Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mini Reviews: The Last Time We Were Us & Autofocus

Hi, friends! It's been ages since my last reviews. There were quite a few very stressful months since I had to finish le thesis and graduate, but now I can try to get back on track with blogging since I'm all done with university [whooo *throws confetti*]. I hope you've all been reading great books and are thoroughly enjoying your summer! Here are two YA contemporary novels which I'll share my thoughts on today. Feel free to let me know what you've been up to and/or reading in my absence :)

Title: The Last Time We Were Us
Author: Leah Konen
Published: May 10th, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Read: April 18th to May 6th, 2016
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review*
A passionate summer love story about a girl, her childhood best friend recently released from juvie, and the small-town lies that have kept them apart. A teen romance debut with a dark edge.

Liz Grant is about to have the summer of her life. She and her friend MacKenzie are getting invited to all the best parties, and with any luck, Innis Taylor, the most gorgeous guy in Bonneville, will be her boyfriend before the Fourth of July.

Local teen convict released early.

Jason Sullivan wasn’t supposed to come back from juvie. A million years ago, he was her best friend, but that was before he ditched her for a different crowd. Before he attacked Innis’s older brother, leaving Skip’s face burned and their town in shock.

“Everything is not what you think.”

Liz always found it hard to believe what they said about Jason, but all of Bonneville thinks he’s dangerous. If word gets out she’s seeing him, she could lose everything. But what if there’s more to that horrible night than she knows? And how many more people will get hurt when the truth finally comes out?

“You’re the one person who believes in me.”

Leah Konen’s southern romance swelters with passion as it explores the devastating crush of lies, the delicate balance of power and perception, and one girl’s journey to find herself while uncovering the secrets of so many others.

Contemporary (along with fantasy fantasy) is my main jam and I'm always here for complexity, layered characters and lots of emotions. The Last Time We Were Us is a teen romance story that covers a lot of topics such as reputation in a small town, exploring female sexuality (and pointing out slutshaming which is very common when girls explore their sexuality but not when guys do it), inner beauty vs the beauty that's constructed by society and more. There were moments which I enjoyed quite a lot, but there were more parts that were underdeveloped or awkward to read and fell a little flat for me personally, hence I didn't feel as connected to the story as expected. However, I appreciated the messages the book was trying to convey. Funny though, I was actually more invested in a how the side ship would play out, because that was the main catalyst to the story. I have slightly mixed feelings about it but I did like the ending parts of the book as a whole.

Overall rating: 2.3 out of 5.0
Stars: ★★

Meet the author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thank you to Edelweiss and Katherine Tegen Books for an ARC. My thoughts
my own and in no way did this review copy affect my thoughts.

Title:  Autofocus
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Published: June 14th, 2016 by HarperTeen
Read: May 7th to 11th, 2016
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review*

It’s always been a loaded word for Maude. And when she is given a senior photography assignment—to create a portfolio that shows the meaning of family—she doesn’t quite know where to begin. But she knows one thing: without the story of her birth mother, who died when Maude was born, her project will be incomplete.

So Maude decides to visit her best friend, Treena, at college in Tallahassee, Florida, where Maude’s birth mother once lived. But when Maude arrives, she quickly discovers that Treena has changed. With a new boyfriend and a packed social calendar, Treena doesn’t seem to have time for Maude—or helping Maude in her search.

Enter Bennett, a cute guy who lives in Treena’s dorm. He understands Maude’s need to find her mother. And as Bennett helps Maude in her search, she starts to find that her mother’s past doesn’t have to define her own future.

Lauren Gibaldi has crafted a beautiful and timely coming-of-age story that poses the question: Is who we are determined at birth, or can we change as we grow?

I have yet to read Gibaldi's debut novel The Night We Said Yes, but without a doubt it's now high on my TBR list [especially after snagging it from a recent ebook sale; thank you book goddesses for good book deals!] since I very much enjoyed Autofocus. Unlike my friend Jess from My Reading Dress, I really enjoy roadtrip books and this one is a slightly roadtrip-esque with a side of a scavenger hunt of sorts. It was very sweet, fun and summery, as expected, while tackling the topic of belonging and self-discovery.

I liked the realizations Maude came to by the end of the novel and the road there was quite emotional for her. It features an adorable ship which is full of cute; I definitely wouldn't mind a small future novella on this! I do think that a lot of people would/could find the friendship aspects tiring and frustrating, because the scenario that unravels between them takes up a bunch of the book and it was frustrating at times, but I enjoyed how Maude and Treena used what happened as a lesson to be learned from and weren't above admitting their mistakes which made their characters multi dimensional in my opinion. The ending may be too open to some, but I found it very suitable for this particular story. Overall, this was a fun summer read and I'm very excited to read more from Gibaldi [while secretly hoping for smallest of cameos from some of the cast from this book to know how they're doing and get canon answers to the open ending parts; one can hope, aye?]. Happy reading, my friends!

Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Stars: ★★★★

Meet the author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | TumblrGoodreads

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for an ARC. My thoughts are
my own and in no way did this review copy affect my thoughts.


  1. I didn't like The Last Time We Said Goodbye as well. I don't think that it tied together well enough so I was disappointed. I also liked Autofocus. I loved Gibaldi's debut novel so of course I read this one! :)

    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

  2. SIIRI!!! I'm so ecstatic you've posted it's been so long and coincidentally I've been trying to get back on track (as you've seen lmao). I'm defo gonna skip The Last Time We Were Us, a shame bc themes of sexuality are important, and I'm adding Autofocus to my TBR ASAP bc I can't believe it wasn't already on it.