We live in an era obsessed with body shape, size, and beauty. We live in a world of constant scrutiny from media outlets, peers, and most importantly,...moreWe live in an era obsessed with body shape, size, and beauty. We live in a world of constant scrutiny from media outlets, peers, and most importantly, ourselves. Ever corner you turn, a magazine cover or billboard is plastered with a half naked girl the size of a toothpick. When did this become the norm, the standard? Products are being shoved down our throats that claim to help us look younger, skinnier, fitter, more tanned, more perfect. What’s wrong with us just the way we are?
Meet Lia. I’d love to tell you she’s your average, run of the mill teenager, but I’d be stretching the truth a little there. Lia suffers from a serious eating disorder, but don’t tell her that, because she’ll vehemently disagree with you. She’s already been to rehab twice, but according to Lia, she’s just fine. But if she’s just fine, why does she feel like she needs to hide her weird eating (or non-eating) habits from her family?
Then her best friend and partner in all things ‘thin’ dies one night under suspicious circumstances in a hotel room. Although the police are investigating all avenues, Lia has a pretty good idea about what happened to her: Cassie’s body simply shut down. Instead of setting an example for Lia, Cassie’s death only adds more fuel to her smoldering fire, and Lia’s eating habits (or lack thereof) take a deathly turn for the worse.
She’s not eating. She’s down to 98 pounds, but its not enough. All she sees when she looks in the mirror, all she feels when she runs her fingers over her skin is fat fat fat fat fat. She starts working out in the middle of the night when her family is asleep, creating ridiculous calorie deficits. She cuts herself. She fights with her family about her eating habits, but mainly, she fights with herself.
Every. Single. Moment. Of. Every. Single. Day.
Lia’s story is completely and absolutely unputdownable, and a must read for women and teenagers everywhere who have ever struggled with, or contemplated an eating disorder. Now I understand why Laurie Halse Anderson is an award winning author. Not only does she create shining characters with strong, loud voices, but she writes from the heart - her blood, sweat, and tears are all over the pages of this novel.
Lia’s internal struggle with food, her inability to love herself, and the overtly warped reflection that she sees when she looks in the mirror is something many women can relate to. Her lack of control and the lengths she goes to in order to achieve a state of what she considers perfection is a heart wrenching, sobering lesson.
Wintergirls doesn’t point fingers, doesn’t lay blame. It doesn’t deal with the why so much as the what is. For people that simply don’t understand the grasp eating disorders have over their victims, Wintergirls is a must-read for you. For those of you who are currently struggling with issues of self-esteem and have a delicate relationship with food and your body, Wintergirls is a must-read for you. For family and friends of victims of eating disorders, Wintergirls will help you understand your loved ones motivations a little better. Absolutely everyone can learn something from this book.
A powerful story that should be shouted from the rooftops. Laurie Halse Anderson, I heart you for telling it so honestly.
There’s no sugar coating on this one, folks. Kleenex may be required.(less)
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never be...moreOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Nikki
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. Hazel has cancer. The bad kind that just won’t go away. No one is sugar coating anything for her – it is inevitable, just a matter of time. She hasn’t been to school in three years, which means her list of friends can be counted on one hand. She hauls herself up in the house reading the same novel over and over and subjecting her parents to re-runs of bad reality TV programming. Hazel’s mom thinks she’s depressed and forces her to go to a local support group for kids like her. She protests, of course, but even cancer can’t get you out of some things. Enter Augustus Waters. Cancer survivor, amputee, life optimist, cancer support group resident hot guy. And he’s looking at Hazel like that. By the end of the meeting Augustus has managed to convince Hazel to go back to his place and watch a movie with him, and just like that Hazel’s terminally ill cancer life changes to terminally-ill-but-now-she-gets-to-live-a-little-too. Here’s what you need to know about this book: YOU WILL NEED LOTS AND LOTS OF KLEENEX. This is a story about kids with cancer, so I think the plot probably speaks for itself, but what I did find utterly astonishing was just how funny it was. John Green has somehow managed to spin the situation Augustus and Hazel find themselves in so that it’s completely and totally hilarious without discrediting the seriousness of a disease like cancer. In fact, the first time I picked up a tissue was to wipe the laughter from my eyes. You will fall hopelessly head over heels in love with Augustus and Hazel. By the end of the first chapter, I wanted to wrap Hazel in bubble wrap and hug away all the badness she’d endured throughout her life. Then Augustus came along and I realized he wanted to be the one that did all that for her, so I stepped off. Regardless of the humor, regardless of how much I laughed out loud while reading, Augustus and Hazel’s story is heart crushingly, soul destroyingly sad. Perhaps that’s what makes this book the shining diamond that it is: it’s ability to be both brilliant and horrifying all in one. There’s not much else that needs to be said about The Fault In Our Stars, except that this is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in any genre for a really, really long time. And not because it’s about cancer, but because it’s about people, love, and making it count. Five stars isn’t a high enough rating for this masterpiece. If I could give it more, I would. John Green, thanks for your brilliance. The Fault In Our Stars will change lives.(less)
Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments t...moreEverything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, lighthearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who’s stolen Anna’s heart. Reserved and always controlled, Sam does everything with purpose. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to go, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab — not even their true identities. Anna has a different kind of life. She’s home schooled, doesn’t have a mom, and she works with her dad in the basement of their farmhouse monitoring and studying four young men whom the government is ‘molding’. But what are they being molded for, and why doesn’t Anna have more answers? She’s privy to limited information, and although she wants more, she’s never really made any real concerted efforts to get it. It becomes very clear very quickly that Anna doesn’t have any friends … except, well, the boys. Although they live in ‘cells’ and there is a glass wall that separates her from them, she knows them well, spends time with them, entertains them, and connects with them. It’s clear within the first few pages that Trev, Cas and Sam all adore Anna in their own unique ways. Nick, however, is a bit of a surly one and seems to hate the fact that Anna even exists. Mostly, Anna just ignores his sourness, but she can’t always hide the teeny tiny blob of fear that nestles deep in her belly when she has to interact with him personally. After spending four years with Anna and her dad in their basement, Anna and the boys, albeit locked up, have grown up together. But what kind of life is this? Anna, who cares about her boys more than she lets on, ponders this often. How is this fair to them and why, why is it so important that they be locked up like this. In their midnight games of chess, Sam has, in so many ways, made it clear that all they really desire is a life outside their cells. Sam. The apple of Anna’s eye, the thump thump of her heart, and the very single reason she plods down into that basement every single day. Is it possible for her to love him so much, when their relationship is already so unconventional? What’s more, does Sam know? God, Anna hopes not. Then, one day, they get their wish. The government rocks up and announced that they’ve decided to terminate the project, which means terminating the boys. In the middle of the extraction process, Sam miraculously defies all odds and defeats his captors. Anna, in a moment of pure panic, joins in the fight to free her boys and suddenly, after much blood is spilled, finds herself on the run from a secret government agency with four boys who have been wired and programed into some kind of superhuman being. What exactly that entails, none of them know. They’re not safe from the government, they may not even be safe from each other… As they run for their lives, Sam, Anna and the boys discover secret after secret about themselves, their pasts, and their ugly fated future. As the story careens to the finish line, one thing becomes blindingly obvious: even though they didn’t know it, this all started with Sam and Anna, so it only seems fitting that it end with them too. This book has it all: romance, action, oh-so-much action! It’s a contemporary reality smeared together with just a hint of fantasy that barrels along at warp speed! It’s both character and plot driven, descriptive without being overbearing, and the best thing? Both guys and gals are going to dig this one! The relationship between Sam and Anna, although completely central to the story, doesn’t take over and turn this into a wishy washy chicklit read. At times I was incredibly frustrated at the distance Sam put between himself and Anna, but the wedge only drew me in further as their romantic tensions sizzled the pages to life. So little touching, so so much fire. I laughed out loud at Cas’ witty humor and inflated ego, I gasped loudly as trouble found them at every corner they turned. I wanted to cry as people they cared about were gunned down, left behind to bleed out alone. I swore loudly as betrayals broke their circle down. But the thing that had me allllllll wound up in a bundle of anxious nerves was the fact that no one could trust anyone, and it seemed that no one was exactly who they said they were. There were times when I thought everything was false, and then others when I completely doubted my instincts. I LOVED the unpredictability of everything. It was refreshing and incredibly invigorating to read. A debut author couldn’t want anything better than this for herself. Perfectly written, utterly engaging, Altered hit every single one of my literary taste buds. It’s addictive and perfect in every single way. Everyone on the face of the earth needs to read this book right now! Pages: 323 Publisher: Little, Brown & Co. Publication Date: January, 2013 Teaser Quote: Brakes screeched behind us. I looked back but Nick urged me on with a shove. Footsteps pounded after us. Cas reached the Jeep first. Sam tossed him the keys and Cas snatched them from the air before sliding behind the wheel. Trev ripped up on the back door handle. “Get the girl first!” someone shouted. Rating: 5(less)
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is absolutely, positively, undeniably one of the best books I’ve read for a good long while. If it wer...moreThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is absolutely, positively, undeniably one of the best books I’ve read for a good long while. If it were possible for a book to stop traffic, this would be the one to do it.
Arnold Spirit doesn’t want to end up like the rest of his community. He has big dreams for himself; he wants to leave the reservation and give life a good go. So he asks his parents if he can go to the rich, white school on the other side of the reservation border. When they say yes, Arnie’s life changes enormously.
Suddenly he doesn’t fit in anywhere. The kids on the reservation think he’s a traitor, and the kids at his new school think he’s an outsider. Arnie’s life is one complex day after another. But then things start to change. Penelope – the most popular girl in school – takes an interest in him, and suddenly he’s asked to try out for the basketball team. As it turns out, Arnie is a pretty good ball player, which does wonders for his popularity status. Then Arnie’s new team comes up against his old team for the show down of a lifetime. How will Arnie deal with the confrontation?
Although it does so in a highly entertaining and comedic way, this novel deals with some serious issues. On the reservation, Arnie is surrounded by family members and friends who all abuse alcohol and drugs. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian addresses the serious, life-changing consequences of such social problems. Although Arnie tends to trivialise these things through humor, the gravity and dangers associated with drug and alcohol abuse is certainly not lost within this story. I therefore insert my tear-jerker warning here. Tears from some readers are highly possible.
Ellen Forney’s illustrations add immeasurable worth to this story. They’re funny, descriptive, and provide an extra layer that words alone could never achieve. They’re definitely the icing on this already utterly hilarious cake.
Arnie’s voice is likeable and easily relatable. Even if you’re not a Native American Indian, even if you know nothing about Indian culture, I’m almost certain you will be able to find something of yourself in Arnie. If there were more kids like Arnie around, the world would be a better place.
You’ll laugh your hearts out; you’ll cry enough to fill a fish tank. Reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is an emotional journey that everyone everywhere should experience. It’s a serious story told through a pair of not-so-serious eyes, making it easily digestible and readily accessible to all. This is definitely a book I can see myself coming back to over and over.(less)
From the onset, it’s pretty clear that Dancia is supposed to be an average, run of the mill character that teenage girls everywhere should be able to...moreFrom the onset, it’s pretty clear that Dancia is supposed to be an average, run of the mill character that teenage girls everywhere should be able to relate to. With her average, grades, average appearance, less than impressive wardrobe, and no money or classy possessions to show off, Dancia has pretty much resigned herself to a life less lived. Except, although she seems unwilling to admit it, there is something exceptional about her. She has an odd kind of power and can make things happen with her mind. She doesn’t understand it, she can’t really control it, but whenever she ends up using it, bad things happen. Dancia chooses to ignore her power and enters the big fat land of denial.
The Delcroix Academy recruits her. She doesn’t understand why – Delcroix is supposed to be for talented people, and talent is something she’s seriously lacking. Still, there is no possible way they could know about her abilities, right? That couldn’t really be why they want her, could it?
Jack seems to think so. He’s another recruit, just like Dancia. No special, obvious talents (unless you count a juvie record and a bunch of failed efforts under his belt). But Dancia senses something special about Jack immediately. Something special, in her kind of way. Just when Dancia starts getting close to Jack, Cam puts himself in her line of vision. Dancia doesn’t understand his newfound interest in her – he is the most attractive guy in school after all – but when his attention seems unrelenting, Dancia allows herself to roll with it. Suddenly, she finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle. Has the world gone completely mad?
Except, she doesn’t like Jack. Honest. She likes Cam. Smart, funny, handsome. Jack is nothing but a troublemaker. So why, if she feels nothing for Jack, does the world stop spinning when he kisses her?
Then the truth comes out about why she was really recruited to Declroix, and all hell breaks loose.
I found Dancia’s naivety completely and utterly frustrating, but if I’m honest with myself, the way she behaved is completely and utterly believable. It’s every girl’s dream come true to have the school hearth throb chasing after you. Unfortunately, I don’t buy it. Even though Cam does seem genuinely interested in Dancia, I refused to let myself believe its true. I can’t pin point it exactly, but there’s just something about it that makes my stomach turn – and not in a good way.
Jack, on the other hand, is totally nuts about Dancia, but I’m not entirely sure it’s for the right reasons. Is he interested in her because of her power, or does he really like her for who she is? I can’t tell yet, but I’m really hoping it’s the latter. In case you didn’t already figure it out, I’m Team Jack.
Delcroix Academy: The Candidates starts off a little slowly, but once the action gets going, it becomes one of those novels that you just can’t put down. It’s Inara Scott’s first novel, and I’m definitely going to be watching to see how this story pans out.(less)
Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves–fifteen years in the future It’s 1996, and Josh...moreOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, Reviewed by Nikki.
Josh and Emma are about to discover themselves–fifteen years in the future It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long–at least, up until last November, when everything changed. Things have been awkward ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD-ROM in the mail, his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto Facebook . . . but Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. Josh and Emma are looking at themselves fifteen years in the future. Their spouses, careers, homes, and status updates–it’s all there. And every time they refresh their pages, their futures change. As they grapple with the ups and downs of what their lives hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right–and wrong–in the present. In Josh and Emma’s world, the Internet is just taking off. Email and instant messenger is all the rage, and no one has even heard of Facebook. When Emma’s dad gets her a computer, Josh brings over a CD-ROM to install the Internet, and their lives are changed forever. When Emma boots up the CD, this thing called Facebook pops up. It seems to be some kind of Internet page dedicated to their lives in the future. Josh is married to the hottest girl in school, and Emma, well, Emma’s life changes every few minutes. She goes through several husbands, finds herself living in places she’d never dream of living, and finds things out about friends that she doesn’t really want to know. And then it becomes clear … the things they do in their daily lives now are affecting the lives that exist in the future on this Facebook page. Even the tiniest little thing completely alters their future. This novel is narrated through a dual perspective. Both Josh and Emma have a voice, which is cool. I really liked Josh, and I feel that teenagers will really relate to him. He’s that average kid that gets overlooked all the time; he’s the nice guy that finishes last; he’s pretty, well, normal. Emma, on the other hand, is less enjoyable to read. She’s selfish, incredibly shallow, and everything always has to be about her. As I read, there were several points in the story where I really wanted to slap some sense into her. Josh is so patient with her and he’s far too good to her. She doesn’t deserve his kindness, especially after the way she continually abuses their relationship. This story is written so well that it’s impossible to tell it was penned by two different people. I’ve always been a big fan of both Jay and Carolyn, so I was excited to see how well they worked together, and it gives me great pleasure to say that they’re an amazing team! This one is an easy read, folks. Pages: 356 Publication Date: 2011 Publisher: Razorbill Rating:: 4.5 Teaser quote: I have a computer in my car? Josh is going to freak out when he hears this.(less)
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as u...moreOriginally posted on www.yareads.com, reviewed by Nikki
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. When Divergent ended, Tris and her crew were in deep trouble. As the pages of Insurgent begin, her situation hasn’t improved at all. In fact, and to my glorious delight, this novel picks up exactly where Divergent ended, so we don’t miss a thing. Knowing they can’t stay out in the open for long, they head for the Amity headquarters, seeking refuge – as temporary as it will inevitably be. But the Amity has rules. Rules that the likes of Tobias and Tris, accustomed to the Dauntless way of life, have difficulty following and their stay at Amity is short lived. Was it really ever going to be any other way? However, before they depart, Tris confronts Marcus, demanding answers and he gives her some insight into a situation that affects them all. Problem is, when she tells Tobias, he dismisses the information as lies, a mere attempt to manipulate her and everyone around her. Tris tries to forget what Marcus told her, but his words rest in the base of her stomach, even though she promised Tobias she’d let it go. The factions continue warring and Tris and Tobias find themselves in the very thick of it at every turn they make. It seems wherever they go, trouble soon follows, and in war, you’re only as safe as those whom you entrust your life with… But whom can she trust? As the story unfolds, Tris unexpectedly runs into several other characters that she never thought she’d see again, each one offering up pockets of information about their bleak fate. As their bank of information continues to grow, it becomes obvious to Tris that her and Tobias might not sit on the same side of the fence. She loves him with everything in her heart, but she can’t make him see what she can see, and in the end, Tris realizes, in an act of complete Abnegation, she must sacrifice his trust and love to save everyone from the big bad evil that lurks outside the fence. There is not one single moment of down time in this installment. As 500 + page novels go, this one is quite the showstopper. After re-writing it three times, I still feel like my above plot review does not do the story justice, but in the interest of not giving away the absolutely jaw dropping plot turns that unfold, I decided a more generic explanation of events was required. Tris, and her character development, however, is something I am completely willing to discuss. She becomes so Dauntless in this novel that it’s infuriating. She places herself in reckless after reckless situation without, as Tobias so aptly phrased it, ‘any regard for her own life’. And I hated her for it.For a good 300 pages, I wanted to punch her in the face. But for the life of me I couldn’t put the darned book down! I yelled at my book, slammed it shut in fury (only to open it again immediately), and harassed various friends via facebook at several points in the story. Repeatedly. For someone who was so meek and unsure of herself at the beginning of Divergent, Insurgent sees her grow into a ruthless fighter. My heart ached for Tobias as she ran off into the night, went behind his back, kept information from him, and used his own weaknesses against him – all in the name of the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And that’s what she’s doing, I get that – the Abnegation in her pushes her to forgo her own desires to save everyone else, because she knows she can. But, as I came the end of the novel, I realized that it wasn’t completely self-sacrificing. Tris wanted to do those things. The Dauntless inside of her is a scary, wild lioness not to be messed with. And maybe, just maybe, she’s too Dauntless for Tobias… This is not one of those warm fuzzy reads. My stomach was in knots as I flipped page after page. Betrayal after betrayal will follow these characters on their journey, rendering everyone’s actions questionable. By the end, I was a hot, anxious mess. This story is thrilling, addictive, and fantastic in every single way. Once you pop this one, there will be no stopping till the last word on the last page. Technically perfect, creatively brilliant, Insurgent reminded me why I’m a compulsive reader. Veronica Roth, you’re my version of a rockstar. Pages: A whopping 525 Publication date: May, 2012 Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books, a HarperCollins Imprint. Teaser quote: “You’re more than Dauntless,” he says in a low voice. “But if you want to be just like them, hurling yourself into ridiculous situations for no reason and retaliating against your enemies without any regard for what’s ethical, then go right ahead. I thought you were better than that, but maybe I was wrong!”
**spoiler alert** James Morgan is one of those privileged kids. He comes from one of the most prestigious families in all of England, has servants to...more**spoiler alert** James Morgan is one of those privileged kids. He comes from one of the most prestigious families in all of England, has servants to boss around, and he can even read. This fact alone is a pretty exceptional thing and is definitely a sign of his social status. Raised mostly by his Aunt, James is nothing short of a spoiled little brat. But when his father returns from years away, chaos follows his arrival home. In mere moments, Jim’s life is thrown into darkness as people he thought he could trust deceive him and place his life in danger. Before he even has time to comprehend what happened, James finds himself on the run.
Taking the only thing that remains of his father – a box a gypsy put a spell on and now James can’t open – he heads to London where he crosses some very interesting characters indeed.
Enter The King of Thieves. He’s conniving and manipulative, but he’s charismatic enough to have won the trust of London’s finest street urchins and pickpockets. You see, the King of Thieves is looking for something very special indeed, and he’s using the homeless kids of London to find it for him. James, being James, finds himself in a bit of a pickle and The King ends up claiming his father’s box.
Meet the Ratt Brothers and lovely little Lacey. In accordance with The King’s wishes, this little clan of pickpockets agrees to take Jim into their group and show him the ropes. Nothing short of hilarity ensues. Jim is clumsy, naïve, and his innocence radiates off of every page as readers watch him attempt to settle into a life on the streets. Lucky for him, the Ratt Brothers are pros, and they’ve got his back at every turn.
The Ratt’s and Lacey vow they’ll help Jim get his box back, and as the group start their mission to retrieve what’s rightfully his, Jim and his new friends find themselves in one dangerous situation after the next. How on earth are they going to get Jim’s box back and stay out of trouble at the same time? Friendship, that’s how.
Can Jim and his new friends outsmart the King of Thieves and get his box back? You’ll have to pick up the book to find out.
This is one of those outstanding adventure stories that has a little something for everyone. Action? Check. Drama? Check. Humor? Double check. But most importantly, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is full of great characters. Jim himself starts out as a petulant little snob, but as readers watch life bite him in the butt, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. Perhaps my favorite of all the characters, though, is the Ratt Brothers – all three of them. They’re a constant source of entertainment throughout the story, but what I loved the most about them was their optimistic and positive outlook on life. They’ve been dealt some pretty difficult cards, yet they’re able to tackle each day with vigor and purpose. I’d be proud to call them my friends.
Beautifully written and perfectly paced, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves is a must read for everyone who loves to step into world colored with a little magic and a lot of adventure. Bring on book two.
Meet Jill – she’s on a mission. Prom is coming up and she is determined to bag herself the perfect date. But Jill is harbouring a big secret that coul...moreMeet Jill – she’s on a mission. Prom is coming up and she is determined to bag herself the perfect date. But Jill is harbouring a big secret that could not only destroy her chances of showing up to prom on the arm of a hottie, but could also ruin her entire life.
Meet Jack – his parents don’t like him much, but he’s misunderstood. They keep him locked up in his bedroom so he can’t cause any trouble, but Jack is tired of being their prisoner. And anyway, he has his sights set on a girl, and he can’t very well capture her attention sitting in his bedroom, can he?
But Jack and Jill share a common problem that might stop them both from achieving their goals. Unbeknownst to all, they actually share the same body. For four days out of every month, Jill sprouts man bits and transforms into Jack. And Jack is all boy.
The concept is original. How many novels have you read where the female protagonist turns into a boy when she should be having her period? For me, this is the first. The story is narrated through both Jack and Jill’s perspectives, so readers get a chance to get inside both their heads. While they’re both so different, essentially they want the same thing: love. Will their gender mutation problem hinder their individual quests?
If you’re into the whole girl-meets-boy, girl-gets-boy type of story then Cycler is definitely a novel you’ll enjoy. Jill is awkward in her pursuits for love and is a character that I’m sure many teenagers all around the world will relate to. You’ll laugh with her, you’ll feel her pain, and mortification too. She’s a very real, three-dimensional character. Interestingly enough, even though he’s the cause of most of Jill’s problems, readers will undoubtedly also fall hopelessly in love with Jack. He’s a victim of circumstance and forgiving his poor behavior is an easy task.
As the novel closes, Jack and Jill appear no closer to a resolution than they were at the beginning of the novel. I can’t help but wonder (and hope) that McLaughlin is planning a sequel. Jack and Jill’s adventures seem far from over.
Cycler is quirky, funny and highly creative. Cycler is a standout debut novel that Lauren McLaughlin should be proud(less)
When Linger kicks off, Sam finds himself in quite the situation. Their temperature is still cold enough to keep the wolves tied to the forest – and Be...moreWhen Linger kicks off, Sam finds himself in quite the situation. Their temperature is still cold enough to keep the wolves tied to the forest – and Beck, his father-figure-type – is still lost to the wolves as well. So is Grace’s friend, Olivia. So when a wolf/kid shows up in his house well before winter’s grasp should have let him go, Sam can’t help but wonder why.
Cole is brash, outspoken, conspicuous, and not exactly what Sam wants around right now. Not that there is ever a right time for someone like Cole to come crashing into your life, but it just seems that Sam’s patience has worn a little thin of late. Cole is charming in that in-your-face-annoying kind of way, but he won my heart in no time, just like he won Isabel’s.
In the absence of her brother, Isabel is going through some stuff in this novel and finds comfort in the least likely of places. Cole irritates the hell out of Isabel (and just about everyone one else, too) but she’s unable to resist his charm. Will they get together? Well, that depends on your perspective, and your definition.
But I know that you’re all dying to hear about Sam and Grace. Sam and Grace keep that innocence that makes their relationship so unique, but at the same time, they take their relationship to a new place of finality, a new place of permanency. For me, reading about Grace and Sam has always felt more like I was reading about two adults, rather than two hormonal adolescents. This time around, though, I think its safe to say that Grace and Sam make choices that very much resemble the stubbornness that teen relationships are so often littered with. It was great to see them in such a way.
I guess you’d probably act all crazy if you thought you were losing the one person you love more than life, too. And that’s exactly how Sam sees it. That’s exactly how Grace sees it. It’s exactly how I saw it.
Linger is a solid second chapter in what is possibly the best young adult werewolf tale of our generation. Grace and Sam stay true to their characters, and we even get to see them grow a little, too. It’s always so great to learn new things about your favorite characters after you thought you already knew everything there was to know. These characters will touch your heart, make you weep, and hollow you out on the inside all at the same time.
Although she’s still a fairly young and fresh writer, Maggie Stiefvater’s prose reads like that of an age old pro. Her imagery and descriptions paint a picture so vibrant and colorful I felt like I was sitting front and center in a cinema. There are four points of view in this installment, and each character’s voice is unique and distinctive enough that following their individual journeys is easy as eating pumpkin pie.
A very impressive novel from a very impressive writer.(less)
If you’ve read any of the Perfect Chemistry novels, then you’re no stranger to the Fuentes brothers. Confident, attractive, alluring – trouble. Well,...moreIf you’ve read any of the Perfect Chemistry novels, then you’re no stranger to the Fuentes brothers. Confident, attractive, alluring – trouble. Well, Carlos and Alex have tried really hard to shelter their youngest brother, Luis, from all that, but it seems that Fuentes boys are destined to meet trouble in one way or another.
Luis is smart – so smart he’s got plans to head to college, and then move on to NASA. Then the Fuentes move back to Chicago, and back to the heart and soul of the Latino Blood – the ruling Mexican gang in that area. And the LB wants Luis.
Luis is smart enough to know that the LB is all kinds of bad news, and he knows he should stay the heck away, but the Fuentes curiosity, the Fuentes arrogance and thrill-seeking nature prevents that from happening.
There’s a problem though, and she goes by the name of Nikki. Hot, firey Latina from the better parts of Chicago, Nikki was raised away from all the violence and devastation that the LB delivers to Chicago. Nikki and Luis can’t stay away from each other, but like every Fuentes before him, Luis doesn’t always make the right choices. When Nikki finds out he’s pledged his allegiance to the LB behind her back, there’s no way in hell she’s going stick around for the show.
And then Luis learns the shocking truth about his family that his brothers and his mother tried so desperately to hide him from. He realizes he doesn’t belong in the Fuentes clan anymore, and without Nikki by his side, he’s really got nothing left to strive for. He turns to the one place that is offering him family and brotherhood, and willingly allows the LB to jump him in – old school style.
When are these boys ever going to learn: you don’t need to hit rock bottom to get what you want; you don’t have to follow in the footsteps of ALL the men that came before you!?
Like both Fuentes boys before him, I fell in love with Luis instantly. How could I not, what with that Fuentes charm radiating off of every single page? My heart raced and thumped dramatically as I entered his world.
He’s got the charisma of Alex, the passion of Carlos, and enough sense to see that he’s probably a little too much like his brothers sometimes. Where Alex’s stupidity was infuriating at times, Luis only incited feelings of sympathy when he made bad choices. Where Carlos’ outright confidence bordered on arrogance most of the time, Luis’ just seemed to know what he wanted – and how to get it.
The first thing I’d like to say about this novel is hubba hubba, look at that cover! It definitely qualifies as one of the most eye catching, tantalizing covers around at the moment. It leaves very little to the imagination, and not one part of me is sorry about that!
I’m a big fan of character driven stories, and Simone Elkeles really knows how to make her characters come alive. Her prose is flawless, her imagery perfect. The only thing I disliked about this novel was that it’s probably the last in the series. BOO!
Two very big thumbs up from a happy, satisfied reader!(less)
Currently, life sucks for Katrina. Since Java Heaven opened up shop next to her Grandmother’s Scandinavian coffeehouse, business has pretty much come...moreCurrently, life sucks for Katrina. Since Java Heaven opened up shop next to her Grandmother’s Scandinavian coffeehouse, business has pretty much come to a screeching halt. The bills are piling up, no customers are walking through the door, and yet Katrina and her grandmother must find a way to make ends meat. Katrina is sixteen years old. She should be worrying about boys, her homework, and what she’s going to do on the weekend. Instead, she gets up before school every morning to work in the coffeehouse, and promptly returns after classes have finished to do much of the same.
To make matters worse, her best male friend, Vincent, starts hanging around with Heidi Darling. Katrina thinks this is bad for many, many reasons, but mainly she’s ticked off because Heidi is Mr Darling’s daughter, and Mr Darling owns Java Heaven – the very reason Katrina and her Gran are struggling so much. Where is Vincent’s loyalty? How could he do that to Katrina?
But that’s not where the crazy ends. Katrina finds a strange boy passed out in the alley behind the coffeehouse one morning. Although she’s a bit freaked out by him, she mistakes him for a homeless person and in an act of pitying kindness, she leaves a coffee and a stale pastry for when he wakes up. But then he keeps showing up, saying that her act of kindness must not go unrewarded, and promises to fulfill her greatest desire. Katrina thinks he’s a nut job at first, but then things start happening that make her think there’s more to this strange boy than meets the eye.
Coffeehouse Angel is a super easy read and I totally dug being in Katrina’s head. When she ached, I ached. When she hurt, I hurt too. But mostly, I was impressed that I didn’t become irritated by her jealousy – and believe me, she spends a good chunk of this novel impersonating the green-eyed monster. Usually, I have little tolerance for such unrelenting self-pity, but I felt like I could empathize with her situation a little. I think all of us have had to deal with the kind of friendship problems Katrina goes through in this story. I was super happy that, at the end, she seemed to learn her lesson, though, and tucked her green-eyed monster impersonation away. I was exceptionally surprised by the outcome of the conflict that arose with Vincent, though. I thought the whole thing was going to turn out very differently. While I’d love to discuss my reasoning for this in this review, that’d be giving away the ending – and we can’t have that!
I drank way too much coffee while reading this novel. Must have been something about the constant mention of Java goodness.
Coffeehouse Angel is a lovely read. As good as red velvet cupcakes, if you ask me.(less)
Vampire Academy is the first novel in an ongoing series and is narrated through the eyes of Rose Hathaway. She’s a Guardian-in-training and it is her...moreVampire Academy is the first novel in an ongoing series and is narrated through the eyes of Rose Hathaway. She’s a Guardian-in-training and it is her job to protect Lissa Dragomir – who is not only a Moroi Princess, but also Rose’s best friend. But Rose is not your average student Guardian. She can see inside Lissa’s mind and can feel all of her best friend’s emotions. And Lissa is pretty special too; she has very rare healing abilities that have only been seen a couple of times in all of vampire history. Oh yes, and they’re both heartbreakingly stunning. The boys love them, and the girls love to hate them.
Rose is a likeable enough character. She’s sassy, feisty and fiercely loyal. She’s quick to fly off the handle, so Vampire Academy is never without at least a little action. And it’s certainly not without its romance. Rose has a bit of a reputation as a player, but that’s the thing about reputations – you can never really tell if their genuine or made from gossip. Will her reputation deter Dimitri – her Guardian mentor – or will he allow himself to make up his own mind?
Rose’s mental connection with Lissa is an interesting narrative tool which allows readers to follow Lissa’s story quite closely, too. Because Rose feels all that Lissa does, readers are also invited to identify with her, as well as Rose. For me, however, Lissa proved to be nothing more than a shallow narrative agent which provides conflict and drama for Rose to deal with.
Unfortunately, Rose’s voice did not draw me in to the point where I was utterly hooked. It would be unfair to say that I was bored, because I wasn’t, but I certainly had to concentrate on the reading process. I had to force myself to become invested in the story and develop a connection with the characters.
If someone gave me the sequels, I’d read them. However, I’m in no rush to go out and buy them for myself. Vampire Academy is not a bad read, but it’s certainly nothing to brag to your friends about.(less)
Wow. I mean, just wow. I’m in shock, I think. I finished reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness about forty minutes ago and I just can’...moreWow. I mean, just wow. I’m in shock, I think. I finished reading The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness about forty minutes ago and I just can’t get my brain to work. I’m stuck in time, my thoughts frozen on the last sentence of the novel, my mouth hanging wide open in the shape of an O.
I’ve been reading a lot lately, devouring books faster than I can get my hands on them, but nothing – I repeat nothing – stands out nearly half as much as this book does. It’s profound, it’s remarkable, it’s downright captivating.
Imagine living in a world where women no longer exist. In fact, they’ve been extinct for so long that you’ve never ever seen one with your own two eyes. Well, that’s what life is like for twelve, almost thirteen-year-old Todd Hewitt. When his people settled in Prenticetown, New World, they had no idea that they were settling in a place full of disease. Before long all the men had contracted The Noise – the ability to hear the thoughts of everyone around them – and the women started dropping off like flies. Todd’s mother died just after she had him, and so did all the other women, which makes Todd the youngest, and last person born in Prenticetown.
In a town where everyone can hear everyone’s thoughts (including animals), there is never a moment of peace. Not ever. So when Todd stumbles upon a hole in all the noise, a patch of quiet, he knows something is very wrong. Everyone hears the quiet in his thoughts and suddenly Todd finds himself being chased out of town. Only, Todd didn’t really know there was an out of town. Suddenly, nothing makes sense.
While being pursued he stumbles across the quiet patch again, only to discover that the quiet is actually a she, a girl. And he can’t hear a single thought passing through her mind. But all the women died, didn’t they? If so, then what the hell is this thing in front of him? It must be an alien – a spackle – right? Wrong. It only takes Todd a few moments to realize that this is no spackle, and that he really is looking at a girl, for real. But where did she come from? And how did she survive the disease? Unfortunately, Todd and Viola (the girl) don’t really have time to get to know each other because all of Prenticetown is looking for him, looking for her. Todd’s life takes on a new meaning as he realizes that he must protect Viola at all costs. If the army catches up with them, they’ll kill her and they’ll kill him too.
Suddenly, as the truth about his people’s real past comes out, Viola and Todd realize that the only thing they have left is each other. Their survival depends on the other’s commitment to keep them alive. The Knife of Never Letting Go is a story full of betrayal, deceit, and the painful realization that the human race is capable of some seriously profound acts of evil. Everywhere Todd and Viola go, destruction seems to follow them. They realize they can’t go into any more settlements because the army tears through soon after, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. When they make the choice to avoid all further settlements, in all circumstances in order to protect civilians from unnecessary harm, readers learn that perhaps, just maybe, there is a little bit of good left in humanity after all.
The companionship that develops between Todd and Viola is heart warming, to say the least. Their instinctual, primal desire to survive is what brings them together, but it’s their friendship that ultimately keeps them fighting, keeps them alive. They not only want to stay alive for themselves, but they want to stay alive for each other, too. Because really, a life without companionship isn’t a life worth fighting for. The moment Todd realizes this is both beautiful and poetic, and I found myself feeling a little choked up, searching for tissues.
Patrick Ness’s phonetic use of language really helps set the tone of the story, and assists in building clear, perfect images of the characters in question. When Todd finds Viola, it is instantly clear she’s not from his planet because she pronounces words differently to him. I normally find phonetic manipulation of language like this annoying as it tends to slow down my reading process, and interrupts the narrative flow of things. The phonetic manipulation in The Knife of Never Letting Go, however, makes for effortless, colorful reading.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is nothing short of brilliant. Every page brings with it new revelations, new drama, deeper character development. Just when you think the book can’t possibly get any better, Ness raises the bar and takes the story to a whole new level of greatness. Reading this novel has been a real pleasure, and one that I know I’ll repeat many times over in the months to come. To say that I am eagerly awaiting the second instalment of this story is the understatement of the century.(less)
High school is nearly over and Jason can’t wait to start college. Playing basketball at a college level has always been a dream of his; he’s even got...moreHigh school is nearly over and Jason can’t wait to start college. Playing basketball at a college level has always been a dream of his; he’s even got a scholarship and all. But then Jason decides that he can’t bear to hide his sexuality anymore and comes out to his team and his classmates. Eventually word gets out that he’s dating Kyle and in a moment of victorious joy after a smashing win on the court, Jason is captured by local television cameras giving his boyfriend a celebratory kiss. Soon after, Jason’s life takes an awful turn and he receives a letter revoking his scholarship. Jason’s folks recently split up and he knows that without that scholarship, there is no way that Jason’s Ma can afford to send him away to college. There go his plans for an awesome college basketball career. And what about Kyle? They were going to college together. How is he supposed to tell Kyle that they’ll be apart next year?
Little does he know that Kyle is harboring a secret of his own. Kyle wants nothing more than to move away and start life afresh with Jason next year. In fact, it’s all he’s wanted since he and Jason started dating. But then Kyle receives an offer of a lifetime: he’s accepted to Princeton University. Kyle applied to Princeton before he started dating Jason, but now things have changed. He loves Jason. He wants to be with Jason forever. More to the point, he doesn’t want to be apart from Jason next year. How is that supposed to happen when they’re both going to different colleges in different states? There are plenty of colleges in the country, but there’s only one Jason. What will Kyle do?
Meanwhile, Nelson is having problems of his own. He’s mad at Kyle, for one. If Kyle accepts his offer from Princeton, all of Nelson’s college plans will be ruined. Kyle and Nelson were supposed to go to Tech together. It’s the only reason Nelson even applied to Tech. What is the point of going to Tech if his best friend isn’t with him?
Like Jason and Kyle, Nelson has finally found love. Jeremy is cute, sweet, and just a little bit older than Nelson. However, Jeremy is HIV positive. At first, Nelson doesn’t seem to care. Much to Kyle’s horror, Nelson isn’t being as careful with Jeremy as he should be. Nelson just wants to be with Jeremy and doesn’t think he should be treated differently because of his illness. But then Jeremy gets sick one day while they’re making out and Nelson gets a first hand account of what dealing with HIV can be like. Is he ready to be with someone so sick? And what kind of person does that make him if he’s not?
Being a teenager is hard enough; being a gay teenager can be hell. But as Jason, Kyle, and Nelson prove, friendship and love can conquer all kinds of hate, all kinds of challenges. Alex Sanchez’s characters are so alive in my mind they could literally walk off the page. Their individual struggles are presented in simple terms, allowing the reader to form their own opinion about the way the events are presented. Sanchez has a real knack for telling it like it is without telling you how you should feel about it. He’s a supremely talented writer and I think all teens should make the effort to read one – or all – of his books.(less)
Short stories have never really been my cup of tea. Just when I’m getting attached to the characters, just when I’m immersing myself in the plot, ever...moreShort stories have never really been my cup of tea. Just when I’m getting attached to the characters, just when I’m immersing myself in the plot, everything gets wrapped up really quickly and then it’s all over. I like to spend time getting to know my characters, spend time losing myself in the story. Yet the thought of a book containing works from authors like Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Melissa Marr, Gabrielle Zevin and Laurie Faria Stolarz was too good to pass on, and I felt like I just had to give Love is Hell a go.
The title says it all. Each story has some kind of supernatural, warped love story at its centre. Each writer brings something unique and different to the compilation, showcasing a whole variety of characters. Out of the five stories, two in particular – Scott Westerfeld’s ‘Stupid Perfect World’ and Melissa Marr’s ‘Love Struck’ – stood out for me.
Stupid Perfect World is set in the future. The humans take ‘vitamins’ which help alter the human body so things like excessive emotions are kept in check, sleep is not only unnecessary but also unheard of, and disease and illness are non-existent. In Scarcity class, Keiren has to choose a condition from the ‘olden days’ to experience and report on. Inspired by Hamlet and never having slept a day in his life, Keiren decides to give the whole sleeping thing a go. Maria, Keiran’s classmate decides to turn off her hormonal balancers so she can experience the full force of teen angst. Stupid Perfect World follows the pair as they progress through their projects. The ending – which I’m not going to divulge – has a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies and left me smiling like a goofy kid. I fell in love with Keiran instantly, and developed a soft spot for Maria just as quickly. More importantly, I got everything I wanted from this story and as Westerfeld brought the tale to a close, I found myself feeling completely satiated.
Melissa Marr’s ‘Love Struck’ is the tale of Alana, an average teenage girl who is forced into courting Murrin, a Selchie from the sea. On the way home from a party one night Alana steps on Murrin’s discarded skin, therefore binding her to him indefinitely. Murrin hadn’t intended for Alana to step in his skin; he wanted her to fall in love with him naturally, but of course, in matters of love, things never go as planned. Alana is angry that she has been lured into such a commitment and resents Murrin’s advances initially. But like all fey folk, Murrin’s allure is too seductive to ignore. Love Struck follows Alana’s journey as she falls in love with Murrin, both cosmically and naturally. Melissa Marr writes beautifully and I found myself going back to the beginning to read it again as soon as I finished. Like all of her fey characters, Murrin made my stomach flutter and my heart beat just a little faster. He’s sweet, sexy and everything a girl could possibly want in a boyfriend.
Love is Hell is an easy read. I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that short stories can be just as great as lengthy novels – you just have to read the right ones, by good, talented authors!(less)
Schuyler Van Alen is not just your average run of the mill vampire. She is part of Manhattan’s most popular and elite of all Blue Blood vampires, and...moreSchuyler Van Alen is not just your average run of the mill vampire. She is part of Manhattan’s most popular and elite of all Blue Blood vampires, and life for Schuyler just became very, very complicated. She isn’t like the other vampires in her society – they all remember the details of their past lives, they all know where they come from. Schuyler, however, is a new spirit. She has no memories of her previous lives because this life is her first. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, the third instalment in Melissa De La Cruz’s Blue Bloods vampire series – Revelations – finds Schuyler tackling problems that transcend your regular teenage, adolescent dramas. Or do they?
After the death of her Grandmother, Schuyler suddenly finds herself living with the Force’s, against her will. Waking up to the sound of Mimi Force’s voice every morning isn’t exactly Schuyler’s idea of fun. It’s bad enough that she has to see Mimi every day at school, now that the two girls are permanent housemates, Schuyler’s home-life has taken a turn for the worse. To make things even more complicated, living with the Force’s also means sharing a roof with the one boy that Schuyler loves more than life itself. Shame that Jack Force is Mimi’s “twin”, and her destined life partner. Jack and Mimi share a bond so strong that such a bond has never been successfully broken in all of vampire history. Devoted fans, however, would be well aware of the growing sexual tension between Jack and Schuyler. Will living in the same house finally tip their attraction over the edge? And if so, what would be the cost? These were definitely the questions burning on my lips as I picked up this novel, and while I can safely say that Revelations does in fact reveal some of the answers the fandom seek, closure on the matter seems a long way off. As the epilogue comes to a close, I couldn’t help but feel that the narrative does a one-eighty, and readers end up back at the beginning, asking the same questions, pondering the outcome in much the same way we were at the end of Masquerade.
While it has never been easy to like Mimi, readers might be surprised to find Schuyler is a little less likable than she was in previous novels. I hope for the sake of our protagonist that the questionable decisions she makes in Revelations are simply the result of immature, adolescent hormones, rather than a complete shift in her character and personality.
As I turned the last page, I found myself exhaling and feeling slightly frustrated that I would most likely have to wait an entire year for the next instalment. But I have to give De La Cruz props for her focus on action and drama. So much happens in such a short space of time that dwelling on specific events is never really an option. And although I feel a little ripped off in terms of closure, it is that exact feeling that will undoubtedly find me hanging for the next novel.(less)
Marked is the first novel in the House of Night vampyre series. It was published in 2007, so I realise I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon. Sad...moreMarked is the first novel in the House of Night vampyre series. It was published in 2007, so I realise I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon. Sadly, I’m wondering why I bothered at all. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this series, so perhaps I set my expectations a little too high when I started reading, but as I sit here with my fingers hovering over my keyboard I’m lost for positive words.
P.C and Kristen Cast certainly have the right idea, but the execution, in my opinion, is all wrong. In sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird’s world, vampires (note, with a ‘y’ not an ‘i’) have always existed, and unlike most other vampire novels around at the moment, everyone knows about them. They’re integrated into society, and they even have their own finishing school! Zoey, freshly marked as a fledgling, heads off to the House of Night Finishing School to learn all about being a vampyre.
Vampyre Finishing school isn’t all that different to regular high school. Except classes are at night (because vampyres are naturally nocturnal), and on top of all the regular school stuff, fledglings are required to take classes that will help them harness their powers. Readers follow Zoey as she makes new friends (and enemies) and quickly discovers that her new school is full of very attractive vampyre boys. Suddenly, Zoey feels like she is in high school heaven! But Zoey imprints on her ex-boyfriend, and forms a unique bond with him that is almost impossible to break. Such relationships between human and vampyre for a fledgling of her level are prohibited, however, and our protagonist finds herself in a bit of hot water.
The plot is strong and original enough, so I can understand why so many people are drawn to this novel. I had certainly never entertained the idea of a vampyre finishing school before reading this book. The characters, however, are its downfall. Zoey is little more than a two-dimensional cardboard cut-out. She’s tacky, weak and uninspiring. Being inside her head was frustrating and I found it impossible to lose myself in the story. I didn’t feel like I was sharing her experiences with her, and watching her stumble through one predictable situation after the next got tiring.
Heath – Zoey’s human imprint – displays no remarkable character traits whatsoever. He’s dopey, lazy and is definitely not the kind of boy you’d want as a boyfriend. Apart from the fact that he’s Zoey’s imprint, as an individual character he adds almost nothing to the narrative flow. It would have made for a much more interesting read if Zoey had imprinted on someone with enough brains to actually create some kind of trouble. Heath, however, reminds me a little of a loyal dog: always there, but achieves very little.
On the plus side, the cover art for this book is spectacular. The picture attached to this review does not do it justice. It is simple, yet incredibly eye catching and lures the potential reader into thinking that its pages hold a dark and chilling mystery. Sadly, cover art can be very misleading and this is a perfect of example of why we should never judge a book by its cover.(less)
Being a novel about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone comes with an explicit content warning, as all good rock ‘n’ roll stori...moreBeing a novel about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone comes with an explicit content warning, as all good rock ‘n’ roll stories should. It is the tale of Emily Black, a messed up teenager from Carlisle that channels herself through her guitar.
Emily is one of those tortured artist types. When she was just a baby, her mother left her with her father to ‘follow the dream’ and chase the punk scene around the country. Now Emily is a teenager and her mother still has not returned. Although she won’t admit it, Emily is hurting and she’s angry – very angry. She is feisty, cold, incapable of loving, and charged with way too much self-confidence. She’s got a vile mouth and she’s one of those teenagers that get involved in adult things way too early. She lost her virginity at fourteen, she first got drunk at twelve, she smokes, takes drugs and sleeps around.
Emily’s life goal is to make music. She doesn’t have a backup plan because she doesn’t need one; she’s going to make it as a rock star and that’s all there is to it. Luckily her best friend is the best drummer Emily has ever met, and together they’re practically unstoppable. They recruit Tom – a kid from the school band – to play bass and before they know it they’ve got interstate gigs, and people are calling out their names on the street.
Sounds very glamorous and feel-good, right? Wrong. There is nothing feel-good about this novel. Its edgy, hard and I squirmed uncomfortably as I flipped through the pages. As painstaking as that was, I was unable to stop reading. Emily is such an emotionally closed character and her pain weighed heavily on my heart all the way through.
The novel also follows Louisa – Emily’s mother – on her journeys around the country. The victim of a horrible crime, Louisa runs far and wide so she doesn’t have to emotionally process what happened to her. I’m sure many readers will feel sorry for Louisa as they engage in her story, yet I found myself unable to do so. She’s weak, whiny, and cowardly. Her reasons for leaving her family behind are a little pathetic and completely unforgivable.
Kuehnert’s love for music bleeds from the pages of this book. Her knowledge is extensive and her passion is blindingly obvious. As far as debut novels go, this one is pretty spectacular. Kuehnert’s prose is strong and she manipulates the English language like Emily manipulates her guitar: perfectly and poetically. Her characters are vibrant, three dimensional, and complex; and they prove that even bad girls make for excellent literary reads. Relating to Emily was difficult, but empathising with her was not.
If you love music, if you like your books a little on the rusty, edgy side, if you enjoy reading about strong, angsty female characters, then I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is the novel for you. We give it two very big thumbs up here at yaReads and we can’t wait for whatever comes next from Stephanie Kuehnert.(less)