Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!): Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a Star

June 15, 2017 Giveaways (Ended), Reviews 34

Today I’ve got bite-sized reviews of a few of my recent reads. There’s also a giveaway at the end of the post, so make sure you check it out. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!):  Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a StarEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Published by Greenwillow Books on May 30th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

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This book was adorable and made me want to read fanfiction. I loved the story behind this one—Eliza has created a webcomic that went viral. She now has over a million fans, but no one knows who she is. When a new boy named Wallace starts at her school, she discovers that he’s a MEGA-fan. He’s even writing fanfiction for her creation. But he has no idea that she’s the face behind the comic. And the closer the two get to each other, the harder it is for Eliza to tell him the truth. Of course, this does not end well (surprise, surprise).

There were a few things that made this book special:

  • The webcomic – I loved the little snippets of it that we got to see
  • Eliza’s social struggles – Eliza has to break out of her shell in a major way. She’s used to living online only, with very little personal interaction with her peers, and she’s definitely socially awkward. It was nice to see her take risks when it came to Wallace—and some of their admittedly awkward encounters were kind of adorable.
  • Wallace’s backstory – We find out (as the book unfolds) that Wallace has some major issues in his past that he hasn’t been able to completely get past. This helps him to relate to Eliza’s social struggles a bit more and builds a bond between them. (The romance in this book is super sweet!)

The only negatives for this one were the fact that it all seemed a bit coincidental—of course Eliza’s biggest fan, one that she already had a slight online crush on, ends up moving to her school and is interested in her. To be fair, their shared interest in the webcomic did bring them together a bit— and I got a little bit frustrated with Wallace’s selfishness when everything fell apart (temporarily). But those small downfalls were overshadowed by the sweet story, fun comic and relatable characters.

I give this one 4/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!):  Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a StarIf I Fix You by Abigail Johnson
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 25th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: The Author
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some depictions of abuse)
My rating:
4 Stars

Readers of Sarah Dessen, Cammie McGovern and Morgan Matson will adore this thought-provoking, complex and romantic contemporary novel from debut author Abigail Johnson, about finding the strength to put yourself back together when everything you know has fallen apart.

When sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker’s mom walks out—with a sticky note as a goodbye—only Jill knows the real reason she’s gone. But how can she tell her father? Jill can hardly believe the truth herself.

Suddenly, the girl who likes to fix things—cars, relationships, romances, people—is all broken up. Used to be, her best friend, tall, blond and hot flirt Sean Addison, could make her smile in seconds. But not anymore. They don’t even talk.

With nothing making sense, Jill tries to pick up the pieces of her life. But when a new guy moves in next door, intense, seriously cute, but with scars—on the inside and out—that he thinks don’t show, Jill finds herself trying to make things better for Daniel. But over one long, hot Arizona summer, she realizes she can’t fix anyone’s life until she fixes her own. And she knows just where to start . . .

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This book is incredibly emotional and sort of relentless. Poor Jill cannot catch a break and she just keeps getting pummeled with one bad experience after the next. And when she tries to take on her new next door neighbor’s issues as well, things only get worse.

I wasn’t honestly sure where this book was going to end up—there’s a bit of a love triangle… kind of, maybe, sort of… but it’s done in a way that feels real and truthful, not just an angsty addition to the story. And I completely respected where Johnson ended up taking the romance. There were some very touchy moments and many mistakes were made on all sides (just like in real life), but the ending was hopeful and realistic… and gave me just what I was wishing for.

I’m not gonna lie, this isn’t a quick and easy read. Some of the topics that are tackled are tough to swallow, and Jill suffers through a lot of emotional turmoil (which leads her to not always make the best decisions). And lots of things in Jill’s life are messy—her family life (loved her fantastic relationship with her dad, but her mom… ugh!), her friendships (which were solid and amazing, but still caused her confusion and turmoil, especially when it came to Sean) and of course, the romance. (Can she fix the broken Daniel? Would a relationship between them be wrong? Can she ever get over Sean? Does she want to?)

In the end, this book put me through an emotional ringer, but it’s the type of book I’ll be thinking about for quite some time. I highly recommend it and give it 4/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!):  Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a StarThe Gauntlet by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Cage #3
Also in this series: The Cage, The Hunt
Published by HarperCollins on May 23rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 393
Source: Edelweiss
My rating:
3 Stars

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in the final novel in the gripping and romantic Cage series, about teens abducted from Earth by an otherworldly race.

Cora and her friends have escaped the Kindred station and landed at Armstrong—a supposed safe haven on a small moon—where they plan to regroup and figure out how to win the Gauntlet, the challenging competition to prove humanity’s intelligence and set them free. But Armstrong is no paradise; ruled by a power-hungry sheriff, it’s a violent world where the teens are enslaved and put to work in mines. As Nok’s due date grows closer, and Mali and Leon journey across space to rescue Cassian, the former inhabitants of the cage are up against impossible odds.
With the whole universe at stake, Cora will do whatever it takes, including pushing her body and mind to the breaking point, to escape Armstrong and run the Gauntlet. But it isn’t just a deranged sheriff she has to overcome: the other intelligent species—the Axion, Kindred, Gatherers, and Mosca—all have their own reasons to stop her. Not knowing who to trust, Cora must rely on her own instincts to win the competition, which could change the world—though it might destroy her in the process.

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I have to confess that I was a little bit disappointed with this one. It’s not that it was bad, per se, it just wasn’t particularly engaging. I found myself struggling to keep reading at times. I think part of the reason may have been the disjointed narration—it’s told from several points of view and I was sometimes wishing I could just get back to the “main” story. I did love Cora’s actual run through the Gauntlet, though. Unfortunately, the very end of the book was a bit unsatisfying (very open-ended), so I was left feeling sort of bereft when it was all over. I think the overall story was solid, but the book definitely lost me in some spots. In the end, I gave it 3/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!):  Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a StarGoodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers, Listening Library on March 7th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 405
Narrator: Michael Crouch
Length: 10 hrs 45 min
Source: Library
My content rating: YA (Some language and talk of sex, Nothing more than kissing shown)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can't stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli's girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake's grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a "goodbye day" together to share their memories and say a proper farewell.

Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carver--but he's unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or--even worse--prison?

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Well, now I know why everyone raves about Jeff Zentner. This book had a really modern, truthful feel to it and I think that Zentner captures teen boys in a completely realistic way, especially when it came to dialogue (as a mom, I sometimes raised my eyebrows at some of it, but I think that it all worked incredibly well). At the same time, Zentner’s writing is gorgeous—luckily his MC is a writer, so he could get away with waxing poetic sometimes—in direct contrast to the sort of goofy banter between the guys.

The story brought up some really fantastic moral questions as well. Should Carver have been held responsible for his friends’ deaths? (My thoughts on this include a slight spoiler, so I’m putting it under a spoiler tag) View Spoiler » Is is fair to prosecute in a situation where no one truly knows beyond a shadow of a doubt what happened? And isn’t the guilt that Carver felt and the loss of his friends <i>more</i> than punishment enough?

This book highlights how a single choice can change everything—and how painful it can be to live with the consequences and move on.

The Narration: I listened to the audio of this one and loved it. Michael Crouch did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life, especially Carver and his best friends.

This story ripped my heart to shreds and stomped on it, but it did so in all the best ways. I give it 4.5/5 Stars.


Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!):  Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a StarThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 1st 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 348
Source: BEA
My content rating: YA (Some serious kissing, but nothing more)
My rating:
4 Stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

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Let’s face it, this is a book about instalove, which makes it a tough sell. But Yoon managed to engage me and make me believe that maybe, just maybe, these two really were meant to be. Daniel’s wide-eyed enthusiasm and his instant connection to Natasha were a little hard to swallow at first, but that was mitigated somewhat by the fact that they were hard for Natasha to swallow too. And even though the book took place over a very short amount of time, we had a whole 350 pages to be convinced that Daniel wasn’t just out of his mind, so it didn’t feel as insta-lovey as it could have. Yoon kind of won me over, which was a bit of a surprise.

I loved the issues of racism and diversity that this book tackled—it was so interesting to see the world through an immigrant’s lens and to get a glimpse into both Jamaican and Korean cultures. I also thought that the format of the book was incredibly unique—most of the book is told in short chapters that alternate between David’s and Natasha’s POVs, but then there were also random chapters interspersed from others’ perspectives and some that just sort of explained a cultural issue or gave us background on David’s or Natasha’s family members. I don’t really know how to explain this formatting well, but I ended up loving it—I was especially intrigued by some of the more factual cultural information, which I wouldn’t have expected (not that I wouldn’t like to have those facts, but that I would think maybe they’d feel out of place in the book—they didn’t to me).

I ended up enjoying this one more than I was anticipating, and I give it an easy 4/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via #BEA16  in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

Enter to win my ARC of The Sun Is Also a Star. US Only. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to enter!

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34 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews (and a Giveaway!): Eliza and Her Monsters, If I Fix You, The Gauntlet, Goodbye Days, and The Sun Is Also a Star”

  1. Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

    Wow, you’ve had several good reads lately! I’m glad to see you enjoyed Eliza and her Monsters–that’s one I’ve been really interested in lately. Also, happy to hear that The Sun is Also a Star manages to basically pull off insta-love. I recently read Everything, Everything, and while it wasn’t my favorite contemporary book, I enjoyed it enough to want to read Yoon’s other work. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that people like The Sun is Also a Star more than Everything, Everything, too. Really interested in Goodbye Days, too. I’m a little too fond of books that break my heart. Happy reading!

    ~ Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

  2. shooting

    I recently read Goodbye Days and loved it. I felt so bad for Carver – I could see both sides of the issue, but at the same time, I think this is something that people do all the time. It’s not safe, but people do it, so I definitely didn’t want him to get in trouble with the law. His guilt was bad enough.

    Yay for enjoying Eliza and Her Monsters. I really want that one!

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

      Totally agree with you—even though I found myself being surprisingly torn over the moral questions being presented, I didn’t in any way, shape or form want Carver to be prosecuted and I was angry with the people who treated him so miserably. (Though maybe I could understand it a little bit too?) I felt like Carer punished himself more than any outside punishment could accomplish—and how would prosecuting him help anyone?

  3. Karen Blue

    I have The Gauntlet on my tbr, sorry to hear you didn’t love it. I kinda got that feeling from the first few chapters. If I Fix you and Eliza and her Monsters both look really good. Thanks for sharing!

  4. John Smith

    “The Sun Is Also a Star” looks like an intriguing book! Thank you for the post!

  5. danielle hammelef

    I have Goodbye Days here to read this summer and since I love The Serpent King, I’m also hoping to love this book. I’m so happy you rated it so highly. I read Everything, Everything and adored Yoon’s writing, so The Sun is Also a Star is on my must read list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  6. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Agree with you completely about The Gauntlet, Eliza, and Goodbye Days. I was really bummed about The Gauntlet, because I thought The Hunt was even stronger than The Cage. Sad. But I liked Eliza a lot, and definitely Goodbye Days! Have you read The Serpent King? Even more amazing, IMO! And now I must read The Sun is Also a Star! Great reviews 😀

    • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

      I bought Serpent King last year on your rec, but somehow I haven’t managed to read it yet. I think it’s one of those books I’m intimidated to read because I’ve built it up so much in my head. I’m going to, though, I promise!!

  7. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)

    I’ve never been a fanfiction reader, but I do enjoy the books written about people who write it. 🙂 Love the cover of Eliza and her Monsters too! I was disappointed in the Cage, and so never went on with the series. I see I probably wasn’t too wrong in doing that. Probably not missing anything I’ll be sad about. Thanks for sharing all these reviews!

  8. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Okay, I had heard of most of these and even read a couple so I was going to skip these reviews but then I saw If I Fix you and that books sounds like it’s a great read. I mean, it doesn’t sound easy, but it sounds good, you know? I hadn’t even heard of it and I can’t believe I missed it. I’ve added to my TBR and hopefully, I can but me a copy soon.

    Great reviews, I always count as a win if I manage to get one new book on my TBR.

  9. Sam

    I read three of these, and really liked them. I love Yoon’s style, and Zentner’s storytelling. They are too must read authors for me. I am hoping to get to Zappia’s backlist, because I adored Eliza. I have If I Fix You on my TBR, but I heard it’s a really tough read, so I am a little leery of it for myself. Great reviews!
    Sam @ WLABB

  10. Jen

    Oh bummer. You’re the second person, who I trust, who’s given The Gauntlet 3 Stars and felt meh about how it ended. Well, I guess I’m going to mark this series as only read from the library then. Thank you for the warning.🤗

  11. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    I have Eliza and Her Monsters out from the library right now and am desperately hoping that I’ll have time to read it before it’s due back (or that I’ll be able to renew it). And I really want to read Goodbye Days. After being so moved by The Serpent King… I’m definitely on-board for this one. And I love that Michael Crouch is again narrating for Zentner! He did so well with Dill’s narration in The Serpent King and is my favorite narrator. (His narration of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was perfection!)

  12. Virginia H

    I think it sounds very interesting after reading your review. I enjoy reading YA.

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