Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Juniper Lemon has been on everyone’s radars since it was chosen to The Book of the BookTubeathon 2017. We had planned to read along with everyone else, but with YALC getting in the way, it was hard to coordinate. Now that YALC’s truly been and gone *sob sob*, we picked up Juniper and read it practically in one sitting. It was a fantastic book that dealt with grief and permanence in a way that didn’t make you want to bawl your eyes out, with a very lovely emphasis on building relationships with people who need them.

So, if you don’t know about it, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is all about a girl called Juniper (yes, Lemon. No, it’s not a spin off from Big Hero 6.) Her sister, Camie, died six months ago and she finds a letter she wrote to a mysterious ‘You’. Juniper then takes it upon herself to discover You’s identity, making a new friend along the way, kind of like the first six episodes of any magical girl series. The Happiness Index is a bunch of notecards that Juniper makes listing all the happy and sad things that happen during the day. One of her cards goes missing (with a pretty big confession on it) that’s the catalyst for Juniper’s to find her new love interest/ friendship group/ artistic mission for closure.

The mystery of ‘You’ definitely distracted Juniper from the grief and unspoken things surrounding her sister’s death. It wasn’t all overly dramatic and teary, with her crying in the cemetery late at night in the rain. (Although, Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer does that perfectly.) There’s certainly emotional resonance to Camie and Juniper’s relationship as you learn about what the pair did when they were younger or during national holidays but to have new beginnings as such an integral theme was a smart move of Julie Israel’s part. It was the perfect balance of quirky and fun, deep and real.

Our favourite aspect of the story was when Juniper was being a friend to the misfits, the loners and the just-likes-to-sit-in-the-library types. Seeing her surround herself with a growing circle of friends, while also trying to repair broken bridges with her bestie before Camie’s death, Lauren, was just the kind of positivity you needed.

I really liked that there was always more going on under the surface with Juniper’s mother and her grief, and Brand, Juniper’s love interest, and his home life. Her name might be in the title but she’s not the sole focus of the story, and to have so many little subplots involving the people around her made this a really rewarding read when you got to the end and the classic ceremonial burning of shared possessions.

Overall, we’d give Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index 4 stars. The mystery kept the pacing fast and the gotta-catch-them-all friendship group had us glued to the page. This was such a great debut for Julie Israel, and we’ll definitely be looking out for her next release!

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Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review!

There’s always a lot of pressure that can come along with a Breakfast Club reference. It’s literally right there on the cover: ‘a geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess’. And although the characters from the 80s classic were way more than their cliched labels suggested, I wondered if Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate and Addy would prove that there is no box to be put in. I couldn’t be more pleased to say that the characters are what make this book amazing and you all know I love a good murder mystery, so that’s saying something. Continue reading “Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus”

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali

32596757The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 300
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda was one of my favourite books of 2015! We recommended it in our Romances for Valentine’s day video because it’s light-hearted and cute, so when I got the chance to read Becky Albertali’s next book, of course, I leapt at the chance!

This was also one of my most anticipated releases of this year, and I think a lot of people are going to be using it as their choice for ‘under represented body type’ in the Diversity Bingo!

Continue reading “Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertali”

Review: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

28588345The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Penguin Books
Pages: 313
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★
Series: The Young Elites (#1) | The Rose Society (#2)

I honestly don’t think I was ready for this series to end. It was one of my most anticipated releases for this half of the year! The Young Elites was one of the first books that I read this year, and I was immediately drawn in by the delicious cast of characters. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that one of this series’ USPs is that Adelina is a bit of a villainous protagonist, but not in a fantastical super villain way, more in a ‘this girl’s had a hard life that has forced her to make tricky decisions in sticky situations’. Some people will probably say that’s mellow, but I’ve always loved Adelina, and the bond she has with her sister. And, for me, book two was even better, so I was going in with HIGH expectations, let me tell you.

Continue reading “Review: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu”

Spoiler Review: Half Lost by Sally Green

26404831Half Lost by Sally Green
Genre: Paranormal, UKYA
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 335
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★
Series: Half Bad (#1) | Half Wild (#2)

OPINIONS. I have them. This is the last book in the Half Bad trilogy, and since I’ve reviewed all of the others it seemed only right that I reviewed the finale. (Also, I was in too deep to stop) I supposed this book lived by to my expectations considering I’d already been spoiled on a major character death thanks to a Twitter rampage that after the initial release. A list of questions seemed like the only way to approach this review, so here we go.

  • Why did nothing happen in the first half?
    • Basically, Nathan and the crew spend the first half of the book roaming around different campsites trying to find Hunters and, more importantly, Annalise. Other than that, I have nothing to report. It was slow paced and super boring.
    • In fact, the beginning was very reminiscent of Mockingjay. I mean, a group of people trying not to trigger booby traps with some death thrown into the mix.
  • Was The BIG Death necessary?
    • Simple answer? No. It was emotionally manipulating to the audience, I felt, and severely damaged the character development steps made in previous books.
    • Gabriel is a sweet child and did not deserve this fate.
  • ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME THAT THE IMAGES ON THE FRONT OF THE BOOKS ARE ALL NATHAN?!?!
    • He’s a boy in the first. In the second he discovers he can turn himself into a wild animal to feel more in control. AT THE END OF HALF LOST HE TURNS HIMSELF INTO A TREE. The tree is Nathan. Nathan and the tree are one.
    • It’s genius, but I’m still a little mad at it.
  • What other gifts does Nathan have?
    • He’s in possession of so many, but he managed to control so few? He still had so much potential but the ending was so rushed we didn’t get any of it.
  • Nathan is just so hellbent on his stupid revenge plot he gets himself stuck in a bundle. He was literally invincible at the time, as well.

I honestly wasn’t the biggest fan of this story but three main factors pulled me in from the beginning: 1) Male witch. 2) UKYA 3) morally grey (erring on bad) MC. If those things pique your interest too then I would recommend reading the first book. Then you can battle with writing style and characterisation when you decide if it’s worth continuing. Half Wild although more vulgar than any of the other books was my favourite of the series (against popular opinion), so maybe my dislike of this end was inevitable. I’m just glad I have something else to tick off my series list.

Review: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

17616412Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
Genre: Contemporary, Magical Realism, Romance
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 358
Format: Paperback
Rating: It varies, but ★★★.5

When it comes to David Levithan I find that his co-written works are always the best, and Invisibility continues to prove this theory right. I absolutely loved the first 150 pages or so. They were so well written and I was completely absorbed by the characters and the situation. However, I do agree with the majority of the other reviews that this book lost its way in the middle, and began to feel like something completely different. Still, I really liked the magical-realism element, and I think you can explain away the majority of the strangeness to the situation. It’s still worth giving a go, and here’s why!

Continue reading “Review: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan”

Review: The Last Star by Rick Yancey

24955557The Last Star by Rick Yancey
Genre: Dystopian
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 338
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★
Series: The 5th Wave (#1) | The Infinite Sea (#2)

I feel like the world has been waiting a long time for this finale to drop. The 5th Wave was such an action-packed story but the second left a little something to be desired, and I’m really sorry to admit that the third book took it down another notch. Not gonna lie, but this was kind of a mess. After the wait I was expecting something spectacular! With an awesome ending and satisfying closure on the whole things, but once again, I was left feeling disappointed. Here’s why:

Continue reading “Review: The Last Star by Rick Yancey”

Review: The Rose Society by Marie Lu

rosesocietyThe Rose Society by Marie Lu
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★
Series: The Young Elites (#1)

Wow. Just wow. I read The Young Elites earlier on in the year and wasn’t completely sold on it, but I was still pumped to see how the story progressed. Can I just say I loved it? Is that enough? Of course not! So let’s go into some of the more finer details as to why I thought The Rose Society was better than The Young Elites. That’s right, no second book syndrome here, folks.

Continue reading “Review: The Rose Society by Marie Lu”

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

2282133Frostbite by Richelle Mead
Genre: Supernatural, Friendship, Romance
Published by: Penguin
Pages:
327
Format:
E-Book
Rating: ★★★★
Series:
Vampire Academy
Where to Find: GoodReads | Amazon

The sequel to Vampire Academy was also going to struggle to meet my five star rating. ‘Frostbite’ near enough accomplished this goal. If possible, there was even more action and adventure in this book than there was in ‘Blood Sisters’ (although signficantly less exposure of Rose and Lissa’s friendship.)

Continue reading “Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead”