Book Review | Ever Since by Alena Bruzas

Title: Ever Since
Author: Alena Bruzas
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2023
Publisher: Rocky Pond Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Seventeen-year-old Virginia makes bad choices. In fact, she’s That Kind of Girl, according to the whispers. But as long as she has her tight group of best friends by her side, she’s able to ignore the gossipers. Until she finds herself spending time with Rumi, Poppy’s boyfriend. Breaking with tradition, she doesn’t hook up with Rumi. Worse, she falls in love with him.

While Virginia and Rumi’s relationship grows in secret, she discovers that his little sister, Lyra, is being groomed for abuse. The soon-to-be-abuser is a respected member of the community, and only Virginia knows who he is and what he does. If she stays quiet, Lyra will become a victim. But coming forward feels equally impossible.” (Goodreads)

I was very curious about this one due to the blurb. I knew going into the book there would be content warnings which I was fine with since I had time to get in the right head space. The author does a good job of dealing with a story about abuse, but I just had a hard time connecting with the story.

The book is told from one point of view and it comes from Virginia. She is in high school and hangs out with a group of friends that are always around. Some are more nice than others. I feel like the whole teen life was done quite well from boys to parties. Virginia is a strong character because of her story detailing abuse. It wasn’t easy for her to recognize the signs and it helped that she had people close to her explaining the red flags.

My biggest problem with the book was the writing. It felt very dry and sometimes and the way it was structured felt sporadic. It was really hard for me to fully connect with the characters and because of the content I wish I could have.

Overall, this was an okay/good read.


Book Review | Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

Title: Promise Boys
Author: Nick Brooks
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 31st, 2023
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The prestigious Urban Promise Prep school might look pristine on the outside, but deadly secrets lurk within. When the principal ends up murdered on school premises and the cops come sniffing around, a trio of students—J.B., Ramón, and Trey—emerge as the prime suspects. They had the means, they had the motive—and they may have had the murder weapon. But with all three maintaining their innocence, they must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested. Or is the true culprit hiding among them?” (Goodreads)

I’ve been eyeing this one for awhile and almost read it as an e-book but the audiobook was totally amazing, especially because it is a full cast!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views. They mostly come from J.B., Ramón, and Trey because they are the suspects. Some of the chapters are leading up the event and then what happened after. There are also interviews with students, faculty, and the police. It was very well done and I felt like I was a part of the investigation as well as it feeling like a movie! I really do think this was because of the audiobook.

The three main characters have their own issues they have been dealing with and the principal doesn’t help. He was seriously such a dillweed. Each character also deals with racism and prejudice. It really connects to our own world and what has been going on in the United States.

I would say that the book is more plot driven than character and I was okay with that. The mystery grabbed my attention and it was hard to stop listening to. I kept second guessing who I thought it was and never figured it out! I liked that at the end we got a small epilogue to tell us where J.B., Ramón, and Trey ended up after it all went down.

Overall, this was a great book! I loved the full cast and the sound effects. It is definitely worth the read, especially if you like YA Mystery / Thrillers.

Book Review | Pieces of Me by Kate McLaughlin

Title: Pieces of Me
Author: Kate McLaughlin
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mental Health
Publication Date: April 18th, 2023
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“When eighteen-year-old Dylan wakes up, she’s in an apartment she doesn’t recognize. The other people there seem to know her, but she doesn’t know them – not even the pretty, chiseled boy who tells her his name is Connor. A voice inside her head keeps saying that everything is okay, but Dylan can’t help but freak out. Especially when she borrows Connor’s phone to call home and realizes she’s been missing for three days.
Dylan has lost time before, but never like this.

Soon after, Dylan is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, and must grapple not only with the many people currently crammed inside her head, but that a secret from her past so terrible she’s blocked it out has put them there. Her only distraction is a budding new relationship with Connor. But as she gets closer to finding out the truth, Dylan wonders: will it heal her or fracture her further?” (Goodreads)

I have really enjoyed the last two books I have read by this author. Sadly, this latest was a miss for me even though I was really hoping it would be another home run.

The book is told from multiple point-of-views but from one individual who is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. I do not know much about this disorder besides when it was discussed on YouTube when it came to Trisha Paytas, haha. Obviously, that is a whole other topic. The author did include in her acknowledgement that she did a lot of research for this book and so I can only take her word for it. Hopefully, it is accurate.

Dylan was an interesting character. Her story starts very quickly and doesn’t really have a lull point. There is always a switch or something from her past coming up. She is also trying to swim through therapy, find a game plan, and still try to have a “normal” life outside of it all. I do think that Conner (the love interest) is very kind and doesn’t mind everything that she is going through. The problem with that is he feels too perfect. I don’t think that it would play exactly as it did in the book.

Even though I felt for her situations, I didn’t connect with her on a deeper level. This could be due to my reading mood or that the writing just didn’t feel as engaging as her previous books. I do think that there are important topics discussed in the book and some of the content warnings would include self-harm and sexual abuse.

Overall, this was an okay read. It wasn’t one of her stronger books (for me at least), but I am still looking forward to what she writes next.

Book Review | Seven Percent of Ro Devereux by Ellen O’Clover

Title: Seven Percent of Ro Devereux
Author: Ellen O’Clover
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: January 17th, 2023
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Ro Devereux can predict your future. Or, at least, the app she built for her senior project can.

Working with her neighbor, a retired behavioral scientist, Ro created an app called MASH, designed around the classic game Mansion Apartment Shack House, that can predict a person’s future with 93% accuracy. The app will even match users with their soul mates. Though it was only supposed to be a class project, MASH quickly takes off and gains the attention of tech investors.

Ro’s dream is to work in Silicon Valley, and she’ll do anything to prove to her new backing company—and the world—that the app works. So it’s a huge shock when the app says her soul mate is Miller, her childhood best friend with whom she had a friendship-destroying fight three years ago. Now thrust into a fake dating scenario, Ro and Miller must address the years of pain between them if either of them will have any chance of achieving their dreams.” (Goodreads)

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first saw the cover! This was a cute YA Contemporary with a second-chance friendship that blossoms into more.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Ro Devereux. She made an app to predict the future of those who take the quiz and match them with a love interest for a senior year project. I haven’t read anything like this before so it was very intriguing with how it started out.

Ro has a lot going on in her life and it isn’t all of the drama that comes with the app either. She deals with loss/grief and backlash of an friendship that ended but it is slowly being rekindled. I definitely felt for her loss and understand how terrible the feeling of grief is. Her mother also hasn’t been around for quite awhile and that also takes a toll on her. Through it all, she is still smart and capable and handles every situation to the best of her ability with those who care at her side. I did enjoy learning more about her through those tight knit relationships.

There is romance and I liked how it all went down! Imagine being matched with an old friend you haven’t talked to for quite sometime and now you are thrown into a fake dating situation. It was a crazy plot line that I didn’t see coming but really enjoyed watching it play out. Miller is a sweet guy who cares for her even through the pain that was caused years ago when they stopped being friends. He is the real deal and stuck by her when things got hard and it would have been easier for him to walk away.

With all of the drama that the app caused I wasn’t really sure how this book would end. I liked that the author talked about the importance of following your own dreams and not what any app, or even a person, has laid out for you. We never know what life will bring and it is up to us to find out what it will be filled with.

Overall, this was a great audiobook. I liked the narration and I breezed through it in one day!

Book Review | This Is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua

Title: This Is Not a Personal Statement
Author: Tracy Badua
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: January 17th, 2023
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“As the youngest graduating senior at her hypercompetitive high school, Perla Perez is certain all the late nights, social isolation, and crushing stress will be worth it when she gets into the college of her (and her parents’) dreams: Delmont University.

Then Perla doesn’t get in, and her meticulously planned future shatters. In a panic, she forges her own acceptance letter, and next thing she knows, she’s heading to Delmont for real, acceptance or not. Perla’s plan? Gather on-the-ground intel to beef up her application and reapply spring semester before she’s caught.

But as her guilty conscience grows and campus security looms large, Perla starts to wonder if her plan will really succeed, and if this dream she’s worked for her entire life is something she even wants.” (Goodreads)

This was a unique take on a teenage girl getting ready for college.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Perla Perez. She graduated high school early at the age of sixteen and has never really fit in with her peers. Although, she has spent more time studying, getting good grades, and being pushed by her parents to be her best. All of those things have culminated to make her not take no for an answer and devises a plan to be a student at Delmont while not being one.

I understand why Perla would go the route she did when it came to faking it. The pressure her parents put on her was a lot and they didn’t make it easy for an open dialogue between them. It was either their way or she just wasn’t good enough. It’s sad that this type of pressure happens in our own world. A one track plan shouldn’t be the be all or end all type of deal.

Even though I understood her, I thought that it was also kind of far fetch at the same time. It makes for an interesting plot but it was hard not to question everything that was happening. I wish Perla had been honest with her parents before being caught and even after it all comes out she doesn’t have a huge conversation with her parents, but her dad seemed to care more than her mother.

Perla did learn a lot through her experience and made friends, but also lost some. It all helped her in growing as a person.

Overall, this was a good audiobook. I liked the narration and it was easy to listen to.

Book Review | My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon

Title: My Flawless Life
Author: Yvonne Woon
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: February 14th, 2023
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“At the most elite private school in Washington, DC., whenever anyone has a problem that they need to go away, they hire Hana Yang Lerner.

Hana is a fixer. She knows who to call, what to say, and how to make sure secrets stay where they belong–buried. She can fix anything. Except her own life, which was destroyed when her father, senator Skip Lerner, was arrested for an accident that left one woman nearly dead.

Now Hana’s reputation is ruined and her friends are gone. So when she gets a job from an anonymous client called “Three” to follow her former best friend, Luce Herrera, Hana realizes this might be her way of getting back her old life.

But the dangerous thing about digging is that you never know what you’ll unearth. As Hana uncovers a dark truth about her supposedly flawless classmates, she’s forced to face a secret of her own.” (Goodreads)

I am always down for a YA Mystery / Thriller and when I read this blurb I couldn’t resist requesting! It did have its moments and I was intrigued to know what would happen next, but it did fall short in some areas for me.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Hana Yang Lerner. There are parts where it goes into past events but they usually weren’t divided by chapter and made it a bit hard to follow along with the timeline. I wish there was a bit more separation.

Hana is a fixer. She wants to fix other people’s problems at her elite high school and make them go away for the person who is willing to pay for her services. I thought that this was a unique job and liked learning about her business and how she operated it. You learn that she does it because 1.) she is good at it but 2.) she has never been able to fix her biggest mistake. Through her mistake she lost her best friend and her friend group. You honestly feel sorry for her but don’t even realize what she had done until the very end of the book. It’s honestly quite tragic and one topic that is rarely talked about in books.

The other characters in the book, besides James who we will get to, are kind of just one dimensional. We honestly don’t get much from them and it’s a shame because I feel like it would have added more emotion to the book, this especially goes for her ex friend Luce. James is an old friend of hers who she hasn’t talked to in awhile but fate brings them back together when they end up on the same undercover job. There is a bit of romance between them at the very end but it didn’t play out very well getting to that point. I didn’t feel anything between them and it kind of just felt forced. He isn’t a bad character, just needed more development.

I did like the plot and thought it was very intriguing and talked about things not usually discussed. It was a very quick read as well which is nice. My only complaint for the plot is that when it came to the climatic points or resolutions it just didn’t have that shock factor and no real consequences you would expect.

Overall, this was a good book. I did like a lot of it but just felt like there could have been a bit more development.

Goodreads Monday | A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreaks by Laura Taylor Namey

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday was hosted and created by Lauren’s Page Turners and has now been taken over by Budget Tales Book Blog. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: A British Girl’s Guide to Hurricanes and Heartbreaks
Author: Laura Taylor Namey
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: September 26th, 2023
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

In this highly anticipated companion to the New York Times bestseller and Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, Flora Maxwell heads to Miami to find a path for her future…and finds her heart along the way.

Winchester, England, has always been home for Flora, but when her mother dies after a long illness, Flora feels untethered. Her family expects her to apply to university and take a larger role in their tea-shop business, but Flora isn’t so sure. More than ever, she’s the chaotic “hurricane” in her household, and she doesn’t always know how to manage her stormy emotions.

So she decides to escape to Miami without telling anyone—especially her longtime friend Gordon Wallace.

But Flora’s tropical change of scenery doesn’t cast away her self-doubt. When it comes to university, she has no idea which passions she should follow. That’s also true in romance. Flora’s summer abroad lands her in the flashbulb world of teen influencer Baz Marín, a Miami Cuban who shares her love for photography. But Flora’s more conflicted than ever when she begins to see future architect Gordon in a new light.

Laura Taylor Namey’s newest novel navigates heartbreak that feels like a hurricane in a city that is famous for them.” (Goodreads)


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Book Review | French Kissing in New York by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Title: French Kissing in New York
Author: Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
Genre: YA Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2023
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Welcome to New York. . . . He’s been waiting for you.

Margot hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Zach, the dreamy American boy she met one magical night in Paris. In an instant, they fell head over heels in love and spent the perfect evening ensemble—sealed with a kiss and a promise: if the universe wants them to be together, fate will find a way.
Flash forward one year later: Margot has finished high school and is newly arrived in New York, ready to roll up her chef’s-coat sleeves in Manhattan’s bustling restaurant scene, celebrate her father’s upcoming wedding . . . and reconnect with Zach.
But a lot can happen in a year, and promises made in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower look different in the neon glow of the Big Apple. Margot spends the summer desperate to find Zach and enlists the help of Ben, the sweet line cook at her restaurant. Margot is convinced she found her soul mate that night in Paris . . . but what if the universe has a different plan?

Anything’s possible in New York City. Especially l’amour, American-style.” (Goodreads)

I enjoyed her book Kisses and Croissants but this latest one just missed the mark for me.

P.S. The Review will have some spoilers!

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Margot who has recently moved to New York to live with her dad and take on the big city in the restaurant industry as well as find a guy she had one romantic night with in Paris. It was a super interesting premise and one that I was really fascinated by.

Margot is a very driven young woman. It doesn’t feel like no is in her vocabulary. I wouldn’t say that her attitude is well received by those around her because she can seem to come off as pretentious, one character even calls her this. It’s not bad to feel the way she does and want to chase her dreams with no brakes but sometimes she doesn’t see what is right in front of her. I feel like she wanted it all without realizing there would be consequences.

She isn’t the only character that I felt like rolling my eyes at often either. Cue the spoilers here! Ben, a love interest but also not the right one at the time, wants to help her find the guy she had met in Paris. I think this was nice of him to do but also why would he if he doesn’t even know her? I guess it is to spend time with her but kind of a weird way to go about it. Anyways, when she does end up finding the guy, Zach, she completely ditches Ben and still wants him to go to her dad’s wedding with her but also with Zach. Ben gets upset by this and also the fact that she found him but he should have figured it would be a possibility. I think that they were both kind of dumb in their feelings. End of the spoilers!

There is a lot of drama surrounding secrets and it just goes to show that secrets don’t make friends. The consequences for the secrets were also very brief so it kind of felt very lackluster.

Although I had a lot of issues with certain parts of the book, I still think that Ben and Margot had cute moments together. I was rooting for them from the beginning, even when they were being dumb about it. This book also made me very hungry with all of the food talk!

Overall, this was a mixed bag for me. I wish there would have been more I did like.

Book Review: They’re Watching You by Chelsea Ichaso

Title: They’re Watching You
Author: Chelsea Ichaso
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery / Thriller
Publication Date: January 3rd, 2023
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“When a secret society has you in their sights, it can lead to power, privilege… or death.
It’s been two weeks since Polly St. James went missing. The police, the headmistress of Torrey-Wells Academy, and even her parents have ruled her a runaway. But not Maren, her best friend and roommate. She knows Polly had a secret that she was about to share with Maren before she disappeared― something to do with the elite, ultra-rich crowd at Torrey-Wells.

Then Maren finds an envelope hidden among Polly’s things: an invitation to the Gamemaster’s Society. Do not tell anyone, it says. Maren is certain her classmates in the Society know the truth about what happened to Polly, though it’s no easy feat to join. Once Maren’s made it through the treacherous initiation, she discovers a world she never knew existed within her school, where Society members compete in high-stakes games for unheard-of rewards―Ivy League connections, privileges, favors.
But Maren’s been drawn into a different game: for every win, she’ll receive a clue about Polly. And as Maren keeps winning, she begins to see just how powerful the Society’s game is―bigger and deadlier than she ever imagined. They see, they know, they control. And they kill.” (Goodreads)

I’ve read this author’s last two books and have liked them. One was a bit better than the other but still engaging enough where I wanted to finish to see what the outcome would be. This was like the others. It’s a popcorn read. It’s good and enjoyable but it isn’t a wow and I think that was just due to not having enough development for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked it!

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Maren, a student at an elite private school. She is in search of answers when it comes to her friend, and roommate, disappearing although people will say she ran away. I thought that she was a very loyal character and she would do anything for this friend, especially join a weird secret society. I can’t say I would do the same, haha.

A lot of the characters, including Maren, are very surface level. They don’t go deep, although they have some deep backstory for their whys. I wish that there had been more development for them so that I could connect on a deeper level and feel something more. This could also be said for secret society and backstory of the school etc. It just needed more for me to fully understand the plot. There is also a bit of romance but it feels very instant and I wasn’t convinced.

The plot was engaging though. I was curious from the beginning and there are a lot of secrets and betrayal that happen while she investigates. I wasn’t expecting any of the plot twists which was nice!

Overall, this was a good book and I did like it. I just wish it would have been longer and had more development. I think it could have easily been a 4-5 star read.

Arc Review: Nine Liars (Truly Devious #5) by Maureen Johnson

Title: Nine Liars (Truly Devious #5)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA Contemporary / Mystery
Publication Date: December 27th, 2022
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.
Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.
The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.
Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.” (Goodreads)

To say this one hurts to write would be an understatement. I’m just not convinced that these were the same characters and this fits into the Truly Devious series. After loving the other books I am just utterly disappointed.

The book is told through dual timelines and multiple point-of-views. The present time point-of-view comes from Stevie Bell who is off on another mystery once again, although it takes quite a bit to get there. I can’t say that I was invested in the story until around the 60% mark and even then the ending was just not it. I’m actually very upset about it lol. I think that this book tried to do too much and because of that the mystery wasn’t as exciting because nothing really happens with it until too close to the ending and even then it is so lackluster! It just doesn’t feel like the same series.

I felt more irritated with these characters than I ever have before. I hadn’t once had a problem with David or Stevie, but they were both kind of selfish and it wasn’t a vibe. All I have to say about David is that he was fine, a bit bland, but then we get to the ending and he is a dillweed. I don’t like him and I never will. Stevie was too caught up in her relationship to care about her future and when she wasn’t obsessing about that she was on the case for the mystery and lying to her friends. I can see the correlation between her friend group and the nine so I guess at least there was that. 🤷‍♀️

I also felt like this book was trying to be more upper YA and it made the book have a different vibe. I think this point correlates with Stevie’s relationship having more page time and it’s also associated with the friend group the nine. Sex is mentioned quite a lot and it just wasn’t my cup of tea, especially when I am here for a mystery.

Overall, it was okay at times but honestly ended up not being a book I liked. I’m going to be disappointed for quite some time…