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.

 

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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.

 

Changing Themes!

If you read the title to this article then you are aware of my intentions on reading more adult literature along with young adult. After my blog hiatus, I began to enjoy reading adult literature more than young adult. The reason I became inactive on my blog again is because my blog is strictly Y.A. and I couldn’t mess up my theme by adding adult literature reviews; if I did decide to post adult reviews, it would not be fair to my audience. However, I decided that I would make known to my audience of my plan to focus my blog more on YA and adult rather than middle grade.

For those of my audience wondering why I am removing the middle-grade section from my blog, it is because my site is based upon ‘a teen helping teens find a love of reading’ and since I have become older on the scale of teenagers, I believe that the reading level on my blog should change. In all honesty, I haven’t read middle-grade book since Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi so incorporating it as part of my theme is pointless. However, I have grown fond of YA, new adult, and adult fiction which is why I have made them my theme of my blog.

To add a sense of clarity, I am going to keep my site teenage friendly. I won’t review erotic books because it is not my genre of choice and my audience still may remain the same. I hope you all understand my interest in changing themes and continue to be a part of my audience.

A.R.C. Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

*All opinions stated in this review are my own*

TitleHolding Up the Universe

Author: Jennifer Niven

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Date of Publication:October 4th 2016

Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages:Hardcover, 400 pages

Summary:Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.


At Bookcon 2016, the friend who I was with was desperate to find an A.R.C. of Holding Up the Universe. When All the Bright Places was being praised by bloggers everywhere, I appear to have missed out on that trend. I, shamefully, never read the popular novel by Jennifer Niven. However, I am proud to say that I have read Holding Up the Universe.

This being my first novel written by Jennifer, I am pleasantly surprised. At first, I was skeptical because of the backlash that followed the novel’s initial description. Apparently, people thought the description was offensive which made me hesitant about reading it. Since I got the book, I decided to give it a try.

The book is not offensive at all. In fact, the book is a beautiful example of accepting who you are and how two unlike people can support each other. Jennifer Niven did an astounding job creating the story. The book will be a great read for young adults because it teaches many important lessons.

One lesson that it taught is that nothing can stop you from living your life. Libby is an example of this lesson because she manages to move on after the loss of her mother and her accident. Libby loses weight and returns to school despite her fears. She overcomes the bullying and focuses on herself.

Another lesson is self-love. Libby embraces her body and understands the effort that was taken in order for her to lose the weight. Also, Libby stands in front of everyone in a bikini to show people that she is wanted and that she is beautiful.

Finally, Jennifer teaches that you cannot use your faults to justify your bad decisions. Through Jack, it is shown that you cannot use your weaknesses as reasons for your mistakes. Eventually, you have to take responsibility for yourself.

Despite the many positive messages in the book, there are other aspects of the book that I liked. The main aspect that I found enjoyable was that Jennifer was able to successfully make readers understand what the characters were going through. Her constant emphasis on how someone with face blindness viewed the world made it easier to understand Jack’s situation. Also, we are able to understand Libby better with flashbacks to her mom’s death and the accident.

Another thing that I enjoyed was Jennifer’s writing style. The novel was easy and fun to read. The use of lists in the novel showed readers the characters’ thoughts.

Finally, I loved Jack. His situation was interesting to read about. Also, his point of view was captivating. In all honesty, he is the character that I feel made the book so great. I believe that Jennifer focuses more on Jack rather than the rest of the characters.

Despite greatly enjoying most of the book, there were a few things that I disliked. The major issue that I had with the book was that, besides Jack, the characters seemed flat. Some characters seemed hard to relate to.

Another thing that I disliked was the slightly forced chemistry between Jack and Libby. They do not appear to be a romantic relationship but rather a friendship. Their feelings felt rushed and not established well.

Overall, the book was very fun and interesting to read. I believe that this book is a positive read. Jennifer teaches many important lessons in the story.