Top Ten Tuesday | The First Ten Books I Reviewed

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Okay, so even though my blog is only three years old, I have been reviewing on Goodreads for a really long time! I was legitimately a cringey little kid, and I don’t claim any of the reviews I wrote before 2015, but I tried. But these were the first ten books that little Melanie ever attempted to write reviews for!


Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater


Marked (House of Night #1) by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast


Darkfever (Fever #1) by Karen Marie Moning


Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead


Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely, #1) by Melissa Marr


Wake (Wake #1) by Lisa McMann


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides


Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Modern Faerie Tales #1) by Holly Black


Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp (Youth in Revolt #1) by C.D. Payne


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green



The nostalgia is real, friends. But these ten books, even though some are truly hot messes, really did pave the way for me to start reviewing. And, more importantly, they were the gateway to me connecting with so many people and making so many friends! Tell me what was one of the first books you ever reviewed! And I hope you’re having the happiest of reading, loves!

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You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

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ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend – Kayla! at Books & Blends!

“You felt so deeply, and for so long, that your very sadness grew limbs and walked away from you. You have moved mountains, Magpie Lewis, and you are only just getting started.”

Katrina Leno is truly a gift to this world, and I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve her, her words, or her stories, but I’m forever thankful. You Must Not Miss is a masterful expose on rape culture and the things that everyone is willing to do instead of believing girls. And this is one of the best things I’ve read all year.

You Must Not Miss is a story about a girl named Magpie who is a sophomore in high school, lives in a small town called Father in New England, and whose life has drastically changed in the past three months. The abandonment in this book actually hurts my soul to think about, but basically Magpie first found her father cheating, and then something horrible happened to her, and then her father left, and then her best friend left, and finally her sister left. Magpie is now living alone with her mother, who is an alcoholic and unwilling to contribute anything to the household. And, friends, Magpie’s grief tries to be so silent, but you will be unable to hear anything other than its loudness, and it’s one of the most heartbreaking reads I’ve endured.

“Last summer her sister had been home, her father had been discreet, her mother had been sober…”

But when Magpie discovers a portal to a new world called Near, where she controls what happens to everyone, she starts to carve out a little bit of her own happiness. And she even finds a new friend, named Hither, who helps her learn about this new world and the abilities at her fingertips.

Yet, we also get to see Magpie’s reality, trying to go to a high school where people hate her, and trying to navigate the halls to ignore someone who was her best friend for all her life. Someone who she loved unconditionally. Someone who knows the truth and refuses to believe her. But we also get to meet some of Magpie’s new friends who have also been ostracized; Clare, who is carrying her own grief, Brianna, who was humiliated once over something natural that she couldn’t control, Luke, who is bisexual, and even the start of a something more than friendship with a trans boy named Ben.

My full trigger warnings will be at the end of this review, but I am going to talk about sexual assault in this review, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right head-space before reading any further.

“I’ve thought an awful lot about how many times a girl has to say no before a guy really believes her.”

This book is a big fuck you to rape culture and I was living for every single word on every single page. People don’t even want to believe girls when they know it’s the truth, and that’s the saddest fact of them all. Sexual abuse and rape culture are normalized every single day, and every time some ignorant person talks about how much the victim drank, what the victim wore, what position the victim put themselves in, even how many times the victim said yes before saying no. When none of that matters, rape is rape, regardless of any light you want to shine on it to make excuses you use to try to put the blame on the victim. And, again, this only helps to normalize the horrible things people are justifying doing because powerful people prove that they are able to get away with committing these horrible acts over and over again. And it’s just going to continue if we don’t commit to breaking these horrible cycles.

There is just so much good in this story, and it’s heartbreaking, truly, but it’s such a real heartbreak that so many of us will experience, while so many of us wish for our own Near to escape into. While talking to my friend Madalyn, she said that Summer of Salt is a quiet book about rape culture, where You Must Not Miss is an extremely loud take on, and that’s honestly the most perfect sentence in the world to describe these two books that I gave five stars to. Because sometimes you need to yell when you live in a world that does everything to prove over and over again that it doesn’t want to believe you.

Lastly, this story, and the way it is told, also is loosely inspired by “One for Sorrow”, and a genius interpretation that Katrina Leno gave us of it. From the title, to the chapter headers, to secrets that are never to be told. Like, I stan a creative genius who renders me speechless, because holy shit did Katrina Leno execute it perfectly.

“If she has learned anything in life, it was that you could always do without people. You could always find a way to do without them.”

Overall, I’m going to be really honest with you; this ending is a wild one. I can see a lot of people loving it completely, and some not liking it at all. This book has so many speculative elements, and I adored it with the sum of my being, but I know that that isn’t for everyone. But this book just meant the world to me, and it was so powerful, and so thought-provoking. Truly, me and my friends spent hours talking about the ending of this book, and it just made me cherish the book even more. And I promise, I’ll carry this story and Magpie in my heart forever.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for talk of suicide, bullying, talk of past cheating, underage drinking, alcoholism, abandonment, talk of rape, talk of date rape, semi graphic oral rape, abusive friendships, abusive parents, and anxiety attacks.

Buddy read with Jane! ❤

 

March 2019 Wrap Up

WrapUp3

Hey, loves! I know this is so late! This month has just been a little wild for me, because I’ve been getting ready to go on vacation to Hawaii! I leave on the 26th, but I’ve just been trying to get as much reading in as possible with my free time. Even though I am very much slacking with reviewing and commenting, but hopefully I’ll get that caught up this week too! And I promise, after May, things will be back to normal again around here on the blog! But I hope you’re all having an amazing April, and I’m sorry this is so late!

What I read in March…
(Like always, you can click the links in each of the titles if you would like to read a more in-depth review of each book and see the individual trigger and content warnings.)


💖 Also, before I get into these fourteen books, I also beta read a fifteenth book for my dear friend Julie, and I loved it so very much. It would mean the world to me if you all added it to your Goodreads TBRS – HERE! 

➽ – Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan – ★★★★★
➽ – Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner – ★★★
➽ – Shades of Magic Vol. 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab &Andrea Olimpieri – ★★★
➽ – On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – ★★★★★
➽ – The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang – ★★★★
➽ – Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – ★★★★★
➽ – Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger – ★★★
➽ – The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray #1) by Christine Lynn Herman – ★★★
➽ – Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay – ★★★
➽ – The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu – ★★★★★
➽ – The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – ★★★★
➽ – City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare – ★★★
➽ – Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett – ★★★★
➽ – Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence – ★★★★★

Okay, loves! That’s all! I am so sorry this is going up so late (for me) again! But I hope you all enjoyed! I also hope you’re all having the happiest of reading! I love you! 💛✨

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Dragons & Tea Book Club | May Pick

dragons & tea

Hey, loves! Okay, today we are announcing our May pick for the #DragonsAndTeaBookClub! The month of May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month here in the US, and you all knew that me and Amy weren’t going to sleep on that! So, next month’s book is by a Korean author, who I would give my life for. And this is a story celebrating Korean mythology and we cannot wait to pick this up and hopefully love it all with you! 💗

And we hope that you all will join us in our Goodreads Group, too! 🐉☕

But we also will be celebrating and talking with you all on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


But without further ado, our May pick is:

Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee

 

The Dates & Breakdown:
May 13th – Chapters 1 – 7
May 14th – Chapters 8 – 14
May 15th – Chapters 15 – 22
May 16th – Chapters 23 – 28
May 17th – Chapters 29 – End

Content and Trigger Warnings:
I couldn’t find any! But here are some amazing reviews:
Rincey
Monty
Isis


And if you’d like to be friends with me and Amy on any other platform:
🐉☕ Melanie: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: BooktubeInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence

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ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend – Alexa at Alexa Loves Books!

“When they put us in that cage we never really came out of it again.”

Good Lord, Mark Lawrence has truly created a once in a lifetime series that I will cherish forever. Holy Sister is the third and final book in a series that will go down in history as one of the brightest shining lights in SFF history.

I very much implore you to read Bound after Grey Sister, but before Holy Sister because it really works as a much-needed bridge short story. This book is told in two timeless; one, after the events of Grey Sister, and then three years later. But the interchanging of these two timelines, both in Nona’s perspective, was truly the perfect way to craft this tale.

This series is all about a girl named Nona who we get to see grow up, but we meet her during her childhood when she hasn’t had the easiest of lives, and is currently in the gallows for attempted murder, but is saved and taken to a convent of nuns who all are able to harness magical abilities, and we quickly learn that Nona has some magical abilities herself. Yet now, in this last book, this convent, Sweet Mercy, and all the characters we have grown to love, have threats surrounding them and all their lives are on the line.

My favorite part of this book? I have truly fallen in love with these magical assassin nuns and I’m honestly prepared to die for any and all of them. Truly, the found family in this book is just unparalleled by anything else. From the bonds of sisters, to the bonds of lovers, to the bonds of just women loving and accepting each other, regardless of the paths you have walked or are currently walking in life. All the side characters are some of the greatest of all time, but Apple and Kettle will never leave me or my heart. And Glass will forever and always be my queen.

But Mark Lawrence truly gave me everything I wanted when he crafted Nona, and in this book especially when he made Nona attracted to multiple genders, most likely bisexual. But Nona is a pan goddess in my eyes, and no one can change my mind on this. Also, she will go down as one of my favorite characters of all-time. She’s come far, from learning that the word brave does mean to be strong, but it also means to be vulnerable and willing to let people in. Seeing her grow, with this group of girls, but also by herself, while being shaped by this cruel and unforgiving world, filled with even more cruel and unforgiving circumstances; it’s so beautiful I don’t even have words for it.

“The fight matters. But in the end it is never truly won or lost, and victory lies in discovering that we are bigger than it is.”

Watching Nona become the woman she is, and watching her walk this path, all the paths, I don’t even have words for it. I think this entire series is going to stand the test of time and go down as one of the best fantasies ever written. The story is just perfection, the characters are my favorite, the writing is so smart and so beautiful, the themes are life changing, and the entire story is completely unforgettable. If you haven’t picked up Red Sister yet, I’m begging you to give it a try. This trilogy is truly a masterpiece.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings loss of a loved one, queer characters do die (most characters in this are/seem queer, so I don’t think it’s a bury your gays trope, but use caution still), violence, gore, torture, human trafficking, kidnapping, and war themes.

The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu

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ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend – Heather at Bookables!

“It’s a classic love story. I hit on him at a party, he asked me out, then we fought an epic magical battle between good and evil side by side, and now we need a vacation.”

The Red Scrolls of Magic is the story that Magnus and Alec always deserved. My two precious boys, both trying to live in a world that wants them to be something they’re not, but together they are able to find happiness; it’s too pure. There is a reason why they are so many people’s favorite OTP and ship of all time, and I think this brand-new installment is going to make so many people happy.

And this brand-new spin-off takes place during City of Fallen Angels, when most of the Shadowhunter universe believes The Mortal War to be over. I do recommend that you read at the very least Lady Midnight before picking this one up, because there are so many layers and elements that you just will not appreciate without knowing certain twists that are revealed in The Dark Artifices.

Magnus and Alec are off trying to be romantic in Paris together, finally going on their very first vacation together, but a good friend soon informs them that they could potentially be in grave danger. A cult, The Crimson Hand, and their sacred book (yeah, you guessed it), The Red Scrolls of Magic, and the sacrifices they are making in the name of the cult leader. But the thing is, many people, including the Spiral Council, think that Magnus not only started this cult back in the day, but also that he is still leading it. Magnus also is discovering that someone or something has possibly tampered with his memories, yet he feels like there might be some truth in him starting the cult many moons ago.

“Seek the children of demons. Love them as you love your lord. Do not let the children be alone.”

We get to see so much of Magnus’ past in this book, and so much of it is heartbreaking. I mean, if you have followed my reviews while I read everything by Cassandra Clare in 2018, you will know that Magnus has always been a favorite character of mine. But all the flashbacks in this book, in juxtaposition to the man we all know and love, it pulled at my heartstrings constantly while reading. Magnus Bane is a literary gift and I will thank all the higher powers for him and for Cassie Clare for creating him every single day.

And this story is broken up in three parts that I will summarize in three sentences:

Part I – City of Love (Paris)
– Romantic vacation quickly turns into a mission from Hell (factually).

Part II – City of Masks (Venice)
– Best party ever, and holy moly cameos from above (literally).

Part III – City of War (Rome)
– All the action, I’m living my best gay life, and the cliffhanger of all cliffhanger endings (truly).

“When was it decided that a warlock child is worth less than the children of the Angel?”

Like all the books in the Shadowhunter universe, bigotry and prejudices are at the forefront. How everyone looks at the Shadowhunters, who share blood with angels, is completely different than the Downworlders, especially Warlocks who share blood with Demons. And hatred will always breed the cruelest acts. The Shadowhunters and the Clave can be pretty closed minded over anyone who is deemed different, so Alec being gay AND dating a warlock is something that has shaken up many Shadowhunters.

But Alec, unconditionally loving himself and Magnus, has started something beautiful, and because of it, many other Shadowhunters are learning to love and accept themselves. Aline and Helen are major side character in this book, and we even get to see them meet for the very first time. Friends, I don’t even have words. Not only are Aline and Helen my favorite queer ship in the Shadowhunter world, they are probably my favorite sapphic ship of all-time. Seeing the Asian girl get the Fae girl of her dreams? It just does something to me every single time. Also, speaking of Shadowhunter cameos, Lily Chen is also in the story, and she is the Asian pansexual love of my life, so I was truly living my best life with the entire cast of characters in this book.

“He’d always assumed that storybook moments like these were meant for Jace, Isabelle, anyone but him. Yet here he was.”

But, to me, this book was all about forgiveness and how sometimes forgiving someone is the most powerful move you can possibly make. We are all more than the mistakes of our parents and people that did horrible things who happen to share our blood. Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone is deserving of love, and sometimes that comes in the form of forgiveness And sometimes, beyond anything else, we need to forgive ourselves for past mistakes that we’ve made. Who you are in this moment means way more than who you were growing up, or even who you were last year. Sometimes people really do deserve second chances, and I hope you give yourself all the chances in the world to become the person you want to be.

Overall, I loved this with my whole heart. These characters, all the queerness, the themes, the story, the mysteries, the twists; it was all amazing, especially knowing everything we know from all the other books that have taken place after the events in this one. And if you love the Warlocks in this world, then this is truly going to be the book for you! This was just a wonderful addition to the Shadowhunter world, and I think so many people are going to love it. Also, with all the Shadow Market activity and cameos, I really can’t wait to read the last two short stories in Ghosts of the Shadow Market this June!

Please use caution reading the rest of this review if you have not read this book and all the series leading up to this book! And as always, I’m going to do a little mini character breakdown on my thoughts and feelings on all of the main characters in this book. Spoilers ahead!

“If only the world were a fairy tale, Nephilim.”

(Art by Cassandra Jean!)

Magnus Bane – Bi, Indonesian, High Warlock of Brooklyn. Magnus is truly going through some shit in this book, and my heart breaks for him. On top of everything, he is so scared to tell Alec who his real father is, and… my heart.

Alec Lightwood – Gay, Shadowhunter, willing to protect Magnus at all costs. Me and Alec honestly have a rocky Shadowhunter history together, but I truly have grown to love him so much, and I love his love for Magnus. Alec is unsure of so many things, but he is never unsure about his love for Magnus.

Aline Penhallow – Lesbian, Asian, Shadowhunter, love of my life.

Helen Blackthorn – Bi, Shadowhunter, half Fae, second love of my life.

Leon Verlac – Bi, Shadowhunter, annoying as fuck. And people are really going to dislike him because of the “I’m bi, so I want to sleep with everyone” stereotype.

“She has seen so many tragedies, and they both knew the worst tragedies were born of love.”

Tessa Gray – Seeing her and Magnus talk about their love for Shadowhunters? Fuck me up, fam. Few things are better in the Shadowhunter universe than Magnus and Tessa’s friendship.

Peng Fang – We meet this vampire and blood seller in the Paris Shadow Market and I seriously just want to know everything about it, because there is no way he isn’t going come more into play.

Izzy and Jace’s Phone Call – I had to list them with this character breakdown, because this phone call, and Simon trying to ask them for sex advice, was one of my favorite things in this book. The grapefruit suggestion almost took me out, honestly.

Johnny Rook – Be still, my heart. Johnny is normally at the LA Shadow Market, but he is at the Paris one and helps Magnus out a little bit. Also, I remember something that Johnny has in a TDA book and I can’t wait to see how he got his hands on this relic.

Shinyun Jung – Korean, has a history with the cult, and is traveling alongside Magnus and Alec.

Prince Adaon – The smile I had on my face when I saw this sweetheart at the party. Ah, I can’t wait for him to be king already and to let my poor baby Kieran live his best life. Ah, my sweet Unseelie Princes, I can’t.

Malcom Fade – My jaw dropped, friends. Dropped. The High Warlock of LA is for sure in this book and throws the best party I’ve ever read about. And we know all the shit he was up to in Lady Midnight, so I was honestly quaking.

Catarina Loss – Probably my favorite warlock (besides Magnus, obv) and I always smile over her, Magnus, and Ragnor Fell’s friendship. Give me a cameo from her in every Shadowhunter book, please.

Raphael Santiago – Ace/Asexual, Mexican, vampire. Friends, I can’t cry anymore, okay? I always love seeing Raphael and Magnus and their friendship, but seeing Raphael and Alec bond and become friends, in the Raphael way, it truly broke me. And I just keep thinking about their son, and… I honestly am crying more? Wow.

Lily Chen – My pansexual and Asian goddess. I would die for this woman and I want nothing more than for he to have her own full-length series. Also, seeing Helen and her kiss? Can officially confirm: Helen loves Asian women and I am truly living on cloud nine forever.

Hypatia Vex – Warlock, runs the London Shadow Market. Seriously, this book is a warlock wet dream.

Barnabas Hale – Warlock, LA Shadow Market runner, and always a treat to read about.

Asmodeus – I’ve been screaming since City of Heavenly Fire to learn more about Magnus’ dad, and this book truly delivered. Yet, we have so much more to learn, and I think the next book is going to be everything.

“If I’m a hero of war, so is he.”

It is truly just a wild ride to see baby Magnus and baby Alec at the start of their new relationship, figuring out what they both want, what works, and what doesn’t, to seeing them married, seeing them as fathers, seeing them get the life they deserve, even if the world around them is still in chaos. To just know Alec becomes Consul of the Clave and is going to change the world for all Downworlder children. Friends, I am weeping at the honor of getting to see Magnus and Alec’s lives together. What a blessing, truly. Also, because I know people are going to be using the search engine on my blog to find this information: yes, Alec and Magnus do have sex for the first time in this book, but yes, Cassie keeps it totally YA and fades to black it before it becomes not PG13. (Also, friendly reminder: cis women, don’t fetishize m/m sex, thanks!)

And I know I make a lot of jokes about Aline and Helen, but they truly make me happier than any other couple in all of these books. I had no idea that they were even going to be in this story, let alone letting us see them meet for the first time, and seeing Aline being the disaster gay she really is trying to ask Helen out. And with everything I said about Magnus and Alec and seeing them start out but knowing where their path leads in the future together, seeing Aline and Helen, and knowing all that they were forced to endure because of bigotry, it just takes everything to a whole other level.

Overall, I just loved this completely. I laughed out loud, I cried over so many cameos, I smiled from pure happiness at my OTPs starting out their relationships, and I always wanted more of everything. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Lost Book of the White, because I have a feeling that it’s going to be even better than this amazing series starter! Especially with that cliffhanger ending! Lord, hear my prayers.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for violence, talk of past loss of a loved one, abandonment, talk of suicide in the past, past parental abuse (physical), torture, cult rituals, and war themes.

1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★
*.) Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy ★★★
1.) Lady Midnight ★★★★★
2.) Lord of Shadows ★★★★
*.) Ghosts of the Shadow Market 8/10
3.) Queen of Air and Darkness ★★★★

 

If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

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ARC provided by Penguin in exchange for an honest review.

“If I was going to commit to someone, I wanted him to be worth the worry, worth the part of me I was going to give him.”

Wow, this truly read like a gift from above. Like, I’m actually bitter than I didn’t have a YA contemporary story like this when I was in high school; because this was perfection. The Taming of the Shrew/10 Things I Hate About You loose retelling, starring a popular mean girl and a nerdy gamer boy, where they go to The Rocky Horror Picture Show together? I mean, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in my adult life, too. I truly think this will be the best YA contemporary romance I’ve read all year, and these authors are now in a tier all on their own.

Cameron – A senior in high school who wants nothing more than to go to UPenn and to get a summer internship to work with her dad and finally have him be proud of her.

Andrew – Black, and has been friends with Cameron for a really long time, and they are running partners with each other.

Paige – A girl who goes to Cameron’s school, who for sure marches (and dances) to the beat of her own drum.

Brendan – Paige’s brother, who has kept to himself and his video games ever since Cameron called him a really horrible nickname that everyone at their school uses now.

And basically, Cameron is one of the most popular girls in school, and that nickname stuck because her word is law. She and her friend group are known for being rather ruthless, but Cameron is especially known for being completely unattainable and also a complete bitch. Yet, she has finally decided to make a move on Andrew, since she has been secretly crushing on him for over a year. But Cameron completely snaps at a girl who is foiling her moment of telling (and showing) Andre how much she likes him. After that, he can’t really see her the same way, so she vows to be nicer and prove to him that she can change her heartless ways. Yet sometimes, the person we need forgiveness from the most is ourselves.

But when starting the journey to become a nicer person, Cameron quickly realizes that the girl she was mean to is not going to make it easy for her, and she isn’t going to let her forget about the nickname she gave to her brother all those years ago. And friends, Brendan is my new favorite character in all YA literature.

But this is a book all about second chances and how it is never too late to be the person you want to be; just make sure you are becoming the person you truly want to be. And we definitely see Cameron learn this the hard way; from the having to take care of her mom, to the pressure and neglect her father shows her, to everyone in school thinking she’s a heartless bitch, while she is hiding everything that is going on in her life behind the scenes. I loved seeing Cameron’s journey, even if it was a bumpy road, and I just loved Cameron as a main character so damn much.

“The heart of every doubt and insecurity that’s ever weighed me down—that between the only two parents I have, nobody’s ever wanted me.”

Okay other random fangirl things that I adored: What do I talk about in all my reviews? My brother is my best friend in this entire world, and I love reading about strong sibling relationships, so Paige and Brendan really made me happy, especially since Paige constantly tries to be slick, but she truly was her brother’s wingman through and through, and that is so damn relatable. I also really liked how Cameron was older than Brendan. I feel like we never see stories where the girl is in grade higher than the guy, and I was here for it. The LA setting was so realistically and magnificently done. And lastly, I loved seeing all the imperfect family relationships. Cameron, Paige, and Brendan all have such different expectations on them; and all of them suck. I think this is just rep that isn’t really seen that much, especially in YA books, and I really appreciated how real it felt and the importance it played in the story.

“Katherine’s not the villain of the play. It’s the people trying to change her”

Overall, if you couldn’t tell, I just adored this. I immediately want to run to the store or my library and pick up their debut, Always Never Yours, because this book truly blew me and my expectations out of the water. And I fell so in love with these complex and realistic characters. Plus, you all know that I am always going to go completely heart-eyes over a video game playing soft boy, always. Oh, and unrelated, and this doesn’t impact my review whatsoever, but the authors are engaged to one another in real life, and that honestly makes me want to melt into a puddle of goo while finishing writing this review, because talk about partner goals.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Trigger and content warnings for side characters cheating, talk of cheating in the past, and emotional and verbally abusive parenting.

Buddy read with Kayla! ❤