This is a hard review for me to write. The thing is? It should be hard. Eating disorders, racism, and homophobia should never be a light topic in any...moreThis is a hard review for me to write. The thing is? It should be hard. Eating disorders, racism, and homophobia should never be a light topic in any situation. This is a heavy book and, for a lot of people, it isn't going to be a their cup of tea. Perhaps the most distressing thing is that, for all that we talk about anti bullying? Hate is still alive and well in far too many lunch rooms. This is one of the better books I've read in the recent years that truly tackles these subjects. Immense in it's realism on the subject matters it tackles, M.B. Mulhall deserves every award in the book for not taking the easy route on this. It's gritty ,and at times very hard to handle, but the way Mulhall crafts the story allows it to be the punch in the face it should be.
It's been over 24 hours since I finished this book and I'm still grappling with myself and my need to do this book the kind of justice it did for the kid who's scared to come out of the closet, the kid who feels the immense pressure to be perfect, or the kid who walks with their shoulders hunched, hoping to God the student body won't tear them down for something so far beyond their control such as race or sexual orientation. Still I'm going to attempt to do this book some semblance of justice.
Ian has a lot of secrets. From his home life to his sexuality to the way he stays in his weight class. He's breaking under the stress. Underneath all that baggage though? Ian is a great person. He will do anything to protect the people he loves. Even if it means he'll take the fall for it. In the beginning, he has one good friend and, luckily for Ian? Clay is a good friend. Clay has his moments, just as we all do. He's human. he has moments where he is an ass and he says things that no one should ever say about another person, even if it is over jealousy. But, in the end, bro are bros because Clay's got Ian's back no matter what.
I want to make it clear that this Ian's story. It's about his struggle with his parents, his future, and trying to be true to himself. His home life isn't ideal, it's clear his mother loves him but, as often is the case? His mother is loyal to his father. No matter how much she loves her son, she'll never choose Ian over her husband. Ian's father is a leech on society who is content to live off the system while reliving his glory days. Discontent with the way his life turned out he is determined to have Ian live as he does. He wants him to quit school, a constant mantra of his was something along the lines of '8 years was enough schooling for me, why do you need more.' He constantly tried to tear his son down for 'not being good enough.'
Ian needs control. However when twins Julian and Mei Li come into town? It turns his entire world upside down. It makes the lines he's set for himself blur. For the first time in his life he's attracted to another man that's in the same school as him. And the town Ian lives in is very narrow minded and very white. I'm not saying that all towns are like this, but I know a lot of towns here in the south that are just like it. Justin and Mei Lei are treated awfully from the get go and Ian's ex girlfriend targets her from the minute they lock eyes.
I loved the friendship between Ian and Mei Lei and how it progressed. I also loved how it was a completely separate thing from what he had with her brother. She became like his sister in a way.
Something very very wonderful about this story is that is was not just about the romance. I said before that it was Ian's story and I was serious. This is about his battle with himself and against his outward demons. That being said? The romance was omg steamy. I definitely had to fan myself a few times.
I did like the end result of the book. I liked the resolution. It showed that, even in a narrow minded place, there are still a lot of people that see the person, not the orientation.
Whether the reader realizes it or not? Ian was lucky in so many ways. Not everybody else is.
It's a great book. I hope you'll pick it up. I promise it's worth every word.(less)
Like many of my fellow nineties children,I grew up with Sabrina--err Melissa. In fact, when my parents "needed" to punish me? My love for the TGIF lin...moreLike many of my fellow nineties children,I grew up with Sabrina--err Melissa. In fact, when my parents "needed" to punish me? My love for the TGIF lineup was so legendary that it was the ultimate punishment. So, from the very minute that I heard she was writing a memoir I sat in front of the computer, counting the days religiously.
The minute I got the book I started tearing into it like it was a rare steak.
It was not a disappointment. The book is funny, witty, and candid. You feel as if you're talking to a new friend over drinks in a bar. What I mean to say is that while, honest and candid, it's a slightly superficial look at it. Melissa never really goes into detail about emotions, but keeps a steady pace throughout the book.
There's a lot of name dropping, but, somehow? It didn't come off conceited. It just was like she was saying, "these are my people" with a shrug and a smile. She doesn't claim to be perfect in this book, not in any way. In fact? She kind of makes you feel safe and like it's okay to make mistakes.
Some of it is a little jaw dropping. Other parts are going to make you want to laugh until you can't breathe. Then there will be times you want to hug her and other times you want to roll your eyes.
It's a good read. A quick one, but if you've been a Melissa fan at any age? Read it. You'll love it. If you aren't a fan and you never have been? It might not be your cup of tea.
Review: So I don't like crime novels. I love procedural shows and I enjoy observing people, but I don't really delve into this genre. However L.K. Hil...moreReview: So I don't like crime novels. I love procedural shows and I enjoy observing people, but I don't really delve into this genre. However L.K. Hill wrote the book so I was like, ehh I'll try it.
L.K. Hill is an alarmingly talented and evil woman.
Because once again I am frothing at the mouth for a sequel. Once again I want to hit something because I have too many questions and I want to tweet to the heavens and back that if you don't read this book and like it I question your sanity.
This book is triggering. I'm not even going to go through the list, but if you're squeamish of anything taboo you need to steel yourself before reading it. (And no I'm not going to tell you not to read it because this book is THAT FREAKING GOOD) However, the triggering material is dealt with tastefully and with respect to the matter of which it pertains to.
Kyra is an amazing, multi faceted character. I love being inside her head, viewing her thought process. She's observant and she understands people. I mean this woman understands people on a mentalist level and you don't even realize it until the middle of the book. She's smart, resourceful, and gritty. She's got steel in her spine. This is the woman that I think we need to see more of in fiction. She's not the girl who allows herself to collapse when the world around her spirals. She handles her business...and then, like any human being, collapses afterwards. It's an admirable trait.
Gabe is a solid beginning for a character. Though we see into his mind and we are given glimpses into his machinations, we don't really know him yet. This is his story too, that much is clear. However, how much of it is his we have yet to learn.
The secondary characters are likeable and fleshed out enough that you can feel for them, fill in their features and give them personality. In fact, this entire book is rife with imagery that gives you a specific mental picture of what kind of world we're being drawn into.
L.K. Hill once again writes a book that is intricate and detailed, starting a whole other series that most authors will probably froth with envy over once she's complete. I don't even know how to accurately describe this book. I just know that it has that potential, the same one Interchron has, and the same one that has spawned any epic and critically acclaimed series of the decade. I look forward to more. I probably would pay her bills for a year and give her extra money so that she could finish this series and let me read it. I don't have those means however.
I can find nothing lacking in this book. L.K. Hill is as talented as ever and I, as a reviewer/reader/amateur writer, am at odds with my awe of this series and quality of the writing as well as being rabid for the next installment, and caught between utter fan worship-belieber level-devotion and hating her more than a little bit for consistently being this good.
Hats off again Liesel. Again you have set up a perfect first novel for what I fervently hope will continue to be a fast paced and gripping series.(less)
I love these books. It's predecessor, Go Ask Alice, had the same vibe as well. Both were about girls who got into a world they thought they could cont...moreI love these books. It's predecessor, Go Ask Alice, had the same vibe as well. Both were about girls who got into a world they thought they could control and ended up in way over their heads. I think that I related a lot more to the girl in this book (we'll call her Lucy) because it was set closer to my time in high school and I could remember a lot of the things in the book happening to my friends, if not myself.
It tackled the subject of peer pressure alarmingly well. It also handled addiction and the allure of it all very aptly. As I read about Lucy's friends spiraling into that world and saw how devastated she was that they were going on without her, that they didn't have time for her anymore, I felt her need to fit in. It was very visceral. Her ache to be accepted by the people she loved and her need to be a part of their world, even if it was at the expense of her relationship with her brother or her parent's trust, was very raw. I remember feeling that way at her age and at other points in my life. I remember being on parts of her journey not too long ago.
It's not easy to say no. Not when everyone looks like they're having so much fun or your friends are pressuring you to do it or when you may lose your very best friend to another crowd if you don't participate. And once you say yes? It gets harder to say no. You think "meh, what's one more time?" and do it again. Then you're offered something harder and it's better. You don't always get addicted to the drug. Sometimes you're just addicted to the high and willing to use whatever you have to to get back there. And THAT is more dangerous than any drug. That desperation.
Lucy's journey was harrowing. It squeezed the life out of me so many times. I'd have to remind myself to breathe in multiple different parts. And then the end. How it all ended? I'd love to say that this book was a scare tactic and it was being dramatic, but I've seen stuff like this happen for years and years. And I've seen it happen EXACTLY how it happened to Lucy. So read it as a cautionary tale.
I don't know that this exact story happened to a girl and that this is really her journal, but I've seen similar ones happen to friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers.
I'm actually giving this a 3.5, but here's my review crossposted at my book blog Vicariously!
This book...was nothing like what I expected. Coming from...moreI'm actually giving this a 3.5, but here's my review crossposted at my book blog Vicariously!
This book...was nothing like what I expected. Coming from Chris Colfer, of Glee fame, I expected something uplifting and funny. What I got? It was funny, most definitely, albeit in a twisted kind of way. It was, however, not uplifting. It was unrealistically realistic, a contradiction on so many levels.
So Carson Phillips wants to go to Northwestern. He wants to go there so bad that a) it's the only school he's bothered to apply to and b) he's worked his butt off to get the credentials to get there. Only problem? Colleges aren't satisfied with good grades and a couple extra-curriculars anymore. They want you to show initiative, be innovative, and Carson gets the amazing idea to start a literary magazine. His issue? Getting people to participate. No one likes Carson, save Mallery, so getting help is gonna be difficult. Luckily Carson comes up with a solution: He'll blackmail his classmates into helping him. And it works.
Carson Phillips is an amazing anti-hero. He seems so distinctly prickly. He comes from a podunk little town where he doesn't fit in, his family is alarmingly dysfunctional, he has no friends, and the only person who he actually loves is losing their mind to dementia. He is not a well liked person, which is probably not helped by the fact almost every word that comes out of his mouth is laced with derision and condescension. He doesn't hide the fact that he finds everyone surrounding him classless, beneath him, and idiotic. He's constantly dreaming of the good life where he's at the top of the food chain, people fawning over him. He's a snob, a very loveable and snarky one, but a snob.
It would be very easy to hate Carson, just by reading this review, or by the first three or four chapters of the books. But the thing is...his life is so incredibly awful. His mom is basically a pill junkie who lives off what his father decides to give them since he walked out all those years ago and wants to tear Carson down so that he'll stay with her for the rest of his life (how this manifests in the book is awful by the by). His parents aren't divorced because his mom won't sign the papers so they fight, scream, and Carson's mother just cries. His grandmother, the woman who was his rock, who made sure he was gonna be as okay as possible, reassured him that he was loved? She's in a home with her brain deteriorating from dementia. Sometimes she doesn't remember him. And those kids he's so condescending to? They're just as, if not more, awful to him. And don't even get me started on his dad.
Since the book is really about Carson's life, no other characters really get developed, which is sad, because some of the caricatures characters have a lot of potential. If watching Carson grow from a selfish, bitter, holier-than-thou, vindictive, one prozac prescription away from happiness-like humanoid, into a real kid, one who realizes he's not the only person in the world, and whom starts to care about the kids he's blackmailed. Of course he does it with a flair only Carson is capable of and a quip asking why they chose him as a therapist. And through the completion of his literary magazine he finds out that not everyone is what they seem.
The ending isn't a shocker so much as...wow. I can't believe they let it end like that, You'd be extremely hard pressed to find that kind of finality in any YA today. It's a black comedy to the highest degree. And maybe you kind of learn something.(less)
Can I say that I sat there thinking this for a good ten minutes after reading this book? Not to mention the following hour it took to ga...moreWow. Just wow.
Can I say that I sat there thinking this for a good ten minutes after reading this book? Not to mention the following hour it took to gather my words. And words come to me as easy as breathing. I always know what to say, it’s instinctual. I might not always say it, but I do. I think this may be the first time in my life that I may still be at a loss for words a hour later.
I just don’t know that I’ve read a book that’s ever…enticed me like this. Reading it the first time was insane. The second time? I absorbed it with the same fervor in which I began it. It took me less than three hours to devour this book. And here I am sitting, trying to sort out all the questions in my mind.
Let me begin by telling you: as far as first books go this is the ideal way to start out any series. You lead in with questions, very subtly answer them, but simultaneously leave the reader with further questions and several thousand conspiracy theories running around in their heads.
I will get killed for saying this, but I’m gonna, Liesel K. Hill has the potential for a Hunger Games rivaling series. I need this to happen. Cause I have faith that this woman could churn out an amazingly haunting series, that satisfies readers in ways Collins fell short. And I don’t know how I feel about feeling that.
The characters, while they all start in that semi-dimensional way, have so many arenas to grow through that it’s unreal. You feel for them in this haunting, almost reluctant way. And, at this point, you don’t even know what the cast’s motivations are in any way. The potential in these books is alarmingly amazing. I need the next book.
The plot is excessively intricate. It makes me feel like I’m looking at the scenery of a Studio Ghibli film. Nothing is superfluous. Everything has a reason and a place, even if it’s not revealed to you. I have amazingly high hopes for this series and Hill could not have written a better novel. I challenge you not to read this and be completely captivated.
Insanity. I think this book is so good that it’s driven me to a new level of insanity. Harry Potter ended! I was not ready for an obsession of this level to grip me ever again.
But it happened. Courtesy of Liesel K. Hill.(less)
I think, more and more nowadays, that our Hollywood illusions are being shattered. I don't know about the rest of you but, when I was young, I was und...moreI think, more and more nowadays, that our Hollywood illusions are being shattered. I don't know about the rest of you but, when I was young, I was under the impression that being famous meant you were happy, got everything you wanted, were rich, dated hot people, and that your life was perfect. What we're finding out is a much darker picture. Women are pressured and put under contract to maintain a certain look or weight. If they cannot do this they can be let go from their jobs or put under further pressure. When your health is lacking, a lot of studios still (this was a practice commonly done in the Judy Garland/Marilyn Monroe era) supply their stars with "uppers" and "downers to help them with the rigors and demands of their haranguing schedule. With people like Demi Lovato coming forward with their struggles with body image, drug abuse, and mental illness we're learning that her story is not the exception in terms of what she's been put through. What's exceptional is that she got help, came clean about her issues, and her career continued to thrive.
Willow was a big deal in Hollywood, until the fast life caught up with her. Faced with rehab or a grave? Willow "chose" rehab. Now she's got one last shot and on top of that? She's got no cash flow. She is at rock bottom and she has to keep this job. That means showing up on time and staying away from the party scene that was once her entire universe.
Cooper has his own baggage and the last thing he wants is to deal with another strung out actress. He's seen how that plays out and, no thanks, he's better off away from that world. Willow finds herself wanting to prove him wrong and pushing herself to exceed his, and the everyone else's, expectations.
Willow was a really interesting character to me. She'd led a very different life from mine, but I found myself relating to her on a very visceral level. It got to a point where Willow was genuinely trying, where she was figuring out 'hey I need to change and that girl I was isn't the woman I want to be.' It was great seeing her grow as a character. And it wasn't just driven by wanting to impress or be with Cooper. It got to a point where Willow just wanted to be good enough for her.
I also liked Cooper's arc. Don't get me wrong, this was definitely Willow's story. At the end of the day she was the most developed character. But Cooper's impact, the curveball that threw. It was definitely interesting.
And when Willow had to face her demons she did. It was not an easy thing, her kryptonite was underhanded in more than twenty ways. Willow didn't just try, she overcame. And she realized that part of recovery is realizing that it is something that you have to continue for the rest of your life.
A great story, a great ending, and an even greater message. There is no easy way out and there is no miracle cure. You work your ass off. In a culture that feeds off instant gratification, the only way to be sure is to be thorough. And Willow learned that and more.(less)
Everytime Abbi Glines writes a book? I'm not even gonna lie, I tend to get extremely excited, and I'll buy it the absolute day it comes out in my hast...moreEverytime Abbi Glines writes a book? I'm not even gonna lie, I tend to get extremely excited, and I'll buy it the absolute day it comes out in my haste to read it. While I devour the book like my best friend eats my homemade mac&cheese (read: he inhales it), I'm constantly texting one of my friends asking him why I love this book so much when it's so cheesy?
We met Cage York quite spectacularly in this book's predecessor, Because of Low. Cage is a party boy, a party boy with cash to burn and the connections to do it in style. He's a talented baseball player and he's got the system eating out of his hand because he does the minimum to get by, gets copius help and praise. Yeah, he had a hard childhood, but now he's coasting through life without a worry in the world. That is until the events of the previous book, when, for the first time in his life, Cage didn't get what he wanted. Due to this he started spiraling. And then he made a very stupid mistake: he drove completely smashed out of his mind. And he got caught.
I'm very impressed with this book for the way they handled this situation. Cage was a stupid, stupid man to do what he did. And honestly? He should have gotten punished for it. As with a lot of things involving sports stars and celbrities today, instead of getting punished like the rest of us, Cage was given the option to work for his coach's friend on his farm for the summer. I'm pretty sure Cage thought it'd be easy peasy, but when he gets there? He's in for a hilariously rude surprise. First, Cage finds out that, while he can go home on the weekends, he has to stay at the farm for the whole week. Second, his room is not the luxury he thought it'd be. The room is utilitarian and tiny. It has a tiny shower and not much distance from that to the room. And did we mention he's in the south and his room is located in the barn with no air conditioning. Then, any thought of maybe he was going to get off easy was completely demolished when he met Eva and her father, learning that he was going to be doing real manual labor on the farm from sun up to sun down. I gotta give it to him. He stepped up though. Yeah he had times where he fooled around and made more bad choices, but when he worked, he worked. He didn't slack in the least. And he attempted to be respectful, mostly succeeding.
Eva is a very pretty girl, but she's only ever had time for one boy in the world. Josh was the love of her life and they were going to be married. While she was planning the wedding he was overseas and then Eva got the call that tore the ground from under her feet. Josh was dead, killed in the line of duty. So she's done her best to stitch herself together and move on. The last thing in the world she wants is anything to do with Cage York. He's a drunk. He's a man-whore. In short? He is absolutely everything that Josh wasn't and probably the one person he would have never approved of her moving on with. So Eva does her best to let Cage know exactly what she thinks of him. In short, she is anything but nice. She dismisses him from the get go.
But Cage? Cage has only ever been turned down by one other woman and Eva intrigues him. So they end up in this really funny cat and mouse game. And everytime Cage is about to give up? Eva pulls him back in. Same goes for Eva. It's funny. Cause these girls throw themselves at Cage, I believe one of them did it naked. And Cage was just like no, I want to be good enough for Eva.
And when they got together? Those scenes. I think my room felt hotter than the heat outside (it was 93 F) because dayum. It was incredibly spicy and their chemistry was explosive. If they'd been chemicals mixed by a chemistry student? They would have decimated the whole school system. It was absolutely electric. And good lord when they finally...just read the book, if only for these scenes. I assure you it's more though. So much more.
I like how Eva eventually had to face that not only was she getting over Josh, but that she was over Josh. It didn't mean she'd stopped loving him or forgot, it just meant that he became a beautiful part of her past rather than a painful memory she tortured herself with today. She learned to move on with help from Josh's brother, her father, and Josh's mom. It was beautiful.
And Cage had to own up to his behavior on many accounts. He changed for the better. It wasn't just for Eva, it was for himself. Which, if you've ever watched someone try to change for someone else you know it never lasts, is the only way the change will stick. Good on you Cage.
Abbi Glines' books have been a very beloved guilty pleasure of mine since Breathe. They're like that piece of Lindor's chocolate that you've been denying yourself because you're trying to lose ten pounds before your high school reunion and by the time you've gotten back in your car and you're driving home from the event, you've bought a bag and made obscene noises as you stuffed them in your mouth because they were insanely good, illicitly so. So what if the dialogue is cheesy at times? So what if it isn't the most well written book? The fact remains that it is a good book. Yeah cliches grow tiresome because they're overdone, but sometimes we remember why we loved those very cliches in the first place.
Abbi Glines knows how to hook a reader. I cannot wait for anything new from her.(less)