Is there anything less sexy than parents? Specifically, your parents when you're a teenager? The parental involvement in this friendship/romance betweIs there anything less sexy than parents? Specifically, your parents when you're a teenager? The parental involvement in this friendship/romance between two teen boys felt off to me. I felt like the relationship between Aristotle and Dante would have played out much more in private - I don't know, it just sort of made it less special to me to have all four parents hovering around and giving things their blessing and imparting lessons....more
3.5+ It strikes me that this is similar to Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, my least favorite of Austen's four complete novels - a sort of meek, good gi3.5+ It strikes me that this is similar to Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, my least favorite of Austen's four complete novels - a sort of meek, good girl heroine, an unsuitable love interest (in Mansfield Park, her cousin, here, her sister's beloved ex-boyfriend), and a new guy who is something of a player, a rake, a flirt. The trouble with Mansfield Park is that the heroine and the flirty new guy have much better chemistry and I rooted for them to work out, but Austen instead chooses the drippy, boring cousin to be the romantic hero.
(view spoiler)[So this was a good take on it, because that doesn't happen - instead, she gets to develop her feelings for the new guy. My only criticism is that it ends just before she reunites with him, thus depriving me of closure. (hide spoiler)]
Lara Jean is starting her junior year of high school as her older sister is leaving home to attend college in Scotland. Her younger sister Kitty is still just nine years old. Their mother died when Kitty was a baby, and their father works long hours at the hospital. Lara likes cozy things - she likes staying at home, hanging out with her family, knitting, making scrapbooks, baking cookies, wearing cute twee clothes, and collecting stuff. I really liked Lara, although at times she seemed much younger and more innocent than a junior in high school.
Lara has a special vintage hatbox where she keeps letters she has written to all the boys she has loved since junior high - five, in total. She writes these candid, confessional letters as a way to end her crushes and say goodbye. Somehow, the letters get sent. One of them is to her sister's boyfriend - even though they've just broken up, Lara knows that her crush on him is wrong. In a fit of awkwardness, she ends up kissing a popular boy in the hallway at school because she's so embarrassed about her letter to her sister's ex... will she develop real feelings for this popular boy? Or is her sister's ex-boyfriend her true love? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
3.5+ I totally fell hard for the amazing plot surprise reveal at the end of this YA novel, the sequel to Burn for Burn. A savvier reader might have fi3.5+ I totally fell hard for the amazing plot surprise reveal at the end of this YA novel, the sequel to Burn for Burn. A savvier reader might have figured out the twist, but it left me desperate for the third book in the series. It reminded me of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart....more
3.5+ So there's these three teen girls who all want revenge on some people in their high school who have wronged them. They aren't friends with each o3.5+ So there's these three teen girls who all want revenge on some people in their high school who have wronged them. They aren't friends with each other, but they form an alliance to help each other take down their enemies. They live in this small town called Jar Island, which in addition to being a tourist destination is also home to mostly wealthy locals.
The three main characters are all believable, realistic, and distinct from each other. Even though the chapters alternate point of view between the three girls, I didn't get tired of any of them, or find that I rushed through the chapters of the boring storyline to get to the good one. The story confronts real issues about date rape and bullying, without coming to easy conclusions. The writing flows pretty well and was written by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.
Nitpicking: the opening chapter claims that Jar Island's permanent population is around 1,000, but that there are FOUR middle schools on the island feeding into one big high school. That math does not add up. The population cannot support four middle schools, it makes no sense.
Rampant slut-shaming, hated the main character, future dystopia where women in the US don't have the right to work and the leader is called Nedrick thRampant slut-shaming, hated the main character, future dystopia where women in the US don't have the right to work and the leader is called Nedrick the Sanctimonious and that name is not a joke, but it's all just telling, not showing. Glory's best friend Ellie is the only sympathetic character but Glory spends the whole book thinking about what a consumerist shallow slut Ellie is for having sex and showing cleavage.
Choice quotes: "I took a picture of the bottles of shampoo. I called it Empty Promises." I don't think this is supposed to be funny, I mean I get that the pretentious photos and the titles are a symptom of Glory's depression but it just makes me hate her.
"And I didn't fit into any conversation I ever heard because all people talked about was dumb crap that I didn't give a shit about. Nobody talked about art. Nobody talked about how the mourning dove lied." Aw, you're depressed, Glory.
"Somehow, staring at the nine million different types of Pantene shampoo made me see Ellie for what she'd always been. A manipulator. A competitor. A codependent. A leech. An obligate parasite - who needed me, but whom I didn't need." The trouble with this thought is that Ellie's words and her actions seem perfectly normal and thoughtful - she's preoccupied because she just found out she has pubic lice, she lives on a commune, and she suspects her boyfriend is cheating. It made me hate Glory.
"'Nice shirt,' I said, not commenting on how it was unbuttoned one button too many." You don't get to decide that other people are victims of what you think of as a pornographic culture, Glory. This is the moment I started hate-reading.
"'...Matilda told me you were in the field. I didn't expect you to be screwing him...but I guess you move fast.'" Glory's dad at one point says of Ellie, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" because, you know, her mom had sex too.
So... the main problem I have with this is Glory and her father live in this weird sex-shaming, slut-shaming duo where they hate pornography and consumerism but they're blaming Ellie and her mother Jasmine for having sexuality. Glory and her dad have feminist bumper stickers and what I think was a serious and not-meant-to-be-hilarious painting of a "real" woman:
"I stared at the painting above his head- a huge canvas he'd painted- of a modest nude. Woman. That's what he titled the painting. Throughout my life, whenever a TV commercial came on that involved a skimpily clad girl, he'd point to the painting and say, 'Glory, don't believe what you see.' He'd point. 'That's what a real woman looks like.'"
Glory's father and her now-dead mother and their relationship was destroyed when Jasmine sent him naked pictures. At the end of the book he leaves them out on a table as a tacit threat of blackmail. So feminist. Glory makes Ellie feel terrible for having sex at 17 and getting pubic lice. So feminist. Glory, in the future, will be the leader of a feminist rebellion against the New America, but she literally seems to hate every woman in this book except her dead mother. ...more
You know what readers might not like? Or at least what this reader didn't like? When you decide to end your book right at the climax. "Oh, let's leaveYou know what readers might not like? Or at least what this reader didn't like? When you decide to end your book right at the climax. "Oh, let's leave what happened next up to the imagination!"
This novel about two sisters is told in an engaging way. Nell, the freshman, narrates the story in 2nd person, addressing her older sister Layla. It reminded me of E. Lockhart, set in a private school in San Francisco, and featuring a younger sister who feels in the shadow of her older sister but also looks up to her in almost every way.
When Layla starts a new relationship and keeps it secret from her parents and everyone but her younger sister, Nell must decide whether or not she owes it to her sister to be loyal and keep silent, or to tell the truth and possibly keep Layla out of danger. It just gets good and then it ends. ...more
I listened to this on audiobook, and I don't think I would have liked it as much in print. As it was, logging trucks passing me on the road while I waI listened to this on audiobook, and I don't think I would have liked it as much in print. As it was, logging trucks passing me on the road while I walked on the sidewalk obscured some of the sappier moments. I alternated between thinking this book was great, and moments where I thought it wasn't really special, just another Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott realistic YA novel. The characters are the reason this book breathed for me, and made me feel like there was more something to this, making it more embossed in my mind. But I'm just not into romance, first love, or the more unrealistic, idealized, teenage boy that Park sometimes seemed like - a little too perfect. So this wasn't an AWESOME book to me, just a very good one....more
Emily's boyfriend commits suicide by shooting himself in the school library, two days after Emily breaks up with him. In the wake of this tragedy, EmiEmily's boyfriend commits suicide by shooting himself in the school library, two days after Emily breaks up with him. In the wake of this tragedy, Emily leaves her hometown to attend the Amherst School for Girls, a boarding school in Massachusetts near the historical house of Emily Dickinson. She deals with her grief by writing poetry, and each chapter of the novel is bookended with one of her spare, Dickinson-like poems.
This book has a distant, quiet tone, and mostly takes place in the late winter bleakness of January/February. It's also set in 1995, which I think makes it historical fiction these days? I didn't quite connect, but I admired the writing and the relationship Emily develops with her roommate KT....more
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
E. Lockhart's latest is a YA novel set among a rich family on a prI received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
E. Lockhart's latest is a YA novel set among a rich family on a private island on the East Coast. There is a preface asking readers not to spoil the book or ruin any of the plot surprises, so all I will say is that I had to put it down for a few months after the main character starts suffering headaches, because I occasionally get the same type of headache and the descriptions stressed me out. After resuming the book, I kind of unfocused my eyes and skipped those paragraphs, which worked okay.
The writing is what makes this book - E. Lockhart is so good about writing moral ambiguity and capturing main characters whose decisions are questionable but who are relatable regardless....more
3.5. Interesting and good beginning to a new YA magic series. Harry Potter-like but different, thankfully not a lot of love interest or clunky exposit3.5. Interesting and good beginning to a new YA magic series. Harry Potter-like but different, thankfully not a lot of love interest or clunky exposition. ...more
What's not to like? I sat in a pizza place drinking a pint of beer and reading this for 20 minutes while waiting for pizza, and I was utterly absorbedWhat's not to like? I sat in a pizza place drinking a pint of beer and reading this for 20 minutes while waiting for pizza, and I was utterly absorbed - in the time I was reading, the restaurant transformed from half-empty to completely full of people, and when I finally looked up from the book I was surprised at the loudness of the room and felt dizzy, from the beer and because I had been so far inside the pages of this novel. This is my favorite kind of YA romance-but-not-romance realistic girl fiction. Reminded me of E. Lockhart and Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock. The main character is a girl starting her first year of college, and it's about her relationship with her identical twin sister, and with her new roommate, and it's also about her secret passion and online life writing fan fiction about a fictional Harry Potter-like universe. It's an integrated look at Cath's life - not just about her relationship with a boy. Very easy to read....more
Fashion spreads, personal essays, an accessible two-page guide to building a Raspberry Pi computer. This has it all! A sample of one essay I really liFashion spreads, personal essays, an accessible two-page guide to building a Raspberry Pi computer. This has it all! A sample of one essay I really liked: Eating: A manifesto...more
A main character whose voice didn't really seem compelling to me and a hurried, abrupt ending. Winger is a 14-year-old junior at a boarding school. HeA main character whose voice didn't really seem compelling to me and a hurried, abrupt ending. Winger is a 14-year-old junior at a boarding school. He plays rugby, he likes a girl who is two years older than him and who he worries sees him as a little boy. He makes some bad choices, (view spoiler)[ gets the girl, and then a dark ending comes out of almost nowhere in this sort of comic story. (hide spoiler)]...more
I listened to this as an audio book, and it was a satisfying story, except for the brief segments where the main character Jonas seemed overly naïve in his questions about society, and the audio narrator gave him a shrill, piping character voice like a small child. And there were also brief segments that made me question whether the author had read any anthropology or studied human beings very much before writing the book. ...more
A YA novel receiving rave reviews from almost everyone. A spy story featuring two teenage girl aviators in World War II, one of whom has been capturedA YA novel receiving rave reviews from almost everyone. A spy story featuring two teenage girl aviators in World War II, one of whom has been captured and is telling her story. I wouldn't call this a thriller, since it delves more deeply into character development. An intricate plotted novel and the story of a friendship at the same time, I can clearly see why this is beloved but it didn't quite get there for me. ...more
Sophie is a teenage girl writing in her journal at home - a crumbling castle on the small island of Montmaray, a tiny independent kingdom located nearSophie is a teenage girl writing in her journal at home - a crumbling castle on the small island of Montmaray, a tiny independent kingdom located near Europe. It's 1936, Sophie and her siblings are facing dire money troubles, and the outdated news they receive from the outside world is alarming. ...more
Mathematically-inclined, unemotional dragons that can take human form - they can live among humans in an uneasy alliance in the royal court, althoughMathematically-inclined, unemotional dragons that can take human form - they can live among humans in an uneasy alliance in the royal court, although they face prejudice. Seraphina is half-dragon and a talented musician. Medieval setting and political intrigue make this an interesting YA fantasy, although it didn't really grab me. ...more
I finished this book right before going to bed, and I woke up the next morning just hugely irritated with it. I couldn't wait to go online and find soI finished this book right before going to bed, and I woke up the next morning just hugely irritated with it. I couldn't wait to go online and find some other people out there who also didn't like it; I feel like this title has garnered nearly universal acclaim and adoration, based on the premise and the promise of profundity and depth of emotion.
But you know what? It's preachy as hell, and I think it's wrong about love. It's wrong about attraction. And, furthermore, the rules are illogical and inconsistent (she says, nerdishly.) The ending is a cop-out nonstarter.
If you don't know, the story is about A, who wakes up each day in a different body. The bodies are all the same age as A, which means A inhabits a different 16-year-old each day. The parts of this book I enjoyed were all about A figuring out things about who the body is on a particular day, and having to quickly adapt to unfamiliar circumstances. But the story often becomes "let's describe a bunch of different teenage problems!" and A is the popular girl, the fat kid, the drug addict, etc. archetypes. This is where it gets a little didactic, stuff like:
"With girls like Ashley, I just want to shake them, and tell them that no matter how hard they fight it, these teenage looks aren't going to last forever..."
A falls in love with a girl, becomes attached, and here is what I think is the real failure of this book: A expects her love and attraction despite the person he/she is that particular day. A sort of chastises her for not holding hands or being affectionate with a girl as easily as a boy. The argument being, I think, that love is universal and based on the soul and who someone is *inside* as well as their body. But I don't believe that, I think attraction is physical, chemical, and body-driven. I believe sexual orientation is to a large degree hard-wired, at least for some people, and that it's unrealistic to expect a teenager to be attracted to souls and not particular bodies, faces, and pheromones that are either right or not.
So that's it. I read this quickly, which says something about how compelling it is. But I don't like it.
With a similar theme to Every Day by David Levithan, this novel explores the idea that love isn't dependent on gender. Phyre is the first-person narraWith a similar theme to Every Day by David Levithan, this novel explores the idea that love isn't dependent on gender. Phyre is the first-person narrator of this story, which opens at the beginning of the school year. The 'You' in the title is Phyre's best friend, and her narration cleverly only uses second person, never revealing whether You is a boy or a girl. It's possible to read it both ways, which is a neat and inventive trick.
Phyre is an aspiring actress who develops an obsessive crush on her new drama teacher Mia. Meanwhile, it becomes clear that You has feelings for Phyre.