Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

I am taking part in a new meme hosted by What’s Beyond Forks? where we take a book that’s been on our TBR list and we review it!

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Publication date: February 25, 2014
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

I have been on an unusual contemporary kick recently and so Better Off Friends seemed like a good book to read. I actually saw it on Twitter and went faith that it would be a good read. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
I really wanted to love this book. Like I REALLY wanted to enjoy it. This book is about two friends who met in middle school and are instant best friends. I had no idea when I started the book that this was going to start off in middle school with preteens. Honestly I did not need to know that much backstory. A simple flash about the moment they met would have been enough or even just a comment thrown into their conversation.
Such a huge chunk of this book was needless and it almost turned me off completely. I went onto Goodreads to see if they ever got to high school and when I discovered they did I decided to keep going. This book has its really great parts, mostly the banter between Macallan and Levi and that was something that held me on through most of the book and I thought that the instant messaging/texts between the two were a good shining moment.
The language and personalities of these characters does not change throughout the book and that was such a huge issue for me. I would expect growth from a book that spans so many years, but there was none. The character’s issues were immature and not what I’ve come to expect from the YA books that have become so popular. Young adult novels get more sophisticated every year and in order to keep up they all need to be written on a high level and this book was just not up to standard. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone unless you have some time to waste.

Safe and Sound by Alli Hope

Title: Safe and Sound
Author: Alli Hope
Publisher: Elphantine Publishing
Publication Date: February 22, 2017
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

16 year-old, Hailey Perish, knows her life can’t get much worse. Since her dad split a few years ago, Hailey’s mother has spiraled hard and fast, careening toward rock bottom and threatening to take her daughter down with her. Hailey now marks time by evictions, her mother’s poker games, and Saturday School where she voluntarily shows up for weekend detentions to secure her one promised meal of the week. She has no room for relationships, especially with someone like her childhood love and junior class golden boy, Carson Hart. Hailey trusted him once and Carson failed her. She’s determined not to let herself be hurt again.

When Hailey’s mom does the unthinkable and bets her own daughter in a high stakes poker game, Mitch, the loan shark, is all too eager and determined to collect on his debt. To him, Hailey is nothing but property. His property. And he’ll do anything to recover it. On the run from a fate that promises a much worse life than she already knows, there’s only one person in the world Hailey can call for help.

Will Carson be there for her in her darkest hour and deliver her from harm’s way safe and sound? Or will he abandon Hailey—just like he’s always done—just like they all do?

Alli Hope’s debut novel delivers an unforgettable story about love & surviving in the dark places. Safe & Sound contains mature situations and content.

Safe and Sound by Alli Hope is a heart wrenching story that follows Hailey on a mission to find her father after her mother loses a bet that lands her in the hands of human traffickers. Backed into an impossible situation, Hailey turned to the one person she knows she can always count on, Carson. The childhood best friends have drifted apart over the last six years, but they have never forgotten each other. When rumors bound around school about Hailey, Carson is always there to punch someone out…literally.
Alli Hope writes Hailey’s relationship with her mother in a way that completely shattered my heart. She loves her mother so much and does nothing by try to protect her even though her mother literally gambles away Hailey’s life. And the way she thinks of her father, as if this man who abandoned her years ago is going to show up and be this shining star in her life is absolutely heartbreaking. It shattered me so much that I had to put the book down for a little bit and then get back story when I had taped it back together a little bit.
The journey itself in the story isn’t about the road trip, not really, instead it’s about Hailey trying to figure out what she deserves in life. After years of watching over her mother, being harassed by one of her mom’s many boyfriends, working her butt off to make sure they always have a home to live in she sets out on this journey where she has to come to terms with the fact that she is important to.
I really truly feel like this journey of self-discovery and reliance is the true journey of this book. Yes, Caron has his own narration too, but it all comes together and revolves around Hailey.
Another thing that Alli Hope shows in this novel is human trafficking. This is a horrific thing that is so widespread and happens every single day, every single hour and moment, but doesn’t have the well-known attention that it deserves. What’s scary is that Mitch is able to control people with money so easily. This is how this can all occur in real life. One of the most lucrative trades throughout time is the buying and selling of human beings. Money can buy you a lot of things and it can also buy you obedience and silence. This book only gives just a tiny miniscule glimpse into the underground world of human trafficking, but it was enough to leave an impact.
If you’re looking for a gritty contemporary with a tiny bit of romance flung in then this book is for you!

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Ignite Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

The heart-stopping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, which Ransom Riggs, bestselling author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, called “a thrilling, high-stakes saga of self-discovery and forbidden love.”

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

The Shatter Me series is perfect for fans who crave action-packed young adult novels with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu. Tahereh Mafi has created a captivating and original story that combines the best of dystopian and paranormal, and was praised by Publishers Weekly as “a gripping read from an author who’s not afraid to take risks.” Now this final book brings the series to a shocking and satisfying end.

Oh, boy! If I thought that Unravel Me was a wild ride then I was NOT prepared for Ignite Me. You guys, there is not one single way that I could have predicted the events of this book when I started Shatter Me. No way!

The last time we saw Juliette she had just been shot in the chest after Omego Point lost the battle and presumably everyone Juliette loved is dead.

This book continues the confusing romance between Warner and Juliette. I ended up being really happy with the two of them together, but I still think the lead up was too quick and gave me whiplash. I think that maybe Mafi should have introduced this love triangle sooner so that it could have happened in a way that felt natural. The way that it happens in the book made the start of the relationship feel like Juliette had lost her mind! Suddenly we learn all of these things about Warner that make him into not the psycho guy that we were introduced to in Shatter Me. It really rubbed me the wrong way that this entire relationship happened so quickly, but I almost don’t even care because Warner and Juliette together make my heart soar in a way that Juliette and Adam never did.

I can lodge the same complaint in this book that I did with the last book; I do not like how Adam’s personality and character changed so quickly. I understand that this helps us grow to love Warner and Juliette together more, because who would cheer for her and Adam when he is being such a jerk? I just wish that the transition from guy to guy would have been so much smoother and more realistic.

The story itself was great and I loved every minute of it. We get to see the final stages of Juliette and her friends winning their freedom against The Reestablishment. We get to see more of Kenji, who I adore and his presence would be a huge miss if he wasn’t there. He is this strong figure in the book who serves as comic relief, but in this final book we also get to see a tiny bit of his weaknesses and it just serves to make him even more human and lovable.

This was such a great conclusion to an amazing series that I loved so much!


Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I am taking part in a new meme hosted by What’s Beyond Forks? where we take a book that’s been on our TBR list and we review it!

Author There Mafi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

Oh what a wild ride we go on in the follow-up to Shatter Me. Unravel Me starts right after the conclusion to Shatter Me.
Juliette is struggling to adjust to life at Omega Point, while it seems that her friends blended seamlessly into their new lives. Instead of discovering more about her abilities and learning about the world she was shut off from for so long, she shuts herself down. She deals with grief and fear in the only way she knows how, by distancing herself from the other inhabitants of Omega Point.
While Juliette drives me insane at times because she just can’t seem to get it together we are constantly reminded that this is a girl who literally cannot touch other people or they will die. This is a girl who was abandoned and hated by her parents, shipped from place to place before eventually ending up in that asylum/prison. When putting her life into perspective it’s easy to see why it’s just so hard for her to adapt to a new world where people surround her constantly.
Kenji is a great source of humor in these books and much needed or else we would just have Juliette’s anxieties and her burning love for Adam and that’s about it. Kenji is the best friend we all want. He is strong, kick ass, hilarious, and fiercely protective. He’s also not afraid to call someone out. He never lets Juliette go too far into her own mind and wants nothing more than to bring her to a place where she can learn and embrace her abilities. He wants what the readers wants; for Juliette to finally accept herself and grow strong and confident.
Unravel Me starts the love triangle that wasn’t really present in Shatter Me. Warner and Adam are two totally different guys. Adam is a sweet guy who wants nothing more than to make Juliette happy and to love and be loved by her. Warner is a psychopath who had Juliette removed from her cell in the first book and brought to his military base in order to use and manipulate her…at least that’s what we thought.
When Warner shows up in Unravel Me I was just as confused about what was going on as Juliette was. Some of those scenes were on fire and had me rooting for Warner and Juliette so bad while the entire time Adam was in the back of my mind reminding me that Juliette already found her soul mate. These scenes will confuse any reader. Warner and Juliette share a level of understanding that Adam and her can never have. The two former enemies connect on deep soulful level, while Adam who has done nothing but love Juliette can only see the things he wants to see. My poor heart was just as confused as Juliette while watching her try to navigate it. Better her than me!
Overall this book was very good and I loved being able to delve further into Juliette’s story and watch her try to navigate a world she doesn’t fit into.