4.5 Stars

[Review] Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown by Fredrik Backman 
Björnstad #1
Publication:  April 25th 2017 by Simon & Schuster  
Number of Pages: 
Fiction, Contemporary, Sports & Games
Source: Public Library
Rating: ★★★★1/2


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Overeturns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.


[Review] Little Peach by Peggy Kern

little peach cover

Little Peach by Peggy Kern
Series: N/A
Publication: March 10th 2015 by Balzer + Bray  
Number of Pages:
YA, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Source: School library (I think)
Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


What do you do if you’re in trouble?
When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.
Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.
But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.
This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.


[Review] Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Series: None
Publication: April 7th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 303
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ, Romance
Source: Bought from Barnes & Noble
Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.


[Review] Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Angelfall by Susan Ee
Series: Penryn & The End of Days #1
Publication: May 23rd, 2013 by Hodder and Stoughton
Number of Pages:
Genre: Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★★1/2

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.
Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.
Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.
Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.


[Review] Hate List – Jennifer Brown

Hate List

Author: Jennifer Brown

Series: None

Publication Date: September 1st, 2009

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Number of Pages: 405

Genre: YA, Contemporary,

Source: School library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.


[Review] Vicious – V.E. Schwab


Author: V.E. Schwab

Series: Vicious #1 (I think)

Publication Date: September 24th, 2013

Publisher: Tor

Number of Pages: 364

Genre: Adult Fiction, Action, Paranormal

Source: Public library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.’


Torn Away – Jennifer Brown

Torn Away

Torn Away

Author: Jennifer Brown

Publish Date: May 6th, 2014

Number of Pages: 288

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.

When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?

In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.


This was my first Jennifer Brown book and I have to say that I love it.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this book. I knew that it had gotten extremely good reviews but I wasn’t expecting it to make me cry. I rarely cry when it comes to books but this one easily made me tear up.

Torn Away was a fantastically poignant novel. It captured every aspect of loss. The characters were written amazingly well. On top of this, the writing and voice of Jersey fit. You know how sometimes the book is about teenagers but then the characters and the writing doesn’t really sound like them? (cough John Green cough) In some cases, it’s bearable, but most of the time, I prefer to have characters that sound like their own age (of course there are exceptions based on the circumstances). In Torn Away I loved the writing and I loved the characters. Jersey was one of the most believable characters I have ever read about. She has that bratty teenage personality and she isn’t perfect. When she realizes what had happened to her town, she kind of panics (which is expected) and the way she handled everything was so realistic. A lot of the things she does are what I would have done in the same situation. I would have begged to stay with a broken guardian. I would have begged my friends to ask their parents if I could stay with them. I would have faced the situation similarly. And that’s what made this novel shine. The characters were raw and nothing was left to the imagination. Everything from her opinion on her parents, siblings, friends, and the aftermath is explored.

One of the biggest things that this book explores well is the question of if your family was right or wrong. In Jersey’s case, her mother had always said that her father and grandparents had abandoned her. With the tornado, everything she had begun to believe about her family is brought into question. The grieving is portrayed extremely well.

In the end, what caused me to tear up wasn’t the death of anybody. It was the desperate way that Jersey tried to defend her dead family when her bitchy half-sisters crudely insulted them. The painful emotions that she felt because of the lack of support she had. That was what caused me to cry.

“Growing up, we were taught over and over again what steps to take in case of an approaching tornado. Listen for sirens, go to your basement or cellar, or a closet in the center of your house, duck and cover, wait it out. We had drills twice a year, every year, in school. We talked about it in class. We talked about it at home. The newscasters reminded us. We went to the basement. We practiced, practiced, practiced.

But we’d never–not once–discussed what to do after.”

Page 23

The plot was well-done, but not really the type that I love. It showed how when you lose everything you’ve ever known, finding a home can be difficult. Jersey is bounced around non-stop, none of her family ever actually wanting to keep her. It felt believable, but while reading, I found that it felt kind of aimless. I had no clue how Jersey would ever find a place to stay. It all worked in the end though.

I really liked that romance was the last aspect addressed. In a lot of books, as soon as something bad happens, the female protagonist goes into the arms of a boy she likes. Someone “nice” that she’s had a crush on for a while or a friend that she opens up to in a moment of weakness. Jersey clearly had better things to worry about than boys. Ain’t nobody got time to worry about love when they don’t have a home. Kolby was a good character. He was somebody that Jersey leaned on at times, but never once during the rising action or climax did they become anything more than friends (which is how it should be during traumatizing events).

4.5/5 Stars

[ARC Review] Rites of Passage – Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

Author: Joy N. Hensley

Publish Date: September 14th, 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


I received an ARC of this book free from the Goodreads First Reads program.

I was so so so happy when I found out that I won this book. I was extremely excited to read it because it reminded me of that Disney Channel Movie Cadet Kelly and because it sounded so cool.

First things first. I was really happy when I realized that the drill sergeant was NOT an old guy but someone that was Sam’s age. I hate reading about weird relationships like teacher/student, elderly/young woman, etc. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. The same goes for cheating if the main character is directly involved in the relationship. The romance in this book was great because it didn’t take over the story. The relationship didn’t even really ignite until more than halfway through the book. I liked this because it focused on Sam and ohmygod Sam is FAB. She’s confident and persistent and she has flaws and she’s just great guys. She’s great.

What I really liked about Rites of Passage was the format and structure of the writing. It was nice and told in a way that gave all details while also not causing it to become really slow and with the plot of this, it could have easily happened. I loved the first-person narration of Sam. I liked how Hensley put the story together and especially how she waited on the romance. Sam didn’t just give up all her morals and goals and go after Drill. She knew that doing it could cause her to be kicked out of the school. Sam was logical and because Hensley wrote her this way, sticking to the character, the plot was logical. The only problem I see with the romance is that although Sam and Drill might have seen and spoken to each other a lot, they didn’t really know each other. There was chemistry and them getting together was inevitable but I would have liked to see more scenes where the two of them interacted like a couple. It makes sense that there weren’t very many (because Sam had more important moments in the book and because of the circumstances of their relationship), but maybe in a sequel? *awkwardly winks at imaginary Joy N. Hensley*

jung ilwoos awk wink

Just try telling me that this isn’t awkward

THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THIS BOOK GUYS. SO SWEET. SO VERY VERY SWEET AND GOOD. Sam’s attitude and relationship with the other characters is so realistic. Her relationship with her parents is real and her relationship with her friends is even more real. It’s all extremely realistic for a character who is quick to judge and even quicker to not trust others. They were crafted perfectly.

What I love in a book is when everything is relevant. There aren’t many unnecessary scenes that don’t contribute to the plot like in certain other books *cough The Here and Now cough*. Everything leads up to an important scene whether it’s the actions of another character or a meeting Sam has with someone else. It shows great planning and thorough analysis of what the author is going to write.

There was so much research put into this book. Everything from life at a military school, uniform, positions, clothing, structure, to speech patterns. It’s executed fantastically and I learned a lot from it. I now know what dress blues are and how recruits are initiated and other stuff. I had no idea that military schools were that tough and I know that I ain’t ever gonna go to one now.

Rites of Passage also touches on a few topics. Early on in the book, you learn that the reason Sam is at the school is purely because it was the last dare her older brother, Amos gave her before he had committed suicide. There are feelings of never being good enough, having no support, etc. It’s not romanticized but it’s not the focal point of the book either. Hensley balances it extremely well with the mystery.

I’m extremely unhappy about the fact that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as other reviewers. I loved the technical aspects of the book and the way that everything was written and planned but I didn’t ever connect with Sam most likely because I can’t really relate to all of the aspects of her life. It had everything I loved in a book but I didn’t end up loving it like I wanted to. I really wish that I would have liked it more and I’ll probably be rereading it a lot in the future so that hopefully, I’ll connect with the characters more and end up sticking this on my favorites shelf.

Rites of Passage is a well-written, unique contemporary that has all of the components of an amazing book. Definitely a must-read for all fans of the contemporary genre.

4.5/5 Stars