand. Those girls who will love you or hate you and won’t be afraid to show it either way.

Even as I kept turning the pages, I wasn’t sure if I loved this book until I got to the end and found myself missing the characters. I wanted to see more of their crazy, unhealthy friendships. Days after finishing the book, my thoughts keep randomly going back not just to the book, THOSE GIRLS, but to those girls in the book.

If you’re looking for a book that is free of swearing, sex, drinking, etc., this isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for a book that’s filled with all of the most dramatic moments from shows like Gossip Girl, or if you’re looking for a raw, unfiltered shock, then you’ll love this book. Even if you’re not exactly looking for a shock, but like to find the heart in characters who often seem heartless, you’ll enjoy this one.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, even in those moments when I was sure I hated the characters. I definitely recommend it!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Lauren Saft’s THOSE GIRLS will be published in June by Poppy.

Thanks again to NOVL for sending the early review galley of THOSE GIRLS along! Be sure to check them out at TheNovl.com, facebook.com/TheNovl, and @TheNovl on Twitter and Instagram.

Also check out Lauren Saft on Twitter and at laurensaft.com!