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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 11th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

3 Stars

I know, this is a disaster. The Upside of Unrequited – a novel I’ve been looking forward to for months – only received 3 stars from me. I’ll need some Oreos to get over this. Overall, I liked it fine but I’m so disappointed I didn’t like it more. This is Becky Albertalli, after all. I feel like she wanted too many things with this book. The Upside of Unrequited and I just didn’t click. That spark I had with Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda? Inexistent. There was no chemistry between me and this book. That’s a real case of unrequited love right there.

But there’s this awfulness that comes when a guy thinks you like him. It’s as if he’s fully clothed and you’re naked in front of him. It’s like your heart suddenly lives outside your body, and whenever he wants, he can reach out an squeeze it.
Unless he happens to like you back.

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Mafiosa by Catherine Doyle

Mafiosa by Catherine DoyleMafiosa by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #3
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on January 5th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads

A blood war rages on the streets of Chicago.

Protected by an infamous mafia family, Sophie is living a dangerous lie, pretending to lead a normal life. But the deceit can’t last for ever. Her heart belongs to a killer and Sophie’s the prime target of a rival clan. She’s determined to seek revenge on her mother’s murderers, but can she pay the price – can she be a mafiosa?

The third and final instalment in the explosive YA Blood for Blood series which started with Vendetta and Inferno.

4 Stars

Mafiosa was by far my most anticipated instalment for 2017. So imagine how ecstatic I was to find it on my doorstep on January 30th, a couple of days before the official release date. I swear, I didn’t make the Godfather an offer he couldn’t refuse. Or, make a pact with the devil (though I would have). Or, bribe the publisher. It was a miracle.

The fact that the sequel Inferno remains my favourite book in the series means that not everything about Mafiosa went according to plan. For the most part, Mafiosa was the addictive, gripping and action-packed rollercoaster I hoped it would be. I sat down, forgot about the world and blew through this in one sitting. Sadly, there were a couple of things that got in the way of my complete and utter bliss with this book.

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The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Weight of Zero by Karen FortunatiThe Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati
Published by Delacorte Press on October 11th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mental health
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives.

But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine's perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

3.5 Stars

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati offers a sensitive take on the daily struggles of a teen living with the prospect of a chronic mental illness. Besides highlighting the impact Catherine’s bipolar disorder has on her life, such as attending intensive group therapy, and the grim expectations she has for her future, the book tackles subjects such as the burden that rests on parents of mentally ill children, the image of mental health in society, bullying, and first love.

This debut on a girl suffering from bipolar disorder had been on my radar for months. I am aware that YA fiction has a habit of misportraying mental illnesses, sacrificing psychiatric accuracy for drama effects, romantic subplots, and happy endings. Nonetheless, I was really excited to get my hands on a YA contemporary featuring such a severe mental disorder, for I feel like bipolar does not get the literary attention it deserves with, according to the World Health Organisation, roughly 60 million people being affected worldwide. The reason I wish more YA books, not just contemporaries but also fantasy and dystopian novels, would focus and/or include mental illnesses is because many of these have their onset during adolescence, therefore making it a topic of utmost relevance.

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Inferno by Catherine Doyle

Inferno by Catherine DoyleInferno by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #2
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on January 7th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads

Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather in the second installment of Catherine Doyle's Blood for Blood series.

Sophie's life has been turned upside-down, and she's determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she's trying to forget, won't give up on their love - and it's Luca's knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace - and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie's in deeper than ever.

5 Stars

Inferno gave me ALL THE FEELS, and I have 5 half-moons in each palm to prove it. In contrast to its tame predecessor Vendetta, this sequel is darker, grittier, with a fast pace and tensions flaring high. And, of course, there’s a lot more of Luca. Jackpot. Inferno left me squealing, laughing, yelling, dreading, and in a state of utter shock.  

new girl it's possible i'm still in shock photo: ng_shock.gif

inferno (noun)
Pronunciation: /ɪnˈfəːnəʊ/
1. A large fire that is dangerously out of control
2. (usually Inferno) Hell; with reference to Dante’s Divine Comedy
3. Luca is haaawt as hell

Ok, let’s do this.

For those of you who haven’t read Vendetta, I must clarify a few things: Although I thought Vendetta was a pretty solid start to this series, I had issues with the first book (predictable plot, insta-love, lack of character depth, …). All of those issues were crushed to dust by Inferno. In short, if you’re looking for a light, entertaining read along the lines of The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, then read the damn book. And then, read Inferno. And then, we fangirl.

For those of you who have read Vendetta and plan to continue with the series: This review will be as spoiler-free as possible but I will share quotes, so if you’re a reader who has a strict I-do-not-want-to-know-anything-that-happens-beforehand policy, then you might want to stop reading at this point.

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Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

Vendetta by Catherine DoyleVendetta by Catherine Doyle
Series: Blood for Blood #1
Published by Chicken House Ltd. on February 24th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads

When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

3.5 Stars

Excuse this swoony, patriotic review, but Catherine Doyle’s debut Vendetta is a piece of hot danger and my girly hormones are all over the place. This book is a trashy YA version of Romeo and Juliet meets The Godfather, and it has brought forth one of my favourite fictional crushes of all time. (In case you can’t tell after I’ll have mentioned his name 1’000’000 in this review, his name is Luca and he’s mine).


zoey deschanel new girl photo: tumblr_lu9wjmPuXa1qi9psro1_500.gif

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One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah CrossanOne by Sarah Crossan
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Goodreads

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

4.5 Stars

This will be a short review because 1) this book is short (read it on the plane in 3 hours) so I don’t want to give anything away and 2) there really isn’t much to say except READ IT NOW

One is probably one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It’s touching, heartbreaking, raw and honest. It’s about Grace and Tippi, two teenage girls who also happen to be conjoined twins. It’s about their family; the physical, medical as well as the emotional implications it has on everyone around them.

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Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca by Melina MarchettaSaving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Published by Viking Children's Books on March 31st 2003
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental health
Pages: 243
Goodreads

MOST OF MY friends now go to Pius Senior College, but my mother wouldn't allow it because she says the girls there leave with limited options and she didn't bring me up to have limitations placed upon me. If you know my mother, you'll sense there's an irony there, based on the fact that she is the Queen of the Limitation Placers in my life.

Francesca battles her mother, Mia, constantly over what's best for her. All Francesca wants is her old friends and her old school, but instead Mia sends her to St. Sebastian's, an all-boys school that has just opened its doors to girls. Now Francesca's surrounded by hundreds of boys, with only a few other girls for company. All of them weirdos or worse.

Then one day, Mia is too depressed to get out of bed. One day turns into months, and as her family begins to fall apart, Francesca realizes that without her mother's high spirits, she hardly knows who she is. But she doesn't yet realize that she's more like Mia than she thinks. With a little unlikely help from St. Sebastian's, she just might be able to save her family, her friends, and especially herself.

4.5 Stars

Just ask how I’m feeling, I want to say. Just ask and I may tell you.

But no one does.

Chantal read a YA contemporary? And she liked it?? *shocked face*

Melina Marchetta has become my queen of contemporary. First On the Jellicoe Road and now Saving Francesca. The woman can do no wrong. I still can’t fathom how she managed to make me this in love with characters in less than 250 pages. On the Jellicoe Road has a significantly higher rating on GR compared to Saving Francesca and I can see why. Saving Francesca is more understated, less dramatic and with not as much actually happening. But that’s exactly why I loved it. This book managed to evoke so many emotions in me by just being an organic story of a young girl trying to find herself.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky AlbertalliSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBTQ+
Pages: 303
Goodreads

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.

4 Stars

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda isn’t my usual cup of tea. I don’t tend to gravitate towards YA contemporaries, especially not those that are described as “cute” and “adorable”. If I read contemporary, it’s usually for the dark themes, twisted characters or exciting plot. But although this book doesn’t really contain any of these things (though it does deal with some heavier issues) I thought it was fantastic. It’s one of those novels that does everything right, and is entertaining to boot. Reading it put me in a good mood; it’s such an uplifting, funny and beautifully told story that I can almost guarantee will give you all the feels.

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew QuickForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 13th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental health
Pages: 288
Goodreads

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

3 Stars

I can definitely see why Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is such a beloved book. I believe many readers will find this novel beautiful and heart-breaking; and I did too, to a certain extent. Though I appreciated many things within this book and even found myself emotionally attached to the main character, there were also quite a few elements that really bothered and hindered me at truly loving this story.

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You by Caroline Kepnes

You by Caroline KepnesYou by Caroline Kepnes
Series: You #1
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on September 30th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 422
Goodreads

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

4.5 Stars

You by Caroline Kepnes might be the most unsettling book I have ever read. And I loved every second of it. It messes with your mind and makes you think about your surroundings in a whole new light.

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