The Beginning of Everything

Author: Robyn Schneider 
Pages: 335 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life. 

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.  

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

My Summary: Ezra has always had the best of everything: a new car, expensive clothes. a huge house, a promising athletic career, and a beautiful girlfriend. Ezra had the rest of his life mapped out - all he had to do was nod and smile as everything fell into place.

Until a car careens through a stop sign and hits his car, leaving him crippled and hospitalized. Gone is his chance at ever playing tennis professionally, as well as everything that came with being the 'golden boy'. 

But when Ezra returns to school, he discovers that all is not lost. As he reconnects with old friends and figures out who he really is, Ezra can't help but be thankful for the chance to reclaim his life, and everything is almost perfect again.

Except that his girlfriend is hiding something - something huge. And it may have something to do with the night he lost everything. Can he discover what is it and salvage his relationship, or is his new love as doomed as his tennis career was?
My Thoughts: I had some mixed feelings about this one, although I did finish it and was interested most of the time. The writing was well done and kept me interested, but I couldn't help but feel like there were a few unnecessary cliches strewn throughout. 

Toby was my favourite character, although I wish he was a little more fleshed out. A lot of the secondary characters seemed very interesting and really added to the story. 

To me the ending felt a little bit abrupt, but I liked the message behind it. And the Gatsby parallels tied nicely into the story, but some felt a little forced. 

I liked the 'reconnecting with yourself' element - it was great to follow Ezra on his journey to figure out who he was without tennis and his popularity. I also really liked the hipster feel of Toby's group of friends.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA and is looking for a book with a male MC.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Author: Maggie Stiefvater 
Pages: 464 
Publisher: Scholastic 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. 

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost. 

Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. 
Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.

My Summary: Maura has been missing for almost a month, and all she left behind was a cryptic note. With no way to know her plans or reach her, Blue has been doing the only thing she can: soldiering on with her Raven Boys. 

But things have changed: they are no longer the easy-going gang of teens on a quest for a legendary treasure. Now, their success could mean the difference between life and death.

Secrets abound ...  but is it really a secret if the people you're keeping it from already know what you're hiding? 

My Thoughts: No spoilers here, guys, but you NEED to get your hands on a copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. That's all I'm sayin' - if you take one thing away from this review, let it be the knowledge that you need to read this book.

All our favourites are back in this third installment of my favourite YA series. There were more than a few scream-worthy moments, and a fair share of those high-tension scenes that we've come to love. Every chapter pulled me deeper, leaving me unable to put it down for even a moment. I'm proud to say I finished this book in a little over five hours and flipped back to the beginning to start again. 

It was, without a doubt, my favourite of the series so far.

As usual, each character managed to capture a little piece of my heart. My favourite of this installment was probably Blue, but Gansey was a close second. I loved every moment of their interactions, and I'll be eagerly awaiting the final installment for reasons. 

Final Thoughts: If you haven't already (which, come on, you probably have already) you need to get yourself to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue


The Blood of Olympus

Author: Rick Riordan 
Pages: 502 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Though the Greek and Roman crew members of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they're stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake. 

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it "might" be able to stop a war between the two camps. 

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea's army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

This has probably been said a million times by now, but if you haven't picked up this series you are really missing out. I adore Rick Riordan's work, and every novel he's written has made its way onto my favourites shelf. The Heroes of Olympus is definitely a series worth checking out.

In the interest of not spoiling the last book for anyone, all I have to say about it is this: Rick Riordan does not disappoint with this last novel. It met my expectations and then surpassed them, encompassing everything I love about this genre. Percy and his friends are just as kick-ass as ever, and I'm going to miss them so much.

Final Thoughts: If I haven't convinced you by now, I'll try one last time: check out Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus series. You will not be sorry you did. 

Fan Art

Author: Sarah Tregay 
Pages: 368
Publisher: Katherine Tegen 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend. 

As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn't sure if that’s what he wants—because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?

My Summary: Jamie Peterson is your average high school senior - he has a few good friends, is well-liked, and has the next few years all mapped out. 

Except for the one thing he didn't foresee: Jamie fell in love with his best friend Mason. Mason, who Jamie has known for most of his life and who is probably not even into guys. Mason, who doesn't even know that Jamie is gay because Jamie has been too scared to tell him. 

Jamie knows nothing good can come out of his crush on his best friend, but you can't control your feelings... and it almost seems as if Mason may be interested in Jamie as well. Can Jamie come out to his best friend and reveal the truth about his feelings, or will a few overly-zealous "fan girls" ruin any chance they may have - not only at a relationship, but at a friendship?

My Thoughts: This was an extremely bittersweet story about setting out for new things and figuring out how to bring the good parts of your old life along for the ride. Overall, I found it to be a great feel-good read with a lot of hope.

I really enjoyed the writing style - it was upfront and easy to follow and allowed Jamie's character to shine through.

I loved that Jamie's family was not only present, but also extremely supportive. I also really liked the way that the author wrote Jamie's inner monologue - she did a great job of embodying the crippling fear of rejection Jamie was facing, and the struggle to figure out his feelings for his best friend and how he was going to deal with them. 

I also really liked the element of social justice, and the way that Jamie stood up for his and his friends' right to be represented equally in the school literary magazine - I think it's extremely important that readers see how important it is to stand up for what you believe and what you know is right. 

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to fans of contemporary lit and romance.