The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Posted on Friday, April 21st, 2017 by Emily May

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky AlbertalliThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Published by Penguin UK on April 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 300
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Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she's lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because 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. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And 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 an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

I can’t decide if this is funny or sad, but I’ve spent so much time wanting a boyfriend that I can’t imagine not wanting one. I can imagine saying I don’t want one. But I can’t imagine it being true.

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One StarOne Star

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 by Emily May

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola YoonThe Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Random House on November 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The universe stops and waits for us.
She opens her palm and she’s going to take my hand. She’s supposed to take my hand. We’re meant to walk through this world together. I see it in her eyes. We are meant to be.

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One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 by Emily May

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love StoriesSummer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 2nd 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Short Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 301
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Summer Days and Summer Nights is a beautiful collection of twelve gorgeously romantic short stories, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. Collected together by Stephanie Perkins, the editor behind My True Love Gave to Me, this wonderful collection of summer romances will delight all fans of YA.
Summer Days and Summer Nights includes stories by: Leigh Bardugo, Nina LaCour, Libba Bray, Francesca Lia Block, Stephanie Perkins, Tim Federle, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovran, Brandy Colbert, Cassandra Clare, Jennifer E Smith, and Lev Grossman.

This was a great collection. It’s so many things: diverse, creative, funny and sad. That’s actually what surprised me most of all: overall, this was a very melancholy, bittersweet collection, especially when compared to the mostly fun and feel-good My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. The cover makes it look very cutesy, but it tackles a lot of important issues.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 by Emily May

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on December 31st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

As much as I like a good love story, I wouldn’t call myself a romantic. Not by a long shot. In fact, I can be pretty cold-hearted when it comes to romance books, remaining emotionless in the face of tragic heartbreak and loss. The Fault in Our Stars didn’t move me. Eleanor & Park was cute, but still an average read for me.

There’s just certain things that I don’t like. Emotionally manipulative books that feel as if the author set out with an agenda to tug at my heart strings – that would be up there with the worst. I guess I subconsciously rebel when I can see what the author’s trying to do to my feelings. I avoid a lot of adult chick lit for this reason – because experience has shown that most of these books are like Lifetime movies: melodramatic and cheesily message-driven.

But somehow – despite my reluctance to try this book because it seemed it would fall into all the aforementioned boxes – I ended up caving under the pressure and grabbing this book from my local library. I didn’t expect much. I was just going to try a little bit and see how it went, feeling confident that it would be crappy and I would be right. But hell, I got schooled.

I just… I can’t even pretend anymore, screw the book snobbery, I thought Me Before You was wonderful.

I laughed.
I cried.
I shipped like crazy.
I stayed up most of the night.

Being proven wrong may never have felt so good.

I got the giggles about halfway through chapter one and struggled to get rid of them. Humour books are always a difficult sell because I guess it always depends on what you find funny… but I found Lou Clark to be an hilarious heroine. She’s one of those charming but unfortunate individuals that finds herself in numerous awkward situations but somehow gets through them and just warms your heart with her delightful lack of propriety.

I don’t know if there is really such a thing as a “British sense of humour” but I’ve enjoyed a bunch of British chick lit/humour with similar MCs – Bridget Jones, Confessions of Georgia Nicholson – so maybe there’s a pattern here with my tastes.

If you’re considering this book but think you’re a shameless unromantic like me, DO NOT read any quotes from it. People keep pulling up these quotes about the meaning of life and carpe diem and it makes the whole thing seem much cheesier than it is. I thought there was a pleasant lack of cheese, hehe. It’s also nowhere near as romantic as everything tries to make you think: the cover (the UK one is even worse), the blurb, the title… when actually there’s very little romance. There is a touch of finding love in unexpected places and against the odds, but the main focus of this book is about life and the importance of choices.

If you haven’t already been told, the story is about Lou who needs a job and Will who needs a carer after an accident left him paralysed. Completely unable to move anything below his mid torso, Will longs for death and wants to go to Switzerland to put an end to his misery. Horrified by this discovery, Lou sets out to improve his life and give him a reason to live and look forward to each day. The relationship between them is told in such a wonderful way and develops through several stages, each filled with hilarity.

I think people’s reactions, emotions and decisions felt completely realistic in Me Before You, even if I didn’t always like them. The whole book was filled with the funny, ridiculous situations that we expect to find in comic fiction, but balanced out with a hard dose of reality. It makes you think about things you didn’t think about before without seeming like the author wanted to make you think about them. Things like just how depressing the lack of wheelchair access is in most venues. But there’s a great balance between the funny and the serious, so the latter never becomes too much.

This book made me feel all the emotions without seeming to try too hard. Love was found in a very unexpected place and I definitely want to check out the author’s other work.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham
Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Emily May

Unbecoming by Jenny DownhamUnbecoming by Jenny Downham
Published by Scholastic Inc. on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Three women. Three generations. Three secrets. Katie's life is falling apart: her best friend thinks she's a freak, her mother, Caroline, controls every aspect of her life, and her estranged grandmother, Mary, appears as if out of nowhere. Mary has dementia and needs lots of care, and when Katie starts putting together Mary's life story, secrets and lies are uncovered: Mary's illegitimate baby, her zest for life and freedom and men; the way she lived her life to the full yet suffered huge sacrifices along the way. As the relationship between Mary and Caroline is explored, Katie begins to understand her own mother's behavior, and from that insight, the terrors about her sexuality, her future, and her younger brother are all put into perspective. Funny, sad, honest, and wise, this powerful multigenerational novel from international bestseller Jenny Downham celebrates life like no book before.

“She watches the tears drip onto her skirt and spread like flowers and she knows this is the end of every future she’s ever imagined for herself.”
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2016 by Aimee

I received this book for free from Penguin, Speak in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Once Upon a Kiss by Robin PalmerOnce Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer
Published by Speak on January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, print ARC
Source: Penguin, Speak
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So much has happened since 1986, and Zoe Brenner is about to find out just how much.
From the author of the book that inspired the Disney original movie Geek Charming!

It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

A Review Told in Reaction Images: Once Upon a Kiss
(aka Sometimes I Write Short, Harsh Reviews)

#1: The Plot

Once Upon a Kiss is filled with nothing but filler, filler, filler. And plot holes. Lots and lots of plot holes. (Basically NOTHING that happens is ever explained.)

#2: The Heroine

Zoe is a judgemental “special snowflake” character with absolutely no redeeming qualities. The sad part is, she THINKS she’s totally nice and open-minded, when in fact she’s the quickest one to stereotype and judge. The girl-on-girl hate was just… ugh.

#3: The Writing

This book was so full of pop culture references that it was going to explode. Dude, I get it. Some part of the book’s set in the 80’s–I got that from the 231287 you reminded me so. And by that, I mean the heroine takes every opportunity to TELL us it’s the 80’s.

#4: The Characterization

EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. IN. THIS. BOOK. IS. BASED. ON. A. STEREOTYPE. They’re basically just cardboard cutouts with no depth to them whatsoever.

#5: The Romance

This is the only saving grace of the entire novel for me. Again, it was your typical high school romance, but you guys know how much I love best-friends-to-lovers stories.

Overall, way too shallow and full of teenage drama for my tastes. With annoying language and one-dimensional characters, Once Upon a Kiss was just not the read for me.

One Star

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by Emily May

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. JohnstonExit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
Published by Penguin on March 15th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 256
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Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don't cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team's summer training camp is Hermione's last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there's a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They're never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she's always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn't the beginning of Hermione Winter's story and she's not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

“I’m not going to quit, Florry.” I look up and see that Polly has turned around again, and that Caledon is looking at me in the mirror. “I am not going to quit.”


TRIGGER WARNING – RAPE.

I think some people will have issues with this book. I get that. I really do. But I also think the ultimate strength of Exit, Pursued by a Bear is that it is not a typical story about a girl who gets raped and is consumed by it. Those stories absolutely matter and they are oh so very important, but there are many different experiences out there and I’m glad this one is being told.

In my experience, stories about rape survivors fall into one of two categories: 1) a girl (occasionally, a boy) falling apart in the aftermath of rape, or 2) a mystery about the rapist’s identity. This is neither. Hermione is sad, confused and angry, but this is predominantly a book about strength.

Rape is a crime often about power and weakness – the rapist makes the victim powerless by taking away their choice – but here Hermione does something unusual. She reclaims the power stolen from her. She has a strong support system. She doesn’t become defined by what happened.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2016 by Emily May

Kill the Boy Band by Goldy MoldavskyKill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Published by Pan Macmillan on May 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Young Adult
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Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Boy band fangirls are a species that are more focused, determined, and powerful in large numbers than just about any other group of people I can think of.


I thought this was awesome. It’s the kind of book you have to be in the right mood for – a dark, sadistic sense of humour kind of mood – but it’s a diverse, murderous and hilarious comedy about fangirls in the age of social media.

Kill the Boy Band has many laugh-out-loud moments that come with a side order of guilt because you know you really shouldn’t be laughing. But, despite it’s implausible plot and ludicrous characters, there are many underlying truths laid bare in this book. And the funniest things of all are the sad truths you have to begrudgingly admit to.

I must confess: I related to parts of this book, which may have affected my experience. I’m in my early twenties now, but I grew up when the digital age was just finding its feet. At age thirteen, most people I knew had some form of social media – usually myspace or bebo – and I witnessed the emerging culture of celeb stalking that redefined what it meant to be a fan.

My personal obsession (well, the main one) was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and James Marsters (Spike) in particular. I would watch his interviews on Youtube, read every post on his website and, later, follow his movements on Twitter. In other circumstances, this level of stalkery would be illegal. In my early to mid teens, I felt attached to him on a weird level. I’d followed his life so closely that I felt like I knew him, something those of my parents generation simply couldn’t understand. Being his fan made me happy. Loving him made me feel good about myself. It sounds so silly now, but I think I truly believed that a) we were meant to be together, and b) this could eventually happen if I just attended enough signings and concerts.

Thankfully, I was too shy to do anything. I couldn’t tackle him because I melted into a puddle of emotions every time he was in the same room. But I can understand how crazy it could get if someone with my mindset *did* have the will and ability to take it to the next level.

That’s what this book is about. It’s about four teenage girls who are devoted to a boy band called “The Ruperts” – hilariously based on One Direction – and how their devotion escalates into something more sinister. The book makes fun of teen girl crushes on celebrities (lots of great parodies of real life, pop culture references, and some surprisingly graphic sex jokes), but it also has an anti-slut-shaming, feminist spin and, in a way, defends the girls’ right to their crushes and silly desires.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 by Emily May

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. StorkThe Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 336
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When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had. But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn't know. Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one -- about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

Somewhere in me I probably had the strength to not kill myself. But I was tired of looking for strength. Tired of being strong. That’s what I did to make it through… each day, go through the motions of being strong. I put on strong every morning. I’m sick of faking strong.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 by Emily May

Not If I See You First by Eric LindstromNot If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom
Published by Hachette UK on December 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
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Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.
When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.
Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.

Have you ever read a book and not realised you were expecting it to be bad until it’s actually pretty good and you’re surprised? That’s how I felt about this.
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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

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