DNF Review: Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Famous in a Small TownTitle: Famous in a Small Town
Author: Emma Mills
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm’s length. Sophie in particular.

Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story.

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Thank you to Macmillan for sending me an ARC of this book! 

I don’t tend to DNF books that often, and I certainly don’t tend to write reviews for these books a lot. The reason why I’m making an exception today is because 1) I got this book for review, and even though I’m sending it to another blogger that will hopefully be able to write a full review on it, I’d feel guilty not reviewing it at all, and 2) I feel like I’ve read enough of the book to talk about it for a little while. Just, keep in mind that I haven’t read the full book, so this review can be taken with a grain of salt.

The reason why I don’t tend to DNF books that often is because I’m a curious person, and almost all books either have characters that I like and I’ll want to know what happens to them, or a plot that intrigues me (even if it’s only a little) and I’ll (again) want to know what happens at the end. This book had neither of those things. Lees verder

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Review: Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky

MammothTitle: Mammoth
Author: Jill Baguchinsky
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

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Thank you so much to Turner Publishing for sending me an ARC of this book. 

I enjoyed Mammoth a lot and had an incredibly fun time reading it. I got sucked in from the first few words (or rather, the first drawing) and I never really had the desire to put it down. If I had had time I would have definitely read it in one sitting.

The main character in the book, Natalie Page, adores fashion (and often makes her own pieces) and has a huge passion for paleontology. The book starts off with her getting ready for her internship at an Ice Age dig site in Texas, and this internship was definitely one of my favorite things about the book. Lees verder

Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

Odd One OutTitle: Odd One Out
Author:
Nic Stone
Genres:
Young adult contemporary 
Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martincomes this illuminating exploration of old friendships, new crushes, and the path to self-discovery.

Courtney “Coop” Cooper
Dumped. Again. And normally I wouldn’t mind. But right now, my best friend and source of solace, Jupiter Sanchez, is ignoring me to text some girl.

Rae Evelyn Chin
I assumed “new girl” would be synonymous with “pariah,” but Jupiter and Courtney make me feel like I’m right where I belong. I also want to kiss him. And her. Which is . . . perplexing.

Jupiter Charity-Sanchez
The only thing worse than losing the girl you love to a boy is losing her to your boy. That means losing him, too. I have to make a move. . . .

One story.
Three sides.
No easy answers.

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I was incredibly excited about this book ever since it was announced. The synopsis sounded amazing, plus Nic Stone wrote one of my favorite books of last year (Dear Martin), so I was sure I was going to love this.

This book is incredibly messy, but in a very good way. I’ve never read a book which encapsulates how messy romantic and sexual attraction is and how incredibly confusing labels are as this book. Because, wow. It is confusing, and this made this book incredibly relatable. Not just for me, but for a lot of other people (and especially teens), too. Plus, the fact that this book features two queer people of colour as main characters makes it even more important.

I ended up listening to the audiobook and it was an incredibly enjoyable experience. It was fun, easy to get into, and it worked very well as an audiobook. The audiobook has a different narrator for each of the three perspectives (Coop, Jupes and Rae), which worked very well. And the fact that the author herself was the narrator for one of the perspectives made the book feel extra special.

However, while I liked most of the book, there were two things in the book that bothered me a lot. One of these things is the bi-erasure and the biphobia, which happens multiple times when one of the characters dismisses the fact that another character could be into her because this character “likes dudes”. Now, this could definitely be seen as a form of self-protection of this character, but there was also another instance in which one of the characters says that “I don’t mess with bisexual girls … Enough girls leave you for dudes, and you learn to keep your distance” which just felt like a punch in the gut. Especially because it was never called out.

Then there’s also the problem of the very iffy age gaps (one of the main characters, 16, sleeps with a woman in her twenties) which is made even worse by the fact that the 16-year old basically begs and pleads the 20-something woman to sleep with her until her initial “no” is turned into a “okay then”. I felt incredibly uncomfortable with this.

So, while I overall enjoyed the book and definitely think it’s an important read, I did have a few rather big problems with it. But I definitely will pick up another Nic Stone book in the future, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll write next.

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and Loneliness

Review: This Is Kind Of An Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender

This Is Kind of an Epic Love StoryTitle: The Is Kind Of an Epic Love Story
Author: Kheryn Callender
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

A fresh, charming rom-com perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy about Nathan Bird, who has sworn off happy endings but is sorely tested when his former best friend, Ollie, moves back to town.

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings.

Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hernández, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

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I have quite a lot of complicated feelings about this one. I liked it, I liked the writing style and I definitely looked forward to picking this book up every time I got the chance, but I just didn’t *love* it. I definitely didn’t love this as much as I expected to, because I definitely went into it expecting it to be a new favorite.

The characters and their relationships felt incredibly real and were super messy, which I loved on the one hand, but also started to annoy me a bit after some time. Especially the main character. He kept messing up and it started to get really hard to root for him, because we mostly saw his not-so-great side. He was pretty pessimistic and tended to run away from his problems, which I could kind of relate to, but it just… it wasn’t a lot of fun for me to read about. And I adored the LI and thought he deserved better, so while I did like the relationship and I’m a sucker for the best-friends-to-lovers-trope, I had a hard time cheering them on. Lees verder

Review: The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar

The Bigfoot FilesTitle: The Bigfoot Files
Author: Lindsay Eagar
Genres: Middle Grade
Goodreads

From the author of Hour of the Bees comes another captivating story that deftly blurs the line between reality and magic — and will leave you wondering What if?

The Loch Ness Monster. The Frogman. Bigfoot. Twelve-year-old Miranda Cho used to believe in it all, used to love poring over every strange footprint, every stray hair, everything that proved that the world was full of wonders. But that was before her mother’s obsession with monsters cost Miranda her friends and her perfect school record, before Miranda found the stack of unopened bills and notices of foreclosure in the silverware drawer. Now the fact that her mom’s a cryptozoologist doesn’t seem wonderful — it’s embarrassing and irresponsible, and it could cost them everything. So Miranda agrees to go on one last creature hunt, determined to use all her scientific know-how to prove to her mother, once and for all, that Bigfoot isn’t real. Then her mom will have no choice but to grow up and get a real job — one that will pay the mortgage and allow Miranda to attend the leadership camp of her dreams. But when the trip goes horribly awry, will it be Miranda who’s forced to question everything she believes?

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Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book.

This book is incredibly captivating, and it sucked me in from the first word. I just couldn’t put it down. The writing is magical; it feels both heavy and light at the same time, but the overtone of the book is definitely darker. Something I didn’t expect from the synopsis, but something I definitely ended up loving.

I really enjoyed spending some time in the head of the main character, because I liked her a lot as a character, and I could relate to her very much. Miranda is a logical girl; her mother has been searching for these creatures for years and they haven’t found any evidence besides some footprints and scats, which very well could be from another animal. And once Miranda starts to see things that indicate that these strange creatures might actually exist, she banishes these things to the very back of her mind and tries to find logical reasons for everything that’s happening.

Miranda is also a girl who takes on a lot of responsibilities and who wants everything to be absolutely perfect. When she doesn’t succeed in this, the only thing that can calm her down is pulling out hair. This ground her, and gives her a sense of calmness. I’ve never personally dealt with trichotellomenia before, but I do have anxiety and that part of Miranda’s personality was incredibly relatable.

Besides Miranda, Miranda’s mother is also an incredibly interesting character. She’s incredibly messy, doesn’t always behave in a way you’d expect a mother to behave, and you quickly learn to agree with Miranda: her mom is no good and needs to grow up. But after a while you learn that there’s definitely more to her mom. The not-great stuff she does is definitely not excused, but you get to see that there’s more layers to her, and that’s what makes her so incredibly interesting.

Overall, this book was definitely different than what I thought it was going to be, but I was pleasantly surprised and I’d definitely recommend this book to all of you.

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter • Instagram •  Goodreads

Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not OkayTitle: Darius the Great is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

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Let’s start off with the only negative thing I’m going to say so we can get that out of the way, which coincidentally is something that’s, I’m pretty sure, of no importance to you: the formatting of the e-ARC. I’m still going to mention it here because it definitely did influence my reading-experience. The e-ARC was formatted in a way where a line in the book took up one and a half lines on my e-reader. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the effect was that there were added pauses to the sentences which interrupted the flow of the book. This is one of the reasons why I really want to reread it as a final copy, because I’m sure the book would’ve been even better if the formatting of the e-ARC had been correct.

I really loved the way mental health was explored in this book. Darius and his dad are both depressed and take medication, and just seeing them talk about it, seeing Darius’ dad remind him to take his medication… that was so incredibly special and important and meant the world to me.

The dynamics between Darius and his dad were super interesting to read about. Darius often feels like a failure compared to his dad, who, in his eyes, is The Ultimate Man, and he is convinced that his dad doesn’t like him. But then a conversation happened at the end of the book that made me sob. Literally sob. I cry often at books, but it doesn’t happen very often that I actually sob. Wow.

The other family dynamics in this book were incredibly interesting to read about as well. In the book, Darius visits his family in Iran for the very first time and suddenly he has this whole group of people that care about him and he doesn’t really know what to do with that. He also deals with feeling not Persian enough for the first time, after always feeling too Persian when he’s in America. You can see Darius grow a lot throughout his stay in Iran, and that was amazing to see.

I’m a huge sucker for food descriptions and this book was full of amazing food and yummy tea, and it was the best. This was that kind of book where I had to stop halfway through a sentence just to google a certain dish and bookmark a recipe, and I just love that.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how much I loved this book and how special it is to me, but please, just pick it up and see for yourself. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

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Review: I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I Was Born For ThisTitle: I Was Born For This
Author: Alice Oseman
Genres: Young Adult contemporary
Goodreads

For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.

Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.

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I Was Born For This meant the entire world to me, and more.

One of the things I appreciated most about the book was the anxiety rep. Jimmy, the main character, has anxiety and has a few panic attacks throughout the book, and everything about this was so incredibly relatable to me. From the fear of the plane crashing even though you know it’s probably not going to happen, to the full on panic attacks he experiences. I had tears running down my face while reading some of his scenes because I felt understood in a way that I’ve never felt before, and that’s so important to me. Lees verder