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.

 

Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

*I was granted this ARC by the author but all opinions are my own*

TitleProof of Lies

Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Date of Publication:March 7th, 2017

Publisher:Entangled Teen

Description: Some secrets are best kept hidden…

Anastasia Phoenix has always been the odd girl out, whether moving from city to international city with her scientist parents or being the black belt who speaks four languages.

And most definitely as the orphan whose sister is missing, presumed dead.

She’s the only one who believes Keira is still alive, and when new evidence surfaces, Anastasia sets out to follow the trail—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy. Now she isn’t sure who she can trust. At her side is Marcus, the bad boy with a sexy accent who’s as secretive as she is. He may have followed her to Rome to help, but something about him seems too good to be true.

Nothing is as it appears, and when everything she’s ever known is revealed to be a lie, Anastasia has to believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.


In the first book of Diana Rodriguez Wallach’s upcoming series, she sets the stage for a story of excitement filled with intriguing characters. Proof of Lies gives the series a promising appeal. Also, this series opener allows readers to become immersed in the story that Wallach is creating.

As a reader who mainly focuses on fantasy and contemporary books, I was nervous to read something out of my comfort zone. However, I welcomed Proof of Lies with an open mind and I was pleasantly surprised. Based on this outcome, I believe that Proof of Lies is a great book for all genre-lovers.

The plot of Proof of Lies is different from your stereotypical mystery novel. Instead of the story leading us to the person who is guilty, readers are caught trying to decipher clues through conspiracy theories.

In the beginning, the book has a slower pace which made it hard for me to get interested in. A vast majority of the first half of the novel was detailing of Anastasia’s struggles and feelings which could get tiresome at various points. However, once the plot thickened, the story was addictive. I couldn’t put the book down. Readers will become invested in the story and will be on the edge of their seats while trying to uncover the mystery.

The characters in the story were written in a remarkable way. Wallach has a talent for making her characters dynamic and realistic without damaging how they are perceived by the audience. The main character, Anastasia, was a sympathetic character. Readers learn about her and the struggles that she faces in a deeper way.

Finally, I greatly enjoyed Wallach’s writing style. The author has the ability to naturally tell a story. This talent makes the story feel realistic while entertaining the audience.

Overall, Proof of Lies  is a must read for young adult lovers. Readers will greatly appreciate this debut to the series. I believe that this story will create a massive franchise. I cannot wait to see what is left for Wallach to create.

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.

Book to Movie: The Silver Linings PLaybook by Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings Playbook is my favorite movie. I loved the movie since the first time I saw it. Not only is the movie filmed very close to where I live, the story captured me in an emotional way. I felt changed by the movie. Realizing that the movie was inspired by a novel written by Matthew Quick, I knew I had to read The Silver Linings Playbook. After finally reading the story, I am shocked that the book and movie are complete opposites.

As many book lovers know, movies are rarely similar to the books. Some book-to-movie adaptations seem as if their only purpose is to ruin the story for its original fans; while others seem to compliment the story. No matter what the movie does for the original book, they are never completely alike. Is a movie adaptation allowed to be different? That is for the reader to decide.

The Silver Linings Playbook‘s book-to-movie adaptation was the most drastic change in a story that I have ever witnessed. When I mentioned this to my mom, a fellow lover of the movie, she asked me which was better. In all honesty, it’s impossible to compare the book and movie because it is like comparing two different stories.

The biggest difference is Pat’s mental health. The movie doesn’t portray how serious Pat’s mental illness is. In the book, Pat had to stay at the facility for four years as opposed to the eighteen months mentioned in the movie. Also, in the book, Pat is unaware of Nikki cheating on him and what he did to the guy. Pat is unaware of Nikki divorcing him and that she is now married to another man until the end of the novel. Pat’s ignorance allows him to naively believe that happy ending always happen and that he and Nikki are still in love. He is obsessed with reconnecting with Nikki and refuses to believe that she does not want him.

Another change is Pat’s reaction to Tiffany when she pretended that she was Nikki in the letters. In the book, Pat is devastated. The book portrays his feelings in the way they should have been. He spent years clinging to the idea of a happy ending with Nikki. He believed that Nikki was writing to him only to find out it was Tiffany. As any human, Pat was hurt and angry. In the movie, he appeared okay and wanted a relationship with Tiffany.

Tiffany and Pat’s relationship felt overly romanticized in the movie. Throughout the book, Pat was focused on reuniting with Nikki. Pat never saw Tiffany as a potential love interest until the end of the novel.

One change that bothered me was the dance recital. In the movie, it is seen as more professional. Also, the movie mentions that Tiffany and Pat did not perform well and that the recital was scored. However, in the book, the dance is a deep and meaningful piece that Tiffany and Pat worked hard to succeed at.

The final change I will mention is that Pat never sees Nikki in the book. Unlike the movie where Nikki shows up at the dance recital, he only sees her when he drives by her house at the end of the book and realizes that she is genuinely happy. Seeing Nikki content with her family was Pat’s ‘happy ending’. All he wanted was for Nikki to be happy and that was his closure. The movie makes it seem like Pat has a choice between Nikki and Tiffany which is false. Honestly, I do not believe that the Pat in the book would choose Tiffany if Nikki was at the dance recital.

Overall, I believe that both versions of The Silver Linings Playbook are amazing in their own unique ways. Both focus on different aspects of the story. I believe that one does not overshadow the other, but that they are two stories that loosely relate to each other. No matter what the relationship is between the book and the movie, I am still a fan of the story and believe it is something that people should read/watch.

True Born by L.E. Sterling

*I RECEIVED THIS NOVEL FROM ENTANGLED TEEN. HOWEVER, ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN!*

TitleTrue Born

Author: L.E. Sterling

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia

Date of Publication:May 3rd , 2016

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Pages:Hardcover, 304 pages

SummaryWelcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

Purchase Here: http://amzn.to/1WFacxn


In every book bloggers career, there comes a time where she/he is asked to review a starter of a series, This is my third time and it is torture! I need the rest of the series now!

As I state every time I read a fantasy or science fiction novel, I am not a huge fan of those genres. It’s not that I dislike those genres, I just prefer contemporary reads over them. However, when Entangled Teen sent me a box with True Born and an adorable mug, I could not help but be excited about this book.

True Born is about Lucy and her twin sister, Margot, who were attached at birth. In Dominion City, there is a plague that occurred and damaged the genes of all citizens. Splicers and Lasters have no hope of their genes not self-destructing. However, True Borns are evolved to not be affected by the plague.

On a person’s eighteenth birthday, the young adult has a party to reveal whether they are True Born, Splicer, or Laster. If they are True Born they are shunned and disowned from their family. The twins are a part of the Upper Circle, the high society of Dominion City. That being said, being True Born would disgrace their family. Just their luck, their test to decide what group they are a part of are inconclusive. The pair has to face problems of people after them, possible romance with potentially dangerous men, and a battle of themselves as they try to find where they belong.

The first part of the story is primarily the world and character building. Readers get a glimpse of what it means to be labeled into each group. The main reason for the first half of the book was to shed light onto Lucy and Margot’s character.

Lucy is someone who would do anything to protect her sister even if it meant she had to face the consequences. The author stresses how Lucy feels she is not as important as Margot is, “And when Margo walks into a room, she commands all eyes while I, the sparrow, sit unnoticed and observe. Margot is fire: bright and ready to burn out of control. I am the less exciting twin, the responsible twin” (Sterling, 2). The author emphasizes the bond between the twins throughout the story. She often states the connection and bond they share as well as how much she references Lucy’s big toe, where Margot and her were connected. Lucy is a very sympathetic character. Readers will want to reach into the book and yell at her for not living life for herself. Lucy developed immensely throughout the story and you begin to realize how badass she is.

Margot is a character that is harder to enjoy. Despite her love for her sister, Margot was careless throughout the story. The author constantly mentions her carelessness. Many times, her ability to not look out for herself affected many people. She develops slightly in the story.

Jared is a hot and cold character. As Lucy’s potential love interest, he shows up and she is automatically charmed by his looks. Like many stories, Jared is shown to be a jerk who then becomes likable. In the end, readers will ship the two together. Being True Born, he faces a lot of problems that make him irritable. However, his protectiveness over Lucy is what makes his character admiral. Jared often confronts Lucy about her focus on keeping her sister safe. In fact, he helps Lucy understand that she is allowed a life outside of keeping her sister safe. I cannot wait to see how he evolves in the rest of the series.

A slight problem I had with the book was the writing style. I believe the author has a beautiful and poetic style but it sometimes felt sloppy. Parts of the story felt rushed or overshadowed. I know that the major concepts of the story were the plague and the groups. I felt that it jumped back and forth when focusing on each and it felt awkward.

The overall plot was awesome. After the world building, we got into all the action! Also, the slow building of sexual tension between Lucy and Jared was perfect. I kept wanting more scenes between them. Readers will be faced with a few crazy plot twists. The story held me until it was over. I finished the book in five hours and still have a massive book hangover. I. NEED. THE. NEXT. TWO. BOOKS!!

Overall, I loved this book! One of the best books that I have ever promoted. I need the rest of the series now. Entangled Teen is killing me with these series starters! They are so incredible. I highly recommend.