Review: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Book Title: One Man Guy
Author: Michael Barakiva
Publish Date: May 27th, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: LGBT YA
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Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A heartfelt, laugh-out-loud-funny story of romance, family, and self-discovery.

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

Disclaimer: This is a library book.

Review:
This book was PERFECT!

I am so, SO glad Blythe & Lili pushed this one on me. I tend to have very similar tastes in books with these two ladies so I had a feeling I’d love this book. And I was right. I loved the insight into the Armenian culture as I didn’t know anything about it. It sounds depressing and sad, but the only knowledge of the Armenian culture was through the Kardashians. 

However, I loved learning about the family and food aspect of the culture. I was drooling over the foods Alek and his family made throughout the book, which is funny, because I don’t generally go for the types of foods depicted in the book. Yes, Alek’s parents were strict, but I got the feeling that was par for the course in Armenian families. I thought the whole thing about his parents packing his lunch & laying out his clothes to wear was a little much. I mean he IS fourteen. But again, that was part of the culture.

It is Ethan who teaches him the difference between “have to” and “want to” Ethan encourages him to break the rules and do something that he wants to do instead of what his parents say he has to. Ethan is the one who helps Alek realize he’s gay. It was nothing Alek had ever considered before. He had had girlfriends before, but it had been awhile.

It was Alek’s best friend Becky, who encouraged him to go after Ethan, to tell Ethan how he felt. I loved that Alek had a female best friend. I really think opposite sex friendships are very underrepresented in YA, so I was excited to see Becky & Alek’s friendship continue throughout the book. I really loved that Becky didn’t abandon Alek when it was revealed that Alek was falling for Ethan. So many teenagers lose friends when they come out, thankfully Alek did not.

Their first kiss was so adorable, sweet and just so PERFECT. I totally thought that Ethan would kiss him first, but I actually liked that Alek initiated the first kiss. I felt that it actually made so much more sense than it would have if Ethan had initiated the kiss. 

This book was about family, friendship, and realizing who you really are. I cannot say enough amazing things about this book. It was funny, cute, romantic. It really was an absolutely perfect book and I’m so excited and happy that I read it. 5 stars to this book that stole my heart.

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Book Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Author: John Green
Release Date: January 10th, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my birthday money.

Review:
I have read a lot of cancer books before, but I had never read one that was both heartbreaking and hysterically funny at the same time.There were times where I was reading this book where I’d be laughing so hard I was crying and then a mere two minutes later I was crying hysterically at a heartbreaking part.

Hazel is blunt, honest and witty. All of those things I love in characters. She knows that her time is dwindling but she is trying to live whatever life she has left. She knows that her amazing parents have done everything in their power for her. Her mom has made a career out of taking care of her and her father is always there for her. Supporting her & loving her. 

She’s not a huge fan of Cancer Kid Support Group, but she goes. She goes for her parents mostly. Support group has a revolving door of attendants. Sometimes someone comes repeatedly and then they suddenly stop coming. There is only one real reason that people stop coming and that’s because they have died.

Hazel has one “normal” friend by the name of Kaitlyn, but it’s very hard to relate to Kaitlyn anymore. Kaitlyn doesn’t carry around an oxygen tank. Kaitlyn doesn’t have to be hooked up to oxygen around the clock. She has no idea of the hell that Hazel has been through. Nor would Hazel want her to know what it’s like. Hazel wouldn’t wish having shitty lungs on her worst enemy.

Never in her life, did Hazel expect to meet one-legged Augustus “Gus” Waters. Yet she does and there’s like an instant connection. I wouldn’t call this insta love. Mostly because it takes Hazel a bit longer to warm up to him than vice versa. Relating to Gus is easy for Hazel. While they don’t have the same type of cancer, Hazel still feels like she can relate to him. 

Watching them bond over a book was awesome.It was like a book within a book which I thought was really unique.Watching their relationship develop slowly was a treat. They knew that they were living on borrowed time but that didn’t mean that they had to rush the relationship.

I had cried in the first 75% of the book but that was nothing compared to the last quarter of the book. I full on ugly cried during that last 25% Did I expect something like that to happen? Yes I sort of did, but expecting it and seeing it in print was a totally different ball of wax. By the time the book was over,I had used a quarter of my brand new kleenex box.

“You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” Hazel

Issac was an awesome secondary character. He was from Support Group and he went through a lot in this book. He always seemed to have something hysterically funny to say, even if the situation didn’t necessarily call for it.Despite everything he went through during this book, he was a great friend to Hazel & to Gus. 

For all the love I could give this book, I could also admit that it wasn’t perfect. There were lulls in the story that bored me for a little while. The lulls didn’t last long but they were there. The lulls are the reason that this book is getting 4 stars. I loved everything else about this book but the lulls were a bit too frequent for me to give this book a full five stars.

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Book Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte
Genre: YA
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Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book title had been floating around my fellow book bloggers since shortly after I became a part of the book blogger community. I had seen the synopsis and I was truly excited for it although I knew my chances of getting an ARC of it were pretty slim. Imagine my surprise when I got the email from NetGalley a few months ago, in October.

I downloaded it instantly but wasn’t able to get to it until recently.It was well worth the wait. It made me cry, laugh and have all the feels in between. This isn’t a fluffy Parent Trap-esque book. The romance happens for the girls, not the parents.Happily, the romance wasn’t the main plot point. It was a subplot to the main plot of two stressed out athletes needing a month away from their families. 

Sloane Emily’s family is a mess. She walked in on her father having an affair with his assistant, and suddenly that assistant is everywhere-even in Sloane Emily’s thoughts. Her mother is clueless about the affair and Emily isn’t about to clue her in on it. Her brother, James is working with the political party, who their father is NOT affiliated with.

Sloane Devon’s family is a mess too. Her mother is a raging alcoholic, who is in rehab, her father is trying to parent her as a single father but is failing big time. Add that to Sloane Devon’s temper and there’s a recipe for disaster.
A lot of people are going to take issue with the fact that it seemed like they had no problems with switching and that they seemed to do well in sports that they weren’t previously focused on.I don’t find that as much of an issue mostly because they do have the background of being on the ice. They just have to get used to using different equipment. For Sloane Emily, that’s pucks and hockey sticks and lots of body armor. For Sloane Devon, that’s ice skates.
Nando and Matt were two good additions to the story. I did prefer Matt, mostly because I didn’t feel it between Sloane Devon and Nando. I did feel major sparks between Matt and Sloane Emily though. They were completely adorable.Matt was so determined to prove that he was no longer a playboy like he had been in the past.
There always has to be some sort of rival in books like this but I was bored with Melody. I fully expected her to pull some crazy stuff like Ivy did.Yet, she didn’t and that kind of bored me.Melody just seemed like the typical ultra-competitive player who talked a big talk but when it came right down to it, she was not going to risk her place at camp to go after Sloane Emily.
Alternating POV’s was great and overall I preferred Sloane Devon’s. There were many times that I busted out laughing so hard I was crying while reading her POV. 
“And as much as the thought of Ivy finding a mouse in her bed thrills me, I really should just open the box and eat the brownies.” Sloane Devon

She was everything that I could want in a likable character. She was laugh out loud funny, which was one of my favorite things about her.

“The only thing that’s keeping me from smothering Ivy in her sleep is that I’m convinced that she would haunt me if I did.” Sloane Devon

I do think that Sloane Emily was the one who changed the most by the end of the book.I ended up liking her a whole lot more than I had initially.Yet it was Sloane Devon’s family that made the most changes to themselves by the end of the book and that alone made me cry quite a bit at the end.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, loved the characters a lot. I would love to give this book a full five stars but I didn’t get many feels while reading this, which bummed me out. I also didn’t feel like I got to see enough of Sloane Emily’s personality. If I had gotten to see more of her personality, I think I would have liked her more.So this book will be getting 4 stars.

About the Author:

Lauren Elizabeth Morrill is many things, including, but not limited to, a writer, an educator, a badass roller derby skater, a former band nerd, an aggressive driver, and a die-hard Mac person. She also watches a lot of TV, eats a lot of junk food, and drinks a lot of Coke. It’s a wonder her brain and teeth haven’t rotted out of her head.

Connect with the author:
Website
Twitter
Facebook Author Page

Review: The Sea Of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Book Title: The Sea of Tranquility
Author: Katja Millay
Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Review:
How the hell do I write a review for this book? Writing a review of this book will definitely prove to be difficult as it was amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same after reading this. It had everything you could ever want in a book and more.

When you read this synopsis, you don’t think this book is going to be funny, but it is funny. It;s also sad,so sad in fact that it pretty much destroyed me in the best possible way. Yes, apparently there is a way to be destroyed in a positive way. There has to be, because I was. Holy crap, I am SO mad at myself for not reading this book sooner. I have a thing for books about damaged characters, yes I’m weird like that. 

You wouldn’t think that Nastya would be likable,but in her own way, she was and I loved that she wasn’t a typical sullen, angry teenager.I also liked that her family was in the book and that specifically her aunt was in the book. Not many YA books involve the extended family so I was excited to see that this one did.

Her family was similar to Drew’s family in a lot of ways, but also different in a lot of ways. Drew’s family doesn’t push her to talk unlike her own family who desperately wants and I think needs to hear her talk.

In contrast, Josh has only one family member left, his grandfather and his grandfather is very sick and he dies in the book. Yet he is very close with Drew and Drew’s family. Drew’s mother likes to take in “strays” and with Josh, she does.

The beginning of this book is slow as it does a lot of introducing the characters and taking a peek into their daily lives. Yet, it wasn’t the kind of slow that was boring. In fact, I devoured every word.

The second half of this book but most especially the last 150 some pages are emotional, gut wrenching and heartbreaking. Like I said before, it destroyed me. I was in bed, sobbing violently into my kleenex until my kleenex was shredded beyond recognition.

I loved that Nastya and Josh’s relationship was slow burning. Much better than having them jump into bed two seconds after meeting. They established a friendship first which I loved.

I cannot say enough about the writing. It was absolutely gorgeous and I think I mentioned that a couple times in my Goodreads & Twitter updates. The dual points of view were done amazingly and I would argue that it was one of the best examples of dual POV’s that I’ve ever read.

Gahhh, I just loved this book. It was perfection and I cannot wait to read the next thing that Katja writes.This was amazing and well worth the 5 stars I’m giving it. If I could give it 6 stars, I would.