Summary: Thirteen-year-old Callie is having trouble seeing. Though she hates the idea of wearing glasses,...moreReview Originally Posted on Rather Be Reading
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Callie is having trouble seeing. Though she hates the idea of wearing glasses, her mother forces her to go to the optometrist. She's given a pair of glasses she soon discovers have magical powers (even though they're huge and ugly). The glasses show her everyone's thoughts in computer-like floating screens when she wears them. The optometrist won't give her the real glasses she ordered until she learns a life lesson or two.
Review: I don't typically read a lot of middle grade books; occasionally I'll pick one up because seeing the characters go through their awkward phases or learning life lessons is just so innocent and fun. (I am a big fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart.) When I received Seeing Cinderella in the mail, I was
a) so happy Simon and Schuster thought of me, and b) so intrigued by these glasses Callie would be given.
I was excited to pick this book up when I had a spare moment to read; I found it laugh-out-loud funny and quite entertaining.
Callie is definitely going through an awkward phase - her best friend, Ellen, is pumped to start Middle School, but Callie's just not. She spent the whole year before fending off the nickname she loathed, Polka Dot. Now it looks like Ellen is starting to make new friends and with these crazy glasses she can see that Ellen's hiding secrets from her. And everyone is thinking awful thoughts about her glasses (if only they knew they showed Callie everyone's thoughts). She is not a strong student, and thanks to Ellen, has landed up in drama class because sneaky Ellen changed Callie's elective from art to drama. Oh yeah, and Callie's parents are separated but she doesn't feel like she has anyone she can talk to about that.
For someone who doesn't often read books about younger teenagers and is far from being thirteen, I felt like I connected with Callie so much. Lundquist did a brilliant job of getting inside Callie's head - her thoughts were always so sassy and funny, but I got to see how vulnerable and shy she was when confronted by another person. (It took me right back to that feeling of, "Oh gosh, you're talking to ME?!") The glasses gave her courage and emboldened her, but it was a fine line she walked trying not to reveal that she knew everyone's secrets. I loved seeing the growth in Callie as she realized that just like her, everyone else had insecurities and other things going on in their lives that left them far from perfect.
Seeing Cinderella felt so fully thought out. There were home life issues, a new friend that immigrated from Mexico, struggles with having a crush for the first time, best friend drama, self-esteem issues, problems with not doing perfectly in school, and a boy who wouldn't drop the Polka Dot nickname. Callie felt very real to me; I liked that she was such a relate-able character and that she wasn't an idealized teenager. So much of her reminded me of my younger sister, Ashley, when she was growing up. Ashley was into absolutely everything but school and loved playing sports. Callie finds that she's got a secret talent, too, and it's not just seeing everyone's thoughts with the special glasses.
I highly recommend you share Seeing Cinderella with your young teenagers or read it yourself! It's a great book with a lot of great lessons to be learned (that never felt overly in-my-face) throughout the quickly moving plot.(less)
Sid is a girl who has two good best friends but remains boyfriendless. On her junior class ski trip, sh...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Sid is a girl who has two good best friends but remains boyfriendless. On her junior class ski trip, she’s suffering from a case of beginner woes and hangs back at the bunny slopes while her friends move onto more dangerous adventures. She’s paired with a flirty, cute guy named Dax on a ski lift who makes her feel attractive. Though it’s against the rules, when he invites her to a party, she sneaks out to meet up with him. She goes alone because her friends don’t want to risk getting caught.
When she arrives to the “party,” she finds Dax, alone. This is the point where my stomach bottomed out and I knew bad things were about to happen. Time fast forwards and we don’t have a clear picture of what happened, but two things are sure: a) Sid is missing a lock of hair, and b) she’s been raped. When she returns to the ski resort, she’s in major trouble and her friends are infuriated with her.
Back at school, Sid is socially rejected (adios cheerleading squad) and her best friends block her out of their lives. Sid feels conflicted; she’s unsure of what to tell her friends so she disconnects from them by swapping out of classes they’re in. She meets a stoner boy, Corey, when she’s assigned to work on the Audio Visual (AV) team with him. Everyone has this idea of who Corey is and thinks he’s just a slacker, but while Sid is in isolation, she gets to know the truth about this mysterious boy.
Their relationship is very subtle and quiet. It begins with a lot of back and forth banter that proves what a strong and witty character Sid is. Corey reveals there is a lot more to him than what people think. Sid finds out that he works at a bakery. They begin having secret meet-ups there in the wee hours of the morning, where they talk while he works. Corey fills this role, this void, that’s left in Sid’s life because she has no other friends, no one else to talk to. Even though she distanced herself from everyone else, she realizes she needs this kind and respectful boy in her life.
Not all of What Happens Next is easy to digest or quite as enjoyable as Sid’s blossoming relationship. Clayton does an impeccable job of developing a very real depiction of what happens when a girl is victimized. Everything in Sid’s life has spiraled out of control: she has something ripped away from her without her consent, loses her best friends and her place on the squad, and finds herself very alone. She realizes the one thing she can control is what she eats and how she looks. She begins eating less and running more, with occasional binges thrown into the mix. Even though Sid is a smart girl who should have known to tell someone what happened to her, she didn’t know how. She feels like an idiot who fell for a big joke, like what happened was all her fault. Sid loses faith in herself and her anger manifests itself as an eating disorder. She used this to gain control back, but her decision-making skills were sometimes maddening (very true to form for a high schooler).
I had knots in my stomach while I waited for everyone to find out the truth. I waited patiently for the explosion. The anticipation was high, as was the emotional connection to the characters. Sometimes a smart girl doesn’t always make the best decisions, and we need a support group of people to put the pieces of our lives back together again. Sometimes that support group consists of the last boy you would have ever expected.
It’s not often that I compare books, but if you’re a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak or Tammara Webber’s Easy, you should consider picking up What Happens Next. Clayton’s depiction of rape and victimization is difficult, but very well written and very much worth the read.(less)
A story that involves secrecy and conspiracy theories? Sign me up.
Adaptation takes us on a wild ride as we try to piece together what happened to Reese and David after they get in a car accident involving a bird with glowing eyes: Where were they taken? What procedures were done on them? What in the heck happened to them in that facility?
Adaptation drew me in because I wanted to know the truth. I needed answers. Bird attacks have taken down countless planes across the United States and the government seems to be trying to cover up something. Reese believes it’s no coincidence that her last memory before the accident was a bird flying into the headlights of the car she was driving. While I was completely entranced leading up to the accident, my focus was a bit lost after they returned home to San Francisco.
The first 100 pages of Adaptation were strong and fast-paced; I felt connected to Reese and understood the chaos and panic that was overtaking the U.S. It was after this point, when David and Reese are released to go home from the facility, that I felt the story navigated away from its original purpose and became something else. Reese was never a girl who was interested in having a serious relationship — due to her father’s playboy-ish ways, she’s decided to distance herself from dating. When she returns home, she collides (literally) with a girl named Amber on the streets and a relationship quickly blossoms.
This is where I felt the story changed direction. Reese is trying to figure out who she is and is a bit confused by her sudden attraction to a girl. At least a quarter (if not a little more) of the book was dedicated to Reese’s sexuality. While I did enjoy this part of the book, I felt like I was left hanging and very little was progressing with what drew me into the story: what happened to Reese and David. I would have liked to have seen these two stories collide and more of David thrown into the mix to make Reese’s later confused emotions make more sense. (David was a character I wish had been more developed overall; for an event that happened to two people, the focus was primarily on Reese, leaving David very one dimensional.) While later the stories blended together, I felt much more dedicated to the beginning and end of the story.
Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying – I do understand Reese’s questioning of her sexuality and how a teenager can put everything else aside to chase after love. (Raise your hand if you’ve done this.) I am not discounting the impact or influence Lo will have; I believe it will speak volumes to those questioning or seeking to understand their sexuality and it will resonate with those who have been there. I simply hoped that Reese had been more driven to find out answers about what happened to her. Adaptation would have been more impactful if Lo had fused the sci-fi beginning and end with the very contemporary, explorative middle.
Despite my drawbacks, Lo successfully left me aching to know what happens to her characters. The blending of paranormal elements and conspiracy theories was incredibly intriguing. Pieces of the story felt so real to me that I couldn’t help but be wary of flocks of birds when I saw them. I have no idea what will happen next for Reese, but I am very anxious to see what Lo has in store for us.(less)
After I finished Insurgent, I wanted something 180 degrees different. What better to pick up than a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story - except this time from the perspective of the girl Romeo (or Rob, in When You Were Mine) discarded, Rosaline? I have to admit I was a little unsure of how closely the story would follow Shakespeare’s masterpiece. I don’t want to get into the details of the ins and outs of what happens because you should experience the emotional roller coaster without any warnings from me. Please note that even if you aren’t familiar with Romeo & Juliet, you needn’t worry. This story can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys an epic, tragic love story.
Despite being familiar with the framework set up by Shakespeare, I allowed myself to hope that Serle had put a spin on this classic tale. I fell head over heels in love with Rob. I’ve admitted this in earlier reviews, but I am a sucker for stories that explore two best friends falling in love. Rosaline didn’t want to fracture the relationship she had with Rob, but ultimately, decided to follow her heart and allowed herself to fall for him. She had two female best friends, Charlie and Olivia, but there was something so pure about her friendship with Rob. Charlie and Olivia were a little silly and snobby, but they turned out to be the type of friend I aspire to be – encouraging when Rosaline was uncertain about Rob and protective when he broke her heart. I just couldn’t stop my heart from hoping that our Romeo would profess his love for Rosaline in spite of the spell he succumbs to when Juliet makes her appearance.
Juliet is Rose’s estranged cousin. Family drama to the max. Rose, Juliet, and Rob used to be best friends before Juliet’s family moved away. Rose is in utter darkness about why her cousin wants nothing to do with her when she returns. I had to chalk up the secrecy and Rose’s naiveté regarding the family tension to her young, unquestioning self when everything happened ten years prior. Juliet appeared after my heart had already fluttered happily for Rob; she was a little late to the game, but man, did she make an impact when she was introduced to the story. When Juliet hypnotized (figuratively, not literally) Rob, I felt like things happened so abruptly and the story began to progress much more rapidly. Serle set up the perfect scene for every romantic’s heart and then BAM, crushed it. I wept tears of sadness for Rose.
Just as you’ll remember from high school English study of Romeo and Juliet, When You Were Mine is filled with lots of:
family drama scandal mystery broken-heartedness hostility
Amidst the black hole that is Rose’s extended family, there is a beacon of light: Len. He’s a facetious but goofy guy. He’s given the cold shoulder by Rose and her circle of popular friends because he appears so unmotivated and detached from high school life. Rose feels as if the whole world is against her when her (terrible) bio teacher pairs her with Len. I was completely taken aback by the friendship that developed slowly and beautifully and delicately between these two unlikely characters. I was often caught off guard by Len’s insight and thoughtful observations.
Serle’s writing was incredibly engaging, and I was fully invested in the story almost instantaneously and couldn’t stop reading. When You Were Mine is a wonderful debut novel that Rebecca Serle should certainly be proud of. My only complaint is that I was left wishing for more – I wasn’t ready for Rosaline’s story to be over when I closed the book.
(Take this one with you to the beach this summer; it’s the perfect companion for drinks with umbrellas and a lazy afternoon in the sun.)(less)
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)
Estelle: Here we are for another book report… this time featuring Deb Caletti’s The Story of Us,...more[joint review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Estelle: Here we are for another book report… this time featuring Deb Caletti’s The Story of Us, a contemporary young adult novel that hit shelves on April 24th — which sort of feels like Christmas Day in young adult publishing because EVERYTHING was released that day!
Magan: NO JOKE! I don’t think I’ve seen a release date as popular. All of us bookies probably went broke on April 24th…and right after the tax deadline, too. Hmm…
E: It’s a conspiracy! (Just kidding.) Okay, so let’s talk about The Story of Us, which looks like a deliciously romantic book from the cover art. Don’t you think? It made me want to go walk on a beach at sunset!
M: Oh yeah, I wanted to hug that cover. It elicits everything I had been wanting, in real life and a book: warmer weather, a beach, Zac Efron (kidding… that’s not on the cover, obviously), and a little romance.
E: The big question is… did we get all of that once we read the novel? The Story of Us sort of reminded me of Sarah Dessen’s Lullaby a bit because it was centered around a parent getting remarried after some disastrous relationships. Here, we have Cricket, who has recently gotten out of a long-term relationship, traveling to spend a week with her future step-family and end it all (hopefully) with a wedding.
M: I haven’t read that Sarah Dessen book, and in fact, this was my first Deb Caletti book. I liked that the issues seemed to be something teenagers could relate to. Sadly, divorce happens and families are split. What was interesting was seeing how these two families with older teenagers would blend together. That week was almost like a test.
E: Yes! A test for the dogs too! This was also my first Deb Caletti book. I liked the premise of the book and the mystery surrounding just WHY Cricket and her boyfriend, Janssen, broke up.
M: Oh, yeah. I liked the mystery, too, but I have to say my biggest complaint about this book is how long we were left wondering and guessing. I got anxious to know what happened because… I guess because I wanted to understand the decisions she was making as a result of what happened with Janssen.
E: That’s the thing. Caletti has some beautiful images and language in this book. Just as gorgeous and tangible as the cover, but when it came to cracking down on Cricket and what exactly happened between her and J, it just got to be too much. I think the book could have definitely been edited down almost 100 pages. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t completely into it. It took awhile. Probably 200 pages before I was in the “I cannot put this down” mode. But not everyone has patience to go 200 pages without anything really happening. And that’s another thing. The book focused on her relationship with J when really it was everything happening with her family that was bubbling into the real story, ya know?
M: Yes! I understand that SO much. J isn’t present in the book except via her flashbacks and the letters she writes to him. I wanted to understand him and how he was feeling. (Man, that’s such a girl thing to say.) I wish some of the extra family things had been stripped out and that maybe we were able to see the letters he actually wrote TO Cricket. Not just her responses.
E: That is a genius idea. I kept thinking about the structure of this book, which is basically we see the wedding craziness through Cricket’s eyes and learn about the backstory of her family and relationship with Cricket through her letters to J, which is a creative way to do it, for sure. But Cricket’s voice changes a lot in those emails to J and I’m not sure who she really is especially once we see her actions and thoughts during wedding week. J is always kind of a shadow to me… sort of ghostly because we never get the deeper side of him. (Even though from what we know he seems like a winner.)
M: That left me so confused. If he was such an awesome guy, then why all the drama? Cricket definitely seemed like a completely different person in her thoughts (and via her actions) than she did in her letters back to J. Especially once the BIG secret was revealed, I really didn’t understand how her actions and responses all meshed together. Maybe I just wouldn’t have responded like that.
E: I’m not exactly one to beat around the bush about anything so it was difficult (and a tad frustrating) for me to watch her spell everything out. If she had to go through this much to decide if she wanted to be with him or not, maybe she was looking too hard for an answer. Especially when Ash pops into the picture. She’s clearly attracted to him, and all I kept thinking was… hey hun, maybe you’ve been tied down for too long at too young of an age and need to see what’s out there. There’s no harm in that. But Cricket was deathly afraid of change and making decisions. And she even knew that about herself. It was a rough time… she graduated high school (yay for an older YA), her mom was getting a whole new family, and she was sort of lost. I think those feelings were very relatable.
M: Add to that the feelings of not being sure where her relationship with J were headed and not being able to make a decision about where to go to college. That IS a lot to handle. I always understood that she had a lot on her plate, but what was frustrating was her fear of not wanting to turn into her mother. I think at the root of everything, she was afraid she’d run away from guys like her mom did. Except, I didn’t get it! Janssen was a GREAT GUY. Her mom always dated d-bags. Yet, Cricket was still running.
E: One character I really loved was her dog, Jupiter. I just adored that little guy and animals never really make that much of an impact in books. But dogs and their relationships to their “owners” was very important in this book and while at times, it was a little too much, I did enjoy the parallels you could draw between dogs and how they perceive things and then the human side of all of that.
M: I’m definitely a huge dog person, but at times, despite my love for Jupiter, I just wanted to say.. get to the point. I understand. I love metaphors, but I had had enough. I needed answers.
E: Okay how about her relationship with her brother? I liked him a lot.
M: All the family things were great. I loved their closeness and the grandparents kept me cracking up, but I guess my question to you is this: what was this book about – learning about the family or learning about Janssen and Cricket? I just expected a lot of their story (ahem, the title of the book!).
E: I think that’s a strong argument. I expected one thing and sort of came out with something else entirely. Maybe Cricket did too? I just think if the point of the letters was to REMIND Janssen the many details of their time together… could that have been expressed in a better way structurally? Would we have felt the author got to the point faster?
M: I honestly would have liked to have seen both of their letters with the goings on of the wedding and life in the beach house making guest appearances. Instead, I feel like their relationship and her working through things felt more like the secondary plotline.
E: So how would you rate this book?
M: It’s most definitely a borrow kind of book for me, and hopefully we’re making it clear that working through all the decisions is a slow process. I feel like Caletti was intentional in making us dislike Cricket’s indecisiveness. Readers should be prepared for a slower read when they pick this one up. What about you, E?
E: I would agree. I think it’s a borrow book. I could see myself taking this one on vacation and reading it gradually over a few days. There are definitely some entertaining moments, and some filled with crazy chemistry, but in the end, I didn’t feel fulfilled.
M: Oh, I like the way you said that. Unfulfilled. Perfect way to describe this book in a word. Any last comments?
E: I’m most curious to see what fans of Caletti’s work think of this book and which other of her work they could suggest to us?
M: Awesome, I wanna know, too. So, readers, tell us what your favorite Deb Caletti book is! Also let us know if you’ve read this one. Do you agree with us?(less)
Book Licker. I fell in love with this book at the first mention of Book Licker – the ever-so-endearing...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Book Licker. I fell in love with this book at the first mention of Book Licker – the ever-so-endearing nickname Jason gave our resident Type-A, obsessive compulsive protagonist, Julia. Much of this book is founded on the understanding that Julia and Jason are complete opposites who are unwillingly partnered during their spring break school trip to London.
Jason is difficult. He’s funny, but secretly smart. He’s a jokester. He picks on Julia to NO END. Julia is uptight and follows rules to a fault. She’s a goody two shoes. It’s her worst nightmare to be paired with Jason.
I mentioned in my Smart Girls Get What They Want review that there are two types of books – those definitely written for teenagers and those who are for a more mature audience. Meant to Be is mature because of Julia and Jason – they’re two intelligent, worldly characters that are responsible and wise beyond their years. Julia’s character reminded me of who seventeen-year-old me was. The girl who was anxious to do everything right, to be the best at everything, and who sometimes forgot to live a little because she was so focused on aiming for perfection.
Jason pushes forces Julia to step outside her comfort zone and experience the non-guidebook version of London. Morill did a beautiful job making London come alive for me; I’ve never been, but I so hope that I have the chance to in the very near future. Jason showed Julia that it’s okay to go off the beaten path and that life doesn’t always have to be so literal. Julia, in turn, had a great effect on Jason, too.
She showed him it’s okay to be a little nerdy. She fascinated him with the random factoids she had stored away. Their interactions were beyond amusing. I found myself laughing out loud as these two incredibly different people tried to navigate their way around London to complete their homework assignments.
I can’t lead you astray and let you think that Jason is our main man in Meant to Be. Julia meets a random person, Chris, at a party who she spends much of her time texting. She also bears the burden of a long-term crush on resident good-boy, Matt, from back home. At times I felt Julia’s decisions were a little jarring and I desperately wanted her to be confident in her decisions. There was definitely a big dose of confusion over who she liked. In the end, everything worked out really well and I was happy with who Julia became.
Meant to Be is an incredible debut novel by Lauren Morrill. I definitely encourage you to check this one out. It’s every ounce as wonderful inside as the cover is on the outside.(less)
Timepiece shifts gears a bit – we’re no longer reading from Em’s perspective. We get to really dive into the life of Kale...more[Posted on Rather Be Reading]
Timepiece shifts gears a bit – we’re no longer reading from Em’s perspective. We get to really dive into the life of Kaleb – a snarky, womanizing, drunk-all-the-time seventeen year old. I enjoyed the bits I got to know of him in Hourglass, so I was super pumped for the change. Often times, changes like this can make or break a series. (Did anyone else throw Breaking Dawn when Jacob’s point of view randomly made an appearance? No? Okay – just me, then.) Because I really enjoy Myra’s writing, I hoped the change would be intentional.
It definitely was. Myra didn’t let me down. Kaleb is broken. He’s suffering from the current state his mom is in – on life support, with all of her memories striped away from her by Jack. He feels completely helpless and isn’t sure how to use his empathetic ability for anything productive. His ability to constantly feel what other people are emoting leaves him extremely vulnerable so he drinks (too often and too much) and casually sleeps with girls to ease the pain.
When Kaleb was introduced to Lily, Em’s best friend, I did a fist pump. Lily put everyone in their place and she took shit from no one. She was guarded and trustful of few people. She said exactly what was on her mind and wasn’t easily charmed by Kaleb’s tattoos and good looks. She sounded like exactly the kind of girl Kaleb needed. Lily has a special ability that was alluded to in Hourglass, but we finally get to see her talents come to fruition. Em feels that Kaleb is a good person to help Lily figure out how to use her skill, so these two end up spending tons of time together. Lily and Kaleb are often at odds with one another. He’s abrasive. She’s a hard ass. This means, as a reader, you’re in for a treat. Their interactions were awesome. I often found myself laughing out loud.
With an ultimatum set in place for the time space continuum to be fixed by Halloween, Kaleb and crew are on the hunt to track down Jack. While some of the time travel talk went a bit over my head (I haven’t read many of these kinds of books), I did find that Myra made it understandable if I was willing to take these sections a little slower than usual. Lily finds out how she can be useful despite there being severe dangers if she exercises her abilities. Kaleb realizes there may be more to his empathizing than he originally thought.
I don’t want to leave you with any spoilers that will take away from Kaleb’s story. Expect to laugh and to enjoy McEntire’s writing. Timepiece was just as enjoyable as Hourglass, and I’m anxious to see how McEntire continues this story in her next book (which just sold to EgmontUSA – congratulations, Myra!). One final recommendation: either re-read Hourglass or read the cliff notes Myra linked to on her blog. I read the posts and opted not to-reread and found it was perfect for me to feel connected to the story again.(less)
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 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)
Gigi, Neerja, and Bea reminded me a lot of the kind of girl I was in high school. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town and kn...more[Reviewed on Rather Be Reading]
Gigi, Neerja, and Bea reminded me a lot of the kind of girl I was in high school. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town and knew that the only way to leave was to make good grades so I could go to college and move on. My friends were smart, semi-dorky girls, too. (Looking back, I don’t think we thought we were dorky, but we kind of were. HA!) I related to Gigi’s feelings of overwhelming, long nights of homework. When she and Mike, a goofy athlete, are assumed to have cheated on a hard test, this leads Gigi to run for student representative to the school board. She’s forced to spend extra time with Mike working on a project and she has to go up against the new cute boy, Will, during the student rep elections.
There was a LOT that I really, really loved about this book. However, I almost gave up on it. The parts that I loved came after I hit the 130-ish page mark. In the beginning, there are a ton of secondary stories converging and sometimes the information felt a little unnecessary. I wished that some of this would have been edited out because I absolutely could not put down the book once I got to the heart of the story. Smart Girls Get What They Want made me realize that there are two types of young adult books – those that are absolutely written for teens and those that are written about teenagers but are for a slightly more mature audience. Smart Girls was the former – the language was for a younger audience (i.e. uses of IMHO or other acronyms that Gigi thought) and more details that I do feel younger teenage girls would find interesting. To me, these details seemed a little superfluous, especially in the first third of the book.
Smart Girls is entirely founded on conflict. Gigi is infatuated with manipulative, deceptive Will, but standing protectively to the side is Mike. She’s faced with difficult choices when it comes to choosing boys or her friends. She has to overcome her fear of public speaking to stand up for what she believes in. The biggest conflict is her internal struggle between trying to be the smart, bright girl with a future and living her life. Can she do both, or is it one or the other?
While I did have my issues with the beginning of the book, I am definitely glad I pushed through and continued to read Smart Girls Get What They Want. The overall lessons Gigi learned were great for teenage girls – the takeaway is definitely worth it.(less)
What’s Left of Me is a very unique and compelling idea: two souls born into one body. Before puberty,...more [Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading!]
What’s Left of Me is a very unique and compelling idea: two souls born into one body. Before puberty, one of the souls is supposed to subside and fade away, leaving the other to dominate the body. This process never completely happened for Eva and Addie. Though Eva is definitely the weaker of the two, she’s still very much alive and with Addie. The complication is that the government cannot know. Hybrids are not allowed to exist. When Addie is approached by a girl in her class to help Eva regain her functions, Addie is hesitant. Eva is hungry for the opportunity to learn how to make their body speak and move again.
Did you notice my use of “their body” above? One of the most difficult things for me to grasp while reading What’s Left of Me was the plurality. I was trying to comprehend how the two souls were within one body. Eva (the main protagonist) always referred to things as “our body” or “our hand.” I wasn’t entirely sure what Eva could or could not do within the body. The girls could have discussions with each other (without being heard verbally). If Addie and Eva didn’t have to hide Eva’s existence, each girl would be able to “control” the body and her mannerisms or personality would take over.
That’s exactly what Eva is hoping for. She wants to regain control of her life again, while Addie is nervous hers will be destroyed. These two girls felt such conflicting emotions, and at times, couldn’t get along because they were experiencing such polar opposite emotions. While the story is told from submissive Eva’s point of view, I often found myself sympathizing more with Addie. Addie who was afraid to lose everything – who was the glue that held everything together. Eva could be perceived as whiny and selfish, and I struggled with her lack of foresight and concern about what would happen. Maybe that was a result of Addie always being in control? I almost felt as if Addie was the mature older sister and Eva was the bothersome younger sibling, despite that they were born into the body at the same time.
With the new world, it took me a little longer than usual to get into the story. I like a clear understanding of where a book is going and what I should be hoping for. Zhang definitely kept me guessing with unexpected plot twists and turns, which I loved, but I did hope to grasp the setting a bit more. Why were hybrids so bad (according to the government)? What happened in the war that made hybrids unwanted? Why were they being killed off? Some of these things were addressed throughout the book, but I would have found them helpful to know upfront.
Regardless of my drawbacks, I did find What’s Left of Me to be entertaining. I remember feeling similar emotions regarding the world and how the souls occupied the bodies when I read The Host by Stephanie Meyer; it took me nearly 150 pages to fully accept the world. While The Host a standalone book and over 600 pages, I suppose it is understandable for me to feel like I’m still seeking answers since What’s Left of Me is part of a series. I’m looking forward to seeing where The Hybrid Chronicles takes me next.(less)