Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (4.75)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, 17661416there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Initial Thoughts – I really, really appreciate this book. Before the insight that this book gave me, I assumed schizophrenia was a dangerous mental illness that consisted only of voices in someone’s head. I am embarrassed by that assumption. This is why diverse books are so important.
Plot – ★★★★★ I spent the whole book worried for Alex and Miles. Alex’s schizophrenia is an important part of the story, but there are plenty of other plot threads to pull the story along.
Characters – ★★★★☆ With the unreliable narrator, I spent the whole book questioning what was true and what wasn’t. And that’s what Alex’s schizophrenia is like. I cared deeply for both Alex and Miles. While I thought there might have been a few too many side characters, they all had pretty unique traits.
Story world – ★★★★★ The story world is confusing, as told from Alex’s point of view. However, it was a confusing that added quite a bit to the story, not a bad confusing.
Style – ★★★★★  Zappia gives her readers a clear look at what schizophrenia really is like. There’s no breaks. There’s no easy way to ask for the truth. There’s no certainty. It was terrifying and educational and so important for me to read. Zappia also has a distinct voice with a lovely level of humor and sass.
Closing Thoughts – This is the first book that I’ve ever read about schizophrenia and I really appreciated the education it gave me. It was an interesting and well paced read.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of unreliable narrators, slow love, and diversity.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)
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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour, David Levithan

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary LGBT+

Summary – Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger 27158835you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is, until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other—and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well is a story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

Initial Thoughts – I always love the refreshing narratives of David Levithan and Nina LaCour. When I found out they wrote a book together, I was ecstatic and read it in one day.
Plot – ★★★★☆ The plot was pretty well paced, however I felt like it could have used one or two more subplots.
Characters – ★★★★★ Nina LaCour’s characters are everything I aspire to be. Artists with big city dreams. Mark captured my heart. I wanted to wrap him in a blanket and keep him safe from the horrors of the world.
Story world – ★★★★☆ The story world didn’t receive a lot of attention, as it often doesn’t in contemporary fiction. However, I would have liked to learn more about San Francisco during Pride Week.
Style – ★★★★★ Both LaCour’s and Levithan’s styles are perfect for the stories they write. They are light, smooth, and humor-filled, making all of their books enjoyable. Seeing the two next to each other felt like a dream come true.
Closing Thoughts – This book is perfect for a light fluffy read. I hope that Levithan and LaCour continue to work together in the future.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of art, diverse characters, and fluffy romance.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Publication Date: January 1st, 2017
★★★☆☆ (2.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s 25546710investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?

Initial Thoughts – I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In short, this book confused me. I felt like the book was confused too.
Plot – ★★☆☆☆ The “theory” that Hawthorn comes up with is simply ridiculous. I did not believe it for a second. However, I hoped that Hawthorn would be right in the end and add some twist, but she wasn’t. This book was similar to many that I have read, in which the MC believes the goddess popular girl couldn’t possibly have emotions and then they find out that (gasp) they do.
Characters – ★★★☆☆ I really did not connect with Hawthorn at all. A girl has gone missing, but Hawthorn makes insensitive and rude comments about her with no respect for Lizzie or the people mourning her. She uses Lizzie’s disappearance for her own entertainment. I understand that she was lonely, yet it sickens me.
Story world – ★★★☆☆ I think the story world added a lot to the confusion with the book. I felt like it wanted to be a fantasy novel, but wasn’t, so it chose something between the two.
Style – ★★☆☆☆ Hawthorn’s voice irritated me. I think Sedoti  was going for a personal and honest narrative, but I just found her insensitive.
Closing Thoughts – This book left me unsatisfied and unimpressed.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of quirky fiction, unpopular heroines, and confusion.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

The Romantics by Leah Konen

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Publication Date: November 9th, 2016
★★★★★ (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big 29917071relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

Initial Thoughts – I received this ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I’m so glad I requested this book because it was positively adorable.
Plot – ★★★★☆ The plot was simple and well paced. I took one star off because it dragged in just a few spots.
Characters – ★★★★★ I connected incredibly well with Love, who was hilarious. I wanted Gael to fall for his chosen love so badly it hurt.
Story world – ★★★★☆ The story world isn’t described often in this novel. While it worked without a lot of background, I could have used just a few more details.
Style – ★★★★★ The style was probably my favorite part of this novel. The narrator, Love, is witty and intelligent. I loved seeing her cause “coincidences” that brought lovers together and her classifications of different lovers.
Closing Thoughts – This book was so cute and now I want to fall in love. It’s perfect for those in need of a fluffy read.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of narrators with a different perspective, hard to find love, and humor.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★★★ (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated 17571215heart, the two form an unexpected connection.
After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.
Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Initial Thoughts – I was a little unsure when I read the summary for this. However, this was a super cute romance with some serious issues.
Plot – ★★★★★ Kirby throws obstacle after obstacle at Colton and Quinn, making their growth together interesting and complicated.
Characters – ★★★★☆ I love both Colton and Quinn. They could have used just a little more quirks to make them stand out.
Story world – ★★★★★ Kirby has a lovely setting of bright beaches and hidden coves. I loved exploring these places along with Quinn.
Style – ★★★★☆  Kirby has a nice light tone that carries the novel.
Closing Thoughts – This book made me want to go to the beach and fall in love.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of sunny days, complicated backgrounds, and sweet romances.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
★★★☆☆ (3.25)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary

Summary – Every story needs a hero.23203106
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

Initial Thoughts – This book…I don’t think I got it. Maybe I did, and it just didn’t affect me in the way it affected others. I don’t know. I have a lot of mixed feelings.
Plot – ★★☆☆☆ There really wasn’t much of a plot, at all. The first part of the book is just giving background, and there really is only one event that happens the entire time. The book just felt like a reaction to the single event.
Characters – ★★★☆☆ The characters were okay. I found Poppy the most interesting, yet I didn’t really relate to any of them. The ending twisted my opinion, but it still didn’t make me connect with them.
Story world – ★★★☆☆ The story world was pretty average. There’s really not much I can add that stood out.
Style – ★★★★★ This is by far the best part of the novel. Tucholke created a haunting and eerie narrative that kept me reading when the plot didn’t.
Closing Thoughts – This book had a good theme: good vs. evil and how the impressions you have of people can be wrong. I just felt like it was a lot of unnecessary story to portray that theme.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of haunting style, misconceptions, and deeper themes.

(summary and cover from GoodReads)

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees

★★★★★   (4.50)
Genre – Young Adult Contemporary LGBT+
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Summary –The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender
fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
(Summary from Goodreads)

Initial Thoughts – I started paging through this book and I was immediately caught. The plot, the style, the characters, everything is entrancing.
Plot – ★★★★☆ This book is very informative. Which is fantastic, because it’s a subject that most people have little understanding about and need to understand. However, I felt like sometimes the explaining got in the way of the plot.
Characters – ★★★★★ All of these characters are perfect. Riley is honest and witty and completely perfect for explaining the misunderstandings and the hoaxes around being gender fluid.
Story world – ★★★★☆ The story world doesn’t receive a lot of attention in this book, because it’s not super important to the plot. However, I think that some of the places frequently visited could have used a little more description.
Style – ★★★★★ Garvin’s sarcastic, yet intelligent style makes this book impossible to put down, easy to relate to, and understand.
Closing Thoughts – Everyone has to read this book. It’s time we start understanding other people around us. And what better way than through reading?
Recommendation – Recommended for those wanting a sarcastic read and to understand more about the LGBT+ community.

(summary and cover from Good Reads)