Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Goodreads summary:
Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?
It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.
In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Review:
Okay, I totally loved this story. I borrowed this book as an audiobook from my library because I liked the look of the cover. Then I read the book summary and thought it could be something I would like. I had doubts at first because I was really annoyed listening to the narrator reading the email addresses over and over and I almost DNF’d the book about 20% in. But I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t.
I LOVED Jessie. She’s a girl who’s trying to find herself. Her mom died and she’s trying to figure out how to continue living without the one woman that’s supposed to be there for her whole life. On top of all of this her dad has married a new woman, a complete stranger, and totally changed her life by making her move across the country. So this poor girl is still trying to figure out how to keep on living without her mother and also going to a new school where she doesn’t know anyone, living in a new house that doesn’t feel like her own, trying to figure out how to accept all these changes and be happy. I admire the crap out of Jessie for the strength she shows because I would have lost my freaking mind trying to deal with all of that at sixteen.
Enter “Somebody, Nobody.” This mysterious person who starts emailing Jessie with the advice of who to befriend, who to avoid, and how to survive at this crazy new school. I loved the idea of SN keeping an eye out for Jessie and helping her navigate this new school. Though about halfway through the story I just wanted to yell at him to TELL JESSIE WHO HE IS ALREADY. (We sadly don’t find out who SN is until Jessie does.) We are left guessing at the identity of SN for most of the book. I liked this a little because I spent most of the book arguing in my head with Jessie about whom she thinks SN is. That’s all I will say about SN except that I totally knew who it was and I’m SO HAPPY that SN is who I thought they were.
I think the family dynamic was written really well. I come from a pretty dysfunctional family. I have step parents and siblings and know how hard it is to adjust to having a new family living in one house and learning how all the different people work together and around one another. The family dynamic was written and portrayed accurately and I really liked that. I feel like there aren’t enough books that have stepfamilies and crazy broken, makeshift families that are outside of the norm of a mom and a dad or a single parent home.
I ended up really loving this book way more than I thought I was going to. I thought I would like it well enough, but I definitely loved it. There really is nothing negative to say about it aside from the annoyingness of reading the email addresses, but that’s only because it’s an audiobook. I adored the characters. They all played their own parts very well and each added something to the story. I loved the message that the story gave. Jessie learned so much about herself, but she also learned so much about how she treats others and what she deserves from life. I think this is an excellent young adult story and should be read by anyone and everyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Summary:
Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile nations. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire-a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynria’s formidable warhorses-and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine-called Mare-the sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms-and each other.
Review:
I picked this book up from my local library the last time I went for a visit. I found this on the ‘Pride Month’ feature (which yes I know, was last month but I’m forever a step behind on everything.) I’m super glad I picked this book up. It was incredible and made me realize that I don’t read enough LBGTQ books. I think the thing I liked the most about this book was that it didn’t scream “HEY THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT GIRLS FALLING IN LOVE.” It told the story and just let the romance unfold and I really enjoyed that.
The first thing I thought while only a few pages into the story was that all of the characters have really weird but interesting names. I’m not mentioning this because it was bad; I mention it because it took me a minute to figure out how to say the names. I liked the unique names. It’s something that will make the story memorable to me. With the interesting and unique names, I thought it was a little odd that the descriptions in the story were so minimal. There was enough to set the scene but still left a fair amount to the imagination. With a fantasy story like this one, it was a little surprising to me. Most fantasy that I’ve read are teeming with descriptions and world building. This book had them but still left much for the reader to fill in with their own imaginations. I actually didn’t mind this at all. I tend to not read fantasy because of the amount of world building and setting descriptions, so this book was the perfect amount for me. There was also some odd language used that I didn’t like at first, but it grew on me throughout the story. Instead of hours, the characters referred to “sunlengths” and little things like this.
As for our characters, there are a ton that I could mention, but I’m just going to talk about our princesses. Mare and Denna are just about as opposite as you can get aside from their determination and drive. Mare does her best to be the farthest thing from a princess as she can. She spends her days dressed as a peasant drinking in bars trying to collect information. She is constantly underestimated by her father and her brother. Mare is desperate to find the freedom she craves so badly. Denna, on the other hand, has been raised her whole life to do the right thing, to be the proper princess, to do her duty to the kingdoms. Denna is a girl dedicated to her duty, the one she was assigned in childhood, to become a queen. She’s educated and clever, but lets herself get bossed around rather than standing up and saying, “Hey I have this great idea that you should all probably listen to.” So when she and Mare start to bond and Mare starts to listen to Denna’s thoughts and ideas, the not so proper feelings start. I enjoyed every page of watching these girls realize that the love they’d both been looking for their whole lives was right there in front of them. I’m a total sucker for the forbidden love trope. I love that this love was forbidden, but not because it’s love between two women because one of the women is already engaged to be married.
Overall I loved this book. Between the two female main characters that I just couldn’t get enough of as they figured out who they are and what exactly they want from life and one another. The forbidden love aspect had me hooked from the beginning. And the world the story takes place in was interesting enough to leave me pining for the next book that doesn’t come out until next year. I’m dying to know what’s going to happen in this world that frowns upon magic, which may just lead to the end of the world. This book had a great ending for our two princesses but definitely left me wanting more. This was a great young adult fantasy and I would recommend it to anyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Summary:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

Review:
Antonia and I recently went to the library and took out a ton of books. This was one of hers but she thought I would like it, so I gave it a try. She was right. I did enjoy reading this book. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (TSPOLAFS) was a cute, romantic, quick read. I think I liked this book mostly because the main character Hadley was so relatable. She’s on her way to her dad’s wedding, to a woman she’s never met before. Her parents divorce pretty recently. I am a child of divorced parents myself, and when I was younger it was something I had a really hard time with, similar to how Hadley is feeling in the book. I think relatable characters are one of the most important things to have in a book. I liked TSPOLAFS because I grew attached to Hadley, because she was going through something I’ve had to go through in my life too. So I understood what she was feeling. Hadley was a very positive character, aside from the moaning and groaning about her dad. She tried to find the silver lining wherever she was and I liked that a lot. She was also very spontaneous which added some entertainment to the story.
The part I enjoyed the most about this book was following Hadley in her slow acceptance and forgiveness toward her dad. She has many harsh feelings about him when the book starts and is pretty much forced to go to his wedding. Hadley makes the best out of it and ends up meeting a boy in the process. I really like reading about Hadley and her dad closer to the end of the book. She finally lets him in and she leans on him in her time of need. This was something I really liked because her dad tries throughout the whole book to better his relationship with his daughter. He never stops trying. So he’s there when Hadley finally crumbles from everything going on around her. She lets her dad into her life and tries to make the effort he’s been making all along. I really didn’t like Hadley’s dad at first. Mostly because of the divorce being his fault. He definitely proved himself to his daughter in these pages.
Now, the boy I mentioned, Oliver. He meets Hadley in the airport right after she’s missed her flight by four minutes. Oliver is mysterious and funny and charming. Everything a cute British boy should be. The two talk about so much on the seven hour flight together. At first the relationship seems innocent, but as the book goes on it becomes intense very quickly. I really liked reading about these two together.
This book was a good, quick, entertaining read that I would suggest to any young adult reader. The characters were fun and relatable. The story line was interesting enough. Overall I liked this story, so you give it a try too.

Keep on reading lovelys, Amanda.