ARC Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

21795576Title: Everything That Makes You

Author: Moriah McStay

Publication date: March 17, 2015

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 352

Source: ARC from publisher (Thank you, HarperCollins)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store


One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Because of its intriguing concept and attention-catching storyline, Everything That Makes You is a contemporary YA debut that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. I was very excited to read it with the thought that it’s going to be great.

Unfortunately, the book is a let-down, for me at least. Story and characters take a huge part of my overall evaluation of books. Sad to say, in Everything That Makes You, both components did not make an impression. I did not connect with the characters. The story seemed dry and monotonous. I felt like I was on a road trip with no scenic views along the way. There were neither exciting detours nor unexpected bumps on the road as well. It’s one straight and boring ride. The plot lacks tension, the thrill to keep me reading. It appeared as if there wasn’t a rising action. Moreover, the alternate realities confused me. Although I only had nine chapters left, I stopped reading. I truly feel bad that it came to that point. But I seriously lost the interest to finish the book. For a debut novel that shows a lot of potential, it’s disappointing that it turned out this way. I think Everything That Makes You could have been better if there is only one version of the story.

I don’t mean to offend anyone with my review. Mind you, this is just my honest personal opinion. To those who have Everything That Makes You on their TBR pile, please give it a chance. Don’t let my review discourage you from reading the book. Everything That Makes You might not have worked for me. But it could for you.



ARC Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

17285330Title: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

Author: Cynthia Hand

Publication date: February 10, 2015

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 400

Source: ARC from publisher (Thank you, HarperCollins!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store



There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

The Last Time We Say Goodbye perfectly depicts the painful experience of losing a loved one to an unexpected circumstance. In this novel, it is suicide. The story centers on main character Lex’s journey to acceptance, healing, and forgiveness. Its emotional weight will grasp readers’ hearts firmly of Lex’s grief and longing for her brother. It’s beautiful. Inspiring. Everything feels so real.

I had my own experience of sudden death in the family when I was eleven years old. Although not by suicide, the feeling that something’s been stolen from you hurts so much. One minute the person’s there and the next thing you know, he’s gone forever. Like Lex, my family and I went through a hard time embracing the reality that an important piece of us is gone. I was one of the people greatly affected by the incident because I wasn’t able to say goodbye. Reading this book took me back to those dark days, feeling the familiar cloak of sadness around me.

Dealing with sudden loss is really difficult because a part of your life has been taken from you. Still, there will always be a place for that person within your heart. So treasure every moment with the ones you love because you never know when you’re going to be together for the last time.

As the first Cynthia Hand book I’ve read, The Last Time We Say Goodbye introduced me to the author’s gorgeous, lyrical prose. Cynthia Hand’s writing blew me away with its fluid pace, laced with emotions that come from the deepest part of the soul. I’m delighted to say that I will definitely read Cynthia Hand’s other books and those she has yet to write.

Brilliant and marvelously gripping, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a novel filled with love and the sincerest kind of sadness.



 4/5 stars

ARC Review: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez


Title: When Reason Breaks

Author: Cindy L. Rodriguez

Publication date: February 10, 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 304

Source: ARC from publisher via Netgalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked


A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Written in a beautiful, magnetizing voice, When Reason Breaks is a debut novel that punctures all the vulnerable parts of a reader’s soul. Its profound intensity will hold your attention, never letting go until the last page. The emotions portrayed in this book are pure and raw, like blood oozing from a fresh wound. Reading When Reason Breaks is an emotional, unpredictable journey. You know the feeling when you ride an indoor roller coaster and you have no idea when there’s going to be a sharp turn or when you’re going to drop? THAT!!! It’s written in a way that will make you think that a certain main character is the one who would do an alarming action but it was the other way around. The tension will keep you at the edge of your seat and you’ll just be surprised at the turn of events. Seriously, I was in shock. Frozen to my core.

Main characters Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado are different and alike at the same time. Different in terms of personality and alike in connection with internal battles and wounds of the heart. Elizabeth is a thoughtful, smart girl who, like Emily, is substantially troubled. She has a lot of issues that are reflected in how she dresses and how she acts. The pain Elizabeth keeps inside of her tears her apart. On the other hand, Emily is a secretive, overly careful girl afraid to commit mistakes to avoid trouble. She may look fine on the outside but in truth, she’s shattered within. Her wound runs so deep, carrying a never-ending stream of doubts and heartaches. Both characters are in Ms. Diaz’ English class where the story sort of transpired. I love Ms. Diaz! Her dedication to her job and friendliness towards students enable her to be a remarkable character. It’s amazing how she and her English class are the force that connects Emily and Elizabeth’s stories together.

Cindy L. Rodriguez has the kind of writing style that stirs something in you when you start reading. Her words are like fire as the message of the story burns its way to you, so you’ll never forget. The weaving of Emily Dickinson’s poems to the story added depth, making When Reason Breaks eloquent and special. The book indeed motivates readers to live—to move forward. It speaks out loud that life is good no matter what obstacles we face. Just keep your head up and have faith that better things are ahead.

Authentic and incredibly moving, When Reason Breaks is a story that expresses hope in the truest sense of the word.


4/5 stars