Review: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman

Book Title: The Last Good Day of the Year
Author: Jessica Warman
Published Date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s USA
Genre: YA Mystery
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A new powerful thriller from the globally-embraced author ofBetween.

Ten years ago, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven-year-old Samantha and her next door neighbor, Remy, watched as a man broke into Sam’s home and took her younger sister, Turtle, from her sleeping bag. Remy and Sam, too afraid to intervene at the time, later identified the man as Sam’s sister Gretchen’s much older ex-boyfriend, Steven, who was sent to prison for Turtle’s murder.

Now, Sam’s shattered family is returning to her childhood home in an effort to heal. As long-buried memories begin to surface, Sam wonders if she and Remy accurately registered everything they saw. The more they re-examine the events of that fateful night, the more questions they discover about what really happened to Turtle.

Master storyteller Jessica Warman keeps readers guessing in this arresting page-turner.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Children’s USA, in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, I was excited for it, but I was also really nervous to read it. It was definitely slow in the beginning, and it took me awhile to really get into it. I actually picked it up and put it down a few times before I just read it all the way through. I am really glad I did this as it just got better and better as I kept reading.

We’re introduced to Sam’s family, including her older sister Gretchen and her younger sister Hannah. Hannah was born five years after Tabitha “Turtle” was kidnapped. Everyone knows that Hannah was conceived just to pull their mom out of her deep dark depression, and from early on, we learn that Hannah is already learning that being pretty makes things better. That, right there, gave me the creeps. She was a small child who really shouldn’t need to worry about that stuff. Not only that, but Hannah is still unaware of Turtle’s existence.

Steven was looked at as the prime suspect from the beginning. Not only did Sam and her best friend, Remy named him, but also because Steven had had arguments and disagreements with Gretchen’s father. Things between Gretchen and Steven ended abruptly when Steven was arrested for murdering Turtle.

I know Steven’s mom was standing by her son, but I gotta say, her derogatory language about her son’s girlfriend was definitely something that pissed me off. She clearly didn’t think her beloved son could have done anything wrong. She may have turned a blind eye to the truth because even if Steven didn’t kill Turtle, he was not totally innocent. As the book went on, I began to realize that even if he didn’t kill Turtle, he was still a creepy guy, borderline obsessive.

There was an odd little love triangle thing, Sam feels a connection to Noah because she met him at a support group for people whose have had a family member murdered. But she is also still connected to Remy. Remy represents her childhood and all the carefree things that happened before Turtle was kidnapped.

As the book continues, more suspects pop up, including an Amish guy by the name of Frank Yarrow and an old family friend. This is when things start to get a little crazy. Secrets come to light and we find out who was really a part of this whole mess. I guessed the twist before it was revealed, but I didn’t mind that at all because I didn’t figure out the entire story.


The ending was insanity, I wrote this review the day after I finished this book and I was still thinking about it. Still thinking about one certain part that I would love to talk about, but can’t because it’s massively spoilery. I do recommend this book, but only if you are patient enough to read it because the beginning is definitely slow, but it is definitely worth it. I am giving it 4 stars because the story and how everything is weaved together is done really well.

Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria

Book Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaria
Publish Date: April 1st, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Genre: YA Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a fellow blogger. 

Review:
This book is going to be a very hard book to review. First of all, you need to put away any preconceived notions you have about this book. I know I had to. Secondly, if you aren’t kicked in the feels by the time you finish reading it, then you are dead inside. Okay, maybe not dead inside, but at least for me, it was a book full of feels. It’s a book that I had a hard time getting into. It was slow at first and I was getting sad and disappointed by the fact that I wasn’t loving it.But it grows on you and before you know it, you don’t want to put it down.

Laurel has gone through her parents divorce but nothing hurt as bad as it hurt when her big sister died. She blames herself for it and she’s convinced that her mom does also. Why else would her mom have moved so far away from her, leaving Laurel to split her time between her Aunt Amy & her dad.

Laurel starts off writing a letter to a dead person as part of a school assignment, but it gets bigger than that and soon she is writing many letters to many dead people. She talks about her friendships with Kristen, Tristan, Hannah & Natalie. She talks about maybe, possibly, falling in love with Sky. Most importantly she uses these letters as a way to grieve for May.

Through these letters, we grow to learn what exactly happened to May and what happened to Laurel as well. Laurel also learns that May wasn’t as perfect as she thought she was and that she was flawed but did her best to hide that from Laurel, most likely, because she wanted to protect her little sister.

I ended up loving this book, but it wasn’t an easy road and it wasn’t until about page 150 that I really began to fall in love with this book. From that point on, I spent most of the book in tears, even sobbing by the time I had finished the book. Dellaria broke me in the feels but in one of the most honest, and beautiful ways possible. I would love, love to give this book a full 5 stars but knowing how long it took me to even get into the book, I have to give it 4 stars. I would absolutely highly recommend it to anyone. 

Review: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

Book Title: The Break-Up Artist
Author: Philip Siegel
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 



After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

Disclaimer: I participated in an ARC Tour for this book & read it with On The Same Page ARC Tours.

Review:
I honestly was not sure what to expect with this book. I knew it could go in many different directions, but I didn’t know what direction it would go.I absolutely did not expect to relate to Becca so easily, but I did. Even though I didn’t really go through the whole friends abandoning me in favor of their boyfriends in high school, I went through that in college. 

One of my childhood friends got a boyfriend and she could not stop obsessing about him. At one point I completely lost it and started yelling at her at a movie theater in front of the popcorn stand about how she didn’t seem to value friendship as much now that she was dating (and BTW the guy was a CREEP) After that our friendship basically ended. But I digress.

I know of several people who are seemingly unable to have time with their friends & time with their significant others. It’s frustrating especially when the friends lose out to the significant other. I understood why Becca was so upset that her onetime friend Huxley had basically abandoned her when Steve came into the picture.

It’s hard to explain to someone who has never gone through it but it really hurts that a friend would rather couple up and shut out all the single friends rather than bring the new significant other around the friends so that they can all spend time together. Or even better do something with their friends and without the significant other *gasp*

Becca is afraid that things are about to repeat themselves with Val and her new boyfriend Ezra and she does not want to lose another friend to the over-hyped bogus concept of love. But what she doesn’t expect is to fall for Ezra herself. Especially since she doesn’t believe in love. 

It’s hard for Becca to believe in love when her sister was left at the altar by someone that she loved. Love has come to make no sense to Becca. All she’s seen it lead to is heartbreak after heartbreak. Becca has a very narrow view of what love looks like. To the point where she doesn’t think that her parents are in love anymore. There’s none of that affection, that is so rampant in high school, in her own home. 
So she starts this business of breaking up couples and the business is booming. It definitely helped being anonymous though.She knows if her name gets out, then any chance of a social life is over. Not that she actually has one now, but she won’t be able to recover from this.
I really enjoyed this book even though parts were hard to read because of my own history with losing my friends to coupledom. Both Becca and her sister transform in different but no less awesome ways. I didn’t particularly love Val or Huxley and that’s because of their insistence on putting romantic relationships and social standing at the highest level and leaving their friendships to crash and burn.I also didn’t love Ezra. I started to, but then when we got to learn more about him I no longer liked him.I didn’t particularly love the ending because I thought it left a lot of questions. Sometimes I’m okay with it and sometimes I’m not. This time I was not.
So this book will be getting 4 stars from me. It was a good read, a quick read and one that I think everyone should read.Having a balance between your friends & significant other is so important and not one that people think about enough. 

Review: Replica (Replica #1) by Jenna Black

Book: Replica (Replica #1)
Author: Jenna Black
Published: July 16th, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA/Dystopian/SciFi/Murder Mystery
Series: Book 1
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis:
Sixteen year old Nadia Lake’s marriage has been arranged since she was a child.Her betrothed was born in a family with the highest power in the corporate states.Nadia lives a very privileged life but that comes with paparazzi scrutinizing her every move,using every detail of her personal life as gossip fodder.Her future is assured as long as she can keep up with her flawless image.That is not easy when her betrothed is a notorious playboy.
Nathaniel Hayes is heir to the company that begin the process of human replication.Yet Nathaniel is more interested in staying in what is now the underbelly of the state that used to be New York.He’d rather be there than courting his bride-to-be. Especially when she is not really his type.
When Nathaniel turns up dead,all bets are off.
When the new Nathaniel wakes up in the replication room,he has no memory of how he ended up here. He has no idea who would end his life and he is terrified to think that the person he loves most of all,may have had a hand in it.Now Nathaniel and Nadia must find out the truth without spilling the secrets of those in their life.
Disclaimer: I got this ARC as a gift from Christina at A Reader of Fictions. Thanks Christina!

Review:
I wasn’t expecting anything from my blogger friends so when I got this in the mail I was both thrilled and shocked at the same time. This had come in a package along with Extremities:Stories of Death,Murder & Revenge.Once I read the back of this book,I just knew that this was going to be an awesome book. I waited until the next day to start it,in an attempt to finish another book first.The next day,when I finally curled up to read it,I devoured it.
I know when most people think dystopian,they think The Hunger Games trilogy or the Divergent Trilogy but this was totally different and in an AWESOME way.First of all it was set in what used to be New York so there’s some familiarity there. It wasn’t some random place that was obviously made up.
The arranged marriage thing is something that people in India still do so that wasn’t totally weird. I’ve often joked with my family that they should do an arranged marriage for me. Then again, I’m 27,way too old for the arranged marriage stuff.I think if either Nadia or Nathaniel had been lousy characters,I would have had an issue with the whole arranged marriage thing.
Nathaniel is supposedly a playboy but I never got that feeling about him. Maybe because I realized who he really was,whereas the people living there had no idea who Nathaniel Hayes was. I also knew that he was nothing like his father,which ended up being a massive relief.
Nadia was a teenager who didn’t realize what she was really capeable of. Yes she along with Nathaniel made rash decisions but that’s part of being a teenager. Most teenagers make rash decisions. But along with that,we got to see her bravery. How she handled herself during her first round of questioning and her second and so on. Especially when it came to Dirk Mosely.
Almost instantly we are thrown into a world that seems to thrive on half truths & secrets. None as damming as the one that Nathaniel has from his family. Only Kurt Bishop & Nadia know the true Nathaniel.When Nathaniel is found dead only hours after Nadia is seen having a disagreement with him,questions surface. Was Nadia tired of keeping her future husband’s secrets,was Nathaniel caught “going outside the arrangement?” The answer to those questions end up somewhere in the middle.
Dirk Mosely gave me the creeps from the beginning. I knew fairly early on that he could and would make life difficult for Nadia if she did not do as he told her to. His threats against her family,particularly her niece and nephew would likely be enough for her to give in. From the time Nadia was small,it was instilled into her how important it was to keep her family safe at all costs.
Dante may have been Nadia’s butler but he turned out to be a heck of a lot more interesting than I had ever even guessed. His connection to Kurt and to the Basement was fascinating.He was sort of living a double,even triple life.He was quite a brave guy.
I adored this book so much. It didn’t follow the typical dystopian format which was awesome. There wasn’t really a romance element although towards the end there were flickers of one between Nadia & Dante.It kept me wanting more and more.I couldn’t put down this book from about halfway to the end. The pacing was fast and totally engaging which I was thrilled about. I hate it so much when the pace is slow.That’s one of the things that make me ranty.
I cannot wait for the next book in the series. Especially the way the epilogue left it. It’s clear that this is far from over. Five stars to Book One of this awesome new series.