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Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The How & the Why, a new contemporary book by Cynthia Hand. I absolutely loved this book, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it! I also put together a (somewhat messy) playlist for the book, so scroll to the bottom for that. It’s not in any particular order, but the songs all relate to scenes in the book. You can view the full tour schedule here to check out posts from the other tour hosts! I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour: The How & the Why by Cynthia HandThe How & the Why by Cynthia Hand
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th November 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

A poignant exploration of family and the ties that bind, perfect for fans of Far From the Tree, from New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand.

Today Melly had us writing letters to our babies…

Cassandra McMurtrey has the best parents a girl could ask for. They’ve given Cass a life she wouldn’t trade for the world. She has everything she needs—except maybe the one thing she wants. Like, to know who she is. Where she came from. Questions her adoptive parents can’t answer, no matter how much they love her.

But eighteen years ago, someone wrote Cass a series of letters. And they may just hold the answers Cass has been searching for.

Alternating between Cass’s search for answers and letters from the pregnant teen who gave her up for adoption, this voice-driven narrative is the perfect read for fans of Nina LaCour and Jandy Nelson.

The How & the Why is the first Cynthia Hand book I’ve read in years. I started her paranormal series, Unearthly, when it first came out, and I remember absolutely loving it. In fact, I think only statement on Goodreads was gushing about the book and then promising that a review was to come (spoiler: a review didn’t come). After remembering all of this, I was very excited to read her newest contemporary, because I’m always happy when authors switch genres.

I was initially drawn to The How & the Why because after reading Far From the Tree, I’ve been really interested in adoption stories. I actually think this fascination started way earlier, but FFTT kicked things off again. You’ll probably see a lot of comparisons between the two books because they deal with a very similar subject matter, although FFTT deals more with sibling relationships than best friendships and the teen trying to find their birth mother.

I absolutely loved the main character, Cass, in The How & the Why. She was incredibly relatable in so many ways, and the relationship between her and her best friend, Nyla, was amazing. I loved the way it was written, and I loved that the focus on them didn’t sway when a potential love interest showed up.

The How & the Why is incredibly deep and heartwarming. The letters from S, Cass’s birth mother, were adorable, and such a good insight into how a teen mother-to-be could be feeling. I would have read a whole story about S, to be honest.

The ending was both satisfying… and not. It had really great build up, but I wanted more, and I think a lot of readers will feel the same way. I wasn’t disappointed in the ending at all, and I don’t think it detracts from the book, but I would definitely love it if Cynthia Hand were to write a sequel or a short story about what happened there at the end. Of course, it wouldn’t really align with the personal story that Cynthia Hand was telling, but I’m so attached to these characters now that I want to read more about them.

I’m so incredibly glad that I picked this book up on a whim because I would have missed out on so much heart warming goodness if I had skipped over it. Apparently I’m not sick of YA contemporary yet, I’m just sick of YA romances! Who’d have thought.

Fan the Fame by Anna Priemaza

Fan the Fame by Anna PriemazaFan the Fame by Anna Premaza
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 20th August 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lainey wouldn’t mind lugging a camera around a video game convention for her brother, aka YouTube superstar Codemeister, except for one big problem. He’s funny and charming online, but behind closed doors, Cody is a sexist jerk.

SamTheBrave came to this year’s con with one mission: meeting Codemeister—because getting his idol’s attention could be the big break Sam needs.

ShadowWillow is already a successful streamer. But when her fans start shipping her with Code, Shadow concocts a plan to turn the rumors to her advantage.

The three teens’ paths collide when Lainey records one of Cody’s hateful rants on video. Because she’s determined to spill the truth to her brother’s fans—even if that means putting Sam and Shadow in the crosshairs.

I have some mixed feelings about Fan the Fame. On the one hand, I really enjoyed both the concept and the setting. On the other, one of the main characters was almost completely insufferable, and her character arc over the course of the book was less of an arc than a straight line.

In case you don’t know, I’m on Youtube. My channel is a Booktube channel, but I also watch a lot of gaming videos and I’ve been to quite a few conventions in my time. As such, I absolutely loved this concept. I loved that the characters were all going to a gaming convention, and that two of them had Youtube channels and wanted to make it on there. I could really relate to Sam and Shadow when they were talking about working hard on growing their channels and networking. I think a lot of bloggers and Bookstagrammers would be able to relate to this as well, so it’s not just Booktubers who would enjoy this part of the book.

Continue reading

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie WestFame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th February 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Kasie West’s newest book was super cute, as always. If you’re looking for something new and refreshing, you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re here for a cute contemporary that’s also a lot of fun, this is the book for you.

West has added a bit of mystery to the plot of this book, which was nice because it was an extra element that she doesn’t usually include in her books. This mystery sideplot made the book a bit more entertaining than her books have been lately, since I’ve been finding them to be quite repetitive.

Lacey, the main character, had absolutely no character growth at all, which was a bit disappointing. She was incredibly up herself the entire way through, and she didn’t seem to act any better towards her dad at the end. I mean, she’s alright, definitely not the worst, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity here and she could have developed a bit in 300 pages.

The lack of female rivalry was really nice. It was hinted at a tiny bit, but nothing ever came of it. I really appreciated this because I was fully expecting some cattiness or female rivalry on set of the movie.

The romance is also cute af, which really helped me enjoy the book more, despite it being quite generic and nothing standout.

Evermore by Sara Holland

Evermore by Sara HollandEvermore by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 31st December 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

Evermore was more than a little dull, really. I really enjoyed the first book, Everless, when I read it back in 2018, because I thought it was very unique with its world building. The plot itself was unoriginal, but since I enjoyed the world building so much, I didn’t really mind. Evermore, on the other hand, was entirely lacklustre and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

I thought that Evermore was lacking any originality. The time/currency thing wasn’t shiny or unique any more – in fact it was barely used. The plot was boring and it took forever to actually get going. The author threw us straight back into the world, and for no reason at all because nothing interesting was happening at that point in time. I feel like there should have been a time jump or something between books because the beginning (and middle) of this book just dragged.

The relationship, which I felt had potential in the first book, lacked any chemistry, which is a shame because I was ready for it to go somewhere by the end of the first book. All of a sudden the two characters were in love and all over each other and it was boring.

I wouldn’t recommend this one, but at least I finished a series? Yay!

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh MafiA Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 16th October 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

This. Book. Was. Incredible. I am super impressed by A Very Large Expanse of Sea. I was very hesitant to read it at first because I hated Shatter Me and Adam and Warner were both awful, but I thought I would give it a go to see if Mafi’s writing has improved. And it really has!

This story was absolutely wonderful. The book follows Shirin as she deals with life and arsehole classmates and neighbours. I did wonder if Shirin was a bit of a self insert by the author, but to be honest I don’t really care if she is. Shirin was a lovely character to read. She’s just so good, and I can’t even explain why. I just really enjoyed reading about her and her life and her struggles. I liked how fierce she is.

Also, I have to mention the romance. The romance! I loved it! I can’t remember the last time I said this about a book but OH MY GOD it was so great. I ship it. Ocean, the love interest, was lovely.

One thing that I was wondering was why it was set one year after 9/11. I’m not sure how much it really added to the plot, since I’m sure Muslim girls go through all of this stuff nowadays in 2018. If anyone is able to enlighten me, please do! This isn’t a complaint, I’m just really not sure what the point was.

Sana loved it as well, and I think we should all trust her opinion.

I really hope Mafi writes more contemporary because I loved this and I will definitely read more from her. Unless it’s YA paranormal/dystopia because I’m not sure I can trust that.