4 stars

The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith

The Last to Let Go by Amber SmithThe Last to Let Go by Amber Smith
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 6th February
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

The Last to Let Go was so. good. I was drawn in by the premise, as I’m always curious to see how authors portray domestic abuse, and I was certainly not disappointed by how this book turned out.

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Together At Midnight by Jennifer Castle

Together At Midnight by Jennifer CastleTogether At Midnight by Jennifer Castle
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 2nd January 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

Together At Midnight was freakin’ adorable! I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did because I’m sometimes a bit iffy about contemporary books, especially ones set around the holidays. I’m not sure why. I think Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares put me off because I hated that one. So I was putting off reading Together At Midnight, which was silly because it’s a really good book.

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Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerUnearthed by Amy Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 9th January 2018
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

Unearthed was sooooooo good! I went into it knowing next to nothing, only that I was in a sci-fi mood and I needed something action packed. This book delivered so hard. It’s set on another planet, and the two main characters basically have to go into an temple and try to find the secrets within. It sounds cliché, but it’s brilliant. The Uncharted/Tomb Raider vibes were real.

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Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira AhmedLove, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 16th January 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

For such a short book, Love, Hate & Other Filters packs quite a punch. It tackles Islamophobia, identity struggles, first love, and so much more.

It took me no time at all to get sucked into this book and fall in love with Maya. She’s such a great main character and I loved following her on her journey as she tried to be a Muslim, and an Indian, and an American, and a teenager.

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The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo SurmelisThe Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 30th January 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

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.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In is a really tough book for me to review because it is about such a dark subject matter and also, without going into too much detail, it hit very close to home and it was triggering. I had to keep putting the book down because Surmelis’ wrote certain scenes so well that I had to step out of the story for a bit.

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