Sarah Dessen. Oh, what is there to say about Sarah Dessen that hasn’t already been said? She’s wonderful, really. But may...more[Posted on Rather Be Reading]
Sarah Dessen. Oh, what is there to say about Sarah Dessen that hasn’t already been said? She’s wonderful, really. But maybe you’re sitting at your computer with little to no idea who she is. Maybe you’ve only read one of her books and you haven’t dipped into the early 2000s to dive into the pages of This Lullaby. Don’t worry – I’m right there with ya.
Reading ARCs is extremely fun and definitely a great honor, but I also want to balance that out with books that are recommended to me by other book bloggers. Plus, I think it’s nice to be able to say, “Oh, by the way, this one is available right now,” and there’s no waiting game. All that said, a few bloggers (I’m lookin’ at you Ginger and Jess) mentioned that This Lullaby was their favorite Sarah Dessen book. I scrambled to the book store to pick it up because I needed a guaranteed WIN.
While I (obviously) haven’t read all of Sarah’s work, I was a little concerned that maybe it would be formulaic. I anticipated that this broken girl, Remy, with issues would find a great relationship, but her feelings would override her heart and it would end. I did This Lullaby a disservice by having this mindset while beginning the book. Sure Remy’s mom had been married five times and yes, this had left her broken and distrusting of any boys she dated. She didn’t feel like there was real love to be found. Her mom certainly wasn’t setting a great precedent.
Then entered Dexter.
Actually, he kind of collided into her life. He broke the mold of every other guy she had dated. In the past, she had relationships down to a science – knowing exactly when to break up with them, how to break up with the guy based on his personality, and what approximate timeline the relationship would follow before mere days had passed. Dexter, on the other hand, drove Remy a little crazy. Remy was extremely type-A and OCD, but around Dexter she had no choice but to let things slide. There was one thing about him that made Remy wary – he was a musician, just like her biological dad (that she never knew) was. Oddly enough, Dexter wasn’t deterred by this and he also understood firsthand Remy’s inability to commit – his mom was also married multiple times. More times, even, than Remy’s mom.
Remy was the kind of girl who was constantly on the run. She was never settled and permanence scared her. She was running away from babysitting her mom and nursing her through marriage after bad marriage. She was running away to college to start a new life. She had a group of best friends, but one fault I found in them is that they were quick to call out how she was changing with Dexter. They noticed he was changing her for the better, but they gave her a hard time. When things began to crumble, they finally spoke up about how Remy had mis-treated relationships in the past. I wish her friends had just been upfront with her sooner.
Dessen masterfully sets the tone for this book. The pacing was perfect and I enjoyed the twists and turns that popped up. Dessen surprised me and there were definite things that caught me off guard – a factor I very much appreciated. Though Remy was quite slow to figure out her feelings and I wanted to yell at her sometimes, I couldn’t have been happier that I decided to take a step back to read This Lullaby.(less)
When I received Summer Sisters for Christmas from Estelle, I was thrilled! I couldn’t remember reading Ju...more Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading
When I received Summer Sisters for Christmas from Estelle, I was thrilled! I couldn’t remember reading Judy Blume books when I was younger, so I was anxious to see why Estelle had sent me this book. This ended up being a book that I didn’t devour in a day, but not because it wasn’t great. It was rich with detail, emotions, and a very dense story was woven throughout. It’s a story about friendship, growing up, life changes, loss, and family. Told over a 12-ish year period, Summer Sisters begins with a prologue at the climax of the story. It then reverses and we meet shy, insecure Vix at age 12 and we get to see Caitlin and Vix’s friendship blossom from the beginning. Not only do we see the girls grow up over time, but we understand in a very deep way how messy and complicated their friendship is.
Actually, there’s just a lot of mess all throughout Summer Sisters. Vix’s family sucks; her mother takes advantage of her, degrades her, and doesn’t let her think for herself. Caitlin introduces Vix to her family; they see something special in her and completely take her under their wing. I loved how their family loved on Vix – they cared for her well beyond high school graduation and supported her through college. They gave her a life and opportunities she would never have dreamed of. Vix was finally able to understand that family isn’t necessarily about blood relations; it’s about the people you choose to surround yourself with.
As much as Caitlin was a part of Vix’s life, there were times I didn’t understand why they were such close friends. Caitlin was crazed, competitive, and spoiled beyond reason. Just reading about her overwhelmed me at times, and I realized that she wouldn’t have been an ideal best friend for me. For Vix, she was perfect; the girls expected nothing less than the best from one another, but were so compassionate when things didn’t work out that way. No matter where life took them, they were able to remain in contact and shared a deep bond that was much more sisterly.
Summer Sisters opens with the prologue, however, and we see that Vix and Caitlin have been apart for quite some time. Vix is left speechless and shaking when she finds out Caitlin is to marry to Bru. Throughout the remainder of the book, we see how Vix is connected to Bru and things begin to fall into place. Bru, Von, Gus, Sharkey, and Daniel were just a few of the boys that they spent each summer with, and I always felt so intrigued by the dynamics of all these relationships, especially when I began to see how the prologue connected to the rest of the story.
This was a book that made me extremely nostalgic. Vix’s story was reminiscent of Jessica Darling’s (as in the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty). I felt extremely connected to Vix because she reminded me so much of Jessica. Here are a few quick comparisons and maybe a few things that will lead you to read Summer Sisters.
- Vix is a lonely girl. She is smart and witty, but no one ever realizes that until she meets Caitlin. I felt like her character was unleashed with the introduction of Caitlin, just like Jessica’s was unveiled when she and Marcus became close friends.
- Vix has a messy, complicated relationship with Bru. She’s head-over-heels in love with him. In the back of her mind, she’s constantly second-guessing herself. Is she ready to commit? Is she too young to be in such a serious relationship? Bru proposes at some point (I PROMISE I’m not spoiling anything here), and I was overwhelmed with flashbacks of when Marcus proposed to Jessica. Guys, I can’t even explain how much I missed Jessica and Marcus while reading this part.
- Because of Caitlin’s family, Vix is given the opportunity to go to Harvard. Remember the whole So you think you’re better than us? thing in the Jessica Darling books when she goes to Cambridge? Oh. My. Gosh. Those same emotions were displaced on Vix, too. She was just a girl trying to make ends meet and get a good education while everyone around her (i.e. her low-life family) assumed she was becoming a snob.
Okay, I really hope I’ve made my case for this book. It’s so stinkin’ good. Pick it up. Immerse yourself in the world of Summer Sisters.(less)
Every once in a while, a book comes along that’s so different and beautifully written that it sweep...more[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
Every once in a while, a book comes along that’s so different and beautifully written that it sweeps me off my feet and makes me ignore my husband until I’ve completely absorbed it. Sweethearts was just that for me.
If you think back to your childhood, do you have friends that stick out to you that maybe you wish you were still in contact with today? I’m fairly lucky that I’m still friends with a lot from my childhood, but Jenna feels the void of her missing friend Cameron Quick. These two were inseparable as kids – two social outcasts who had no other friends – until one day, when Jenna was nine, Cameron quits showing up to school. He disappears.
Rumors fly around school that Cameron has died. Jenna is forced to believe this is true because her mom does nothing to deny the lie. For eight years, Jenna goes through a transformation: switching schools, moving houses, and becoming a stronger person. Things are going along just fine until Cameron enrolls in her school.
When I imagine the scene where Jenna first sees Cameron, I can’t help but imagine how I would have reacted. I probably would have fallen out of my chair. Jenna and Cameron quietly and privately reconnect. She is filled with lots of questions she wants answered. He’s reluctant to tell her what she wants to hear because there’s something they’re both burying – an event that occurred shortly before his disappearance. Jenna becomes a confused mess – her relationship with Ethan (her boyfriend) becomes disastrous and she withdraws from everyone, needing time to figure things out on her own without the influence of her friends.
Jenna feels as if she’s completely reinvented herself since Cameron left. She never wanted to be called names for being overweight or too sensitive without Cameron by her side. (In fact, Cameron knows her as Jennifer. Jenna is what she calls herself when she switches schools.) She is conflicted because she feels Cameron is the only person who knows the “true” her. Will her friends accept her if they know her secrets and what she used to be like? A sub-plot is Jenna’s relationship with her mother, who for much of her childhood was absent as she worked and put herself through school. Cameron’s appearance forces Jenna to be honest with her mom about the past, about what happened.
My biggest takeaway was from Cameron’s reintroduction into Jenna’s life. Their story is about love and what it can mean to love someone who makes such a profound impact on our lives, even at such a young age. To love even from a distance. To continue to love when the truth surfaces, when life changes us. Jenna and Cameron’s teenage friendship is much more complicated than their childhood one, but I loved seeing two old friends pick back up where they left off.
Sara Zarr is absolutely one of my favorite authors. If you’re looking for a gripping story that is sure to capture your attention, pick up Sweethearts (or any of Sara’s books for that matter).(less)
Ever since I read Harry Potter, I’ve wished I had the opportunity to go to a boarding school when I was...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Ever since I read Harry Potter, I’ve wished I had the opportunity to go to a boarding school when I was growing up. My little hometown didn’t have anything more than our tiny public school, but I yearned for the strong friendships, the lifelong bonds, and the living away from home experience. (I suppose this is what a lot of people gain by living on campus during college, too, but alas, I didn’t do that either.)
When I saw Viola in Reel Life at my library, I read “boarding school” on the flap and immediately added it to the stack of books in my arms. Viola’s parents are being sent to Afghanistan to to film a documentary; she has no choice but to go to the all girls boarding school her mother attended in South Bend, Indiana while they’re away. Viola, too, loves making films and feels the Midwest won’t be very inspiring considering she’s a NYC girl. How could things compare?
Viola leaves her best friend, Andrew, behind in New York. As a way to stay connected with him, she decides to film pieces of her life so he can join in her misery. She makes little to no effort to mesh with her three new roommates and chooses to be withdrawn and mopey until they confront her. I greatly admired these three girls, Marisol, Romy, and Suzanne, for reaching out to Viola to prove that the experience didn’t have to be as gruesome as she was allowing it to be. They force her to become more involved so she can walk away after the year is over with new friendships and outlooks.
While I overlooked the fact that Viola was only a Freshman when I checked this out, a much younger character than I typically read about, I did enjoy that the focus of Viola in Reel Life was different because of her age. The story was much more about friendship (than romance) and Viola, an only child, stripping away her independency to rely on new friends with very different upbringings and backgrounds. She had a lot to learn about herself, but she gained a new perspective: circumstances are what you make of them. You have to sieze the day and make the best of things.
Viola’s new friends became a sounding board for her as she navigated choppy waters when her friendship with Andrew became strained (oddly enough, right around the time she begins mentioning her first crush). They were her support group when her parents couldn’t make it home for the holidays. They became her film crew when Viola decided to enter a competition. The camaraderie was a definite strength for Viola in Reel Life and I happily reflected back on my days as a mere high school Freshman.
I wasn’t aware Viola was part of a series. I haven’t yet read the follow-up novel, Viola in the Spotlight, but I’ll be placing it on reserve at my library when I need a change of pace and want to take things back to basics — strong friendships, loving families, and innocent, first love.(less)
In June 2011, I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I was on a huge dystopian kick and didn’t fall in love w...moreReview Originally Posted on Rather Be Reading.
In June 2011, I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I was on a huge dystopian kick and didn’t fall in love with Oliver’s work in the same way everyone else proclaimed to. Since then, I was hesitant to pick up Before I Fall. What if it was something I just didn’t enjoy? Or maybe Oliver’s writing just didn’t resonate with me?
I have to say, dear readers, that I am humbled to admit I was grasping for more and left in awe after reading this book.
I finished Before I Fall with tear-stained cheeks. I was choking back more tears. I stayed up until almost 2AM to finish this book, and couldn’t stop thinking. It’s like I could not turn my brain off. It made me think so much about how our decisions, even the most mundane, can impact someone else’s life so deeply.
When I was first introduced to Sam and her posse of best friends, I couldn’t stand them. They epitomized the term mean girls. They were obsessed with Sam losing her virginity that night to her “perfect” boyfriend. They were fixated on calling one another sluts and were so drunk and wasted. They were a huge turn off, to say the least. I didn’t know how Oliver would turn Sam into a likable character because she was beyond pathetic.
It was a gutsy move on Oliver’s behalf to make the characters so unlikable. However, the progression of the story was beautiful. It took time before Sam understood that each day she would wake up and relive the previous day over again. When things began to click in her head that what she did could alter how other people’s days would go, I wanted to jump up and down. Slowly I began to understand how little Sam really thought for herself, how intimidated she was by the thought of not being popular, and how her idea of perfect was shaped by her best friend Lindsey.
There was a lot of brokenness and hurt in Before I Fall, and much of it stemmed from Lindsey. She intentionally made life a living hell for Juliet. Sam’s clique called her Psycho and they hated her something fierce. Anna was another girl Lindsey antagonized and defamed. The questions that were always in my mind (and eventually in Sam’s) were why does Lindsey despise these girls so much? What happened?
Sam has to come to terms with the unpopular girl she used to be. A boy named Kent was a huge part of her life before Lindsey adopted her into the popular crowd. There were scenes with Kent that broke my heart and I cried big, sloppy tears. I was crushed by the idea of falling in love with someone and not being able to ever be with them. Kent has a deep love for Sam. He wants to be her protector. He, in all his nerdy gloriousness, is what every girl wants in a guy. He’s so dedicated to Sam, and in the beginning of the book I didn’t get it. I thought he was a weird, creepy geek that drooled over pretty, popular Sam. I loved that I came to know Kent’s true character in the same way that Sam did, slowly and tenderly.
I can’t express in words how much I feel impacted by this book. Usually I pick up another book almost immediately after I’ve finished one. I’ve waited more than 24 hours because I’m still letting things settle after finishing Before I Fall. There are two takeaways I have after reading this book:
1. I have now re-read Delirium (and Pandemonium) because I think I may have just read it at the wrong time. I read it right after Divergent, another dystopia I loved, and I unrightfully compared these two books. Lesson learned: don’t read two like books back to back.
2. The choices we make, no matter how big or small or how right or wrong they seem, still affect other people. I should remember Sam’s transition from selfish to selfless and pay more attention to how what I’m doing affects those around me.
Please, if you haven’t read Before I Fall, stop what you’re doing right this second and start reading it. I guarantee you won’t regret your decision and you will feel like you learned a huge life lesson when you’ve read the last page.(less)
Magan: Hey, E! So for this month’s Book Report, we chose a book that’s a few years old, The Mockingbird...more[review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Magan: Hey, E! So for this month’s Book Report, we chose a book that’s a few years old, The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. (She has a sequel The Rivals that piqued our interest that was released in February 2012.) I’m so excited to talk about this book with you!
Estelle: Me too! Not only is it one of the older (ha) books we’ve discussed but a book with the most serious subject matter.
M: Yep! It’s a book about a girl named Alex who is date raped. She calls on the Mockingbirds to protect her and bring about justice because she’s too scared to go to the police. What did you think of the Mockingbirds (the team, not the book overall…yet)?
E: I think it’s hard to talk about the Mockingbirds as a group without getting into the overall environment of this boarding school. I liked how Alex called it a “Candy Land of a school”. The institution believed that because they were churning out future world leaders and successful human beings… nothing bad ever went on there. No bullying, no drama, nothing. It’s just so crazy to me. So the fact that Alex’s oldest sister took it upon herself to create this group to help students who find themselves in horrendous situations with literally NO support from the school was just appalling and amazing to me at the same time.
M: I guess I was a little taken aback by Alex’s fear of going to the police and seeking adult help. It was explained very well why she chose not to, but it was definitely sickening that the school leaders would have turned their heads at the situation. I think this is also a really common occurence for people who are date raped – they feel so terrible that something so bad could happen to them and they’re caught up in not being sure what to do because all they want is to forget.
E: In Alex’s situation, though, she had been drinking a lot. She was underage. And she couldn’t remember anything, which was terrifying.
M: Oh, yeah – that was a big part of her story as well. I was so thankful she had her sister and her best friend, T.S., to really encourage her to take action. They let her know that even though she was drinking, Carter had no right to do what he did. I loved that Whitney really explained that no answer does not equal or imply a yes.
E: She definitely kept bringing that up in one way or another and I absolutely loved that. Her message wasn’t after school special like or annoying… it was just so true. And I think Alex was the perfect character to sort of bring light to a message like that. Especially using her strong connection with music to show how this one night sort of overflows into her passions, her daily life, and possible future.
M: The music aspect was a really awesome parallel. Probably one of my favorite subplots. It really showed me what life can be like for someone who has gone through this – how it infiltrates your everything.
E: I also think Whitney did a great job with this constant teetering Alex experienced with her emotions. Deciding to talk to the Mockingbirds, running into Carter, certain experiences bringing back memories from that night… she was sometimes feeling confident in her decision to talk to the Mockingbirds and sometimes shying away from her life. It was a very realistic account of someone in this situation, and it also really helped me connect with her. Even if I wasn’t sure what she was going to be feeling from one day to the next.
M: YES! And throughout the time she’s enlisting the help of the Mockingbirds, she realizes a friend, Martin, is involved with them. How did you feel about this boy and the role he played?
E: My God, I loved him. When he first showed up in the book, I wrote his name in my notes. I just felt like he would play some kind of important role in the book. And he was sort of like this geeky and supportive friend that she never paid much attention too. I liked how his character slowly became more complex as the book came on. I’m a huge Martin supporter. (Even if he was a science geek.)
M: Science geek aspiring to be a future doctor.:)I’d go for that. All joking aside, I really liked the look into what it’s like to try to start a new relationship and how conflicting those emotions can be when you’ve been so emotionally damaged and physically taken advantage of. I had no clue.
E: I feel like no stone went uncovered when it came dissecting this particular situation. How it affected her physically, mentally, emotionally, her relationships with her friends, her sisters, the other kids in school, and then of course, Martin. Whitney never made the book feel preachy or over dramatic, and I think there’s definitely a fine line when it comes to a subject matter like this. With kids who are pretty young.
M: I think that’s mostly in part to Daisy experiencing this when she was in college. When I read that in the author’s notes at the end, I realized why I connected with the story so much – there was so much truth. In the beginning of the book, things were a little slow-going for me (because she was struggling with remembering and making a decision about what to do), but once the Mockingbirds (and Martin!) were introduced, I was hooked.
E: I agree. This is definitely a situation where the author’s own experience brought a stark and frightening authenticity to the book. I wasn’t expecting to feel so attached to these characters and this story for some reason. I’m not sure why. Maybe just because the plot is so different than most of the other books I read. But I literally felt like I was transported into another world pretty much from the moment I opened to the first page. Especially once the story moves along and the Mockingbirds take over, wow. I wished I had another 45 minutes in my train ride or I could successful read while walking because I didn’t want to press pause on this book.
M: The Mockingbirds kicked ass. I was impressed by how well this part of the story was developed. This is where Whitney’s imagination came into play and she did a really great job of building this team of students. I liked the pacing and how they took their time investigating to set up their next move. Nothing felt rushed or irrational to me.
E: I wrote “intricate machine” in my notes. I was also amazed by this world and organization she created. I admit. I had my doubts. Why would students listen to a student run organization? Maybe I’m jaded. But they seriously had their ways.
M: So there’s a scene where the trial is finally happening. I don’t want to say more than that, but this was probably one of my very favorite parts of the story. I loved how things unraveled, and even that Whitney didn’t set the trial up to be easy. There were complexities because, afterall, Alex was drinking. What stands out most to you as being a favorite part of the story?
E: I feel like everything I want to say is spoilerish. How about this — there are at least three discoveries that occur throughout the book that I loved and were very helpful to Alex coming to terms with what happened to her. That’s really unspecific, I know. But I think once you pick up this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
M: So the question is, will you read The Rivals – the sequel to The Mockingbirds?
E: I immediately requested it from my library once I finished The Mockingbirds. So the answer is a big fast yes. I’m interested to see how Alex’s world continues.
M: So am I! I hope my library has it since it just came out. If not, I’m adding it to their wishlist of books to buy!
E: We can only hope that everyone who stumbles upon this Book Report is interested to pick up The Mockingbirds if they haven’t already. It’s definitely worth moving up your TBR list! (And if you’ve read it already, we’d love to hear your reactions in the comments as well!)(less)
For those of you that loved North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, I am so hesitant to write this review....more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
For those of you that loved North of Beautiful by Justina Chen, I am so hesitant to write this review. I, too, loved that book and had extremely high expectations of Return to Me. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same deep emotional connection with the characters, nor did I feel as rooted in the story.
My expectations for Return to Me were much different than the story that unfolded in the pages. I assumed Reb would be struggling to put her life back together while maintaining a long distance relationship and college. Much of the story is internal as Reb tries to answer the ”What will I do with my life now?” question. Her father’s deception causes her to second guess every aspect of her life, which was often frustrating because she realizes how many of her decisions were made to make him happy. She begins distrusting Jackson, her boyfriend, as if her father’s affair has flipped a switch in her. She plays a game of cat and mouse with him as she tries to sort through all of her emotions. Reb’s uneasiness made me dislike her character and hate how she was toying with someone else’s life, much like her father had been manipulating hers.
One of my biggest dilemmas with Return to Me was the quick and abrupt decision-making on behalf of Reb, the main character. One moment she’s completely invested in making her relationship work long distance with Jackson, and the next page, she’s withdrawn and has a completely different outlook. Her actions weren’t always easy to understand, weren’t explained well, and were extremely contradictory. I do understand that a girl reeling from her father’s abandonment would be imbalanced and uncertain, but minimizing the amount of back-and-forth action would have made Reb a more relatable character.
There is also a psychic/intuition/sixth sense element that really detached me from the story. Reb had disturbing visions when she thought about her family’s move, as if she knew something terrible was going to happen. Reb and the women in her family have a way of getting glimpses of the future; her negative feelings were a warning for her father’s unfaithfulness. Oftentimes, Reb would have a vision or a back story would be told that had no context to support the story; this element seemed to justify information that wasn’t necessary and, as a reader, I only felt more confused.
Overall, the story could have been more focused. If the sixth sense aspect of the story had been disregarded, the story would have flowed better and negated some of the unnecessary confusion and complexity. The timing and pacing could have benefitted from more fine tuning and made the story more believable. Though I desperately wanted to love another of Chen’s book, Return to Me sadly wasn’t a hit for me and left me feeling like I should not finished it and, instead, moved on to something I would have enjoyed more.(less)
I didn't originally enjoy Delirium when I read it last year, but after re-reading it (and not after any other dystopias) I really, really loved it the...moreI didn't originally enjoy Delirium when I read it last year, but after re-reading it (and not after any other dystopias) I really, really loved it the second time around. My original review is below, but I'll be writing my updated one on Rather be Reading soon.
I mentioned in this In My Mailbox vlog that I read Delirium last year and didn’t love it. Why? you ask.
I whittled it down to a few reasons, and mostly I believe that it was terrible timing. I read Delirium immediately after finishing Divergent by Veronica Roth, which happens to be one of my very favorite books. I went into Oliver’s world expecting the fast-paced, kick ass heroin I loved from Divergent. The two worlds, while both dystopias, are so incredibly different, as are both authors’ writing styles. This year when I went to ALA, I met several friends who convinced me to give Delirium another try. So I did.
And I abso-freaking-lutely loved it.
I hereby admit that I was 100% in the wrong to have read two dystopias back to back. I confess that I am a complete Lauren Oliver fangirl now. I wish I could take back the months that I didn’t recommend Delirium to my friends because all I want to do now is sing its praises from the rooftop.
Because this is a release from last year, I am just going to cover a few of my favorite aspects of Delirium:
1. Oliver spends a lot of time allowing us to see Lena in her natural environment before shocking us with Lena’s doubts about the cure. This gives us a chance to really see how much Lena believes in everything, how anxious she is to receive the cure (and why that is), and how automatron-like she is because she doesn’t really think for herself. Every single decision she makes is based on how she can be a good citizen and not break any rules. Reading this the second time, I saw how well Oliver used this period of change to develop the details of the world; I even felt convinced, at times, that the cure was worthwhile.
2. The process of Lena unraveling is a slow progression. She doesn’t meet Alex and then woah! everything falls to pieces. Oliver was very intentional when it comes to Alex. Just as Lena slowly loosens her reins, we slowly fall in love with him, too. He has secrets and is very mysterious; Lena eventually has to learn all of those things and they aren’t easy for her to digest. I love, love, love that Lena and Alex don’t have an insta-love relationship. They definitely defy the odds, though, because Lena is all about the cure.
3. One of the things I’ve learned to enjoy more in the last 9 months is books that have less dialog and more description. During my first reading, I wasn’t a huge fan of the large, solid chunks of writing. I love seeing characters interact, but I’ve gotten much more acclimated to taking in the details. In fact, that’s something I now see Oliver does extremely well.
4. Even though I’d read this before, I felt so much more connected to it this time. I understood Lena and didn’t feel the same frustration. I accepted that she was do-gooder (not saying this is a bad thing!) and rarely broke the rules. I didn’t expect her to suddenly “find herself” and then make an abrupt change. I really, sincerely believe that I went in to Delirium the first time expecting something from the story – having my own opinions about what Oliver could do with such an awesome concept - instead of allowing myself to enter Oliver’s world with an open mind.
I do have to say that while I was convinced to re-read Delirium, no one convinced me to change my opinion. I wasn’t paid off by the book mafia or anything. I really felt like the book deserved another chance since so many people have raved about it. I’m really glad I read it again.
So I ask you, readers, what book did you really feel disconnected with that others seemed to love? Did you read it again and did your opinion change?(less)
An assassin. How is it possible that I just read a book about a female assassin and I loved it? Thi...more[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
An assassin. How is it possible that I just read a book about a female assassin and I loved it? This is so not me, you guys. Maas just killed my perfect track record of avoiding books with castles and horses and kings – and she made me want more. Let me tell you about all the awesome…
Celaena is a badass assassin. The Captain of the Guard, Chaol, and the Crown Prince, Dorian, arrive at Endovier where Celaena is in prison. She was the world’s greatest assassin who was finally captured and sentenced. Upon the very first meeting with Chaol, Dorian, and Calaena, I was in love. She’s tough and sarcastic and inappropriate at the most inopportune times. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and has an overwhelming problem with submission. She gets put in her place when she has to portray a weaker criminal during the King’s competition – she’s forced to pretend to be weak, mediocre, and she balks that she has to hide who she really is.
She must fight for her freedom. The king has summoned assassins, thieves, and ex-guards to train and fight in a competition to become his personal champion. The winner will be granted freedom after serving the king for a given amount of time. Celaena is the only female in the competition – the men she’s surrounded by are disgusting, inappropriate, and completely inferior to her. Who doesn’t like to see a girl triumph over twenty-three guys?
A mysterious murderer is roaming the castle. This person is taking out the champions before big tests and causing chaos. There’s a big game of whodunit as the reader is given glimpses into more than just Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian’s whereabouts. I had a list of people I didn’t trust and wanted so badly to figure out who the killer was. So much suspense!
The world was so vivid. I could picture exactly what her room looked like, where she trained, the lands they traveled through to reach the castle, and had a rich understanding of the glass castle. While I love to fall into the setting of a book, I don’t like being overwhelmed by paragraph upon paragraph of dense description. Maas described the world without me realizing what she was doing — I never felt bogged down in the details, but did walk away wishing I could physically experience the snowy, winter days from within the glass castle.
The third person narrative was very effective for telling this story. I’m accustomed to reading so many first-person contemporary books, but the third person change was refreshing. It gave me the chance to understand more than just the protagonist’s perspective. I had insight to Dorian and Chaol’s whereabouts or actions that let me know things Celaena wasn’t aware of. Maas told the story in a way that still felt very personal and intimate, despite being distanced from Celaena’s every thought.
There’s a love triangle … and I didn’t mind one bit. Dorian is very agressive with his feelings — he’s upfront about how he feels, what he wants. He doesn’t fail to be suggestive or use sexual innuendos to communicate what he desires. He’s known as a bit of a playboy and is accustomed to getting what he wants since, ya know, he is the Prince. Chaol feels that by neglecting his feelings, they won’t exist. How could he, the Captain of the Guard, fall for an assassin? He and Celaena’s mutual hate for one another morphs into a friendly banter. Their friendship is a slow progression. Both boys, clearly, have their strengths and it will be quite entertaining to see who readers favor.
What I hope to learn: I do want to know more about Celaena’s history and what happened to her parents. How did she become involved with the King of the Assassins? There are a few ebooks that tell Celaena’s story prior to where the Throne of Glass begins. Should I read those? I would love to know more about her training and how she came to be the girl I adored so much.
My last words: Celaena is a character I want to spend more time with and I want to know everything about. I can’t wait to see what happens in her future and I am so excited Maas has given me a new world to fall in love with. By the way, I’m totally Team Chaol.(less)
Apparently, I am a huge geek when it comes to distopian books. They excite me and completely captivate me. This book was awesome.
I was excited about t...more Apparently, I am a huge geek when it comes to distopian books. They excite me and completely captivate me. This book was awesome.
I was excited about the world Roth created - very similar to other distopian novels...somewhere in the future, strong female character, an element of control within the new society to make everything function and work perfectly, and an uprising that was on the brink of bringing down the perfect world.
I liked that Tris seemed different than some of the other female characters I've read lately- she had a lot of growing to do, knew she needed to get away, but was in many ways very weak and unaware of her abilities. (Comparatively, Katniss in the Hunger Games was strong from the get-go...survival was instilled in her due to her life circumstances.) Tris was forced to make hard decisions, had a lot to learn, and really evolved as a character.
I am impressed by Roth's ability to create this world, especially considering how young she was when she wrote the book. I think there will be many, many more amazing pieces from Roth to come (or at least hope so!) I was hoping, sometimes, to be a little more shocked by things that happened. I hoped I wouldn't be able to predict everything, but I suppose Roth did a fantastic job at foreshadowing and leaving subtle hints behind.
I sincerely cannot wait for the next two books. I am so sad that I have to wait a whole year for the sequel.
What an under-appreciated book this is. By a show of hands (or comments), who has heard of this book? It doesn’t have half the attention it deserves o...moreWhat an under-appreciated book this is. By a show of hands (or comments), who has heard of this book? It doesn’t have half the attention it deserves on Goodreads and oh, does that make me even happier to share it with you guys.
Jen dresses to stand out in a crowd – tight, black clothing, ruby red lips lined with black lip liner, dark hair with red chunky streaks. She’s a girl who is not easy to overlook. Imagine Trevor’s shock when she sets her eyes on him and starts popping up everywhere he is. Little does he know that he’s a bet. If Jen can pull him over to the dark side, her friends will pay to have her lip re-pierced (her current foster family made her remove the last piercing). I wonder if Jen would have made the bet if she had known in her (fake) pursuit of Trevor, she would spend so much time skipping parties with her friends so she could watch sci-fi movies with his geeky crowd, or that they would be spending every third Saturday hanging with semi-senile old people in a nursing home.
Jen gets sucked up in Trevor’s world. I don’t know what girl could resist this boy. He’s kind and funny and so honorable. For a boy who wore button-up shirts buttoned all the way to his throat, he was always so kind and polite to Jen despite her in your-face-appearance. He looked past her exterior and saw that maybe that wasn’t all there was to her. Their love was a slow progression; Jen felt so conflicted – how could she fall in love with a boy that she’d be leaving when she went to the next foster home? What would her friends say about her failing so miserably at the bet – wasn’t he supposed to be the one turning bad… not the other way around?
Most importantly, what happens when this good boy finds out why they started hanging out in the first place?
Trevor and Jen’s story is one about falling in love, making it through hard times, deception, and ignoring the haters who don’t believe in you. It’s about a couple, who by appearances, should not be together. Jen’s background is gritty and disappointing; there’s a lot about her past that has caused her to be standoffish and distanced. She has never allowed herself to fall in love before and has a hard time believing someone would actually want her. (I loved her background and life story just as much as her relationship with Trevor. The foster care aspect, what happened with her biological parents, and the current status of her life in the Grant’s home was incredibly thorough and gripping.) Forgiveness is a huge, huge theme throughout this book. I could continue listing so many highlights and strengths of Geek Girl, but I need to allow you to experience this on your own.
I suppose I’ll leave you with this. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading through a 318-page book and it’s gone too fast or details of the story were lacking. I completely, wholeheartedly feel like I know everything there was to know about Trevor and Jen. I loved falling in love with them and hoping against hope that their relationship would make it. I’m so, so glad I took the time to read Bennett’s Geek Girl because I don’t think I could have possibly enjoyed it more than I did.
Now, let’s start a trend on Goodreads and give Geek Girl the love it deserves. Read it, will ya?(less)
anonymous, adjective The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.
concept, noun Written as a series of e...moreanonymous, adjective The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.
concept, noun Written as a series of entries in a dictionary, The Lover’s Dictionary is completely original.
depiction, noun A nameless couple’s entire relationship is represented in its entirety throughout the novel. Sometimes the entries are a few words, and other times you’ll find yourself getting a larger glimpse into their lives via a longer story.
discouraging, verb The truth is that this couple’s relationship wasn’t easy, perfect, or simple. It was multi-faceted and complicated. The reality was much more like a real-life relationship. Sometimes books can overly romanticize relationships, but this one was raw, gritty, and truthful.
disorderly, adjective Because the story is alphabetized by the words Levithan chose, the story is sometimes confusing because the events are not in sequential order.
gloomy, adjective This is how I felt after I finished the book. See: discouraging. As things weren’t perfect, I wasn’t sure how things actually would have progressed with this couple. I felt the weight of the imperfections.
intervals, noun The story is told in small snippets and isn’t a continuous, chronological story. Often there would be bits of the story that would fit a specific word, and later we’d see the continuation of the story much later on in the The Lover’s Dictionary.
point of view, noun The entire story is told from the male’s perspective in the relationship. He constantly fights the battle waging in his mind of whether he’s truly happy with this girl or if he’s settling. He wonders if she’s too good for him. I wished at times that I would have known both sides of the story, especially when a few key events unraveled.
resolution, noun There was a hint as to what happens to these two lovers at the end of the book, but I didn’t feel like I walked away with as much as I wanted. I didn’t know if their story would continue.
summation, noun While I was certainly glad to have read The Lover’s Dictionary, I think I expected it to be much more light-hearted. I admire Levithan’s brilliance at putting so much effort into how he told the couple’s story. Just from writing this post, I can see how much effort and work it would have taken to write a succinct story.(less)
Because we’re living in a time of war, many of us probably know of someone, even if not a close relative, that has...more[review posted on rather be reading]
Because we’re living in a time of war, many of us probably know of someone, even if not a close relative, that has joined the military. The idea of losing someone is terrifying. My brother frequently contemplates what he’ll do after he graduates from college and he often comes back to joining (I forget which branch he’s interested in). The thought is nauseating, yet there are so many men and women who dedicate their lives to this.
Travis was one of those people. He joined the Marines spontaneously to get away from his superstar-NFL-Superbowl-winning-father. His last year was spent in boot camp and fighting in Afghanistan. When he returned home, he carried the loss of his friend Charlie. He was suffering and broken, but too tough to admit that he had problems. That he was seeing images of Charlie everywhere – and that he was having conversations with those illusions.
His home life wasn’t the best. His dad was (still) a prick. His mom was mousy and couldn’t stand up for herself. Ryan, his brother, wanted what Travis had; while he was away, he claimed his car and girlfriend, Paige.
Reading from a male’s perspective is always so refreshing. I don’t read enough of it, and Something Like Normal made me wish for more. Maybe because Travis was older and had been through so much, I found his voice to be extremely honest and real. His stream of consciousness included the dirty thoughts he had for girls and then skipped to conversations he had with the guys on base about making fun of some guy. I loved witnessing his vulnerability, even if he was too afraid to share the pain with anyone else.
While I feel like this is a book you should most definitely read, I want to point out that it’s quite understated. There’s not a huge climactic event where the whole world falls to pieces. There are big things happening in Travis’ life (possible parental split, falling in love with Harper, and dealing with the death of Charlie), but Doller did a beautiful job of making all those things work together so it didn’t seem like everything and the kitchen sink was being thrown at him. The events all carried significance, but Something Like Normal did not feel like a soap opera with too much drama.
The pace moves quickly and the story is constantly pushing forward. Something Like Normal isn’t an incredibly long book (it’s perfect for an afternoon read), but Doller’s words are deliberate and meaningful. I really enjoyed the originality of the story and being swept up in the life of a Marine – definitely a storyline that is quite unique in the world of young adult literature.
Something Like Normal by Trish Doller was released yesterday. Please find your local bookstore soon so you can purchase your own copy of this great journey. (And while you’re reading, listen to the playlist Trish has assembled for Something Like Normal.)(less)
I think I'm going to be sick you guys. I knew the ending would bring about more questions, but OH MY GOSH. I have so many feelings and so much anxiety...moreI think I'm going to be sick you guys. I knew the ending would bring about more questions, but OH MY GOSH. I have so many feelings and so much anxiety coursing through me. I absolutely loved every single thing about this book.
Delirium introduced us to a girl who was weak and very influenced by the society. Lena had very little say-so and often didn’t think for herself. We saw her progress from a lowly character with little self-esteem into a brave, confident young woman who would do anything to spend her life with Alex. Who would give anything to make her own decisions. Thus, she fled into the Wilds seeking freedom, although Alex was trapped by the Regulators and never makes it to the other side.
Pandemonium opens and we see that there is a “then” and a “now.” Oliver switched up how she chose to tell Lena’s story. Some chapters are flashbacks to when she first enters the Wilds and others are current day. Since there were two stories being simultaneously told, it seemed as though I was reading about two Lena’s. I am amazed by the growth that occurred in Lena. I thought she would be fully prepared to live outside the society, but being broken-hearted and damaged took a toll on her character. She second guesses herself and has to go through another developmental stage. She realizes how weak she is and is pushed to fight; thoughts of Alex are what encourage her to continue on.
While I felt that Oliver was very cautious and intentional in Delirium, she was much more intense this go around. The story was powerful and there were so many puzzle pieces I was trying to fit together. I was anxious to devour the book (but knew I’d be waiting an entire year for the final one). There was hardly a low-intensity moment, and the shifts from now and then would occur just as things were coming together, leaving me in suspense a little while longer. Oliver left me constantly grasping for more information, and I went through an array of emotions while reading.
I was shocked. I was heart-broken. I yearned for Alex. I was disgusted. (Rats, anyone?!)
I was completely surprised by the ending.
There are so many things I need want to know now. I don’t know how things will wrap up in Requiem. I wish I could have a coffee date with Lauren Oliver so she could spill all the details. Honestly, for as much as I loved Delirium, I was even more blown away by Pandemonium. It’s all the things a sequel should be, and much, much more. I encourage you to read this book and have a friend nearby to discuss all the details with. Ginger at GReads! got a few texts from me like, “I am dyinngggggggg. I am still shaking from it.” I guarantee you’ll need someone to help digest all the twists and turns.
Pandemonium just came out on February 28th. Hurry out and buy your copy! If you already devoured it, tell me what you thought below! I’m so curious to know.(less)
Ash is the younger, innocent sister. Eve is the troublemaker who always stirs up drama and is constant...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading!]
Ash is the younger, innocent sister. Eve is the troublemaker who always stirs up drama and is constantly performing a disappearing act, coming and going as she pleases (or when she needs something). The opening chapters of Wildefire were extreme and intense; from the get go, I was quite put off by Eve’s character and so thankful for Ashline’s chance to start over somewhere new.
Wildefire was particularly intriguing because it’s written by a male but with a female protagonist. Knight hit the nail on the head creating a snarky, witty main character. The opening chapters had a few tough scenes, but I still found myself laughing at the funny inner dialogue. There was a fantastic balance of lightheartedness while dealing with death and loss. Knight’s voice was refreshing — he didn’t use common phrases or popular descriptions I see overused a lot in young adult books. I loved that reading Wildefire felt as if Knight decided to observe the world with a new pair of glasses, resulting in fresh dialogue and memorable scenes.
I haven’t read a ton of books with gods and goddesses so I was new to the mythological aspect of Wildefire. I did enjoy the concept and loved seeing Ash figure out who she was. Of her group of five random acquaintances she seems to befriend, Ash is the lone girl who is uncertain of her abilities. There were some scenes I was a little grossed out by, but I think that’s what makes Wildefire particularly great — boys and girls will enjoy this story. The vivid fight scenes will satisfy anyone who loves a good battle, while us romantics will still swoon over sweet, sarcastic Colt — the one boy who has the perfect response for every bit of snark Ash can dish out.
Wildefire was definitely a book that I’m glad to have read. I’m really anxious to know what happens next for Ash. If you need me, I’ll be curled up with the sequel, Embers & Echoes.(less)
I was so hopeful that And Then Things Fall Apart was going to be a sweet, fun read. It sounded like...more[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
I was so hopeful that And Then Things Fall Apart was going to be a sweet, fun read. It sounded like Keek was going through a lot and I was ready to go all Jersey Shore with a fist pump in celebration of another contemporary young adult book. I wish I could say that And Then Things Fell Apart lived up to my expectations.
Keek was a whiny fifteen-year-old character. She complained about absolutely everything. In the beginning, I gave her a lot of leeway because I understood she was dealing with tons of drama (i.e. a cheating dad, a runaway mother, and the chicken pox). And let’s face it – some (if not most) fifteen-year-olds are self-centered and annoying. Keek thought her world was ending because she’d gotten the chicken pox and she was upset her boyfriend hadn’t called her. She was hallucinating because of the fevers and often didn’t make much sense. She repeated herself endlessly. I sometimes found myself skipping over bits of text because she was saying the. exact. same. thing. again.
Keek is obsessed with two things, both of which I didn’t understand one bit. She is crazy about Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar. She reads it constantly, references it multiple times on nearly every other page, and compares her situation to the characters. For someone who wasn’t familiar with the book, it was hard to care about that portion of the story. A lot of explaining was necessary to draw the parallel between Plath’s book and Keek’s life, but it didn’t really seem fitting when such an immature character was explaining the depths of Plath’s work.
Her second obsession: losing her virginity. I didn’t grasp why she “just wanted to get it over with.” This was where I felt most disconnected — Keek seemed so childish and young in many ways, but she was absorbed with Plath’s work and wanting to lose her virginity. Her actions and behavior didn’t convince me she was mature enough to understand or even begin to comprehend either of those two things. Her father had also just been outed for cheating on her mom; I didn’t believe someone in her position would treat something like their virginity so flippantly after finding out such devastating news.
The reader is very much inside Keek’s mind during the entire book. She’s solitary and alone because she’s sick, has few friends, and her boyfriend is MIA. Although I thought the concept for the book was fun, I found that there was only so much development that Tibensky could do with a sick character. She has rare conversations with her grandmother and she doesn’t communicate with her mom or dad. Due to the lack of dialogue, the story progressed slowly. I found it less believable that Keek would have matured in the ways that she did because she didn’t have anyone to guide her to a better understanding of all that was happening.
One of my least favorite parts of the book was the poetry. Keek is learning how to type and chooses to write poems. I didn’t feel like they blended into the story well. They didn’t add anything that gave me insight into Keek’s character and ultimately, I didn’t find they were necessary. I skipped over the poetry toward the end of the book because I felt like much of it became a filler.
Overall, I didn’t love And Then Things Fall Apart. I was on such a roll for great 2012 books, but this one didn’t cut it for me.(less)
Let’s take a moment to characterize a few Hollywood starlets that have made magazine covers in the last...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Let’s take a moment to characterize a few Hollywood starlets that have made magazine covers in the last 10-ish years for their terrible choices:
She SHAVED HER HEAD. By herself. She accidentally married someone in Vegas. Then there was the marriage to KFed. (Oops, she got married again?!) She had a couple kids. She flashed her underwear (or lack thereof) a whole lotta times.
And then she made a comeback and has lived a relatively “normal” life.
She’s gotten in more car accidents than one can keep up with. (How does she still have a license?) Someone could diagram her privates blindfolded because she’s so not careful when getting out of cars. She’s always in trouble for drinking and drugs. Always. As in, hello, jail time.
LiLo has not learned her lesson yet. The girl is still gettin’ in trouble.
So why am I giving you a breakdown of two Hollywood troublemakers? Because I need you to relate when I explain that Lexington, the main character in 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, is a Hollywood drama-seeker. She’s Lindsay and Britney’s bookish cousin. She’s spoiled, bratty, and overly obnoxious in the beginning of the book. All she wants is to inherit money from her dad when she turns 18 so she can live a comfortable, posh life and never have to depend on him again.
The problem with this flawless (*eye roll*) plan?
She can’t stay out of trouble. After she crashes her brand new, very expensive car into a convenience store, her dad makes her work 52 jobs – one for each week of the year – in order to gain her inheritance. Oh, poor Lexington.
I greatly admire Brody’s ability to turn unlikeable Lexi into a character I could relate to. She wasn’t someone I would even want to know in the beginning of 52 Reasons. Her attitude was very woe-is-me despite all the amazing things she had in her life. The one downfall was the lack of a relationship she had with her father. All of her magazine headlines were a cry for his attention. I appreciated the complexity of Lexi and her father’s relationship; I mostly thought the book would be a humorous display of Lexi’s failed attempts to work normal jobs.
While Lexi certainly didn’t fail to deliver lighthearted, funny moments, the jobs didn’t outweigh the underlying story of the abandonment Lexi felt after her mother died. Lexi learned to keep most people at a distance, except for her two best friends. While I didn’t trust that they would stick around when things got tough for Lexi, I was happily surprised that they weren’t the shallow girls I anticipated they would be.
There is a bit of a love interest, though I’ll be honest and say the relationship between Luke and Lexi doesn’t take center stage. Luke is hired by Lexi’s father to make sure she actually completes each of the jobs. Immediately, there air is thick between Luke and Lexi because she feels he’s her babysitter and he thinks she’s a spoiled brat. They say opposites attract, and boy, these two are certainly different in every way.
I hope you’ll enjoy 52 Reasons to Hate My Father as much as I did. I’m very much looking forward to checking out more of Brody’s work. (Isn’t that the best feeling when an author you like has more books to keep ya reading?!)(less)
Kirsten Hubbard is an author I admire very much; I read Like Mandarin last year after I came upon her blog YA Highway, a place where she shares her in...moreKirsten Hubbard is an author I admire very much; I read Like Mandarin last year after I came upon her blog YA Highway, a place where she shares her insight on writing and offers a platform for other writers to do the same. I’m not an author, nor do I ever plan to be, but I find the blog to be fascinating. Kirsten’s writing is even more enjoyable. While I enjoyed Like Mandarin, I looooved Wanderlove. I am a girl that appreciates a good book full of travel, sight-seeing, a cute (unobtainable) boy, and a girl trying to put the pieces of her life back together. That’s exactly what this book was all about… and so much more.
One of my favorite characters was Rowan, a boy that Bria meets briefly in the airport when she arrives in Guatemala. He later becomes her travel companion, and from him she learns about “wanderlove.” In a nutshell, this is what it’s all about:
“It’s about looking to the future. You can appreciate the good things all around you, but the best part is imminent, just out of reach. Like…perpetual determination.” (excerpt from Wanderlove)
Rowan is a wanderer, constantly moving from place to place, never settling down. While he’s kind, he’s also a little bit snarky. While he’s a diver and loves the beach, he’s also complex and is secretly a book nerd. He has a dark history and is very guarded. He doesn’t know what to make of Bria.
Bria is a girl that is running from her ex-boyfriend, her art, college, parents that are too self-absorbed to notice her problems, and two best friends who are polar opposites. She finds herself stuck in life, and unsure of what to do. Guatemala is scary and overwhelming for her, but she decides to embrace her wild side and step off the beaten path. This is where she and Rowan come together.
Still, the development of their friendship is difficult. Bria and Rowan slowly learn that constantly dwelling on the past can make you miss out on something really great standing right in front of you. This isn’t an epic love story with lots of kissing all throughout the book. They help each other face their pasts, ready themselves to confront the future, and learn to trust again.
It was, though, the travel aspect of this book was absolutely phenomenal. I learned from a little bit of research that Hubbard is a travel connoisseur. I have read quite a few travel books, but none have felt as authentic and real as this one. I could tell that either Hubbard had done her research (really well) or had been through similar experiences. While this book at times felt a bit long, I never minded because I was constantly learning something new about the setting or the characters. Rowan and Bria’s lives are complicated, so the pacing was perfect for dealing with such big issues.
I can’t say enough good things about Wanderlove. I’m so thankful to have gotten to read this book, and I’m super anxious to travel now. Oh, the places I would go…
Cracked is K.M. Walton’s debut novel, and she’s coming out with a bang. While Cracked seems to be a very serious book according to my summary, I found Walton did an incredible job balancing the serious with laugh out loud moments. I breezed through the pages and couldn’t get enough of Victor and Bull.
Victor felt invisible. He would sometimes go days without speaking to anyone but his dog, Jazzer. He was never good enough for his parents, and while they were never physically abusive, their treatment certainly took a toll on him mentally. It didn’t help that Bull ridiculed him, hit him, and called him names at school. It just didn’t seem like he had much to live for so he tried to overdose on sleeping pills when his parents fled to Europe for vacation without him.
Bull, real name William, really made me upset when I read about him from Victor’s point of view. (Each chapter alternated between their two points of view.) However, when I got into his world, I felt so disgusted by his living conditions and the almost daily beatings his grandfather put him through. I didn’t excuse his actions and mistreatment of Victor, but I did understand how he was displacing his anger on someone else. When he comes across a gun he tries to devise a plan to make things “better” but things backfire (no pun intended) and he ends up in the psych ward with Victor.
What an unlikely situation that two enemies would be roommates. Their inner dialogues had me laughing out loud when they realized there was no way they could change their circumstances. They both have secrets no one else knows, but they’re forced to sit in group therapy sessions and reveal all their emotions. These were the times I was so glad Cracked was written in first person – I got to know every single humorous or sad thought that crossed through their minds. In the short time they were in the psych ward, both were forced to come to terms with their feelings regarding two pretty ladies. (Well, three if you include the nurse Bull was crushing on.)
I really, really enjoyed Cracked. It felt extremely realistic. I love how it focused on the boys being worth something. They realized they had something to live for, and they became fighters (not in the physical sense, of course). Cracked came out in January, so you should definitely check it out!(less)
I’m not entirely sure where to start this review, other than to simply say that I LOVED THIS BOOK. There were so many strengths. It was full of emotio...moreI’m not entirely sure where to start this review, other than to simply say that I LOVED THIS BOOK. There were so many strengths. It was full of emotion and beautiful writing. There were scenes that took my breath away. Others left me gasping for air as I tried to fight back the tears. There is a scene with kites where I had to close the book for the night (even though it was much earlier than I wanted to stop reading) just to let the effects of it sink in – pure. beauty. Let me attempt to break down the many, many reasons I loved this book…
In a lot of young adult fiction, we see brokenness in the form of broken families. Rose’s family is floundering at the loss of her mom, and while her dad is dealing by drinking too much, at it’s core, this book has amazing family values built into it. The flashbacks Rose would have of her mother, the way her brother and grandmother tried to intervene to make life easier, and even the way Rose took care of her father made me want to be a part of her family. I loved the support system.
It wasn’t just her family that was amazing; the support also came from a group of incredible friends. I have to admit there were times I fully expected things to be super cliche where things would just continue to get worse and worse. Rose abandons every remnant of her life before her mother’s death. Despite that she puts months of separation between herself and her friends, they are there ready to help her carry on. One of the most outstanding characters was Rose’s best friend, Krupa. That girl was a rock. I need a Krupa for when my life goes to crap. She could read Rose like the back of her hand and never once expected more than Rose was able to give. She was just there. All the time.
There’s a little bit of a love tango in the mix, too. I don’t want to spoil an ounce of this story for you so I’ll be vague. Chris is Rose’s boyfriend. Will is a hottie boy who lost his father and takes care of Rose’s gardens after her mother dies. You might be thinking love triangle, but let me stop you right there. No, no, no love triangle. Frietas handled the boy situation so perfectly. Every time I was cringing thinking some awkward situation was about to go down, I found myself exhaling with relief. Freitas gave Rose so much strength and maturity. I wanted to applaud Rose for how she handled so many situations. This girl is an awesome example for teenage girls today.
I could just go on and on with things I loved (and clearly I haven’t even mentioned the actual Survival Kit), but I might end up stumbling over my words in a rush to declare my love for this book. I wrote down a list of things I loved, so I’ll just stop and advise you to read this book right now. Oh, and of course, here’s my list if you need further convincing:
- Will was slow-going to get to know, but wow did I love this boy.
- Loved the hockey element. I don’t know a thing about hockey, but this book convinced me hockey should be more widely written about.
- Discovering what was included in Rose’s Survival Kit was awesome. Each thing was so unique and tailored specifically to her. I loved the role music played in this portion of the book, and how well her mother knew her to be able to create something so awesome.
- It’s a story about caring, the effects of death, loving and moving on after a death in the family, learning how to live, and also learning how to love.
If you don’t like to cry when you read, if you don’t like contemporary fiction, and even if this doesn’t sound like something you’d like – I beg of you that you’ll give this book a chance anyway.
Does this sounds like a disastrous combination to you:
a girl with repressed memories (Echo) + a good boy turned bad (Noah) + lots of counseling to “fix” them (Mrs. Collins)
I thought it was all kinds of right.
Echo used to be Miss Popularity but a secret event happened that caused her to become a recluse. She and her boyfriend, Jake, broke up and the majority of her friends have ditched her in favor of believing the rumors that circulate her mysterious absence from school after The Event. She’s a fractured girl with repressed memories of what actually happened that left her so badly scarred. She wears long sleeve shirts no matter the outdoor temperature. Her relationship with her father is strained and his remarriage to her pregnant ex-babysitter doesn’t help matters.
Noah is an all-star-athlete-turned-playboy. He lost his parents to a house fire and has bounced from foster home to foster home since then. His younger brothers aren’t allowed to live with him and he’s got limited interaction with them because he’s gotten into a few brawls at his foster homes. His good boy, all-star rapport is thrown out the window in favor of being a pot-smoking, sex machine who lives in the moment.
Echo wants to remember what happened. Noah wants to gain custody of his brothers. Both of them need the help of Mrs. Collins, the new school grief counselor, to work through their issues. She pairs below-average-Noah up with outstanding-student-Echo for tutoring. The two make a pact to help each other get the information they need from Mrs. Collins.
McGarry did a brilliant job of telling Echo and Noah’s story via their dual perspectives. She created two incredibly broken characters with a lot of baggage and very big issues and forced them together. Issues in young adult fiction can be a bit on the fluffy side, but I thoroughly enjoyed that McGarry took the plunge and didn’t take the easy way out with their journey. Echo and Noah were each other’s new beginnings – they were truthful and honest about their pasts – open about things that no one else knew. It only made sense that as they began to trust one another, they would fall in love (though not without a few bumps in the road).
To the reader, Echo and Noah’s pasts are somewhat vague. McGarry chose to use the first person perspective to allow us to experience Echo’s returning memories and all the details of Noah’s parent’s house fires along with them. Just as with counseling, there was a slow revelation of their complete history. I very much enjoyed the quiet progression because I couldn’t anticipate when the next big plot twist was going to happen.
Noah and Echo’s relationship definitely kept me intrigued until we found out more details. In the simplest of terms: their relationship was steamy. Noah had a reputation for having one night stands and never settling down, but Echo falls for him anyway. Noah realizes he’s one of the few people Echo opens up to and the glimpses we have of how incredible and awesome and swoon-worthy he is made me want to shout for Echo to GO FOR IT. McGarry got real – Echo needed someone who would be tender and kind to her in all of the ways her family had neglected to be.
I could continue to go on and on with my love for this beautifully broken love story, but I’m going to stop in favor of you taking a moment to pre-order this book so you can fall in love with Echo and Noah too.(less)
Be prepared, readers. This is not going to be a rave review. A lot of The Selection, for me, was just o...more[review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Be prepared, readers. This is not going to be a rave review. A lot of The Selection, for me, was just okay. There were elements I liked, but I never felt fully invested in the story. Let me explain because some of my dislikes might be things that might not bother you at all.
I have heard The Selection described as ABC’s The Bachelor mixed with a dystopia. I’d say that’s a fair description, and I’m a girl who is well-versed in the television version of back-stabbing women anxiously hoping to receive a rose. I was hoping for solid world-building where something like our country morphing to a King/Queen royal class structure would make a lot of sense. Unfortunately, I found the descriptions leaving WHY questions unanswered. I do think, however, that there was enough information to follow along with the story. There was a general sense of things, but I’m a girl who likes to really understand the details.
One minor detail that seemed to negatively affect me throughout the book was the choice of names picked for the characters. I found some were too similar. Some were too odd. There weren’t many, if any, regularly named characters. When there are so many, I suppose I expect a little normalcy so that I’m able to easily remember everyone. I don’t like having to go back to reference paragraphs because I cannot remember who a girl is. I found myself doing that quite a bit. (I will admit that all 35 characters were not fully developed. If you’ve read the Hunger Games, think about how we didn’t know all of the Tributes names.)
While it took me about 100 pages to embrace the world and feel more comfortable with the characters, there were elements of the story I did enjoy. America was a girl who was beautiful and possessed a musical talent. She didn’t come across as too perfect, too good for anyone, or too… anything. She was a bit quirky and she stood out to Prince Maxon because she was different. She was admirable, especially since she was leaving behind the love of her life, Aspen, to be part of the competition.
I didn’t feel connected to Aspen’s character. I am usually all for the underdog and fight for the the best friend to win the girl’s heart. I never felt convinced of America and Aspen’s relationship. It seemed incredibly physical and had less of a foundation. I felt like I could see right through all of the circumstances that were supposed to rip America’s heart into shreds, and I dislike predictability so much in a book.
Maxon was silly and a little over-the-top. I just had a twitter conversation with Bookalicious Pam about the over abundance of exclamation points (!!!) used by Maxon. He was extremely overzealous. However, he had some really likeable characteristics – he was super honest and I enjoyed the friendship America and Maxon established. He was kind and sweet. In my notes, I wrote, “These are the kinds of boys I usually fall for the hardest.” I knew there had to be more to him than his facade. Though I am Team Maxon and fighting for America to choose him, I don’t know where her heart is.
I will definitely continue to read the remainder of the series. I think this will be a good series for readers to follow along with. I am looking forward to the next book – it will feel like we’re just jumping into another season of The Bachelor. The crazy will still be waiting for us when we tune back in. (less)