I can't believe that anyone would actually propose to someone after the "engagement" chicken was place in front of them. Honey, I wouldn't even put ouI can't believe that anyone would actually propose to someone after the "engagement" chicken was place in front of them. Honey, I wouldn't even put out if someone put that in front of me.
What the heck are these recipes even for? People who can barely use a microwave? This is embarrassing. ...more
I really. Really. REALLY. REALLY. Didn't like this book. I wanted to -- with a title and a cover like that, I had some pretty high hopes.
Snuffed outI really. Really. REALLY. REALLY. Didn't like this book. I wanted to -- with a title and a cover like that, I had some pretty high hopes.
Snuffed out almost immediately.
This girl would not shut up about the dead guy. She would not stop talking TO the dead guy. I don't know where we got this idea that encouraging and finding teenage obsessions to be positively darling came from, but it did nothing but completely turn me off both the narrator and the writer.
Fiorella and her friends are obnoxious. Fiorella and her family are obnoxious. Even the "love interest," who ignores Fiorella in the halls and looks down on her most of the time, was obnoxious.
After finishing this, I realized that about 2/3 of the book could probably have been cut out, and maybe it wouldn't have been so dull and irritating. When the girl goes on and on and on and on talking to and obsessing about a dead guy, I'm so very unimpressed.
The whole dare aspect of this could have been executed with so much more satisfaction if it felt like more than just a stodgy tradition by a bunch of kids with their heads up their bums. There was no life to it.
With a story as important and serious as teen suicide and losing your parent, I was expecting so much more. There are interesting things that we findWith a story as important and serious as teen suicide and losing your parent, I was expecting so much more. There are interesting things that we find out about Nikki and Ryan along the way, but there was something holding it back from being as powerful.
The narrator, Ryan, was certainly a good example of a depressed teenager. But I don't know if the way his depression manifested itself was conducive to being a faithful and good, and "entertaining" narrator. He's stuck in this eternal lethargic pity party, and while I understand that yes, he is depressed... I couldn't feel it. Before someone gets irritated at the "pity party" comment, I'm not referring to his depression, but of an event in his life that he couldn't get over. I won't reveal it, but as he was talking about it, I kept thinking, "This is it? Seriously? Really?"
Maybe I was missing something while reading it, maybe I'm not good at connecting with depressed boys as much as depressed girls, but this was disappointing. ...more
I found myself getting tired and frustrated with the needlessly airy writing and meaningless sentences littered throughout the story. It was a completI found myself getting tired and frustrated with the needlessly airy writing and meaningless sentences littered throughout the story. It was a complete distraction from what was really going on. Between lines like "The inside of the porch is easier to look at than the vast, empty nothing of the night sky," there is an authentic story of a woman who didn't know how to be herself, who was afraid.
That's where this could have been good; unfortunately, it was buried. ...more
I can't imagine finding this book anywhere near as fulfilling if I hadn't read Breathless first. There are a few tie-ins (Madeline Moon-Park, for one)I can't imagine finding this book anywhere near as fulfilling if I hadn't read Breathless first. There are a few tie-ins (Madeline Moon-Park, for one) that don't make sense without it. Which unfortunately means this book doesn't stand as solidly on its own as it could have.
There was never a good reason as to why Del Sugar was so appealing. He was new, dark, smelled like kerosene and danger. That was just about all he had going for him, and it didn't set the stage for a great romance like we're supposed to believe they had.
What I enjoyed about this is the same as what I enjoyed about Breathless, actually. The relationships between the high school girls was realistic and nicely done. It was, unfortunately just about the only believable aspect of the book. ...more
**spoiler alert** Etienne St. Clair is not the perfect guy. In fact, he’s on the side of questionable throughout most of this book. Afraid of change,**spoiler alert** Etienne St. Clair is not the perfect guy. In fact, he’s on the side of questionable throughout most of this book. Afraid of change, afraid of commitment at the same time. Quick to play hurt-bunny when he thinks he’s been wronged—oh, and emotionally cheats on his girlfriend for an entire school year. These are not things that add up to the perfect guy. These are things that add up to a human being, to a character, and more specifically, to someone you want to read about. The relationship between St. Clair and Anna mimics what happens so often in real best friend – but- we’re – really –super – into –one- another relationships. And in a way, through a great deal of this, it’s like they’re emotional friends – with – benefits. I liked that, and I appreciated a realistic look at how relationships like this actually work. It doesn’t just go “meet-cute, introduction of obstacle, obstacle, TRIUMPH!” Stephanie Perkins did a fine job, here. Meredith, Josh, and Rashmi are good supporting characters who seem well-rounded and all serve their purposes. I would have liked to see more of Meredith, and perhaps less of Josh and Rashmi fighting. Though that served a purpose, otherwise Anna’s reflection of people staying in dysfunctional relationships wouldn’t be as poignant. The littering of ALL CAPS was irritating. Aside from the relationship itself, Anna was probably the best part about this book. The way she used film and the cinema, not to mention her cleaning habits, as an escape, was great. You could sympathize with her at times (who hasn’t had feelings for someone you know you shouldn’t?) and maybe get irritated with her at others (her emotional break-down and constant crying at that confusing time in the book got irritating, pull you crap together already, y’know). She was a fun, engaging character to follow around for an entire novel.
It’s not often that I like a book as much as my friends like a book. That might sounds weird, especially given my last blog post. But I always look foIt’s not often that I like a book as much as my friends like a book. That might sounds weird, especially given my last blog post. But I always look for something special in a book, and I don’t always get it. The experience alone is great each time, but sometimes I want a book that makes me stop and smile.
Ladies and gentlemen, last night I read that book. The Statistical Probability of Love at First sight, by Jennifer E. Smith. It starts off with a narrative that might be just as cookie-cutter as any other books – a young girl with emotions and concerns about her family – but Smith bends the mold with this one. Hadley isn’t just a young girl with emotions, she’s a young girl who deals with her emotions in an almost adult-like fashion. She listens to her parents, to the suggestion of a friend, and she tries, for the sake of her family. That’s important. That’s growing up. That’s what I find to be the pinnacle of young adult books.
Hadley and Oliver’s connection is instantaneous, and we don’t have a happy ending poured before us. We have to work for it. We have to believe that it’s there. The ending doesn’t necessarily say, “they wind up together, look how happy,” but rather, it reminds us that beginnings are more important than endings.
What really stuck out, however, was Hadley’s relationship with her father. Maybe it’s because I’m stuck across the country from my own father. I miss him all the time. But there was one line in specific that really drove it all home. “He’s still her dad. The rest is just geography.” I loved it. I read it over and over again, I blogged it on Tumblr, I quoted it on Twitter. I let that one sink in deep, and I almost called my father for a chat. It was after midnight there though, so….
At 256 pages, this is not a long read. It’s not the shortest read, but it’s the perfect length. We get to know so much more about Hadley, her mother, her father, and even Oliver, in those 256 pages, that any more or less would have taken away. It’s light, it’s touching, and it puts you right in the moment.
Hadley and Oliver’s building friendship was not the main event for me, although it was certainly cute. It gave us something to keep coming back to, and really, it makes you believe that things like this are possible. When the woman next to them on the plane and Oliver seamlessly goes into the true story of how they met, it feels real. It’s something you could imagine a couple laughing about at a party, years down the road. That’s something that’s missing from a lot of young adult romances – believable longevity.
Last night, I thought there was something I didn’t like about the book. I thought about the title, about how sweeping and wide of a label “love at first sight” is, and how it might lead you to believe more is going to happen in the book. But that was silly. In fact, it might just be the silliest thing I’ve ever disliked about a book. There was something that pulled me out of the book, and that was the point of view that the narrative took. After being used to so many past-tense first person accounts, it’s difficult to slide comfortable into anything else.
But if you’re like me, you read half of this book in the voice of the narrator from 500 Days of Summer. You also probably expected THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY to pop up somewhere. Maybe you were a little disappointed that it didn’t. Don’t let that fool you, though. It’s a great read. ...more
First line of the book started right off with slut-shaming. I've never had the first sentence of a book turn me off so quickly. It got better, but theFirst line of the book started right off with slut-shaming. I've never had the first sentence of a book turn me off so quickly. It got better, but the whole amnesia trope and the "mental home memories" is such the easy way out of writing and discovering who she was / why she was.
The ending is clear right from the beginning.
Pretty writing, but I'm sick of slut-shaming in YA books. ...more
**spoiler alert** When I started out not liking Lola by page seven, I figured I’d grow past it. Unfortunately, she didn’t grow on me. She got worse an**spoiler alert** When I started out not liking Lola by page seven, I figured I’d grow past it. Unfortunately, she didn’t grow on me. She got worse and worse, and I got less and less interested in seeing her get what she wanted. I’ll just say it: I don't think Lola should have ended up with Cricket.
But I’m going to pull back, because more than I disliked Lola, I dislike the fact that I just read a book with a character named Cricket. This did not add to his charm. This did not add to the character. Time and again, I was drawn out of this story and reminded that Cricket is a ridiculous name for a human being and seriously, what the heck?
So, back to Lola. Obnoxious from about page seven. Redeeming qualities included: jumping on Cricket’s roommate for the homophobic comment. Pretty much it. The whole “I’m a liar / hiding behind my costumes / wait no I’m not / yes I am,” thing wasn’t even remotely strong enough. The lies weren’t bold enough, and although the costumes were probably supposed to be somewhat endearing and quirky, I wonder if this girl’s secret idol is Claudia Kishi? Idolizing a seventh grader would probably explain Lola’s grating immaturity.
Now, ugh, Cricket. Was there a character somewhere in there? Behind the gawky, back-burner “nice guy” act, what was there? It’s really not until the very end that we see even a little spark of this “gift” he’d supposedly been given in more than a flashback or reference. We don’t know Cricket, we know Lola’s infatuation with Cricket. With her debut of the nice mixture of jerk / nice guy that was St. Clair, I was disappointed to see Perkins regressed into the interesting bad guy / bland nice guy dichotomy that plagues young adult fiction.
It’s no mistake that Stephanie Perkins is great at descriptive imagery of a setting. You can really feel San Francisco throughout the book, and as someone who has never been there, it was nice to get a more prominent description without it being over the top. The tender moments between all of the characters are also crafted with precision and care – especially the later moments between Cricket and Lola. This is where I think her writing positively shines. Even the tender moments between Lola and Max are nicely done, and we’re probably not meant to think that.
I appreciate the long wind-up to the tender moments too, for the record. But they’re laced with so many irritating plot devices and tricks that it’s hard to want to make the way through that for the pay-off. If I could give the author two pieces of advice, it would be this: CAPS??? LOCK!!!! NO???? STOP!!!!!!, and stop making your female characters completely unable to have a thought they don’t say aloud without knowing it. It’s a cheap tactic.
Now, undoubtedly, when Stephanie Perkins published another book, I’ll read it. For all of the obnoxious protagonists who I hope don’t get what they want, there is enough payoff to make me want to read on. ...more
I don’t know how C. K. Kelly Martin does it. I just know that I want her to keep doing it until all of the stories are told.
We start from the point ofI don’t know how C. K. Kelly Martin does it. I just know that I want her to keep doing it until all of the stories are told.
We start from the point of view of Ashlyn, and we don’t know much about her. That’s because she doesn’t know much about herself, either. She’s just died, and we’re experiencing her afterlife with her. It’s not the kind of set-up you’d typically catch me reading, but let’s forget about all of that for a second. There’s something that I really need to get out in the open.
C. K. Kelly Martin, you write the best teenage boys that I have ever read. After reading a book with a male perspective that made me “swear off this author forever” frustrated, reading Breckon’s point of view felt right. It feels natural, and reminds me of how as I read I Know It’s Over, I thought the author was a man. Being wrong never felt so satisfying. He wasn’t over-the-top padded with testosterone and gross commentary on girls, but he wasn’t like sifted flour, either.
As Ashlyn discovers who she is (who knew that something as everyday as orange juice could start a chain reaction of memories?), we discover who she is as well. She likes ice cream, she likes orange, she once danced to that Pitbull song. Even though at first, the uncovering of details follows a list, there’s more that she remembers. Many of the things we learn come in relation to what she witnesses from Breckon, and it’s unfortunately not always happy things. We discover who she was, though we don’t find out why she’s been tethered to Breckon until the end. And trust me, you’ll want to find out why.
Jules, the girlfriend, is a wonderful character. In fact, her relationship with Breckon is one of the things that makes this story so realistic and crisp. It’s once build out of compatibility, not out of nowhere. They get along, and they care about each other, and it doesn’t need to be any more dramatic than that. It’s not the center of Breckon’s universe. When he eventually pulls away from her, we understand why. When she returns, full-force, to his life, it makes sense.
I love when a book has two storylines that crash and bang into one another, but never go on the same wavelength until the end. Finding out “the whole story” at the very end makes for a much more satisfying. You put the bits and pieces together, but the maraschino doesn’t get added until it’s ready to be served. That’s how I like my stories, and that’s one thing that makes My Beating Teenage Heart brilliant and emotional. I’m not saying the last chapter made me cry, but I am saying that I might have hurriedly told all of my friends to read it. …and the last chapter made me cry. ...more
First off, I should extend my gratitude for the opportunity from Courtney Summers and St. Martin’s to review this. Right after I finished reading it,First off, I should extend my gratitude for the opportunity from Courtney Summers and St. Martin’s to review this. Right after I finished reading it, I pre-ordered the book, and I'll be waiting for it just as anxiously as I did Fall For Anything.
If there is one thing I love, it’s a story that doesn’t dawdle. It’s a story that’s like a child, kicking its feet as someone holds it, and the second someone puts it on the ground, shoots off faster than little legs should be able to go. There’s no reason to stay put, or sit still. That’s what This Is Not a Test does.
Over and over and over again.
Do you remember that camping-in-the-woods section in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that everyone felt must have been easily no less than 400 pages, but was more realistically ⅓ of that? It would have been easy for the length of this book to seem like that, day-in-day out barricaded in their former high school. But it wasn’t. Every word stacks up, every sentence stacks up, every scene stacks up, and every part stacks up. It’s hard to pick a place to stop reading, because the short length of the chapters breaks it down, and you think, “Eh, another one won’t hurt.” Soon, half of the book is gone. Then you’re to the last third, and you cannot. stop. reading.
I’ve never spent an entire book rooting against the main character, hoping they don’t get what they want. But from the start, I wanted Sloane to survive. I needed Sloane to survive, and to find out what she was surviving for. She had to know that after every devastating event, even when you think there isn’t anything left, there is still something to survive for.
Courtney Summers is completely gifted at writing characters who piss you off, tug at your heart, and seem simultaneously childlike and adult. She writes real young adults, whose confusion and disorientation show in everything they do, in the fumbling touching between Sloane and Rhys, to the consuming hatred Trace expresses for Cary. It feels awkward to refer to some of these characters as teenagers. Like Grace and Trace, whose devotion to one another crosses over into irritating territory. Even though they’re twins, Trace acts like he’s the older brother, with an attempt to shield her from everything he can. But naturally (because this is Courtney Summers we’re talking about), Trace has to protect Grace more from the other fighting survivors than from the zombies. In a realistic portrayal of survival, there is not a teenager present who doesn’t have some level of conflict with one of the others.
There are going to be people who will nod and say that this book is so much more than zombies, but I think that’s cutting out a great deal of what makes this book memorable. Take away the zombies, and you have hallucinating, terrified, tired, affection-starved teenagers going up against one another for nothing. The zombies are scary and intense, and the way that Courtney Summers wrote about them, you don’t ever, ever want to come up against them. The way she pegs them -- “they are so hungry, so desperate for us that they can’t make their bodies understand they need to climb,” but has Sloane, Rhys, and the rest of them contemplating how much of their human self is still inside -- make it all the more terrifying. Sloane thinks it over and over again: they were human. The dead bodies, the zombies, they were all humans who once had lives and families and friends.
Courtney Summers writes like a hazy day, details and perceptions muddied by everything that’s going on around Sloane. What I could have used more of, maybe, was more of a glimpse of Before. Not necessarily at the beginning of the book -- because again, that it starts right off is strong -- but Sloane’s misery and longing for her sister didn’t always feel like it came from somewhere. Sometimes, it felt like it existed in a cloud, unattached. It comes in handy later in the book, but I wanted to feel more of it.
The ending is something you’ll remember. A day after I’ve read the final pages, I can’t stop thinking about them. All of the feelings you have, the entire time you’re reading This Is Not a Test, magnify and multiply by the word in the final pages. You might have to slow down to an achingly slow pace, because any faster and you just can’t take it. You need to know, but every word is critical, and every moment is even more critical, and soon, it’s over.
You can breathe for a second, but that’s when the questions start. For me, that’s when the glossy-eyed, wide smile crossed my face.