Review: Rikki by Abigail Strom

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Synopsis: 
Ever since junior high and an ill-fated game of seven minutes in heaven, Rikki Eisendrath and Sam Payne have hated each others’ guts. But when they end up at the same college—and the same dorm—they figure it’s time to declare a truce.

They even become friends… sort of. But when Sam asks Rikki to model for his sculpting project, they start spending more time together—and her feelings for him get more complicated.

She tries to focus on the guy she’s been crushing on instead. But Sam’s the one she can’t stop thinking about, even though their arguments are starting to heat up as much as the chemistry between them.

With antagonism and attraction this intense, there’s bound to be an explosion. But when the dust settles, will Sam and Rikki be enemies, friends… or something more?

Date Finished: 9-24-15

Rating: 4.5/5

Thoughts:

*I received a free e-copy of this book from the Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I’m currently a senior in high school, facing the pre-college nerves. Where will I end up? What will it be like? What will my roommate be like? It’s novels like this and Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster and Walking Disaster books that make me both ultra nervous… and super excited about college life. Maybe that’s why I love New Adult novels so much. It makes the uncertainty of the future easier to think of.

Let’s jump in with the review. As you saw in the synopsis, this is a college novel, through and through. It takes place almost exclusively at Hart University, where Rikki and her old friend/rival Sam are forced to deal with their feelings for each other. This relationship, starting off as pure hatred, and eventually becoming friendship, was actually quite believable. The emotions displayed throughout this book weren’t too outrageous or obvious, but subtle, as they would be in real life. Of course, there are moments when the characters explode, but that’s to be expected, right? They’re only human!

Speaking of characters, the cast of characters was actually really interesting and diverse. (Rikki has two Moms, a character identifies as bisexual, and the dorm they stay at has a no “slut-shaming” policy!) I just wish that the characters could’ve been a bit more developed. The only characters we really get to know are Rikki, Sam, Tamsin, and a bit of Jason. However, I believe that the author is planning more books in this Hart University series, each from a different character’s POV, so in the future novel’s we’ll probably get to learn more about the rest of the group. Of the characters we did get to meet, I really did like everyone (except one character, but you’ll find out who if you read it!)

All in all, Rikki is a really amazing book that I would recommend to older teens in high school, especially seniors, or college students. It’s a very cute contemporary romance that is a perfect blend of sweet first-love and heart pounding passion. Fans of Walking Disaster or just New Adult novels won’t know what hit them when they read Abigail Strom’s Rikki.

Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

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Synopsis: 

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

Date Finished: 9-20-2015

Rating: 3.5/5

Thoughts: *Thank you Netgalley and SourceBooks Fire for providing me with a copy of this book to review!*

I’m not exactly where to start with this review, so I’ll just say that this book was a good read. I was drawn in by the synopsis and the title. This time the cover didn’t play as much of a role in my choice, but after reading and looking back at the cover, I feel that the cover does a really good job of capturing the mood of this book.

This book is split up between Ryden balancing his parental duties (which he often passes off to other people) with his school and sports, his growing relationship with Joni, a girl at work, and trying to find the journals that Meg left behind for him, which he thinks might have the key to being a good parent for their daughter, Hope.

I generally liked all of the characters, especially Joni. She’s not a stereotypical love interest. She’s unique and toward the end pushes back against the way she’d been treated by someone. That uniqueness will probably make hera favorite of many readers. Ride was very fleshed out, both in his inner thoughts and actions. He’s a teen, but he’s got adult responsibilities now. Despite that, he still makes mistakes like any human would. I actually really liked that it was told directly from his 1st person POV. It’s not always that common to find a YA novel where you get to get directly in a guy’s head, with all of the male thoughts and all. (You know what I mean.) Anyway, even though we never get to meet Meg, we still learn of her personality through memories and journal entries, which actually helped me feel more sympathy toward Ryden and his situation.

Now, there are a few twists and turns throughout the book. Revelations occur with each journal entry. So many things happen in all aspects of Ryden’s life, and one event even changes his view on a character (my view as well!) It was actually this twist that brought my rating down from a solid 4 to a 3.5. Without giving anything away, I just feel that a character did something incredibly selfish, despite the motive behind it.

Nevertheless, Jessica Verdi wrote this beautiful, thought provoking book in a sentimental, angsty, and reflective way that makes it a perfect afternoon read of the weekend. It’s definitely a page turner, so you’ll be done with it soon. It has a similar tone as that of Take Care Sara and If I Stay, so fans of those novels might enjoy this.

Happy Reading, Starlight Readers!

Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Synopsis:

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Date Finished9-12-15

Rating: 5/5

Thoughts: Let me begin by saying that I initially didn’t think that I would like this book. I bought it just after Queen of Shadows, book 4 in this series, was released, only because it was on sale on Amazon. Honestly, I don’t think I would have bought it otherwise. Everything about the book seemed to go against all of my interests.

I was quite wrong.

Throne of Glass is a fantasy novel told from the 3rd person point of view, two factors that I initially didn’t like. I’m usually a fan of either contemporaries, paranormal novels, or science fiction told from the more immediate and intimate 1st person POV, but something about Throne of Glass still drew me in. Maybe it was Celaena, our tough, yet instantly likable protagonist. Maybe it was the new world I was thrust into from the first page. Or, as I would like to believe, I’m getting over my apprehension toward fantasy novels. 😉

Anyway, I really liked this book. Even though it’s a different genre, it sort of reads like The Hunger Games, with a strong female protagonist, a subtle love triangle, and plenty of competition and fighting. I also appreciated the character Nehemia, who becomes a great friend and ally to Celaena. All throughout the novel, I was doubting different characters and wondering about motives and magic. The plot was realistic for a fantasy novel, and I liked that Celaena still has a unexplored backstory. I imagine there are things that she doesn’t even know about herself that will be revealed in the sequels.

I would HIGHLY recommend Throne of Glass, (And mostly likely the other books in the series as well) to fans of The Hunger Games, Eon, and honestly to anyone who wants a fun, yet interesting read. Be warned, it took me a while to get through this novel, despite the fact that I tend to read relatively quickly. Don’t worry though. It just means that you’ll enjoy it for longer.

Happy reading, Starlight Readers!

Review: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

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Synopsis:

After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, “perfect student” Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber’s identity.

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

Date Finished: 3-3-15

Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

*I received an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review*

I really enjoyed the manifesto’s sprinkled throughout the text. Sometimes they give hints as to what’s going to happen, or a different perspective on what just happened, but without giving away too many hints at all. In fact, the manifesto’s didn’t help me solve the mystery at all. That was all Gabi’s doing. I really loved being able to figure out the truth along with the characters, even if I did figure it out about four pages before Gabi did. 😉

I must say that I wish the book had used more of the thriller elements. The beginning and ending of Are You Still There were definite page turning parts, but there were parts in the middle when the narrative had a bit of a lull in my opinion. There’s a bit of relationship drama, which, while it does help to characterize the characters who play crucial roles in the story, such as Eric, Janae, and Miguel, I felt like it played down the threat of the bombing. At the same time, I think that playing down the threat was actually a good tactic. I’m torn, because I wanted more action, but that lull actually makes the end a bit more dramatic, because nobody is really on edge after the initial bomb-threat given that months have passed at that point. Perhaps I wanted more action because immediately after finishing this book (and before writing this review) I started to read This Is Where It Ends, a book that takes place during a school shooting. This book is more psychological, while the other book is more of an action-packed emotional thriller, which has biased my view slightly.

All in all, I still enjoyed reading this. The characters are complex, and the plot is thrilling. I’d recommend this to fans of Caroline B. Cooney’s thrillers, or of any thriller in general. It’s a page turner, and I feel that anyone could enjoy this. 😀