Review: Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

Love and Other Train Wrecks

A twenty-four-hour romance about two teens who meet—and perhaps change their minds about love—on a train ride to Upstate New York in the middle of a snowstorm

One train ride. Two strangers.

Noah is a hopeless romantic. He’s heading back home for one last chance with his first love, whom he broke up with when he went off to college.

Ammy doesn’t believe in true love—her parents being prime examples. She’s escaping from a mom who can’t take care of her to a dad who may not even want her. That is, until one winter night when Noah and Ammy find themselves in the same Amtrak car heading to Upstate New York.

After a train-wreck first encounter between the two of them, the Amtrak train suddenly breaks down due to a snowstorm. Desperate to make it to their destinations, Noah and Ammy have no other option but to travel together. What starts off as a minor detour turns into the whirlwind journey of a lifetime, and over the course of the night they fall in love. But come morning their adventure takes an unexpected turn for the worst. Can one night can really change how they feel about love...and the course of their lives forever?

One of my all time fave books ever is The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I just adore serendipitous, fateful meet-cutes that lead to two characters feeling connected to one another. That's probably a big contribution to that fact that even though I didn't adore 'Love and Other Train Wrecks', I still enjoyed it on the level of a cutesy love story.

It took me a while to read this book because I knew I needed to be in the mood for it. The mood in this case being a cold october evening, heating on, under my duvet with hot chocolate. I think that all added to my enjoyment of this book.

Look, this isn't the deepest of reads. The writing isn't outstanding - Leah Konen does have an authenticity in her dialogue that is sometimes missing, but as far as writing style goes it doesn't stand out. The characters were neither awful or awesome, they just were...

That being said, I still really enjoyed this book, and I can't really even say why because nothing was outstanding, but I found myself smiling as I read it from start to finish and being happy when the ending was tied up in a nice little bow. It was a quick, fun, cute, shallow read, and it isn't winning any literary awards, but it was super fun while it lasted.

Book released 2nd January 2018 by HarperCollins
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review:: Here so Far Away by Hadley Dyer (DNF)

Here So Far Away

Feisty and fearless George Warren (given name: Frances, but no one calls her that) has never let life get too serious. Now that she’s about to be a senior, her plans include partying with her tight-knit group of friends and then getting the heck out of town after graduation.

But instead of owning her last year of high school, a fight with her best friend puts her on the outs of their social circle.  If that weren’t bad enough, George’s family has been facing hard times since her father, a police sergeant, got injured and might not be able to return to work, which puts George’s college plans in jeopardy.

So when George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her affinity for sarcastic banter, she’s thrown. If she lets herself, she’ll fall recklessly, hopelessly in love. But because of Francis’s age, she tells no one—and ends up losing almost everything, including herself.

You know what?

I'm not even bothered that this book is about a seventeen year old girl dating a twenty nine year old man, even though age gaps that big in YA books always make me squirm.

No, the issue that I had with this book was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't connect with any of their characters, not even enough to second guess the poor life decisions they were making.

I'm sad to say that this book was a DNF at around 35%, however I've seen many complimentary review of this book. It just didn't connect for me.

Overall Rating:DNF

Book released 20th March 2018 by HarperCollins
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

The Dangerous Art of Blending In

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer.

Tired, isolated, scared—Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.

I so wanted to enjoy this book more than anything. The premise - a confused boy struggling with abuse - sounded so interesting and heartbreaking so I opened this book expecting my heart to break. It didn't.

It sounds awful to say this, but I feel like the way Surmelis wrote Evan and his romance with Henry was too heavy-handed. In fact, I might even go as far as to say it's almost dangerous. Let me remind you that abuse is not romantic, it's not something you can just fix with a kiss and it goes away. Evan has had a tramatic childhood, and in barrels his friend Henry with his obsession with Evan, and he barely gives the boy time to breathe. Henry has moodswings that are almost scary, and whilst sometimes he has his moment, I just kept thinking that I can see no way that Evan is going to come out of the other end of this any less broken than he was at the start of the book.

Now that I have that off my chest, I'll elaborate a little more on why this book did not work for me.

When I first started reading YA books, I was in my early teens and all-consuming romance plots seemed great for me. Now, ten years down the line I am twenty-six years old and as much as aI still love true love and whatnot, I hate seeing a character who is nothing woithout it. This whole book was for me about how his budding relationship was going to heal Evan, his entire development was based on that.

It's annoying because this book had so much more potential.

I'm sure younger readers may not see the same issues that I saw - I am well aware that I am now growing out of the target audience for YA novels and my opinions may differ from that demographic - but for me, this book just didn't hit the spot, I'm afraid.

Book released 30th January 2018 by Balzer and Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole

A Conspiracy of Stars (Faloiv, #1)

Octavia has only ever had one goal: to follow in the footsteps of her parents and become a prestigious whitecoat, one of the scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. The secrets of the jungle’s exotic plants and animals are protected fiercely in the labs by the Council of N’Terra, so when the rules suddenly change, allowing students inside, Octavia should be overjoyed.

But something isn’t right. The newly elected leader of the Council has some extremist views about the way he believes N’Terra should be run, and he’s influencing others to follow him. When Octavia witnesses one of the Faloii—the indigenous people of Faloiv—attacked in front of her in the dark of night, she knows the Council is hiding something. They are living in separate worlds on a shared planet, and their fragile peace may soon turn into an all-out war.

With the help of Rondo, a quiet boy in class with a skill for hacking, and her inquisitive best friend, Alma, Octavia is set on a collision course to discover the secrets behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family.
For all of my criticising that I do over books with no worldbuilding, I kind of wish that this book had less. I am an impatient person, and even when reading I am impatient. I don't want to grow to like a book, I want to like it straight off the bat. Even the most amazing book won't seem that amazing if the pacing is even slightly off.

Now, do not get me wrong here, it wasn't a bad book. It just took too long to get interesting and then it was just that - interesting. It wasn't amazing or brilliant or shocking, it was just a good book, that would have been less 'meh' if it hadn't taken so long to get into.

There is so many good things in this book, and Octavia was definitely one of them. She starts out eager to please, eager to throw herself in and become something, as the book develops and she realises that things aren't at all what they seem, she begins to become more inquisitive and question more until eventually she becomes her own person. it's handled in such an authentic way that I really liked her as a character. I also love the messaged that this book handles - it doesn't even try to veil the messages with regards to colonies and the damage they can do.

In fact, if it hadn't been for the awful pacing I would have really loved this book, because there are very few flaws that I can find. My issues was that I just did not get dragged into this book because of the awful pacing so I didn't really connect with it on a deeper level.

Overall, A Conspiracy of Stars was a long read. The plot and characters were well planned out, I just really struggled to drudge through the slower parts of this book.

Book released 2nd January 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review