I've been excited about reading this book since I first found out about in February 2012 when it was originally titled Fangirl. I had to wait almost a...moreI've been excited about reading this book since I first found out about in February 2012 when it was originally titled Fangirl. I had to wait almost a year for it, but it was definitely worth the wait and totally met and exceeded any expectations that I had. I am a complete and total fangirl of Blaze the book and Blaze the character, pun intended!
Blaze is the seemingly average girl who spends her days toting around her younger brother, playing soccer mom, wishing she spent more time with her friends, and trying to catch the eye of her latest crush. She has a passion for comics and drawing - creating her own superheroes with powers.
What I love most about Blaze is how funny and sarcastic she is. She gives her younger brother and his friends a run for their money. The scenes of her driving them around in the minivan, not so lovingly nicknamed Superturd, are some of the most hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments of the book.
Blaze does eventually catch the eye of her crush, Mark, and then things go farther than she ever imagined. In the middle of their make-out session, Mark asks her if she wants to stop and she says no. Blaze thinks to herself,
"Except that I don't think I entirely understand what answering no means. Or, more to the point, I don't know what I've said yes to . . ." (pg. 132)
I thought it was pretty realistic how Crompton dealt with Blaze's first sexual experience - sometimes it sort of does just happen. It wasn't unwanted or aggressive, instead just rushed, and awkward, and not what she imagined it was supposed to be like.
When Mark isn't the dream boy who Blaze thought he was and finds out that she is just one of the many girls in a long line of love-them and leave-them, she gets revenge in the best way she knows how - through comics. She creates her own comic - The Blazing Goddess vs. Mark the Shark which she posts online. While this seems like a great idea because she's telling her story and getting her aggression out, you just know it's going to end badly. As I read it, I kept thinking -have you forgotten about the half-naked photo Mark has if you?! It's moments like this - when I am talking to the characters - that made me love this story and the character so much.
I cannot praise this book enough. It was fun and entertaining and while Crompton does address issues like gossip and bullying and the repercussions of "harmless" (as if there is such a thing) sexting, she doesn't beat you over the head with it. She weaves her ideas into a character you want to cheer for and gives us a story of how that character deals with it, learns from it, grows from it, and moves on. I can already tell this is a book that I will be recommending for some time, will read again and again, and share from my bookshelves as often as possible. I LOVED IT!!!!!
OH AND THE ART WORK - how could I forget to mention it?! Throughout the book, you get to see what Blaze is drawing and can see her story of The Blazing Goddess getting the best of Mark the Shark. The artwork wasn't included in the ARC, so I went and purchased a finished copy the weekend that it came out. It is FANTASTIC!!!!!
Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Quotes were taken from the Advanced Reading Copy and may differ from the final published version. Thoughts and opinions are my own.(less)
**spoiler alert** **SPOILER ALERT** I loved Holly and my heart broke for her over and over again. Even though she was sneaking around with a guy who h...more**spoiler alert** **SPOILER ALERT** I loved Holly and my heart broke for her over and over again. Even though she was sneaking around with a guy who has a girlfriend, she wasn't unlikable. She was a good friend to Nils, putting up his girlfriends of week. She was a good daughter to her father Jeff who was still grieving the loss of his wife. She wasn't sneaking around with her best friend's boyfriend. And once she did become friends with Paul's girlfriend, she did try to break it off with him. Maybe a little too late, but still she wanted to do the right thing.
There was a time when I feared the book may go down the cliched "promiscuous girl's gotta learn a lesson" route. When Holly kept getting nauseous when thinking about telling Saskia or Saskia finding out or anyone finding out (for that matter) about her and Paul, I was afraid that the nausea was really caused by a pregnancy. And then when the random mention of the Agnes of God movie, my heart sank, yep, she's going to end up pregnant. But she wasn't, and everyone did find out about her and Paul. And then my heart broke again.
I liked the short quick chapters, but this book went by too fast for me. I was left wanting just a little bit more. I hope there is a follow-up to Holly and Nils's story.(less)
The Believing Game is a story of manipulation and deception. It explores the lengths people will go to for self-preservation, acceptance, and even lov...moreThe Believing Game is a story of manipulation and deception. It explores the lengths people will go to for self-preservation, acceptance, and even love. This story had my complete attention from the very beginning as the events have already taken place and are shared through Greer's retelling.
"Later on, he (Joshua) would claim he felt us all out there. Like a storm gathering -- that kind of crackling energy." (page 5)
McCracken Hill is filled with kids from families where trust is broken. Many feel their parents have shipped them off or abandoned them in this place where someone else has to deal with them.
"It was the rest of the world who considered us aimless. Joshua knew we were just finding or way home." (page 5)
It is the perfect place for someone like Joshua (creeper cult-leader) to come in to offer comfort, guidance, and acceptance when these teens haven't experienced it in their everyday lives.
The Believing Game is one huge mind game for the characters within the story and the readers alike. This makes it interesting and thought-provoking because you're never sure of the real motivations and intentions. Everyone and everything is questionable, but it is not aimless. The Believing Game is one of those books that deserves to read more than once revealing something new each time. It is that clever.
Greer - she's given herself freely to others in the past without consequence. Her inner dialogue reveals that sees more than she lets on to, but other obvious things she appears oblivious to. At times it was easy to get frustrated with her, because she didn't take action when she knew they were all being manipulated by Joshua.
Addison - he was so ashamed of his actions in the past that he chooses the truths he wants to believe. He is aware of his appeal but doesn't exploit it to his advantage (while I do think he is quite aware of his influence over Greer). He's not just the cute, beefy love interest. There is some depth to him.
Joshua - a total creeper from the get-go. There is no doubt about it. He's inappropriate in the way he talks about Greer and Addison's relationship. He acts like is his all-knowing - prophet-like and he speaks with an authority that he has claimed rather than earned.
Addison to Greer:
"When you nod your head, you're so beautiful. Because you're accepting possibility." Accepting possibility. I had never thought of things in those terms. Mostly because no one had ever offered them to me that way. (page 20)
It has a cabin in the woods feeling. While there is a time that the teens are in a cabin in the woods, it is not where most of the story takes place. The knife in the title lends to the image some may associate with a cult and ritualistic activities they may participate in. Both do have relevance to the story, but they are a little misleading. But if it attracts more readers, then I'm all for it because I do think that The Believing Game is a must read.
Disclaimer: I requested this novel for review from NetGalley and this review is based on the Advance Readers Copy. Quotes are taken from the ARC and may differ from the final version. I did not receive any compensation for providing this review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Why I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):
a coming-of-age story set in a small Appalachian town a brilliant twist on the an...moreWhy I wanted to read Wild Girls (from my Waiting on Wednesday post):
a coming-of-age story set in a small Appalachian town a brilliant twist on the anger teenage girls can feel at their powerlessness
Wild Girls exceeded any expectations that I had (which were pretty high). It wasn't the angst-filled drama that description led me to believe it to be. It is part mystery, part coming-of-age and very intense throughout. Anticipating when the wild girls may appear and what brought them about was enough to keep my on edge for most of the time I was reading it. Up until the very end, I didn't really know what the wild girls were for sure. Were they possessed by some higher dark power? Were they witches learning their own strengths and abilities? Or were they just menacing girls acting out for attention? I was guessing, pondering, and speculating throughout and not knowing for sure was just as thrilling as realizing what they were.
Wild Girls takes place at a boarding school in the small desolate town of Swan River. It would seem to be an unusual place to send the daughters of wealthy families before sending them off to college or out into society. It's not the most prestigious school or the most sophisticated town, but it has it's own history and its own backwoods culture. The setting was crucial to the story and it began to seem as though Swan River was its own character playing an active role in what happened to these girls.
One of my favorite parts of Wild Girls was the folklore strung throughout and the use of histories and ancient myths. Even the stories of the wild girls who murdered people or set places on fire, were passed down through years and years of oral history. Tales told by someone who saw what happened or knew someone who was a wild girl, but never from the wild girls themselves. These second party accounts always kept them a mystery - never to be completely understood. And still what I didn't like was that Kate knew someone who became a wild girl, her sister - Maggie, and she couldn't ever get a complete explanation of why she turned.
As I said before Wild Girls is part mystery, part thriller, and part coming of age. But I think at the core of it, Wild Girls takes a close examination at relationships. Whether they are familial, romantic, or friendships - they are filled with expectations, disappointments, compromise, and acceptance. Kate is the focus of many of these relationships and seeing her navigate through them and find her place and find herself was worth every moment spent reading this book.
Wild Girls is more wonderful than I've put into words here. I'd recommend it to any fan of mythology, folklore, mystery, young adult, and Appalachian literature. It would be a great book club selection and I will be recommending it to mine.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the book provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own. (less)
I've noticed recently that more and more books about military families and relationships have been published. There are so many people with family mem...moreI've noticed recently that more and more books about military families and relationships have been published. There are so many people with family members, friends, and acquaintances in the military that we are all involved in one way or another. In If I Know It's Coming, we get to see how the life of one young teen and his family are affected when his mother, a nurse in the Army Reserve is called to duty.
I enjoyed reading this book and seeing this experience from a teenager's viewpoint. Tim is in the seventh grade, plays baseball, and just may have a crush on the daughter of his parents' friends, Nicole. The story begins with Tim's mother already in Iraq for several months. His father is there, but distracted and his sister is moody with random outbursts of anger. Tim's struggling with his mother's absence and when he tries to talk to his best friend Seth about it, he just doesn't understand. He brushes Tim's worries aside because he'd rather thing about sports or video games. How Tim navigates through these strained relationships are the major focus of the story.
If I Know It's Coming touches on many ideas. Why do people join the military? Why are our soldiers fighting in this war? What does it mean to have a sense of duty? How long will your military be in Iraq? What I appreciated most about the questions and how they were approached was that is wasn't in a preaching or judgmental tone. They were asked from a place of sincerity which I believe would allow for an open dialogue about these topics. It's not about right or wrong and should or should not. It is about this is how it is and how we respond to it, deal with it, and live with it as a reality.
This story does have a somber tone to it, but it is not all serious. There are moments of teenage awkwardness and humor that made this story endearing. While it is a middle-grade read, it is a book for teenagers, adults, and everyone in between. It would be a great book to read as a family. I enjoyed it and will recommend it again and again.(less)
When I first read this synopsis of The Lucky Kind, I was drawn to the romantic aspect of the storyline. It sounded like one of those underdog stories, where the awkward geeky-cute boy tries to get the girl of his dreams. There is a little bit of that going on, but this story is so much more than this relationship.
The focus on the family dynamic is what makes The Lucky Kind stand out from other stories. Nick's parents are central to the storyline and his father's betrayal, or what he perceives as a betrayal, is important to his growth as a character. This event allows Nick to realize that his parents had a life before they became his parents. They made their own mistakes, their own choices - that they are human too.
What I like most about The Lucky Kind is that is doesn't pull any punches, it's subtle in it's depth. I loved that Nick questioned his parents and their authority but not in a bratty, over the top defiant way(while he did have his moments). It wasn't drama-filled which made it feel all the more real. Some readers may need the drama and may think that a lot doesn't really happen in the story, but that's not what I took from it all.
One of my favorite scenes from the book is when Eden tells Nick that she notices that his parents still hold hands. She demonstrates by talking his hand and holding it and then not letting go. This is the first time they've ever touched and she's so casual about it.
Our hands are resting in the space between our legs, but loosely, like we've been holding each other's hands for years, like it's not a big deal. It doesn't even feel like she was really taking my hand, only that she was trying to show me something. (pg 45)
There are many tender moments like these that made me fall in love with Nick and Eden. And I appreciated that their relationship wasn't all swoon and lust. It felt real - full of confusion and doubt - the overwhelming feeling that can only come from a first love.
The Lucky Kind is, in the best way possible, an emotional read. The story is moving and believable, subtle, and honest. I'd recommend it to any fan of contemporary YA.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the Advanced Readers Copy which I won from Random Buzzers/Random House. Any quotes mentioned may differ from the final published copy. I was not compensated from providing a review. Thoughts and opinions are my own. (less)
I read Burnout during a readathon a few weeks ago and I cannot stop thinking about this book. It is terrifying. Seriously. In many ways. Nan has just...moreI read Burnout during a readathon a few weeks ago and I cannot stop thinking about this book. It is terrifying. Seriously. In many ways. Nan has just woken up from a night of partying (which she doesn't do anymore or does she?) and she can't remember what happened. She's in a too small dress, her face is painted like a skeleton, which on the surface would seem humorous like a bad prank being played after passing out. But I know that's not the case. As I read I was afraid to find out what happened that led her to this situation because I just knew it wasn't going to be good. And it wasn't, it was horrible.
There is a lot packed into this compact book - it is a story about toxic friendships, obsession, peer pressure, pushing limits, and a need for acceptance. I liked how the storytelling alternated with chapters titled "Today" and "Remembering" showing how Nan's friendship with Seemy/Samantha developed. Nan's was just beginning to come into her own at the same time she met Seemy. Seemy influenced how Nan saw herself so much that Nan began to believe she was becoming who she was only because of Seemy. Without Seemy, she was less than good enough (or so she thought).
I don't think Burnout tries to teach a lesson. It's not a D.A.R.E. message - stay in school, don't do drugs. This is book that I would loved to have read as a teen but I'm not sure how I would've comprehended it during that time of my life. I was a pretty cautious teenager, but I did have my moments and found myself in some sketchy situations. I don't know if it would have scared me then as much as it does now.
This is a book that will stick with you long after reading it. It is fast-paced, eye-opening, and thought provoking. I must read for teens.
I really enjoyed reading The DUFF, it was a lot of fun and the makeout scenes were super steamy! When Wesley would kiss Bianca's neck I could feel the...moreI really enjoyed reading The DUFF, it was a lot of fun and the makeout scenes were super steamy! When Wesley would kiss Bianca's neck I could feel the shivers go up my spine. One of my favorite scenes was when Bianca's friend Casey came to pick her up after staying the night with Wesley. Unable to hide her lies, Bianca had to confess what had been going on between her and Wesley. I loved that Casey wasn't going to let Bianca off the hook so easily, but like a true friend, she didn't put her through the wringer either. While the strain in Bianca and Casey's relationship was easily resolved, there were other dramatic situations that I thought were resolved too easily. Especially the incident after Bianca's father started drinking again. There were some situations where I wanted to story to be developed more and this was one of them. For the most part, I liked the story and am excited to read more from Keplinger.(less)