Book Review: The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine Kottaras

Title: The Best Possible Answer
Author: E. Katherine Kottaras
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published:  November 1st, 2016
Page Count: 272 pages
Format: eARC
Source: From publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review


Summary:
A contemporary YA novel about growing up and learning that loving yourself is more important than trying to be perfect.

AP Exams – check
SAT test – check
College Application – check
Date the wrong guy and ruin everything you’ve spent your whole life working for– check

Ultra-high-achiever Viviana Rabinovich-Lowe has always had a plan—and no room to be anything less than perfect. But her quest for perfection comes to a screeching halt when her boyfriend leaks racy pictures of her to the entire school. Making matters worse, her parents are getting divorced and now her perfect family is falling apart. For the first time, Viv feels like a complete and utter failure.

Then she gets a job working at the community pool, where she meets a new group of friends who know nothing about her past. That includes Evan, a gorgeous guy who makes her want to do something she never thought she’d do again: trust. For the first time in her life, Viv realizes she can finally be whoever she wants. But who is that? While she tries to figure it out, she learns something they never covered in her AP courses: that it’s okay to be less than perfect, because it’s our imperfections that make us who we are. 
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars

.This review can also be found on YA Books Central.


The Best Possible Answer is a book that's been on my radar for several months and now that I've had the chance to read it, I am pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations. I've been searching for a book that would give me insight to what happens when a person works herself (or himself) too hard trying to please everyone's expectations but her own while facing other earth-shattering problems, and this book gave me just that. It's down-to-earth, extremely relatable, and inspiring!

What I liked:

First of all, I loved the chapter headers. They're about College application and essay tips, even a few sample questions about Vivianna (the main character) for the SAT's. They were funny, light, informative, and oddly the perfect way to describe Vivi's situation (including how her mind works!).

I had high expectations for Vivi's character, yet I was still surprised at how strong she ends up being. She has her lows in the story, like any other person in the world, but she eventually surpasses them. However, if I had to name one specific thing about her, it's how she deals with her panic attacks. I have never experienced one, but I have reached high levels of stress to the point of getting sick due to overwork, and it's not pretty. And yet, Vivi lives through this over and over again as her world is shattered by secrets too close to home. That takes a lot of strength and I admire her for it.

Another great thing is her friendship with Sammie. Having grown up together, these two girls are inseparable and always there for each other. They might face a few struggles along the way, but I love how they eventually work it out. It's seriously the kind of friendship we all wish to have in our lives!

Vivi also spends a lot of time working at her building's pool along with Sammie, and it worked as the perfect setting to give this book a great summer vibe. It allows to meet so many more awesome characters--like Professor Cox--and a chance to escape the turmoil of being at Vivi's house. 

What left me wanting more:

The romance. Even though I did like Evan and Vivi as a couple, I wish to have seen more of them together. The cover alone suggests this book has a cute romance in it, but there wasn't that much. I wanted more Evan, more feels, and why not? more kisses (or near-kisses, I'm not picky). I understand that there were more important things to handle than a summer romance, but since it is brought up, it's hard not to want more.

I also feel that there's more to Professor Cox's story. He's such an interesting character and it would have been great to learn more about him, though I did love every scene he appears in!

Final Verdict:

The Best Possible Answer is a noteworthy read that deals with serious themes like cheating, anxiety, and family issues but also one that is light enough to have readers smiling throughout its pages as the main character pushes through each of her problems. It's heartfelt, inspiring, and definitely one I would recommend to readers of all ages.

Waiting on Wednesday #17: Now I Rise by Kiersten White


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:




Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2) by Kiersten White
June 27th 2017, Delacorte Press
YA Fantasy
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
.........
I loved And I Darken and I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on Now I Rise! I fell for Lada and Radu, how they are both equally awesome but so different from each other despite being siblings. I'm not even invested on the romance (or lack thereof) but  on Lada and Radu's difficult relationship and where they are both headed. Seriously, June cannot come soon enough! 
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What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #142

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

So yesterday I started watching The Vampire Diaries from season 1 and it's giving me such teenage feels. I remember how I used to watch it back in High School and how I HATED Damon. Now I'm just thrilled to see him every time *grins*. I think I stopped watching it after season 3 and then I lost track of it, but with all the hype over the series finally ending (please no spoilers!!!), I think it's time to watch it completely. Have you seen it???

Oh, but one I have not seen is the new Beauty and the Beast movie *cries*. My sister & I were supposed to watch it yesterday but we had some car problems so we had to cut our trip to the movies. But I think, I THINK, today will be the day. Cannot wait! Also, POPCORN, Y'ALL. ♥♥♥

.......

New books!
{For review}
From publishers, authors, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.


I downloaded these two pretty books from Netgalley last week: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant and Cashmere by Temple West! Both sound awesome (though I have yet to read my copy of Velvet!) but I'm particularly excited to read Zenn Diagram because it's contemporary and reviewers say it's cutesy! :D


Also received an eARC of First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy for an upcoming blog tour. Sister & I are excited for our post, be on the lookout for it next month!
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To Read This Week:


This week I'll be reading A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi! I just finished The Star-Touched Queen and it was such a captivating read ♥. I'll also be buddy reading Literally by Lucy Keating with my bestie Becky from Book Nerd Addict! I'm excited! :D
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And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glann Marsh

Title: Fear the Drowning Deep
Authors: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication Date:  October 11th, 2016
Page Count:  304 pages
Format:  eARC
Source: Edelweiss


Summary:
Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars
.This review can also be found on YA Books Central.

Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh is a captivating tale that plunges its readers into some of the dark secrets found in the deep blue sea. Mixed with mythology, romance, and a peculiar kind of magic, readers will surely find themselves flipping pagesand dreading the end.

What I Liked:

One of my favorite things about this book is the setting. I wasn't entirely familiar with the Isle of Man and now I am absolutely in love with it. Sarah Glenn Marsh gives us a view of how it was around the 1900s and the experience felt so realalmost as if I stepped inside its pages! The mystery, the witchcraft, its inhabitants, and everything else are well written and I wish this book would have been a bit longer just to explore more of this luscious landscape.

This book also has a great cast of characters, but my favorite, hands down, is Morag, the "witch" of the Isle. This character is mysterious and on first sight, the type you would want to stay far away from. However, Morag is a person who has dealt and seen a lot in all her years, and deep down, the kind of grandma anyone would want to have in their lives (though I'm pretty sure she would not be fond to be classified as such). I love this character so much and I hope to read more from her one day! 

The main character, Bridey, is also a favorite, along with Fynn (the mysterious boy who washes up to shore), and Bridey's family. I write about them together (as one) since they all have a great relationship with each other, something that is at times hard to come by. 

Last but not least, the whole myth/folklore mixed with witchcraft and history. It's an unusual combination and one that works magnificently in this novel. Nothing short of bewitching!

What left me wanting more:

While I love Bridey and Fynn together, I feel that their romantic moments aren't as magical and wondrous as I wanted them to be. Usually, the build-up to a relationship is what gets the magic going, but things between Bridey and Fynn happen quite fast, there isn't truly enough time to start wishing for thingslike their first kiss—before it's already happening. Since I'm a huge fan of build-ups, this saddened me a bit.

Final Verdict:

Fear the Drowning Deep is the debut novel of Sarah Glenn Marsh and one you definitely want to have on your TBR! It's dark, hypnotizing, and one that will have you wondering about the mysteries of the deep.

Waiting on Wednesday #16: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:

The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski
August 1st 2017, Feiwel & Friends
YA Fantasy
After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can't help but think there's more to her dad's disappearance than she's being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad. 

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost. 

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not. 
.........
This book's cover is what first caught my attention but reading the blurb is what made my need to read it grow more. I looooove books set in woods. They always hold some kind of mystery and I enjoy how, more than a setting, it turns into a character itself. And by the sound of it, this book is that kind of book. Yay! Cannot wait to see how it all turns out. :D
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What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #141

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

We finally, FINALLY, finished the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I gotta say, now that I watched all of the episodes, I feel like watching more. It's not the best show ever but it is quirky and kind of funny in a way that reminds me of Pushing Daisies. Did you ever see Pushing Daisies? SUCH AN AMAZING TV SERIES. Sadly, it got cancelled after the second season, I believe *cries*. Why do the best series get cancelled????


You tell 'em, Ned.

Anyway, would you be interested on a weekly post about my latest bookstagram pictures? This would be about my favorite posts of the week, about the challenges I'm participating, the things I struggle with and such. Oh, maybe also include how I'm doing with the YA Books Central Instagram account. I think this would be something fun to write...  let me know! ;)
.......

New books!
{For review}
From publishers, authors, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.



Last week I got approved for these two books-- The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and The Black Witch by Laurie Forest! You know, this is starting to be a trend on my approvals since both have VERY similar titles. The covers are lovely, though I've read mixed things about both so we'll see how it goes!


Huge thanks to Merit Press for sending me a review copy of The Life Fantastic by Liza Ketchum. Check out that amazing cover!! Merit Press publishes fantastic Contemporary & Historical Fiction novels. ♥

{Gift}



Oh guys, I had never been on the receiving end of a Random Act of Kindness before until last Saturday when, after I tweeted a poll saying how I was having trouble to decide which book I should buy next (between The Hate U Give and Simon vs.), a twitter friend sent me a kindle copy of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda so I could have both! This was the sweetest thing ever, made me want to cry! Thank you, twitter friend ♥ (She wishes to stay anonymous). This is what I hope to accomplish one day soon, to afford to give out books to everyone so we can all read and enjoy books. ♥♥♥
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To Read This Week:


I'm still reading my eARC of Hunted by Meagan Spooner *sobs*. I was such a slow reader last week! But I will finish it in the following days and also my copy of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. ♥♥♥
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And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: Silent by David Mellon

Title: Silent
Author: David Mellon
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publisher: Merit Press
Published:  March 7th, 2017
Page Count: 320 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: From publisher in exchange of an honest opinion.


Summary:
For fans of The Book Thief and Raiders of the Lost Ark, this thrilling new novel set during World War I features a girl who must pretend to be a male soldier to save her younger brothers.

Adi is an outrider, rejected by both her British father’s and Indian mother’s cultures, so she is no stranger to trouble. But when a mysterious agitator called “Coal” kidnaps Adi’s twin brothers, Adi has to rely on herself to find them. With strength and cunning as fierce as any boy’s, she decides to cut her hair and put on a military uniform to slip unnoticed through the chaos of the early days of World War I. When Adi finds a pocket watch that could be the clue to her lost brothers, she must figure out a way to decode it—before time runs out.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4.5/5 stars

Okay, um, wow. Silent by David Mellon is such a captivating read. It's perfect for fans of Historical Fiction since it is set during World War I but it will also appeal to readers who love a bit of magic and mystery!

This book is about the struggles of a young Indian-British girl who is unfortunate to be caught up in the schemes of a stranger called Coal. Having messed up his plans, he kidnaps her twin brothers and gives her a mysterious pocket watch containing four riddles to solve within a four and a half year countdown in case she ever wants to see them again. As an extra note of precaution, Coal takes away her ability to speak and  forbids her to write for help or he will harm the twins. Thus begins Adi's mad race to solve the puzzle, taking her from the comforts of a mansion straight to military action of World War I.

To be honest, I was not expecting Silent to be such a thrilling read. I love historical fiction yet it's been a while since I became so invested in one. Maybe it helped that it has magic (I love magic), but I believe it mostly had to do with the wonderful characters and how we learn the history of each of them.

My favorite character is of course, Adi. She's smart, selfless, and incredibly brave. Her voice is taken away, but she finds other ways to get herself heard. It's amazing how by the end of the novel, she has so many  people trying to help her! I also loved George, who is the first guy to take Adi seriously and gives her the push she needs to keep solving the riddles. I fell for him hard (something I wasn't expecting from this novel). But the one character who stayed with me is Doc. He's the father figure that Adi needed in her time working in military camps and his support was elemental for her survival. 

The thing that I really don't know how to explain is the magic inside this book. It's strange and mysterious, all part of the enigmatic Coal (who is the one that throws Adi into this quest). I mean, I call it magic because how else to explain Coal's unusual abilities? But you know, I believe Silent perfectly portrays how some things in history, events that happened AND happen in real life, sometimes cannot be fully understood or explained. And how this mystery is all part of the charm, the thing that sets room for speculation. In any case, I enjoyed it!

All in all, Silent might start off a bit slow but once you get past the first chapters and Adi's pocket watch starts ticking, you'll be drawn into the story and won't be able to get away. The thrilling mystery, Adi's journey, and the beautiful illustrations that accompany each part o the story make David Mellon's novel a compelling read worthy of your time. Highly recommend!

Waiting on Wednesday #15: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith


Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:


Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
May 4th 2017, Pan Macmillan
YA Contemporary
Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.
.........
I'm a big fan of Jennifer E. Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight so I'm pretty excited to read this new book of hers. Windfall sounds super cute and I'm pretty sure that it is full of swoons (yay!). I was a bit disappointed of the US cover of this book because I'm so used to the style of her other beautiful book covers, but I just saw this UK edition and it looks so much prettier. ♥
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What are you waiting on this week? :)

Book Review: Snowbirds by Crissa-Jean Chappell

Title: Snowbirds
Author: Crissa-Jean Chappell
Genre: Young Adult
Published: January 18th 2017
Publisher: Merit Press
Page count: 265 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: From publisher in exchange of an honest review


Book Summary:
Secrets Were a Way of Life.
But Secrets Have Gone Too Far …

Every year, Lucy waits eagerly for the arrival of the “snowbirds,” the Old Order Amish who come trundling into Florida on buses from the north, bringing Lucy’s best friend Alice, with whom she’s spent every winter she can remember. This winter is different. At sixteen, Alice is in the middle of “Rumspringa,” a season in which Amish teens try out forbidden temptations, in order to get them out of their system. Lucy is part of a different sect, in which teens aren’t allowed such bold experimentation, and she’s fighting to keep up as Alice races from one wild party to the next. Then, one night after just such a party, Alice vanishes. Wracked by guilt, Lucy knows that she should have been watching out for Alice, but instead, she was kissing Faron, an Older Order boy shunned by his society. Now, Lucy plunges into a search for her best friend—while also hiding her own secret, which could put her in even more danger.

*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 4/5 stars

There are so many positive things about this book. For starters, the cover is just gorgeous, I loved it since the very first time I set my eyes on it! The story is unique along with its characters. And it was a book that hooked me, for I could not stop reading it!

What I liked:

This is my very first time that I've read a book that talks about the Amish community. I thought that it was fascinating to read about them. Before this book, I knew very little about them and now I feel a little bit more aware of their lifestyles and how they even have different beliefs within their community.  

I really liked the main character. Lucy feels an odd one out within her community despite respecting it and living accordingly. I think it's amazing that she dreams and tries to purchase a career  even though it is not very acceptable. She also proves to be a good friend when she goes looking for her friend Alice after she disappears mysteriously and without notice. Lucy is obliged to break many rules along the way to achieve her purpose and doing so, disturbs the quiet life that she is used to.


Snowbird's storyline is captivating. It is a combination of friendship, loyalty, beliefs, family values, and risks. There was also a wonderful relationship between Lucy and her father. Even though Lucy's dad is strict about their Amish community and lifestyle, he comes through for Lucy constantly in his own way even though he finds it hard most of the times because it goes against his beliefs. In my opinion, I think that was one of the strongest topics and loving gestures inside this story.

What didn't do it for me:

There were some parts of the story where Lucy seemed a little off character, but other than that I thought it was great.

Final Verdict:

Snowbirds was a very enjoyable read for me and sooner than I expected, I was done reading it making it a fast read. It was wonderfully written and the story kept me hooked until the very last page. I recommend Snowbirds to all readers out there looking for a book that takes them through a journey of self-discovery, love, determination, and insight to different cultures/lifestyles.


Happy reading! -- The Chef

The Week's Entrée #140

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

Guess what?! Yesterday I hit 3k followers on Twitter!!!



Even more amazing is how my friend Becky from Book Nerd Addict reached 3k yesterday too so we teamed up to host something fun to celebrate! Might have to do something with the image below ;) (click on it so it can take you there!).




ALSO! Last week I wrote a fun post on Kate Tilton, Connecting Authors & Readers about My Top 6 Strong & Independent YA Heroines! This was such a fun post to write since I basically fangirled about my top favorite girls in YA literature who are amazingly kick-ass and absolutely fine without a male hero to watch their back. You are more than welcome to check it out!!!

.......

New books!
{For review}
From publishers, authors, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.

 

Last week I got approved to read Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein on Netgalley! This is pitched as Pocahontas meets A Court of Thorns and Roses, so it sounds promising! OH, and I also snatched the arc of Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves from YABC's Netgalley, couldn't pass up the opportunity to read it! Funny have both these titles have Rose & roses on the cover. :D


Huge thanks to author Sieana Makeshift for sending me a review copy of The Purple Saxifrage. It's so pretty!!!

{Gift}



I have the bestest of friends! My sweet girl Jessica (@Bookworm5x on Twitter) sent me a kindle copy of The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins just so I could buddy read with her. We started right away and we are having a great time reading this book! ♥
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To Read This Week:


I'm still reading Silent by David Mellon (expect my review tomorrow!) and while I'm still reading The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins and The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty, I will move on to read my eARC of Hunted by Meagan Spooner because it releases next week! Really hoping to love this book.
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And that's it for The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)