If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


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If you love second chance romances, complicated friendships, and downright brutally honest characters, Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett is the perfect book for you. Take everything you love about Bennett’s past young adult books (if you haven’t read them yet…OHMYGOD, READ THEM!) and then multiply that love by a bajillion, and you get Starry Eyes. This novel is a mix of coming-of-age discoveries, molding friendships, and holding on to the aspect that pure love exists in all shapes and forms. 

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Starry Eyes is a meshing between Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners, an adult hiking story centered on new beginnings and self-discovery, and the messy complications of teenage life found in Jenn Bennett’s own Alex, Approximately.  The main characters in Starry Eyes, Zorie and Lennon, struggle throughout the pages trying to understand what happened to their past friendship, how did they come to this point in “hating” each other, and can their friendship re-ignite as they hike through mountains, fend off bears and snakes, and map their way to new beginnings. I love the chemistry between these two characters. Zorie and Lennon have a fantastic history between each other; it’s filled with inside jokes, the “great experiment,” and familial dynamics that balance on a thin line of love and hate. 

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Furthermore, I really enjoyed Starry Eyes because it focuses on so many relevant topics and diverse characters. Without providing too many spoilers, Bennett takes a refreshing stance on modern-day families. She challenges the idea of the traditional sense of parents, and it made my heart grow 3 times bigger whenever I read a scene between Zorie and her stepmom. I also liked Bennett’s ability to write about positive and safe sex decisions in a young adult novel. Zorie and Lennon’s path towards discussing sex is based on affection, consent, respect, and love. 

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In the end, this story is a beautiful mashup of star-gazing, glamping shenanigans, and a destined friendship that can withstand anything. I’m going to say it right now, Starry Eyes is by far my favorite contemporary book of 2018, so far. Zorie and Lennon’s fierceness, angst, determination, and quirks made them so captivating and so hard not to love and root for throughout each chapter. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romantic story filled with great character-development, laughs, swoons, and warm, slow-rising smiles. 

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star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

 
Note: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this book from a friend, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are my own.

Waiting On Wednesday: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pérez 

waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights pre-publication/upcoming releases that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Title: Sweet Black Waves
Author:  Kristina Pérez 
Publication date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Imprint
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Synopsis

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. 

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved. 

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

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Title:
Truest 
Author: Jackie Lea Sommers
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

 


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Truest threw me into a whirlwind. It swept me in, carried me like a feather, and then knocked me over with a ton of bricks. The writing is gorgeous. The characters are achingly raw and realistic and oftentimes so heartbreaking. Sometimes I found myself wanting to give them each a hug, and I’m not even a hugging person. And in the end, this story is so riveting and overall stunning.

Jackie Lea Sommers’ Truest is not only funny and witty, but also fist-clinching, grief-stricken, and thought-provoking. Truest contained so much love in every aspect–love between siblings, friends, parents, old friends, and new friends. But with love there is also the painful aspect of grief, loss, and heartbreak. This book is an emotional roller coaster and I could not put it down.

Each chapter detailing Westlin and Silas’s growing friendship had me swooning, laughing, and gasping for air: sometimes from too much laughter and sometimes from shock. I was left with overall thoughts rationalizing the life we’re given, the people that enter our lives and forever change it, and how do we cherish the time we have with each other. Truest is definitely one of the most memorable contemporary YA novels I have had the pleasure of reading. 

star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

 
Note: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are my own.

Waiting On Wednesday: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

waiting on wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that highlights pre-publication/upcoming releases that readers cannot wait to get their hands on. It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Title: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold
Publication date: May 22, 2018
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Synopsis

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes—inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories—in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . .

Goodreads | Amazon Barnes & Noble

Review of The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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Title:
The Wicked Deep
Author:  Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

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Synopsis:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


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The Wicked Deep
is a very haunting and oftentimes heartbreaking read. Shae Ernshaw’s novel is beautifully written; the storytelling is spellbinding and enchantingly engaging. I fell in love with the town of Sparrow–a cursed city that is filled with speculation, a heightened sense of cursed magic, and a dash of heartache that yearns to be healed. The characters are enriched with so much emotional turmoil, making it hard not to only feel sorry for the lured victims but also feel sympathy towards the cursed “witches.”  

There are various characters strung throughout The Wicked Deep, but it was not the main character, Penny, that I was rooting for throughout the novel. Instead I really enjoyed the development of Bo Carter, Sparrow’s mysterious outsider. I liked that even though he is an outsider of the cursed town, he blurs into the setting so naturally. He creates his own firm ground and purpose in the story. Bo has a very curious atmosphere about him, but he also radiates an aura of kindness, devotion, and resiliency. 

Overall, I liked The Wicked Deep but there are some parts of the book that dwell in the back of my mind. I personally found the book’s “twist” to be predictable, but that predictability does not fault the story; instead, it’s through this twist and unraveled truths that the resolution of the story filters through a lens of heartache, sacrifice, and so much vulnerability. I was not a huge fan of the ending, but I really could not see the conclusion going any other way. The whole vibe of the ending just does not sit well with me, but I think it is because I adored Bo so much; and without adding any spoilers, I think he deserves so much more after that downpour of truth that saturates his heart and his dreams.
 3 star rating
 
Note:
 I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.