Future Perfect by Jen Larsen

Future Perfect by Jen Larsen

Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: Amazon ● The Book Depository
Goodreads Website

Ashley Maria Perkins. 50 pounds for a trip to Disneyland.

Ashley Maria Perkins. 75 pounds for a shopping trip in Paris.

Ashley Maria Perkins. 80 pounds for a new car.

Every year on her birthday, Ashley Perkins gets a card from her grandmother. Pretty standard, right? But like clockwork, every year, Ashley’s card also contains a promise: lose enough weight, and I will buy your happiness.

Ashley doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the way she looks. She knows exactly how she fits into her life, wide hips and all. But no amount of arguing can persuade her grandmother that “fat” isn’t a dirty word—that Ashley is happy with her life, and her body, as it is.

But Ashley wasn’t counting on having her dreams served up on a silver platter at her latest birthday party. She falters when Grandmother offers the one thing she’s always wanted: tuition to attend Harvard University.

Ashley wants it—she can’t deny it. But their annual negotiation has upped its stakes—Grandmother wants her to get weight-loss surgery in return for the money.

As Ashley grapples with the choice that little white card has given her, she feels pressured by her friends, her family, even administrators at school. They all believe that Ashley could be her best self if she would just listen to them. But what’s a girl to do when the reflection in her mirror seems to bother everyone but her?

I don't think I've read a young adult novel that features a larger protagonist and focuses on weight-loss before! This was as interesting topic at hand for me, particularly because I'm definitely a larger girl, and it's sad that I really haven't explored this topic in fiction. Future Perfect seemed like a great book, but while I did love the core of the story, I had a few issues with the plot.

Some of the story was pretty unnecessary. I almost felt like giving up at points, but I really wanted to find out what Ashley decides to do in the end, which is why I kept on going. It was an intriguing read, but sooooo much filler. The weight-related content was good. A-plus reading! The other stuff just felt like the author was trying to unnecessarily drag on the book for a while. Like the party scene? While, like, one part of it was totally related to the plot, it just...didn't seem to fit with the message of the book. It actually made me not like Ashley, Jolene and Laura's characters all too much.

The characters were really diverse though. Not only do you have an overweight half-white half-Latina character, you also have Jolene, who is transgender, and Laura, who is black. A great cast of characters for sure. And all super complicated too. I was on the fence between liking them and despising them though, because I would often get annoyed at how adamant and snappish they were towards each other, as well as the whole escapade they get into as mentioned above. Friends help friends! Friends don't flake out or take it out on others without good reason. Ashley's grandma was probably my favourite character, because despite the terrible bribery on her part, she's such a good person. Ashley herself is a pretty good character–I liked her conviction and strength, as well as her weaknesses and vulnerable side. This girl doesn't let her weight alter her outlook on life, and she's top of the class and knows how to hold her place.

With Future Perfect, I wish two aspects were examined further. One is family, because I mean, her mom leaving was a pretty big part of her life, but I felt the book didn't go too much into it for some reason. While I liked that it didn't take over the entire plot, I just felt that it was somewhat incomplete. Second aspect? Romance. It kind of leaned more towards the filler part of the novel, because some of it was unnecessary and it unbalanced the plot a teeny tiny bit. However, I did love that it completely ruined the ugly opinion that some people have, which is that fat girls can't find love. Um, excuse me? WE TOTALLY CAN. Ashley proves it, amongst the bajillion other "fat" girls who supposedly can't get with a guy because of their size.

Inspirational and moving, Future Perfect, amidst its flaws, was powerful at the core. It brings me so much joy to see a protagonist, labelled a "fat" girl, accomplish and do so much, despite the negative opinions directed at her and her body. Jen Larsen delivers a strong message about body positivity, which, despite my hesitancy to like the story in its entirety, makes this an important novel for young adult readers.

If you like this, try...

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Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski

Release Date: May 1, 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Rated: YA 13+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!
GoodreadsWebsite (Halpern) Website (Kujawinski)

The sun is a sliver of light on the horizon. The weather is turning cold. The dark is rising. And soon it will be night.

On Marin and Kana's island, sunrise doesn't come every twenty-four hours–it comes every twenty-eight years. The twins and the rest of their village are making preparations to leave, but Marin finds the eerie rituals frustrating. Locks must be taken off doors, tables must be set as if for dinner–but no one will tell her why.

And then, just as they are about to sail, Marin and Kana's best friend Line goes missing. They know where he has gone, and that they're the only ones who will risk saving him. But will the ships wait?

Night is falling. Their island is changing. And something is stirring in the dark.

I'm someone who can't stand horror films, unless they've got some sort of awesome psychological twist or backstory to them. Books on the other hand? I love the ones that can intensely creep me out. Nightfall definitely did that–so much so that I couldn't continue reading this one at night. I enjoyed the original concept and dove into this one after hearing quite a bit about it.

For me, this book felt a lot more plot driven rather than character driven. The only character I could really see with an internal struggle, who also made the book more complicated and interesting, was Kana. Marin and Line didn't seem to have that much depth to their characters, and I couldn't really connect to them as I did with Kana. While normally I wouldn't enjoy a book if I didn't have a grasp on the characters or feel invested in them, the story really pulled me along, which made this a worthwhile read, in my opinion.

My parents are on the boats. Okay. Me, my brother, and Line are still here. She could feel the panic rising again as she built to the final truth. 

Night has fallen. And it will last for a very long time.

–p. 108, paperback.

Butttt....here comes my problem. Most of the book was strong–it held up that thrill, that suspense. The last quarter of the book, however, was kind of a let down. There's not really an explanation for things, and just as you feel as if there's more to this world, the story lets go of it. I'm just hoping there's going to be a sequel, because there's absolutely a lot more that can be done with the series. If there is, I'll definitely be picking it up.

Besides my issues with the last part of the book, Nightfall was bewitching and spine-tingling levels of creepy–it had me on the edge of my seat. Halpern and Kujawinski's collaboration reads like a twisted and wonderful fantasy of horrific proportions that will have readers starving for more.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

Thank You Pansing! Giveaway

Pansing is a book distributor in Singapore, and for the past few years I’ve been receiving and reviewing books for the publishers they distribute books for. I’ve gotten to read many, many amazing books because of them, and I’m hosting a giveaway to show how much I appreciate this.

Two (2) winners choose from the following titles:

Check out my reviews:

All of the covers are linked to Goodreads.

Whew! There are quite a few books to choose from, so hopefully there's something for everyone :)

*Our Chemical Hearts will be a pre-order.

Giveaway Rules:
  • This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as the Book Depository ships to you for free. Not sure? Check here.
  • This giveaway will run from July 27 12.00 am EST until August 17 11.59 pm EST.
  • You must be 13+ to enter.
  • The version of the book will feature the cover depicted above. If that version happens to be out of stock, I shall pick another version to ship to you (but will let you know before I do, don't worry!).
  • I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages.
  • Winners must respond within 48 hours, or (an)other winner(s) will be chosen.
  • No cheating! I will be checking all entries.
  • I will never EVER share your details. I don't keep any personal details and will never share them with anyone, and will only use your address to place the order. That's it.
Good luck and enter via the Rafflecopter below!

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 173

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.  

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

October 4, 2016 ● Goodreads

There honestly aren't enough books out there talking about "larger girls" and being one myself, IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME. I really enjoyed All the Bright Places (read my review), and I'm sure this one is going to be brilliant. Also I'm loving how the cover is so simple and so gorgeous. Can't wait!

What are you waiting on?

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson

Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads Website (Moskowitz) Website (Helgeson)

The story follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts.

Gena (short for Genevieve) and Finn (short for Stephanie) have little in common. Book-smart Gena is preparing to leave her posh boarding school for college; down-to-earth Finn is a twenty-something struggling to make ends meet in the big city. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night-stands; Finn is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. But they share a passion for Up Below, a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. Gena is a darling of the fangirl scene, keeping a popular blog and writing fan fiction. Finn’s online life is a secret, even from Charlie. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online, and with each other.

While I hadn't heard of Kat Helgeson before, as this is her first novel, I've heard tons about Hannah Moskowitz. I was lucky enough to meet her at ALA 2013, and she was super sweet and awesome! It's pretty sad that I haven't read any of her books until now. Gena/Finn was amazing–I loved this one so much. I didn't expect it to be as heartbreaking as it was. There were several funny moments for sure, but there was also a whole lot of raw emotion and pain.

The format for this book was BRILLIANT. Emails, texts, journal posts, sticky notes, drawings...there was so much in this book and it made reading it super interesting. I really love it when books have quirky or out-of-the-norm layouts and the originality of this one stuck with me long after. More books should seriously do this–it makes reading a more visual experience as well!

The characters in this book were a little older than in a typical young adult book, but I wouldn't call this a new adult novel. It definitely still has a YA feel to it. Anyway, I ended up liking Gena more than Finn, but I have no idea why. It can't be age, since I'm right in between 18 and 22! Although...I have been 18, and I know what that feels like, but I don't know what the 22 experience is, so maybe that's it? Anyway, it also might be the way they come off. Gena seemed like she had a lot more of a personality, which is probably why I clicked a lot more with her character. Not to say that Finn was a bad character. Heck no. What I liked about both characters was that there were so many layers to them. Despite this format, which doesn't give us a clear-cut first person perspective on the story, we learn so much about them through their interactions with each other, with people around them, and with themselves. 

I will freely admit this: I'm not a fan of fanfic. I totally love that people can create stories about characters and worlds we all love, but somehow I just never got into it. But that totally didn't hinder how much I enjoyed this story. It was interesting to how the whole "fandom" thing actually worked, since I claim to be in fandoms, but I'm like...low-key in them. To find fans so devoted to a everything about a show is definitely beyond anything I've fangirled about.

Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Definitely not one to miss this year! Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson's collaborative novel Gena/Finn is quirky, poignant and exceedingly excellent. A gorgeous format, two fangirls, a blooming romance–what's not to like?

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Lara at Chronicle Books for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

If you like this, try...

Bullet Catcher by Joaquin Lowe

Bullet Catcher by Joaquin Lowe

Release Date: February 4, 2016
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Rated: YA 13+
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing
Buy: Available at all good bookstores!

Bullet catchers: a legendary band of outlaws who can deflect bullets with their hands.

In the small town of Sand, populated by gunslingers and surrounded by endless desert, Imma washes dishes and grieves for a life she never had. She and her brother, Nikko, dreamed of escaping to become bullet catchers, a legendary band of outlaws who can deflect bullets with their hands. But they were wiped out years ago, Nikko with them. And leaving is impossible when walking into the desert means certain death.

When she sees a stranger catch a man's bullet and turn it back on him, Imma knows it can only mean one thing: the bullet catchers live on, and this is her way out. 

Determined to follow him, Imma starts a journey that will take her to her physical extremes and force her to question just what family means and who she really is: bullet catcher or gunslinger; hero or monster.

I haven't had much experience with Westerns in young adult fiction, with the exception of Vengeance Road, but I really enjoyed Bowman's novel, so I decided to give this one a go. I really liked this one! It's been a while since I've read about a mentor and mentee relationship, and one that's got a good adventure to go along with it. Bullet Catcher had grit, guns, and a whole lot of badassery.

I loved Imma's character. Even though she's a bit younger than most young adult heroines, she's hell of a lot stronger than most of them. I'm glad there's the internal conflict that plays out when she tries to understand who she is and whose side she's on. Also? No love interest! While, yes, I do love a good romance and all, I enjoyed the fact that there's no boys distracting her from her goals with relationship drama.

There's a pretty big twist halfway through the book, and this is pretty much where the internal conflict starts, as well as the gunslinger side of the story. I liked that there were two sides to this, and Imma gets to explore the both of them. While she's trying to figure out what exactly is going on, her emotional struggle felt real and personal. There's a lot of stakes that comes with her choice, and of course–a bunch of guns flying off at every corner.

A wonderful adventure set in the wild, wild west that middle grade and young adult readers will enjoy, Bullet Catcher was a heck of a story. Historical fiction with a touch of magical realism, don't hesitate to pick up this one because you're in for a real treat.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

If you like this, try...

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Our Chemical Hearts Optioned for Film

Hey guys! I've got some pretty cool news to share with you all about a book I'm super excited to read: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. It's been optioned to be turned into a film! Here's the exciting news from Awesomeness Films:

LOS ANGELES (June 28, 2016) – Awesomeness Films announced today that they have acquired the film rights to Our Chemical Hearts, Australian author Krystal Sutherland’s upcoming debut novel.  Our Chemical Hearts will hit shelves in the U.S. on October 4th, to be published by Penguin Random House’s imprint G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.

“Krystal Sutherland is a breakout young writer, whose voice uniquely captures the emotional journey of falling in love for the first time,” said Awesomeness Films President Matt Kaplan. “We are excited to be working with her at Awesomeness Films and look forward bringing Our Chemical Hearts to life.”

Henry Page has never been in love despite the fact that he fancies himself a hopeless romantic. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades and getting into a decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class, and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl, but when they are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there’s something broken about Grace, something from her past, and Henry wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again.

Max Siemers brought in the property on behalf of Awesomeness Films.

Krystal Sutherland is represented by UTA and InkWell.


Launched in 2014, Awesomeness Films produces and distributes feature films focused on young adult material that connect with global audiences.  Their current projects include Gina Prince-Bythewood’s BEFORE I FALL, based on Lauren Oliver's best-selling novel and starring Zoey Deutch, and Brent Bonacorso’s YOU GET ME starring Bella Thorne and Halston Sage, which is currently in production.   They premiered black list adaptation SHOVEL BUDDIES, starring Bella Thorne and Kian Lawley, as part of SXSW’s Narrative Spotlight section.   The company previously released DANCE CAMP on YouTube Red, Tyler Oakley’s documentary SNERVOUS, which opened as the No. 1 documentary on iTunes, SMOSH: THE MOVIE, which opened as the No. 1 comedy on iTunes, and Expelled starring Cameron Dallas, the No. 1 social movie of 2014.  Awesomeness Films is the film division of AwesomenessTV, the multi-platform media company owned by DreamWorks Animation (Nasdaq: DWA) and Hearst.

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I seriously can't WAIT to read this one and then see the film, which I'm sure will be great! Here's a little bit about the novel:

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (US) ; Hot Key Books (UK) ; Penguin Australia

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him - at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.

Waiting on Wednesday – Week 172

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's to spotlight upcoming releases that I'm DYING to get my hands on!

This week's WoW is:
The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

A Diabolic is ruthless. A Diabolic is powerful. A Diabolic has a single task: Kill in order to protect the person you’ve been created for. 

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager created to protect a galactic senator’s daughter, Sidonia. The two have grown up side by side, but are in no way sisters. Nemesis is expected to give her life for Sidonia, and she would do so gladly. She would also take as many lives as necessary to keep Sidonia safe.

When the power-mad Emperor learns Sidonia’s father is participating in a rebellion, he summons Sidonia to the Galactic court. She is to serve as a hostage. Now, there is only one way for Nemesis to protect Sidonia. She must become her. Nemesis travels to the court disguised as Sidonia—a killing machine masquerading in a world of corrupt politicians and two-faced senators’ children. It’s a nest of vipers with threats on every side, but Nemesis must keep her true abilities a secret or risk everything.

As the Empire begins to fracture and rebellion looms closer, Nemesis learns there is something more to her than just deadly force. She finds a humanity truer than what she encounters from most humans. Amidst all the danger, action, and intrigue, her humanity just might be the thing that saves her life—and the empire.

November 1, 2016 ● Goodreads

Oh damn, THAT COVER! This one has also been pitched as Red Queen meets The Hunger Games. Um, YES please. It kind of reminds me of Pawn by Aimée Carter and The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow as well. I'm sure this one is going to be amazing!

What are you waiting on?