ARC Review: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

TitleTop Ten

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Description: Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?


Top Ten

I had high hopes for this book. Top Ten had everything going for it. The cover and the synopsis were both captivating and made me wait in a line for over an hour to receive the book. However, the book, though still good, did not live p to my expectations.

top tenn

The cover for Top Ten

Top Ten revolves around the relationship between Gabby and Ryan, two friends best friend. The protagonists both believe a romantic relationship will never come from their friendship. However, after an event that occurs one night, they begin to reconsider this fact while recounting their top ten moments of high school.

Cotugno uses their top ten moments to enlighten readers of the relationship between Gabby and Ryan. This list includes pivotal moments between the protagonists that reveals the history of their friendship. Through the top ten list, we meet character and experience events that have shaped their relationship.

The premise of using the list to portray the characters and their relationships was a clever idea. However, I do not believe it was executed properly. Cotugno incorporated important events into the list to show the history of their friendship. Even though it made sense to add these events to the story, there is no way they would logically be one of their top ten moments. Every single moment that was mentioned ended in a major conflict. One of the characters’ favorite moments resulted in Gabby and Ryan not speaking for five months.

In the beginning of the story, the friendship between Gabby and Ryan appears to be unbreakable. They are referenced to not ever being apart. Also, Gabby constantly states how she does not know if she will be able to survive without Ryan.  However, throughout the story, there are multiple events where Gabby and Ryan are not close or have stopped being friends. Reading through the moments where Ryan and Gabby are not friends makes the statement illogical. Gabby has been without Ryan many times, why would this time be different?

Another flaw is their damaged relationship. The protagonists rarely converse in public which results in Gabby constantly questioning their friendship. In every top ten moments, the friends fight about their difference in lifestyles. Whenever one of the friends doesn’t understand the other’s choices, they get in a massive argument instead of trying to understand the other person. When the characters fight, they choose to say the words that will hurt the other person to an extreme extent. That is not a healthy relationship.

Besides the minor flaws, the novel was written well. The writing style was my favorite aspect of the book. Cotugno has an easy writing style that makes the book a quick read. Overall, I believe that the book could excel without these issues.

 

BookCon: Final Thoughts and Haul!

bookcon sign

I am finally home from the craziness that is BookCon. I am still suffering from exhaustion and back pain from carrying all the books that I got. Despite the fact that BookCon was extremely tiring and crazy, I did have an amazing time.

Day 1: Arriving in New York

The day I arrived in New York, I had to take the train in from New Jersey. On the train, I met a family that was attending BookCon. It was their first Bookcon and the mom asked me if I could give her son and his friend some advice on what to expect. After talking to and giving advice to them, it was time to leave the train. When I finally arrived in New York, I met up with Booktubers and Bloggers. We went out to eat and talked about what events we wanted to attend. Overall, day one of New York was so much fun. I met so many new amazing people, especially Justin and Laura! Not to mention, I finally went to the Shake Shack and it was amazing!

Day 2: BookCon!

The first day of Bookcon was amazing! I spent a majority of my day with Laura, Justin, Jennifer, and many other incredible people! The main signing that I wanted to attend was Adam Silvera. Luckily, I was within the first 25 attendees waiting and I received a copy of They Both Die in the End!

After that, I went to more in-booth signings and ARC drops. However, the highlight of my day was going to the Entangled Teen booth to meet one of the authors that I wrote a review for and also meeting the publicist that sends me books to review for the company. Also, the publicist published my aunt’s new young adult series, Proof of Lies! It was incredible to meet an author whose book I had reviewed and a publicist that lets me review their company’s books. Anyway, if you have never read True Born by L.E. Sterling, you definitely need to!

LE  sterling.png

Later on in the day, I met another awesome blogger, Dee from Nerd and Lace. Actually, I won a giveaway from her blog two years ago at BookCon but I never met her until now. She was very nice and hilarious! She is definitely one of my favorite people that I had met.

Day Two: Final Day of BookCon

Out of my three years of being a BookCon attendee, I have never seen something as chaotic as the Sunday of BookCon 2017. Penguin did a horrendous job at managing their booths. Because Penguin was placed directly in the middle of the show floor and it was a big mob, you could not go anywhere near their area. Not to mention, the staff around Penguin was extremely rude.

I was waiting for the E. Lockhart signing at BookCon. When I saw other people waiting for the signing, I believed it was in my best interest to do so as well. When the security told us to move at 10:29 (literally one minute before the line was supposed to form), we all tried to move out of the way of other attendees while waiting in the vicinity of the table where they would be giving out tickets. Out of spite, the line security members started the signing line on the opposite side of the Penguin booth so that many people who were not waiting got a place in line. As I walked to the end of the line, I walked across an area that was meant for lining up but was vacant at that time. When I did this, a member of the Bookcon staff pushed me away. There was no reason for a staff member to put their hands on me. I simply made the mistake of walking in an area that I was ill-informed that we couldn’t walk on. Many people saw her do this and brought it to her attention, she tried to lie even though it was evident that it was her fault. She only apologized when a fellow attendee mentioned to her that it was a violation of their no harassment policy and that I could sue her for touching me without my consent. Her actions were inappropriate and disgraceful.

Besides the unfortunate events at Penguin, I was extremely happy. I got (almost) all of the ARCs that I had wanted. Also, I spent the entire day with Laura, Justin, and Sarah. Honestly, without those people, BookCon wouldn’t have been as much fun. It was great meeting so many awesome people and getting to experience BookCon with them. I cannot wait to see them again. Also, I cannot wait to get to read the ARCs we received.

Books I Received that Were ARCs:

  1. Top Ten by Katie Cotugno
  2. Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill
  3. Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni
  4. Follow Me by Sara Shepard
  5. Suspect Red by L.M Elliott
  6. Natural Disasters
  7. The Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  8. Odd and True by Cat Winter
  9. Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert
  10. She, Myself, and I by Emma Young
  11. A Short History of The Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
  12. Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock
  13. The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente
  14. Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne
  15. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  16. The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose
  17. The Goblins of BellWater by Molly Ringle
  18. A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry
  19. The Audition by Maddy Ziegler

Signed Books that I Got:

  1. Mean Girls by Micol Ostow
  2. Red Dirt by Anna Jarzab
  3. At Home in the World
  4. The Rules of Love and Grammar by Mary Simses
  5. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore
  6. Feed by M.T. Anderson
  7. Select by Marit Weisenberg
  8. The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera
  9. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
  10. All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
  11. If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  12. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  13. Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
  14. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
  15. The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
  16. Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federle

Other Books I Got:

  1. Aging Disgracefully by Danny Cahill
  2. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  3. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  4. The books I got in the VIP bag…. I cannot remember the books.

IMPORTANT REMINDER:

DO NOT SELL ARCs!!! Just a friendly reminder since I know a few of you did not know what an ARC is. An ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy which means they are uncorrected proofs and have not been published yet. Publishers give out ARCs to create hype for the books. Often, they are given to reviewers to promote and review the book prior to its publication. With that being said, it is absolutely, 100% illegal to sell ARCs. You cannot give people your ARCs in exchange for money. You could face severe penalties. Also, DO NOT BUY ARCS!!! You are just as bad if you buy books. Authors work really hard on their books and you’re damaging their success.

To end this on a happy note: Thank you to everyone who is nice and welcoming to the blogging community. I loved meeting you all! Comment below your BEA/Bookcon experience.

BookCon and Book Expo Final Announcements

Hello lovely bookworms!!!!
YASSS

It’s here!!!!! It’s finally Book Expo and BookCon! To add to the excitemeny…….. I am out of my book/blogging slump!

Anyway, before we start the Book Expo and BookCon adventure, there are some final announcements that I have for you.

Don’t take more than one copy of an ARC!!

Advance reader copies are prized possessions in the book community. Because of this, we all go to these conventions in search of certain ARCs. Even though publishers know which ARCs will be in high demand, they cannot bring a copy for everyone attending. The copies are first to come, first serve. If you take more than one copy of an ARC, you will ruin another person’s chance of getting a copy. We all pay the same price to attend, you are not obligated to millions of copies of the same ARC. If your friend wants one, then please share.

Do not sell ARCs!!!!!!!!

Please, for the love of all things, please do not sell ARCs. Why? Because you are damaging an author’s success and it’s ILLEGAL!! It is not the finished product of a book. Because of this, it is not ready to be sold. You cannot use ignorance to validate your actions because it clearly states on the cover: NOT FOR SALE. If you do sell ARCs, you will ruin the chance of publishers giving them out at future conventions, and you could face penalties.

Socialize when on lines!

Half of your day will be spent waiting so make the most of it and talk to people around you. I met so many amazing people at BookCon because I made an effort to talk to people. Meeting new book friends will make your experience better!

Book Expo and BookCon aren’t the only bookish things happening in the city!

There are events happening all over the city. Also, there are many meetups occurring after the events. It’s fun to spend time with your new friends when you aren’t stressing over your convention schedule. If any of you are interested, I am having a meetup on Friday night. A few of us are going out to eat to prepare for BookCon. If you are interested, message me and I will gladly give you the information.

If you see me, please say hi!!

I love meeting new people, especially if you know me from my blog. It would make my day a million times better if you come up to me. Below, I will list the events that I am definitely attending so you can see if you will at the same things.

Have fun!

Keep in mind, BookCon is just an event. There will be positive parts of the day as well as negative. Hope for the best but expect the worse because no one is really certain how the event will turn out. If you prioritize, you will be able to get most of the stuff you want.

Things I am definitely going to!

  • Stephanie Perkins (in-booth)
  • Adam Silvera (in-booth)
  • Kate T Parker (in-booth)
  • L.E. Sterling (in-booth)
  • Micol Ostow (autographing area)
  • Sasha Alsberg (in-booth)
  • E Lockhart (in-booth)

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

TitleThe Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication: November 1st 2016

Publisher:Delacorte Press

Description: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?


meeeIf you have been a long term follower of my blog, it is no surprise that I loved Everything, Everything. In fact, it was my first ARC and signed copy of a book. When I heard that Yoon was coming back to Bookcon with ARC copies of The Sun is Also a Star, I was ecstatic! However, my expectations were severely not met.

After reading the synopsis of the book, I had extremely high hopes for this novel. The storyline seemed promising as it was something I had never read about before. Maybe my reading taste has changed or maybe it was her writing style, but the book was nowhere near as good as Everything, Everything.

The main flaw (and probably the characteristic that caused the most damage) was instalove. Oh instalove, my least favorite trope. You may be wondering how this trope made me dislike the book when Everything, Everything‘s plot involved instalove, too. In all honesty, the type of romance was different in both books. Everything, Everything‘s relationship was built off of more than just a day and started out as a feeling of curiosity because the main character had never had been interested, let alone came in contact, with a teenage male before. The Sun is Also a Star’s relationship formed within eight hours and for most of the book, the main male character is practically obsessed with Natasha. Daniel, the male protagonist who is a strong believer in love at first sight and basically every other idea of optimism, practically plans his entire future with Natasha when he has just met her. In fact, he states “using the stern voice she’s sure to use on our future children” two hours into their relationship. Call me cynical but instant love irritates me to a grave extent. I could not read Daniel’s point of view without having to cringe. He was a whole new level of hopeless romantic.

Another flaw was the characters (mainly Daniel). Daniel was not a character I enjoyed. He expected his feelings to be reciprocated and was unhappy when events did not turn out the way he wanted. He often pitied himself and made his life much more complicated than what was necessary. Even in the story, Natasha points this out to him because he tries to make other people save him and he complains about his life every single chapter. I found his point of view annoying and overdramatic. Too often I found myself rolling my eyes at his internal monologue. His obsessiveness and awkward personality caused for his point of view to not entertain me.

Another character that I did not enjoy was Charlie. Was he important to the book? Barely. Charlie was a character that seemed unrealistic. His conversations were weird and his personality was overly malevolent  (he gave me a Buzz from Home Alone vibe). Honestly, he was not a character that I felt belonged in the story and should have been formed better in order to contribute to the storyline.

Finally, I did not think that the story engaged audiences. I felt that the pace was too slow and the storyline dragged. The climax was halfway to the end but I felt that the plot could have been resolved quicker.

Despite the flaws, there were a few positive attributes. The main one way that Yoon’s research into the story was evident. With a vast amount of information on different cultures along with scientific facts, readers got a deeper sense of the plot. I believe this helped the audience understand the cultures of the protagonists and their belief systems.

Another thing that I enjoyed was Natasha. I was engaged in her story and I felt that she was the most relatable character. I found her character development and how she was a realist to benefit the mold of the story. Also, she gave the book the reality check that it needed at times.

Finally, I loved the cover. Nicola’s books always look perfect! I can honestly say that the cover is one of my favorites.

Overall, the book was not worth recommending. I feel that it had the potential to be something incredible but failed.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

*I received this copy from the author. However, all opinions are my own*

Title: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Author: Iain Reading

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Date of Publication:November 30th 2012

Publisher:Amazon Digital Publishing

Description: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves as Kitty prepares for her next adventure – flying around the world!


In an attempt to finally beat my reading and reviewing slump (yes, it has been going on since basically the start of junior year), I decided to read the books I have received from authors and publishers to start getting engaged in reading again. Because of this, I picked up Kitty Hawk and the Curse of Yukon Gold to begin my journey back into book blogging. Even though I have not read a more middle grade than young adult novel in a fairly long time, I did enjoy this book and thought that it was a great opening to the series.

First off, I really enjoyed how the author formed Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a great book for young female readers. Kitty Hawk shows a refreshing female main character that attracts readers interested in science and history. She represents someone who is intellectual and has initiative. Overall, she is someone who will help inform young readers of STEM and encourage readers into the field.

Also, I enjoyed how the author began his story. Reading used the opening paragraphs to engage his audience and set up the plot. He effectively helped his audience immerse themselves into the story.

Readers will also enjoy the relationships Reading builds with his characters. He effectively forms the relationships to feel natural which allows readers to relate to them. He makes the characters build around each other and the story.

Despite all the positive attributes that the story obtained, there were various negative aspects. The main one was Kitty Hawk’s internal conversations. In my opinion, I felt they were unnecessary and felt awkward. I believe the author would have created a more effective way of understanding what Kitty was thinking if he just stated her thoughts rather than created a little voice inside her head.

Even though the author has clear knowledge on what he writes about, I believe that he dumps information into the story that is unnecessary. Though some information is great for understanding the plot, too much information may interrupt the plot and ruin the flow of the story. There were times when there were simply just pages of information which made it feel like I was reading a article on the topic instead of the story. Instead, the author should have incorporated small pieces of information inside of the story to inform readers without it feeling like a research paper.

Finally, I believe that the pace felt unsteady at times. There were points in the book that engaged readers and there were other times when the book felt like it was dragging. The book lacked a steady pace which made it frustrating to read in long periods of time.

Overall, I believe the book could be a positive read for middle grade audiences and I believe that it reflects a different type of main character that may interest different readers.