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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Publisher: 21 February 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 368
Series: N/A

"Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be."


What else can I say other that I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK!

I have been hearing quite a bit of talk about this book, especially since it has won a ton of awards! Knowing all of that, I went in with my expectations very high........and this book surpassed even my highest expectations! It's rare that a book does that. 

Aristotle And Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an absolutely beautiful book that I believe everyone must read once in their lifetime. It tells the story of a young, misunderstood boy growing up and trying to discover who he is. Along the way, he makes a lifelong friend who is having just as hard of a time at life as him. Together, these two boys go on an incredible journey. 

I was never disappointed with this book. Yes, it was slightly predictable in the end, but getting there was a roller coaster that I did not mind riding all the way to the very tippy top. It was honest, and raw, and everything that you could want in a novel.

I'm not going to say anything else and let you all just go and read this beautiful, amazing, one of a kind book for yourselves. 

-Shawnee Smith

Monday, July 13, 2015

Library Haul!

I just got a nice little haul from the library today! That's one of the perks of being gone on vacation - when you get back, you have a lot of books to read! 

Honey Girl Nowhere But Here (Thunder Road, #1) Tiny Pretty Things

Making Pretty Last Year's Mistake

I can't wait to start reading all of these fabulous books I don't even know which one to start with, my choices are so good!!! <3

-Shawnee Smith

Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

The Wrong Side of Right

Publisher: 17 March 2015 by Dial Books
Pages: 390
Series: N/A

"Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be."

Okay, coming from someone who HATES politics (no, seriously, I hate politics...and my brother is a politician too, so I'm around it all the time), I really enjoyed this book!

There have been quite a few plots lately where someone discovers who their long lost parent is and their world gets turned upside down because of where they come from, and The Wrong Side of Right it sort of like that. Only with a twist. Kate's dad is running to become the President...............of the United States of America. Dang. 

I don't blame Kate for wanting to know her dad, especially since her mom passed away a year earlier, but seriously, sometimes I think Kate made some wrong decisions. Sometimes she needed to get a spine and tell people where they can stick it. I could tell that Kate was a strong person, a strong character, but she just needed some more confidence in herself. 

Let's talk about this star crossed lovers thing that went on. Kate's love interest is none other than the son of the current President running for a second term. If that's not a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, I don't know what is. I really did like Andrew though. He comes off as a playboy prankster in the beginning, but you slowly start to see his true colors. I enjoyed his personality and thought it brought a lot of color to the book.

In my opinion, even if you don't like politics, you will still enjoy this book. There was quite a bit of action and intrigue and I think it is definitely one to read!

-Shawnee Smith

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Vacation!

I had a great time on my vacation to Las Vegas!

I read three books while I was gone...

The Heir (The Selection, #4) Love, Lucy Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

and I bought Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch as a little treat to myself one night.

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And I found the most amazing rare books store in the middle of one of the shopping centers! I mean look at these pictures!

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There were whole walls covered with rare books and I just wanted to hold all of them! But sadly I wasn't allowed to touch :( Luckily they let me take some pictures!

I also visited some of the cool spots like a real tourist!

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And I ventured outside of the city to The Valley of Fire to look at some Petroglyphs...

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and to the Hoover Dam where I took the obligitory 'I'm in two places at once' photo! (For those of you who don't know, the Hoover Dam is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona.)

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So that was my vacation! I'm leaving again for another one in a few days and I'm super excited! I probably won't post while I'm gone on that one either, so I apologize in advance! 

-Shawnee Smith

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

Publisher: 26 May 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 337
Series: To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2

"Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing."

This was the first book that I read after being released to summer vacation and I couldn't have chosen a better book! It was funny and sweet and incredibly well written!

P.S. I Still Love You picked up where the first installment left off. Peter and Lara Jean are fighting and its not certain if their relationship will be mended. This is a theme throughout the whole book. Lara Jean and Peter fight...a lot. It started to bug me.

One aspect of this novel that I really liked was the game of Assassins. I've actually played it before but with different rules so it was fun to see it in a book. I think it would be exciting to play it on that large of a scale over that long of a time period. The game just added a different element to the story than what other books have and it was highly enjoyable.

This book was predictable, but that doesn't mean it was bad. I actually really liked reading this book and seeing more of Lara Jean's life. I almost wish that there were more!

If you haven't yet, you should definitely read the To All The Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han. You will not be disappointed! I promise!

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I'm Going on Vacation!

As you can tell by the title of this post, I am about to embark on my first vacation of the summer. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

It is an 18 hour long road trip down to Las Vegas, Nevada.


That part, I'm not so excited about. In honor of my (incredibly long) road trip, I have assembled a list of YA road trip books to read. Without further ado...

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Paper Towns Take Me There

Guitar Highway Rose Thou Shalt Not Road Trip Let's Get Lost

Finding Paris The Disenchantments Two-Way Street

There you have it, nine YA Road Trip Novels. So pick one of them up, and enjoy the ride. And I'll enjoy sitting in a car for 18 hours. haha. Just kidding. I'm probably going to go insane. 

At least I'll have some books to keep me company <3

-Shawnee Smith

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

Publisher: 4 February 2014 by Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 550
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3

"In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has. "

It's about time I wrote this review. So, Cress is the third installment of The Lunar Chronicles (you can check out my review for Cinder here and Scarlet here). This book throws in a new character, Cress (AKA Rapunzel), a Lunar shell who has been forced to live alone on a satellite doing the technological bidding of Queen Levana since she was a kid. Cress gets in contact with Cinder and everything goes haywire during a botched rescue attempt. 

Despite the added POV's, I really liked this story. I thought Cress was an interesting character to bring in and she was made even more interesting by her attachment to Carswell Thorne. She is a good asset to have when it comes to the technology and you can also get a good sense of the other characters through her non-biased feelings. Her thoughts about the other characters made them seem more deep, like they are not shallow (Do you get what I'm saying? I hope you do because it's an important point).

One of my favorite parts in the whole book was Cinder realizing how many people will stand behind her. Not just those that are Lunar, but those that are human and believe that the Lunars do not pose a threat. I think it boosted her confidence a lot. Look out for that scene when you see it.

There are quite a few plot twists in the book, some of them are unfortunately predictable. 'Unfortunately' because I could tell that they are supposed to be big bombs that is supposed to rock your world. Yeah, I had my hunches about those ones. 

You know that reunion that I was hoping would happen in this book, the one between Cinder and Kai, yeah it happened. And I am so happy because it is everything that I wanted it to be and more. I wont say anything further so I don't spoil any of the plot, but it was so awesome and I'm laughing just thinking about it!

But I want to know what happens next! There are so many unanswered questions! Like what will happen with Scarlet? Will they all stop Queen Levana? I want to know! Marissa Meyer, write faster! 

I definitely recommend that you read The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer sometime soon! You will not be disappointed!

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: None Of The Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above

Publisher: 7 April 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352
Series: N/A

"A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?"

Representation. Matters. 

I'm so happy we live in an age where it is starting to be okay to be who you truly are and not have to put on a mask everyday just to survive. I'm glad that people are (albeit slowly) being educated about what makes people different inside and out. 

I wont sit here and preach about how good this novel is representing the struggle those that are intersex go through, because I don't know what it's like to be intersex. However, I do believe that this novel is great at showing the world that people who are intersex are no different than everyone else. 

I enjoyed getting into Kristin's mind and following her through this journey. I was getting so mad at the people who were so ignorant! I just wanted to scream "Let her be! She's not hurting anyone!" The fact that I was rooting for Kristin is a testament to Gregorio's writing and creating of amazing characters.

I have been waiting to read this book for quite some time and I was not let down at all. This book could have easily been something where the author tries to talk about a controversial topic and then shys away from it without really addressing it. But Gregorio did an AMAZING job with this story and with the topic. 

I highly, HIGHLY recommend that everyone read this book and pass it along! Make your younger sister read it, make your dad read it, put it in your local Little Free Library. Get this book out there! 

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My TBR List....Stack

I mentioned over on twitter last week (@YAFictionReview) that I have a stack of books just sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read. They have been taunting me since the beginning of last week when I was in finals mode.

Now that finals are done...


...and it's summer vacation ...


...I finally get to start reading them!!!! 

Here is the list of books currently waiting to be read by moi

None of the Above Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe The Heir (The Selection, #4) Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear, #1)

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2) The Wrong Side of Right No Place to Fall 

I am so excited to start reading all of these books! 

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover


Publisher: 10 March 2015 by Atria Books
Pages: 320
Series: N/A

"Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…"

OMG! A character my own age!

So, I had a small break from school (thank you Memorial Day) and I was able to sit down and enjoy a book in one sitting! Hurray! 

I actually thoroughly enjoyed this book. I like that it took place so long after the first scene that way some of the major plot points could have time to develop. 

While this books is a romantic book, and at some points I did feel like I was reading some soft-core porn, there were many other topics that were discussed. These other topics kept the book from veering too far into the sickeningly sweet love story that is often portrayed. 

Of course there were a few "oh my gosh I can't believe you just did/said that" moments, as to be expected with every novel out there in the world. But I thought Hoover did an exceptional job creating these characters. While they did some things we as readers may not condone, I can understand why they would do them.

And I LOVED the confessions. There was actually a confessional project in Las Vegas, Nevada that I read about and wanted to go to. Sadly they closed a few years ago (news still does travel slowly, even with the internet). I liked how the confessions were weaved all through the story, not just the confessions that Owen received for his art, but also the confessions that Owen and Auburn gave to each other. 

I highly recommend this book. It was a gripping read and I think everyone should read it! Plus the cover is amazing!

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

99 Days

Publisher: 21 April 2015 by Balzer + Bray 
Pages: 384
Series: N/A

"Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. "

I have been slowly making my way through this book whenever I got the chance to have a little time for non-academic reading. Let me just say right now if someone tells you to take an American Nobel Laureates class, don't. It wont be fun. At all. 

On the topic of 99 Days, I really enjoyed this book. It got me out of my head when I needed it to, and that is what I want in a book like this. The plot of 99 Days is not all that complicated, girl is dating boy, girl sleeps with boys brother, whole world finds out, girl runs away, girl comes back for summer before college and all hell breaks loose. 

I enjoyed the characters. While I did not agree with all of their choices (keep it in your pants everyone!) nor did I like all of their personality traits, however, I did enjoy the fact that the characters stayed true to who they were. There was not this whole bullshit revelation two thirds of the way through the book and everyone forgave each other and they all skipped off into the sunset holding hands. 

While there was some closure and forgiveness, not everyone was happy in the end and I think that would be true in real life if this really happened. 

I highly suggest reading 99 Days if you haven't already. It is a perfect summer read. So go grab some lemonade and hit the pool to work on your tan and make your way through this book. 

-Shawnee Smith

P.S. I agree with Molly on every decision regarding her mom, I mean, who does that kind of thing?! I mean if you're going to base a book off of someone's life, CHANGE EVERYTHING. Don't pull a Dan Humphrey (yes, I just made a Gossip Girl reference) and make it so obvious that everyone knows who the characters are based on. Be a decent person. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

Publisher: 4 November 2014 by HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Series: Firebird #1

"Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure."

This book has been getting a lot of notice since it was published a couple of weeks ago and I truly believe that it deserves all of the hype! It was fast paced, has an intriguing plot, and some serious plot twists!

While some of the scienc-y pieces went straight over my head, because lets face it there is a reason I am an English major, I thought this book was incredibly well written. Gray must have done some serious research to be able to write about old time-y Russia and then switch to a Marine Biology station in the middle of the Pacific. She wrote about it with such conviction that it was obvious she knew what she was talking about. I give her props.

I thought Marguerite was too quick to fall in love with Russian-Paul and say all of those things about how all the Marguerite's are the same and Russian-Paul even says that once. But then when Marguerite is back with her-Paul she wont love him or she feels like she is betraying Russian-Paul. (This is probably extremely confusing if you have not read the book and I apologize.) This was really the main part of the story that bothered me. It just didn't make sense.

In the end, I LOVED this book! I can't wait to read the second installment and find out what will happen! I definitely recommend that you read A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray!

-Shawnee Smith

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What Do I REALLY Want to Read?

Many avid readers have a TBR list (a To Be Read list if you are new to this world), A list of all the books that they want (have) to read! 

For me, that list is over 100 books long and growing. 

However, there are always books that I want to read more than others and I thought I would let you all know which books I REALLY want to read. 

None of the Above The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2) Homecoming (The Hundred, #3) P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1) Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4) The Heir (The Selection, #4) Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)


Have you read any of these books? Are any of these books also on your TBR list?  Let me know in the comments! 

-Shawnee Smith