ARC Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Title: Noteworthy32933947

Author: Riley Redgate
Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication date: May 2, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Hardcover

Rating: ★★★★

Distinctive qualities: Bisexual Chinese-American main character, who pretends to be a boy so she can join an a capella group, amazing friendships, set in a performing arts high school.

Summary:

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped… revered… all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Review:

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Noteworthy!

“But,” she went on, “remember. It’s the greatest strength to know your weaknesses. It just means you have a question to answer: How hard will you work to get what you want? And that’s the heart of it: from your career, from your time here, from everything, really—what do you want?” I stayed quiet. The world, I thought. The whole world, gathered up in my arms.

The main two words I would use to describe Noteworthy are “relatable” and “fun.” While the relatable part might not apply to everyone, I think anyone who enjoys reading YA contemporary might end up laughing a few times while reading this book. The book had the kind of sense of humor that’s understated and needs context but is still amazing. I kept wanting to update my Goodreads status with all of the quotes that I found funny, but they wouldn’t have made sense without context.

The characters were by far the best part of the story. It took me a little while to get to like Jordan, but as she grew more and more comfortable and confident in who she was, the more I rooted for her. The Sharps were great characters too, and I loved every single one of them. My only complaint is that I wish we’d gotten more backstory on some of the characters, but they were still fleshed out enough that you kind of got a sense of who they were and why they were that way.

 Kensington, probably because it was an arts school, was such an overwhelmingly liberal place when it came to social issues—I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have that sort of opinion around campus. Or anywhere, really. It was a strange thing to have an opinion on somebody else’s existence.

Something that I appreciated a lot about Noteworthy is that it is more diverse than most books. Most of the students at Kensington are white (around 55-60% of them, judging by something Jordan thought about near the beginning). However, Jordan herself is Chinese, bisexual and poor. One of the members of the Sharps that is more involved in Jordan’s story is Indian, Sikh and gay; another has a Japanese surname (Nakahara), so I’m guessing he is Japanese (though it’s never specified). Jordan’s father is paraplegic. And, very importantly, while Jordan is a girl pretending to be a boy, trans identities are recognized.

The plot of the story was interesting and unique (I mean, had you ever heard of a book in which a girl pretends to be a boy to join an a cappella group?). Some moments were kind of hard to believe, but the story was so engaging that I just did not care. I’m a slow reader, but I read most of the book in one day; it was too good to stop reading. I thought Noteworthy was going to be a five star book.

There came a point, though, at around 60% of the book, where I lost interest. I didn’t feel as excited to read and had to force myself to keep going. I stopped reading for the night with only one chapter left because I was no longer interested enough. This is actually a normal thing for me with most books, so maybe other people won’t have this problem. Ultimately, I gave it four of five stars.

If you love YA contemporary and are interested in music (or even acting) at all, this book is a must-read. Oh, and I totally recommend listening to the soundtrack either before reading the book or when you reach the scenes in which the songs are mentioned!

“It’s kind of funny,” Isaac said.

“What is?”

“It…” He paused. “I mean, we’re so comically, laughably tiny. You know? The universe is expanding forever, and there are nebulas a hundred billion miles away, like, spectacularly shitting out stars, and suns collapsing every twenty seconds, and essentially what I’m trying to say is that we’re the tiniest speck of dust on an infinite space plain and our lives are these insignificant little minuscule pinpricks on the timeline.”

Tiny March Wrap Up

Hi! You may be looking at the title of this post and thinking, “March wrap up? It’s almost May!” My answer to that is: …yep. *hides* University has been really challenging and time-consuming these past two months, and so I’ve fallen behind on both blogging and reading. (I’ve even fallen behind on university too. I don’t know how this is possible since all I’ve done is schoolwork.)

Anyway, let’s talk about books.

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The first thing I read in March was The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis. The Paths We Choose is a novella about a romance between two girls: Lily and Mayte. It follows Lily during her day-to-day life, and we see her as she enters into a friends-with-benefits relationship with Mayte and goes through a situation that forces her to confront her past. You can check out my review of The Paths We Choose here.

The second (and sadly, last) book I read was Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. It takes place during the biggest fandom convention in the country and follows a group of friends: Taylor, who is obsessed with Queen Firestone and wants to meet the author during the convention; Jamie, who loves comics, and Charlie, who is a YouTuber and actress, promoting her movie at the convention. Queens of Geek was a mixture of fun and serious (one of the characters deals with anxiety, and it is present a lot during the story). I’m still a little confused regarding my feelings about this book. Overall, it was good and I gave it four out of five stars. You can check out my review here.

Thanks for reading! What was the best book you read in March?

“What Cats Do” Book Tag

Hi, everyone! Today I will be doing the “What Cats Do” book tag. This tag was created by Kate from meltingpotsandothercalamities and I was tagged to do it by Tiana from The Book Raven. I don’t actually have a cat (I’m more of a dog person), but I figured I’d do the tag anyway.

Here are the questions:

PURR: As cats do this when they’re happy or relaxed, what is the book that makes you happiest or relaxed?
The book that makes me the happiest is, hands down, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve read this book three times, I think, and I love it more and more every time I read it. It’s one of the most lighthearted books I’ve ever read, plus Simon and Blue represent two different parts of my personality so well. This is one of the books that I will love forever.

SLEEP: What is a book that put you to sleep or was just boring?
A book that I found really boring was Incarceron by Catherine Fisher. I read it because a friend of mine recommended it to me, but I did not care about the characters at all. There were two plots going on at once–one set in the past and one set in the future, if I remember correctly. The past and future aspect was the main reason I thought I would love this book, but nope. It was incredibly disappointing. Incarceron was my least favorite book of all time for a few years, until a classic came along and took its place. More on that later, though.

TWITCH WHILE DREAMING: Have you ever dreamt of a book you read?
Yes, I have! I think I’ve dreamt about many books, although I don’t remember most of them. The most recent dream I’ve had involving a book had to do with Queen Levana, from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. But I don’t remember anything that happened in the dream, except that she was there.

SEEMS TO PLAY NICE… UNTIL THE CLAWS ARE OUT: Which book had the biggest plot twist(s)?
I’ve never actually read a book that had a huge plot twist… I either see them coming from a mile away or notice after they’ve happened how predictable they actually were. But if I had to pick one with a big plot twist, I’d pick The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. Now that’s something you wouldn’t expect a writer to do to his characters.

CUDDLES: Which book character would you give a hug to?
Let’s be real, I would hug a lot of characters! But the main one is Cress from The Lunar Chroniclesaka one of the book versions of myself (minus the hacking. I’m not that cool). She’s so cute and innocent and just wants to be free and have friends. I would hug her and be her friend; she deserves the world.

CATNIP: What’s a book that made you have warm and fuzzy feelings?
I didn’t want to repeat any answers, but Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the best answer for this. It’s so cute and adorable! It’s impossible not to feel warm and fuzzy while reading it.

CAT BREEDS: What are your favorite books?
I don’t have a set favorite book, but my go-to answer for this question is usually Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (yes, again!), Hamilton: The Revolution and Cress. For some reason I always put off reading the books that I think I will like, so I don’t have more favorite books to add to the list. Some of my old favorites (which I have to reread to see if I still love them) are The Infernal Devices and Shatter Me.

GETTING THE CAT: How did you find your favorite book(s)?
I found all of them through the recommendations of other people on social media (except for Hamilton, which I found because, well, I love Hamilton).

THE VET’S OFFICE: Your least favorite book.
My least favorite book is one of the books I feel the guiltiest for not liking… That book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I got this book as a Christmas gift from one of my friends a few years ago, and I was hoping I would love it (I did ask for it, after all). However, I ended up disliking it so, so much. I wasn’t expecting it to be so flowery and uneventful. Even though I wasn’t enjoying it at all, I forced myself to finish it and ended up in a reading slump for an entire year. (I’m technically out of that reading slump, but I think it still affects me in some ways.)

BEING IN PLACES THEY SHOULDN’T: Least favorite cliché.
“YOU’RE NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS.” This is unnecessary and implies other girls are bad, which they are not. Girls are amazing. (There are other clichés that I don’t like, but this one is at the top of the least. I also really dislike the whole “good girl, bad boy” thing most of the time.)

THE GOOD OLD CARDBOARD BOX: Most underrated book series.
For this final question, I am going with The Diviners by Libba Bray. I’ve only read the first book but I loved it. The romance was not good at all, but almost everything else was really good. Clearly this series is underrated, since it just had its second cover change (and they only get worse and worse with time). It’s a little creepy and has a cool cast of characters. I think many people would enjoy this series.

That’s it for the “What Cats Do” Book Tag! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? If so, which one was your favorite? And which one was your least favorite?

I tag: LivLilivetteAmy and anyone else who wants to do this tag.

ARC Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Title: Queens of Geek 31696213
Author: Jen Wilde
Genre: Contemporary

Publication date: March 14, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Paperback

Rating: ★★★★

Distinctive qualities: Comic convention, nerdy and geeky cast of characters, bisexual Chinese-Australian main character, fat main character with social anxiety and autism, black love interest, Latino love interest.

Summary:

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

Queens of Geek, an empowering young adult novel by Jen Wilde, is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Review:

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC of Queens of Geek!

“Haven’t you heard? Nerds are cool now.”

I had high hopes for Queens of Geek. It turned out to be different from what I expected, but in a good way. I thought it would be a lighthearted story about a group of friends’ adventures at a convention, but it was so much deeper than that.

“I fight every day, and too many times it’s just not enough and the fear wins. I’m so fucking weak and everything is so fucking intense and sometimes I really hate it.”

One of the main characters, Taylor, has social anxiety and autism. Being the biggest comic convention, SupaCon is overwhelming and very out of her comfort zone. Along with her worries for the future, she’s having a really hard time coping. <i>Queens of Geek</i> highlights her struggles and her realization that it’s okay to be weird and she shouldn’t want to change to be like everyone else. Her chapters were so relatable that I ended up with more than five pages’ worth of quotes, which is a lot for me. (I never write down quotes, unless I’m planning to write a review of the book. In that case, I usually end up with three of four quotes max.)

“This is so weird. How have I gone from shooting videos in my bedroom to talking to Alyssa Huntington while Stefan and Damon walk by?”

The other main character, Charlie, is completely different from her best friend. She is confident, unapologetic and a YouTuber and movie star on the rise. She goes to SupaCon with plans to let the entire world know that she is over her ugly and semi-recent breakup, which the media and her fans won’t let her forget. At the same time, she finds herself meeting her favorite YouTuber, Alyssa Huntington, whom she has a crush on and who seems to like her back. Throughout the weekend, Charlie realizes that she must come to terms with the media criticizing everything she does and choosing to be herself regardless.

The entire book is about accepting who you are, even when you are different from everyone else and they try to tear you down for it. Some parts could be really cheesy, but overall the story had an important message and a very enjoyable story.

“I don’t understand it. Don’t people know that when they say stuff, it affects others? Don’t they ever just stop and think, ‘Hey, if I said this, how would it make that person feel?'”

ARC Review: It Happened on Love Street by Lia Riley

Title: It Happened on Love Street (Everland #1)It Happened on Love Street (Everland #1)

Author: Lia Riley
Genre: Romance

Publication date: April 25, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Mass Market Paperback

Rating: N/A

Distinctive qualities: N/A

Summary:

The most romantic place she never wanted to be . . .

Pepper Knight moved to Everland, Georgia, as step one in her plan for a successful legal career. But after this big-city gal’s plans go awry, going home with her tail between her legs isn’t an option. So when the town vet-and her sexy new neighbor-offers Pepper a temporary dog-walking job, she jumps at the chance. No one needs to know that man’s best friend is her worst nightmare . . . or that Everland’s hot animal whisperer leaves her panting.

The last thing Rhett Valentine wants is to be the center of small-town gossip. After his first love left him at the altar, he’s been there, done that. These days, life is simple, just the way he likes it. But sultry southern nights get complicated once sparks fly between him and the knockout next door. When she proposes a sexy, secret fling-all the deliciousness and none of the prying neighbors-it seems too good to be true. And it is. Because Pepper’s determined to leave Love Street, and when she goes, she just might take his heart with her . . .

Review:

Thanks to Lia Riley and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of It Happened on Love Street!

DNF at 7%.

I found out about It Happened on Love Street when I quoted someone’s tweet about a book and said something among the lines of, “For a moment there, I thought this was about a veterinarian. Now I need a book about a veterinarian.” She directed me to this book, and I was instantly interested in reading it (even if the plot about a veterinarian that I had in mind was very different than the plot of this book).

My decision to stop reading is 100% a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” Judging by the fact that yesterday I also gave up on a book without even reading 10% of it, it’s safe to say that I am in a dreaded reading slump.

It Happened on Love Street starts with Pepper arriving in Everland, Georgia for a work opportunity. She gets lost, has a scary encounter with a dog, talks to some children and is off on her way. That is just the start of a bad day, though, because after relocating from Manhattan to Everland, she finds out her job offer was revoked and she was never notified of it.

I only read two full chapters and the beginning of the third, but here’s what I know: there’s two points of view, Pepper’s and Rhett’s; Pepper is only in Everland temporarily; Rhett does not want love after having a bad experience with it; Pepper has a great relationship with her sister; and Rhett’s mother passed away and he has no relationship with his father after he turned down a prestigious university and chose to pursue a career as a veterinarian.

All of this would be interesting to me if: a) it didn’t take place in a small town in the south, which I don’t particularly enjoy and b) it were possible for any book to hold my attention right now. I’m hoping to return to this book once I’m out of this slump and in the mood for a romance story, but it’s gonna go unfinished for now.

ARC Review: Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs

30201520Title: Future Threat (Future Shock #2)

Author: Elizabeth Briggs
Genre: Sci-Fi

Publication date: March 1, 2017
Purchase links: Kindle Edition | Hardcover | Paperback

Rating: N/A

Recommended for: N/A

Summary:

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.

Review:

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC of Future Threat!

“And so we remain, trapped in this strange limbo where he takes one step forward and I take another back. A never-ending dance that leaves us both unsatisfied.”

DNT at 8%

I am the kind of person who mostly feels as though she needs to finish a book once she has started it. But my TBR is so big that I’ve gotten to a point where I tell myself the following: If I am not enjoying a book, I will not read it.

I didn’t get far enough into Future Threat to be able to say if it’s a good book or not. It might be fantastic for all I know but at this point, I am not willing to figure that out.

My biggest problem with the book is this: I  read Future Shock recently, and I feel as though it would have been just fine as a standalone. The first book had an open ending, but it gave enough closure and an idea of what the characters’ lives would be like from now on. I already had the sequel on my Kindle, so I felt like I had to read it. But if I had not had it by then, I may not have ever wanted to read it.

The story opens up with Elena having nightmares and feeling like she’s not good enough for Adam. She pushes him away because of it and feels bad about it, but does nothing to fix or end her relationship. Reading about it was really annoying. She never tried to push him away in the first book because she wasn’t “good enough for him” so the fact that she’s doing it now makes little sense. I assume it’s only happening to add drama to the story. I don’t like it when couples fight or push each other away for no reason instead of just communicating, so this is really off-putting.

For the few weeks (or months?) that Elena has been free, she has been followed around by people from Aether Corp. At the point that I stopped reading, she and Adam were picked up by a car that would take them to the Aether Corp facility. I should have been intrigued about what they wanted with Elena, Adam and Chris. Instead, I was just bored.

And so, I am DNF-ing this book for now. I hope to pick it up again in the future, since Elizabeth Briggs’s books tend to be quick reads. I’ll save it in the hopes that someday I will miss these characters and want to read more about them. Even if it does feel like their story should have ended in book one.

E-Book Haul

Hi! I’m back with another book haul. I’ve been accumulating e-books since the end of last year, and I feel like it’s time to mention them on my blog. I can’t wait to read all of them!

With the exception of Infini and On the Edge of Gone, I received all of these ebooks for free. Most of them are from Netgalley, one of them I won in a giveaway, and another I got from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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  1. Girl out of Water by Laura Silverman
  2. Dreadnought by April Daniels (check out my review here)
  3. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
  4. Infini by Krista and Becca Ritchie

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     5. Future Shock by Elizabeth Briggs (check out my review here)
6. Future Threat by Elizabeth Briggs
7. On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
8. Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

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     9. Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
10. Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
11. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
12. The Paths We Choose by M. Hollis