Book Review- By Your Side by Kasie West

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By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on January 31st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 346
Goodreads
Amazon

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Initial Thoughts

After loving P.S. I Like You and hating The Fill-In Boyfriend, I wasn’t sure how to feel going into this book. Would it be adorable and cute or frustrating and cringey?

It turned out to be a bit of both.

What I Liked

Dax. Dax was honestly a pretty compelling character, and turned out to be my favorite character in the story. He was independent and closed off, yet he had this soft gooey center that made me want to love him. At first I was a little confused by his motivations, but as the story went on and I began to understand him better, he really grew on me. Also, he ACTUALLY READ in the library (unlike the other characters, which kind of made the whole plot questionable… but I’ll talk more about that later).

The relationship between Dax and Autumn was pretty cute. It definitely followed the hurt-closed-off-guy-opens-up-to-spoilt-rich-girl-who-secretly-has-problems trope, but it was done pretty well. I really liked how organic the relationship seemed (even if the part where them getting stuck in the library was… um… unlikely?)

I also liked the pacing of the book. It wasn’t too slow, but it wasn’t super fast either. And the plot was not too complex, but had a lot of complexity to it.

What I Didn’t Like

Jeff. He was the boy that Autumn was pining over, and honestly he didn’t do much except annoy me. Even though he was made out to be a fun, likeable, and go-lucky kind of guy, I couldn’t bring myself to care about him in the slightest. He felt too much like a cut-out, and it definitely didn’t help that his “best friend” was literally an exact copy of him (except of course the best friend didn’t like Autumn at all).

I honestly didn’t really like any of the characters except Dax. All of Autumn’s friends were boring, and I couldn’t even differentiate between them. And, at some point, there was a little bit of drama when one of the friends told Autumn that another one liked Jeff… and then it was never mentioned again. Like what was the point of that?!?

I also really didn’t like the parents in this book. They were all frustrating and pointless. Even Dax’s mom, who was built up so much, was a complete letdown. Then there were some loose ends left with her. DID THEY MAKE UP? DID DAX TELL HER OFF? The world may never know.

Also can we take a minute and talk about the library? What the hell?!? First of all, the whole Autumn being left behind thing was stupid and improbable. I just can’t see that happening in real life. Secondly, the very first thing I would think of in that situation would be pulling the fire alarm. It was SO FRUSTRATING waiting for Autumn to come up with that on her own. It kind of ruined the whole first part of the book for me.

And then, Dax was honestly kind of annoying about the fire alarm. Like just let the girl get out and hide if you don’t want to be seen. It’s not like they are going to search the library once they realize that she pulled the alarm because she was stuck in there.
And then the whole plot when she finally got out of the library. I mean, I guess I could see how that would happen, but it was all just a little much to believe.

And then Jeff’s mom. Oh MY GOSH she was the worst. I actually kind of wanted to strangle her. I get that she was just clinging onto any hope (given her situation that I won’t tell you more about becuase #nospoilers), but it was so unrealistic and annoying.

Let’s also take a minute to talk about Autumn’s anxiety disorder. She kept it a secret from her friends because she didn’t want them to look at her differently. UMMMMM. Honey. If you are scared to tell your “best” friend(s) something like that then are you sure that they are really your friends? I get that talking about stuff like that can be scary sometimes, but that’s something that people talk about with their friends. You should see how much I talk to my friends about stuff like that. It’s called building a support system.

And I guess it wasn’t even that I had the hardest time believing that she would keep it from her friends (although it was pretty stupid).What really annoyed me about Autumn’s Anxiety™ was how much she whined about it. Literally half the book was her complaining about her anxiety and then refusing to do anything about it.

“Oh my gosh my anxiety is so bad and it holds me back from life but I don’t want help I just want to suffer in silence please and make my friends think I’m a terrible flake instead of facing my problems. But you know I’m gonna whine about it 24/7 and wonder why this is happening to ME. I’m also going to ignore my parents and brother trying to help me because they JUST DON’T understand my mind.”

– My impression of Autumn for 90% of the book

Overall

As you can probably tell by the amount of good vs. bad things I had to say about By Your Side, this wasn’t my favorite book. It wasn’t the worst thing that I’ve ever read, but I don’t think I’m going to be picking up anything by Kasie West for quite a while.

I am going to give By Your Side two out of five hearts.

♥♥♥♥♥

Talk to me! Have you ever read By Your Side? What did you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Why The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West made me want to scream- Book Review

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The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 346
Goodreads
Amazon

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Initial Thoughts

After reading (and really liking) P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, a lot of people recommended The Fill-In Boyfriend, claiming it was West’s best book. I went into this book expecting a fun, light, fuzzy read that would leave me feeling good.

In reality, there was a lot about this book that really annoyed me. I ended up really not enjoying it at all.

What I Liked

The synopsis. It was really interesting, and I have never read or heard about a book that is very similar.

The plot. Again, it was very original, and if I ignore all of the stuff that really annoyed me, this book was actually pretty great. I loved the plot and how the book ended.

The romance. It was cute. What can I say, I’m a sucker for cute romance.

What I Didn’t Like

JULES. AND THE REST OF GIA’S FRIENDS. I cannot tell you how middle-school-drama their whole relationship felt. It was quite frankly just ridiculous. It was so forced, and it was literally “my friends brought in a new girl to the friend group who thinks I’m the leader and now hates me for some unknown reason and wants to turn my friends against me.” GAHHHHHHH. And going off of that…

How immature all of the characters were. I have this problem with a lot of YA contemporaries, but it was particularly bad in this one. The characters literally acted like they were 12 half of the time, and they were supposed to be seniors in high school.

How the parents were portrayed. Gia’s parents were very one-dimensional and frustrating. I understand what West was going for with their characters, but they didn’t come off as human at all. They were more like forced stereotypes. Also “fill-in Bradley’s” (not gonna spoil his name!) mom was the “artsy-mom” stereotype and that annoyed me to no end as well. Also fill-in Bradley’s dad? Did I miss something? Because I don’t think he is mentioned at all.

All of the side characters. All of the characters. They were so one-dimensional it actually hurt. And don’t even get me started on Gia. She made me want to scream half of the time.

Overall

I can’t say I hated this book, but it was pretty bad. But bad more in the “stop being so moronic and act your age” way rather than “this book is literal trash” way.

I’m going to give The Fill-In Boyfriend 2 out of 5 hearts.

♥♥♥♥♥

Talk to me

Have you read The Fill-In Boyfriend? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review-Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

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Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers
Published by Sky Pony Press on May 3rd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Goodreads
Amazon

His world is music. Her world is silent.

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

Tone Deaf was a good story. It had all the right elements to it: a gorgeous, troubled love interest (who just happens to be a rock star), a MC who is just the right amount of tough and in danger, and a chance meeting that brings them together.

Plot

The plot of the story was compelling, and I couldn’t put this book down. The story takes place over a relatively short period of time, but it was more than enough to get to know the characters, and it flowed very smoothly; nothing seemed forced or too unrealistic (if you don’t count Ali winning the exclusive backstage tour that kicked everything off).

Characters

Unsurprisingly, Jace and Ali were the most dimensional characters in the story. Both of them had heart-wrenching stories, and honestly it was those stories that drove the book forward. I really liked both of their characters.

Arrow, Killer, and Jon were the three other boys in Jace’s band, Tone Deaf. They were all supposed to be older than Jace (who was 19), but they seemed very juvenile and more like cookie-cutter fill-in characters. That being said, they were entertaining and I liked them… I just wish they acted more like the age they were supposed to be. Jon was the most realistic of the three, and he had the least time in the book.

Ali’s dad, who is the main protagonist in the book, was easy to hate. He really is just a terrible person. However, he also was a very one-dimensional character. Although Ali talks about his other moods, they are never shown in the book. But that’s to be expected when he is only in a few scenes of the book.

Ali’s best friend/neighbor along with Jace’s manager and pretty much all of the other characters aren’t that complex. Not that I minded, as this story really was about Ali and Jace.

Things I Liked

I liked the relationship between Ali and Jace. It is fragile and sensitive and beautiful.
I liked the tone and pace of the story. It was easy to follow, not too slow, and not too fast.
I liked the friendship between the members of Tone Deaf, and Ali’s friendship with her best friend.
I liked how realistic all of the emotions felt, and how they were dealt with.
I liked Cuddles!! (You’re just going to have to read the book to find out who that is!)

Things I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like how young and immature the characters could be at times.

Yeah that’s really all I didn’t like.

Overall

Overall I really liked this book. It was a quick read with a whole lot of emotion that left me feeling good at the end and wanting more.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA contemporary romance, or anyone looking for a good book to help break them in to the genre.
I am going to give Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers 4 out of 5 hearts.

♥♥♥♥

Mini Reviews- The Selection Series

Hey everybody!

I’ve read the Selection Series* multiple times, and I honestly have no idea how I haven’t reviewed them on my blog yet?! Especially because my latest re-read was in June of this year (and it only took 2 days).

*It’s important to note that I am only talking about the original trilogy… not The Heir or The Crown

My reviews are all spoiler free, but if you haven’t read the whole series yet, you might not want to read the reviews for the second two books (unless you want to know some of the stuff that happens in the selection… then be my guest!)

Some quick facts:

Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Published: April 24th, 2012 (The Selection); April 23rd, 2013 (The Elite); May 6th, 2014 (The One)
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Dystopia
Synopsis:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Goodreads: The Selection, The Elite, The One
Amazon: The Selection, The Elite, The One

So let’s get started!

Book 1- The Selection

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The Selection is exciting from beginning to end.

American Singer doesn’t want to be a part of The Selection. She doesn’t want to marry Maxon and become the Princess. But her love for Aspen accidentally gets her thrown into the world that she so desperately wanted to avoid. And then the unexpected happens: she likes it. Dun dun dun….

This is definitely one of the more “trashy” YA books, but it is SO GOOD! This is a great book to read when I need to get out of a book slump, and it’s a quick read too!

I love America as a character. She is strong willed and hilarious, and has a deep appreciation for food that is all to relatable! And, what I love even more: she loves and wants to support her family. Oh, and both her parents are alive (unlike So. Many. Other. YA. Books.).

There definitely is a love “triangle” (angle? idk) going on in this series, but it doesn’t annoy me as much as they usually do. America’s feelings are valid. And she’s not wishy-washy (for example, she doesn’t say things like: “Oh I like Asher, but I like Maxon, oh my gosh what am I going to do? My life is so hard. Boo hoo”).

Overall, this book is just plain amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a cute, quick read (although you’ll probably want to pick up the next book right after you finish this one!!), and anyone who loves dystopia and romance!

I am going to give The Selection five out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book 2- The Elite

16248068There are only 6 girls left in the Selection. Tensions are high, and the stakes are even higher.

America needs to choose: Aspen, the boy she has loved for years, or Maxon, the Prince she might love.

The Elite is full of drama, both from The Selection, and from the Rebel threat that seems to grow with every day. This book is just as exciting and fast paced as the first one.

As America begins to take on more duties in the palace, she also begins to learn more about what the Rebels want and what her connections are to their goal.

If you read the first book and loved it, I definitely recommend you continue the series! You won’t be disappointed!

I am going to give The Elite five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book 3- The One

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There are three girls left in The Selection, and the time has come to choose a queen. America Singer knows that Maxon loves her, but before she commits to the crown, she has to sort out her feelings. Does she love Maxon, the prince who has snuck into her heart, or Aspen, the boy she has loved for years but broke her heart?

Meanwhile, the Rebel attacks are getting worse, and America is caught up in the middle of it. She discovers that she is connected to the rebels in more ways than one, and she uncovers secrets about her country’s history in the process.

The One is a stunning conclusion to The Selection trilogy. It is fast paced and exciting, and keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very last chapter!

If you have read The Selection and The Elite, I highly recommend you read the conclusion!! Also, if you haven’t read this series and love YA dystopia/romance, try it!!

I am going to give The One five out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Have you read this trilogy? What did you think about it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!!

Thanks for reading!!

Book Review- Dreamology

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Published by HarperTeen on April 12, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 336
Goodreads
Amazon

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

This book made me SO MAD. It was infuriating to the point where it became an almost hate-read. Honestly I don’t even know where to start with this one. UGH.

Okay, firstly, the characters were awful. Alice was SUCH an idiot. I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and tell her to stop being so stupid. I mean honestly, how is it possible to have that little common sense? My gosh.

And Max. UGHHHHHH. He was so annoying. I honestly hated him as a character. I hated his relationship with Alice. I hated everything about him. Actually, I really didn’t like any of the characters. They all were so unrealistic and annoying and infuriating.

Phew. Okay. So secondly, can we just talk about how UNREALISTIC the whole situation with the dream-doctor guy is? I don’t know if this counts as spoilers or not (it probably does, so if you haven’t read this and don’t want to know some of the goings-on in the middle of the book, you might want to skip ahead), but seriously the whole dream/experimenting thing is illegal in like 10 different ways. Both Max and Alice are under 18, but still the doctor guy is like “oh yeah just come in and don’t tell your parents and we’ll experiment on you guys.” WHAT THE HELL. THIS IS SO STUPID. AND THEN NOTHING EVEN HAPPENS TO THE DOCTOR BECAUSE OF IT? HE SHOULD BE IN PRISON AND UNLICENCED. And then, not only does nothing happen because of that, but he gets in trouble for PARROT TRADE?!?!?!?!? WTF. UGHGHGHGHHGHGGHHGHGGH

Thirdly, I HATE THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THIS BOOK. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF THEM.
Honestly I am just so mad at this book. And the whole reason for Max and Alice being in each other’s dreams was idiotic. What an anti-climax.

I just had so many problems with this book. So. Many. Problems.

I can’t even. Ugh.

I am going to give Dreamology one out of five hearts.

Book Review- Hunting Prince Dracula

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Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
Expected publication by Little, Brown on September 19th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Horror, Romance
Pages: 448
Goodreads
Amazon

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

Stalking Jack the Ripper was one of my favorite books, so when I was able to get my hands on a copy of Hunting Prince Dracula (through a trade) I was over the moon!

Hunting Prince Dracula was every bit as dark, spooky, haunting, and swoon worthy as promised. Audrey Rose and Thomas travel to Romaina, only to find there is a murderer on the loose, and the dead bodies are drained of blood.

I loved this book, but not quite as much as I liked the first one. There were some things throughout the book that put me a little off (nothing major or worth mentioning, but still, every once in a while I would pause and go like “what? why would you put that in there? That does absolutely nothing for the plot/characters/novel at all”). But I was able to get past that pretty easily, and it didn’t really bother me that much.

As in Stalking Jack the Ripper, I picked out the killer the first time they were introduced. Literally the second that character met Audrey Rose I said to myself “and there’s the killer.” I only doubted that thought once in the book (which was some pretty good plotting on Maniscalco’s part), but in the end I turned out to be right.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes spooky, thrilling, mysterious, or gothic/dark books. These are amazing!! I honestly can not wait for the next book to come out (and this one to come out so more people can read it!), and I’m going to spend every second from now until the title is announced trying to guess just what legend Wadsworth and Cresswell are going to be chasing next.

ALSO THE SWOONS GUYS. SO MANY SWOONS I DIED.

I am going to give Hunting Prince Dracula four out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- P.S. I Like You

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P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 330
Goodreads
Amazon

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 straight up adorable.

I’m usually not one for contemporary novels (so I keep saying…) but when I read the synopsis for this one, I couldn’t resist. It just sounded so cute. And it was…

I was really worried when I first started reading this book. The story wasn’t new or surprising or original. I knew who Lily’s “secret” pen pal was within the first five pages, and pretty much guessed the entirety of the plot. So yeah, I was scared that this book was going to be one cliché fluff piece that would leave me even more reluctant to pick up contemporary novels than I already am.

But honestly this book surprised me, even if I was right about what happened. Everything was just adorable. I fell in love with Lily and Cade. They just seem honest and real, and the character development is SO GOOD.

While this may not be my favorite book in the world, how much I enjoyed it was definitely a surprise to me, and I really want to read some more books from Kasie West (and hopefully find one with a bit more of an original and less predictable plot).

I would recommend this to anyone who loves YA contemporaries, and anyone who is not-so-big on them, but is looking for a good place to start.

I am going to give P.S. I Like You four out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥