BookBlogWriMo: Favorite Subgenres

bookblogwrimo

Welcome to today’s BookBlogWriMo post which is all about my favorite subgenres. For the most part, you guys will probably know what these all are, so I’m just going to list them, okay?

Dystopian (favorite)

Post-Apocalyptic (yes, they’re different)

Mythic Fiction (a la The Raven Cycle)

Time Travel

Contemporary

Contemporary Fantasy

High Fantasy

Magical Realism

Psychological horror/thriller

Detective fiction

What are your favorite subgenres? Are any of mine favorites of yours? 🙂

Book Review: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld’s new novel Afterworlds alternates between good and great.

Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication Date: September 23, 2014

599 pages, hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

 

This book is LONG. Yes, it’s 599 pages, which is a somewhat long page length, but I read long books all the time. It was just long. It took me almost two weeks to read which is a long time for me. How many times do you think I can say long in the first paragraph? I think part of the problem was that it took me a while to get into it. Once I did, I suppose it didn’t take too much time to finish. As this book is told in alternating chapters of Darcy’s real life (which reads much like a contemporary novel) and Darcy’s novel about Lizzie (which is very much fantasy), I think I should break up my review into two sections: Darcy and Lizzie.

Darcy’s chapters:

Darcy’s story was my favorite of the two. She’s written and sold a book she wrote during NaNoWriMo and has high tailed to NYC with her outrageous earnings to live for as long as she can there while rewriting her novel Afterworlds. She’s just graduated high school so is somewhat naïve and a bit of a newbie, but as she lives in NYC, meets authors, falls in love, gets her heartbroken, and rewrites, she grows up. I really enjoyed her character growth and seeing this side of the publishing industry in a book. I have a Master’s degree in Publishing Studies so I’m really interested in this, and I don’t think most people get to see what this side of the books you read looks like. I don’t know too much about the writing side so seeing Darcy’s book evolve throughout was really cool.

I especially enjoyed being able to see things that Darcy and Imogen (another writer) would discuss that would then show up in Darcy’s novel. Seeing Darcy change the novel from conversations she has gave an insight into how writing works, which I liked. I also really liked the romance between Darcy and Imogen, and even though they got together really quickly, I don’t think it felt like instalove. It felt genuine and organic.

Lizzie’s chapters:

Lizzie is the main character in Darcy’s novel Afterworlds, who after surviving a terrorist attack at an airport, finds out that she can now enter the afterworld (or the flipside as she eventually comes to call it), a place that is just like our world but gray and which renders her invisible to the living. When she first entered the afterworld, she was greeted by a boy named Yamaraj, a psychopomp or a guide to the dead. After returning home from the attack, she meets Mindy, her mother’s best friend from childhood who is eleven years old and dead. She was abducted, murdered, and buried in her own backyard, and Lizzie promises to seek revenge as she comes to care for Mindy. I really liked Mindy’s character and how she was both still a child and a little bit grown up. She was still deathly (hehe) afraid of the bad man who’d murdered her and hid in the closet where she felt safe. I won’t give anything away, but what happened later in the novel in regards to her character was fascinating. Very cool idea.

Unlike with Darcy, I really hated the romance in Lizzie’s chapters. It was exactly like instalove and even though it’s explained that Yamaraj hasn’t really aged and is still very much like a teenager, any kind of romance between someone who is really thousands of years old and someone who is actually 17 is creepy (*cough*Twilight*cough*). They jump into a relationship way too quickly, especially after Lizzie has come through something so horrible. On that note, I think Lizzie’s reaction to everything happening to her is…well, it’s pretty much nonexistent. She doesn’t really react to almost dying or to the fact that she can see ghosts or that she can now visit the land of the dead. It was weird.

I did really enjoy the whole idea and plot and story behind Afterworlds though. The thing that gets me though is the fact that it reads like a debut novel even though it was written by Scott Westerfeld. This is either an account of how awesome a writer he is or is not really a good book (Darcy’s novel, I mean). I can’t tell so I’m not sure how I feel about it.

The bottom line: I really, really enjoyed the chapters that centered on Darcy and her road to publication. I liked the idea behind the chapters from her novel but had my reservations when it came to Lizzie’s romance and her reaction to what happened. Overall, it was good but not great. I liked it but didn’t love it.

Rating: 6.5 – between good but not great and pretty good

ARC Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato

A sweet, fun, emotional read from Mary Amato (author of Guitar Notes), Get Happy made me…well, happy.

Get HappyAuthor: Mary Amato

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Egmont USA

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

256 pages, hardcover

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont USA for letting me read this.

Get Happy is about high-school girl Minerva just wants to buy a ukulele and play songs while hanging out with her friends. In the novel, she learns that her father didn’t abandon her like her mother told her, and so she begins to investigate him. As Goodreads says, she “builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.”

I’m not going to lie, I’m also a little iffy with books I get approved for on Netgalley. They can be hit or miss with me. It was also said to be for fans of Sarah Dessen (hit) and Gayle Forman (miss), so I was worried, but I shouldn’t have been. This one was a HIT. I’m really impressed with Amato’s writing and with this book.

Get Happy is a coming of age story for Minerva; we see her grow up and into herself as she navigates her first job, finding out her father is not who she thought he was, and fights with her mother. Realistic fiction has a tendency to feel decidedly not real, but not this book. Minerva’s feelings and actions all felt real and genuine, and because of this, I was really able to connect with Minerva and feel for her when it all went to hell. There was one part where something horrible happens (which I will not spoil) that I actually felt like I’d been punched in the gut. That’s a great author that can make me have such a reaction.

Minerva wasn’t the only great character either. Her best friend Fin is so full of life and a ton of fun. New friend Hayes is developed well too. Even the girl we don’t like is fully developed, so we actually do feel annoyed when she shows up. No characters were wasted or useless. I also liked that the parents in the book weren’t just in the background; they care about and protect their children. Even if they don’t always do the right thing, they’re still there.

The bottom line: Get Happy feels like a fun, light, easy read but it has some pretty deep feelings to get through. I really enjoyed it and am happy that I was able to read it.  Recommended for anyone who likes good contemporary, realistic fiction.

Rating: 7.5/10

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!The Fill-In Boyfriend

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Kasie West

Release date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Why I’m excited: I’m in the mood for a cute book, and this one fits the bill. Unfortunately, I have to wait like SEVEN freaking months to read it! 😦 Maybe I’ll be able to get my hands on ARC of this one! I certainly hope so. The Fill-In Boyfriend sounds adorable and fun and different. Whether or not I get an ARC, I’ll be checking this one out!

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Headline

Publication Date: October 2013

Paperback: 404 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I enjoyed this one so much that I bought myself a copy of it because I know I’ll want to read it again (also, I’m glad I had it so I could get it signed when I met and interviewed Jen!).

I’ve read some reviews of this book that criticized it because supposedly nothing happens. This is not true. No, it is not action packed and full of twists and turns and blah blah blah. But it is a sweet, adorable book that fills you up from the inside with all its cute. I smiled a lot while reading this book and I love that. It made me feel content. I wasn’t worried about the fact that it wasn’t a rollercoaster of action because I just felt good while reading it.

Ellie gets an email from a mysterious “G” who’s sent the email to her on accident. The two end up chatting back and forth from across the country and a connection grows between them. When Graham Larkin, a relatively new celebrity, shows up in Ellie’s small town to film his new movie, it turns out Ellie’s mysterious “G” is Graham – who moved his movie’s filming location to Ellie’s small town after she told him where she lived. Okay, a little stalker-ish but unbelievably cute.

I really liked both of these characters; Ellie didn’t take any crap from Graham or let him off the hook for anything just because he was a celebrity. She teased him for it and he just loved it. Their banter was hilarious and cute and I loved reading it. The characters both felt whole to me, fully developed with separate personalities, so it was easy to tell whose chapter was whose (each chapter is written in third person but with a focus on either Ellie or Graham). I think I connected a little more with Ellie, probably because I’m not a famous person and I’m a girl. Haha. But I enjoyed both of these characters.

The emails between Graham and Ellie were my favorite part though. The book starts off with their first email exchange and some of their emails back and forth for the next several months. Once the actual chapters begin, we get at least one new email between the two at the beginning of each chapter. I really like when authors have other means of communication between characters (letters, emails, texts, diary entries, etc.). I think it adds another layer to the book to allow us to get to know the characters even more.

Okay, occasionally I felt a little like, “Why is this scene necessary?” or “Dang, this is so cheesy,” but not once did I want to stop reading. Sometimes you just need a book that is so unashamedly adorable and cheesy and sweet, and This Is What Happy Looks Like was just that for me.

POTENTIAL SPOILER. SORT OF. Some people didn’t like the ending of this book, but I really did. Real life isn’t wrapped up with a nice little bow. Everything doesn’t get resolved. There are always problems to be solved and things to work around. I found the ending to the book to be really refreshing.

The bottom line: If you’re looking for a book with really adorable characters, no insta-love, and some sweet romance, check this out. Good for people who love movies or small towns, open endings or lovely beginnings. If you don’t need a book that has action on every page but rather gives you a feeling of contentedness and makes you smile, This Is What Happiness Looks Like is probably for you. I know I said sweet about 275384245 times in this review, but this book is just that. Rot-your-teeth-out, give-you-diabetes sweet.

Rating: 7.5 – between pretty good and freaking fantastic

Reading next: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Book Review: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get LostTitle: Let’s Get Lost

Author: Adi Alsaid

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Publication Date:

Hardback: 338 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Check out the summary on Goodreads.

What I thought:

I’m going to start this review with what I didn’t like about this book. Mostly because what I didn’t like happened right at the beginning. Leila is on a road trip from Louisiana to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. On her way, she stops by a car shop in Mississippi (I live in MS, so this was cool!) and meets Hudson. I don’t want to give too much away but can you say instalove? Geez. Here’s one of Hudson’s reasons why: “I like her face. I really like her face.” (page 33) Seriously? Ugh. So yeah, that annoyed me because you guys know I hate instalove. Also:

“He only allowed himself a quick glance at her, knowing as soon as he saw her that she was the kind of girl who could make you think your life was not complete unless she was in it.” (PAGE 1)

That was on page one and two. UGH.

On the other hand, here’s a quote I loved:

“Funny, how it took a little bit of pain to remember that certain parts of yourself were alive.” (Page 37)

After Leila leaves MS, she meets Bree. This was probably my favorite section. I should mention that each of the sections are kind of told from the perspectives of the people Leila meets (though they are in third person). Bree lost both of her parents and fought with her sister, so she’s been hitchhiking across the country. This section had emotional depth, which I appreciated, and the friend chemistry between Leila and Bree was pretty on point.

The other two sections we get before we have one set from Leila’s POV were Elliot, a funny guy who’s had his heart broken, and Sonia, a girl still grieving over the loss of her first love who is trying to figure out how to move on. I enjoyed both of these sections; Elliot’s for the humor and for the romance I was rooting for, and Sonia’s for the feels and hijinks. Though it was kind of annoying how Leila was just able to turn up, somehow convince these kids to allow a freaking stranger to help them, and then save the day. Every time practically.

Leila’s a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, though I think that’s partly the point. Leila is kind of kept at a distance from the reader as we only really see her through the eyes of the other people (super attractive, smart, spontaneous, and drive a cherry red car *rolls eyes*). We finally get her real story at the end though.

ROAD TRIP!!! I love travelling and road trips and seeing new places. This book did a wonderful job at describing these places, but not in a touristy way; it did describe some places in it, of course, but it showed how the people there live, what it’s like to live in Vicksburg, MS (which I don’t think is quite as exciting as Hudson does), or what it’s like to camp in Alaska and wait for the Northern Lights. It made my wanderlust flair up for sure.

The bottom line: Even though I didn’t like the instalove and I’m not a huge fan of MPDGs, this book was really entertaining, fun, full of adventures, and quite enjoyable. It made me smile, laugh, and want to road trip RIGHT NOW (thank goodness I’m going on a small one this weekend!).

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Reading next: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and MeTitle: The Geography of You and Me

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: April 2014

Hardback: 337 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I knew what I was getting into when I started this book: a hopefully swoon-worthy romance, cute characters, probably a little too idealistic storyline, and a lot of too good to be true. Did all of this stop me from enjoying this book? Heck no. In fact, I loved all of that. Sometimes you want to read a story where it all just works out, don’t you? This isn’t your typical romance though. Shortly after meeting in an elevator in New York, both Lucy and Owen move away from each other. The two of them spend most of the book on two different continents, communicating through postcards (a bit of a joke between the two). This makes it so that the romance is a little less passionate than you might see in other contemporaries. The two characters hardly spend any time together before they realize that there’s just something about the other that they love. It leads to a kind of instalove, but it didn’t bother me in this case.

I think this is because they have separate lives throughout the novel. They each have separate relationships, different schools, and live on completely different continents. So yes, they like each other pretty quickly, but then they must figure out who they are separately before finding each other again.

So I had some issues with the relationship, but my favorite part of this book was seeing all of the different places they went. After meeting, Owen and his father leave NY. They take a road trip across the country, so we see several places through their eyes, before they settle (sort of) in a few cities. Lucy’s father gets a job in Edinburgh (You guys know I loved this!) and then eventually London, but she also takes several trips to different countries. I am a wanderer myself and I love to travel; being able to spend time in my favorite city in the world (Edinburgh) and experience some new places as well was awesome. But not only do these two travel, they deal with some deep feelings (especially Owen who works towards overcoming the grief about his mother’s death), which made this a book not only focused on romance but on some profound feelings too. However, I did get a little bored in the middle with this separation of the two of them and I just kept wanting them to reunite already.

I definitely preferred Owen to Lucy, however. Lucy lives in the penthouse of her building, and her parents constantly leave her at home to travel to other countries, meaning they leave her alone in a penthouse in New York for weeks at a time. She gets kind of emo about this, has no friends, and blah…cry me a river. Owen’s feelings felt much more profound to me as he worked toward overcoming his grief. Once Lucy started to grow and confront her feelings with her mother, I liked her more.

The bottom line: Recommend for hopeless romantics and lovers of travel.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Reading next: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterTitle: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: August 15, 2014

Hardback: 339 pages

Stand alone or series: Last in a trilogy of companion novels

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

What I thought:

AHHHH. *flails* *fangirls* *squeals*

Okay. *breathes* Let me try to actually put into words my feelings for the final book in this lovely, sweet, amazing trilogy.

I’m not going to lie, when my friend Georgie recommended Anna and the French Kiss to me, I was doubtful. This is not the usual type of book I read. At all. But I picked up Anna and then Lola and I fell in love. Stephanie Perkins is a wonderfully gifted author who makes you swoon, laugh, cry, and feel ALL THE THINGS.

This book was different from the other two though. It’s not like in Anna and Lola when we ship the two characters the whole entire time until they finally, beautifully fall in love with each other. Instead, Isla and Josh begin a relationship pretty quickly and fall for each other. HARD. And then the book follows them as they go through some stuff. Instead of being about the characters finding each other, this book was about them finding themselves and what that means in a relationship. A lot of their problems are self-inflicted, but this is what allowed them to learn about themselves. Yes, it was a little over-dramatic at times. I mean, just have a conversation with each other, geez!

I have loved Josh since the beginning, you guys. I couldn’t wait for him to come back. He’s wonderful: funny, charming, brooding, creative, all the things I like. Honestly, I just didn’t think there was enough of him in this book. Instead of being like the other two books and having a couple (Anna & St. Clair / Lola & Cricket), it mostly felt like this was Isla’s story, which it is, I know. But I could have used a lot more of Josh. Also, at times, the relationship between Josh and Isla was weird for me. It felt a little too instalove-ish at times, which you guys know I hate. Sometimes I honestly just wanted to ask Josh why he even liked Isla. I mean, I like her; I think she’s my favorite narrator of the three, but it was one of those “You’ve been in love with him forever and guess what? He’s always loved you too but couldn’t do anything about it.” Blah.

But then sometimes I was just like, “AH. Isla is so great.” She thinks and talks just like we do.

“You know that because you asked me out, you’re the one who has to pick the place, right?”
Throat. Dry.
Dry throat.
All of the dryness in my throat.
“Whatever you suggest.” He grins. “I’ll say yes. You’ll definitely get a yes. If that helps.” (Page 75)

On the other hand, if I could just have a mix between Cricket and Josh, that’d be great. K? Thanks!

So then there’s this thing that happens on page 313. I had to close my book for a minute or two to just savor it. I almost cried. Okay, I actually did tear up a little. This book made me so happy, you guys. This was the best way to end this little trilogy.

I had issues with this one sometimes, but overall I loved it. It was just what I wanted: a sweet, adorable ending to this wonderful story. Isla grew up and learned a lot about herself throughout the book, which I really appreciated. I think I liked her so much not only because she talks/thinks like us, but because she was flawed, insecure, and unsure of herself. She was able to realize all of this (with the help of her best friend – you guys know I like a good friendship story) and go fix it. A+ on the maturity and the friendship story, Steph!

I hope that this review is actually helpful because it kind of seems like a jumble of thoughts to me. I liked it. There you go. 🙂

Also, I’m going to a book festival in two weeks and Stephanie Perkins will be there and I CANNOT wait.

The bottom line: Cricket is still my favorite boy out of the trilogy, but Isla is my favorite narrator. She’s just like us. Yes, I had a few issues with this book, but overall, this was a wonderfully sweet ending to this trilogy. Just what the doctor ordered.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Hardback: 355 pages

Stand alone or series: Beginning of a series

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

Check out the Goodreads synopsis

What I thought:

When I read a contemporary novel, I expect certain things: cute romance, loyal friends, sweet dialogue and a character that has a fair amount of growth throughout the novel. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of these things with this book.

Lara Jean Song Covey (yes, that’s actually her name) has been in love with her neighbor Josh for a long time. However, there’s a little problem: Josh is dating her older sister Margot. Margot is about to leave for college in Scotland, so she breaks up with Josh instead of trying a long-distance relationship. Lara Jean is a romantic, and she’s written a letter to each of the boys she’s ever “loved” as a way to get over them when they disappointed her. Somehow these letters are actually mailed, and thus starts a sometimes painful, sometimes funny trip through Lara Jean’s love life.

My main problem with this book was Lara Jean, which is a problem as she’s our main character. I found her to be silly, childish, unbelievably naïve, and stereotypically girly (she knits, bakes, scrapbooks, love pinks, and can’t drive. Ugh). At one point, she actually says “Gosh” and “tippy-top.” She was just really immature, and by the end of the novel I felt little to no growth in her. There is supposed to be a sequel, so maybe we’ll see more there. Well, maybe readers will; I won’t because I doubt I’ll read it.

Two things I expect from a contemporary novel are friends and romance. Lara Jean has NO friends. And Lara Jean’s fake romance with one of the boys she wrote a letter to is…well, fake. Lara Jean spends most of the book pining after Josh and wishing he’d just see that they are meant to be. Then she begins to like Peter more and more but he’s still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend.

I wanted to like this book so badly, but I just didn’t.

The bottom line: I wanted a sweet, make-you-feel-gooey-inside romance that had a nice friendship in it. You know, a good contemporary novel. I got none of those things, and I was disappointed in this book. Nothing got resolved and there wasn’t really an ending to this book. It felt like I wasted my time reading it and I’m not really sure what the purpose was as Lara Jean didn’t grow.

Rating: 3 – Horrible; why am I reading this?

This is the first time I’ve given a 3 rating, and I’m really sad about it. I know I am just being honest about my opinion, but I don’t like hating on a book. Unfortunately, I really did have to push my way through this one.

Currently reading: One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

ARC Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

VirginTitle: Virgin

Author: Radhika Sanghani

Genre: Contemporary, new adult

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Kindle edition: 304 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Netgalley

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley for letting me read this.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.
Yet.
This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?
It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.
The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?
Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?
I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.
Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

What I thought:

*PARENTAL ADVISORY ADVISED for this review. It may be unsuitable for young readers.*

If you couldn’t tell from that synopsis, this book is clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and well, actually quite meaningful and honest. This book is an authentic and evocative portrayal of what it’s like growing up in a society so obsessed with sex and whether or not you’ve had it. It’s about relationships and yes, sex, including all the parts of sex that you don’t normally discuss with people – well, personally, I’ve never discussed the state of my [WARNING: might be something icky you don’t want to read] pubes with my friends. I think, just like the blog that two of the  main characters start, this book can be a bit of a go-to for teenage girls who don’t get to talk about this stuff or have a lot of questions about all things sex. I do think some people will not want to read a book that gets as graphic as this, so I will say that you should avoid it if you don’t want to read about a girl learning how to give a BJ (via YouTube instructional video) or whether or not she should shave her pubes. I was fine with most of it, but there was one part that was a little too gross for me. Ellie, the main character, goes into a lot of detail about the fact that she’s a virgin, and we get her SUPER awkward stories about what she has done. However, she once says that she is [possibly inappropriate for young readers] “definitely going to give him access to my untouched hymen tonight.” GROSS. That phrasing was unnecessary, I think.

On the other hand, Ellie is honest about her sex life (or lack thereof). Her thoughts on sex and pubes and everything else felt so true and relatable. Again, I don’t usually discuss these types of things, but what girl hasn’t thought about all of this? She’s pretty self-deprecating in the beginning and not accepting of her own virginity (though no one else seems to really care that much), but she grows a lot in the book. The book is also written conversationally, so it was like the reader was discussing everything with Ellie (graphic or romantic or otherwise) like we were chatting over a beer at a pub.

Two things that irritated me: Ellie and her friend Emma start a blog about vaginas. A vagina blog. So they call it a vlog. Now if you’re someone who likes YouTube or the internet, you know a vlog is actually a video blog (like TheVlogBrothers or Tyler Oakley or Danisnotonfire). Every single time the word vlog was mentioned in this book, I had to remind myself it wasn’t a video blog. That got annoying. The author is young; she should’ve known what a vlog was. I just think a different word should’ve been used. Also, Ellie worries about whether she’ll get “Magna Cum Laude” or “Summa Cum Laude” with her degree. This may not bother everyone, but this book is set in London; in the UK, these types of designations are not given (I checked with my Scottish friend). Again, this won’t bother everyone, but it got on my nerves. It was probably the publisher trying to help Americans understand, but they left in things like a “First” degree (actually written as 1st in the UK usually) and “revising” (which means studying). I know these two things were small, but they irritated me so I wanted to mention them.

The bottom line: Virgin is a highly entertaining, funny, relatable, honest read. I think it will be good for teenage girls who have questions about sex or virgins who want to know more or really anyone who is or wants to be sexually active. It’s a very enjoyable read.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer