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
Standalone
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.

Take Me On (Pushing The Limits #4) by Katie McGarry

Book Title: Take Me On (Pushing The Limits #4)
Author: Katie McGarry
Publish Date: May 27th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: Book 4 in Pushing The Limits series
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

Disclaimer: This is a library book.

Review:
Holy moly, I adored this book. I didn’t have a great impression of West in Crash Into You, but that all changed in Take Me On. Not only did my opinion of him vastly improve, the female main character was a total badass. She wasn’t a doormat like I felt Rachel was in Crash Into You. As a matter of fact, she was the complete opposite of Rachel.

Haley is doing everything she can to keep her family safe. Even while they are all crowded into her uncle’s house. Even when her uncle demeans her. Haley’s home life basically broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. I wanted to hug her pretty quickly into the book. She had dreams for herself, though those dreams had taken a serious hit. Especially once her entire family had to move in with her uncle.

And then there’s Matt. Her ex boyfriend. The one who hit her. It takes Haley a long time to admit to anyone that Matt had hit her. He also wants her back and he’ll do anything to make that happen. Because in Matt’s eyes, Haley is his. Only his.

West has other ideas though. After learning of Haley’s kickboxing past, he knows she can take care of herself. He knows she doesn’t need him to take care of her. Yet there’s something about her that attracts him. It’s not just the fact that she’s gorgeous. The fact that she doesn’t know who he is, is appealing to him. The fact that she doesn’t know his family history, which includes a loaded family, a dead sister and an almost dead sister.

They each give each other a sense of belonging. That’s important and it’s something not to be ignored.

West is also seeing things differently. Long held family secrets are coming to the forefront and he’s suddenly feeling like Haley is his soft spot to land on when things get difficult. He feels more like himself around her and less like an outsider like he feels when he’s around his family. West is startled to realize that Haley accepts him completely, and she doesn’t want him to change.

The aftermath of Rachel’s accident stays with West for the majority of the book and it’s not until halfway through the book, that he starts to realize that he needs to stop punishing himself. Not only that, but he also needs to ease up on Isaiah. He blames Isaiah for Rachel’s accident as well, but in a different capacity. It’s not until a late night chat with Rachel forces him to understand that Rachel loves Isaiah and that Isaiah loves Rachel.
After I was so disappointed with Crash Into You, I was so nervous about this one. I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy this one either. Boy was I wrong. I absolutely loved this one and it’s currently battling it out with Pushing The Limits for my favorite Katie McGarry book. 5 stars to this book  that held a strong female character and allowed us to see a softer side to West Young.

Review: The Art Of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Book Title: The Art Of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Published Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

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

Review:
Normally, I don’t go for the tattooed, mohawked guy, but Micah definitely changed all that. He was edgy, but it was more of a gentle edginess if there really is such a thing. He was a sweet guy, a respectful guy. His mannerisms definitely reminded me of my own boyfriend so of course I fell for Micah.

Now Jason was a total douche-canoe. Yikes, I could not understand why Lainey was desperate to keep him around. The only thing I could think of, was that it was a comfort thing and the idea of change terrified her. There were many, many times where I just wanted to grab Lainey by the shoulders and shake her. I could not understand some of her decisions and i kept having to remind myself that she was a teenager and teenagers tend to be over-dramatic. 

Kendall was truly an awful person and I found myself furious with her on multiple occasions. I can see that she was probably in a bit of a tough place with Jason being her brother and everything. But she was mean, judgmental and just plain obnoxious. I kept hoping Lainey would dump both members of the Chase family. She definitely had some issues going on but she was choosing to self medicate in the off chance that drugs & alcohol would make her problems go away.

I loved Bianca. She was exactly the kind of friend Lainey needed. She was supportive, but not afraid to dish out the tough love stuff when things weren’t going the way Lainey was hoping they would. She was trying so hard to keep both Lainey and Micah from being hurt.

“So don’t mess with him just because you’re lonely. He deserves better than that.” -Bianca

Lainey struggled with when and even if she should let go of Jason. At the beginning of the book, she had been sure that she needed to fight for Jason. She begins to feel less certain of that, but then she struggled with letting go of Jason. Jason had been hers for 2 years and suddenly, he just wasn’t anymore. 

“Sometimes it’s easier to fight for the wrong thing than to recognize it’s time to let go.”

Lainey never expected to fall for Micah, but she falls and she falls hard for him. She’s scared of having him, but she’s also afraid of losing him. In their brief time as fake boyfriend and girlfriend, she did the one thing she never expected to. She fell for tattooed, mohawked Micah.

“Not everything is worthy of great risk and possible sacrifice. Micah is.”

This book was a wonderful book. It was a book that reminded us that what we want might not be what we actually need. It was an important message to take away from the book. I don’t generally look for messages in books, but this one was kind of obvious to me. I enjoyed this book very much and I’ll be giving it 4 stars. I’m excited to see what the author writes next.

Review: Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Book Title: Life By Committee
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Release Date: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository 
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Some secrets are too good to keep. 

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat. 

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe. 

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book was addicting. It was like chocolate in the sense that I had to have it and one chapter was never enough for me. The main character, Tabitha went through a lot of crap and while she made some questionable choices, I could tell she was trying to hard to regain some part of her old life. Loneliness can be very difficult to deal with and it’s even worse when all of your friends turn against you, even going as far as to call you a slut and other such awful names.

When loneliness really sets in, people often find themselves turning to an online community. These can give you a sense of belonging and I think it definitely did that for Tabitha. She felt welcomed in that community. Life By Committee allowed her to share her secrets, but she always had an assignment attached to it. It was usually something designed to face the secret head on.

Tabitha’s family was pretty interesting. They had been teen parents when she was born so they had sort of all grown up together and her parents were more like her older siblings than her parents. Her mom tried to instill some sort of parenting thing, but that may have been due to the fact that she was expecting again and she wanted to do it “right” this time around. Her dad seemed more relaxed, and that had more to do with his increasing levels of pot use.

My favorite bits involved Tabitha with her copies of old books that had writing in it. I really don’t like to write in my books, but I have done it and I loved that she had a well worn copy of The Secret Garden. Really made me want to read the book again.

The love interest was a creep and I really didn’t understand why Tabitha was so obsessed with him. My feelings about him definitely did not change throughout the entire book. However, there was another boy who made me excited and I hoped Tabitha would notice him.

I enjoyed this book more than I initially thought I would. However, I really was hoping for more character development, especially for the secondary characters. I don’t feel like I knew all of the characters as well as I wanted to. So that really disappointed me. I will be giving this book 4 stars, and I will continue to read anything Corey writes because I freaking LOVE her. I would still recommend this book to people because I think so many teenagers feel that loneliness and they need to know they aren’t alone. 

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

Book Title: The One (The Selection #3)
Author: Kiera Cass
Publish Date: May 6th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/Dystopian/Romance
Series: Book 3 in The Selection Trilogy (My reviews of Book 1 & Book 2)
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Timesbestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series.

Disclaimer: This was a personal purchase.

Review:
It’s been no secret that I’ve been obsessed with this series since I first started it in March. It’s addicting like chocolate. Except chocolate doesn’t make you wait for three books to see what happens and who is the last one left standing. 

This book was the best book of the series for multiple reasons. There was even more about how the world worked, there was a lot more with Queen Amberly & King Clarkson, there was some great moments between the final four girls. It felt like Cass really went for it in the final book. No, not everything was tied up in a neat bow, BUT I didn’t mind. I was okay with there still being a few loose strings. 

America comes to a decision in this book and it was definitely difficult to watch her at times. She played keep away with her heart. She knew how she felt, but the idea of telling Maxon was difficult. Maxon was also playing hot and cold with her at times, but I think that came from not wanting to put himself all in without knowing how she felt about him. It also didn’t help that King Clarkson was very against America

America pulled a couple of stunts that infuriated the king, he made it very clear on multiple occasions that America was not the one, forgetting of course that it was Maxon’s choice who he wanted. King Clarkson was a very controlling, strong-willed and often quite cruel to his own son. I was hoping that The Elite would be the extent of his controlling, domineering attitude, but unfortunately, I was wrong.

Finally, I started to like Aspen a whole lot better. Definitely disappointed that it took so long for me to like him, but glad that it happened at all. Aspen’s got secrets of his own, and honestly, I suspected what the secret was early on, but it wasn’t until the end that my suspicions were confirmed. He did some great things for America and Maxon, including one thing at the very end that I thought was fitting.

There was more on the politics as things became quite dangerous in the palace. Yet, I wasn’t bored. I actually found it to be very fascinating. I always wanted to know what was going on and who was behind all this and why. I’m definitely glad we got answers about this part. I would have been bummed if we did not.

I was thrilled with how things went with the final 4 girls. Things you never expected to happen, happen. Alliances changed in startling ways, so serious kudos to Cass for that. I love when unexpected things happen, it adds more intrigue to the story.

Fantastic ending to the series and this will be getting 5 stars from me. Like I said earlier, I found it to be the best book of the series. The entire series was addicting and I am so gonna miss this series. 

Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Book Title: The Secrets Of Lily Graves
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Publish Date: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Thriller
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
With the intrigue of Pretty Little Liars and plenty of romance, bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer weaves a story of secrets and lies—set in a funeral parlor.

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
This book had been floating pretty far under the radar among my fellow book bloggers so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was a mind-blowing, hangover-inducing twisty ride that I never wanted to get off of.

Lily Graves lives in a home with her mother, grandmother and aunt, all of them being morticians. That was so totally awesome. I completely enjoyed that aspect of it. I had always found funeral homes & the morticians that run it, incredibly fascinating. So a family of morticians was awesome and unique.

Then there was her best friend Sarah. Lily & Sara had been friends their entire childhood. They bonded over the fact that they were “freaks” Sara had a deformed hand & Lily and her family lived in a funeral home. Despite Sara’s family’s very strict rules, Lily and Sarah’s friendship had lasted a long time.

After Erin is found dead, things begin to change for everyone. Lily & Matt, Erin’s boyfriend are now surrounded by suspicious people. No one believes that Lily and Matt had nothing to do with this. Even Sara doesn’t believe that Matt is innocent.

So now Lily must figure out what the police department cannot figure out. Who killed Erin? Was it suicide or homicide? If it was a homicide, who was responsible? Lily must figure all of this out before another life is lost.

Now this book was filled with twists and turns, most of them, I didn’t even see coming. The tangled web of lies and deceit had been weaved so brilliantly that once I finished reading I was left with a massive book hangover.

I absolutely loved this book and it should surprise no one that I am giving it 5 stars. The pacing was quick and exciting, the beginning was awesome and it allowed for me to be immediately drawn into the story, which absolutely loved. The ending absolutely blew my mind and it was crazy-awesome, twisty and shocking. I would totally recommend it to anyone that likes mysteries because while this was a thriller, it was also a mystery and a very well written one at that.I literally have nothing else to say about this crazy ride except, you need to read it.