Review | Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Title | Follow Me Back
Author | A.V. Geiger
Genre | Contemporary Romance Mystery
Pages | 300 pages
Publisher | Sourcebooks FIRE
Series | None
Release Date | June 1, 2017

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murder at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

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A.V. Geiger’s Follow Me Back is a twisted tale of lies, deception and stalking – told through the lives of Eric and Tessa, and multiple police reports. Lemme just admit right now that this book was an emotional roller-coaster. And I’m not talking about tears and stuff, oh no. I’m talking about mild heart attacks with every twist! If I had one word to sum up this novel? Brilliant.

The story is partly told from the point of view of Tessa, a teenage girl who suffers with agoraphobia. Let me just applaud the author right now, for slipping in awareness on phobias and anxiety. Much like A Quiet Kind of Thunder, anxiety awareness is on the rise this year, making Follow Me Back all kinds of relevant in the mental health and general illness bracket. However, it is rare to come across a book that openly discusses phobia. Very few authors encounter it, and it takes a special kind of person to be willing to discuss it. Some people do believe that those with serious phobias such as agoraphobia are just looking for sympathy. In reality, this is not the case. I adored how Follow Me Back shone a light in that direction – something that really puts this book on the map.

Plot wise, this story is original as hell. I have NEVER come across a novel, published or drafted, that has a style like this. It’s unique, it haunting and it had me guessing at every turn. Frequent readers of my blog will understand that this is my kind of book off the bat, and I could not be more proud to have read it in advance. Thank you, SOURCEBOOKS. But seriously, the year has only just kicked off, and while Follow Me Back is not released until June – it is already running for a top spot on the year’s best releases. How is that even possible?!

Major shout-out to the author, who started their writing journey on Wattpad. Yes, much like A Proscriptive Relationship or TextrovertFollow Me Back has received millions of reads online before being approved to be published in real life. That takes major dedication and hard work. And considering the quality of the writing, I only hope that the author has more in the works. Because I’m eager to see more!

A brilliant thing about this story is the mystery element the story has. You have absolutely no idea what is going on or what has happened – but you’re immersed into a world of police reports and hidden meanings. Also, it was brilliant to read a novel that didn’t glamourize fame and fortune. Eric was real in his paranoia, and it really made my heart go out to him. I feel that too much of today’s youth have this idea that with fame comes all these fabulous perks, at the same time you get to avoid responsibility and retreat into your own little private bubble when you want to. Follow Me Back puts this to bed, through a smaller internal story (a cautionary tale of some sorts). It was interesting to read a book that understood both sides of fame, only making me like it even more.

Now I hope for my own sake that there will be a sequel to this in the near future. Everything you discover through-out the novel is thrown into question within the last few chapters, making you feel dazed and confused. My head hurts, my heart hurts and quite frankly, I’m a little angry about the ending. But that doesn’t make it any less brilliant – it makes it even better. I feel I have no other option but to award this story a hot five out of five. When this book hits the shops in June, it is sure to make a killing!

Review | A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody

Title | A Week of Mondays
Author | Jessica Brody
Genre | Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages | 464 pages
Publisher | Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Series | None
Release Date | 2nd August 2016

When I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true…

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!

As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?

From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

So admittedly, my mood has spiked recently with the promise of romance. Yes, even dating fictional characters sometimes is not enough because they just can’t reciprocate. Tough, but that’s life. Any who, because of such I have found contemporary romance and new adult romance much more relevant and fascinating. What I liked about A Week Of Mondays was the realisation that the love we feel comfortable with may not always be our truest, or our most deepest. It may not even be who we are destined to be with, despite feeling so right at the time, Now romances are always heart-warming little trinkets, unless the author decides to rip your heart into shreds and watch you suffer (John Green and Gayle Forman, I’m talking about about you here.) Jessica Brody does not unload such pain on you, and instead re instils your faith in finding Mr Right.

Yet it must be said that for the first thirty-percent of the book, I was debating placing this on my ‘did-not-finish’ pile. The story starts up slow and steady, and lacks an allure that readers like myself (who enjoy gripping thrills) may desire. That being mentioned, I really did consider deleting the book from my library. While Jessica Brody does have a very good tone with this story, making it relatable and realistic, she did seem to struggle with the pacing. In personal judgement, I felt the story was taking to long to set the scene, let alone build up or climax. While this was a vital staging, other readers may lack the patience or understanding to prevent themselves from leaving the book. (Look at me talking about patience. Lol.) Still, despite this, the book was an incredibly fast read. After taking just short of two hours to read, I must admit that I am impressed.

Jessica Brody captures the heart and the nature of Ellie through her tone and characterisation. Ellie is clever and a very much a little bit of all of us. Yes, she thinks her family is cringey. Yes, she struggles to fit in. Yes, she is a people pleaser. Yet the fact that she acknowledges her labels and pretty much owns them makes her a favourite. Her panic, her understanding, her courage and her sheer determination to not give up plants her as a winner in my mind. Brody does well in most of her characterisation, which must be given a massive heads up. Owen, the nerdy bestfriend, is a character I would replicate and bring into reality. He was such a cute, three-dimensional character with realistic thought and emotion. Brody also managed to hit the nail on the head while capturing the stereotypical mean girl and tephe rock star boyfriend.

If I’m holding my hands up, then I must admit that I selected this book at random from my Kindle shelf. The cover was pretty fabulous, but from the title, I was expecting a Groundhog Day meets Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall”. And that was pretty much what I got. In comparison, A Week of Mondays is a less darker, less dangerous version of A Week of Mondays. While the topic is different, the idea of repeating one day is not and almost put me off the book altogether. But as the story came to a close and all the loose ends were tied up, I found the ending strangely satisfying. While I will struggle to award the book anything higher than a four, I have high expectations for Brody’s next book.

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Emma @ Miss Print says “Highly recommended for readers looking for a new fun diversion.”

Amanda @ Teen Librarian Toolbox says “Fun, cute, and satisfying.”

Review | The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Title | The Similars
Author | Rebecca Hanover
Pages | 352 pages (Kindle)
Genre | YA Science Fiction
Publisher | Sourcebooks FIRE
Series | The Similars, #1
Release Date | Tue 1st Jan, 2019

When six clones join Emmeline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class in this exhilarating and riveting debut by Rebecca Hanover.

Junior year just got a lot more cutthroat.

This fall, six new students are joining the junior class at the elite Darkwood Academy. But they aren’t your regular over-achieving teens. They’re clones. And they’re joining the class alongside their originals.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about: Who are these clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? And who is the madman who broke the law against cloning to create them?

Emmaline Chance couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and it’s all she can do to get through each day without him.
Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA copy and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, except she keeps getting pulled deeper into their clique. She can’t escape the dark truths about the clones or her prestigious school. No one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for with Oliver’s face.

Rebecca Hanover has done the impossible – she’s given me a new appreciation for YA science fiction novels. In all my years of reading, I’ve never quite come across something as wonderful and original as The Similars. It had everything I ever wanted – romance, action, mystery. I was on edge the entire book – I wanted more. Now I have to wait another year for a sequel.

I’ve never come across a story such as this one before – maybe that’s my lack of science fiction coming into play – but this story felt so original, so interesting. I was intrigued from the moment I started reading the book. Hanover had me hooked. I was the rabbit and she was dangling a carrot in front of me for the entire thing. But I was happy. The Similars is so fantastically written that I wasn’t bored at all throughout the entire book.

I absolutely adore Emmaline as a main character, and the way she developed through the plot was really interesting to watch. She made a brilliant protagonist, and can only hope that her development will continue into the next instalment of the series. There were a few plot twists throw in towards the end, which I appreciated, and Emmaline handled them incredibly well. She’s strong and fiesty – brave and loyal to her friends.

Though the book is described as a science fiction, I would have probably dubbed it as a thriller or a mystery myself. The book has a few dark moments, and the tone and pace of the story keep you guessing. I wanted it to continue on long after I’d finished reading.

I will be giving Rebecca Hanover my highest score, five out of five. I haven’t read a book this brilliant in a while, and to day that this is her debut novel is absolutely amazing! I expect big things from Rebecca in the future. Until the next book in the series come out, I’ll have to reread this one.

Review | The Me I Meant To Be by Sophie Jordan

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Title | The Me I Meant To Be
Author | Sophie Jordan
Pages | 304 pages (Kindle)
Genre | YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher | HMH Books for Young Readers
Series | None (Standalone)
Release Date | Tue 1st Jan, 2019

Girl Code: Never date a friend’s ex.

Willa Evans has no intention of breaking the code. So what if she’s always secretly loved her next-door neighbor Zach? As her best friend’s boyfriend, he was always off-limits and it needs to stay that way, even though they just broke up. Even though every time she turns around he’s there, tempting her…

No keeping secrets from your bestie.

Flor Hidalgo has a lot on her plate: her breakup with Zach, her dad’s new dating life, and her struggling grades. So why can’t she stop thinking about her hot, know-it-all tutor? At least she’s got Willa, her constant in the chaos.

Breaking the code breaks friendships.

Romance novels are something I absolutely adore. I love that moment when the guy gets the girl, or when two best friends realise there is something more between them. I’m a hopeless romantic, and they have fuelled my incredibly unrealistic expectations for my boyfriend. He is fine with it – though I’m still waiting on my incredibly grand gesture. Sophie Jordan’s The Me I Meant to Be was admittedly a little higher on my expectations, but it certainly delivered me some romance – so I’m content.

The book is told from two rotating point-of-views: Willa and Flor. If I’m completely honest, I’m not a massive fan of mixed POV books – I think they have to be expertly pulled off, like in You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon. While the narrative of the story wasn’t atrocious, it did mildly put me off wanting to pursue anymore of the story. As well as this, the pace of the book seemed very askew. Most of the books action happened within the last few chapters, which made the middle of the book feel almost redundant.

I feel like I like Willa’s character more – she seemed to be more level-headed and more of a rounded character. Both girls had difficult lives, and while their stories were unique and fairly intricate, I just couldn’t help but find parts of Flor a little too … flawed. Her reasoning and her behaviour seemed a little off – though representative of a small portion of teenagers, I felt more like she was a stereotypical character rather than a three-dimensional protagonist. Also, the men in the book seemed a little undesirable. In the past, I’ve expressed how I’ve longed for male characters after reading. Who doesn’t want to be wrapped up in Ron Weasley’s arms? (Joking or not, I would). I didn’t crush on any of the male characters – they seemed flat; more secondary than primary to the story.

The book did tackle girl friendships, and the reasoning that goes down behind a lot of female-to-female interaction. I also loved how each chapter started with a girl code – something that every woman should follow. However, Jordan could have had a real opportunity to discuss Chloe’s underlying illness and the true effects of it with her family. We saw the effect it had on Willa, but I felt like it was wasted as not much was done about it. Also, the issue with Dana seemed a little foolish. I understood the outrage; but the reconciliation towards the two felt rushed – too little, too late and slightly inappropriate given the way their relationship panned out.

The Me I Meant To Be felt more like a fluffy side read for me. Sure, I’ll revisit it in the future if I want a cute little romance read. In that criteria, Jordan ticked the box. But the lack of depth behind the story fails to earn a higher score than two. As usual, I encourage you all to give it a chance as views vary; and what didn’t work for me, may possibly work for you!

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Still unsure as to whether this is the book for you? See what other readers had to say!

Julie @ Julalicious Book Reads says “I recommend it to everyone who loves a good YA read.”

Bickering Book Reviews says “There is potential for this to be a great book but it just didn’t quite get there.”

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