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.



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.


BookCon For Beginners: Part 2

It’s that time of year again! For the people who are unaware of what “that time” is, it is when BookCon is close and many newcomers are prepping for their first time. BookCon can be best described as a beautiful chaos. The event is incredible and allows you to create many amazing memories, however, if you are ill prepared, you will not enjoy the event. Conventions, like BookCon, are not something that you can simply arrive at and hope for the best. The events require some knowledge and planning. Luckily, this being my third time attending, I am here to help you!

If you are familiar with my blog, you may have noticed that I had a similar post last year. Also, I had weekly posts leading up to the event to help you fully prepare. Because those posts were so popular and helpful, I decided to recreate them this year and include some new tips. Because BookCon is a primarily new convention, they are continuing to improve so my posts will be different from the originals. If you all enjoy this post, let me know and feel free to contact me with any questions that you may have about BookCon!

Though a rolling bad is not necessarily needed, it could be a massive help!

At BookCon, you will get plenty of books. As you all know, books are heavy. Carrying many books with only a few tote bags is complete hell. If you want to save your back and arms, put a rolling bag in coat check. NO ROLLING BAGS CAN BE ON THE SHOW FLOOR, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT INTO COAT CHECK!!

Do not over plan!!

I did this, too. I thought that I could be at five places at one time. Unfortunately, I was completely wrong. I am going to state the sad truth, you will not make it to half of your events if you over plan (especially if they require a wristband). For autographing area signings, you have to be in line AT LEAST an hour before it starts. It does not matter whether you buy a book or not. Despite BookCon stating that you need a book purchase, a purchased book does not mean that you will be able to get it signed. So, if you are planning on buying a book and showing up ten minutes before the signing, you have a slim chance of that happening.

Also, unless you are a VIP, you need to be super early for popular panels in order to get good seats. Panels are first come first serve! VIPs, you get first to pick for seats as long as you stand in line twenty minutes prior.

To be honest, I ditched my schedule and spent most of my Bookcon at the booths.You receive way more free stuff at booths and you can still go to signings that you don’t have to wait in line for hours. Spend a lot of time at booths!

Arrive at Bookcon really early!!

I do not know if BookCon is still having wristband events because they haven’t announced the autographing schedule yet. However, the wristband signings were significantly better than the sessions the prior year where it was based off who arrived at the autograph line early. The prior years, people would buy the book but not be able to get it signed. However, the wristbands were given out before BookCon even started and GUARANTEED you an autograph. Only problem, the people in the front of the line to get into the convention get first choice of wristbands. If you are at the end of the line, you WILL NOT receive a wristband. It’s annoying but it is, in a way, fair because if you show us at the convention at 4am you do deserve the wristbands you want. I arrived at 4:30 AM last year and I was one of the first thirty people in line. Because of that, I got all of the wristbands that I wanted. (In the picture above, that was all of my friends and me waiting in line at 4:30. It’s tiring but it’s so exciting that you do not care!)


If there is one thing that I despise, it is line cutters. And if you happen to have a habit of cutting lines, you better not do it around me. I will call you out in front of the whole convention center. And since BookCon has a strict rule against cutting lines, you will be asked to leave. I do not care to hear your reasoning for cutting lines. If I see you cut, I will not hesitate to call you out.

Stay at the Show Floor

So, you can either spend your whole day waiting in line for signings at the autographing area, or you can spend you day receiving many books and having to only waste thirty minutes in line at booth signings. The show area is incredible. Last year, I spent the whole day there and received many amazing books! However, DO NOT (UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE) TAKE MULTIPLE COPIES OF ARCS!! You are the biggest asshole if you take three ARCs when there are other people who paid to go to BookCon who would love to have one of those ARCs. You only need one ARC and if your friend wants one, share the ARC. Don’t be annoying. You will be the reason publishers refuse to bring ARCs and we will all hate you. Also, SELLING ARCS IS ILLEGAL AND A SERIOUS MATTER. There was a lot of controversy over these two topics after BookCon last year, If you do these things, you lose respect in the book industry and will probably never receive ARCs again. ARCS ARE A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT!!

Socialize While Waiting

In all honesty, you will spend half of your day in lines. It could go both ways: it could either be terrible or you could make the most of it and talk to fellow bookworms. You are going to be surrounded by bookworms, make friends!!

Wear Comfy Clothes

You will be walking A LOT! You want to wear shows and clothes that won’t make you in pain. Keep in mind, the floors are concrete and only some exhibitors have carpet floors. Concretes is hard on your feet if you walk on it all day. Also, flip flops, although they are comfy, aren’t desired shoes.

Get the App!

The BookCon app is truly a blessing. Not only is it informational, the people you meet on the app are so amazing. I still am great friends with many of them. On the app, there are planners that you can use to organize your schedule for BookCon. Also, it allows you to see whats going on during the event. Another fun thing is every year, I make a group chat with newbies and experienced BookCon attendees where we plan meets ups and talk about books. Usually, we will all go out to dinner one night during BookCon. If you are interested in joining it, contact me!

There are events around BookCon, too!

The fun of BookCon will be available at other places around the city! Because, so many authors will be staying in New York, book stores will typically host events with them after BookCon. If you look at the event tabs on bookstore websites, they will list when they are hosting events around the time of BookCon. Many Attendees will be at the other events as well.

Do Not Bring Every Book From Every Author You Want To Meet!

You will regret it. You will have to carry those books with you for the whole day. Also, some authors may only sign one book so it would be a waste. Bring only the ones that you desperately want to get signed.

Bring Snacks!

My friend and I forgot to bring snacks because we were planning on buying lunch instead. However, me and my friend were too bus looking for books that we wanted so we never bought lunch. Starving, my friend and I ate left over food from Penguin that had been out all day. I would strongly advise you to being snacks so you don’t have to eat stale food and have people look disgusted at you.

Follow and turn on post notifications for publishers and other people at the event.

Many publishers and authors will tweet about give aways at the event. When I was there last year, all the books that I wanted  had received  because of these giveaways. Once you see a notification, you have to sprint to those booths because their items will be gone in seconds. Last year, there was one final copy of Futhermore by Tahereh Mafi (she is my favorite author ever) and I waited by that booth until they finally tweeted it. I ended up getting that book sixteen seconds after they tweeted it.

Bookcon Checklist

  1. Book money!!!! Books are sold at Barnes and Noble price. If you want five hard cover novels, then bring around $110. A lot of booths give out free books so you really don’t need to buy many books.
  2. Lunch money. Lunch is pretty pricey at convention centers. Snacks are a far better option since lunch is expensive and takes up too much time.
  3. Your ticket!!!!! It is the only way you will be allowed inside.
  4. A lanyard for your ticket!! You should wear your badge at ALL TIMES!
  5. One tote bag. You will get more but you want to bring one to hold your books until you find more totes.
  6. Rolling bag!!
  7. Snacks!
  8. Some books that you want to get signed.
  9. A list or schedule of who you want to meet.
  10. Business cards if you are a blogger, booktuber, author, publisher, etc.


Bookcon FAQs

  • Will they post a map of the show floor? Yes, but the maps aren’t that great.
  • How early should I arrive at the convention center? Two hours before or earlier. The earlier you arrive, the better chance you have at getting wristbands for everything you want to see.
  • How early should I arrive for panels and signings? In booth signings: a half and hour. Autographing area and panels: an hour and a half or earlier.
  • Will there be food to buy there? Yes, but it will be pretty pricey.
  • Will it be okay to bring a backpack with me? Yes, But I recommend bringing a rolling bag and putting it in coat check.
  • Do you need to buy books for signings at Bookcon? Only if it says that you do on the details of the signing.

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.