I loved this author's other thriller but the main character in this one revolted me with her constant slut shaming and fat shaming. I understand thatI loved this author's other thriller but the main character in this one revolted me with her constant slut shaming and fat shaming. I understand that not all characters are likable, nor do I normally require them to be, but I felt like I was being asked to be sympathetic to this character but found it difficult when she was such a nasty individual. My feelings about this character have probably colored my overall impression of the story but I felt that the writing in Lie Still was no where near as strong as in Black Eyed Susans. I felt that all of the characters were too cliche and none of them likable. I found it impossible to connect with the story or the characters. On a positive note, The audio narration was excellent. ...more
Sixteen year old Gerald Faust has grown up with the social stigma of having been featured on a reality TV show when he was a 5 year old child. NetworkSixteen year old Gerald Faust has grown up with the social stigma of having been featured on a reality TV show when he was a 5 year old child. Network Nanny, a show similar to Supernanny, swooped in to try to “fix” the problem children but failed to address the real problems, a violent psychotic sister and an emotionally detached mother leaving a very resentful 5 year old who acted out in the only way he knew how. His outrageous behavior made him somewhat of a local celebrity, although Gerald didn’t see this as something to have been proud of. The combination of his embarrassment about those things shown on Network Nanny and his anger, hurt, and resentment about what he has to deal with in his crazy dysfunctional home has made Gerald an extremely volatile kid. The coping skills he has acquired, some on his own and some through his Anger Management sessions, keeps his violent outbursts in check but also makes him very socially awkward.
The first thing I have to praise about Reality Boy was the authenticity of the characters. The author goes to some dark places and pokes and prods so that the reader can understand the feeling and motivation behind each of her characters actions. I felt for Gerald and spent most of the book furious with his negligent parents, reality TV, and a world where things like this go unnoticed or unremarked upon. Gerald’s inner dialog, while sometimes extremely odd, allowed me to connect with him and understand his inner turmoil, his self-doubt, and his rage.
The romance was understated and thankfully not the focal point of the book. It felt genuine and I enjoyed Hannah almost as much as I liked Gerald. Hannah had her own emotional baggage which seemed to sometimes clash with Gerald’s and at other times, be a perfect fit. I loved how quirky they both were and how these quirks seemed to forge a bond between them. It was very nicely done.
There isn’t much negative to say about Reality Boy. I enjoyed reading this much more than I was expecting to having never read anything by this author previously. The only flaws I can think of may be that some parts tended to be a bit repetitive and the story maybe lagged a bit here and there. However, these issues are minor compared to how fascinating and original I found this story to be. I was completely drawn in and invested in Gerald’s story.
I would absolutely recommend Reality Boy to fans of contemporary YA. This book has heart, spirit, and originality. I look forward to reading more of this author’s books!
Where the Stars Still Shine was a quietly powerful book that is impossible to put down once you begin. I found myself up into the wee hours of the morWhere the Stars Still Shine was a quietly powerful book that is impossible to put down once you begin. I found myself up into the wee hours of the morning even though I had to work in just a few short hours but I simply had to finish the book. I tried putting it down a few times but couldn't get the story out of my head so had to return to it. I was able to relate to and connect with Callie in such a way that I was lost in her story. My heart ached for her lonely life with a mentally unstable mother putting her in unsafe situations, never knowing any stability, never staying in one place long enough to put down roots or even make a friend. As angry as I was at a mother who could put her child through this, I also understood Callie's unwavering loyalty to her mother despite her own frustration with her choices.
"How could my mom be so selfish? Taking the pills would have kept us here. Taking the pills would have kept her from hooking up with Frank. All she had to do was take the goddamn pills and her life, my life, would have been ordinary. Happy."
While the story itself was heartbreaking, it was the authenticity of the characters that made it so deeply moving. I could completely understand how such a transient upbringing could cause Callie to have difficulty making connections and picking up on social cues. The awkward way she interacted with her newfound family and peers felt genuine and I could completely understand how out of place and uncomfortable she felt around these people that she had so little in common with. I can't begin to imagine how overwhelming it would be for a teenager in her situation but I definitely felt it along with her in the story.
I'm usually pretty skeptical about most romance but I really enjoyed the dynamic between Callie and Alex, both feeling so out of place for their own reasons and finding a kind of solace in each other. I liked Alex but he was definitely more of a background character. If there is anything that could have been improved in this book, it is that the secondary characters could have had more depth.
Where the Stars Still Shine is a beautifully written story that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys reading an emotional contemporary story with realistically damaged characters and uncomfortable subject matter. This is one of my favorite reads of 2013 and I look forward to discovering more from this author. I think that she captures her character's thoughts and feelings perceptively and handles difficult topics head on without exaggerating or minimizing it. ...more
Stolen There are so many 5 star ratings for Stolen that I'm almost hesitant to write my less than enthusiastic response. The writing was lovely, the cStolen There are so many 5 star ratings for Stolen that I'm almost hesitant to write my less than enthusiastic response. The writing was lovely, the characters were dimensional, but I did not connect with them emotionally like this book seemed to require in order to fully enjoy this. The one thing that definitely comes across in Stolen is the emptiness and the hopelessness that Gemma was feeling. It was easy to understand how confused she must have been, yearning for human contact yet not being able to fully trust that he wouldn't cut her into pieces and feed her to his camel. The camel, by the way, was my favorite character in Stolen. I did like that the kidnapper was not shown as some tyrannical monster but that the reader was able to somehow sympathize with his motivations even while knowing his actions were unforgivable.Mostly I just thought that it would be horrible to be kidnapped to such a barren landscape with no books, internet, or anything to distract from the kidnapper who keeps weeping at me. The kidnapper's emotional vulnerability was a bit much and annoyed me almost as much as the slow pace of the story. I was partly offended on Gemma's behalf and partly amused when she would try to escape and Ty (weepy kidnapper) would sigh in boredom and act like "Really Gemma? Again? Can you leave a good trail this time for when I have to rescue you....again." And he would just let her go without much protest knowing she wasn't getting anywhere. I will say that Gemma was not completely docile, nor did she quietly come to terms with her fate. The Stockholm Syndrome aspect of Stolen was definitely well done and quite believable. I can see why so many people loved this story and I wish I could have liked it more. Ultimately, it was like the barren landscape it described, it's beauty was only visible to those who were meant to be there. As I said though, I really did like that camel!!...more
Deviant I received this audio book for review from AudioGo through Audiobook Jukebox This audio was narrated by Kirsten Potter. Her performance was beDeviant I received this audio book for review from AudioGo through Audiobook Jukebox This audio was narrated by Kirsten Potter. Her performance was believable and enjoyable although the Scottish accent was sometimes a bit much. Since the main character was from Scotland, the accent was fitting though, I just didn't care for it. Otherwise, this was an adequate narration. Deviant was an interesting story with some unusual twists. Initially, I was able to really identify with the main character, Abigail, who felt abandoned by the mother who left her as an infant and even by her guardian who died when Abigail was very young leaving her to grow up in some shoddy foster homes and orphan hostels. Abigail was forced to learn some harsh life lessons and developed some street smarts that prevented her from becoming a victim like so many in her position. In order to survive, Abigail resolved to form no attachments, friendships or otherwise. Deviant started to read like a Cinderella story when Abigail found out about the father and sister she had never heard of and suddenly found herself living the life of a wealthy California teen. All of Abigails doubts and yet her desire to embrace the family she had yearned all her life for struck a chord with me and I really wish that the story would have went in this direction. However, as it states in the summary, Deviant deviates into a conspiracy rich kind of action/thriller and this is where the story kind of lost me. I did not find the intrigue to be completely convincing and I think it pushed past the bounds of plausibility. The machinations of the super secret agency to control teen behavior was over the top and unrealistic. And then of course, nefarious plots notwithstanding, a teen will always have time for a bit of romance. This didn't quite go into a full love triangle even though it hinted at the possibility of one, for which I am grateful. What felt genuine to me was that Abigail would absolutely be awkward and unsure after a lifetime of pushing people away, so when the relationship aspects didn't always fit right, I found it believable. Ultimately, this was a worthwhile read and I would recommend it to fans of book like The Program and similar reads. ...more
The slow pace and effortless flow drew me into the story and unfolded the characters lives and personalities bit by bit while also entwining them allThe slow pace and effortless flow drew me into the story and unfolded the characters lives and personalities bit by bit while also entwining them all together. Overall enjoyable read, nothing outstanding one way or another but definitely a story you can relax with. ...more
Inferno 3.5Apparently this kind of action/thriller just isn't my thing. There were many times I felt like I was listening to a Dante-esque version ofInferno 3.5Apparently this kind of action/thriller just isn't my thing. There were many times I felt like I was listening to a Dante-esque version of The Amazing Race (a TV show where contestants find clues that take them running frantically all over the world completing seemingly irrelevant tasks to get to the next clue.) Much of the action just confused and/or bored me. The plot was fascinating and the way the problem of over population was used in context with Dante's vision of Hell was definitely interesting. But Inferno repeatedly lost me in the erratic race from clue to clue. What really grabbed me about the story was the plausibility of a situation like the one described. Overpopulation is definitely a relevant issue today and many statistics online verify some of what was proposed in Inferno (I know this because I stopped reading to Google these statistics, this alone tells you how intriguing this book was.) It is terrifying to imagine what the wrong kind of scientist could release into the world in the hope of solving the population problem. The story was resolved in a way that I honestly didn't see coming. I am not scientifically inclined so I have no idea if what was being suggested is even possible, but it seemed logically sound and gave me something to think about and will likely spark a lively discussion with the best friend once she finishes reading it. The scenery was awesome! One thing that I enjoy about Dan Brown's books is that it explores many of the places that I would so love to go. That part of this story took place in the Hagia Sophia and in and around Istanbul made me quite happy! I hope that one day he writes a story that explores more of the art and history of Istanbul, there would certainly be enough material to work with as that whole area has such cultural significance. So, location was definitely a win in this story. The aspects that didn't work as well for me were the action sequences and the suspense surrounding the good guys and villains. Also, some of the twists were just too farfetched at times and there was so much running around that I often lost the thread of the story and found myself wondering what in the world Robert Langdon was even trying to accomplish. I will say that Langdon is much more committed to that type of chaos than I could ever be. I would have checked out the Hagia Sophia, wished everyone the best of luck, and went the hell home. The characters were okay. I didn't feel any significant connection with any of them but that could be because I never knew who was telling the truth. It was like a whole bunch of Snapes running around causing havoc and I wasn't sure why(Harry Potter reference) Several had compelling background stories but I had no idea if they were even the truth or was part of some super secret false identity. Ultimately, it was worth the read and presented topics that were worth thinking about. I suppose Dante would be somewhat pleased that he was featured in a book likely to become a blockbuster summer movie, but he might also have wished that it had been written by someone with a bit more literary style and finesse. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed The DaVinci Code or who likes gratuitous action and chaos in their thrillers....more
This was a quick fun read. I always enjoy those stories where the female wakes up from some kind of accident and finds herself living a completely difThis was a quick fun read. I always enjoy those stories where the female wakes up from some kind of accident and finds herself living a completely different life, probably because subconsciously (or even consciously) I would myself love to suddenly wake up thin, beautiful, and rich! Remember me is fairly predictable but still such a fun read with plenty of laugh out loud moments and without those jarring instances of cheesy dialog that I always seem to run into in these types of books. This is, I believe, the first book I've read by Sophie Kinsella although I know I have several of her books on my shelf, so I'm looking forward to enjoying more of her writing. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for something light and entertaining. ...more
The Casual Vacancy Secrets, Sabotage, and Scandal or Oh the things muggles get up to...
Casual Vacancy tells the story of a small community in the afteThe Casual Vacancy Secrets, Sabotage, and Scandal or Oh the things muggles get up to...
Casual Vacancy tells the story of a small community in the aftermath of the unexpected death of one of its community leaders and council members, Barry Fairbrother. Several of Fairbrother's peers are ready and willing to fill his empty council seat but not everyone is happy with the nominees. Suddenly this small town is like an episode of Gossip Girl as somebody claiming to be Barry Fairbrother's ghost begins posting on the council's website and outing all of the member's dirty little secrets (XoXo) And while all of the adults are plotting, planning, and pointing fingers, who is watching their kids? These parents may have underestimated their teens' resentments as they focus all of their energy on their position in the community.
I listened to the Audible audio version of this and the narration was brilliant. He didn't really change his voice for the characters much, he simply told the story but his voice and tone was so pleasant that I was able to lose myself completely in the story. I would absolutely recommend listening to this on audio.
What's great about Casual Vacancy is the authenticity of the characters and the way Rowling so insightfully exposes the uglier side of human nature, the fears and insecurities that sometimes motivate people to do the things they do. While Casual Vacancy is about an empty council seat, the real meat and potatoes of the story is in the interactions between these characters and the complexities of those relationships. Of all the many personalities in this story, I thought that the teenagers were written exceptionally well, not surprisingly. And although the plot revolves around the empty council seat, the children definitely play a big role in this story.
There were a lot of characters with a lot of interaction between all of them which sometimes made it difficult for me to remember who was married to who and which kid belonged to which parent but I can see that cutting even one of the many personalities would have taken something significant away from the story. The only negative about the charcaters being so genuine and familiar is that it felt a bit like spying on your neighbors. It's all deliciously scandalous what they get up to, but only if you know them personally. Otherwise, no one really cares because they're just like everyone else's' neighbors.
Where Casual Vacancy didn't work for me was in the plot. It's almost as if she created these complex, multi-faceted characters and then threw together these unexceptional circumstances so they could interact. For most of the book, I was honestly pretty bored with the storyline. But about 2/3s of the way through, I began to really enjoy the story. Just getting there as a bit slow. The complex characters and wonderful writing might be enough to pull a reader through a plot that is like slogging through quicksand. The question is, was the payoff at the end enough to make that tedious journey worth it. Ultimately, for me it was.
It's JK Rowling so it is no surprise that the writing was stellar. At one point, when I complained about how slow moving the story was, a friend asked me if I would have even kept reading if it would have been any other author. My reply was, if it had been any other author, I would have never picked this book up. I had to keep this fact in mind when listening to Casual Vacancy because I thought maybe that is why many people are having such an issue with this book. A book like this might not appeal to many of Rowling's fan base being so far from what they enjoyed about the Harry Potter series.
There were several laugh out loud moments and I especially enjoyed some of the eccentricities of the characters. The pacing of the story was slow and steady, with emphasis on the "slow". I did like that Casual Vacancy wrapped up all the loose ends by the end even though some of those loose ends seemed like they were tied up a little too conveniently to feel genuine. Overall, it was a lot darker than I expected which certainly increased my enjoyment of it. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for fans of Harry Potter, but perhaps for fans of General fiction....more
Speechless Chelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip.Speechless Chelsea Knot is the best friend of the most popular girl at school and is known for her ability to ferret out, and expose, the good gossip. When she spills a secret that has violent repercussions, Chelsea makes a decision to do the right thing even if it means losing that all-important popularity. Suddenly, she's on the outside and getting back all that she's dished out in the past and then some. An article she reads in the National Geographic inspires her to take a vow of silence since talking without thinking has gotten her into this mess. The beginning of Speechless was very slow and angst filled. The characters were all largely unlikable, a bunch of selfish, shallow teens with entitlement issues. I couldn't stand Chelsea and didn't feel particularly sorry for the position she found herself in. I even thought about marking this DNF and moving on to something else. I'm really glad that I didn't though, because as the story progressed, it slowly became more than it first appeared. The vow of silence she took seemed to be for selfish attention seeking reasons initially, but the unforeseen result of not speaking allows her to really examine the person that she is as well as the people and things she had surrounded herself with. Her silence also caused her to listen more fully to what people where saying and to consider their words instead of simply replying. Through her vow, she learns about friendship, accountability, loyalty, and the power of words. Her character grows very slowly throughout the story as she acknowledges some hard truths about herself and attempts to become worthy of the new friends she's made and, of course, the boy. There's always a boy... :) No flowery prose or layers of meaning, the writing was as simple and straightforward as the story itself and felt authentic and perceptive. I enjoyed Speechless much more than I thought I would after reading the first couple chapters and encourage anyone who chooses to read this to push through that initial reaction to these characters because the book does get much much better....more
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Amelia Anne is dead and gone but she apparently left behind her thesaurus because her story was quite adjective-alicious.Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone Amelia Anne is dead and gone but she apparently left behind her thesaurus because her story was quite adjective-alicious. But, once I waded through the overabundance of metaphors and descriptive prose, it was a fairly ok read....until the last 30 or so pages. That ending was bullshit. I was so angry about the fact that I had been drawn in to the suspense of this murder/mystery only to be rewarded with some half ass muddle-muck of an ending. Not to mention that it just WOULD NOT, COULD NOT logically have happened that way. (view spoiler)[ If someone is beat in the head with a tire iron and then repeatedly bludgeoned around the face and body, I refuse to believe they would be coherent enough to correctly analyze the extent of their injuries enough to know they are dying and then request that a complete stranger that suddenly appears out of the bushes on a dark road in the middle of the night finish the job and kill them. There is NO WAY IN HELL that, once he confesses to killing her (and explains that it was at her request), hiding evidence, interfering with and investigation, etc, the state would give him only probation for it after deciding that she would have died in another hour anyway. I'm sure SOMEBODY would have suggested that perhaps calling an ambulance might have been a better choice in the situation. Even with our screwy justice system, this could not have possibly played out like this. I know of a girl in the town where I grew up who went to PRISON for 3 years for taking her car to a car wash the day after her husband murdered someone. And she had nothing to do with the actual murder but her ass was still charged with accessory after the fact or some such thing. So it's just not a plausible or even a logical ending (hide spoiler)]This less than perfect ending, the overly descriptive writing, and the fact that I found the main character, Becca, to be utterly unlikable, left me a rather grumpy reader after finishing this book. I guess one could look at it as Becca was a "flawed" main character, but I just thought she was nothing but angst and asshattery. This is an example of some of her "personality" "Rebecca Williams?""That's me," I said, hoisting my backpack. The fat girl-whose named turned out to be, hilariously, Bonnie Biggs-smiled and waved at me. Ugh. Needless to say, I did not enjoy Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone and certainly don't recommend it. However, there are other people who thought that this was a wonderful story and if you're at all curious about this book, take a look at Wendy's review here for another perspective. ...more
I am rating this a 3, but I have to say that I was so annoyed with the ending that I almost wanted to rate this a 1. I usually stay away from anythingI am rating this a 3, but I have to say that I was so annoyed with the ending that I almost wanted to rate this a 1. I usually stay away from anything labeled as "chick lit" and unfortunately, much of this book was exactly what I automatically mentally think about when I hear the words "chick lit". It took a perfectly good plot and then ruined it with unnecessary sub-plots and an over the top, soap opera worthy ending that was beyond absurd. Throughout this incredibly long 21 hour audio, I thought several times that this should have been two separate stories, one revolving around Peter and the school shooting, and to a lesser extent, Josie. And another story entirely about the Judge and her issues. It was just too much to put all of them together. As a reader of fantasy, I think that I can suspend disbelief and give the benefit of the doubt possibly even more than some other readers, but the coincidences in Nineteen Minutes pushed far beyond my bounds of believability and into the realms of absurd and by the end I no longer even cared about these characters.
I will say that this book did spark an entertaining debate between myself and my best friend about my apparent strong opinions concerning parental responsibility and culpability for their children's actions in extreme incidents like a school shooting. I didn't agree with much of the book's stance that a perfectly good parent can raise a school shooter, although I didn't see Peter's parents in the book as being particularly good parents. And regardless how well meaning a parent is, if your kid takes a duffel bag full of weapons to school and starts shooting people, you fucked up. Period. And in my opinion, you should be held criminally responsible for that. One of the things I enjoyed about Nineteen Minutes is that it did generate that gut response from me and cause me to examine how strongly I feel about those issues. This is why I cannot rate it lower than a 3 even though there were so many things I didn't like about the length, unnecessary sub-plots, lack of subtlety, etc. Even despite all of this, the book kept me engaged right up until that ridiculous ending.
Ultimately, I wouldn't recommend Nineteen Minutes, I'm sure there has to be a better, less over-dramatized book with this subject matter. I feel like the topic of school shooting is sufficiently dramatic and emotional without needing to add more to it. It ended up feeling forced, fake, and was in the end, disappointing. ...more
Kate Rudd did a phenomenal, outstanding job narrating this highly emotional read. Considering the subject matter and the emotionally charged nature ofKate Rudd did a phenomenal, outstanding job narrating this highly emotional read. Considering the subject matter and the emotionally charged nature of this book, it would have been so easy to overdo the narration. But Kate Rudd's performance was perfection, bringing to life these amazing characters and telling this heart-wrenching story so naturally that it was as if I were listening to Hazels private thoughts. And yes, I could still recognize a great narration even when I don't know how I heard anything over the sobbing mess I was reduced to throughout this book. I highly recommend this audiobook experience to anyone that is interested in reading this book.
The story itself, well, I mean its John Green so of course it was amazing. I love this man's writing. Its like he effortlessly creates these wonderfully realistic characters; characters that I'd want to know, that I'd want to become friends with. And by the end of the book, I feel like I DO know them and that we've been friends forever and I'm so emotionally entwined in the story that its actually difficult to move on to another book when it is over. I felt like that with Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and I certainly feel like that with this incredible book.
I don't know that there are many of us whose lives have not been touched in some way by cancer, but even if it hasn't, almost everybody has lost a loved one too early and has felt the utter unfairness of that loss. The Fault in Our Stars is the story of several kids living with cancer and is told from their perspective. It is unapologetically and brutally honest, morbidly humorous, simply real. This book was so filled with unfiltered truth that it was almost uncomfortable to read in some places. But I still recommend that you do.
By the end of this book, I had cried so many tears that the front of my shirt was wet, and days later I'm still tearing up as I recall the story while I write this review. The Fault in Our stars was a powerful, emotionally intense, and incredibly important read. I highly recommend it to anyone regardless of genre....more
Once I became accustomed to the writing style, I was quickly immersed in this incredible story. I wish this book would have been available when I wasOnce I became accustomed to the writing style, I was quickly immersed in this incredible story. I wish this book would have been available when I was a teenager. It is reminiscent of Go Ask Alice with that same strong voice that doesn't shy away from the ugly, painful, and difficult truths. The writing was stunningly compelling with countless powerful quotes and a story both poignant and insightful. The contrast of the beautiful lyrical verse and the hard ugly truth of addiction was fascinating. I'm so glad I finally took the time to read this and thank everyone who recommended this to me. I, in turn, recommend this to any teenager and parent of a pre-teen or teenager as well as to anyone who appreciates stories with this kind of honest emotional depth and so-called controversial subject matter. ...more
Will Grayson #1 hopes to get through life by following all of the rules, never questioning, doing what he’s told, and keeping his mouth shut. Oddly enWill Grayson #1 hopes to get through life by following all of the rules, never questioning, doing what he’s told, and keeping his mouth shut. Oddly enough, his larger than life gay best friend Tiny Cooper is just the opposite. He is as large in personality as he is in sheer size and his life goal is to be the center of attention. Will Grayson #2 is the definition of “no one understands me, therefore I hate everyone” destructive teen angst. He has a vicious trick played on him by a frustrated acquaintance and this puts him in the path of Will Grayson #1 and Tiny Cooper. Everyone struggles to come to terms with their own hopes, fears, and inadequacies while at the same time being swept up in Tiny’s over the top musical production. The whole thing is so crazy awesome that my mere words could never convey all of the fabulous that is Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
The narrators of this audio MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl did a phenomenal job of taking these extraordinary characters and bringing them to life. This was absolutely one of my favorite audio books of all time. Each of the individual personalities were so perfectly reflected in the narration that I was swept away into this story. Every nuance of feeling was so perfectly expressed, it was like a theatrical performance in my headphones! These guys even sang!! (badly and loudly!!) And it was INCREDIBLE! This is the kind of awesome that happens when the right narrators get the right book – absolute perfection! If you’ve even thought about reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson I urge you to grab the audio as well. It’s a book you’ll want to read more than once, so make one of those “reads” a “listen.” This is currently available at Audible.com.
Every time I open a book, I’m hoping for exactly what I found in Will Grayson, Will Grayson; engaging characters that not only come to life but who also welcome me into their story so that I feel like I’m a part of their inner circle. At the beginning of the book, I wanted so much to have a BFF like Tiny! By the middle, I felt like me and Tiny have been friends forever and that I could share knowing glances and inside jokes with the Will Graysons about our larger than life friend’s flair for the dramatic. Tiny’s personality was so big, it was almost like he was snatching up the pages faster than I could read them while yelling “They’re mine, its all about me!!!” But even next to this overwhelming character, Will Grayson one and two still managed to shine in their own offbeat way while at the same time they both seemed to gravitate to that magnetic light that was Tiny Cooper.
This book tells a story both heartfelt and poignant while at the same time being fun and fabulously witty . Several times I found myself laughing out loud while simultaneously having tears rolling down my cheeks. This story touches on the heart and soul of the true meaning of friendship, sometimes uncomfortable and even painful, certainly flawed, but ultimately worth it all.
The strength of Will Grayson, Will Grayson is equal parts the wonderful writing and the amazing characterization. Its rare that I find characters that I not only felt like I could be friends with, but who, by the end of the book, I almost felt like we were friends. This is my first time reading a book by either John Green or David Levithan but I plan to buy each one of their books. Not surprisingly, I will be rating this a 5 but honestly, there are not enough stars for the rating that Will Grayson, Will Grayson deserves. If this is an example of YA contemporary, give me more!
Life is but a Dream tells the story of a teenager named Sabrina who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a psychiatric ward. Soon afLife is but a Dream tells the story of a teenager named Sabrina who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and committed to a psychiatric ward. Soon after, she meets Alec, another patient in the psych ward, and together they begin to question whether they even want to “fit in” with society. Sabrina wonders if the medications are designed to turn her into a robotic version of herself, a version that everyone else is comfortable with, but is it really who she is?
The beautiful writing brings to life in vivid detail the strange and colorful world that Sabrina inhabits when lost in her visions. She tries to connect her two realities with her drawings that seem to express all of the things she can’t put into words. There were times when I couldn’t begin to wrap my mind around her logic, but was fascinated all the same. Sabrina’s unusual way of perceiving the world was captured perfectly so that I was able to empathize with her even though I often couldn’t follow her logic. The world she envisioned for herself was filled with color and connection and emotion and once she met Alec, she felt she finally found someone who understood her, who could see the world the same way that she did.
Alec was also a very complex character. He seemed to be always just on the edge of becoming violent, so full of rage and anger. But he seemed to focus all of that negative energy into protecting Sabrina. He also felt like she was the only person who understood him, who saw him for the person that he really was. Together they viewed anyone outside of their little bubble as the enemy. I alternately felt sorry for Alec because he was also just a kid with very real problems, and annoyed with him because he refused to see things that were so obvious and instead made some very stupid impulsive decisions.
There was definitely an aspect of insta-love and obsessive love, but it seemed to be fitting considering the mental issues that Alec and Sabrina each struggled with. Their relationship made sense and was even rather beautiful in its own way. It was so obvious that Alec really cared about Sabrina that I couldn’t help but root for them even when I wasn’t sure whether being together was the best thing for either of them.
Life is but a Dream was an enjoyable, thought provoking story. There were several unexpected surprises. I never felt like I knew exactly where the story was headed. The doctors, nurses, and other background characters were very much in the background but still did not feel one dimensional. The story meandered back and forth from past to present which sometimes became a little confusing. And the choice to forego quotation marks was a bit distracting sometimes when I had to determine who was speaking and whether it was dialog or thoughts. There were, however, very few flaws and I definitely enjoyed reading this.
Shine begins with the main character Cat discovering that her former best friend Patrick has been the victim of a vicious hate crime, he’s bRating 3.5
Shine begins with the main character Cat discovering that her former best friend Patrick has been the victim of a vicious hate crime, he’s been beaten and left for dead with a gas nozzle shoved in his mouth. While Cat and Patrick were no longer as close as they had once been, this attack shakes her to her core, especially since she thinks she has an idea who was involved and she sets out to uncover the truth about what happened. This requires that Cat face her own demons and reconnect with those people she had shut herself away from after her own traumatic incident that was also swept under the rug and never discussed, even among her own family.
I have mixed feelings about Shine. I thought the writing was excellent and the characters were certainly interesting and engaging. I believe the author really captured the essence of southern small town life, the good and the bad. And I really enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with Cat, I had the whole “who done it” somewhat figured out, but the end was quite a bit different than what I was expecting. The issues I had with Shine was the lack of accountability and consequences for many poor choices on the part of the characters. On the other hand, I liked that the “good guy” and “bad guy” were not so clearly defined. Everyone was shown to be human and all too fallible. I think where I had a problem is that I believe there are some actions that an “I’m sorry” simply is not enough to atone for. I believe there should be real and tangible consequences, although I do understand that in many small towns there is the tendency to turn a blind eye to certain things. I just didn’t like that the focus seemed to be more on the “human” side of the ones who victimized than on justice for the victims.
With that being said, this is absolutely a stirring story that explores some very difficult issues, poverty, small town bigotry, hate crimes, sexual assault, homosexuality, and drug abuse. I think the characters were very authentic and the story believable. My heart broke for Cat as she relived some painful moments and learned to trust herself and others again. I would definitely recommend Shine to those who enjoy YA Contemporary or stories with a southern setting. ...more
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an undeniably realistic view of one boy's day to day life and his journey to understand himself and find his placeThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is an undeniably realistic view of one boy's day to day life and his journey to understand himself and find his place in the world. I enjoyed how the book was written as a series of letters addressed "Dear Friend" which felt like an intimate conversation, as if Charlie was speaking directly to the reader. I thought Charlie was charming, engaging, and endearing as he struggled stop being an observer and begin being an active participant in his own life. This was an enjoyable coming of age story that addresses some common issues faced by teenagers such as sex, drugs, and suicide, and presents them in a very genuine way. There were also some things I didn't like about the book, but ultimately, I found it to be an entertaining read and one that I am happy to have had the opportunity to read. ...more
I was so incredibly excited to win a copy of Raw Blue from Linds over at Bibliophile Brouhaha. (thanks Linds!!) She had raved about this book so muchI was so incredibly excited to win a copy of Raw Blue from Linds over at Bibliophile Brouhaha. (thanks Linds!!) She had raved about this book so much that I knew that I simply had to read it! Once I had read it though, I found that it is quite difficult to write a review about a book that feels like such an intimate, personal story. Its almost like reviewing someone’s journey to recovery, because that’s kind of what Raw Blue is.
After surviving a traumatic event at school, Carly, the main character, had completely disengaged from her life, quit going to University against her parents demands, moved away from everyone she knows, and began working an evening job as a cook simply to pay her bills so she could spend her days surfing along the beautiful Australian coast where she could lose herself and calm her mind and spirit. Despite her best efforts to keep everyone out, she finds herself with several unconventional friends, Danny a teenage boy who sees everything in colors, Hannah her Dutch salsa dancing neighbor, and Ryan a sexy surfer who was recently released from prison. Each plays a part as Carly slowly begins to put the pieces back together.
Raw Blue explores Carly’s journey as she tries to rebuild her life in the aftermath of a brutal assault. Kirsty Eagar unflinchingly recounts each painful moment in such an uncomfortably insightful way that I almost felt as if I was riding this emotional roller coaster alongside Carly. The details of the incident itself were shocking and disturbing, but not overdone in a way that was too much. The beauty of Raw Blue was in the depth of emotion that the author was able to convey with a simple and straightforward writing style, the incredible characters, and the relationship building and interaction between the characters. I loved each of the secondary characters, each one had their own interesting background that made me want to know more about them outside of their place in Carly’s world.
The story felt genuine and relatable with a definite “Aussie” tone. There were many purely Australian words and phrases that I wasn’t sure about the meaning, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys books that are intense and emotional and fans of YA Contemporary as well as Adult Contemporary. I definitely don’t see this as a purely Young Adult book. ...more
I picked up Thirteen Reasons Why because I kept seeing it pop up on lists of “must read” books. I was a little hesitant about it at first because suicI picked up Thirteen Reasons Why because I kept seeing it pop up on lists of “must read” books. I was a little hesitant about it at first because suicide isn’t really a subject matter I’m generally interested in reading about. Also, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the premise as it almost sounded like the book was justifying placing blame for the decision to commit suicide on those who Hannah felt wronged her. But instead, the book gave a very realistic look at how thoughtless words and actions can have a very real effect on someone's life.
The story revolves around two central characters. Hanna, who commits suicide after recording a series of tapes giving all of her reasons and sending them to the people she feels were a large factor in that decision, and Clay, who is one of the recipients of these tapes. Hanna’s voice is powerful and compelling as she relives some of the worst moments of her life. I was so impressed at the way the author was able to convey the sense of trapped isolation Hannah was feeling and how things just kept snowballing. But at the same time, the author showed how Hannah’s choices contributed to that breakdown. I loved Clay’s character. It was his story that really touched my heart. The way he reacted to what he was hearing, visiting each scene as Hanna related her experiences to better feel what she was saying and where she was both physically and emotionally when she was living these moments. The insight that went into creating this novel was nothing less than incredible.
Each cassette focused on a particular person or incident and how one situation fit into or affected the next. In the author's own words, a "snowball effect" that lead to Hannah making this most final of decisions. I think that this is a great book to open a dialog about feeling overwhelmed and helpless, as so many teenagers do. I think, as adults, we forget sometimes how intensely teenagers feel things and how tough some of the social aspects of school can be. I would love to see this book used to initiate discussions about these things, both with parents as well as in the schools themselves.
I can only rate this a five and also consider this a must read for everyone, all ages....more
I can only describe The Beginning of After as a softly powerful account of how one teenage girl survives a terrible loss. This book is beautifully wriI can only describe The Beginning of After as a softly powerful account of how one teenage girl survives a terrible loss. This book is beautifully written and uncomfortably insightful. I felt as if I was listening to the main character, Laurel's private thoughts and feelings as she faced an unimaginable tragedy with the sudden loss of her family. The author paints a vivid and intuitive portrait of a teen trying to cope with this profound loss while also dealing with normal teen situations like prom, SAT's, and relationships.
David was suffering from a similar loss as his family was also involved in the crash that killed Laurel's family. The dynamic between Laurel and David was fascinating to witness. Both suffering from rage, guilt, sorrow, and unbelievable grief, they were alternately drawn to one another, yet unsure of each other. Watching how David struggled to cope with everything made my heart break for him.
The Beginning of After is a wonderful novel that travels through the lowest points of sorrow and leaves the reader with a feeling of hope. I highly recommend this for all ages....more