Review: Hello, Sunshine

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Hello, Sunshine by: Leila Howland

My Rating: 4 Stars

A Prep School Girl with a Hollywood Dream

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she’s running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Content Warning: A creepy neighbor who continues to harass and stalk the main character. There are some sex scenes but nothing explicit. And a nudity situation.

Book 2 for Monstrous March.

Becca and her boyfriend Alex are spending one last hoorah before Alex goes to college. All of the college’s that Becca applied for denied her. Upon her mother’s request Becca plans to look for a part time job whilst trying to became an actress. Much to her surprise Alex breaks up with her. Feeling lost Becca decides to move to LA and try to become an actress there.    

I had heard about Hello, Sunshine through Netgalley in 2017. I really liked the synopsis and heard good things, so I decided to purchase a copy. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! The book is written in first person limited following Becca’s point of view. There are text messages, lists, as well as quotes from a book and online articles.

I really liked that this book is YA! I think this book would help so many teens before going into college. And it’s nice to see college YA. There are a lot of valuable lessons such as the value of work, a person’s worth, and money.

I really liked Becca! She was so happy and energetic. I rarely read about those types of characters and Becca felt so fresh and fun. Her growth throughout the Hello, Sunshine was amazing! I really enjoyed her standing up for herself. And learning and experiencing new things. Which in turn helped her grow and become a really good actress.

I loved the family aspect! Becca is really close to her mother and even her cousin Vivian. She had a fantastic relationship with her mother! I also appreciated that Becca didn’t mind that her father was out of the picture. As long as she had her mother she was all good. Becca’s mother plays a huge part in the story and in the decisions she makes. I wish more YA would bring in family.

I loved the friendship between Becca and Marisol! Marisol was also trying to become an actress. The two supported each other rather than tearing each other down. Which was so nice to read about! They had such a wholesome friendship which made the book all the more enjoyable.

I also really liked Raj! He was a good friend and a genuine person. His crush on Becca was so cute to read about. I did enjoy how it was slow burn. Also when Becca friendzoned Raj he came back and was cool with everything. They really did complement each other.

I did have some issues with Hello, Sunshine. I didn’t like that Raj got all giddy at the thought that he looked like a ‘criminal’. This didn’t feel realistic considering that he was an Indian. And Indian’s are primarily confused by ignorant people as Muslim’s therefore are terrorists.

While I’m happy that Becca got into California film school I am a bit muffed by it. I really thought that she would answer that question and grow even more. But that didn’t happen. I know that connections are everything and while I appreciated that aspect, I still would’ve liked to see her answer it. 

The conflicts at the end were weird. Marisol was rich and kept it a secret. And that whole thing with Raj kind of made sense but also felt thrown in there for some drama build-up. Not every contemporary needs that and this book could’ve done without it.

While I like Raj and Becca as a couple I’m not happy with how they got together. It read odd and felt rushed. And it affected how I felt about them as a couple. I think it would’ve been better had they gotten together earlier and maybe not had a conflict before.

Overall I really enjoyed Hello, Sunshine! I highly recommend.       

  

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Review: Famous in a Small Town

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Famous in a Small Town by: Emma Mills

My Rating: 4 Stars

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Mention of car accident, mention of prison, mention of fatal accident, and taking credit for someone else’s work.

Sophie and her friends are preparing to enjoy their summer break. Much to the group’s surprise a new boy August moves in. August is the brother of Sophie’s neighbor. While working Sophie overhears her band teacher talking about the upcoming fundraiser. The teacher mentions that they will likely not be able raise enough money to participate in The Rose Parade. Sophie takes action into her own hands and decides to get Megan Pleasant to come back and perform. Only Megan has sworn never to return home. 

Emma Mills has been on my radar since I enjoyed This Adventure Ends. I was hesitant when I heard about Famous in a Small Town. Ultimately I gave in to my curiosity. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it! This book is written in first person following Sophie’s point of view. There are flashbacks, text messages, online articles, and social media posts.

There’s something about reading an Emma Mills book. It’s like hugging a blanket. You know it’ll be fluffy and have a huge emphasis on friendship. It’s comforting. And no surprise this is what was present in Famous in a Small Town. 

I absolutely adored the friendship! Sophie has a large friend group and all of them get along with each other. Their conversations were also so funny! As well as relatable. Each character was unique and original. It was even better when August joined the friend group. 

I really enjoyed reading about Sophie’s growth! And her character in general. She wasn’t perfect and she knew that. Sophie genuinely wanted to work on herself and become a better person. She was sweet and caring. It’s a nice change to read about those kinds of characters.

I also really liked August’s nieces! They were so cute! And a delight to read about. I particularly enjoyed it when Sophie babysat them. Sophie would do anything to keep them happy. And wasn’t afraid to act a bit goofy in the process.

I found Famous in a Small Town to be the more romance oriented than This Adventure Ends. Early on Sophie realizes she has a crush on August and asks him out. He politely refuses and asks that the two remain friends. I really enjoyed reading about their relationship!

August was such a sweet character. I actually expected him to be brooding. And in a way he was. But not exactly. Through Sophie and her friend group, as well as his brother August came out of his shell. I really enjoyed reading about his character development!

I was really surprised about the mystery aspect! The whole Megan Pleasant situation was a bit bizarre in the beginning. I didn’t think much off it. Then it went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting. There is another mystery aspect that was also quite surprising. I liked how each mystery was handled.

My only problem with Famous in a Small Town was how Sophie’s parents weren’t really present. This isn’t that large off an issue and it didn’t effect my rating. I just would’ve preferred for them to be more present.

Overall I really enjoyed this! Highly recommend.    

Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by: Julie Israel

My Rating: 4 Stars

Dear You,

Brevity is the only way to deliver a sting, so here goes—

I’ve been thinking about what you said and I’ve decided that you’re right: It would be better for both of us this way…

Sixty-five days after the death of her older sister, Juniper Lemon discovers the break-up letter addressed to “You” Camilla wrote the day she died. Juniper is shocked—she knew nothing of her sister’s relationship, and now the hole Camilla left in her life feels that much bigger. She’s determined to uncover You’s identity and deliver Camie’s letter. Maybe, just maybe, that would help fill the sister-shaped void Camilla left behind.

But what Juniper doesn’t expect is that the search for You will lead to learning other people’s secrets: private crushes, shames, fears—or that these secrets will connect her to classmates she never thought to reach out to before. Classmates like the destructive but strangely magnetic Brand Sayers.

The biggest surprise? Wading through everyone else’s problems may be just what Juni needs to make peace with her own.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger Warning: Abusive parent, drug addiction, mention of death, graphic mention of car accident, suicide attempt, physical violence, bullying, grief, mention of attempted rape, and neglectant parent (got better at the end).

 A few months prior to Juniper and her sister Camilla were in a car accident. Juniper survived with some injuries. Whereas Camilla died. Juniper is still recovering from the loss. Summer has passed and school is going to began soon. After losing Camilla, Juniper also lost her best friend. There’s been a rift between them since the accident. And now Juniper will be attending school without her sister and the support of her best friend Lauren. 

Upon arriving home after registration Juniper finds a mysterious letter. It’s written by her sister addressed to ‘You’. Juniper is shocked. Juniper told everything to Camilla. Here was proof that Camilla didn’t. Thus begins Juniper’s hunt for ‘You’. 

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index had been circling GR for a few weeks last year. I dismissed it at first, as the cover lead me to believe it was a memoir. After seeing it for so many days I read the synopsis. Was surprised to find out that it was a YA book. Out of sheer curiosity I read a sample. I was blown away! And didn’t hesitate to get myself a copy! I am happy to say that I really enjoyed it!

The story is written in first person following Juniper’s point of view. There are a table of contents titled ‘Days Without Her’. Juniper’s index card numbers served as the chapter numbers. There are text message’s, emails, essay papers, index cards, diary like entries, and flashbacks. 

What a refreshing read! I found this so different from you’re typical contemporaries. In regards to the plot, the characters, and the romance. It really becomes clear once you finish it.

I really liked Juniper’s character! Her grief regarding Camilla was so well written. It was easy follow her throughout the book. Israel really captured her emotions and thoughts from the very first page. I felt everything Juniper felt. That’s how good it was written.

As a request from her sister Juniper has index cards in which she records something she’s happy about each day. This becomes difficult after Camilla’s death. But Juniper still does so. Juniper miss places one of her index cards and begins to worry. She decides to check the garbage at her school for the next few days.

Aside from finding typical garbage, Juniper finds some of her classmates secrets. The first thing she find’s is a suicide note from Kody. After some thought Juniper decides to befriend Kody and stop her from committing suicide. She also befriend’s Nate the new kid, Sponge (real name Lawrence) who seems to know everything, Brand the delinquent who is seemingly helping her, and Angela an art nerd.

The friendships were done so well! I really liked all off these characters. And they actually all got along. I do think that Juniper’s friend making was questionable, but they were all good for each other. Kody and Juniper bonded over a book series. Angela and Nate were nice to everybody. Sponge was pretty good considering he didn’t say much. Brand was surprisingly insight for Juniper’s situation. They all supported each other and it was great. Now this is how you write good friendship’s.

Juniper’s relationship with her family was complicated. Her father was active in her life and supported her. On the other hand Juniper’s mother was never there. As she was grieving she remained in her room and barely participated in family functions. She did get better and actually became a part of Juniper’s life. But it was towards the end of the book.

Like most contemporaries there is a bully whose name is Morgan. Now Morgan takes a lot of joy off mentioning that Camilla is dead. The two didn’t get along while Camilla was alive. I do find it kind of unnecessary for the insert bully. But at the same time I didn’t care for Morgan’s backstory. Some people are just mean and don’t have a particular reason for it let alone a tragic backstory.

Please be aware that the two get into physical fights. With Morgan always provoking Juniper and Juniper in turn hitting her. I don’t agree with Juniper hitting Morgan, but she seriously should’ve learned the first time not to mention Camilla in such a rude manner.

I liked Brand and Juniper’s romance! They did start off as friends of sort. And he was really nice to her. The two made a good couple in the beginning. They also supported each other and called out one-another’s faults.

I thoroughly enjoyed Juniper’s character development! She start off annoyingly noisy. I really don’t approve off a lot of her methods. But they were coming from a good place. It is implied from the flashbacks that Juniper has always been like this. Her need to ‘fix’ people. Through her relationships she really begins to grow and let go off bad habits. She decides that Camilla will always be apart of her and stops using the index cards. So that she can actually live her life. 

I was also really happy about the end events! I liked that Juniper and Lauren were starting to make-up. That they still cared for each other. Lauren’s collage board was brilliant and touching! Even Juniper’s mom coming to her aid. It was sweet. 

My only problem was that Juniper never found out who ‘You’ was. It really took away so much from the story. As that was Juniper’s main goal and motivation. In a way it did make sense but I wanted a bit more closure.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I highly recommend it.      

Review: Always Never Yours

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Always Never Yours by: Emily Wibberley and Austin-Siegemund-Broka

My Rating: 4 Stars

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It’s not a curse or anything, it’s just the way things are, and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theatre, and fulfilling her dream school’s acting requirement in the smallest role possible.

But her plans quickly crumble when she’s cast as none other than Juliet–yes, that Juliet–in her high school’s production. It’s a nightmare. No–a disaster. Megan’s not an actress and she’s certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script.

Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen–thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn’t a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cheating, slut-shaming, mention of parental abandonment, mention of divorce, and aftereffects of divorce. 

Always Never Yours was really hard to miss. Back in December 2017 it was everywhere. I was pulled in because of the synopsis and cover. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Megan is always the girl before. Over her high school years she’s come to terms with that. After all her best friend Madeleine is dating her ex-boyfriend of six months Tyler. Regardless of the situation the two best friends are as close as ever.

Megan’s dream is to go to SOTI her favourite university. Thus far Megan has met the directing requirements. The only thing she needs is an acting credit. Jody (the drama teacher) is holding auditions for Romeo and Juliet. Megan has never acted before therefore she safely assumes that she’ll have a small role. Much to Megan’s surprise she is going to be Juliet. 

I’m so happy that I liked this book! I was a bit hesitant at first but all in all it worked out. The book is written in first person following Megan’s point of view. There are chapter numbers, text messages, and at the beginning off every chapter there are quotes from Romeo and Juliet.

If I could describe this book in one word it would be ‘Natural’. Always Never Yours felt so real! Everything just made sense in the way the story progressed. All the conflicts felt realistic and also in the way said conflicts were handled. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the large emphasis on plays’! It wasn’t just Shakespeare, Megan and her drama friends mention various plays. It was fun to read about Megan’s directing experience and her skills.

I really liked Megan! She wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. Even if it meant her love life. I was surprised and pleased by how mature Megan was! She thought through conflicts realistically and didn’t look to blame everyone but herself. Her friendship with Madeleine was amazing! They supported each other through and through. It was nice that Madeleine didn’t judge Megan for her relationships.

Owen was so sweet! His interactions with Megan were so good! They really saw through each other. The two start off as friends then gradually grow to be something more. It did take awhile and I enjoyed how slow-burn it was.

Megan and Owen agree to help each other. Megan will help Owen with his play, while he will help Megan to get the attention off his friend Will. They really did bring out the best in each other. Their growth due to their relationship was amazing! Most off their conversations were so funny too!

There was diversity! Owen was Japanese, Anthony black and gay, and Alyssa Spanish. Each of the characters identities were integrated so well into the story. You do have the chance to see Megan’s exes. And see kind of a pattern with her relationships. Even in her new crush Will. It was interesting to see the difference between Megan’s relationship with Tyler vs. Madeleine’s.

All the main characters’ had fantastic development! It was nice to read about Anthony’s relationship woes alongside Megan’s. I liked how conflict arouse with her friends in the beginning of the book. Usually it happens towards the end but not here. Their conflicts made all them stronger and their relationships with one-another improved. I felt for all of them. 

Family also played a huge role. Megan’s parents are divorced. With her father remarried and half-siblings. Her mother was in a relationship, but Megan assumed her mother hadn’t moved on from the divorce. She truly believed that she was replaceable. As Megan’s step-mother was pregnant. Megan struggles with this for a majority of the book. I was happy when Megan realized she was wrong. I enjoyed reading about her relationships with each member off her family. Especially her half sister Erin. 

I did have some problems with the book. I was pretty mad at Owen for cheating on his girlfriend. I can’t believe it was Megan who had to remind him off Cosima! There was so much cheating. I didn’t expect that at all. And despite Megan being comfortable with herself there were still people who slut-shamed her.

I don’t really know how to feel about the Alyssa situation. Part off it felt like a cop-out. Just an easy way for Megan to the opportunity to play Juliet. While I do understand that Alyssa cut it close to the checks, it just wasn’t portrayed that well. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I recommend it for contemporary fans.  

Review: The Unexpected Everything

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The Unexpected Everything by: Morgan Matson

My Rating: 3 Stars

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?

Beware spoilers ahead!

The Unexpected Everything was recommended to me by my dear friend on GR Mith! Click on her name to read her review. At the time this was coming out I’d already read Matson’s contemporary books. Of course when I heard about The Unexpected Everything I added it to my TBR. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

I read The Unexpected Everything back in June 2016. I don’t really remember a majority of the details that well. Andie’s fathers campaign has a money scandal. Due to this she can’t participate in her internship program. As that was lined up using her father’s connections. Instead Andie meets Clark and applies for a dog walking job.

I liked The Unexpected Everything! Objectively speaking this is Matson’s best work. The Unexpected Everything is written in first person following Andy’s point of view. There are text messages that have emoji’s, books quotes, and flashbacks.

The dogs were so much fun to read about! Each dog had his/her own personality. Andie’s job is quite rare in YA. Initially Andie didn’t enjoy the job. She grew to love all the dogs and the job itself.

The friendship was amazing! Andie and her friends were so close. They all supported each other. It’s really nice to read a YA contemporary without all the girl-hate. The drama that does happen was realistic and handled well. I like to think that Tody and Bri do make-up.

Andie and her father’s relationship is complicated. When Andie was young her mother passed away. Since then her and her father have been distant and barely communicate with one-another. Throughout The Unexpected Everything Andie and her father mend their relationship. It was absolutely beautiful! If you’ve read any of Matson’s books you’ll that she seems to have a love-hate relationship with the fathers in her books. This is evident in Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer. Matson redeemed that in this book.

Andie and Clark’s relationship was so cute! They have sort of an insta-attraction when they meet. Initially the relationship didn’t seem likely to workout due to how guarded Andie is. They got an opportunity to open up to each other and that definitely helped. They each grow from their relationship.

Andie comes to appreciate her father more based on Clark’s relationship with his father. I especially enjoyed reading about Clark’s relationship with Andie’s friends. My favourite was Clark’s relationship with Andie’s father. Also Clark is the author behind those quotes throughout the book. I didn’t know this in the beginning so I actually tried looking up his name on google.

Andie was actually frustrating to read about in the beginning. She was very guarded when it came to her relationships. Specifically of the romance kind. Andie also likes to be in control of everything. Which does lead to the major conflict. Through her relationships with her friends, Clark, her co-workers, and her father Andie begins to open up more. This causes her to come to some realizations about herself. 

This is going to get a bit personal so here goes. I saw a lot of myself in Andie. I too like to be prepared and in control of most situations. Once I came to this realization I took a break from blogging. I wasn’t happy that my life had pretty much become about books. I felt way too much pressure about reviewing and how many books I would read in a month. No one else put that pressure on me. I did that to myself. It was a much needed break. And now I’ve come back happy. 

My only problem was that sometimes it dragged. Honestly there were times while reading that I wanted to sleep. I couldn’t rate it higher because I didn’t love it. While I can acknowledge that it is Matson’s best book, it’s just not my favourite.

Overall I enjoyed The Unexpected Everything! I highly recommend it. 

Review: Can You Keep a Secret?

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Can You Keep a Secret? by: Sophie Kinsella

My Rating: 5 Stars

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur.

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

Beware spoilers ahead!

I have been a fan of Kinsella’s since Finding Audrey. Naturally I went through all of her books and tried to decide which one to read. Can You Keep a Secret? stood out the most. I am happy to say that I loved it!

Emma has gone to represent her company Panther Cooperation in a meeting. As per Kinsella books the meeting turns into a disaster whilst Emma spilling a product on one of the other company’s worker. Emma goes back in a bad mood and has quite a bit to drink.

The plane she is on experiences turbulence. Out of panic (and she’s drunk) Emma tells all her secrets to another passenger. All’s fine until Emma goes to work on Monday to find out that the passenger is the CEO of Panther Cooperation.

Can You Keep a Secret? was so funny and relatable! The writing tense is in first person all from Emma’s point of view. There are numbers for the chapters. As well as emails and notes. 

I related to a lot of Emma’s work woes. It’s really hard to prove yourself in a workplace that doesn’t appreciate you. Emma’s co-workers like Artemis reminded me off some of my co-workers. There’s always that one person that’s just fake. On the bright side Katie was fun to read about! She was actually really sweet and a good friend to Emma.

Emma lived in an apartment with two flatmates. Lissy and Jemima. Lissy has been Emma’s best friend since they were 7. Lissy and Emma constantly support each other throughout Can You Keep a Secret? There friendship was absolutely adorable! I’m a bit conflicted about Jemima. She definitely thought she was helping. But Jemima’s suggestions were terrible. And didn’t really make sense. I do have to give Jemima props for trying to help.

Emma’s family play a huge part in Can You Keep a Secret? Emma feels that she’s disappointed her parents. Her cousin Kerry always tries (and succeeds) to one up Emma. Nev (Kerry’s husband) also pokes at Emma about her career changes. Emma is able to sort everything out with her family.

Prior to Can You Keep a Secret? Emma begins dating a co-worker named Connor. Connor works in another division at Panther Cooperation. During the plane ride Emma realizes that she doesn’t really have feelings for Connor anymore. Emma is in denial about this. She breaks up with him much later on.

I personally found Connor to be annoying! Emma asks Connor to keep their break-up to himself for the time being. Seeing as they work together. Instead at a party (while drunk) announces their break-up. Their office blames the whole situation on Emma as she is the one to dump him. And he doesn’t even apologize! It didn’t help that the co-workers didn’t bother to see it from Emma’ point of view.

Connor also tries multiple times to confront Emma about who she is dating. He acts like a martyr and always has a way of patronizing Emma. I also found him to be totally inconsiderate. To try and look professional during a staff meeting Connor shuts down Emma’s point. Just because Jack Harper was present. I honestly don’t understand why Emma blamed herself for everything. Connor has a brain too. He can realize himself that not all women keep secrets.

As far as Emma’s secrets go I didn’t find them that bad. Some of them were really dumb while the others hilarious! What was troubling is how easy it was for Emma to lie. And she did so constantly. Emma did develop and started actually admitting the truth. She even started to stand up for herself! Emma stood up to Kerry and Paul (her boss). I especially liked how she handled Paul. And in the end it paid off as she got promoted.

I really liked Emma and Jack’s relationship! When Jack appears in at the Panther Cooperation, he spends quite a bit of time poking fun at Emma’s secrets. It was honestly so assuming! Through their relationship they grew. Jack learned to become more open. And Emma learned to stand up for herself and be honest. They made a really good couple. Also Jack’s actually American. Can You Keep a Secret? takes place in London.

I didn’t have any problems. Expect for Connor but I think it was well handled. And blissfully she broke up with him early enough. 

Overall I loved Can You Keep a Secret?! I highly recommend it.     

Review: Chaotic Good

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Chaotic Good by: Whitney Gardner

My Rating: 3 Stars

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Cyber bullying

I heard about Chaotic Good through GR. It hasn’t really been that well advertised or talked about. The synopsis reminded me off Moxie which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Cameron (Cam for short) and her family has just recently moved to Eugene. Cameron is a cosplayer and really wants to get into the university of her dreams. Chaotic Good begins with Cameron shopping in a comic shop where she is harassed by Brody. At some point Cameron gets a paid cosplay request. In order to make the costume properly Cameron has to make another trip to the comic shop. Although this time Cameron will go in as a boy.

I had fun reading Chaotic Good! It’s written in first person in Cameron’s point of view. There are chapter titles and a drawing of a dice with the chapter number. Comic strips of D and D are scattered around the book. Also there are text messages and blog posts.

I really liked all the comic references! There were so many throughout the book and it really did give the book a geeky feel. Cam’s cosplay costumes were so much fun to read about! Gardner clearly did her research. From the sewing, the fabric shopping. sewing machine terminology, Cam’s thimble collection, and to the costumes themselves. It was fantastic!

The D and D role playing was tons of fun! While I have heard of the game I didn’t know anything about it. The characters were so vivid as was the setting. The d-dice was also fun. For some reason I really like that dice. 

There was diversity! Wyatt was black and gay. And Cam’s twin brother Cooper was gay as well. Lincoln was fat. I liked how Gardner did a good job intergrating these characters into the plot without making their character arc’s only about their diversity.

I really liked Cam’s character! I totally understood and empathized with her plights. I liked how well done the idea and the act of courage was done for her story arc. Cam was nice and strong willed. But also had glaring flaws that were realistic. Her character arc definitely gave Moxie vibes and I was here for that.

I liked the relationship Cam had with her family! They were all supportive off each other. And some of their lines to each other were so funny. The twin aspect was done well. Cam and Cooper had nicknames for one another. I thought they were adorable!

The couples were cute! It was nice that Cam was actually attracted to a fat guy. Cooper and Wyatt also worked well together. The author also did a splendid job exploring unhealthy relationships. Cooper’s ex Farrin (real name is Brian) plays a huge role in his story arc. I felt that it was necessary and not just useless drama.

Cyber bullying is a main theme throughout Chaotic Good. Cam get death threats and essentially bullied simply because she’s a female cosplayer. Brody’s character plays a major role in this arc. As he believes that all females are fake and only into geeky things to get attention. I liked how as a boy Cam continuously gave it to him. It is implied that Brody does improve but it’s not really shown.

I do some have dislikes. For starters I think that Cam kept up the boy disguise far too long. To a point where Wyatt’s feelings were hurt. I do understand why she donned the disguise but it went on for an unnecessarily long time. Cooper was selfish and annoying. It felt that he turned the boy disguise situation about himself. He was definitely right and he didn’t know everything that Cam went through, but could’ve said it better. 

While the couples were cute it felt rushed. Chaotic Good is a small book that took place over the whole summer. I fell that maybe had it been longer that would’ve made a difference. Chaotic Good is supposed to be empowering for women. But I didn’t get that vibe. When it comes out that Cam is a girl and that Lincoln and Cooper knew, the only person truly blamed was Cam. Wyatt was upset for a short time at Lincoln but that’s it. This really grated on my nerves because I felt that it defeated the whole purpose of Chaotic Good.  

I really didn’t like how Wyatt and Cooper got together. Cooper glues himself to Wyatt after it comes out that Cam is a girl. He did this to cheer up Wyatt by lending him his shoulder and to also start a relationship with him. This put a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have gotten together. But I would’ve preferred another way for that to happen.

While I enjoyed Cam’s character I kind of wished we got a story arc with Brina (Brody’s crush). Brina was so brave! When she came to the comic store she didn’t freeze Brody, nor did she really care what he said to her and about her. Brina would’ve been an interesting main character.

Also it is stated that Cam and Cooper are going to be in their last year of high school after summer. Now what I don’t get it why is Cam applying for university this early? I know there are early admissions but I’m pretty sure those start later on. Could someone please clarify that in the comments? Thanks! 

Overall I enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone. Especially if you liked Moxie.