ARC Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You



Dear Best Friend,
I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.
Ava Helmer
(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.
Stop crying.

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository


*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 5, 2017.*

Going into this novel I didn’t really know what it was about. I just love the authors, Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, who started out at BuzzFeed before starting their own YouTube channel, Just Between Us. When I heard they wrote a YA novel together I knew I had to read it and was very excited to receive an eARC copy. I was even more excited when I realized this book is told in emails and texts, my favorite form of story telling (I love dialogue more than plot, fyi!).

I Hate Everyone But You, follows two best friends, Ava and Gen, who are starting their first year of college. While Ava is staying close to home by going to the University of Southern California, Gen is moving to the east coast to attend Emerson. Thus, the emails and texts are how they keep in touch, and I absolutely loved their friendship.

Ava has anxiety and is constantly battling that. Even though she’s still close to home she’s moved far enough where she must find a new therapist that can help her, and that’s sometimes easier said than done. Moreover, because of her anxiety and her personality in general, she struggles to make new friends and live in a world without Gen.

Differently, Gen is diving head first into her new life at Emerson. She’s writing for the school newspaper and aiming for a staff writer position, and her TA, Charlotte, seems eager to be her mentor. Additionally, Gen is exploring her sexuality in a way that surprises Ava.

While it’s clear Ava and Gen love each other, they also fight and have disagreements about a lot of different things. They discuss mental health, gender, sexuality, and more. They also challenge each other. Gen constantly corrects Ava, who struggles to understand that sexuality is fluid, and Gen has to come to terms with the fact that Ava will sometimes say things that Gen really needs to hear, even if she doesn’t like it.

Possibly my favorite thing about this novel is that Ava is clearly Allison and Gen is obviously Gaby, and the fact that the novel didn’t try to hide from that, but instead joked about it. BuzzFeed is mentioned as is their YouTube series, and Gen even calls Ava an “Allison,” at one point. I really liked that the authors weren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves.

Overall, I thought this was a great read and shows a realistic friendship, while also covering very real topics that aren’t talked about enough. Even if you’re not a fan of Allison and Gaby (though you really should be), you should definitely pick up this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!


5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Never blame yourself for the physical failings of a man. Their infrastructure is designed for malfunction.”

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ARC Book Review: Flame in the Mist

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The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository


*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 16, 2017.*

I didn’t know this was a Mulan retelling until someone on Instagram said it was and that made me feel so much better because my first thought while reading was, “Is this supposed to be like Mulan or are the similarities just an unfortunate coincidence?” Once I knew it was a retelling I was more comfortable with the similarities between the plots and I also liked how much Renée Ahdieh also changed it for her own story.

The first noticeable difference is this novel takes place in feudal Japan not Han China. However, there’s also a lot of other differences. I’d say the only real similarities is that Mariko disguises herself as a man and she develops romantic feelings for one of the men she ends up working alongside. Otherwise the stories are actually very different.

Mariko ends up disguising herself as a means of survival. Walking around in the jungle is never a good idea. Walking around in the jungle as a woman is an even a worse idea. It’s unfortunate but it’s also true. So Mariko takes on a new (male) identity and heads on a mission to find the Black Clan who she believes is responsible for trying to kill her and killing all those that were with her.

She of course finds them and figures out a way to weasel into their group. It’s not easy and she quickly realizes that while she’s smart in a lot of way, she’s not exactly “street smart.” Still, while working with the Black Clan she begins to make friends and even finds some romance.

Besides Mariko, the story also follows other characters. Told in the third person the story switches around a bit to Mariko’s brother, Kenshin, the Emperor, and members of the Black Clan. The jump in perspectives was nice because at points I found Mariko’s story to be a bit slow. I wanted action and she’s a planner, which is fine I just wasn’t really interested in all her plotting.

There’s also a great deal of mystery and magic in this novel and while I think the mystery did it’s job in making me want to know more it also left me thoroughly confused. Mainly, I was very confused by the ending and I’m not sure that I’m supposed to be. This book is the first in the series so obviously the cliff hanger sets up the next novel but I think the ending of this book was a plot twist that I somehow missed. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, not entirely eager to continue on with the series but also curious to know what happens next.

Another issue I had with the novel was the romance. I won’t say who it’s with because one thing I did like about this novel was I wasn’t entirely sure at first who Mariko’s romance would be with. Not to say it took me by surprise when it happened but there’s definitely a few twists that I was definitely surprised by and liked a lot. What I didn’t enjoy was the ease in which the conflict between Mariko and her love interest was resolved. It just seemed way too easy to me. It was like there was this huge betrayal and then a few chapters it was like, “Never mind, we’re good.” I didn’t get it all and it didn’t sit right with me.

Besides that though, I did really love the romance. It made me swoon, which sounds cheesy to say but it’s true. Plus, I just really liked the relationship between them. Mariko spent her whole life feeling less than just because she was a woman and with the Black Clan and her love interest she began to realize that being a woman wasn’t a weakness or a fault, it was just who she was. I absolutely loved that and I loved that overall message of the book.

For that alone I really did enjoy this novel. Would I read it again? I’m not sure. Still, I think you should give this book a try. It’s really interesting and like I said, the romance is fantastic.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.


3 stars

Favorite Line:

“You are first and foremost a person. A reckless, foolish person, but a person nonetheless. If I ever say you are not permitted to do something, rest assured that the last reason I would ever say so would be because you are a girl.”

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ARC Book Review: North of Happy

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His whole life has been mapped out for him… 

Carlos Portillo has always led a privileged and sheltered life. A dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, he lives in Mexico City with his wealthy family, where he attends an elite international school. Always a rule follower and a parent pleaser, Carlos is more than happy to tread the well-worn path in front of him. He has always loved food and cooking, but his parents see it as just a hobby.

When his older brother, Felix—who has dropped out of college to live a life of travel—is tragically killed, Carlos begins hearing his brother’s voice, giving him advice and pushing him to rebel against his father’s plan for him. Worrying about his mental health but knowing the voice is right, Carlos runs away to the United States and manages to secure a job with his favorite celebrity chef. As he works to improve his skills in the kitchen and pursue his dream, he begins to fall for his boss’s daughter—a fact that could end his career before it begins. Finally living for himself, Carlos must decide what’s most important to him and where his true path really lies.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository


*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harlequin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 25, 2017.*

Honestly, I’d never read a book by Adi Alsaid before but I love giveaways so I entered without a second thought and was happily surprised when I won. The book then sat on my shelves for a while but after reading two Ellen Hopkins books back to back I wanted to read something happier. Obviously, I forgot what this book was about.

The story follows Carlos, after his older brother Felix was tragically killed. Felix was the “wild child” of the family, meaning instead of going the traditional route and go to college like his parents wanted him to, he decided to travel the world instead. Carlos, did the very opposite, and planned to intern at his father’s company after graduating high school and then go to the University of Chicago, even though he loved to cook. However, after Felix’s death, Carlos, at the advice of Felix, who he keeps seeing everywhere and in everything, decides to head to an island by Seattle instead.

There, he goes to a restaurant his brother wanted to visit and finds himself meeting Emma, a girl who helps him feel less crazy about seeing his dead brother, and he also finds his way into the kitchen at the restaurant. However, Carlos unfortunately can’t have both the girl and the job. At least, he’s not supposed to, but being the new reckless teen that he is, he dates Emma anyway, which I loved. Forbidden romance is my jam.

Of course complications arise, and there’s some drama, both romantic and familial for Carlos, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I really liked that Carlos seeing Felix everywhere isn’t really explained so you can take it as you want to. I personally like to think Felix was indeed a ghost and Carlos wasn’t tripping, but that could just me. Additionally, I really liked Emma and Carlos’ relationship. I thought they were cute and funny but it was also realistic and didn’t feel forced.

Chef, Emma’s mom, annoyed me to no end but by the end of the novel I at least felt like I understood where she was coming from. I still didn’t like her but I respect her. I also really liked the side characters, especially Carlos’ roommates on the island; even Matt, who is kind of a jerk.

Although I was satisfied with the ending, I do think some people won’t be. It’s one of those endings where you can kind of decide for yourself what happens next, which I love but I know some people don’t. Still, I think this is definitely a must read. The way Alsaid handles grief, familial obligations, and just family in general, was great. I also enjoyed that every chapter started with a recipe, which was a constant reminder of Carlos’ love for food (and made me very hungry).

If you’ve never read Alsaid’s books like I hadn’t, I highly recommend this one. It was a quick read and I couldn’t put it down. Now I want to read his other novels. If you’ve read any of his books, which one should I read next? Let me know in the comments below.


4 stars

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'Kids of Appetite' Book Review

ARC Book Review: Kids of Appetite



Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository


*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 20, 2016.*

If Coco was here she would say, “Did you have any intention of reading this book? Tell the truth.” To which I would say, “No CoCo I actually didn’t plan on reading Kids of Appetite, it just fell in my lap.” Because that’s the truth. I won this book at B-Fest and although I was so happy to win an ARC I had never heard of David Arnold before and I had no idea what I was in for. But free books are free books so I happily took my winnings home, put it on a shelf, and then left it there for months on end.

Until a few days ago when something compelled me to take this book off my shelf just to see what it was all about. Intrigued by the synopsis you can read above I literally stood in front of my bookshelf (mind you it was at least after midnight at this point in time; I had just finished another book) and began to read and was immediately sucked in just with the cast of characters. How many books begin with a cast of characters? Not many. And I needed to know more about these interesting characters and why people were being referred to as chapters. So I dived in and couldn’t put this book down.

First of all, the characters in this book are so well done and I loved all the Kids of Appetite. There’s of course Vic and Mad who tell the story in alternating first person point of views. Then you have the brothers, Baz and Zuz, and then the youngest of the group, Coco. Also, can I get a nice slow clap for the diversity in this book? Arnold, I applaud you. I don’t want to give anything about anything so sorry if this is vague but just know that Arnold put together an amazing cast of characters and did so really well. He deals with two important subjects and handles them flawlessly. Honestly, reading his author’s note at the end made me cry because you can practically feel how much he cared about getting this story right.

Kids of Appetite was the perfect mix of tragedy and comedy (which is apparently called a tragicomedy). It was heartfelt, the romance was there but not in a cheesy way, and it was just the right amount funny that didn’t make it feel like it was trying to hard. I liked the running themes throughout the book, like Vic’s Super Racehorse idea and CoCo’s use of “frakking” as a substitute for the f-word. I also liked how the plot fit together and everything came together in the end. I was definitely surprised and I also appreciated the fact that this book wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be. In summary I just really loved this book, okay?

Anyway, I’m going to go grab Mosquitoland because apparently someone forgot to tell me that David Arnold is an amazing writer. In the meantime everyone go pre-order this book.


5 stars

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Book Review: The Steep & Thorny Way

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Synopsis from Amazon:

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Amulet Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on March 8, 2016.*

In all honesty I’m always hesitant to read books about a person of color written by a white person and historical fiction isn’t really my genre but this book interested me so I gave it a try.

It was slow in the beginning and it took me a little while to get into but I’d say about 40 pages in the pace picked up. I either forgot or skipped over the part of the blurb that mentioned this was inspired by Hamlet but I immediately got that vibe and because of that I thought I knew what was going to happen. I was worried this book would be very predictable but as the book went along the author, Cat Winters, hit me with more twists and surprises. Some I began to suspect as I read but others really took me by surprise.

I also really enjoyed the relationship between Hannalee and Joe, the suspected murderer of Hannalee’s father. Their relationship, at least to me, seems to teeter the line between just friends and more than friends, which is interesting once you learn more about Joe.

Over all, I think Winters did well with this novel. She definitely did her research and I liked how she touched on a lot of issues in just one book. One thing I could’ve done without was the pictures between chapters. If there were just a few photos at the end to show the history of everything that would’ve been cool but having the images between every few chapters didn’t really add anything for me.

I’d say this book is definitely worth a read. The ghost story and mystery aspect made this book way more interesting, as did the relationship between Joe and Hannalee. Although I’m not sure how it’d be done I’d be interested in a sequel to this novel. I want to know what happens to the characters next. Even so, I think this book had a satisfying ending so I’m fine with this being a stand alone. But if Winters wants to throw us another book and make this a series I wouldn’t mind.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!


3 stars

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Book Review: Seven Ways We Lie

Source: Amulet Books

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Amulet Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be on sale on March 8, 2016.*

Synopsis from Amazon:

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view.

The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumors of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

When I was first told about this book I was very interested in the concept. Add in the fact that the author, Riley Redgate, is still in college and this book instantly became a must read for me.

Why does the author’s age matter, you ask. It’s simply because I love YA novels that are written by people who are young adults themselves. Don’t get me wrong, adults are great YA authors, obviously. But there’s something so open and genuine about someone who’s a young adult themselves writing about young adults.

Going into this book I didn’t have any expectations other than I liked the concept and I was excited to read it. Therefore when I did read it I got so sucked in that I finished the whole novel in a day.

The novel follows seven high school students: Olivia, Juniper, Matt, Valentine, Lucas, Kate, and Claire. Each of these students represent one of the seven deadly sins in some way. First, I just want to share who I think each one represents and I’d love to hear your opinions once you read the book.

  1. Olivia = Lust
  2. Juniper = Gluttony
  3. Matt = Sloth
  4. Claire = Envy
  5. Kate = Wrath
  6. Lucas = Greed
  7. Valentine = Pride

Honestly, I have no idea if these are correct. Valentine threw me off a bit because he doesn’t seem to represent any of the sins to me. Still, this is my best guess.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the novel. I really enjoyed this story. I liked the mystery of the whole teacher-student sex scandal (you don’t discover who the teacher is until close to the end). Although I guessed correctly pretty early on who it was but it wasn’t so blatantly obvious to me that I was 100 percent sure  and the story behind the scandal was unexpected.

Additionally, I really liked that this book wasn’t all about the scandal. Don’t let the synopsis fool you. For one thing all these characters don’t really come all together until closer to the end of the book. There’s so many things going on before they end up keeping a shared secret.

Olivia, Juniper, and Claire’s friendship is on the rocks because they all have issues and secrets they’re not sharing with each other. Olivia and Kat are twins who are barely speaking and have serious familial troubles. Speaking of familial troubles, Matt’s household isn’t fairing that well either. Lucas has a big secret that could change his whole world if it comes out. And Valentine…well, he was probably my favorite character but he has his own issues as well.

The plot of this novel was well driven and the changing of point of view between the seven characters was very well done. Redgate skillfully changes the voice of each character so they all stand out. This is especially seen in the way she writes Juniper’s POV, which to me read kind of like an Ellen Hopkin’s novel, in that it was less prose and more poetry.

As much as I did enjoy this book, I still had some issues with it. First, unless I missed it, we don’t discover Valentine’s gender until page 110. Up to that point in my head I thought Valentine was a woman and so when it became evident he wasn’t I was a little shocked and had to change my whole perspective.

Secondly, although I liked that each character had their own voice I couldn’t stand the overuse of “like” in Matt’s POV. Also, in his sections all conversations were said in whole paragraphs. For example, rather than splitting up lines of dialogue someone would say, “Hi,” and then I was like, “Hi,” and then he says,”What’s up,” and I’m like, “Nothing. You?”

I don’t know why but that infuriated me. Especially the “likes.” I know we use it in normal conversation but I hated reading it in a book when it wasn’t part of the dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, Matt and Olivia’s use of “Yo,” didn’t sit right with me. It always seemed out of place every time they said it.

Lastly, Claire does something in the novel and we don’t really know if she gets punished for it or not. I wish that could’ve been resolved more. Also, I just genuinely didn’t like Claire as a character and couldn’t muster any sympathy for her.

Still, despite these very small things, I was totally sucked into this novel and couldn’t put it down. I’d say it’s a must read!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!


4 stars

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Book Review: What Was Mine

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be on sale on Jan. 5, 2016.*

Synopsis from Amazon:

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Honestly I requested this book on a whim and when I got it I had forgotten what it was about. Despite this I immediately dived in and I was hooked from the very first page.

Told in various point of views, including Lucy’s, the baby girl she kidnaps, and the woman she stole the baby from, Marilyn, you get every angle of this story. There was one quote I loved from this novel about how Lucy doesn’t see things black and white and constantly lives in a gray area. That’s how I felt about this book.

Helen Klein Ross doesn’t choose a side in the novel. She doesn’t tell you who’s right and who’s wrong. She let’s you decide that for yourself. For me, I couldn’t decide. There’s so many aspects to this story and although obviously kidnapping is wrong and doing it was a terrible thing, Lucy was still a good mom who loved her child, and how she came to have her didn’t change that fact.

I really appreciated the little stories and side notes we got in this book as well. Because we’re given so many point of views you really get to see how this kidnapping affects everyone, not just Lucy, Marilyn, and their daughter. Ross also shows us the girl’s nanny’s backstory and both Lucy and Marilyn’s husbands get a chapter or two. We even get a little tidbit from the detective on the case and some chapters from Lucy’s sister, Cheryl.

Although at first I was worried that having all these point of views would make this story confusing and hard to follow it actually did the opposite. By changing the point of view Ross added to the story, filling in blanks the reader didn’t even know needed to be filled. Ross could’ve written this story in third person but instead she gives a first person view of characters that readers may have otherwise ignored but now see how they play a role, whether it’s big or small, in the bigger story.

What Was Mine is definitely a must read. It’ll keep you hooked until the very end and you may even find yourself wanting to know more. Make sure to pick a copy when it’s released on Jan. 5, 2016.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!


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Book Review: Traffick


Synopsis from Amazon:

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestsellingTricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heartwrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

*I received this book as a digital ARC from Simon and Schuster. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on November 3, 2015.*

I first fell in love with Ellen Hopkins’ writing style in high school when I read Crank. Since then I’ve read every single one of her books (including the adult novels) except one. I’m still waiting to get my hands on Smoke.

The point is I’m a huge fan and Traffick did not disappoint. If you haven’t read Tricks yet be warned there will be spoilers from that book here. I’ll try to keep it minimal but it’ll be hard not to mention a few key points.

If you’re like me it may have been a while since you read Tricks and therefore I urge you to  reread it, or at least look up a summary because when I first started reading Traffick I thought everything would just come back to me but I was very mistaken. I had to read up on Tricks to remember all the crazy that went on before I could dive into the sequel.

Traffick begins pretty close to where Tricks left off. We start with Cody who wakes up from a coma after being shot and then move through all my favorite characters from the first novel.

Seth is still struggling on his own, not being able to return home since he came out to his father. Ginger, Whitney, and Eden are all recovering from their life of turning tricks and trying to figure what will be next for them although they all handle this in very different ways.

I found this novel very interesting because it shows what happens after being trafficked. Seth is the only main character in this novel who’s still turning tricks. Everyone else is dealing with the repercussions and effects of what happened to them.

What Hopkins does very well is show the variety of ways in which a child could end up in this life and unfortunately often do today. There was no stereotype of all these kids coming from a bad home or a poor neighborhood. Of course that was the case for some but not for all. Each of these characters were different with different stories and experiences and I think Hopkins demonstrated that well.

This book took me through a roller coaster of emotions. When one of the characters succeeded I cheered with them. When one failed I cried along with them. I thankfully can’t say I know what living a life like this is like but I can only imagine how difficult it would be to get out. Hopkins doesn’t sugar coat her characters’ struggles but she also showed their triumphs.

My one issue with the book was the typical description of a person of color in reference to food, i.e. using words like “chocolate” and “espresso”to describe skin color and eyes instead of just saying dark skin and brown eyes. But because this book was excellent overall I’ll give Hopkins a pass although really you don’t have to describe us like food. Just say our skin tone color. It’s fine, really.

Moving on, this was an excellent novel and I urge you all to pick it up. If nothing else it made me want to learn more about sex trafficking, and specifically, child trafficking and what I can do to stop it. Hopkins brought light to a real issue and although I know sometimes people look down on YA fiction, Traffick just goes to show that any book, no matter the genre, can have a real message and an even more real impact.

Borrow or Buy: Buy! And while you’re at buy Tricks too.



Book Review: How to be Brave


Synopsis from

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

*I received this book as a digital ARC from St. Martin’s Press. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on November 3, 2015.*

I wanted to like this book. I truly did but I just could not.

The author’s style of writing infuriated me to no end. To be fair, it’s quite possible this type of book is just not my cup of tea but it wasn’t for me at all.

First my biggest issue was at least once every chapter E. Katherine Kottaras would write, “This is what it’s like,” and then proceed to have the character tell us what it indeed was like. I cannot stand this type of writing. Why do this? Why not just write what it is like? There’s no need for a preamble.

To me, this book felt more like a journal. It felt as if the main character, Georgia, was writing in her journal about her experience but she wasn’t the best writer so she would sometimes just stop and do a flashback and say, “This is what it was like,” or tell a story about the present and say, “This is what it is like,” and then proceed to say so. Maybe the book is meant to feel that way but I didn’t like this style.

Moreover, I struggled to like any of the characters. I couldn’t feel sympathetic for Georgia because she switched between being a sad girl to cursing and doing out of line things. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to get from her character. At the beginning she seems to have a low self-esteem and needs her bestie, Liss, to step in for her but then also in the beginning of the novel she feels confident enough to make fun of another girl for being fat. This happens within the same part (the book is broken up into two parts). It’d be one thing if this was a character development over time but it just seemed like Georgia (or the author) didn’t know what kind of person Georgia was.

Her Liss didn’t seem like a good friend at all. The crush, Daniel, was okay but not swoon worthy. Georgia’s Dad infuriated me with his lack of understanding and then his ridiculous quick change in personality that seemed very unrealistic. And Georgia’s teacher, Marquez, seemed okay but would sometimes be so rude I’d question if a teacher would really say those things to a student and if so, would that even be considered okay.

Additionally, because of the ways in which Georgia chose to “be brave” I couldn’t find sympathy for her. Maybe Georgia and I just have widely different definitions of what makes a person brave but I just thought a lot of things on her list were just reckless behavior.

Lastly, there’s a lot of events in the book that don’t make a lot of sense to me and just seemed to come out of nowhere. I won’t spoil the book but I will say is someone goes through a serious mental health issue and the way in which it was handled in this book didn’t sit well with me. It felt like the root of the issue was just glossed over and I think if the author was going to touch on that it shouldn’t have been something that just happened but something that had a bigger effect and meaning in the book.

Overall, I think I get what the author was trying to do with this book and as I said I did want to like it but there’s just too many issues with it, plot and style wise, for me to recommend it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow.


2 stars