You forever and always will have me as a lifelong reader and fan of your work. Than[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Dear Rainbow Rowell,
You forever and always will have me as a lifelong reader and fan of your work. Thank you for writing a book I will declare one of my favorite 2013 reads. Eleanor and Park completely and utterly absorbed me. Your writing is poetic, spot-on-descriptive, and made me want to cry because I could relate to every word you poured out.
From several glowing reviews I read before beginning your book, I was pretty sure it would be something I would love. I saw it described as “a cute love story” and “adorable.” But you see, Rainbow, while those things are accurate, for someone like me your story was so much more than young love. I felt like pieces of your story could have been written (though not nearly as perfectly, of course) by me. I, too, fell in love with my husband at a young age (when I was 16). Your words made me tear up at some of the most innocent scenes because I understood how Eleanor felt about her body — her insecurities about her curves and having to wear the same Goodwill clothes over and over because her family just couldn’t afford more.
I cringed when you made me remember what it was like to grow up in a home where friends weren’t welcome to come over because our living conditions were less than ideal. I understood how it felt to put up a front and to not let people’s comments (like Eleanor from her bullies) bother me because there were bigger, scarier things to worry about where my family was concerned. You explored these details so subtly, but for me, they stood out as if they were bolded and underlined.
What I feel most people will admire about your story is how Eleanor and Park so perfectly fall in love. Their love is sweet and innocent, but not without their fair share of complications to make it believable and realistic. Park has a few best friends who refuse to accept Eleanor. She has to lie about her whereabouts to her mom because her over-protective step-dad would flip if he knew she was spending time with a boy. But you know what I love most? The friendship that developed into more over time. It’s real. It’s not easy. They don’t always understand each other, but they’re gentle and kind and caring toward one another — falling in love despite (or maybe because of) their flaws.
All of this young love stuff? You got it so right. The slow build and trust issues were impeccably flawless. I held my breath for pages as you explored the meaningfulness of what holding hands for the first time with someone you’re falling in love with feels like. The significance of locking eyes and with that boy when you’re so used to having your eyes glued to the ground, trying to be as invisible as possible, is immeasurable. Eleanor may have thought Park was too good to be true, and Park may have feared that their relationship was temporary because we’re taught that young love is fleeting, but Rainbow, you delivered a message that needs to be heard.
Sometimes, love saves our lives.
Please, please keep doing what you’re doing and sharing your talent with us all. I may go broke pre-ordering copies of your books for all my friends, but for the sake of spreading your stories, I vow to continue doing so.
We’re all told that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover (or really, not even by it’s name). For months I’ve been decl[Posted on Rather Be Reading]
We’re all told that we shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover (or really, not even by it’s name). For months I’ve been declaring my excitement for Flirting in Italian and how anxious I was to read it. Unfortunately, I felt like the cute name and cover didn’t match the content inside. I was desperately left wanting more and in a really let down mood — to the point where I was unable to sleep after finishing and didn’t want to pick up another book for several days. I have never been affected by a book in this way — it left me skeptical and afraid the next book would fall short of my expectations, too. (Not sure if you guys feel the same way, but I don’t deal well with reading back-to-back frustrating books and somehow this one took away my hope that the next book would be incredible.)
Note: I am fully aware that I might be in the minority of people by announcing my dislike for this book. Let me try to help you understand why in the least spoilery way.
My first immediate reaction was that I couldn’t connect at all with the main character, Violet. I usually find a way to sympathize with most characters, even if they’re the polar opposite of me. I think that’s a tell-tale sign for a good author — someone who can make us get so emotionally involved despite our differences. Violet was bratty, spoiled, judgmental, competitive, and completely insecure. Her inner commentary drove me mad. She is supposed to live with four other girls for the summer in Italy while she’s trying to figure out why she looks like the mirror image of a girl in an 18th century painting. I could NOT take the constant distrustful and comparative dialogue; it left little hope for friendships to actually bond the girls because Violet was so much “better” than them. For someone who was also incredibly self-loathing body-image wise, home girl sure did think she had it going on and was better than everyone else.
I just wanted someone to put her in her place.
Next issue: I really appreciate when an author assumes their reader will retain information even if they only state it once. I don’t like being berated with duplicate information. So often, Flirting in Italian just seemed like a broken record. I don’t know how many times it was mentioned that Violet had never been to Italy before or picked up a paintbrush; however, once she set foot in Italy, she just wanted to paint everything. I could have dealt with her excitement over painting if she was actually painting. (That didn’t occur until approximately 50 pages from the end. Finally.) Paige, one of the girls studying abroad with Violet, was constantly referred to as the girl who said aloud what was on everyone’s mind and jumped into conversations. QUIT TELLING ME SHE DOES THOSE THINGS AND JUST SHOW THEM TO ME.
I suppose I’ve never better understood the phrase “show me, don’t tell me” when referring to a book. A lot of unnecessary telling was going on in Flirting in Italian.
My last and probably greatest issue was that Violet went to Italy in search of answers. She was trying to figure out if she was adopted. I thought that would play a huge part in the book and oh, coincidentally, a cute boy would pop into the picture. Nope. Not the case. Three quarters of the way through the book, Violet was just starting to wonder about the castle where the painting was said to have been made. So much attention was paid to the parties and the terrible boy, Luca, that she insta-love-crushed on that it felt like Henderson ran out of time to make her case for the painting. I realized about a quarter of the way through that there was NO way we were going to make our way through 8 weeks in Italy, especially since not even a week had gone by. Aside from the gross, sickening ending that had me audibly gagging, I was infuriated that this book was split into a two-parter.
I kid you not, friends, this book ends by saying to check out the companion novel Following in Love in Italian (which currently has no information available on Goodreads). This story is unnecessarily being split into multiple books; major editing could have been done to strengthen the plot to fit everything neatly into a standalone book.
As you all are aware, I’m a girl who loves kissy scenes. Let me not graze over Luca. I have a bone to pick with his character as well. He was confusing and a d-bag and downright rude. I didn’t find a redeeming quality whatsoever throughout the entire book. He was purely written into Flirting in Italian to provide make-out scenes. That sounds like a big WIN, but their whole relationship was way too dramatic for me. [insert many an eye roll] If what you’re expecting is Stephanie Perkins-esque, stop right where you are. You will be disappointed.
So. *paces back and forth* How do you guys feel about Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson now? Have you read it? Did you feel the same way? Please let me know!...more
One of my absolute favorite books. I am SO glad I read this one. I can't fathom how amazing and beautiful and broken and touching and ...man, I just cOne of my absolute favorite books. I am SO glad I read this one. I can't fathom how amazing and beautiful and broken and touching and ...man, I just can't even gather my words. READ IT READ IT READ IT. ...more
Such a different structure from Anna and Lola, probably most recognizable to me because I reread them before Isla. Isla's tone is very different; I diSuch a different structure from Anna and Lola, probably most recognizable to me because I reread them before Isla. Isla's tone is very different; I didn't always click with every part of the story, but I sort of understood exactly why when everything came together. At the end, I cried and my heart sank when I turned the final page. As much as I've anticipated this book, I'm also so incredibly sad there are no more adventures to come. ...more
After I finished Insurgent, I wanted something 180 degrees different. What better to pick up than a mod[review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
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.)...more
In the vast sea of trilogies and series, it’s often hard to find a series that stands out from the crow[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
In the vast sea of trilogies and series, it’s often hard to find a series that stands out from the crowd. Under the Never Sky was a great 2012 read, but I was anxious for more answers – I needed to understand the Aether better and I didn’t grasp why there was so much dissension between the Dwellers and the Outsiders. What had stripped these people apart from living as one society?
In Through the Ever Night, Rossi delivers answers in a perfectly timed and beautifully paced story. The world felt so much more complete and whole — quite possibly because of the sheer amount of exploration and travel Aria has to do. In UtNS, I understood Aria’s life as a Dweller within the compound walls, but this time, I began to understand how the Outsiders lived a bit more. (I will add here that I recommend you do a re-read of at least the last 25% of UtNS so you can jump into this book without hesitation. Jamie and Anna recommended I do this and this refresher made the transition to book two seamless.) The Aether storms were more vivid and the Tides compound was easy to picture, from the critical need for more food and supplies to the chilling glances they sent Aria’s way.
Aria and Perry’s relationship (swoon!) felt very or organic and natural. Things weren’t always perfectly easy for them, but Rossi didn’t throw in unnecessary challenges that over-complicated things for them either. Aria and Perry were sometimes forced to make decisions based on what they genuinely thought would be in the best interest of the other person, even if that meant their relationship might suffer through a hiccup. Perry wasn’t always in the easiest position; often he was caught between loving Aria and his duty to the Tides, causing tension and resistance. Many times, I couldn’t help but question how they would make it as a couple when the Tides accepting Aria seemed so impossible.
Thankfully Roar’s character provided some much-needed comedic relief to break up the stressful situations. He stood out in UtNS, being the humorous and dedicated friend to Perry that he is, but now, his role is amplified and we get to see a whole lot more of him. He’s still the silly sidekick, but he and Aria have a friendship built on a few months of being together after Perry leaves to rule the Tides. Roar helped me to understand Aria’s talents more, and I loved the easy way these two communicated with one another. (Never fear – theirs is not a love-relationship; purely friendship. No love triangle here.) Roar’s character allowed us to experience such a gamut of emotions, sometimes not always the cheerful ones expected of him.
There’s so much to love about Through the Ever Night – amazing character development, world building, and a storyline very different than others currently classified as dystopian. I absolutely loved everything about it (except now having to wait for Into the Still Blue). This is a very solid sequel by Rossi that I highly recommend you pick up as soon as possible!
Goodness gracious! Absolutely LOVED this book. You know how when you read something that just fills this void you didn't even know you had? That was OGoodness gracious! Absolutely LOVED this book. You know how when you read something that just fills this void you didn't even know you had? That was OPEN ROAD SUMMER for me. SOOO good!
Howdy, y’all! Man it feels so incredibly wonderful to type these words. It feels so good to be here talking books. And yes, quite literally below, I talk books in my vlog. I’m really wanting to mix things up a bit and as I’m just on an altogether different schedule with a newborn, vlogs seem like the best solution for me right now. My hope is that it’s a) not boring for you and b) fun to watch. I really want your feedback about what you think so if you’ve got some, leave it below in the comments. Okay? Alright, let’s get started!
Highlights of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord:
-- Incredible friendships — something I want to see much, much more of in the books I read. I get kind of bogged down by the drama sometimes. Reagan and Dee are friendship gurus.
-- Mucho, mucho hotness in the form of Matt Finch. He’ll make you swoon. And laugh. And want to know him in real life.
--A girl who is incredibly relatable because she’s made some stupid mistakes. Who hasn’t done something they regret? * cue the crickets*
-- ORS made me feel just about every emotion and made me miss my BFF, Estelle, somethin’ fierce.
A few quotes, as promised:
“He’s kind of beautiful, in an understated, comfortable-looking-way — the kind of guy who doesn’t mind seeing a rom-com with you and gives you his hoodie when you’re cold.”
“We’re saying a lot within the silence: We can’t and I know and But I want to and Me too. The effort of restraint burns in my chest — a physical ache from holding back.”
“Laughter feels like our flotation device — it won’t pull us out of the storm, but it might carry us through, if we can just hang on.”
“If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms. It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who lives backwardly, who memorializes moments before she’s finished living in them.”
How does one review a book that was brilliantly written but scared the bejesus out of them? I feel shaky and scared and angry that there are humans liHow does one review a book that was brilliantly written but scared the bejesus out of them? I feel shaky and scared and angry that there are humans like those and worse in this world. This book is not for someone who cannot deal with really difficult scenarios. Many times I had to stop reading for a breather. (Many.) More to come in an official review on the blog. ...more
Cute. I liked Harper and Brody, but some decisions and quick judgments felt a little whiplash-like and made me feel old because I just didn't understaCute. I liked Harper and Brody, but some decisions and quick judgments felt a little whiplash-like and made me feel old because I just didn't understand how they couldn't see how flawed their decisions were. Sexy moments? Sure! Echols' best? No....more
I have not flown through a book so fast in a LONG time. I was obsessed. There's one thing at the end that kinda makes me think, "Eh, really?!" becauseI have not flown through a book so fast in a LONG time. I was obsessed. There's one thing at the end that kinda makes me think, "Eh, really?!" because it just shouldn't have happened that way. BUT - I also feel things were left open-ended for a follow up. I need to do some investigating. In short, READ THIS. Fantastic debut!...more
Francesca's world is turned upside down when her mother forces her to attend a school that was previously an all-boys school. She's one of 30 girls whFrancesca's world is turned upside down when her mother forces her to attend a school that was previously an all-boys school. She's one of 30 girls who will be attending school with 750 boys. In addition to losing all her friends and switching schools, her mother quits getting out of bed every morning. She is suffering from depression and no one in her family knows how to deal with it - how to make things go back to normal.
This book is very much about Francesca's search to find who she is. So much of her is being what her mom doesn't want her to be. To be exactly what her mother expects her to be (some days). She begins to make friends with the most unlikely group of girls and guys. She falls for an unavailable guy (he's in a relationship) and doesn't understand how he keeps leading her on anyway.
I found this to be a quick and easy read. I got into the story from the very beginning. I adore Melina Marchetta's writing style. I laughed at the banter. I understood Frankie's situation. I liked the stream-of-consciousness writing. Oftentimes I find myself drawn to a lot of dialogue, but there was a decent amount of background information built into this book and I found every bit of it interesting.
I highly recommend that if you've read this book and enjoyed it, go read Jellicoe Road by Marchetta. She's absolutely brilliant....more
Kate Elliot is a girl who found her identity when she allowed her friend Annie to give her a makeover.[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Kate Elliot is a girl who found her identity when she allowed her friend Annie to give her a makeover. Despite her mother’s blatant disapproval over her new gothic look, Kate won’t falter from dressing this way. While nothing ever seems to please her career-driven politician mother, Kate’s behavior and an unknown mishap (the mystery is unraveled throughout the book) eventually lead her to boarding school. She is no longer welcome in her own home and her parents decide she needs more structure; the time away from her family (they hope) will improve Kate’s attitude and allow their broken relationships to mend.
Kate is forced to room with three very different girls — two popular girls and one rule-breaker with a reputation, Mandy. Kate goes through periods of absolute resentment and distances herself completely from the three girls. Mandy eventually breaks the barrier and forces her way into Kate’s life. They’re an odd pair — Kate stands out because she’s got multiple piercings, dies her hair black, and intentionally wears makeup a few shades paler than her skin tone; Mandy wears skimpy clothes and has a reputation for being a bit slutty. Their friendship was one of the most beautiful aspects (other than Harry’s lovely writing) of I’ll Tell You Mine. Their conversations are full of snark and laugh-out-loud funny moments. Their antics (or rather Mandy’s plans) often lead to trouble.
Mandy is honest and upfront about how she’s feeling; she isn’t afraid of the front Kate puts up to dissuade people from befriending her. Mandy seems utterly naive to Kate’s insecurities and solitary ways. As Mandy begins to strip away the walls Kate has built around herself, we get to know Kate in a whole new way. She’s distraught over the events that occurred with her mother. Why does it seem like she’s always messing things up and doing something to irritate her mom? She misses her dad (who understands self-exploration and calls her mother out on her hypocrisy). Her little sister is one of her favorite people in the world; she wants to set a good example for her.
Kate feels stuck between making new friends and maintaining the old friendships; her two best friends (pre-boarding school) Annie and Noah seem to be moving on just fine without her. She’s heartbroken when she learns that Noah is dating someone new. Will he never see that she’s in love with him? Kate goes through many a transformation and the separation from her life outside of school allows everything to shift into focus. She sees what she was doing wrong, how she could be better, and what she could change.
The question is: Will she ever be given the opportunity to prove she’s a different person or will she just continue to mess things up?
I’ll Tell You Mine is a story I didn’t want to end. Pip’s writing is concise and packed with punch, every word very intentional. I connected to Kate on so many levels — struggling to become your own person but feeling like you’re always coloring outside the lines, being a bit insecure about how you look and what you weigh, and wanting that boy you’ve loved for oh-so-long to finally take notice. The friendship and family aspects were so thoroughly explored and impeccably written; I projected more drama into the book by not always trusting Mandy’s intentions or assuming the worst. Time and time again, Pip proved me wrong and restored my faith in her characters.
Pip’s writing is authentic and realistic. She flawlessly developed a story that everyone should devour. There are a few wonderful surprise gems hidden within the pages of I’ll Tell You Mine (possibly including a love story that made my heart go pitter patter). If you’re interested in a story that’s very true-to-life and will sweep you away, definitely take a chance on Pip Harry’s debut novel.
(Thank you very much to Mandee at VeganYANerds for gifting this incredible book to me!)...more
I'm giving this a four purely based on the writing. The story is also a good one, but I wouldn't say it's a feel-good kind of story. It's heartbreakinI'm giving this a four purely based on the writing. The story is also a good one, but I wouldn't say it's a feel-good kind of story. It's heartbreaking, really, and you're going to be super frustrated and irritated by the main character. But this book is necessary. It's common for us to read a book from the perspective of the tortured, but not from the bully. TEASE gives a great glimpse inside the bully's mind - who really doesn't see herself as such and often feels quite justified in her actions - and how that affects her moving forward after something terrible happens to the her target.
Hello again, friends! I’m back with another vlog review, and –wow!– what a book Tease was. I’ve seen a bit of differing opinions about this one because author Amanda Maciel takes you (uncomfortably) inside the bully’s mind. As a reader, you’re going to want to wring Sara’s neck in hopes that she could see that she’s done wrong and made some major mistakes. Does that happen? You’ll just have to find out for yourself. But do know that you’ll feel frustrated with Sara. She thinks her actions are justified; she felt threatened by Emma and had a hard time standing up to her best friend, Brielle, when she suggested something particularly nasty to do/say to Emma because Sara felt like her friendship with Brielle was slipping away.
Simply stated: Tease is complicated. It’s a difficult read, but it’s very relative and important. Read it....more
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson has landed a spot in my top ten favorite books of all time.
This story is layered and complex, but so rich with detail and overflowing with emotion. It’s about the power of apologies, confronting life head on, falling in love, losing a parent to cancer, and growing up. From the very beginning, I was drawn into Taylor’s world and emotionally invested in her family’s story.
Matson did an incredible job of crafting the characters and building relationships. Taylor always seemed to suffer a bit from “middle child syndrome” and didn’t feel like she had any distinguishing traits or talents like her siblings (Warren was a brainiac and Gelsey a talented ballerina). It was Taylor’s bond with her father that really tugged on my heart strings because even though she didn’t feel special by comparison, he showed her he loved her through his words and his actions. They had secret breakfasts together where they played fun trivia games to get to know one another. He always seemed to know exactly what she needed and would offer advice in the most nonchalant ways. Taylor’s character was mature and it was really admirable to see that she understood her time with her dad was precious. Their relationship made me think about my [future] children and how I want to have that kind of profound relationship with them and be that kind of parent.
Taylor would frequently run from situations she didn’t want to deal with in the past; this was the summer of her growing up and defying her fears – not just with her father, but with the two people she left behind five summers ago. Being back in (incredibly small) Lake Phoenix, she is forced to see her ex-best friend, Lucy, and ex-first boyfriend, Henry. As readers, we don’t immediately know what happened five years before to separate these three. Via a few flashback chapters that catch us up to present day, we get the full story.** Henry was full of a lot of hurt that had to be mended between he and Taylor. He was intriguing and quiet — one of those strong, silent types that will make girls’ hearts everywhere skip a beat. Taylor and Henry were wary of each other and their inevitable run-ins were so entertaining and awkward. Lucy seemed much more difficult to crack. Though they had summer jobs together, Lucy would barely glance in Taylor’s direction. Matson realistically brought these relationships to life; the timing and progression (of the entire story, actually) flowed so effortlessly.
The word I could not get out of my head when I sorrowfully closed Second Chance Summer was linger. This will be a story that will stay with me; it has implanted itself in my heart. Maybe that sounds cheesy to you, but I cried (sobbed, to be precise) as Matson weaved this story together, allowing me to fully grasp the dynamics of the family and friendships. As I became more and more absorbed in the story, my eyesight became blurrier as the cancer progressed. This was definitely a difficult and sad book to read, forcing me to constantly be on the verge of tears until I was so emotionally overwhelmed about 100 pages from the end and I could no longer hold them back. I cried big, fat, ugly tears the entire rest of the way through.
Second Chance Summer is a book I want to shout about from the rooftops. It’s beautiful, gripping, and has no doubt, set a much higher standard for everything I am to read after it....more
An assassin. How is it possible that I just read a book about a female assassin and I loved it? Thi[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....more
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed it. Written flawlessly by Cat and Suzanne - I couldn't distinguish between their voices, which I loved. I love the concept4.5 stars. I really enjoyed it. Written flawlessly by Cat and Suzanne - I couldn't distinguish between their voices, which I loved. I love the concept of the story - one scenario and two different reactions and outcomes - and seeing how everything played out.
One reality: Caroline’s grandmother is dying. No one knows how much time she has left. Two scenarios: Escape the sadness and family drama to go to a party with her BFF, Simone, or stay with her grandmother.
STAY vs. GO
Have you ever thought about a pivotal moment in your life and realized that if you had gone down another path, absolutely everything might have ended up differently? For me one of those big moments is if I had actually dated my long-term crush/best guy friend in high school. Or maybe the moment when I liked this other guy and he and his dad made a bet about how many phone numbers he could collect while we were at camp. (Let me add: it was church camp.) Thanks to social media, I have been able to keep up with where both of those guys have ended up throughout the years, and let me just say, I’m really glad things have worked out the way they are. (And yes, I do realize I sound stalker-ish.)
Just Like Fate is a beautiful exploration of how Caroline’s choices and decisions in the past have shaped how she moves forward. One particularly excellent portrayal is in regards to her family. Her parents are divorced, and both are remarried. Caroline barely speaks to her father, and her mother’s remarks always seem to be a little underhanded. She remained close with her brother, Teddy, but is somewhat estranged from her older sister, Natalie. Her youngest sister, Juju, is too young to grasp the majority of what’s going on. Natalie and Caroline have a ton of friction between them since Caroline decided to move in with her grandmother during the divorce because she couldn’t handle the change. Natalie feels like Caroline always runs away from problems and never sticks around to solve anything. Caroline sees Natalie as a goody-two-shoes who is judgmental and stuck-up. Teddy is the glue that tries to hold everything together, but as a college student he’s got his own life to live.
When the situation arises with her grandmother in the hospital, Caroline is once again faced with a tough decision. Does she do the hard thing and push through all the family drama to be by her grandmother’s side, or does she go to a party with her best friend, Simone, and forget about about her problems? Both scenarios and outcomes are laid out before the reader in alternating Stay and Go chapters. My reading time was a bit spotty when I first began Just Like Fate, not allowing me a good chunk of time to get into the flow of the story. Once I was finally able to push aside my responsibilities and focus, I felt like I could really connect with Caroline and the flow of the story.
With the two different scenarios comes different obstacles and characters. Joel is the boy that Caroline’s always wanted to date; she’s loved him from afar for quite a long while. Then there’s Chris, the college guy who is incredibly funny and sarcastic. Both seem appealing in their own ways until Caroline is confronted with having to make some decisions. (This seems to be a common theme, doesn’t it?) There are some pretty big ups and downs with Simone as well that felt very realistic; they have to figure their way out of some uncomfortable situations and Caroline has to learn how to talk through things instead of turning inward. While I definitely loved the guy aspect that strung my romantic side along, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the bigger questions: Was it possible for Caroline to mend the broken relationships with her father and sister? Could she become a stronger woman if she had to confront life instead of always fleeing? Despite how we react to a situation, do we arrive at different conclusions?
Just Like Fate was an engaging, fast-paced read. I’ve very much enjoyed Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young’s individual work in the past, but I certainly hope they’ll consider writing more together in the future. For now, you should definitely be pre-ordering this book so you can gobble it up as soon as possible....more
It really took me a while to get into this story, so much so that I was wondering if I would be the odd-girl out who just didn't click with the book.It really took me a while to get into this story, so much so that I was wondering if I would be the odd-girl out who just didn't click with the book. But alas, I see the art that is this story, from the way I bounced back and forth between hating and loving the characters and how they were hurting one another, to seeing how all of these decisions wove together so, so well in the end. My 4 star rating is just because I really wish I could have felt so enamored the entire time, from the very beginning. ...more
That ending? Holy crap. I had suspicions at the end, but I just don't see how it ended the way that it did. I liked the mystery and figur3.5, I think.
That ending? Holy crap. I had suspicions at the end, but I just don't see how it ended the way that it did. I liked the mystery and figuring out what was going on, but the ending just feels like I'm suspended in mid-air after jumping out of an airplane. ...more
Took me outside of my contemporary comfort zone and into a really great world full of alternate dimensions. Fascinating even if sometimes I didn't undTook me outside of my contemporary comfort zone and into a really great world full of alternate dimensions. Fascinating even if sometimes I didn't understand some of the tech talk. :)...more
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 anxietyI 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....more
I wanted to ponder my review of Jellicoe Road after finishing it. The beginning was chaotic and confusing - so many characters to learn and two majorI wanted to ponder my review of Jellicoe Road after finishing it. The beginning was chaotic and confusing - so many characters to learn and two major story lines being told simultaneously. I had read reviews about this and knew going into it that I would need to try to learn each of the characters for who they were, and to not try immediately to figure out how (or even IF) the stories converged. I think this approach worked out well, though I did find it difficult to keep up with who was who and the little sub-stories that were told within these two main stories. (See, a bit confusing)!
However, once I got past the initial 'who's who' feeling, I began to feel deeply connected to this book. I wanted to know how things would unravel. I could see the pieces coming together. I began to see the BRILLIANCE behind Melina Marchetta's writing. Her story-telling technique was spot on. Sure it was slow-going and a little difficult at first, but there's no question why this book won such a prestigious award.
Overall, my favorite aspect of the story was how all these random teenagers came together. In each of the story lines there were 5 random kids who really didn't 'belong' together as a group of friends, but against all odds, they became the best of friends. Jonah was probably my favorite character. There was so, so much I wanted to understand about him. I had so many questions and I wanted to know WHY and HOW he would become a main part of the story.
This book made me think about the characters when I wasn't reading. It made me try to figure out the plot line. I tried to weave it all together. Read. This. Book. (and then pick up something else by Marchetta)!...more
I’m going to sound incredibly hypocritical when I admit this to you guys, but here goes nothin’. I have[Review Originally Posted on Rather Be Reading]
I’m going to sound incredibly hypocritical when I admit this to you guys, but here goes nothin’. I have been anxious to read Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door since I saw the cover. I had visions of a great girl falling in love with her swoon-worthy next door neighbor. And oh, did this book deliver one heck of story when it came to that. What I didn’t expect were the million other amazing details that made me fall even more in love with Samantha and Jase.
Ten years ago, Jase’s (rather large) family moved next door to Samantha. For ten years, Sam has listened to her mother harp about how many children the Garrett’s have, how incapable they are of keeping up their house, how atrocious it is that they have toys scattered all over their lawn (and on and on and on). During those years Sam’s secretly watched the family from afar, intrigued by them. One night Jase climbs up the trellis of Sam’s house to keep her company; the two become fast friends and the barrier between Sam and the Garrett family crumbles to pieces.
Sam balances a fine line between making her uptight mother happy and falling in love with the boy next door. Her mother’s overprotectiveness drove me crazy but her outright ignorance for what a d-bag her new political campaign advisor, Clay, (who doubles as her boy toy) was really left me speechless. I often find myself cringing when teens make bad decisions and go against their parents wishes, but in Sam’s case, I was delighted she was finally breaking the mold her mother had so firmly cast around her. Sam is responsible to a fault – it’s summertime and she’s working two jobs and trying to help her friend Tim kick his drug habit and taking an SAT prep class with her friend Nan. Busy much? I think it’s safe to say that Sam needed a little excitement in her life.
One of the most beautiful aspects of My Life Next Door was watching Sam and Jase fall in love. Their relationship was an exploration of honest teenage emotions that relate to sex and experiencing so many things for the first time. Fitzpatrick approached this topic with such authenticity and tenderness. But not without a hefty amount of steaminess, mind you. So many of Sam’s internal dialogues conjured up questions and feelings my seventeen-year-old self also felt or thought.
Add in little side-helpings of Jase’s crazy, enormous, chaotic family and Sam’s friend, Tim, who needs all the help he can get kicking his drug dependency and you’ve got a lot of people to fall in love with. Fitzpatrick doesn’t just make us fall in love with her main characters – she gives us siblings with adorable quirks and unique fears. She makes us laugh when Sam adopts “Super Sailorgirl” as her super hero nickname. We understand the complexities of Tim and how flawed he and his sister Nan are. With so many people swiftly moving in an out of this story, Fitzpatrick does an incredible job of making us understand each and every one of them to grasp the big picture.
Everything in the story progresses beautifully until a very big event occurs. It’s a game changer. A curveball. A punch in the gut.
The best comparison I can offer is Looking for Alaska by John Green. If you’ve read this book, you’re aware that there’s a rather large event that changes the course and tone of the book. It takes the reader by complete surprise. The happy-go-lucky feel of the book suddenly becomes much heavier and depressing. While the event is not the same in My Life Next Door, I did have the same feelings as the result of the turn of events. My emotions became even more wrapped up in the story and I probably appeared more than a little agitated to all the passengers aboard my same flight that day. The pacing intensified as I waited for everything to implode – so many loose ends, so much drama, so much pain.
While I wholeheartedly believe this is a book you must read, there were a couple of details that I wish had been further explored. Perhaps a few more pages would have granted me the peace I was seeking after such a big event. I do recommend that you have a friend on standby who has read My Life Next Door because if I hadn’t had my pals Estelle and Ginger, I think I would’ve gone crazy....more
This book was highly recommended to me by a friend. She raved about it, so I immediately picked up my kindle and downloaded it. I am so glad that I haThis book was highly recommended to me by a friend. She raved about it, so I immediately picked up my kindle and downloaded it. I am so glad that I had my nifty Kindle to read this book on because I'm not sure I would have picked it up at a book store. I admit, I judge books by their covers. Sadly. BUT, I'm here to tell you that you definitely shouldn't do the same with this book.
I wish author Stephanie Perkins could be one of my best friends after reading this book. Surely there's an insane amount of her personality portrayed in this novel because someone who isn't quirky, witty, funny, and comical couldn't write the way she did. I laughed out loud so much while I was reading that my husband had to beg me to go to sleep on one occasion. (I stayed up until 2am to read and he was in bed ... trying to sleep).
Without giving anything away (or trying very hard not to), I will say that I felt connected to the protagonist, Anna, almost instantly. Aside from questioning why in the world the girl would be so upset to be studying for a year in Paris, I loved everything about her personality. I will say that her physical descriptions were no where near what I had pictured in my mind (and the same holds true for St. Clair as well).
The relationships and friendships were so strong throughout this book. The pacing was wonderful - I felt like I got to know the characters well enough and felt the 9 months of their senior year passing by right along with them. Nothing felt incredibly rushed and the main points of conflict that occurred didn't seem construed or feel like they were thrown into a couple of days. (I'm of the belief that a lot of YA novels have very short timelines and big decisions happen so quickly sometimes). I believed in St. Clair and Anna's friendship. I struggled with her and really felt her confusion as she was trying to figure out where she stood. As she figured out who she was.
Ultimately, I loved this book because it was mostly about Anna's self-discovery. Her journey to understand who she was. Her opportunity to face some of her fears. Her attempt to embrace love in the midst of a sticky situation.
I am such a big fan of this book that I've already pre-ordered Perkins' next novel. I'm sure it won't disappoint and I can guarantee you'll love Anna and the French Kiss!...more
Have you ever told a secret you had no right passing along?
Chelsea is in the business of telling ev[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
Have you ever told a secret you had no right passing along?
Chelsea is in the business of telling everyone’s secrets. She’s kind of known for it. She sits at the top of the popularity totem pole with her BFF Kristen until she disastrously tells someone’s secret. The person ends up in the hospital, almost dead, and Chelsea is forced to speak up and tell everything she knew that led to the attack. Finally feeling the weight of her gossiping ways, she decides to take a vow of silence so she won’t be able to hurt anyone again. She doesn’t realize how quiet her life will become until she faces the attacks and bullying Kristen and her old crowd are now focusing on her.
I was absolutely blown away by Harrington’s writing in Saving June last year. When I saw Speechless at ALA I was beside myself excited to get to read more of her work. I noted the vow of silence and thought, “Hmm. Definitely haven’t read anything like this before!” This did bring up a few particular concerns, though. For a girl who likes to read dialogue and not chunks of unbroken description, would Harrington’s no-speaking thing intrigue or bore me? And also — what would this resolve?
Never fear, friends. My worries were absolutely unnecessary. Harrington manages to speak volumes without necessitating normal dialogue. Chelsea’s inner dialogue is full of emotion — confusion, anger, hurt, hope. Though she chooses not to speak aloud, she has to find a way to communicate, especially with her teachers at school. Thanks to a dry erase board she’s able to minimally say what she needs to. She learns how to communicate with more than just her words — she lets her emotions show via facial expressions and also drops the act of being just like her ex-BFF Kristen by dressing like she wants to.
As for resolution and what Chelsea would learn through this — let’s just say she had a long way to go for redemption. She was not high on my list of favorite characters in the beginning because she seemed shallow, self-absorbed, above status quo, unfazed by her actions, and ridiculously naive. Her silence was necessary; it provided time for her to reflect on her actions. Chelsea needed to grovel and unfortunately, she learned much from the backlash she received from the popular crowd. Silence teaches Chelsea to experience life differently than she ever has — she’s faced with a new set of acquaintances (some of which despise her because they were best friends with the person who was hurt), occupying her time with school instead of parties and shopping as she used to, and getting a job because she’s got nothing else.
What I love most about Harrington’s writing is her refusal to keep things simple; she took away the speaking ability of her character, but also put her through hell. Chelsea was being bullied and there was a very strong message about hate crimes that stayed at the forefront of my mind the entire time I read Speechless. Harrington spotlights how powerful (or hurtful) the spoken word can be and how easily we take it for granted to gain popularity, how we should be more thoughtful and considerate – weighing our words much more carefully than we do.
In my notes I wrote, “Harrington battles it out for the meanest bullies with Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are.” If you’re a Courtney Summer’s fan, please allow me to introduce you to Hannah Harrington.
Speechless is an incredibly powerful book and I’m even going to go so far as to say that I enjoyed it even more than Saving June. Harrington’s writing just keeps getting better and better....more
I was immediately pulled into Chloe’s world – she was quirky, funny, and used to being in the spotlight[review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
I was immediately pulled into Chloe’s world – she was quirky, funny, and used to being in the spotlight. The first scene takes place at Dos Hermanas where she’s on the streets handing out coupons to passerby dressed as a burrito wearing a pair of vintage shoes. If there are two things you should know about me, Magan, it’s this:
The way to my heart is through Mexican food. (All the talk and similes about Mexican food had my mouth watering.)
-My heart beats triple time when face-to-face with a new pair of shoes. -So you see, Chloe and I were like soul sisters. I absolutely LOVED Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe!
She was dealing with a few big issues that I think a lot of people can relate to. Her best friends can’t stand the sight of her and they’ve concocted a story about something she didn’t even really do. They’ve abandoned her in the midst of dealing with her grandmother’s disease. Her great school record is about to be shot because the new counselor seems to have it out for her. Her family life is stressful – Mom and Grams cannot get along.
Where does this leave her?
Making friends with the kids at the radio station that is about to be removed from the school curriculum due to lack of interest. The radio station is intense and they aren’t welcoming whatsoever. She has to prove herself and force her way into the mix or else she’ll fail the project. Wouldn’t that just be perfect since everything else around her seems to be crumbling?
There were a couple of things that I really loved about this book. The first was Grams. I’m extremely close to my grandmother. She’s loud and extremely opinionated and very set in her ways. I felt the same way about Grams; when I found out she had Parkinson’s, I only connected with her even more. My husband’s uncle was diagnosed with this over ten years ago and we’ve seen the impact up-close and very personally. Every situation where Mercedes and Brie (the ex-best friends) never took the time to listen to what Chloe was really dealing with just broke my heart a little bit more. There’s much that’s misunderstood when it comes to sickness and to have two best friends abandon you in the midst of one is just…detestable.
The people Chloe befriended (ever so slowly) at the radio station were awesome. They didn’t allow her to be whiny, obnoxious, or annoying. It was all about tough love. I loved getting to see the inner workings of the radio station. (Another little known fact about me is that I love talk radio. There’s a local Austin station that I listen to on a pretty regular basis in the mornings. I’ve been a fan for 8 or 9 years.) Clementine runs the show, quite literally, at the radio station. She was crazy bossy and fiercely unfriendly. The radio crew was extremely protective of one another. They dealt with many big, real life issues and this book didn’t glorify anyone or anything.
Ultimately, the multiple layers and story lines that were woven throughout made this book awesome. It was about dealing with life changes – between friends, with health, love, and dealing with loneliness. It was about falling in love for the first time (gotta throw in how much I adored Duncan’s character). There were strong contradictions between families falling apart – those that were upper-middle class and those barely scraping by. It was about growing up and learning how to deal with all the consequences of life.
I highly recommend Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe. This is a debut novel for Coriell and I applaud her for successfully writing a character I could connect with in so many ways....more
You know those books you see pop up a TON on review blogs? You read incredible reviews for the book[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
You know those books you see pop up a TON on review blogs? You read incredible reviews for the book and add it to your TBR list on Goodreads, but somehow it takes you months to pick it up?
Yup, that was me with Cinder.
I sincerely wish a blog had blatantly stated SKIP EVERYTHING ELSE AND READ THIS NOW. I absolutely loved Cinder that much. So, this is me telling you to stop what you’re doing and read Cinder immediately.
Fairy tale retellings are a popular thing right now. It’s such a great way for us big kids to relive the stories we used to adore as children, but with a shiny new twist on things. Cinder was precisely that for me – unique and artistic, fresh, and oh-so-good.
Meyer took a lot of creative liberties and didn’t follow the original Cinderella to a T. It’s set in the future and our beloved Cinder is a cyborg, a human that’s been “fixed” by having a foot and an arm replaced with engineered, metal ones. Her step-mother is as atrocious as ever, but the circumstances are different. Cinder is adopted into the family by her step-father (who does, as in the original, pass away). She’s one of the best mechanics in town and undertakes as much work as she can to provide the cushy life her step-mother has grown accustomed to.
Cinder is a mere sixteen years old, but she’s tough and unbreakable. (I suppose having a wretched step-mother can callous you.) I loved her hard core attitude and the way she fumbled over her words when she was in the presence of Prince Kai when they first met. Kai isn’t your stereotypical arrogant/conceited/egotistical prince. He’s a little quirky, very funny, kind and tender-hearted. He was so sweet and immediately had my heart swooning.
Part of the brilliance of Cinder was that the entire cast of characters felt so fully developed. I connected and sympathized with Cinder, but my love wasn’t just for her. All the layers of Kai were peeled back, allowing us to see him for more than just a prince. (I wrote a list of moments I adored with him: when his father passes away, when Cinder arrives at the ball, quiet moments with her in the elevator, and meeting Cinder for the very first time at the festival.) But Meyer didn’t stop the amazingness with the primary characters. She gave Cinder an opinionated, original robotic friend, Iko and the sweetest, most innocent younger step-sister, Peony. Iko and Peony helped show us more than Cinder’s abrasive, distrusting side.
Oftentimes, I dislike when I can guess where a plot is headed (I like to be outsmarted by the author). Something I’ve learned to really like about Meyer’s writing is that she gives her readers just enough subtle hints without spoiling it entirely. Instead of feeling let down that I guessed the ending, I felt a rush as my suspicions were confirmed because I felt like I knew something Cinder didn’t know. I do think Meyer is intentional in the little breadcrumb hints she leaves along the way – she builds anticipation by allowing us to know things and be surprised when the truth is revealed to the characters.
I could go on and on about my love for Cinder, but I hope you’ll take my word for it and pick it up soon. You’ll want to be prepared for the sequel, Scarlet, to come out in February! (This time we get to meet Little Red Riding Hood!)...more
Be prepared, readers. This is not going to be a rave review. A lot of The Selection, for me, was just o[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. ...more
I was intrigued by the situation created by Chapman - two best friends falling for the same guy. I thought there would be a "fight" per se, between thI was intrigued by the situation created by Chapman - two best friends falling for the same guy. I thought there would be a "fight" per se, between the girls over who gets the boy. I understood that there would definitely be tension.
Chapman created a beautiful character, Sarah, that is intelligent and loyal to her best friend, Kristen, to a fault. Sarah struggles with her greatest insecurity, her large nose everyone makes fun of and notices first.
Through Sarah's intellect, we are allowed to see Chapman pull together beautiful parallels between literature and real life. She incorporates it in a way that I could see teachers easily using this book as a teaching tool in the classroom. (this is a strong nod to the author's own teaching background) The literature aspect was combined well with the lifestyle I would expect most high schoolers would follow. I did not feel as though anything was out of character or unrealistic. I felt very in touch with the relationships and friendships. I felt frustrated and angry at Sarah for not standing up for herself, but I *was* that girl. I had no backbone and didn't believe in me when I was Sarah's age (17).
I think this is a book I would definitely recommend to high school girls. There are many a lesson to be learned from Sarah. Friendship. Loyalty. Confidence. Acceptance.
Disregard comments about these books being too vulgar that you may read otherwise on goodreads. Those posting this didn't even read very far in the book! I read predominantly YA and this is mild in comparison to most. There are descriptive moments of boys having the opportunity to checkout a girl's chest, but there is no crazy make-out details, no sex, and nothing I can think of any worse than what I described above.
Great debut novel by Lara Chapman. I'm hoping for more to come!...more
Hooked seemed like the perfect book for me, a girl who has lovingly devoured Miranda Kenneally’s books[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Hooked seemed like the perfect book for me, a girl who has lovingly devoured Miranda Kenneally’s books [see: Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker] which interweave a nice balance of sports and sweet romance. Though I don’t know a thing about golf, I was ready to be swept away by Fichera.
Fred is Native American and very isolated from the rest of her classmates. She has only a few friends because not many are willing to get to know the handful of kids attending the public school from her reservation. When she’s approached by the golf coach, who eyed her all summer while she perfected her swing at the golf club during her dad’s shift as groundskeeper, she’s not unsuspecting of the drama that is sure to follow when Seth is kicked off the team. Fred is a loner, mostly keeping to herself because she has a lot of family secrets she’d rather everyone not know. (Her mom is a drunk, they don’t have much money, live in a shabby trailer house, and drive a van that’s sure to cruise its last mile soon.)
Teammate Ryan has his fair share of drama, too, aside from Seth’s less than acceptable mistreatment of Fred. His doctor mother and lawyer father are rarely home; he suspects his father may be having an affair. Seth and Gwenyth (the clingy girl who can’t really take a hint that she’s being used and isn’t ever going to be promoted to Girlfriend) help soothe Ryan’s pain by partying and drinking with him. While it seems Ryan really is a good guy at heart, he’s left to pick up the pieces when Seth decides to attack Fred, portraying him as a very weak and gullible character . (Did I mention Seth’s father was killed in an accident by a Native American? His anger is immeasurable and he will do anything to make Fred suffer.) For the record, it was much more difficult to see Fred bullied by a boy than it typically is to read about girl v. girl drama.
You might have deduced that there’s no lack of drama with all the bullying and family tension. For a girl who is down with the (book) drama, I would have been more engaged if Fred or Ryan ever took a stand. Both were passive characters that let life take over. Fred was incredibly timid and never once rallied for support with her teammates or confided in her coach (who I wholeheartedly feel would have kicked major booty if he knew what was happening). Resolutions were delayed time and time again and I distanced myself from emotionally connecting with the characters as a result of their pathetic choices. Ultimately, I would have appreciated a bit more character growth.
With a book full of strong contrasts (white boy versus Native American girl / girl on a boy’s team / rich versus poor / popular versus being a nobody), a lot could have been said about how to overcome these differences. Fred didn’t learn to fight for herself. Ryan didn’t have to change much (and in the end, even Seth’s actions were glossed over). Don’t get me wrong, many elements of Hooked were strong. Reading about a Native American girl and her reservation was fascinating, and Fichera did a great job of exploring discrimination on multiple levels. Unfortunately, I wished for Fred and Ryan to have more backbone than they did, something that quite possibly could have been strengthened if they didn’t have quite so many obstacles to overcome....more