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Smart Girls Get What They Want By Sarah Strohmeyer

Smart Girls Get What They Want By Sarah Strohmeyer
Published June 26th 2012 by Balzer + Bray

Goodreads

Summary: Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

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Heartwarming and relatable, Smart Girls is a lovely easy read.

Smart Girls is the kind of book I wish I read when I was 14. Gigi is someone I could definitely relate to. I’m what most people would consider a nerd and it certainly didn’t help that I’m socially inapt. I love cute contemporaries and Smart Girls reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Perkins books. In true Perkins fashion, Smart Girls had swoon-worthy boys, and extremely likable characters.

The characters in Smart Girls are wonderful. There are no mean girls or people fighting with each other, but simply people trying to get along with each other. Though it doesn’t sound entirely realistic, it is something different than most high school-centric contemporaries and I really appreciated this change. I loved that Gigi’s best friends were featured a lot and weren’t just there when she needed help, but were constantly a part of her life. I really enjoyed Gigi as a character. She is believable, relate-able and intelligent but at the same time she has a lot of flaws. She doesn’t have social skills and is rather judgmental but she accepts that she is wrong and tries her best to change her perceptions of people.

I enjoyed the overall plot of the book; it was really fun to see how Gigi and her best friends try to come out of their shell all while maintaining their true selves. I thought they were brave to try and do that, and to accomplish it so successfully was an amazing feat for three girls who were invisible at the start of the book. If I had to nitpick, I’d say the part where Gigi gets blindsided by Buzzard was a little odd. It seemed weird to me that her teacher wouldn’t believe her when she is really smart and gets good grades. But apart from that, the plot was really well done.

Smart Girls is a really feel good contemporary and would appeal to everyone who loves contemporary YA. It is such a light and easy read, and quite a breeze to get through as well. I really enjoyed Sarah Strohmeyer’s writing and will definitely be checking out her other YA books. Highly recommended!

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#sunathon announcement

Hello lovely readers!

I know I’ve been slacking a little bit on the reading front but I have a good reason: I’ve been back in uni for a while (last semester of senior year, can I get a whoop whoop?!) and assignments are piling in + I took a short vacation with my family. I’m trying to read as much as I can in between the work and life, generally and trying my best to keep the blog as updated as possible.

Anyway… seeing how I’ve been so busy lately, I needed a kick to read more so I’m glad to announce that I’m taking part in #sunathon, which is a week-long read-a-thon created by Emma. Here’s a short message from Emma herself:

From the 21st to the 27th July, book bloggers from all around the world will be taking part in #sunathon. What is #sunathon? Created by Emma Louise (@EmmaIsWriting), for that particular week in the gorgeous sun (or rain in you’re in the UK), we’re going to read. It doesn’t matter how much you read, as long as you make time for reading. There are a lot of people around the world who are blind to the magical world books and it’s a shame. More of us should read. I’ve decided to make it a full week: Monday-Sunday because a lot of book bloggers have full time jobs and they squeeze reading in between. I’ve made it longer just for them.

Use #sunathon to follow book bloggers around the world talking about it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the UK, or America, or Malaysia (waves to Kev) or Germany – it’s about us all coming together to read.

So mark your calendars and join me and other book bloggers (and readers!) in this week-long read-a-thon!

#sunathon

21st – 27th July 2014

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In Too Deep By Amanda Grace

In Too Deep By Amanda Grace
Published Feb 8th 2012 by Flux

Goodreads

SummaryCarter didn’t rape me. People at school think he did. Suddenly, new friends are rushing to my side, telling me that Carter hurt them, too. They say he’s getting what he deserves.

Maybe I don’t want to fix this.

Sam is in love with her best friend Nick, but she can’t seem to tell him. So she decides to flirt with golden-boy Carter Wellesley, hoping Nick will see it and finally realize his true feelings for her.

On Monday, everyone at school is saying that Carter raped Sam. He didn’t, but Sam can’t find the words to tell the truth. Worst of all, she’s afraid she’ll lose Nick if he finds out what really happened.

As graduation approaches, Sam discovers that living the lie isn’t as easy as her new friends make it sound–and telling the truth might be even worse.

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I’m a little disappointed with In Too Deep. In Too Deep wasn’t a bad book — it was written well and the premise was interesting but I struggled a lot with the main character.

The main character is awfully annoying. It was so hard to relate to her and to understand what’s really going on in her mind. Sam is incredibly silly. From the very first few pages of the book she was already making me roll my eyes at her actions.

I get the whole let’s-be-more-than-platonic thing. It happens. But what I really don’t understand is how she stands there wishing she could tell someone and the opportunity comes but she chooses to continue lying. She knows it’s wrong, but she doesn’t stop. Frankly, I don’t know how she would easily agree or accept condolences to a situation she didn’t know of. If she didn’t grasp the situation, or felt it to be weird she should have stopped to ask what is going on.

To blame Carter for Michelle for this mess was unfair. She knew of her own doings but refused to admit it despite the many chances to come clean and ended up digging her own grave. I don’t understand her rational for letting this go on longer than it should have.

I’m disappointed at her best friend who fled (though understandably so) and her friends who “had her back”. In some ways nobody tried to listen, but she wasn’t willing to tell either. Nobody really looked out for her and instead pounced on the opportunity to make Carter pay for being a jerk.

I liked the ending. Everything fell into place although I’m surprised nothing more happens to Sam for having ruined reputations and lives. In Too Deep had potential to be great, but the annoying main character and her continued bad series of judgements failed to make me like her.

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Everything Leads To You By Nina LaCour

Everything Leads To You By Nina LaCour
Published May 15th 2014 By Dutton Juvenille

Goodreads

SummaryA love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author ofHold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

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If I could describe this book in a word it would be perfect.

I hadn’t expected to give this book five stars. I knew going in that I would love it, but I didn’t know I’d fall in love.

I’ve never read a Nina LaCour book and though I’ve been meaning to read The Disenchantments, this book caught my eye more. I fell in love with the cover but the fact that the main character is a lesbian caught my eye. I hadn’t read much lgbt books but I was glad that her being a lesbian isn’t the main focus.

I enjoyed reading about Emi and her life. She’s had a fairly good life: great family, great best friend but her only problem is her relationship with Morgan. I really loved how Emi ended up tackling this relationship; it wore her down but she found strength to say enough.

This book as a whole isn’t really about Emi. It does follow her day to day life, her work in the film industry and the works but it’s mostly about uncovering the mystery behind the letter they found. The fact that they were looking for this hidden granddaughter of a famous actor made it even more exciting.

I loved everything about this book and the writing was really good. The book was overall a great book and it was cool to read about the behind-the-scenes of a movie production. Heartwarming and easy to read, it is definitely a must-read contemporary of 2014.
“…but I could keep going forever, listing all my flaws in order from the most innocuous to the least. I am afraid of spiders… I fall in love too easily… I have fierce spells of self-doubt. Because in the conversation beneath this one, what we’re really saying is I am an imperfect person. Here are my failures. Do you want me anyway?”

I won a copy of Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour in a giveaway hosted by Lucy at The Reading Date. Thanks, Lucy!

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June Book Haul

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book sale buys:

the marriage plot by jeffrey eugendies • middlesex by jeffrey eugendies • i’ll be right there by kyung sook shin

library e-books:

spud by john van de ruit • smart girls get what they want by sarah strohmeyer • the rule of thirds by chantel guertin • suicide notes by michael thomas ford • rage: a love story by julie ann peters • in too deep by amanda grace

netgalley/edelweiss:

cameo by tanille • the secret diary of lizzie bennett • if i were you by lisa renee jones • the library of unrequited love by sophie divry • you by austin grossman • i take you  by eliza kennedy • the list by joanna bolourt

won from a giveaway:

everything leads to you by nina lacour

This is an accidental book haul. I’ve had all these e-arcs/review copies left over from last month so I definitely need to get round to them this month. I headed to the bookstore earlier in the month with my boyfriend and he found I’ll Be Right There for me! I’m so excited to be reading Kyung Sook Shin’s new book. I loved her previous book, Please Look After Mother which is one of my favourite books of all time. We also went to another book sale and I got the other two Eugendies books The Marriage Plot and Middlesex. I read The Virgin Suicides last month and I fell in love with his writing. I know he’s a popular author, so I’m very excited to have found these two books for only $5 each! What a steal.

I only recently discovered that I could borrow e-books from my local library through the Overdrive app on my iPad so I might have gone a little crazy. There are some gems in there, so I will certainly be borrowing more e-books off the app. It’s so convenient and everything is free! I like that you can place holds on the e-books for free (holding books at the library for physical copies require money here!) and they’ll just email you whenever the book is available.

Lastly, I won Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour over at The Reading Date! I haven’t gotten the book yet, but I’m sure it’ll be sneaking into my mail pretty soon. I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

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Sneak Peak: Isla and the Happily Ever After By Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After By Stephanie Perkins
Anna and the French Kiss #3
Publication Date: 14 Aug 2014 by Dutton

Goodreads

Summary: From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

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Disclaimer: This is not a full review of the book but only a sneak peak. I received a copy of  Isla and the Happily Ever After c/o of the publisher via Netgalley. Isla and the Happily Ever After is also available to everyone on Netgalley.

OKAY. Okay.

I have waited for Isla and the Happily Ever After for what feels like forever now. Its publication date kept getting pushed back and I needed this book so badly. I love Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. I love Stephanie Perkins’ writing and her ability to make me swoon. And the boys, oh the boys… 

I usually hate reading sneak peaks because I hate having to stop reading after a couple of pages, but I couldn’t resist. From the 50-page sneak peak, I know I’m going to gobble up this book all in a day the moment it comes out. I am already in love with Isla and Josh, and we’re back in SOAP (School of America in Paris) where it all began. I especially loved chapter two, it was so simple yet hilarious.

I know I’m going to love Isla already, just from these 50 pages and I’m certain that the rest of the book will be fantastic. Isla is a lovely character; shy but also kind of manic and obsessive. I can’t wait for Isla to be released!

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#GIRLBOSS By Sophia Amoruso

#GIRLBOSS By Sophia Amoruso
Published 6th May 2014 by Portfolio Hardcover

Goodreads

SummaryThe founder of Nasty Gal offers a sassy and irreverent manifesto for ambitious young women

At seventeen, Sophia Amoruso decided to forgo continuing education to pursue a life of hitchhiking, dumpster diving, and petty thievery. Now, at twenty-nine, she is the Founder, CEO, and Creative Director of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer that draws A-list publicity and rabid fans for its leading-edge fashion and provocative online persona. Her story is extraordinary—and only part of the appeal of #GIRLBOSS.

This aspirational book doesn’t patronize young women the way many business experts do. Amoruso shows readers how to channel their passion and hard work, while keeping their insecurities from getting in the way. She offers straight talk about making your voice heard and doing meaningful work.

She’s proof that you can be a huge success without giving up your spirit of adventure or distinctive style. As she writes, “I have three pieces of advice I want you to remember: Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.”

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I absolutely loved #GIRLBOSS.

I have nothing but respect for Sophia Amoruso. This is someone that found her calling, worked hard for it from scratch and now owns a multi-million dollar company. #GIRLBOSS is a typical rags-to-riches story, but it offered so much more than that. It was empowering and inspiring; its encouraging. There is nothing I respect more than her passion, strength and confidence into building something that she loves and truly believed in. I felt her honesty in these pages, and I found strength and hope.

#GIRLBOSS isn’t a book that’s going to teach you how to get rich instantly. It’s a book that going to make you want to work for it — and explore your skills and widen your horizons.

I really enjoyed the writing and I appreciated how they were short yet succinct. #GIRLBOSS was a lot of fun to read. I highlighted a lot of the passages, and they’ve helped encourage me, personally.

I’d highly recommend this book to everyone, because I’m certain some of these passages will be useful to someone be it in their working life or just trying to figure things out.

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Black Chalk By Christopher J. Yates

Black Chalk By Christopher J. Yates
Published 1st April 2014 by Random House UK

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o of the publisher, via Netgalley.

Goodreads

SummaryOne game. Six students. Five survivors.

It was only ever meant to be a game.

A game of consequences, of silly forfeits, childish dares. A game to be played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University. But then the game changed: the stakes grew higher and the dares more personal, more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results.

Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round.

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Black Chalk had such great potential with its interesting premise but it lacked development to capture my attention.

Black Chalk takes place in the 90s where a group of friends at Harvard University decide to create a psychological game which is later backed by the Game Soc. The idea of this game is fairly simple: each player has to complete a series of embarrassing dares and forfeits. The final winner will win £10,00. Interesting? Yes. Well developed? Well… Almost.

I had many issues with Black Chalk, namely:

  1. Characters
  2. Pacing
  3. Lack of development
  4. Ending
I didn’t quite get the characters. There were six main characters though none were particularly interesting. It was an odd group of six: Emilia, who I can’t imagine would be friends with any of the five in reality, Jolyon who strikes me as unnecessarily complicated, Mark who I can’t even describe because he’s not that memorable or interesting, Jack who is kind of a dick, Chad who is just Chad and Dee who comes off rather confusing (for the lack of a better explanation).

The book is told in alternating timelines, the present and the past. Our narrator is unreliable and is later revealed as one of the six in the group. It was interesting at the start, but soon made the pacing a little jumpy. The present would start appearing whenever the past was getting good and it felt this whole alternating timeline was getting tiring. It didn’t help that it took almost halfway through the book before it got interesting again. The inconsistent pacing of the book really bothered me.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the Game and more importantly the mysterious Game Soc. There was a lot that could have been done with this, the idea of a secret society, but it wasn’t explored more and was glossed over. It felt underdeveloped and I didn’t really know where this was going.

Finally, the ending. It ended too easily and too quickly that I got kind of pissed off. For this all to end like this feels like a cop out. It was confusing that I had to read it twice. The whole book felt like an overhype.

Black Chalk wasn’t all bad; it did have its moments. Mark’s revenge was fairly interesting and of course Game Soc (albeit underdeveloped) itself.

I struggled to read this book and I wanted to put it down several times. I’m glad I persevered enough to read the interesting bits, though I can’t say I was fully impressed. It’s readable; it is slow but still readable. However, I can’t say that this is a book I’d recommend right off the bat.

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Pack of Dorks By Beth Vrabel

Pack of Dorks By Beth Vrabel
Publication Date: 7th Oct 2014 by Sky Pony Press

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the publisher via Edelweiss

Goodreads

Summary: Lucy knows that kissing Tom Lemmings behind the ball shed will make her a legend. But she doesn’t count on that quick clap of lips propelling her from coolest to lamest fourth grader overnight. Suddenly Lucy finds herself trapped in Dorkdom, where a diamond ring turns your finger green, where the boy you kiss hates you three days later, where your best friend laughs as you cry, where parents seem to stop liking you, and where baby sisters are born different.

Now Lucy has a choice: she can be like her former best friend Becky, who would do anything to claim her seat at the cool table in the cafeteria, or Lucy can pull up a chair among the solo eaters—also known as the dorks. Still unsure, Lucy partners with super quiet Sam Righter on a research project about wolves. Lucy connects her own school hierarchy with what she learns about animal pack life—where some wolves pin down weaker ones just because they can, and others risk everything to fight their given place in the pack. Soon Lucy finds her third option: creating a pack of her own, even if it is simply a pack of dorks.

Weaving tough issues, including bullying, loyalty, and disability, with a thread of snarky humor, family bonds, and fresh perspective, Pack of Dorks paints characters coming-of-age and coming-to-terms. Beth Vrabel’s stellar debut contemporary middle grade novel is sure to please fans of Jack Gantos, Elizabeth Atkinson, and Judy Blume.

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I had high hopes for Pack of Dorks. I was drawn to the synopsis of the book because it delt with some tough issues like bullying and disability but I ended up getting really bored. This is rare for me, seeing how I usually end up loving books like these but it really wasn’t for me. I want to attribute this mostly because I’m not the target audience (this is a middle grade book) but I felt that the plot played a huge part into why I didn’t enjoy this either.

Lucy is one of the most popular girls in her grade and she thinks that kissing Tom, the most popular boy in her grade would more or less help propel her to popularity. Little did she know that this would eventually lead her to become a loser overnight. The reason? Because she’s not a great kisser. Her best friend avoids her (claiming she’s a double agent and they’re still best friends … Just not in public) and the only people who wants to be her friends are dorks.

I’m a little on the fence about liking Lucy. On one hand I love that she’s accepting and loving towards her baby sister who has Down’s syndrome. On the other hand, she’s kind of annoying. At one point, Lucy tore up her partner’s work because she felt that they should be doing it together and that he should have waited for her to work on it together. I’ve never experienced or heard of such a thing before. It seemed a little uncalled for to ruin someone’s research. It is still just research and it wasn’t like he finished it all — he waited for her, and as he did, he took notes.

I thought Pack of Dorks was going to be a group of “dorks” rebelling and going against the status quo. I hadn’t expected it to be Lucy yelling “stop it!” ten times over and her point still not getting across. It was draggy, which is ironic seeing how it’s a short book and you’d expect it to go pretty fast.

Pack of Dorks is an okay book, but not something I would recommend. You’re not missing out much.

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Brunette Ambition By Lea Michele

Brunette Ambition By Lea Michele
Published May 20th 2014 by Harmony Books

Goodreads

Summary: The star of the hit show Glee shares her experiences and insider tips on beauty, fashion, inner strength, and more in an illustrated book that’s part memoir, part how-to, and part style guide.

Lea Michele is one of the hardest working performers in show business. Whether she’s starring as Rachel Berry on Glee, rocking a glamorous look on the red carpet, recording her solo album, or acting as the spokesperson for L’Oreal, Lea is the ultimate multi-tasker. She knows better than anyone that it is difficult to be your best self and keep things in perspective when your to-do list is overflowing and you are faced with challenges, so she’s developed a foolproof system for remaining healthy and centered. In Brunette Ambition, she reveals the lessons and advice that have worked for her–from beauty and fashion secrets to fitness tips, and career insights.

Supplemented with never-before-seen photos and revealing anecdotes, it’s the book Lea wishes she’d had in her teens and early twenties: A practical and inspirational guide to harnessing tenacity and passion and living the fullest life, no matter what obstacles life puts in your way.

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Brunette Ambition is marketed as a memoir on goodreads but it isn’t. If you’re planning to learn more about Lea’s life, this book probably isn’t going to help you all that much.

It was fairly interesting to learn about her family and her theater life but a good majority of the book is essentially a self-help book. It reminds me kind of like Lauren Conrad’s Style book — it’s one of those tips and tricks type of book.

I am a fan of hers but I don’t feel like I learnt too much about her. She briefly touched on Glee and even then it wasn’t a behind-the-scenes or any of that sort. It was just a chapter of pictures and how they’re like family, which I think at this point everyone knows that.

To market it as a memoir is rather misleading and if you don’t care about the abundance of recipes and beauty tips then this book probably has little use to you. Perhaps Lea should have focused solely on making Brunette Ambition a self-help book instead (or waiting a couple more years before writing a memoir).

A three star rating seems awfully gracious, but because I found some of the tips useful to me I think a three star would suffice. This book would be of better use perhaps for die-hard fans or her teenage fans, but probably not for anyone who wants to learn about her. Google her, you’ll learn more.

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