Tag: Contemporary

One of Us is Lying

Author: Karen M. McManus
Published: May 30, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 25- March 1, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Jessica’s Review:

One of Us is Lying (to be referred to OOUIL for the rest of this review) was quite the debut for Karen McManus.  The mystery of who killed Simon never drags and you take turns suspecting each student that was in the room. They all had reasons to kill Simon, but so did most of the school…. This has a similar feel to the movie The Breakfast Club, and we have characters that you grow to like. 

This is one that you do not want to put down. You want to keep reading (or in my case listening)!  These characters start out as the clichés they represent and they grow out of that by the end of the novel.  I did not figure out each student’s secret (one secret I was not surprised about) or who killed Simon (OMG!) until all was revealed.

I listened to the audiobook, which had four different actors narrating for Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper. This helped with the narration as it was a little difficult keeping each student straight.  I did have a post-it note in my car with the names and the stereotype they represented. 

This novel has been a popular one and McManus has written a second book I will be reading (Two Can Keep a Secret).  Two is not a sequel to OOUIL but McManus will have a sequel coming out in 2020. I cannot wait to read it to see what happens next.  According to McMannus’ website, here is a little about the upcoming sequel:

 Bronwyn’s sister Maeve gets main character treatment when Bayview High’s newest gossip game turns deadly. Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy, and Nate aren’t POV characters, but you’ll see plenty of them. As of now the book is scheduled for release in January 2020, but subject to change of course.

 

OOUIL is highly recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Upside of Unrequited

Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 11, 2017
336 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 24-31, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Jessica’s Review:

Please Note: To shorten the review instead of saying the entire titles throughout the review, I have shortened them to one word:

Upside- The Upside of Unrequited
Simon- Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Leah- Leah on the Offbeat

Upside is not part of the ‘Simon’ series, but it is in the same universe as Molly is Abby’s cousin. I listened to the audio of Upside after listening to Simon and Leah.

I liked Molly; she is what Leah could have been. Also being  a ‘fat girl’, Molly has had many crushes (26 exactly), but nothing ever came about them. Then suddenly two guys come into the picture: One Molly meets via work and the other via her friends. I know who I was rooting for Molly to end up with by the end.

I enjoyed how Upside was connected to the other books through Abby; She and Simon even make some appearances throughout the novel!  I did not like the narrator’s portrayal of Abby: she made Abby seem whiny with the way she narrated Abby’s voice.  I enjoyed the narration of Abby’s voice much more in Simon.

I really liked Molly’s moms and enjoyed hearing from them; they are just as important to the story as Molly is.

As with the other two novels, Upside has foul language including the ‘f’ word. The language is not as extreme as it was in Leah. Of course, Of course, this series is about teen drama so be prepared for lots of it; if that’s not your thing it may be disappointed.

I enjoyed reading these three books, Simon  is my favorite.  If you read and enjoyed Simon, give Upside a read. Becky Albertalli: Please write more books with these teens! I really enjoyed them over the course of the three novels!. 

The Upside of Unrequited is recommended.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Leah on the Offbeat

Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 24, 2018
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 13-16, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Jessica’s Review:

The whole gang from Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda are back for their senior year of high school and all the drama that will unfold with that important year: picking a college, prom, and for Leah: should tell my friends that I am bisexual? This time the novel focuses on Leah, Simon’s bff.

It actually surprised me that the focus was Leah, as of all the friends, she was the one I connected with the least, but that might have been because she was more of an afterthought in  Simon.  But we get to know her through this novel.  And even when I was done with Leah,  I still found her my least favorite character of the group.  She is an angry girl, who is also petty and uses excessive foul language.  I did enjoy how Leah is a self-taught drummer and there were constant musical references throughout the novel, including the title.

The one character I really had empathy for was Garrett, the poor boy was so clueless but no one would help him out.   I had some sympathy for Nick, but not as much due to his negative attitude. I wanted more Simon and Bram moments, they are just adorable! 

As the gang goes through their senior year they experience the changes that inevitably will come which includes growing apart and moving on by attending different colleges. The novel was just an ‘ok read’ for me until the ending.  The ending is what made me award it 3.5 stars vs 3.  The ending had me ready to see what happens next for the gang when college starts. Hopefully Albertalli will continue with their story. Now, in the same universe as Simon and Leah is The Upside of Unrequited.  In Upside the focus is Abby’s cousin Molly.

Due to the mature themes and constant foul language used, I would say this one would be for older teens.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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