REVIEW: simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda; becky albertalli

review - simonvs9.5/10 ✩

genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQ, romance

series? no, standalone

published: on april 7, 2015 by balzer + bray

pages: 320

i read the: us hardcover

began: april 14, 2015 // finished: april 15, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads: right here.

first sentence: “It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. I almost don’t notice I’m being blackmailed”


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simon vs the homo sapiens agenda is a book everyone needs to read – and i mean everyone.

this is a book i know will stay with me forever (or at least for a long long time). if you don’t already know, this is a “gay” book. even if you feel uncomfortable or somewhat opposed to people of LGBTQ, i still believe you should read simon vs.

i’ve read other novels that are LGBTQ, but i’ve never read one that was as wholeheartedly and honest as simon vs. everything was so relatable. in other novels, it was clear and obvious the characters that were LGBTQ were sorta different: in the way they act, speak, dress, etc. etc. however in simon vs., that was most certainly not the case. after reading this novel, i’ve realized that people who are LGBTQ are just like everyone else. there really isn’t a difference between gays and straights, except the preference in gender; in the end, that’s all there is.

reading things from simon’s perspective, we could also see how the LGBTQ community is generally treated. it was beautiful to see people who were incredibly supportive, but also people who were just downright awful. i loved every bit of that. it was completely genuine and true. we saw everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

my favorite aspect of the novel was how casual simon and his friends spoke of being gay. they would often joke about it – but not in anyway i found insulting or condescending. people often make this a huge deal, which i suppose it is a big deal, but sometime it shouldn’t have to be a big deal. if you think about it, being gay/straight/etc is only a big deal because people make it a big deal. why should it really matter? it’s just a small part of who we/you are. i find it similar to a person’s race. for example, it’s not like you’re going to see someone and instantly judge them because of their race (if you do, then go away). the same should be said about a persons’ sexual orientation.

moving on from the deep and somewhat controversial stuff, let’s talk about the writing and plot.

simon was an extremely sarcastic and funny character, so i couldn’t help but smile and grin the entire time. no, seriously, i couldn’t read this book in public because i would (literally) laugh out loud and smile to myself. people were definitely giving me strange looks, but i have no regrets because i looooooove it so much! (eventually i resorted to happily reading in my room.)

the main reason why i enjoyed this book so much was because IT WAS SO CUTE. the interactions between simon and blue made me want to squeal; i couldn’t help but root for them until the very end. the relationships between everyone were truly genuine and lovely and just.. *content sigh*. his family and friends were great and everything was <3.

awwwww

simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda was like a diary. because the writing seemed like this, there were parts i really enjoyed, but also parts i didn’t like. i loved how we could hear and see simon’s internal dialogue. i mean, he’s hilarious and very relatable. i got to connect with simon much more because i knew what he was thinking. but, there were parts in the beginning i was left confused. since simon already knows these characters, there’s no introduction. we meet everyone and it’s like an information dump and you’re kind of left stranded like, “what’s going on?” also, there are less descriptions. i don’t describe people in my head, so it makes sense for the writing to be this way. but, i found it hard to visualize characters, places, etc.

it was a quick read, which has it’s good and it’s bad. it’s a wonderful book to read in between huge series because it’s quite tiny, but because of that you’re left wanting more. the book concluded wonderfully, but since it’s so short i feel like i need just *holds fingers .00001 cm apart* that much more.

overall, i loved this book. it was honest; it was hilarious; it was adorable; it was so much more. becky albertalli created a true masterpiece from beginning to end. with a easygoing prose, the story was filled with love, finding yourself, and truth for the LGBTQ community. i’ve come to realize that many people are simply ignorant to the way LGBTQ people are it may not be their intention to be condescending or offensive; they’re simply oblivious to it all. i would recommend this book to… um, everyone. *whispers* go read it.

fivestars

**on a side note: i saw this beautiful artwork by risa rodil and i had to share it with you. it was one of my favorite quotes from the novel! she made it for spark notes’s review on the novel. you can find her original post by clicking the image.

– alexandra

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REVIEW: the winner’s crime; marie rutkoski

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8.9/10 ☆

genre: young adult, fantasy, romance

series or standalone? series. trilogy to be specific; second book

published: on march 3rd, 2015 by farrar straus giroux

pages: 416

i read the: advanced reader’s copy (arc), reread in the us hardcover

began: january 26, 2015 // finished: january 28, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

first sentence: “she cut herself opening the envelope.”


this is the second book of the trilogy. if you haven’t read the first book, please redirect to my review on the winner’s curse here. i would not advise reading the rest of this review if you have not read the first book. it will contain SPOILERS on the winner’s curse!

okay, so i’m assuming if you’re still here, you’ve read the winner’s curse but not the winner’s crime. the first and most asked question is almost always: did you enjoy it more than the first? quite honestly, no. it was good, but i still liked the winner’s curse better. they were different, but it felt like you didn’t know what was really going on (conclusion: all the second books of dystopian trilogies follow this pattern. see: insurgent, catching fire, prodigy, etc.). but here’s the main reason for my disliking:

kestrel and arin became unbearable. meaning: they would try to protect each other, claiming they know what’s best, resulting in lying and betrayal. *cough cough june in prodigy, ruby in never fade, tris in insurgent, katniss in catching fire…* the main characters in the second book of dystopian trilogies are almost always like this, too. i don’t know why i expected different. it was frustrating to no end. you should’ve listen to me, kestrel and arin. look at your regrets. i couldn’t stand it because a lot of their problems were just misunderstandings. one character would jump to conclusions, and the other would say, “it’s for the best.” please, stOP. why are you doing this to my feelings?!

screaming:whimpering

everything else, was more than the first book. not necessarily better, but more: more intense, more emotional, more shocking, more action, just more. you really see the conflicts grow and you begin to think, “oh no. there’s no way this is going to work out. i’m not going to have my happy ending.” but, kestrel and arin’s feelings grow stronger as well, so they have to have a happy ending.. right? there are more plot twists, betrayals, and the cliffhanger is just plain cruel. marie rutkoski, i’d like the next book PRETTY PLEASE WITH CHERRIES ON TOP.

the story is now told from both arin and kestrel. in the winner’s curse, there are only small snippets from arin. you see his betrayal coming before kestrel knows what’s happening. now, we hear from him nearly every other chapter. we get to know him more; there are flashbacks to moments in the first book and you see his perspective of things. before he was mysterious and hard to read, but now we see who he truly is.

although the characters change, they are still themselves. sometimes when characters develop, authors would change them into a completely different person. that didn’t happen here. kestrel continue to impress me with her brains and goodness; arin continued to impress me with his strength and fiery passion. it felt as if everyone was alive and living. you wouldn’t be able to guess what’s next, but it was never out of context.

the mood of the book was sad, which is another reason why it wasn’t as enjoyable. don’t get me wrong; i did love this book. but i grew so attached to the characters that since they were sad, i became sad. i felt the character’s struggles and depression; i felt their sorrow and guilt. there were happy moments but the overall mood was negative, which is another big reason as to why i liked the first book better. (claps to marie rutkoski’s writing! making me feel all the things, yet again.)

the writing was so beautiful. i fell in love with it in the first book, but this one was even better. there would be pages and pages of scenes and moments and i would tear up because it’s so beautiful. there isn’t another adjective for it. usually when we hear from two povs, they have no relation to each other. it goes like: ___ did this, ___ did that. arin and kestrel’s chapters intertwine. they could be across the world or in the same room, and their thoughts are together; they are completely in sync.

its so beautiful

 

you’ve read the winner’s curse, so what are you waiting for? buy/read this book right now. it is definitely worth the read and i cannot wait for the next installment! (if you finished, let me know your thoughts in the comments!)

xoxo,

alexandra

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REVIEW: the winner’s curse; marie rutkoski

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9.2/10 ☆

genre: young adult, fantasy, romance

series or standalone? series. trilogy to be specific; first book

published: on march 4th, 2014 by farrar straus giroux

pages: 355

i read the: us hardcover

began: january 24, 2015 // finished: january 25, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?”

– kestrel, page 6

first sentence: “she shouldn’t have been tempted.”


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first, let’s talk about this gorgeous cover. i’ve tried taking a million pictures of it, from all different angles and it still doesn’t do the real thing justice. if you’re deciding between ebook or physical copy, definitely buy the physical copy. and once you pick it up to read it, you will thank me.

i don’t even know how to compile my thoughts on this book. the more i think about it, the better it gets. i’ll try my best to summarize the main gist of things:

in a world filled with power-hungry empires, salves, and war, kestrel is the daughter of one of the high generals; she lives a good life, in a large house filled with maids and yes, slaves. one peculiar day, she’s wandering the town with her good friend and they come upon an auctioning for slaves. normally she would just walk away, but for some reason she purchases this slave. from that moment on, things begin to change. – that’s how the story starts, and i don’t want to share any more because i feel like the resolution would seem very obvious but it’s NOT. the plot has a lot of twists and turns, it would be more fun to read if you knew little of what it’s about. and i feel like i’ve already spoiled too much. it’s fairly straightforward – you know what’s going to happened, you can see it happening, you don’t want it to happen – but it leaves you grasping for more, nonetheless.

my favorite aspect of this book was the beautiful characters and their relationship/chemistry between each other. they are sassy, witty, selfless, and not-annoying in any way. annoying characters will be the death of me. what amazes me is that they’re all good characters, but none of them are “mary sue.” they have flaws, but *squeals* i just love them. the chemistry between everyone was so smooth and natural. a lot of the times, i’ll see interactions between characters and it seems so forced. there wasn’t a single time that happened in this book. if it did, it would seem intentionally tense or awkward.

i think the biggest problem here was the lack of a map. yes, that’s the biggest problem. it made the whole world hard to visualize. their city/state/country/idk-what-it-is is on an island. i didn’t know that until the end of the book. things would’ve made a lot more sense if i’d known that small fact. we just need a map. it’s fine though because i know the second book, the winner’s crime, will have a map. THANK YOU!

there are a lot of hidden metaphors. there would be a repeated sentence here, another reference there, and you don’t realize their meaning until the very end; you might not even realize until you reread the book. marie rutkoski clearly put thought in every word and sentence, which is another reason why i love this book. the writing is gorgeous. however, there was lack in sense of time. you never knew how much time passed, or sometimes, it felt as if time didn’t even exist.

if you finished the book, i also advise reading the author’s note! she explains where she got the idea of the winner’s curse and all that interesting stuff.

what are you waiting for? go read this book! if you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments~

xoxo,

alexandra

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REVIEW: maybe someday; colleen hoover

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8.6/10 ✩

genre: new adult, contemporary, romance

series or standalone? standalone

published: on march 18th, 2014 by simon & schuster (or atria books in other editions)

pages: 384

i read the: ebook

began: february 14, 2015 // finished: february 14, 2015

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“words can sometimes have a far greater effect on a heart than a kiss.”

– ridge, page 273

first sentence: “i just punched a girl in the face.”


maybe someday is.. something i didn’t expect. and i’ve waited a week to review it, but somehow, i still can’t compose my thoughts. i flew through the book in less than twenty-four hours, but it’s still not as satisfying as i’d hoped. (even though it was still really good.) i was hesitant to read it because the summary said it was about a girl who found her boyfriend cheating on her best friend. i’m not a huge fan of crying, heartbroken girls, so this book was something i wouldn’t usually read. but after all the raving on colleen hoover, i decided to give it a try. (also the ebook was on sale, why not?)

the synopsis is mostly about her “wonderful life,” then things come crashing down when she finds her boyfriend cheating on her best friend/roommate. it also mentions a guy named ridge, who she’s kinda getting into? um.. okay. i promise, that is the first ten pages. everything after that is a bit mind blowing and not what i expected. i would tell you, because it feels like you should know, but it’s considered a “spoiler;” i wouldn’t want to risk it. this book talks about a few serious(ish?) topics, and does include a love triangle (but not with who you expect). music is a huge part of the story and i love how it connects the characters and brings out all the emotions. the story and writing will leave you saying, “just one more chapter,” until you’re finished with the book – which is exactly what happened to me. 

colleen hoover’s writing style is kind of amazing, but it also reminds me of fan fiction. there will be moments when i’m reading and it feels like i’m reading a really good fan fiction, not a novel. i’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but that’s just the vibes it gives. the way she writes makes you feel as if you’re actually inside the character’s head. you follow their thought process and everything. she’s also hilarious. there were multiple times when i literally laughed out loud because it was so funny. you care for every single character (which is extremely rare) and learn to accept and embrace their so-called flaws. the relationships between the people and her quotes! ahh, all of it is just so good. this is the first colleen hoover book i read, and i do intend on reading the rest of her novels.

i feel like i would’ve given it a higher rating if it wasn’t over-hyped. i mean, yes, it is good, but it’s not that good. it was also my first new adult book, so i couldn’t relate to the characters as much since they’re experiencing things i wouldn’t yet understand (i’m still a teeeeeeen). nonetheless, this book was enjoyable. you should definitely read it if you like cute and adorable contemporaries.

xoxo,

alexandra

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REVIEW: dash and lily’s book of dares; rachel cohn and david levithan

8.8/10 ✩

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genre: young adult, contemporary, romance, rom-com

series or standalone? standalone

published: on october 26, 2010 by knopf books (also random house, in later editions)

pages: 260

i read the: us paperback

began: december 2, 2014 // finished: december 2, 2014

where can i buy this? here via the book depository!

goodreads summary: right here.

favorite quote:

“.. because i don’t think meaning is something that can be explained. you have to understand it on your own.”

– dash, page 86


this is the cutest, most adorable book to exist – right up there with anna and the french kiss and fangirl. it’s also super cliché, but sometimes you need that in your life. now is one of those times.

this story is told from two points of view: dash and lily. dash is strolling through his favorite bookstore when he finds a mysterious red moleskine. he then sets off to accomplish the challenges the notebook dares. and their conversation begins. the story is set during christmas and new year’s, so it’s perfect to read during the holidays. it’s a fun adventure, making me want to visit one of my favorite cities (manhattan, new york) again.

the concept of the story is extremely clever and witty. i was in love with the idea of this red notebook connecting two strangers together. it’s one of those books you read simply because their chemistry is adorable and the storyline is hilarious. both characters are snarky and sarcastic, which left me grinning from ear to ear. however, the relationships (between other people) and character development were lacking. dash and lily were hard to imagine and felt two-dimensional – lily especially. there were times where she felt like a completely different person. she would overreact and jump to conclusions, which was so frustrating. i guess the characters were supposed to be “realistic” and real people make mistakes, but it came off as more confusing and unrealistic than anything else. i connected with the settings and situations more than the characters themselves.

another thing that bothered me was the excess amount of filler paragraphs. there would be pages of flashbacks and whatnot that wouldn’t change the story if it wasn’t there. AKA FILLER. the book is so short already, i would appreciate getting back on track. there would also be problems noted, but we never got back to them. like, what about those other problems???

this book was simultaneously light-hearted and deep. deep, as in, this-left-me-in-an-existential-crisis deep. lily and dash are both book nerds (the story starts in a bookstore.. so that’s not really a spoiler right?), so they both have a remarkable way with words and think more deeply. in this sense, i could relate with them very well. also, they’re more comfortable talking through writing than actually speaking (which i’m sure we can all relate to here). but like almost all contemporary books, i just wanted one more chapter. it wasn’t even like it ended abruptly, but i just want more. like, what happens next?

this is a book you should read after a book hangover. when you’ve finished something epic and you don’t know where to go. it’s a very short, light read that helps if you don’t want to invest in a huge, scary series yet (aka game of thrones, anyone?). in a way, it’s kind of like a “filler” book. which is great because we need those in our life too.

xoxo,

alexandra

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REVIEW + DISCUSSION: isla and the happily ever after; stephanie perkins

 9.4/10 ✩ 

isla

genre: young adult, contemporary, romance

published: on august 14, 2014 by usborne publishing

pages: 375; chapters: 34

book in series: 3rd

i read the: uk paperback edition

finished on: september 16, 2014

where can i buy this? here, obviously.


three words? tears of joy.

writing style? very unique and i love it. much better than the first two books, in my opinion.

feelings? honestly too many! i wanted to cry from cuteness and cry from anguish. there were so many parts that left me squealing with joy. their dialogue is also hilariously perfect. it was as if they were made for each other. i felt like i was walking on air – bubbly, light, happy, and free.

cover rating? 9/10 ✩

warnings? lots of sex and makeout sessions. not so bad and graphic that it should be rated r, but a good amount. a little too fast-paced.


i haven’t read the other two books; why should i read this? this is one of those rare trilogies when each books progressively gets better and better. (so far, i’ve only encountered two: shatter me trilogy and the infernal devices.) it’s a lot like the movies valentine’s day and new year’s eve where there are three individual stories that connect together. reading it will leave you grinning from ear to ear. you won’t regret it. (warning: the first book is a bit unrealistic and cliché, but i promise it gets better!) this book is not my favorite of the three (actually i can’t decide. i think i like lola best), but this is the perfect ending.

okay so if you’ve read anna and lola, but haven’t started this. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? (please just say it’s coming in the mail) this book is the perfect ending for the series. it’s fabulous. go read it. like now.

summary (via goodreads): The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

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