Review: On The Fence by Kasie West

Title: On The Fence
Author: Kasie West
Publication Date: 2014 (HarperTeen)
Pages: 296
Genre: Romance
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high. [Goodreads]

Charlie is the only female in the Reynolds household. The family is chaotic, but only in a normal family way, and I loved the dynamic between them. They look out for one another and annoy each other and have silly jokey dares. It’s nice yet amazing that they bonded so well, though there wasn’t anything remarkably rememberable about them individually. They were  a gang to hang out with and I wish there was a bit more to them. There’s also a point where Charlie says she’s closest to her eldest brother… didn’t really get those vibes and what was his name again?

With her new job at the boutique, tom-boy Charlie is dragged down into the world of fashion and make-up, something she has never touched before. Linda and Skye become Charlie’s outside family, people who she can discuss ‘girly’ things with. She keeps it hidden from her family, not wanting her brothers to tease her about her fashion choices. But it’s also a time where her father realises that Charlie has a lack of female inspiration, and bless him, he starts trying to get Charlie to open up. Although he only has a small part in the novel, you can tell Charlie’s father tries so hard to steer the family in the right direction.

With different people in her life expecting certain things from her, Charlie finds comfort in the longtime family friend and boy-next-door, Braden. Making nightly visits to the fence that separates their houses, they gather their thoughts in the quiet of the evening. And if this book has taught me anything about Wests’ writing, it is she can ace awkward scenes. It’s easy to jump to conclusions and make assumptions when you’re caught up in your own head and it’s exactly what Charlie does…. It plays out so so so well and I felt it all. It was totally relatable for me at my age and I am way beyond Charlie’s youthful sixteen year old age.

A fish out of water when it comes to adulting and trying to find her place, this is a coming-of-age-esque novel, this books sees through first romances, mistakes and mending of old wounds. Worth checking out and adding to your summer reading list!

I can’t wait to get through all her books – I wish I picked them up earlier!!

My rating
I really liked it

4 cup

Review: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

26721568

Title: The Problem with Forever
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout
Publication Date: 17th May 2016 (Mira Ink)
Pages: 474
Genre: Contemporary 
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard. [Goodreads]

After years of being homeschooled, Mallory wants to stop hiding. She wants to stop being the quiet one and fight her monsters. She wants to go to University to study but before that she must concur her fears and prove how much she has grown to her foster parents. The only way to do that is to go to a public high school for her senior year. And out of all the possibilities that she had in her mind none of them included Rider, her protector from the dangers in their childhood together, sitting next to her in class.

Mallory is an interesting and complex character to read about, even more so because Armentrout wrote in a first person narration. We don’t see her as quiet because her internal dialogue is so present. Her character arc is beautiful but it’s not perfect. Far from it and this is probably the downfall in this novel, but it’s also something that is realistic in a sense.

Both Rider and Mallory come from an abusive childhood and then they get separated. They both struggle. We’re so caught up in Mallory that Rider is sidelined throughout the novel and by the time we get to know him in the present it’s the end of the novel! So here’s what I make of it:
1) The main protagonist is Mallory and because of this we read around her. It’s her internal battle and her world. We are allowed to get caught up in our own struggles and achievements and goals.
But then 2) Mallory questions Rider and he is never responsive. She accepted that Rider was this “protector” figure but never asked how he really is. He is the one asking her the questions. Is she being selfish?

I did adore the interaction between Rider and Mallory. They knew one another so well as soon as they cross paths again it was like they were never apart. The ease in their friendship was really nice to read, though this novel does include the cliché mean and evil girlfriend. The events that rolled out with her were predictable… and there wasn’t really much to her than to be the enemy.

Rider Stark could have his own novel. Almost like Blood Brothers, both Mallory and Rider start out in the same place and part. I’d love to read about his life, though we get a glimpse into it near the end half of the novel.

**Recommend to those who’ve read or liked:
Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines |Goodreads|
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay |Goodreads|

My rating
I really liked it

4 cup

Review: Little White Lies by Katie Dale

17232924Title: Little White Lies
Author: Katie Dale
Publication Date: August 2013 (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 394
Genre: Contemporary 
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

The first time Lou meets mysterious Christian, she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, and why does he dye his blond hair black? When Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tires are slashed, and he flees for his life, Lou insists on going with him. But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger? And what if their accidental meeting wasn’t an accident at all…? [Goodreads]

I read Someone Else’s Life a few years back and loved it, so when I came across Dales’ second novel I knew I had to pick it up!

Lou is trying to run away from the past in London. She’s changed her identity and is starting at Sheffield University. But she’s still on edge and nervous that someone will figure out who she is. She meets Christian, who is also in Sheffield for a new beginning, hiding behind his own web of lies. The more time they spend together the more they try to hide, to spare one another the pain, but both their secrets are the thing that’s tying them together.

It’s so refreshing to read a YA novel that is set at a university. I think it’s something that makes this book quite British in a way. Going to university and finding this ‘new self’/creating a new identity was something I expected when I started. And with more mature characters, it is definitely nothing I’ve read about in a UKYA novel before!

I loved reading about Lou, each time learning more about her past and what she really ran away from. She’s constantly looking over her shoulder but when she meets Christian, she relaxes and build her new life.

The book is almost split into two sections, one half panning out like a contemporary romance and the second half speeding up with the crime and mystery elements. The change of pace does have a huge affect on the believability of the story and it only just keeps grounded enough for me to stick with it. It’s very mild and mellow at the beginning, which makes the jump really sudden and either you’re on the train or you’re not – I’m on it! It keeps you on your toes with character’s whipping off and around the page, their decisions frantic and panicked.

The only weak point about this novel was the last few pages, which seemed to keep to the fast pace, and lessened the satisfaction at the end.

But I was glued to the book til the very end!

My rating:

I really liked it

4 cup

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

9627755

Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication Date: 14th August 2014 (Dutton)
Pages: 339
Genre: Contemporary
Format: US Hardback

Links to buy: UK edition – Paperback |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series. [Goodreads]

I’m a little disappointed with this final book. I really wanted to love it.

Isla has had a crush on Josh since she first saw him. A typical yet adorable teenage crush, which reminded me a lot of my high school years. Except, all drugged up (with a sensible reason behind being loopy) she dares to interact with Josh but only to make a fool of herself! But that encounter has sparked something. Back at SOAP, they accompany one another through their senior year with drama and confusing future choices.

And this is what felt like a downfall for this novel. Maybe because I read Anna and Lola when I was younger but Isla and the Happily Ever After felt very fast paced and a bit too much instalove-ish. Isla has no idea what to do with herself because of her (obsessive) crush over Josh. It was adorable at first. I mean we all have those crushes on people from afar. Their relationship is built up from awkwardness and misunderstandings which could have been easily passed with simply communicating rather than giving the grumpy face. Once everything got going, it got going way too quickly. I found it hard to catch up with them as everything kept building up.

I had to reread some of it because I felt like I missed sections. But I didn’t. It’s a very compact story and the sweet cuteness of a slow friendship build that was seen in Anna and Lola wasn’t there.

It was really exciting to see the crew make an appearance in this final novel. Maybe a highlight in the novel. I adore Anna and Étienne but even the ending with them felt out of character! The Perkins style that I loved has change and merge into every other YA and NA romance novel. I hate to say it but I felt so let down by Isla and the Happily Ever After. 

I enjoyed it, it was okay. But not enough to say it is as memorable as Anna and Lola.

My rating:
It was okay

2 cups

Review: Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything everythingTitle: Everything Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publication Date: 3rd September 2015 (Penguin Random House UK)
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary
Format: Paperback

Links to buy: |Amazon UK| |Waterstones| |Book Depository|

 

Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love. [Goodreads]

I’ve been in the mood for a simple and feel good novel and this did the trick for me.

Madeline has always stayed inside her house. She has game dates with her mum and when she’s not around she has the house nurse and her tutors on Skype to help her get through the weekdays. Until they get new neighbours… and there’s someone who wants to meet the girl locked away in her house. Through IM-ing and their perfectly placed bedroom windows (that happen to be directly opposite one another, Taylor Swift’s You Belong To Me music video style) Madeline finds a new friend. But she wants more. She wants to step outside, she wants to do the impossible even if it could risk her life.

I love the concept of this novel but I’m unsure if it was handled well. Madeline’s curiosity for to take a step into the outside world was refreshing to read. We have the world, we walk around, come inside and hide. But for her it means so much more. It’s almost like a modern day Rapunzel except this time she is truly trapped and contained. It is her curiosity (and Olly) that pushed the novel onwards but the depth explored in characters that made everything less powerful.

I read Everything Everything like I was on the outskirts. At times it worked, especially when Madeline was the watcher ie creeping on Olly because she is crazily but adorably obsessed (like any teen with a crush). But there was nothing that I seemed to connect with and because of this I couldn’t full immerse myself. And then maybe this fell as a disadvantage when reading the whole novel to the end. There lacked in character exploration and minus their circumstances, they were… mundane…

Another part that didn’t sit well for me was that it created this image that parents are bad. They seemed to be the scapegoats. It was a little uncomfortable and felt too intentional – the misunderstood parent taking care of their child and therefore treating them horribly. This was the case for both Olly and Madeline. They felt perfectly placed. Moreover, Carla, Madeline’s nurse, was also ever so conveniently placed too…

A coming-of-age story about being fearless because if you really want something you’ll go to the end of the world to get it done.

My rating:
It was okay
2 cups