Rating System:

For those of you who don't know, I rate books based on their ability to hold my attention. I don't really like to rip apart someone's hard work. If I don't finish a book, then I don't feel comfortable rating it. So you might see a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings. However, if I do have issues with a book, I will always tell you. Enjoy! (:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Girl Against the Universe ARC Review

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
5 Stars
Oh man, Girl Against the Universe was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016 and I was thrilled when I got my hands on it early. It's about a girl who thinks she's bad luck and tries her hardest to prevent anyone from ever being hurt, even if it means not leaving her house.

First, I really love how this is set up. We have chapters where our main character is in therapy and also when she's out doing her thing. I can't imagine what this book would be like without these sessions and I'm so glad that they're included as they provide some pretty great insight into our character.

Maguire may feel like bad luck and try to isolate herself on behalf of others, but man you kind of feel it too. Paula writes in a way that makes you really empathize with Maguire and everything she is going through internally. It's so wonderful and I definitely cried a few times. (Damn you, Paula.) Now our other main character, Jordy, I love him to bits. He's so flirty and confident even though he's insecure. Which I can definitely understand and relate to and that's so cool. Mostly, he's sweet and also kind of funny. I need myself a Jordy. Obviously there are more than these two and some honorable mentions are Penn, Jade, and for sure Dr. Leed. There really isn't a single character that I don't like. How refreshing.

One of my favorite things about Girl Against the Universe is the approach it takes on mental health. It truly normalizes it just like we should. My favorite quote is actually Dr. Leed talking to Maguire:
The first thing you need to realize is that mental health is fluid. It's not like you have an infection and a doctor gives you antibiotics and then you're cured. No matter what the two of us accomplish together, you're still going to have good days and bad days. Make sense?
And I love this because it is so incredibly true and more people need to realize it. Mental health is not a destination, it's a journey. No body is going to have the perfect life and be happy every single day. As Meredith Grey would say, "That's not mental health, that's crap."

Girl Against the Universe was everything that I hoped it would be and more. I laughed, I cried, and even had some anxiety pangs because I just love these characters so damn much. I honestly wish we could get a sequel or a companion from Jordy's perspective. *Prays to the publishing gods* I strongly recommend you pick up this cute contemporary with a twist. If you're interested, Girl Against the Universe will be out on May 17, 2016 and Paula is sending some preorder swag that you can read about here. I'd love to hear about your most anticipated reads and your thoughts on Girl Against the Universe in the comments!
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Friday, April 22, 2016

Autofocus ARC Review

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi
5 Stars
Lauren has done it again! I swear she never lets me down. Autofocus is about a teenage girl named Maude who receives a photography assignment about family and feels compelled to learn about the woman who gave birth to her. In order to do this Maude takes a trip to see her best friend, Treena, who happens to go to college in the same town where Maude's birth mother grew up. Adventure ensues.

I really loved the characters that Gibadli created. Maude seems so sure of herself until the moment she doesn't and that felt really real to me. Although my favorite character by far would have to be Bennett. He swoops in like some nerdy knight in shining armor without really meaning to and it's absolutely adorable. What I love about the way these characters are written is that I felt a lot of the things Maude was feeling as I read along, mainly towards the T's. You'll see.

What makes this journey so great is just that, it's a journey. There are no easy answers. A few roadblocks were hit and there were moments that really tested friendship. It was raw and real and even when things seemingly shattered, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. That's life. Even when the chips are down, you can always pick them back up again.

Sometimes life isn't how you pictured it.

Lastly, being that Maude is working on a photography assignment, photography is a big aspect of this novel. I love how Lauren really paints a picture of everything that Maude is seeing and you really get to see her thought process. It kind of makes me want to start capturing moments happening around me. It's really beautiful and I'm so glad that it's included.

As far as I can remember, I've never known anyone who has been adopted, but I imagine this is a pretty accurate depiction of how one wonders what could have been. It's one of the most enjoyable books I've had the pleasure of reading this year and I will not hesitate to push it on anyone who will let me. Seriously, it's a wonderful read, perfect for Summer. Autofoucs will be out on June 14, 2016. Grab yourself a copy and discuss it with me. The lovely Lauren Gibaldi might just surprise you.
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What We Saw Review

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
5 Stars
What We Saw was the Better Read Than Dead Book Club pick for March and an important one at that. For those of you who don't know, What We Saw was inspired by the very real events of the Steubenville Rape Case. So there is definitely a trigger warning for rape attached to this one.

Nothing is exactly as it appears.
The closer you look, the more you see.

That quote definitely holds true throughout the novel. Along with our main character, Kate, you never really know anything despite having suspicions. Man, did I have my suspicions. I applaud Kate for wanting answers instead of going along with the flow. While reading you'll see a lot of tweets and news reports that I found to be quite supplemental to the story. One hashtag drove me nuts, #r&p, was placed in so many parts and I needed to know what it meant. I'll let you figure that one out for yourself though. The amount of sheer disbelief and victim blaming was insane and that's what makes it so hard for so many victims to come forward. Ugh, it's beyond frustrating.

Let's talk a bit about the romantic aspect within What We Saw. While it is not the main focus, I'm glad it's there. It's pretty realistic in my opinion and a tad heart breaking. Which I suppose it what makes it so real. It's the perfect friends to lovers tale, but it also shows that we all have our secrets no matter how close we've been for however long. I absolutely love how this was portrayed and how things left off between our couple.

One of the things that I really appreciated was that while we're talking about not having consent, we also go into what it means to say yes and how big of a thing it is. Saying yes (or no) is very important. Consent is key. I will never understand how some people can ignore that. Hartzler also brought about some things within the movie Grease that I never really thought about and now I can't forget them. Boys don't change for girls.

All in all, Aaron captured a horrible truth in a captivating way. I couldn't put it down and it opened my eyes to some of the harsh realities that victims face. My heart aches for every single one. I don't say this about a lot of books, but I will be sure that my future children read this one because it is just so damn important. Not saying no does not equal a yes. I could go on forever about this one, but for fear of spoilers I will end here. You need to read it and once you do, we should discuss it.
Xoxo,
Gabriella

Monday, April 4, 2016

Emerge ARC Review

Emerge by Tobie Easton
5 Stars
When I heard about this book, I was so excited! I'm always looking for a good mermaid read. I ended up being lucky enough to receive an e-ARC from the publisher and man, am I thankful! Going in I kind of thought Emerge was going to be a light fluffy romance, but I was wrong. There is indeed a romance, but this story has a dark tone as well.

Let's discuss the characters. I quite enjoy our main character Lia and her inner struggles. She breaks rules, but only when her intentions are good. I just loved seeing her internal fight. Lia's sisters and her cousin are also pretty entertaining. However, two of my favorite characters are Clay and Caspian. Clay is human and pretty dang adorable, I am a sucker for a flirty, green eyed man. I found myself falling for him as the story went on. Caspian on the other hand, is mer. Mer is a term you'll see fairly often as a term for the mermaid race. Caspian is intelligent, sweet, and very kind. He's actually every bit as charming as Clay. For someone I didn't enjoy, Mel. She seems like the bitch of the story and we're made to hate her for good reason. Boy, did I love to hate her. Enough about the characters, you need to read it for yourself!

My favorite thing about Emerge is actually all of the mythology behind the mermaids from how they focus on maintaining their legs to the concept of same-love. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but I love how Easton came up with this concept that everyone gets legs at a certain point in life and for a certain reason. However, they have to work to maintain them unlike what we see in The Little Mermaid, which is also mentioned throughout. Everything is so intriguing! I just can't get enough of it!

In the end, I enjoyed every minute of this novel. I even messaged Tobie as I went and that was fun. Emerge isn't your typical mermaid novel. It has a lot more to it than just beaches and romance. There's a battle to be won and it's a wonderful ride. In the end, I was only able to see one thing coming and it didn't even play a major part in the ending. I have every confidence that Emerge will surprise you. Because it says Mer Chronicles Book 1, I'm assuming there will be a sequel and the wait may just kill me. I hope you'll pick it up. It's set to release on April 19, 2016 and there are even some cool prizes if you pre-order a copy! You can find pre-order links here on Tobie's website! I'd love to discuss it with y'all so come back once you've finished.
Xoxo,
Gabriella