book review, tori

Review: Winger (Winger #1) by Andrew Smith

Winger

Winger by Andrew Smith 
Winger #1
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 14, 2013
★★★★★

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

There’s something incredibly refreshing about a book that focuses on growing up (Ryan Dean is 14 years old) and living your life yet still follows a plot. Although the plot wasn’t mountain moving like saving a country or destroying a government, it was very clear: get Annie to fall in love with Ryan Dean. That wasn’t exactly an easy task considering Ryan Dean was 14 and Annie was 16 along with the fact that Ryan Dean thinks every girl is hot. He’s also a major pervert.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Annie said. “Did you bring any swim trunks? We have an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.”
“Wow,” I said. “No. I didn’t.”
I looked down, then shrugged and looked over at Annie and whispered, “I’ll go without.”

Therefore, not am I only glad that I get to read about a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy, I get to read a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy who learns that life is more about girls and more about living.

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Book Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by St. Martin’s Press on January 11, 2013
★★

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

To be frank, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. I’ve read so many rave reviews on Charm & Strange, therefore I expected something specular and riveting. What I got was extremely confusing and mediocre. Right off the bat, you’re confused. You’re thrown into this story that’s being told by this unreliable narrator who’s a bit on the crazy side, meaning he really doesn’t know what the heck to think, because he may or may not be suicidal.

Honestly, as a reader, you never get any of Win/Drew’s backstory from the actual story until the end or until you draw your own conclusion (that, if judging by the werewolf “callings,” is probably wrong). Before reading the book, I had read the summary once, so I was a bit blind going into the book. At first, I thought Win and Drew were two completely different people. I mean, they lived such different lives! Long story short, by reading the summary you’ve pretty much read the book.

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book review, tori

Book Review: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
Standalone
Young Adult | Mystery | Contemporary
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on March 25, 2014

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

I must warn you first that I am really into bad boys in young adult literature. I don’t know why, but they thrill me. I suppose I liked Nearly Gone as much as I did because Nearly reminded me of myself in many ways. Firstly, I’m very competitive and serious when it comes to my grades. I constantly compete with the smartest kids in my class to set the learning curve (I fail most of the time, but I still try). Secondly, I love puzzles. They confuse the heck out of me, but I love them. Thirdly, Nearly likes bad boys. Yeah, I like bad boys as well.

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Review: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better off Friends

Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
Young Adult | Contemporary | Romance
Published by Point on February 25, 2014
★★★★

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

NOTE: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. 

First off, let me tell you that you need this book in your life. Lately, I’ve really been digging contemporaries, and that’s why I requested this book on NetGalley. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful that I requested on NetGalley. This book was hilarious, cute, and everything good in life. It pained me to read about Levi and Macallan not being a couple.

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Review: Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Me Since You

Me Since You by Laura Wiess
Young Adult | Contemporary | Romance
Published by MTV Books on February 18, 2014
★★★★

Laura Wiess captures the visceral emotion of a girl’s journey from innocence to devastating loss and, ultimately, to a strange and unexpected kind of understanding—in this beautiful and painfully honest new novel.

Are there any answers when someone you love makes a tragic choice?

Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

NOTE: I received this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Before reading this book, I wanted to pick up a nice feel-good contemporary book with a love interest that would make me want to swoon. Imagine my surprise when I cried halfway through reading this book. That’s right, guys. I cried during this book. The emotional roller coaster that this book put me through was something that I was not anticipating whatsoever. I honestly had no idea how to cope with the idea that I was crying for a fictional character (I rarely cry for books or movies or TV shows. Just so you know, I did cry for Flat-Out Love though).

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