By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

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Blue Spring Ride

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0072Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) (アオハライド)
Original Story by
 Io Sakisaka
Art by Io Sakisaka
Published by Bessatsu Margar from 2011 to 2015
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School, Slice of Life
Volumes: 13
Chapters:
53
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action film: 6.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

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Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3.5 Stars, Reread January 1, 2017

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

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Gif credits to wordstuck

If I had to choose one word to describe this manga series, it would be the Japanese adjective, “懐かしい” (natsukashii). This term is difficult to translate into English accurately and completely, but it is often used to express a yearning for something, or a slightly nostalgic feeling of missing. As a non-native and amateur learning the foreign language for my own fun, how I’ve personally interpret natsukashii is the feeling you get when you’re reminded of the past. And Blue Spring Ride made me feel just that.

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The story begins with two middle schoolers, Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Tanaka, that like each other making plans to attend a festival together during their school break. However, misunderstandings arise after Futaba accidentally blurts that she hates boys because of their obnoxious behavior. Kou hears her exclamation, and doesn’t meet up with Futaba the day of the event. Futaba believes that he stood her up for the outburst that he overheard, but really he couldn’t make it because of family issues. So she decides to address this misunderstanding when they return to school. But on the day of the new semester, Futaba discovers that Kou has already transferred schools to another town. With a lot of loose ends left and the strength of first love, the two never forget each other in spite of the distance. And then years later, fate makes them enrolled in the same high school. Will they finally face each other after all this time? And will the attraction they shared from the past be rekindled?

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Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

bloodforblood_coverBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2 (2/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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3.5 Stars, Completed November 8, 2016

– read only the bold text to avoid major SPOILERS  –

Blood for Blood is the second and final installment to the Wolf by Wolf duology. It begins with Yael on the run after having just assassinated Adolf Hitler on live television. But it seems like the truth of what happened at the Victors’ ball is much more complicated than what the world saw. The man Yael shot was only another skinshifter, like herself, that took up Hitler’s face as a guise. The consequences for treason and murder is inescapable, and the Resistance is unable to recover after having started Operation Valkyrie too soon. The only way in saving the few people Yael has left in her life is for her to travel across enemy territory in hope of reversing the New Order and completing this last mission without fail.

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

9780399171611_WrathAndDawn_JK.inddThe Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2 (2/2)
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on April 26, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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3.5 Stars, Completed July 7, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

It took me long enough (four months, omg), but I’m finally ready to sit down and put my thoughts into text about this captivating sequel.

The Rose and the Dagger begins where nearly book one ends. Shahrzad is reunited with her family and taking refuge in the desert. While his queen is away, Khalid, in disguise, is wandering around the broken kingdom of Rey trying to aid his people as much as he can and working on diplomatic negotiations that can stave off any bloodshed. With the help of others, Shazi decides she must learn to hone the magical abilities within herself to rid Khalid and Rey of the dark curse and end the impending war once and for all.

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Midnight Hour by C.C. Hunter + Giveaway

midnighthour_final-cvr_revisedMidnight Hour by C.C. Hunter
Series: Shadow Falls: After Dark Book #4 (4/4)
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on October 25, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed October 21, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

As sad as it was to know that in a few weeks she wouldn’t call Shadow Falls her home, she knew change was inevitable. And while this address wouldn’t be listed on forms, it would always be listed in her heart. She took with her the life lessons she learned. Here, she’d found self-confidence. She’d learned how to dream, how to never turn away from a leap of faith.

She learned the value of friendships. Of laughter during hard times. Of love.

And so the conclusion to the Shadow Falls series is here! The release of Midnight Hour actually came as a huge surprise to me seeing that I thought this series ended last year with book three, Unspoken, but I’m not complaining since this gives me another excuse to revisit this world one last time.

In this fourth and final installment, like the rest of the students at Shadow Falls Miranda Kane is preparing for her senior year graduation (meaning she has to study and take the SAT once again for college entry because of her dyslexia). But, of course, at Shadow Falls where all things paranormal exist nothing stays normal and calm for long. Miranda unintentionally becomes involved in a crazy situation, and when she awakes in the hospital after the near-death experience she finds a growing tattoo on her body. Many are already disappointed in her for not meeting the standards and surrendering the title of High Priestess (basically the most powerful witch) to her sister, so adding this mystery is not going to please her mom. But then her sister’s kidnapped, and all hell breaks loose in town as local robberies and murders surface. With Midnight Hour, the unstoppable team at Shadow Falls (Miranda, Della, and Kylie) are back to kick butt and set everything right.

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When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

when-the-moon-was-ours-new-1When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne on October 4, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBTQ+
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Completed September 25, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

When the Moon Was Ours is a magical realism tale that intricately weaves multicultural elements and LGBTQ+ themes by narrating a romance between two childhood friends. Miel, the mysterious girl found in the town’s water tower, has always been considered an outcast because the hem of her skirts are often a little damp and she has roses growing out of her wrist. Sam, also thought peculiar by the community for his deep olive tone skin and silent demeanor, is the boy that paints moons and hangs them in trees so that the town’s children can sleep with sweet dreams. Since the moment they met they’ve been totally inseparable; it’s only natural that when they grow up the platonic love they had as kids develops into something more. However, they aren’t able to earn their happily ever after immediately because the Bonner sisters, four beautiful girls rumored to be witches, have decided they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, and they’re prepared to reveal all of Miel’s secrets to the townspeople until she gives them up.

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The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Published by David Fickling Books on January 1, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 353
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed June 17, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

“Who wants to be normal anyway? Fancy that on your gravestone. Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal.”

The Art of Being Normal shares a story about two people with very big secrets. Ever since grade school David Piper has been known as the school freak for writing, “I want to be a girl when I grow up.” But he’s had two best friends that have cheered and supported him throughout the years-that is until he becomes the third wheel when the two best friends decide to upgrade from being “friends” into “in a relationship.” Around the same time, Leo Denton, has just moved to David’s school. For Leo, all he craves for with this new institution is a chance to maintain an invisibility that he lacked at his last. Once the two meet, David and Leo are immediately drawn towards each other for unknown reasons, and they soon form a comfortable and sincere friendship.

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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Published by St. Martin’s Press on June 7, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed June 1, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Have you ever met a person and instantly just clicked? It’s funny how life works. People may have cross paths before but it’s not until a specific encounter before their lives may entwine. You Know Me Well embodies this puzzling but amazing entity called friendship so excellently.

The story is about two openly gay high schoolers that coincidently meet at a bar the first night of Pride week. They’ve had Calculus together for the last year, but neither of them have ever spoken to the other. But that fateful night, they, both troubled and wary of love, find an instant connection and solace in each other. Told in an alternating perspective by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well refreshingly explores the a type of love that is often overlooked in YA literature: platonic love.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Eligible-Curtis-Sittenfeld-April-19Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Series: The Austen Project #4 (4/?)
Published by Random House on April 19, 2016
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Retelling
Pages: 492
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed May 20, 2016

– SPOILER free –

My all time favorite classic (well tied with East of Eden) is Pride and Prejudice. I’ve rewatched the  2005 Keira Knightley film adaptation at least over a hundred times (no exaggeration-I’ve made my father, friends, and even acquaintances watch it with me). Don’t worry, I also adore the 1995 Jennifer Ehle BBC series (because, oh my, Colin Firth and his soaked shirt). And I’ve read all but one of Jane Austen’s work (I’ve can’t get through Emma for some reason). It may be obvious but I am one of Austen’s many superfans. Needless to say, I had extremely high expectations for this modern retelling and, thankfully, Eligible did an incredible job with satisfying those hopes (for the most part).

Eligible begins with Chip Bingley, Harvard graduate and practicing physician, as the talk of the town in the city of Cincinnati after folks learn that Chip will soon join the staff at Christ Hospital. He was the most recent bachelor on the reality TV show, “Eligible” (very similar to The Bachelor), but ended up choosing neither of the last two remaining women, meaning in Mrs. Bennet’s book he’s available for one of her girls. Also moving to Cincy for work is Chip’s best friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Stanford graduate and a neurosurgeon positioned at the stroke center. Jane Bennet is a sweet yoga instructor about to reach forty, and her younger sister, Liz Bennet, is a writer for the prominent feminist magazine, Mascara. Like Pride and Prejudice, Liz and Darcy find themselves involved in an unexpected romance despite their unfavorable first impressions. To find happiness together Darcy must move past his pride and Liz her prejudice.

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Summer Days and Summer Nights by Various Authors

Summer Days GIFSummer Days and Summer Nights by Various Authors (Edited by Stephanie Perkins)
Published by St. Martin’s Press on May 17, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Anthology
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed May 17, 2016

– minor SPOILERS ahead –

The fantastic thing about anthologies is that there’s always going to be a short story for everyone. I really enjoyed Stephanie Perkins’ last project with My True Love Gave to Me last winter (my review), so I couldn’t pass up the chance to read Summer Days and Summer Nights. Plus, it’s been a slumpy summer in the reading department for me lately, so what better way than get back into the reading groove with this assortment of sweet, seasonally appropriate romances? Plus, I have to confess I tend to gravitate towards all books with titles that share my name, haha.

Like my review for MTLGtM, I’ll be reviewing each story on its own, in depth, and doing a short summary for the overall anthology at the end.

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