On my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But some...moreOn my way home from Singapore, I intended to make the plane ride home a chance to make progress in our book club's book of the month, Lolita. But somewhere after I was able to open my Kindle back again, I realized that I couldn't focus on the book anymore because my mind kept wandering off. I needed something quick and light, something to keep me company for the next three hours that won't put me to sleep. So I decided to switch to the latest release from our #romanceclass, Kesh Tanglao's The Real Score.
Caitlin Tan had a very unusual friendship with Marcus Wayans -- unusual mostly because Marcus is a part of the biggest boy band Gezellig, while Caitlin is an ordinary girl working in a media company in Manila, Philippines. Caitlin wasn't even a fan of their band, until that night she met them through a meet-and-greet that she attended as a favor to a friend. She found a kindred soul in Marcus, and they became best friends, making an effort to keep their friendship alive despite the limelight that accompanied Marcus. But are they really just friends? Because no one in the world thinks so, despite their denial of anything romantic. When something comes along and threatens their friendship, followed by a no-holds-barred interview for a good cause, will the world know what is the real score between them?
I read a few parts of this novella while it was still on Wattpad before Kesh published it. Frankly, it reminded me a little bit of the band fan fiction that I used to read -- you know, how this ordinary girl meets the band she's been a fan of for ages, and then one (or two, or three) fall in love with her, and all that jazz. I wasn't sure if it was my cup of tea, really, because the type of musician/band fiction I read are the likes of Five Flavors of Dumb or Amplified. But I kept reading on, and I was pleasantly surprised.
This is an unusual friendship story, but it's not so unusual that it couldn't be real. I mean, anyone can be friends with a famous person, although perhaps not the way Caitlin met Marcus. Even so, I liked how real they were, especially the band. As I read the book, they became less of band members, and more just ordinary British boys who like to sing. I also liked how the friendship between Caitlin and Marcus progressed, and I saw immediately from when they decided to be friends that they mean it, and they will work for it. And because the friendship didn't seem forced, the romantic developments that followed seemed just as natural, like that is the most obvious thing that should happen after.
As with every music-related novel, I wished I could hear the original songs mentioned in the book, but I settled for listening to the ones on the title of the chapters. I really liked reading about the backstage things -- how the crew of a tour becomes your family, and how it can go crazy there, and how it seemed so fun. I had this little crazy dream of becoming a band's roadie, or at least, produce more concerts on my own, and it was fun to read a slice of that kind of life here.
So I take it back: The Real Score is actually far from the band fan fiction I used to read. I finished the book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, just as the plane started to descend to Manila. For a moment there, it almost felt like I was Caitlin, making a decision with how her life would go when she got off the plane. The Real Scoreis a story of friendship and romance, and all the mess that comes when the line between those two blur. Take away the superstar status of the guy and this can be anyone's story, really. This novel hurt in just the right places, and it made me want the best for the two main characters. But more than the romance, The Real Scoreis also a story about taking risks, going out of your routine and allowing life's curve balls to surprise you, both in good and bad ways. You never know what you will find when you decide to take the risk. :)
I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of...more I spotted this book on another blog, really, and didn't really think of it until my friend posted about it on his blog. I was curious, only because of the first post I saw, and when I had a chance to borrow it from my friend, I jumped on the chance. I like short story collections, and ever since I read my first Carver, I felt like it was the kind of book I can manage back then. I wasn't in the mood for a lot of books, so maybe something like this would shock me out of the slump. Or at least, the bright yellow cover would, somehow.
No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of stories from Miranda July, who...I really have no idea who she is. I don't even know what the stories were about, so I really, really just took a chance on this book. This book contains stories of women, mostly, stories of ordinary things. People who do things, who are in search for things, who lost things. These are stories of the seemingly ordinary things that become extraordinary with the way the words were woven and how these simple things came about in each story.
I liked this well enough. I liked the ordinariness of it all -- the quiet and the commonplace things in the stories, and how they all translate into something that made me think and wonder if the story was real, or perhaps just the imagination of the character. I guess a little mistake I made when I first started to read this was to compare it to Carver. They're very different -- Carver's stories (from the one collection I read, anyway) left my heart in a bit of disquiet, like there are questions you want to ask but are kind of afraid of asking. July's stories, while some of them have the same effect as Carver, are different in the way she tackled things and left me thinking about how her stories just end, and there are no questions that I don't want to ask.
Here's the thing: everyone seemed to be so sad in this story. Not the heartbreaking sadness, but just a tinge of it, like these characters need a little hug or something. Sometimes, I feel like I need a hug after I read some of the stories, because I wished I could say something to the characters to ease them of things.
Did the title of the collection mean something? I guess so. It is what it is, I think: No one belongs here more than you. I may be over thinking it, but maybe these stories are really just about belonging, and how we long for that. I don't think all the characters in the stories found a place to belong, but as a reader, I hoped that they would still somehow find it, or that it would somehow found them, in their own fictional worlds.
Okay, I'm rambling. There were several stories that I wasn't fond of, but the interesting thing was the first and the last few were the ones I really liked. I started this on a high, then the excitement lulled, and just as when I was already resisting the urge to skim, I got to the last stories and found that I really, really liked them. My favorite, of all, is Birthmark,a story about a woman who had her port-wine stain removed from her face and her husband who didn't know anything about it, and how this birthmark affected them. It left me with very fond thoughts with the book after.
Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You is a good read, especially for people who are fond of short story collections. It's not exactly my favorite, but I would read another July book again, given the chance. Plus that yellow cover and simple text is just something I would want to have printed and framed to remind myself that yes, no one belongs here more than you.
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the ou...moreOriginal post from One More Page
There was a time in my life when I pored over fashion blogs, especially those blogs where the authors showcased the outfits they made with half the items from thrift store shopping (aka ukay-ukay). I can count the number of times I went thrift store shopping with one hand, so I am a little envious with those people who seem to score so much good stuff in these stores while I can't seem to find any. I think this is some sort of talent, or you know, you just haveto devote more time in it so you can actually find something. Anyway, it's been a long time since I last scoured thrift shops, and reading Agay's Vintage Love kind of made me want to go do it again.
We meet Crissy Lopez in Vintage Love- a 26-year-old producer from a local network, whose life needs a serious make-over. Her usual wardrobe consists of jeans and sneakers, and her schedule gives her little free time for herself. To top it off, she's still hung up over her ex. When her stylish grandmother passes away, leaving her with all funky vintage items, Crissy decides to do something with her life. But what will she do if her past decides to catch up on her just as she is making progress? Can she make that leap to leave it all behind?
Vintage Love is as cute as its paper-doll cover. I liked Crissy from the start -- she seemed like a very smart heroine who is caught up with her career, and it's something that I think everyone her age can relate to. I liked how she was passionate for her art, but not really her job, and how she went for what she really wanted to do as the story went on. Plus, there was more to Crissy than just the romance -- the story had her really trying to improve herself, and the romance seemed to just come along as a bonus. The secondary characters in the book were also quite interesting, with the sort-of subplot for her best friend, Bea. This subplot wasn't intrusive and it fit the story well, and it makes me want to have a little spin-off for her too. Mama Maring is another secondary character I really liked, and her presence in the novel was really felt even if she wasn't really there.
The romance angle is cute and swoony and I really liked the text messages part, where lead interest, Vince, tried to cheer her up. Hee, I liked it because that thing was one of those "moves" back in college, when text quotes were still the "in" thing. Using that style in the story just fits in the whole vintage thing. The romance was pretty grounded and realistic, and it gave the characters enough space for their attraction and their relationship to develop, and even heal from whatever issues they both had. We can learn a lot with what Crissy went through, and the story's lesson on choice. My favorite quote in the book sums it up very well:
At any given moment, at any given struggle, you always had a choice. Even happiness was a choice.
Vintage Love is not just a romance story, but also a story of strength and recovery, finding yourself and going for what you love. You don't have to be a fan of vintage stuff to appreciate this novel. I think we all have a little bit of Crissy in us, and I hope that after reading this book, our inner Crissy's will find the strength to take a leap of faith, too. :)(less)
I'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, be...moreI'm a fan ofJane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, although perhaps not as much of a big fan as other friends (I'm still very partial to Persuasion, because hello, Captain Wentworth and that letter!), but I like reading books and watching adaptations of Pride & Prejudice because it's my first Austen and you don't forget your first. :) When I heard of Katrina Ramos Atienza's retelling of P&P set in the Los Banos, I knew I had to read it. Even if I'm not a huge fan of football.
Patrice Reyes is an incoming junior and she believes that it will be her best semester ever. She's sure her team will win the regional football championships, her grades look good, she has good friends at the dorm, and oh look, there's a crush. But when cold and arrogant math guy Paul becomes her partner in one of her major subjects, her days are thrown off course. How will she get rid of him to get her perfect semester back? Does she even really want to get rid of him?
I had a lot of fun with Well Played,mostly because it was so much fun matching the characters to the original. Almost everyone had a match, save for a few, which would have complicated the plot a little. I appreciate that the plot wasn't that complicated, though, because it made the story easier to read, with just enough drama to make me hang on. I liked Patrice and her wit, her loyalty to her friends and her fierceness and her passion for her sport. I wasn't always fond of her, to be honest, but she made for a great Filipino Lizzie Bennett. :) I also really liked Gia (the equivalent of Jane) and and Deenie, although I can't decide if Deenie is less or more annoying than Lydia. I really liked Migs (Bingley) too, and he seems like such a nice guy. Paul is such a true Darcy, with the angst and the grumpiness, and all the hidden layers that makes him a Darcy.
My favorite part of the book is the setting, most definitely. I loved how the setting just worked for the story. The setting was based on University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. I didn't study there, and the last time I was there was in 2003, but even if I can barely remember anything there, the setting in this book felt so real. I liked the dorm setting and how the setting seemed to be a character in itself. I liked it so much that it was so easy to imagine everything there, and I don't even have to suspend any kind of disbelief.
I think the only thing that niggled at me was how sometimes the characters didn't sound like they're Filipinos at all. They seemed just a tad too foreign when I read their dialogue, like they're all foreign exchange students. But other than that, I liked Well Playeda lot, and I think it's a pretty faithful and entertaining Filipino adaptation of P&P. Oh, and even if I still don't really understand (or even watch) football, I must mention that I liked how the sport played a role in the story, too. And that really cute ending after that football game? Oh, I definitely approve. :)
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I've been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that "something else" is writing my novella. I took my own sweet time reading our book club's book of the month because I couldn't focus on it, and I didn't have any desire to read anything else that isn't contemporary romance because it was all my mind can handle that time. When one of our classmates in #romanceclass released her book into the wild last week, I automatically bought it and loaded it into my Kindle. For one, it's contemporary romance, which is just what I need; it's Filipino; and finally, it's a classmate's work, so I should support! (Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!) I finished reading this in a day, and when I was done, I found myself thinking, "What reading rut?"
In Chrissie Peria's All's Fair in Blog and War, we meet Five Cuevas, a virtual assistant by night and travel blogger the rest of the time, reading an email from the Macau Tourism Board inviting her for an all-expense paid trip to Macau. It was something I would joyfully jump into, and Five does the same thing. It was exciting, until she meets Jesse Ruiz, the photoblogger who gets in her way and on her nerves. She's determined not to let him ruin her trip, but it's proving just a bit hard when she was partnered with him for the rest of the trip.
Okay, this is fun. So much fun. I love books with blogging, regardless of whatever kind of blogging that is. I love Five's voice, and her passion for traveling and writing about it. I love the entire set-up and how she and Jesse met, and how their relationship grew in the story. It was a short trip, but it was believable, and reading the story made me want to go to Macau, or at least, find myself some egg tarts! There were so many lines in the book that made me smile, and it's no surprise that I breezed through it because I just wanted to keep on reading to know what happens to them in the end.
Granted, the story could be longer, and there could have been more tension, but for a quick and light read, All's Fair in Blog and Warreally works. It's the kind you'd want to read on a trip, or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's going on a trip (I did that), or the kind you'd recommend to a friend who's looking for a light read (I also did this). I was happy with the ending, and how they got to the ending, especially for a social media/blogging junkie like me. :P If you're a blogger, a traveler or a reader (or, maybe even all) who is looking for a light and sweet contemporary romance fix, then All's Fair in Blog and War is a book for you. :)(less)
I wasn't completely sold on the author's first book, so I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read this one. Curiosity won out, though, especially with this interesting cover. In a nutshell, What's In Your Heartis about 19-year old Nat who is reeling from a break-up and had no clear direction in her life. Then three things happen: she starts an internship in a pre-school, finds a bunch of letters from the grand-aunt she was named after to her grandmother, and starts a friendship with good-boy Luis who kept on saving her, it seemed like maybe, Nat isn't that lost after all.
Honest moment: Nat drove me nuts at the first part of the book. She's so weepy and whiny and mopey that I didn't feel like I wanted to read more about her. I couldn't find anything too redeeming about her until she finally picked herself up, and I found myself slowly cheering for her. I liked the pre-school aspect, and Luis, and that tiny twist with him before things fell into place for her. The letters thing was a creative touch, except in the end, it felt a little too teleserye-like for me.
I really liked the last chapter, too. I think this is a more satisfying and well-rounded story than One Crazy Summer, and this is probably something I would like reading back in college when I was Nat's age, too. :)(less)
This book had me at "asthma". Being an asthmatic myself, I like reading about characters who deal with the same thing....moreOriginal post from One More Page
This book had me at "asthma". Being an asthmatic myself, I like reading about characters who deal with the same thing. Amelia O'Donohue Is So Not a Virginsounds like a fun book from the title alone. Rachel Ross (sidenote: Friends reference, anyone? :D) is uptight...but that's okay, because her parents finally allowed her to go to the boarding school she wanted, so she can go to Oxford. She works hard to be the best in class, until she discovers a secret that could totally change the life of someone in school...if only she can figure out who it is.
Did I say fun? Oh yes, it was, and I found myself smiling at several parts of the book. I realized, though, that Rachel is really uptight, and sometimes it gets tiring to be in her place. Loosen up a little, girl! I found myself getting annoyed at her for not even trying to reach out...until the mystery is uncovered. When the secret was revealed, I had a teeny tiny suspicion about who owned that secret, but I wasn't sure. I mean, there were no clues! Until I got to the end, and I had to flip through some of the previous parts to look for proof. Talk about mind games, Helen Fitzgerald. Well played.
Amelia O'Donohue is So Not a Virginis a fun and smart book that talks about friends and family and a lot of mystery that can only happen in a boarding school. It's a quick escape, and I enjoyed reading it. Oh, and this is not about Amelia O'Donohue. ;)(less)
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. I...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I can't exactly say I'm a huge, huge fan of David Levithan's books, although I admit that I like reading his stuff. I mean, I enjoyed The Lover's Dictionary immensely and I am rather charmed by Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, but it doesn't make me feel like I would go out and read everything he ever wrote. For Mr. Levithan, I still rely a bit on reviews before I actually get one of his new books again.
And that is why I got myself a copy of Every Day. Truth be told, the summary isn't enough to get to me -- I tend to avoid paranormal things unless I'm watching the series or I strike a particular mood, and Every Day's synopsis kind of reminds me of those insta-love things that I don't really like. Granted, it seems more sci-fi than paranormal, but it wasn't until I read Wendy's review of the book that kind of sealed the deal for me.
So A is a...being. Something. He wakes up in a different body everyday, and he has no attachments, no nothing. He cannot afford to have them because nothing is permanent in his world anyway. Until one morning, when he wakes up in the body of Justin and meets his girlfriend, Rhiannon. Suddenly, there's something that makes him want to stay -- and it's Rhiannon.
We don't get explanations why A jumps from one body to another, so we pretty much have to accept what he can do at the start. It was a bit hard for me to swallow, especially when my mind gets confused when A is in a female body but in my mind he is still a male. Then I recount his/her interactions with Rhiannon, and it gets even more confusing. There's a lot to question, and if you're sci-fi buff, you'd wish for an explanation, and that was never really provided in the book.
However, there is something about the way Levithan writes. Just like Dash in Dash and Lily and that unnamed narrator in The Lover's Dictionary, Levithan's words captured me and made me dog-ear so many pages in the book. Case in point:
What is it about the moment you fall in love? How can such a small measure of time contain such enormity?...The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations - all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen. In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be. (p. 23)
This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it's just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be. (p. 175)
Every Day had the right amount of angst and hope and sentimentality to make me sigh at the early parts of February. Some book club friends and I had a readalong for it, and we had a very interesting discussion about love, about A and if there's anything selfish about falling in love. I honestly felt sad for A because he cannot afford to have memories, and so he clings so hard to Rhiannon because she seems to be the only good thing that he can hold on to.
It's sad, and somehow you knew it was a doomed thing from the start. I wondered how Levithan would end it, and I was really pleased with what he did with the ending. It seemed the most right thing to do. It wasn't the easiest decision, but perhaps it was the best for the both of them. It doesn't make it less sad, though.
But...that's love. More than being a decision, love is choosing what's best for the other person, even if it is at the cost of your own happiness. I read this article sometime last year that hits this right on the head (emphasis mine): How do you truly know whether you are committed to this person and that you truly love him or her? Here’s how you know: Your love is directly proportional to your willingness to act unselfishly, to even let the person think less of you, if in doing so you are serving their spiritual advancement.
Every Day isn't the kind of book that will give you all the warm fuzzies, but I think it's a pretty good one even so. And while I still can't say I'm a huge David Levithan fan after this, I will still be on the look out for his books, if only to read passages such as the ones above and one like this:
When first love ends, most people eventually know there will be more to come. They are not through with love. Love is not through with them. It will never be the same as the first, but it will be better in different ways.
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copie...moreOriginal post at One More Page
So I got Adorkable based on impulse, and I got it because I was curious with Sarra Manning books. I haven't found copies of her adult contemporary romances just yet, so I settled for her YA book and one that seemed to be something I would like. Jeane Smith is a blogger and she basically runs her own life with her own brand of quirky style. This makes her quite unpopular, especially with her strong opinions on things, which puts her on the other end of the spectrum from popular boy Michael Lee, who she can't really stand. When Jeane's ex-boyfriend and Michael's ex-girlfriend get together, it was the only thing that they share in common. But is that enough for them to...well, start snogging? Apparently, it is.
So Adorkable. I liked how clear Jeane and Michael's voices were that even if there were no clear chapter headings or style changes every time a chapter changes, I know who's speaking. I liked the idea that Jeane makes a living as a blogger and how she speaks to so many people about her own brand and how she has become the voice of the teens. There were so many fun things in this novel that I can't help but smile and wonder why those things didn't happen back when I was Jeane's age. I could've been one of those blogging superstars too, you know? :P There were also many laugh out loud moments, in the book and "awww" moments, especially during that Christmas scene with the Lee family and...well, basically anything that involved Michael because he is kind of adorable.
But...my like for this book kind of ends there. I really wanted to like this book, but somehow most of it just kind of got on my nerves. I think it came to a point when I realized that I was one of those kids that Jeane would be annoyed at if I were in high school with her. I don't follow trends blindly nor go and be mean on purpose to some classmates that I don't like, but I feel like I'm not dorky enough to pass by Jeane's standards. And somehow that made me feel like I'm in the wrong despite the fact that the book was promoting being comfortable with yourself. Maybe Jeane is just not the person I would be friends with if I was back in high school. I'd like to believe that I won't be judging, but knowing my high school self, I probably will. There were times when I enjoyed and admired Jeane, but I think there were more times when I was just exasperated with her, and I wondered what would be her undoing. Sometimes I think she was trying hard to be too radical and dorky, and I just got so annoyed a how she pushed everyone away.
But maybe that's the point of that, and the point of the story with how she changed. Still, I felt that when that turning point finally came, it was too late for me to start liking Jeane again. I get all the empowerment with being yourself and daring to be different, but here's the thing: do you really have to be in everyone's faces and think who doesn't dress or think like you so you can be adorkable? Nah. Adorkableis cute, but I think it's not my kind of book.(less)
I got my first taste of boyband love when I was in Grade 5, when I first saw the Backstreet Boys perform Get Down on a n...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I got my first taste of boyband love when I was in Grade 5, when I first saw the Backstreet Boys perform Get Down on a noontime show when they stopped by the country. I had no idea who they were, but I thought the song was catchy, so I asked for a cassette tape (!!!) of their first album. I fell in love with them (specifically, Nick Carter!) ever since then. I had several friends who were also fans, but I think I was the biggest fan among them. By high school, some of them have moved on from the boyband phase to other pop stars, while I stayed happy in my teenybopper bubblegum pop world a little while longer.
In Reunited, we meet Alice, Summer and Tiernan, best friends who share the love for the rock band Level3. That is, until high school, anyway -- when Level3 disbanded and their friendship dissolved for reasons that they didn't really want to remember. Alice is the good girl, the one who held them together and would want to remain friends with them if things didn't fall apart. There's Summer, the budding poet who eventually became Miss Popular. Then there's Tiernan, who's the school's resident rebel, and this rebellion reaches even in her home life. When Level3 announced that they will have a reunion concert, Alice buys tickets without thinking and convinces Summer and Tiernan to go on a road trip with her to watch this one-time reunion concert. So here we have three (ex) friends, a band, and a road trip -- oh, I am definitely sold.
The story switches from the point of view of each of the girls, which gives us a pretty equal glimpse of how they feel about each other. There's this big mystery of sorts about why they fell apart from the first place -- things were alluded to, but I couldn't really guess what happened that made them swear off each other like that. The voices of the three girls were pretty distinct, and I liked being in Summer's head the most because it felt like she had the most to lose and the first to let the trip go. That almost came true, and in the end, I was happy how she pulled through for the two other girls, and I felt sympathetic with what really happened between the three of them.
As with every road trip, there's craziness: from an ex-convict to having no gas to falling in love/in crush, to dance contests and parties. There was this one part that felt a little too hard to believe, and I felt like it was used to make that one thing happened, and I wasn't really completely sold. It set a lot of things in motion, that made the ending a little bit more hilarious than I expected.
I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. It was cute, but it felt like it was a little bit on the wish-fulfillment side. It's the stuff my high school fan girl dreams were made of, actually, which is probably why I feel like I can't really believe it. But maybe that's just me. It's not like some of my fangirl dreams never came true, anyway.
Oh and as much as I like reading books that has bands and music on it (Audrey, Wait! and Five Flavors of Dumb, for example), it feels a bit hard to really get into the music when I don't know how the songs sound like. The lyrics were a nice touch, but I wish books like these come up with a soundtrack of sorts. Although it might be a little bit difficult for this one because Level3 has a pretty big discography in the story. ^^
Reunitedis okay -- quick and fun and interesting. While I didn't really feel like it's totally awesome and groundbreaking, I enjoyed reading it. It's the type of book I would recommend to anyone who has ever been a big fan of any kind of band at some point of their teenage life. Better if you share it with friends who love the same band, too. :) (less)
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her cla...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Avery has her eyes set on her life plan: she plans to attend a summer program in Costa Rica, graduate the top of her class during senior year and then head for medical school. She wasn't going to let anything get in her way...except her dreams hang on a very critical issue: she needed more money to get into the program in Costa Rica. Then her biggest rival for the valedictorian position and ex-best friend Hannah gives her an offer: she will pay Avery five hundred dollars if she can make Zac Greeley break up with Hannah. Avery accepts the offer, only to be surprised that Zac is nothing like she expected.
I read The Boyfriend Thief by Shana Norris expecting that there would be two girls trying to steal a guy, or at least a girl falling for a guy who has a girlfriend and the girl trying to steal him. You know, the kind you watch on TV shows that make you curse whoever you don't like and wish for the guy to end up with the girl you most identified with? Well, it wasn't at all like that, and I know I should have read the summary more so I wouldn't bethat surprised.
But it's not a bad surprise anyway. The Boyfriend Thiefis a fun, independently published contemporary YA novel about a girl who likes being in control. Avery is a girl who needs to have everything in control, but not really without good reason. When Avery's mom left them, she took control of their household, thinking that if she has everything under her control, then no one would leave anymore. I used to be/still am a control freak so I know how that feels, but I also know how hard it is when things do not go the way I want to. In a way I sympathized with Avery with this, and I was really worried at what could happen with the fallout.
Here's the thing, though -- as much as I can relate to Avery, I don't think I really like her. I don't think I would be good friends with her because she can beso uptight! I'd like to believe that I'm not like that anymore (dear friends, I'm not, right? :D) and I figure that if I met Avery, I wouldn't really want to be friends with her. :-s That doesn't mean that she's a bad character though -- I think this reaction is kind of a testament that she was well-written that I get this reaction. On the upside, her growth in the book felt real, and I found myself cheering for her when she finally loosens up.
The other characters that needs to be noted are Zac and Hannah. Zac seemed like such a darling. I liked him and his craziness, even if his spontaneity would probably drive me nuts, too. I liked his intensity and his chemistry with Avery. I wished there was more to Hannah, though, like a bit more dimension in her character? She was mean and calculating, but I wished there was some kind of redemption for her in the end, instead of being a "scorned woman" character.
Overall, I liked The Boyfriend Thiefenough. It was a fun read (although not so quick, because I think I was reading Fellowship of the Ring while I was also reading this), and it's also quite well written. I learned several things in this -- not about stealing boyfriends, but how sometimes, we just have to let go of control and let life happen because sometimes it just works better that way. :) (less)
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss f...moreOriginal post at One More Page First read and reviewed: April 2011
Sometime early this year, my book club started selecting books that we will discuss for our monthly discussion. When the YA theme came up, I was excited to see that my one of my favorite books last year, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, was included in the short list. Of course that got me campaigning for the book, because when you love a certain book, you just want a lot of people to read it and hope to be enthralled by it like you were.
The book won by one vote, and I was happy because it gave me the perfect excuse to reread the book. This time around, though, I wanted to try another format, so I got myself an audiobook version of the book and settled in for the ride. :) My mind was ready, but I wasn't really sure if my heart was. Still, I wanted to know if I would love the book as much as I did the first time around, especially since I know what was going to happen.
How did I describe this book last year? ...reading this book was like breaking my heart and then putting it back together again. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but that was exactly what I felt back when I first read this and I was anticipating the same thing when I listened to it.
Listening to the book was a different experience, mostly because it gave me a bit of room to "read" while doing something else. The audiobook became my companion for my night shift work, and I was transported to that little stretch of Jellicoe Road every time I turn my player on. I found that I was paying attention to the things more, and that I caught little quotes that I wasn't sure if I caught before (my print copy has lots of dog-ears -- I didn't exactly take note what I was dog-earing then). I found the parts I love were still well-loved, and found new things to love in the book as well.
One might think that rereading this book known for its confusing start will lessen the thrill of the reading experience because you know what's going to happen already. I was ready to be a bit less enchanted with the twists, to be less heartbroken when the things happen as I was expecting them...but I wasn't. Okay, perhaps it's because I came into the book expecting to love it again, so it was harder for me to find fault. There's one chapter that still killed me, over and over again, and there were those chapters that made me smile and stop and want to listen to them again, because I forgot about them already. Despite knowing what the story was about, the reading experience was still as enjoyable as the first.
Admittedly, there was a time when I was asked, "What's the point of all of this again?" But then as I finished listening to the book, I realized that maybe it doesn't really have to have a point. It's a story of real life -- of Taylor and Jonah and Raffy and Santangelo, of Narnie and Jude and Webb and Tate and Fitz -- and it doesn't really have to make a single and simple point. Like what C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, real things aren't made to be simple. So maybe, a story about real life and all its complications isn't supposed to be simple, either.
I can't relate to Taylor's family woes, but once again, I'm amazed at how the friendships were forged in this book. This is the kind of friendship that makes you want to keep on fighting, to keep on going back, to keep on trying. If you ever have the chance to run into this kind of friendship, do everything in your power to keep it -- these are the kind of friendships that can save your life.
So did I like it as much as I did the first time? There is no other answer to that question but yes. Maybe I will grow out of this in a few years, maybe not. But for now, I still stand by every word I wrote last year, and I am very happy to know of a place "...where they would all belong, or long to be. A place on the Jellicoe Road." :)(less)
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we were...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Back in college, I was friends with two girls in my org, and we were often called as the Powerpuff Girls because we were always together. Our little group was also known to be the "ate's" or the older sisters of the other younger members of the org, which was kind of why we had a kind of impression on others that we always laughed about when we were talking amongst ourselves. Privately, we call ourselves manang's (another term for older sisters in some Filipino dialects, but colloquial use refers to being old fashioned older women) because we all have our own levels of being...well, manang. We had levels of being manang based on how people often approach us: one was the ultimate manang because of her strictness (and also because she's an officer of our org), I come in second because I'm not as strict but not everyone finds it easy to approach me and finally, the last member of our group is the least manang because she's was just naturally friendlier and the younger members find it easier to confide in her.
Fast forward a few years later, and it's no surprise that the least manang among all of us is married. The remaining two -- well, we're still pretty manang. :P
I can't help but remember this particular college memory while I was reading Mina V. Esguerra's latest book, That Kind of Guy. Julie has always been a good girl, and has always done what was expected of her. How she ended up with bad boy Anton was a mystery, even more when he popped the question to her. The only obvious thing to do when he asked her to marry him was to say no -- after all, she wasn't even sure if she knew Anton well enough after 11 months of "dating". Julie figures there are enough safe guys out there that fit her personality better, but does she really want that?
Okay, of all of Mina's heroines, I find Julie both the easiest and hardest to relate to. I can relate to her manang ways, obviously -- about how she does the right things, how she tries to be honest and tactful, about how she tends to play safe. I also couldn't relate to her because unlike Julie, I'm not exactly friendless because of my (attempts at) honesty. I don't know if that makes me less of a manang then? Anyway, I think Julie can be either likable or unlikable depending on the reader's POV, but like Mina's other heroines, her voice still sounds so authentic that it feels like I'm just hearing a story of a friend over a meal. The hero in the story is a familiar one for those who have read Mina's old books -- he was mentioned once in Fairy Tale Fail and was one of the secondary characters in No Strings Attached. I liked that he showed another side in this book, one that wasn't really expected based on how we were introduced to him in the previous ones. You don't need to read the two books to really get into this, though, but it's nice to be surprised at the depth of his character in That Kind of Guy. While Anton is still not going to top my favorite Mina guy (Lucas of FTF -- who has a teeny mention here, squee!), I was surprised at how much I ended up liking him in the end.
I think That Kind of Guy will be able to speak to a certain kind of girl who rarely has a starring role in chick lit books -- the good girl. This isn't about a good girl deciding to be bad, or a good girl getting into scrapes that she didn't deserve because hey, she's good. It's about that kind of girl who wasn't sure what kind of guy she really wanted, if she would take the risk or go for the safe choice. The fun thing about this is that Julie never really had to change much about her being a good girl, even if she tried to be not. Julie didn't have to change to someone too wild or too careless for her story to move forward. The growth of her character came not from a shocking revelation because of her sudden wild changes, but from the things she proved that she already knew but just needed to be brought out. In the end, That Kind of Guy was really about being certain of your choices and acting on it, even if the outcome is not really guaranteed. To quote (this one is really more specific about those choices):
Next time, just say something. It doesn't have to be the first date. Maybe the third or the fourth. Don't wait a year if you're sure. Certainty is sexy. And owning up to your attraction is sexy, too, and if you do it right and you're not creepy about it, I bet she will respect you for it anyway even if she does not like you back. (p. 157)
It's no surprise that I really liked That Kind of Guy. :) I think it just proved Mina's strength in drawing out characters that different readers can relate to. I really liked the epilogue too, and I'm curious if that new character will have her own story eventually. If she does, then I can't wait to find out what Mina has in store for her. But even if she won't have her own story, it doesn't change the fact that I am still going to read everything that Mina writes. :)(less)
Finally a new Sarah Dessen. It's been a while since I last read one because I've already gone through all of them, and...moreOriginal post from One More Page
Finally a new Sarah Dessen. It's been a while since I last read one because I've already gone through all of them, and I was really glad when I heard that her latest book, The Moon and Moreis out this year. Even if I didn't exactly love What Happened to Goodbye, I am always looking forward to Dessen's books because her books are automatic comfort reads.
It's summer in Colby and Emaline is spending her last summer before college working in their family business. She's used to everything in Colby -- her stepsisters, her mom, her (usually shirtless) boyfriend Luke -- and she's really just waiting for summer to be over before she heads over to the university. Then Emaline's father comes to town and stays there for the summer, reminding her of everything that did not happen between them in the past year. As if that's not enough, a filmmaker and her assistant, Theo, from New York comes and stays for the summer and Emaline somehow gets roped into their project. She thought she knew everything and she wasn't expecting her summer to suddenly change, but now everything is changing...is she ready for them all? Does she even want to change?
The Moon and More latest has all the usual elements of a Dessen novel -- summer, an ordinary girl on the verge of a big change, best friends, family and a cute guy. Or, make it two cute guys. This is the first time I've read a real love triangle in Dessen's books, one where I don't really know who to root for because they are both good and charming and full of faults all at the same time. I liked that it wasn't an annoying love triangle, and I felt Emaline's confusion and pain and happiness and her attempt at adjusting with the changes coming her way. But I think what I liked about this set up is how I ended up rooting for Emaline in the end, hoping that she'd make the right decision for herself and nobody else. I think that's one of the things that made this novel really good for me.
As always, I loved the secondary characters that surrounded Emaline here. I love her family and I saw how their home was always wacky (with people who won't get out of her room) but supportive, and her half-brother is one of the most adorable siblings I've ever read in Dessen's books. I also love Emaline's best friends, Daisy and Morris, and their quirky relationship is really begging for a spin-off. There were the usual easter eggs from Dessen's previous novels (specifically Along for the Ride and Keeping the Moon), although I needed to refresh my memory about them because it's been a while since I read those books.
I'm glad that that I really liked The Moon and More.After the previous Dessen book, I was kind of afraid that her magic is getting lost on me, but this book proved that it was just a fluke. It was a pleasure getting lost in Colby for hours, and I can almost feel the sand between my toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore as I read this. The Moon and More is a good summer book -- it's just too bad I didn't really read it during summertime in the Philippines. :) (less)
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pag...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I'm one of those people who tries to scrapbook. I say try because as much as I try, I can't really make my scrapbook pages look...well, as pretty and cute as the ones that other people do. That, or maybe I just don't have that artsy vibe (and the patience) to do them. But anyway, that never really stopped me from having fun with my planners, though:
[Click to embiggen] Top row: 2006 planner - thesis defense+birthday week, Kalinga Luzon Bottom row, left: 2010, 25th birthday week Bottom row, right: 2012, February, word of the year
So it's not as pretty, but it serves well as my own memory bank. That's pretty much why I was delighted to receive The Scrapbook of Frankie Prattby Caroline Preston from one of my co-moderators in our book club on my 26th birthday (Thanks, Kuya Doni!). I had no idea what the book was about, but looking at the first few pages, I knew I was going to like this if only for the visual treat that it has. If I can't make pretty scrapbook pages, then I would live vicariously through others', even if it is from a fictional character.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratttells of a story of Frances Pratt, who received a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter as a high school graduation present. In here she documents her summer after high school where she decides to forgo a college scholarship to help her mom out, but she is smitten by an older man. Her mom finds a way to get her to college to keep her out of the influence of her unsuitable suitor, and Frankie finds her world opening up to more possibilities than she can imagine. We follow Frankie's adventures in college and in her meeting Vassar alumna Edna St. Vincent Millay, who inspires Frankie to go to New York to pursue her dreams. But when heartbreak finds her there, she sets sail to Paris to make it on her own. All Frankie wants is to find herself and the love of her life, but will she ever find it when she gets called home to be with her sick mother?
If I were to describe this book in a just one word, it's gorgeous. I loved every page of the book with all the typewritten (and some handwritten) words and the photos and the 1920's memorabilia. Some of them makes me wish they were real and I can pluck them off the page and keep them for myself! Look at some of these photos from the inside of the book (warning, slight photo dump):
Can you imagine how much effort the author went through for each and every page of this book? I'm no expert in vintage, but this book just screams it from the cover all the way to the last page, and it made me a bit more interested in the 1920's (even if I have a feeling I don't think I can carry a flapper dress, LOL).
The story feels just a little bit ordinary. I don't mean that in a bad way -- but if you've read the book's dust jacket, you pretty much know the story save for what happens in the end. It didn't have that much revelation, and it read like a coming-of-age story, but again, I didn't find ittoo shocking. But then...life doesn't have to be shocking to be extraordinary, yes?
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a relaxing book to read for all its gorgeousness, and maybe that really is the charm of the book. It may not end up as a favorite, but I will keep it on my shelf whenever I need to look at some pretty stuff, and maybe even get inspiration for the other pages of my planner when I get the mood to scrapbook again. :)(less)
I took some time thinking if I should get Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins after I finished reading Somebody to Love. I really liked Somebody to Love, and I was really curious to read one of the first stories that it spun off from -- or at least, where the setting came from. I tried to look for it in local bookstores (I didn't exert too much effort, really), but I was really looking at the one at the Kindle store, which was relatively cheaper than other ebooks. Resistance was futile, and I eventually got myself a copy and immediately started reading it.
Maggie is a catch. She owns the diner in quaint little Gideon's Cove, and is pretty much an all-around nice girl, always ready to help those in need. But if she was such a catch, then why was she still single? Maggie thinks that she's single because the guy of her dreams was actually a priest, but even so, that doesn't stop her from pining over him. With her love life (or lack thereof) already the talk of the town, where else can Maggie go? She's sure the town's stoic and quiet lobsterman Malone is not the answer to her woes...until he finds his way to her heart.
I liked Maggie right from the start -- her vibrant voice coupled with her single life woes talked to me from page 1. I felt like Maggie and I could actually be friends in real life, and I can definitely relate to all that she feels, except maybe if we're friends in that small of a town, we'd both have a hard time finding our own pairs (or at least, getting found). Maggie is very smart and likable, but she does have her silly, stupid moments which always comes whenever she was around Father Tim or Malone.
Just like Somebody to Love and Until There Was You, Catch of the Day was a comfortable and easy read. I did stop reading it for a while in favor of Jane Eyre, but I found that it was just as easy to go back into the book even after not picking up for a long time. The characters in Gideon's Cove were all the people you'd expect to read in a small town setting, and that also makes Gideon's Cove such a quaint place to be in. I can almost see what Joe's Diner looked like, and how the people knew each other because of the size of the town. Of course, this makes embarrassing moments all the more embarrassing because everyone basically knows everyone. But what's a fun romance novel without the embarrassing moments?
That being said however, as much as I liked this book, I found that I didn't really like it as much as the first two Higgins I read. I think it's because the I got used to reading the thoughts of the two main characters in the other novels while this one I was just in Maggie's head because of the first person point of view. I guess I liked knowing both sides of the story, except maybe I think it wouldn't work as well here -- knowing Malone's thoughts wouldn't exactly make him mysterious loner dude here. But this is just me nitpicking. :) I'm afraid I'm not really fond of mysterious loner dudes, though, so I wasn't really sold on Malone, but I do agree that this lobsterman has a heart of gold. And I think that's what really counts. :)
On another note, I love that Higgins always have pets -- particularly dogs! -- in her books. Maggie's best friend and golden retriever Colonel was both charming and heartbreaking, and I found myself sobbing so hard one morning while I was reading this book. I saw it coming, actually, but it didn't make it less painful. Sigh.
There was a point in the novel that I was really hoped that something I sort of expected to happen won't happen, because if it did, I would end up not liking this book at all. I was really, really glad that it didn't go that way, though! Catch of the Day is sweet and cute and basically everything that a comfort read should be. Kristan Higgins is slowly becoming one of my favorite light and fluffy comfort read authors, so Catch of the Day will definitely not be my last book from her. :)(less)
I read The Next Best Thingby Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the "romance" mood while I was writing my ro...moreOriginal post from One More Page
I read The Next Best Thingby Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the "romance" mood while I was writing my romance novella. Back that time, all the books I was reading were not in the romance genre and I needed the appropriate feels, as well as a reference for my story, and this was the closest I could pick. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to read this as much as I wanted to during the time I was writing the first draft of the novella because I was too busy. Plus my mind just won't get into the mood without it being influenced too much)
I've had my eye on this book ever since I read (and liked) Somebody to Love. I met Lucy and Ethan in that book from Parker's POV, and I liked them so much that I wanted to read how they got together anyway, especially when the dad of Parker's son is Ethan. Strange set-up, don't you think? In The Next Best Thing,Lucy Lang is a young widow who is ready to date again. She isn't looking for spark -- just a nice man who wouldn't die on her anytime soon or even make her too in love because she's not sure if she can suffer the loss again after her husband died. With that in mind, she had to take the first step: she had to tell Ethan Mirabelli, her brother-in-law and best friend, that they have to stop hooking up. But Ethan isn't convinced that Lucy needs anyone else -- will he be able to convince her that he's what she wanted all along?
This was lots of fun. I loved Lucy and the people that surrounded her in that small town. The entire town felt so real, with Lucy's mom and aunts who were also all widows (The Black Widows), Lucy's in-laws, her 'nemesis' Dorall Anne and even Jimmy, her deceased husband. I love that Lucy is a baker, and she's also as neurotic and lovable as Kristan Higgins' other heroines are. I liked how Lucy and Ethan's relationship was shown, from when they met to how it all finally ended -- the push and pull, the tension and how they tried to be around each other. I loved how Lucy got to the realization at the end, and how she made peace with her past. That "grand gesture" in the end was messy and funny but still perfect for the two leads.
I really liked The Next Best Thing, and I think I liked it especially because Parker was also there and her character was quite consistent there as it was in the spin-off. If I were ever to have Lucy moments, I would want to have a friend like Parker. (But I think I already have several Parkers in my life :D)
The Next Best Thingis another really good book from Kristan Higgins. I'm still working through her back list, but I won't read too fast because I want to make sure that I always have one of her books unread in my shelf whenever I need a pick-me-up. :)(less)
There was a time a few years ago when I was hearing mass with my family, and I happened to stand beside this man at chur...moreOriginal post at One More Page
There was a time a few years ago when I was hearing mass with my family, and I happened to stand beside this man at church. The man wasn't dressed the way other people were dressed during Sunday mass. He looked scruffy, almost like he came straight from the streets to the church. He didn't look dangerous, and perhaps he even is nice given that he was in church and all. But what I really noticed were his hands. They were, if I were to be perfectly honest, kind of scary. The memory's vague, but I remember that it looked like he had some kind of skin disease -- lesions, wounds and spots -- the kind that one would refuse to touch in fear of contagion. I was afraid to touch it, knowing especially that at a certain part of the mass, I would have to hold his hand while praying The Lord's Prayer.
I tried, I really did. I was in church, and holding hands with a stranger during a prayer is the thing to do. It was the good thing, the kind thing, the loving thing. It was expected. I told myself that I would do it, that I would hold his hand during The Lord's Prayer and not be scared or repulsed or look for a hand sanitizer after the prayer. I told myself, I prepared myself and I wanted to do it.
But I didn't. When the priest told everyone to "join hands and as one family pray the prayer Jesus had taught us," I chickened out, opened my hand but did not take his, looked ahead and prayed, feeling the guilt grow heavier as the mass went on.
This particular memory may seem insignificant and well, I may be blowing things out of proportion. Perhaps the man never even noticed me at all -- but it struck me because I really wanted to do the kind thing, but I didn't because I was afraid. Just like how the other kids and grown ups in the book reacted to Auggie in Wonder by R.J. Palacio. August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that made him quite special to his family for his need of extra care. He has never attended a normal school, until he agreed with his parents to start attending fifth grade at Beecher Prep. Auggie is a perfect fit for the school, except maybe for his face. Told in Auggie's point of view as well as five more from the people around him, we follow Auggie as he faces one of the most challenging times of his young life.
I was prepared for a barrage of emotions that Wonder could probably give me, after reading several reviews and updates from Goodreads friends about this book. I knew that I was probably going to like it, but what I wasn't prepared for were what kind of emotions it would bring. Being a middle grade book, the writing was pretty simple and easy to read, especially since most of the narrators were kids as well. Wonder is bound to remind readers of their own middle school (or in my case, late elementary years, since we do not have middle school in the Philippines) experiences. It's strange to think of it, but young people can be very mean, even if it's not on purpose, and Wonder shows how it could be. My heart went out for Auggie, especially since he did not ask to look like the way he does. Like his parents, I wanted the best for him too.
The story was told not just in Auggie's point of view, but also with five other kids who surrounded Auggie's life. This made the book a little easier to relate to because let's admit it: most of us don't have what Auggie has. Of all the characters, I identified the most with his friend, Jack. I really wish I could be like Summer, that I could choose to be kind before anything else. I think Jack represents the side of everyone who tries to be good but fails, and then tries again anyway. And I think the trying is the most important part of it all.
There's a lot of buzz with what Wonder teaches, or attempts to teach, but I think maybe we shouldn't over think it too much. Sure, there are some parts that may seem a little simple, that the ending may seem to be a little too nicely wrapped up, almost like how a movie is done and we know real life is never that way. I see it as a simple thing: I see Wonder as a middle grade book that teaches kindness -- to quote, "...to be kinder than necessary." That as human beings, we do not just have "...the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness..." and to choose that even when it's not easy, when it's inconvenient, even when it's uncomfortable.
Even though reading Wonder reminded me of that particular incident I shared at the start of this review which brought back some of the guilty feelings, this book made me feel a lot better after reading it. A little bit more whole, even. With a stronger resolve to be kinder than necessary. I think that a book that can make its readers feel like that is worth a second glance.(less)
Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during he...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during her best friend and resident queen bee's party. She spills the secret, thinking that it would elevate her popularity but instead there were surprising and violent results -- one that almost ended up killing someone. Guilt-ridden, Chelsea confesses what she knows and instantly became a social outcast. She takes on a vow of silence, thinking she wouldn't cause anyone harm if she just won't speak up, even if she gets bullied in school. Despite this silence, Chelsea meets new friends in school who accept her, and for the first time since everything happened, she wonders if she can finally move on.
I liked Hannah Harrington's debut, Saving June, which I read earlier this year, so when I heard that her next book, Speechless, is available for request in Netgalley, I was one of the many people who requested it. I was curious with the idea of going silent on purpose -- I am a very talkative person, so I'm not sure if taking on a vow of silence is something I can really do. I doubt it, actually, and that is why there is fiction! :P
I didn't like Chelsea at first, and it was so bad that I almost gave up on the book. While I enjoyed mean girl novels such as Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are or Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall and Shirley Marr's Fury, I am almost always annoyed at their sidekicks, because they're usually the type of people who are mean on purpose because they want to be popular. Not that the popular girls aren't mean on purpose sometimes, but in movies and books, the sidekicks are usually twice as annoying. Chelsea is exactly like that, and I really didn't like her from the prologue and even early into the first chapters.
And then...somehow, she just grew on me. I find it really cool how Hannah Harrington made Chelsea a character who can say so much despite not having much of a dialogue in the book. The transition from an annoying mean girl sidekick to someone who's pretty likeable is very good, and I find myself siding with Chelsea up to the end.
There were just several things that kind of niggled at me in the book: the span of time where Chelsea changed from being a selfish mean girl to someone who thinks outside of herself didn't seem too believable, although I admit that silence can really make people think (I have tried that...several times, but not as long as Chelsea did in the book). I also wished that Chelsea chose to speak again for the first time in a different situation. I don't know, somewhere more...monumental? I wasn't that impressed with the scene where she finally broke her silence. Also, the supporting cast seemed a bit too traditional of the YA characters -- the quirky crowd that people don't often notice in school who just always seems cooler and would always save the day. Not that I minded them -- I loved Asha and Sam and the rest of Chelsea's new friends, and I love the diner set-up, but a part of me thinks the diner set-up has been done one too many times (that, or the diner crew in Bittersweet is still my favorite). On the upside, I think there's a cameo of Jake and Harper in one of the scenes, so fans of Saving June would really like that. :)
But I think my favorite aspect of this book is really the romantic lead, Sam. I liked him way more than I liked Jake, but it may be because of my tendency to go for the good guys. And by "good", I mean the guys who don't really have too many issues in life. I liked how Chelsea started to get to know him and how she started liking him and how it didn't really take much "speech" for the two of them to like each other. I especially liked how Chelsea said that she knew she didn't have to say anything to keep him because she knows he understands...and it's just...sweet. New fictional YA crush!
On a more personal note, I found that Speechless hit a few uncomfortable spots for me, mostly because I can really relate to the talkative, gossipy Chelsea. Sometimes, it just feels so fun to talk and gossip, and more often than not, I never really thought of the repercussions of it until later. So in a way, Speechlessreminded me to watch what I say, and if unsure, just enter the silence and zip it.
Speechlessby Hannah Harrington is definitely different from the author's debut, but not in a bad way. It's more of...this bookis a less angsty, happier sibling of the previous novel. While I really liked Saving June, I think I liked Speechlessjust a tiny bit more. :) And yes, it may be just because of Sam. :P Overall, I know I will be looking forward to whatever Hannah Harrington comes up with next.(less)
I wasn't exactly a Sarah Ockler fan and while so many people raved about her debut, Twenty Boy Summer, I was just pretty lukewarm about it. So I wasn't very interested to read her newest book, Bittersweet until I started reading cute reviews about it from some of my trusted reviewers. Curious, I borrowed a copy from a friend and read the first few pages, and before I knew it, I was halfway through. :D
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is about Hudson Avery, whose bright figure skating career is just ahead of her. But that was three years ago, before her father left. Now she's the best cupcake maker in the small town of Watonka, baking and serving luscious desserts in their family. diner. When Hudson receives a letter from her old mentor's foundation for a shot at a scholarship, she starts dreaming again. But with Hudson's family relying on her, she's not sure if she can actually go for her dreams. And don't get her started on Josh Blackthorn, the cute hockey player who's sending her seriously mixed signals.
Okay, here's the thing: I loved Bittersweet the moment I read about Hudson being a figure skater and then later looking for the perfect cupcake "to fix all things." A cupcake should be able to fix most of the things, if not all, don't you think? I don't think I've ever shared in this blog ever so let me share this now: 1) I like to bake and 2) I used to dream of being a figure skater. The only one I only really got to do was the first one and I have long ago abandoned the dream of being a figure skater -- I don't think I have the skills or the body for that. :P However, reading Bittersweet had me living vicariously through Hudson, and I was in a very, very happy world in the next few days of reading the book.
But it's not a completely happy book. Hudson has been burned and she continues to be burned out in the things she's doing. She wants something big, to do something she loves, and I can definitely relate with what she's feeling. That being said, however, Hudson is not so jaded that she's just full of angst. She's a funny and reliable narrator, and I loved being in her head for the story. I loved her passion for both cupcakes and skating, and I really, really wanted the best for her as the story goes on. I also loved the other characters, particularly her past and present best friends Kara and Danielle and I completely adored her little brother Bug! The boys of the hockey team were also a very good addition, and I loved that particular angle in the story.
Bittersweet is also one of those books with the slow burn romance, and a love triangle that isn't so annoying. I really liked how balanced the attention was, and for a moment there I wasn't sure who Hudson would pick (but I was definitely campaigning for one number fifty-six). The love triangle also didn't mean enemies for the two guys concerned, which was also a huge relief because who needs guys beating each other up? I was also glad that she wasn't the kind of heroine who's also fixated with having sex on top of her other problems in the book. The book's ending reminded me a bit of a Disney movie, but I like Disney movies so I think the ending was just perfect. :)
On a final note, here's a warning when reading this book: don't read it hungry! Or, just make sure you have a couple of cupcakes on hand. I didn't, but the moment I finished this I went to the nearest cupcake store near my office and got myself some treats. This book also made me really, really crave a cupcake baking session -- I've never really made any fancy frosted cupcakes, but this book made me feel like maybe I could. And I should. Soon.
Like I said, I wasn't a big fan of Twenty Boy Summer, and I wasn't really interested in reading any other Ockler book after that. But now that I've read Bittersweet, I think I have changed my mind. Bittersweet is a cute, cute contemporary YA book, and I am definitely acquiring my own copy soon. :)
Last: writing this review had me craving for cupcakes again. Like these:
Meredith Zeitlin's Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters was like a walk down high school memory lane and I rememb...moreOriginal post at One More Page
Meredith Zeitlin's Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters was like a walk down high school memory lane and I remembered my own freshman year (mis)adventures. The book's heroine, Kelsey Finkelstein, is an incoming high school freshman and she's planning to make her mark. This means going up to the next level and rebranding herself, even if her family is being impossible to her. With her friends behind her and her middle school rival out of the way, Kelsey is determined to be a new person in high school and maybe even catch the eye of her long-time crush. If only it were that easy! Soon she finds herself at the receiving end of a junior's wrath and the subject of a mysterious school paper photographer (that always catches her in her worst moments) among others. Will Kelsey ever be able to do what she wants to do with all these catastrophes?
Ah freshman year. Those were the days. My freshman year in high school was a memorable one, only because I was pretty much excited at being a high school student. I considered transferring to another school when I graduated elementary but I eventually decided not to because most of my friends stayed in the same school. My parents just suggested it to me, in the end I stayed, which was a good thing too, because staying in my small high school made me one of the achievers. :P That's what being in a small school (4 sections per batch with 35-40 students each) does, I guess. Anyway, I was surprised at the number of new students in my class, though, which almost made me as a new student too because my other friends were distributed to the other three sections. There were so many awkward moments in the first days because we were all trying to get to know each other, and pretty soon, I found a comfortable group of friends.
The happy moments didn't really last long -- I think puberty tends to make teens a lot cranky and bitchy to one another. I often call my freshman year as a year when I became almost like a war freak. Not because I would go and pick fights but for some reason I end up being a part of some petty fights! There was a particular time when I tagged along with my best friend from another section because some people from our group was mad at me and they managed to get everyone else to hang out with them leaving me behind. There were also times when I'd be a part of the group who leaves someone behind and then we'd have a confrontation of sorts. There were so many misunderstandings between the groups of friends, about things that I can only think of as petty when I remember them now.
Oh but don't get me wrong -- my freshman year was pretty fun overall, despite all those petty fights. I ended the year on a good note, and my friends and I all made up before the year ended. I remember feeling pretty sad that freshman year was ending and it was the only time we can be called freshman ever again. Until college, that is (and I loved college).
Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters gave me that bittersweet feeling of being back in high school again, and a huge relief that I wasn't there anymore! Kelsey is a vibrant narrator -- a classic 14-year old girl who wants to make things different for herself. I saw myself in her (although I saw my sophomore self, not freshman) and if my 14-year old self read this, I bet I would have wanted to be friends with Kelsey. However, at my age now, I wanted to reach in the book and hold her back, to tell her to relax and that it will be okay. Those disasters weren't really disasters, and she could treat her family better. But knowing myself during 14 and Kelsey? I doubt she'd listen. :)
I liked the cast of characters around Kelsey, although I thought some of them felt a little bit like the typical TV high school cast -- the bully, the hot guy (who didn't turned out to be so hot at all) and the annoying sibling. Still, I think they were able to play their roles well. I liked Kelsey's friends and how they often emphasized how their friendship is more important than boys, and even if one of them put a boy first, they were still all there for each other afterwards. I was pretty shocked at what they are doing at the age of 14-15 though -- getting drunk? Partying like crazy? It never happened when I was at that age -- to me, anyway. Okay fine, I was that age 12 years ago so this comment doesn't really count anymore. Who knows what high school kids are doing now? I'm just not used to it, I guess. The first time I had alcohol was 16 (and it was a teeny-tiny shot that gave me a headache). :P
There were just some times when I thought the book felt a little long for my liking, but since it covers an entire year of high school, I guess it had to be that way. I didn't always like Kelsey, but she grew on me by the end of the book. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is a fun read if only you're willing to go down your own memory lane and remember your own high school experiences. It ended on a pretty open note which leaves a lot to the imagination. However, if Ms. Zeitlin will come out with sophomore, junior and senior year books for Kelsey and her friends (preferably narrated by her other friends too), then I would definitely be in line to get them to know what happens next. :)(less)
You know a book is good when you go back and reread some most of the book the moment you're done. Sometimes it's just to...moreOriginal post at One More Page
You know a book is good when you go back and reread some most of the book the moment you're done. Sometimes it's just to read your favorite parts, but for others (especially for novellas), it's almost like reading the entire book because you just can't get enough of it and you want to relive the events of the book.
Such is Mina V. Esguerra's newest novel (and her YA debut), Interim Goddess of Love. College sophomore Hannah Maquiling is a scholar in exclusive Ford River College, and she's caught the eye of Joaquin Apolinario, aka Quin, one of the hottest guys in school. But it wasn't in a way that she (or anyone else) expected. She caught Quin's eye because Quin is also the Sun God, and he needs her to be the Interim Goddess of Love. The real Goddess of Love has gone missing, and someone needs to fill in her shoes for a while, and Hannah fits the bill. Hannah accepts (because the Sun God was nice, not to mention cute), and starts using her powers on Kathy Martin, a shy classmate who's all flustered about her secret admirer.
So cute. I've always loved Mina's books, but Interim Goddess of Love had me giggling and grinning when I was done (and when I was rereading some parts), almost like how I was when I was reading Fairy Tale Fail. I admit that I may have already loved Hannah before I read the book -- she had me at this: "She's never even had a boyfriend, but that doesn't stop people from spilling their guts to her, and asking for advice." But I loved her even more as I got to know her. Hannah's voice sounds authentic and different from other YA heroines -- it's nice to read someone who isn't too whiny and who doesn't sound too old for her age, too. She's a very likeable and reliable narrator, and she sounds like someone I would want to be friends with. It was so easy to stick with her and to root for her and hope for a happy ending for her. She's not perfect, but boy did I find her easy to relate to. :P
Speaking of happy endings, there are the boys. As usual, Mina created very crushable guys to go with her heroine, not just as romantic interests. I found it funny that one of the questions that came up while reading this book was "Who's your favorite?" That's because there's not one but three guys in the book, each with their own charm. I am particularly fond of Quin, but mostly because he's the one in spotlight, but the other two guys provide good contrast (and competition) for the god of the sun.
That's another thing to love about this book too: Interim Goddess of Love is not your usual contemporary YA romance because it had elements of Philippine mythology in it. Oh, you thought the gods and goddess reference were just figurative? It's not. It doesn't provide an in-depth discussion on Philippine mythology, but if just a taste of it, then you'll get just that in this book. Then like Hannah, you'd end up wanting to know more because there's just so much more to know. I look forward to reading more about them and how exactly they all relate to each other in the next books. :)
Interim Goddess of Love is another great book from Mina, and I still can't stop grinning when I think of my favorite scenes. My only wish was it was longer because I definitely wanted more when I was done. I am so glad that this is the first book of a planned series and that the next book will be released later this year. I can't wait to read about Hannah's next goddess project (and more Quin moments, hihi :"> ).
I listened to this book months ago, but you know how I have that backlog in reviewing books? Yeah, this is one of them.
I was on the search for an audiobook to listen to after I realized I wanted to listen to more audiobooks because it helps me multitask. I know audiobooks are dependent on the narrator, too, so I didn't want just any audiobook, but something that I would enjoy. And then Aaron told me about My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, narrated by David Tennant. Oh I am so in. :)
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpieceis the story of ten-year-old Jamie as he tries to live in the aftermath of his older sister, Rose, dying in a terrorist attack. It has been five years since Rose died and Jamie could hardly remember her, but he could see the effect that this had on his family. This novel deals about loss, grief, hate, family and religion, all told in the eyes of a ten-year-old boy.
It was a pleasure listening to this book, not only because it was narrated by David Tennant, but because it was actually quite charming despite the serious topics it dealt with. The main character, Jamie, reminded me a bit of Auggie from Wonder, and I was immediately drawn to his story. Somehow, this gave the book a more honest point of view, and it gives us a different insight on grieving, especially for someone who you barely know but you should still grieve for.
I really liked Sunya, Jamie's Muslim friend, too. I liked how smart and resilient and friendly she was, and how she changed Jamie's perception of something that his father really hated and blamed for the loss of Rose. Jamie and Sunya's friendship was cute and funny and heartwarming, and that little hint of a young romance was done quite well. But more than this friendship, I really liked Jamie's relationship with his older sister, Jasmine. In a way, Jas lost more than anyone did, because Rose is her twin sister. Their sibling relationship made my heart hurt several times, and I liked how protective Jas was of Jamie even to the point of keeping something from him so he won't get hurt.
This book made me laugh and tear up several times, and when it left me with a nice and hopeful feeling in the end. It's not an easy novel to read, I think, but the author handled all the difficult issues very well. :) I liked My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiecea lot, and I also need to say that I think I liked it more because David Tennant narrated it to me. <3
P.S. I can't help but smile every time David Tennant says "Rose" in the audiobook. He turns into the the Doctor for a few seconds in my head before turning back into just the audiobook's narrator again. :D
I read and enjoyed Tweet Sering's non-fiction essay anthology, Astigirl, early this year, so I was on the lookout for t...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I read and enjoyed Tweet Sering's non-fiction essay anthology, Astigirl, early this year, so I was on the lookout for the ebook release of her novel, Wander Girl. I believe this book has been published in print before but is now unavailable, so the ebook version was the best thing to come along, especially since I felt like I would like Tweet's other writings.
And you know what, I was right.
Hilda Gallares is also stuck in her own rut right after graduating college. Stuck in a dead-end job and a seemingly dead-end relationship, she knows that her life is not the one she had dreamed of back in college. After a pregnancy scare, Hilda sets off and tries to find herself, her dream job and her ideal man...but the question is, is she doing it right? And will her wander girl tendencies lead her to where she really wants to be?
I read Wander Girlovernight, and I can't really remember the circumstances that led me to reading it that fast, except maybe that I was in some kind of personal rut. I figured I needed to do my own soul searching and also escape (it's a paradox, but I think some of you will get it), so what better way to do that than to look for good local chick lit, right? Chick lit is about a woman finding herself, right? The book is written in a book format -- meaning we are reading a book written by Hilda herself, not just the Wander Girlnovel. I don't know about others, but this made me enjoy the book immensely because it feels like I am actually reading something a fictional character wrote. Here we get a glimpse of Hilda's family and her friends, which sets up the entire stage for her story to unfold.
I liked Hilda from the start, but I honestly don't think I see myself in her. Okay, I see a bit of myself, but I think Hilda is just a little wilder than I am, which is saying a lot, since Hilda never really considered herself wild. But I liked her, she's such a likable character. Her friends and family are definite characters too that I just really liked reading about them. Also, everything Hilda goes through is so fitting for those who are experiencing quarter-life crisis. While the experiences may not be similar, I thought Tweet Sering captured the despair and the feeling of wanting to do something meaningful in one's life perfectly. I could change a few details in Hilda's story and it could be my story just as easily.
I also liked how Filipino this book was, not just with the injection of Filipino words and expressions (a glossary is provided in the ebook copy), but with the values and themes it discussed: leaving home to live alone (not really something people would do here), family matters and even religion. I especially liked how religion and settling down factored in the story, and laughed so much at that particular scene where Hilda just breaks down and acknowledges this. You'll have to read it to believe it. Hee. All the laughter!
I really, really enjoyed Wander Girl, and in a way, it gave me hope for my quarter-life woes. Like I said, there's nothing like theright chick lit to cure me of some QLC. I especially liked this final quote (not spoilery, don't worry!):
Because the best thing about wandering off, I have found, is coming home.
I don't think I'm really wandering off, but I can say that I'm my own wander girl in a different sense. I think we all are. :)
I don't know if Tweet Sering is writing another novel, but if she is, I will definitely read it when it comes out. If I may request -- a spin-off for Hannah, the youngest Gallares sister? I feel like she needs a story of her own. :) (less)
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, w...moreOriginal post at One More Page
When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, when I found out about it, I have only read one Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are), but I really liked it and I was looking forward to reading her other books. Then the new one was about zombies? And it had that awesome, awesome cover? Where can I get this?!
I had to go through a lot of lengths to get a galley of this book, and I would like to thank all those who helped me get this from the bottom of my zombie loving heart. :) I feel a bit ashamed that it took me so long to read and review this...but better late than never? ^^
So the world is ending, but Sloane Price doesn't care because as far as she knows, the world has ended ever since her sister left her alone with their abusive father. She just really wants to die, and the apocalypse seemed just timely, until she was saved by several kids she knew from school. Now she is in the school with them, helping seal exits half-heartedly, listening to the incessant pounding of the undead outside who wants to eat their flesh. What follows is a story of human will, of what people will do when the odds are stacked against them, and just how far one would go to survive...or die.
INTENSE. I described Some Girls Are as intense, but it had nothing to the intensity of this book. This is Not a Testis an exhausting book. It has so much character conflict (internal and external), and it's not just because of the zombies. In fact, most of the zombie action didn't happen until in the latter parts of the book, and that's an entirely different kind of intensity. The rest of the book is all about human struggle and the will to survive even if it seems all better to just give up and do nothing.
I can't say I liked many of the characters, especially Sloane because she's different from all the zombie novel heroines I've read. Most of them have the determined will to live, not a will to die. I wanted Sloane to snap out of it, to pick herself up and be thankful that she's still alive and has a good chance of survival. She frustrated me, and the other people she was with kind of frustrated me too, because I wasn't sure what their real motives were. Well fine, they wanted to live, but I guess the entire situation of the apocalypse in the book has also caused me to not just trust anyone. I swung between liking some characters moderately to not liking them at all, but that doesn't mean they're not good characters. They're just...well, not so much likeable. Perhaps it is hard to like some people in a genuine way when zombies are out to get you outside and you're worried if you're going to live another day.
On another note, I think the book has an excellent pacing, and the days they spent inside the school blended into one another quite well that I felt I was with them as well and I didn't know how long it has been when they were inside. There were times when some of the action lagged, and but it quickly picked up with heavy, spine-chilling scenes that really snapped me out of my sleepiness when I was reading this before bed. The last few scenes were creepily scary and quite sad, but it was the kind of zombie action that I was looking for! In the end, I was just really...exhausted, but in a good and satisfying way.
So this pretty much seals my love for Courtney Summers. I am looking forward to getting Fall for Anything to finally read all that she wrote, and I am definitely, definitely going to get everything else she writes from now on. :)(less)
I admit: I requested this book on Netgalley because of the cover. Don't you think it's so cute? This is the kind of cove...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I admit: I requested this book on Netgalley because of the cover. Don't you think it's so cute? This is the kind of cover that I would want to be printed as a poster and placed on my room. Or over my desk. The colors in this cover is enough to cheer me up, and I wouldn't mind just looking at it without really knowing what's inside.
Oh but wait, I actually read it. I don't know about you, but the book's synopsis reminded me of a John Green novel -- and not just because The Fault in Our Stars had a girl with cancer in it (I haven't read the book yet, in case you're wondering). Even the start of the book kind of reminded me a bit of Green, with the geeky guy and the "sidekick", but that is really pretty much where the similarities end.
Here's the thing about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl:this book had a guy named Greg who's content with just skimming and being under the radar and not making any real friends so he won't have to be ridiculed for being a part of a group. The only "friend" he had is black-guy Earl, who's had a difficult home life and whose default expression is "pissed". And then there's Rachel, the dying girl who Greg used to be linked to, and is linked to again because his mother asked him to visit her and keep her company. And there are movies, too - home movies, since Greg and Earl are big time movie fans and pseudo movie makers. Secret movie makers because they never let people watch any of them, until Rachel came along anyway.
Here's another thing: this book doesn't really have a real and solid plot that isn't mentioned in the title. This book really feels more like a study on high school and how a kid deals with having a friend (who he won't admit is really a friend) who's battling cancer. And even then, Greg didn't even admit it. He isn't out to win any trophies for friendship, or any of his abilities for that matter. Greg is so down on himself and what he can do that it made my heart hurt. At one point in the book, I wanted to shake him and say that he better snap out of his "Oh I'm good for nothing so I'll just make you laugh" type of thoughts. I guess there was just too much self-deprecating quips in the book that it got me a bit turned off -- it's either I'm just too positive, or his character is really just too negative. I'm not really sure.
That being said, though, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really is hilarious, and it's a good book to lift you out of a bad mood with all the quips and tangents and all the movie stuff (if you don't think of the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph and stuff). I also loved Earl -- maybe even more than I liked Greg -- for all his tough-guy persona with a soft heart inside. I can imagine his "pissed" and "mega-pissed" expression, although I can't exactly think of him as an actor. I think most of my LOL time happened when Earl was present, although he also showed that he had a more difficult life compared to Greg. Personally for me, if anyone had the right to complain about his life, it was Earl. Rachel also had more rights to complain, with the cancer and all. I liked Rachel's quiet presence in the story, her snort-laugh and how she changed (but also not really changed) Greg's life. I thought all the scenes with her was pretty poignant, and I liked how she really tried to help Greg even if he wasn't willing to be helped that much. Their dynamic was pretty unusual, but it worked, and it really made the book true to its title.
Overall, this book is an enjoyable read, albeit not really as much as I expected. I guess I was used to having books make me feel so many things and think so many things that I imposed these expectations on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl too, when it's really not that kind of book. I doubt this will be one of my favorites but in the grander scheme of things (Wow, look at me using this phrase, haha!), this book is one I'd recommend for anyone who's looking for a few lot of good laughs.(less)
I've had Deb Caletti's Wild Roses lying around at home for more than a year now but I never found the time to read it be...moreOriginal post at One More Page
I've had Deb Caletti's Wild Roses lying around at home for more than a year now but I never found the time to read it because I never really thought I would enjoy it. That's me judging a book and an author without any valid basis, and my only defense is that I read from some blogs in my reader how Deb Caletti books didn't work for them. So I figured that I may not like it too.
And then friends started recommending Honey, Baby, Sweetheartto me, so I was mildly curious. Of course it had to be the Deb Caletti book that is the hardest to find -- is it because it's a National Book Award finalist? I don't know. But when I finally found it, I decided not to let it go because I was curious.
Honey, Baby, Sweetheartsounds like your typical YA romance from the title alone, so I was kind of expecting that when I started reading it. Here we meet Ruby McQueen, The Quiet Girl, who finds herself hanging out with gorgeous and mysterious thrill-seeker Travis Becker. With Travis, Ruby felt like a different girl -- someone who isn't quiet, someone who can do the things normal Ruby wouldn't do. But when she discovers some things about Travis that means trouble, she finds herself in over her head. To keep her distracted, her mom brings her to her book club meeting where they discover one of their members is the subject of the love story that they were discussing. Too crazy? Together they embark on a road trip to reunite the lovers, and as with all road trips, Ruby discovers more about herself in the process.
And this is where I eat my words about me probably not liking any Deb Caletti book. I was a third into the book when I felt that tug inside me that told me I will like this book no matter how it ended. I was never the quiet girl but I liked Ruby and I connected with her uncertainties and her attachment with Travis. I could identify with her need to be with him even if she couldn't understand it, even if I'm not the kind of girl who likes bad guys. :P But I liked Ruby, and her voice, and I liked how it was quite easy to understand her and how she couldn't understand that part of her that liked Travis so much. I also liked the supporting characters, especially Ruby's mom and her brother, and the rest of the book club members that she gets to know. It made me realize that I like wacky old people in books -- they're almost always such a hoot.
The book had a distinct summer feel that made me just relax whenever I go back to reading it. It's such a comforting read even if some of the situations in the book were kind of heavy on the emotional side. I guess it's the writing that made it so comforting -- Caletti has a way with words that may seem flowery to some but it hit just the right spot for me. Case in point, one of my favorite parts:
You could see the magic we all had that day. The magic that comes with the force of a mission, lit with a fine and rare energy. The magic of purpose and of love in its purest form. Not television love, with its glare and hollow and sequined glint; not sex and allure, all high shoes and high drama, everything both too small and in too much excess, but just love. Love like rain, like the smell of tangerine, like a surprise found in your pocket. We were all part of that. (p.198)
Sigh. It made me want to be a part of that adventure that they were all about to embark on.
The story is reminiscent of the Letters to Juliet movie, and the road trip isn't really anything like how John Green does it, but there's a pretty satisfying ending that just made me sigh with happiness. I like that this isn't just about romance, but really about love and the ties that bind us together. I especially liked how love was described in the context of books:
We are all a volume on a shelf of a library, a story unto ourselves, never possibly described with one word or even very accurately with thousands. A person is never as quiet or unrestrained as they seem, or as bad or good, as vulnerable or as strong, as sweet or as feisty; we are thickly layered, page upon lying page, behind simple covers. And love - it is not the book itself, but the binding. It can rip us apart or hold us together.
This is definitely the kind of book that I would recommend to any teenage girl who's looking for herself, and the kind that I think my younger self would probably really like (understanding is another thing, though! :P). And this is one of those books that I will probably go back to every now and then when I'm feeling lost.
So, I totally take back what I said/pre-judged about Deb Caletti. I really, really enjoyed Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. It's definitely one of my best reads for this year on the contemporary YA front. :) While I'm not ready to declare my love for the author just yet, I think I'm going to bump Wild Roses up my TBR soon. :)(less)
One Crazy Summer's story is the stuff that teen TV shows are made of, and kind of like what happens in Sarah Dessen nov...moreOriginal post at One More Page
One Crazy Summer's story is the stuff that teen TV shows are made of, and kind of like what happens in Sarah Dessen novels with the infinite possibilities that a summer could bring. The story was cute and there was enough romance, but I never felt a connection with any of the characters. I wanted more background story with Tania and Mateo and Rob, but instead I was just presented with the facts of who likes who and I just had to accept it. I also felt that I never really got to know Tania, and all I have were hints of her personality.
It's not that it's a bad novel. I just felt that it lacked something. The setting was very good and I liked the description of the lazy summer town that the characters spent a lot of time in, but I wished there was just more. I wonder how the book would have fared with me if it was a little bit longer, so there was more time to flesh out the characters and dig up their back stories and relationships with one another. It's still an okay read, and I think the book is worth keeping One Crazy Summer for the recipes that it contains. :)(less)