Review: By Your Side – Kasie West


By Your Side – Kasie West

By Your Side

Title: By Your Side

Author: Kasie West

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Publisher: HarperTeen

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 346

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

2 out of 5 stars


I was very underwhelmed with this book.

By Your Side follows Autumn as she gets trapped inside her public library with the bad boy of the school. They are locked inside the library on a cold January weekend together and have to figure out how to survive the weekend.

I had quite a few issues with this book, actually. I found some things to be problematic and would like to address those first.

  1. You can’t just put the competing love interest into a medically induced coma to further the romantic chemistry between the two main characters.
  2. Anxiety is not really anything like how it’s represented in this book.

I’m all about this relationship between Autumn and Dax. I always love a bad-boy-is-only-good-for-his-girl story, but the other relationships in the book were just annoying! The original love interest, Jeff, gets in a car crash the weekend Autumn was going to tell him that she had a huge crush on him. This just so happens to be the weekend she gets trapped in the library. Anyway, Jeff is put into a medically induced coma because of how bad his car crash was, but I just felt like this was such a weak plot device. I don’t think it’s morally correct for her to only understand she doesn’t like him after he’s taken out of the picture in this way.

The anxiety representation of this book was…. pathetic and lackluster, honestly. I have anxiety and have since I was in elementary school, so I get what panic attacks are like and how it feels to be so overwhelmed you can barely speak, but the way it was told was so inaccurate. I obviously don’t have anything to base this off of except for my own experiences, so maybe some people’s anxiety feels like it was explained, but to me it just felt… I don’t know, fake maybe?

Also, telling people about your anxiety should not be that big a deal. The only reason people freak out about it is because they’ve been trained by the people around them that it isn’t okay. There is literally NOTHING wrong with telling your friends you have anxiety and can’t deal with talking in front of too many people. They will understand, and will end up feeling like assholes because they didn’t know sooner. Just fricking tell them.

Some of the interactions between characters of this book were SO CHILDISH. It was almost painful to read because they focused on things that were so irrelevant. The guy, Jeff, is in a coma and could have something seriously wrong with him, but his friends are arguing in SUCH a petty way about who gets to go and visit. I understand that you would want to see your friend, but remember that you’re going to the hospital to visit a friend who is horribly injured. Calm the frick down and get over yourselves. Damnnnn.

The pacing of this book was weird and felt rushed at the end. The first half of the book Autumn and Dax were in this library, but then they didn’t talk to each other for a certain amount of time after, then were dating. I don’t know. The beginning was quite slow, then they became all buddy-buddy in two seconds. Just kind of annoying to me. There were just so many things that felt rushed in this book.

I liked Dax a lot. He was sweet and kind, but there were also a lot of unnecessary details about him that were supposed to make his character deeper, but were just explained too fast to really mean anything. Autumn notices this tattoo on his wrist and thinks about asking him about it for like 2 minutes, then 20 pages later she finds out. There was no build up to any of the conclusions. I get that its only 350 pages and you can only do so much explaining, but don’t have so many plot lines happening at once.

I know this is a hella negative review, but it’s just easier for me to be critical of a contemporary. It’s real life and you don’t have to be fully introduced to the world because you already live in it. It’s so much easier to focus on what went wrong when you know the world lol.

Also, this is set in a library and she didn’t even pick up a book. She had 72 hours. Locked in a library. And she chose to watch TV. I just don’t get it lol. I think there should have been more of an emphasis on the actual library part.

Review: The Diviners (The Diviners #1) – Libba Bray


The Diviners (The Diviners #1) – Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

Title: The Diviners (The Diviners #1)

Author: Libba Bray

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Publisher: Little, Brown Books

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 578

Evangeline O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far.

When the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….

4 out of 5 stars


This book took me forever to read, but I’m SO GLAD I read it!

The Diviners follows Evie O’Neill as she goes to live with her uncle Will in New York. Her parents send her there from their small town in Ohio because she told everyone at a party a truth about a wealthy family’s son. Evie is ‘too much’ for her small Ohio town and is excited to see where her adventures in NYC take her, when all of the sudden she and her uncle get involved in a murder mystery case. Evie has powers but has never been able to talk about them to anyone, but maybe she can confide in her uncle…

This was such an interesting read! I do think that it was quite long, but it was totally worth it. The characters in this book are so well crafted; they’re all unique and fun to read about. The mysteries keep you on your toes, and this made me want to travel to NYC!

Evie is so spunky and fun and is the epitome of a flapper girl. She loves partying and dancing and being unapologetically her, which she can do in New York. She’s much better fitted to a big city than to a small Ohio town.

The mysteries were so cool and the way that the story played out was amazing. In the book there was this Pentacle Killer and he was killing in the order of some creepy religious text. So it follows Evie, uncle Will, Jericho, and Sam trying to figure out what is happening.

Evie is a Diviner, so she has a supernatural ability. She can see information about people by just holding an object that is important to someone. This adds a nice amount of mystery and paranormal to this story! She also wants to help catch the Pentacle Killer with this ability but no one knows. It’s just a whole lot of tiptoeing around people to keep her power a secret. It’s suspenseful and cool.

One of my FAVORITE tropes ever is hate to love, and that is being set up so so so well in this book. The first person Evie meets when she gets to New York is Sam Lloyd. He steals $20 from her at the train station and she freaks the freak out at him. He keeps popping up everywhere and then he gets a job at her uncle’s museum so he’s always around. He’s crushing crazy hard on her, but she’s oblivious to it, but it’s SO CUTE. I really hope that their relationship turns into something because it would be so cute.

This was a really great book and it followed a few different storylines and I think they’re all going to meet up in the next book and YAY! I’m so excited. Read this book!!

Review: The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew #38) – Carolyn Keene


The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew #38) – Carolyn Keene

The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, #38)

Title: The Mystery of the Fire Dragon (Nancy Drew #38)

Author: Carolyn Keene

Release Date: 1961

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 182

Eloise Drew asks her niece to investigate the disappearance of her neighbor, a young university student. In New York, Nancy, Bess and George are drawn into the intrigue and danger of a smuggling ring. Nancy plans a clever ruse: George is disguised as the missing Chinese girl! The girl detective is also suspicious of an unpleasant bookstore owner and his loud, overbearing female customer. A series of clues lead the girls to Hong Kong. Ned, who is studying in Hong Kong, joins them. The amateur detectives follow more clues to the international smuggling ring. This book is the original text. A revised text does not exist.

3 out of 5 stars


Just a typical Nancy Drew mystery. In a good way. :)

I love Nancy Drew, and I have ever since I read my first ones SUPER out of order back in middle school. I think I just wanted to read them in the order they were on the shelf, which for some reason wasn’t in series order, but I remember starting with 40-something lol.

The Mystery of the Fire Dragon follows Nancy, Bess, and George as they help Nancy’s aunt and her Chinese neighbors to find the girl Chi Che. Chi Che is the niece of Aunt Eloise’s neighbor. They find themselves faking identities, sneaking through bookstores, and traveling abroad.

It’s kind of hard to review some of the Nancy Drew books because this was written more than 50 years ago and is considered children’s fiction. Some of the things said in reference to ethnicity would not be okay today. The whole time, the Chinese families and students were called Orientals. So that wouldn’t be okay, but at the time it was written it was a more acceptable term.

Like I said above, this was just a typical Nancy Drew mystery. I don’t think that it’s really possible to figure out ‘whodunnit’ because you’re never given enough information to make inferences, but it was still a fun read. It was super fast and I read it in one day.

I will forever recommend this series to young readers!

Series:

Password to Larkspur Lane (Nancy Drew #10)

The Clue of the Broken Locket (Nancy Drew #11)

Mystery of the Ivory Charm (Nancy Drew #13)

Review: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)

Title: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover

Page Number: 615

Source: Local Bookstore

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

4 out of 5 stars


This series reminds me that I need to read sci-fi more often because I LOVED the science-y and space aspects to this book!

In Obsidio we follow the crew from Illuminae and Gemina as they come together to try and figure everything out that is going wrong for everyone. Update: a lot of bad things have happened. A lot of people have died, and it’s all because of BeiTech.

I found this book to be quite enjoyable and pretty easy to read. I’ve had crazy school work and finals are this week so that’s why it has taken me a little longer than it normally would, but I enjoyed this! I think it was a great conclusion to the series and I’m excited to read the new series they are writing together, too.

Finals week is not my friend right now because all I want to do is NOT STUDY. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I just REALLY don’t want to have a two hour test as a way of celebrating. It’s fine, I’ll be home by the end of the week. Anyway, back to the book lol

The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because parts of it dragged for me. There were a LOT of the surveillance footage parts and those took longer to read, obviously, because it’s like a normal book page. I know, struggles of being a reader.

I liked the characters and I enjoyed the couples of this story. I was kind of confused because I thought two people died and then it was like ha jk nope they’re still happily alive. But it’s fine. I mean everyone gets to be happy.

I actually really liked reading about AIDAN because you don’t want to like him/it but he is pretty funny sometimes. I think it’s funny that he doesn’t understand the humor and sarcasm so he just gets confused all the time, but also has access to all of the information ever. It’s just an interesting dynamic.

I really liked that the whole series was set up to be what Kady and the rest of the gang sent out as their evidence that BeiTech was the enemy. I think that it’s a cool way to format the book and I found myself really intrigued with that idea.

I think this series is fun and would be a great way to get non-readers to read. I think the fun format would encourage middle schoolers/early teens to want to read without feeling forced. I kind of wish I would have listened to the audiobook because I’ve heard it’s really amazing, but I’m not about to spend money on it if my library doesn’t have it….

Highly recommend this series!

Series:

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)

Review: i love this part – Tillie Walden


i love this part – Tillie Walden

i love this part

Title: i love this part

Author: Tillie Walden

Release Date: November 13, 2015

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing Limited

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 68

Source: Public Library

“Two girls in a small town in the USA kill time together as they try to get through their days at school.

They watch videos, share earbuds as they play each other songs and exchange their stories. In the process they form a deep connection and an unexpected relationship begins to develop.

In her follow up to the critically acclaimed The End of Summer, Tillie Walden tells the story of a small love that can make you feel like the biggest thing around, and how it’s possible to find another person who understands you when you thought no-one could.”

3 out of 5 stars


This was a super short graphic novel that I found my public library. I picked it up because the art style looked simplistic and beautiful. I needed a break from studying for my finals, so I read this :)

This story follows two teenage girls who start as friends and eventually start to fall for each other. The characters aren’t explained and there isn’t much to them, but it’s easy to feel their struggles of being part of the LGBTQ+ community. One girl is African American, I believe, and the other is caucasian. They start their relationship and you see them develop through texts and short single lines of text.

I think this would be great if there was more to it. There wasn’t much explanation and there wasn’t a ton of dialogue, so it was hard to connect with the characters. I think it was a cute story, but I wish there was more detail. My favorite part of this was the art style because it was so simple, and it meshed people with architecture beautifully. The whole book is in black, white, grey, and purple which is a BEAUTIFUL color scheme. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through because of the art style.

Review: Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy #1) – Chinua Achebe


Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy #1) – Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart

Title: Things Fall Apart (The African Trilogy #1

Author: Chinua Achebe

Release Date: September 1, 1994, originally: 1958

Publisher: Anchor Books

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 209

Source: Foundations of the English Major

THINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. THINGS FALL APART is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.

3 out of 5 stars


Things Fall Apart follows two storylines that intertwine. The underlying message deals with European invasion and taking over of culture in Africa. I read this for my Foundations of the English Major course, and it was fairly quick read because the writing style was so simple, but the story was a little hard to follow.

I LOVED the writing style because of the simplicity. It was beautiful and easy to read, but there was something that made it difficult to understand. I’m not sure if it was because the names were hard to pronounce and distinguish or if I just didn’t know enough about the Ibo culture to fully appreciate it, but there were some parts that definitely went over my head.

The beginning was about the Ibo culture, but then part three was all about the Europeans coming in and trying to convert everyone to Christianity and that just made me angry. I’m a huge advocate for the fact that all cultures matter and that cultures aren’t wrong, just different to your own. It makes me sick that this happened and is still happening today because, yes I understand that you want people to believe what you believe, but other people’s cultures and religions are valid.

I’m looking forward to the discussion about this book for class because I want to understand more about the story. I think this was an interesting read and would recommend it if you’re looking to dive into another culture.

Review: Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli


Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Release Date: April 7, 2015

Publisher: Penguin

Format: Paperback

Page Number: 303

Source: Parnassus Books *super cute bookstore in Nashville!*

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

5 out of 5 stars


Why did I put off reading this for so long?! I think I didn’t want to be disappointed because I knew it was hyped up, but there’s a reason it was! THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

I’ve had this book on my radar since it came out and took the Booktube community by storm. I wanted to read it and have wanted to since it was released. Why did I wait so long? Because I’m a freaking idiot.

This book follows Simon Spier who is a normal 17 year old boy who goes to high school. He’s involved in the theatre department at school and has a great group of friends. One thing no one knows is that he’s gay. No one except his secret email correspondent he found on the school Tumblr page who goes by the name Blue. Simon and Blue use pseudonyms so they don’t know who the other is, but they email back and forth and Simon finds himself falling in love with this boy. He wants to know who he is but doesn’t want to lose him, so he doesn’t push Blue into revealing who he is.

This story was so cute and I don’t even understand how someone could not enjoy it. It was the perfect mixture of cute, heart-warming and smirking happiness with a very real-life feel. I loved that the only reason Simon didn’t want to come out was because he didn’t want it to be a big deal, not because he was scared. There aren’t enough young adult books about people with good, strong families who are supportive and loving all the time.

The whole time I was making guesses and trying to figure out who Blue was, and I did guess it, but I wasn’t disappointed that I guessed it. I kind of knew right away when the character was mentioned, but still SO CUTE.

“And I can’t stop smiling. I mean, there are times when it’s actually more work not to smile.”

Simon’s group of friends was amazing and had just the right amount of drama for a high school group. This made me miss high school and how simple it was, but how everything seemed like a huge deal. In the best way possible. *I mean I’m only a freshman in college but it’s very different from high school.* When you’re in high school EVERYTHING is a big step. From having your first kiss to starting to drink coffee. Everything seems like the biggest deal, and it’s adorably accurately portrayed in this book.

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t be a default.”

I love that Simon isn’t scared to be who he is. He never apologizes for being gay and I love that. It shouldn’t be a big deal, just like he said he didn’t want it to be. His family is so supportive and the scene where his parents come into his room and his dad tells him that he’s so proud of him… I was so happy for him! Even though he wasn’t worried, his parents were so supportive. I strive to be like his parents when I have kids.

“I know I didn’t make it easy for you to come out. We’re very proud of you. You’re pretty brave, kid.”

I LOVED that this book was about the love story and life of Simon, not the fact that he was gay. There isn’t enough of that portrayed in literature. Sexual preference and identity should have no impact on finding someone to love, and the story of that. This was cute and beautiful and perfect. I loved it.

The writing style reminded me of John Green and Jenny Han. Very easy to read and fast enough to read it in two days *raises hand.* Also, the acknowledgments section of the book is so cute and is such a bonus part of books for me now. There are so many hints and clues put in there and awwww. I love when authors mention their other author friends because it makes you feel like part of it because you’ve read books by all of them. So cute.

If you’ve been putting off this book, read it. If you’ve never heard of this book, 1. where have you been? 2. read it because it’s a perfect story.