What an unexpected gem! I’m so glad I came across this book (got it from the S&S Galley Grab, thank you!) It’4.5 star, rounded up for awesomeness.
What an unexpected gem! I’m so glad I came across this book (got it from the S&S Galley Grab, thank you!) It’s incredibly fun to read, a great book to read if you’re not looking for anything “heavy”.
The plot isn’t exactly wholly original — at first glance. It’s the story of a boy and a girl who end up falling in love with one another but cannot be together because their respective groups hate each other’s guts. This is the basic story of Romeo & Juliet, and probably a few dozen other stories that exist (if not more).
So you might be thinking, “Okay, what’s the unique factor?” It’s the context. Why can’t Chelsea, our main character, be together with Dan? Because Chelsea works at the Colonial Essex Village, a living history reenactment village whose employees constantly act out of the summer of 1774, and Dan works at the Civil War living history reenactment village across the street who act out the 1860′s. The two reenactment villages have a natural rivalry with one another that the more youthful employees take to extremes, convinced that their time period is the best time period of American history. So not only are Chelsea and Dan from rival reenactment villages, but also from reenactment villages of completely different time periods.
I bet you didn’t see that coming.
Chelsea has been working at the Colonial Essex Village ever since she can remember, because her parents work there, though Chelsea only works during the summers. This summer, however, Chelsea feels she’s finally had enough and would really rather have a normal mall job or something, but is talked into coming back to Essex by her best friend Fiona, and the lure of her ex-boyfriend Ezra, who has also found a job at Essex.
As usual, the teenage employees of Essex propose war against the teenage employees of the Civil War village across the street, to prove who’s got the better reenactment village and the better time period. Chelsea somehow finds herself elected Lieutenant of the war effort, and quickly gets “kidnapped” by some of the Civil War kids, one of whom is Dan, whom she develops a crush on pretty quickly. But the thing about Chelsea is that she’s very clingy to the past by nature, so on top of the fact that her friends would kill her if they knew she was into a Civil warrior, she’s not sure she’s able to drop Ezra completely yet.
This novel is sooo much fun to read. I think the best way to describe it is chick-lit for teens. I don’t really know much about historical reenactment (that’s not really a thing up here in Canada … I don’t think we really have any history exciting enough to reenact), but after reading this novel, I really want to visit one! How cool is it to feel like you’ve stepped back in history? Not to mention, who knew how awesome reenactors are?! I mean, yes, this is a novel, but this book makes historical reenacting seem like the coolest thing since sliced bread. I loved how Essex battled with the Civil War people, trying to prove that their historical village is from the best part of American history, hahaha!
Chelsea is the kind of girl I would love to be friends with. She really feels like any normal teenager you might come across in a high school. She’s a bit of a daydreamer, wants to be an ice-cream connoisseur, and has crushes on boys. The novel is in first person, so we are inside Chelsea’s head the entire time, and I love it! She’s such a funny person (without really intentionally trying to be one) and she’s got her parents who are absolutely obsessed with historical reenacting, which definitely made for more laughs.
As for the male interests, there is a teensy bit of a love triangle, but it’s never really full blown since Chelsea and Ezra have already broken up. I quite liked Dan. I like how his relationship with Chelsea felt pretty natural. They did click together quickly, but I am glad Chelsea didn’t call it “true love” right away. It was a crush, and she acknowledges it as such. They did seem to move a tad fast — Dan just suddenly kisses Chelsea one day — but it was light and flirty and felt realistic for teenagers, none of that oh-so-serious eternal love stuff. The romance in this book is extremely adorable!
I really loved almost every aspect of this book. I think the only thing that disappointed me slightly was the ending. The entire book felt like a day out at the amusement park, but the ending felt like the car trip home — a bit boring. That’s not to say it was horrible, I just felt it could have been better.
Should you read this book? YES! I mean, how many YA books out there involve historical reenactment anyway?! You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one. I love this book! Oh, and you learn a lot of random historical facts in this book! :)
Pretty Little Liars is not a book I would usually read. I’ve seen it many times in stores, and —(This review originally posted at http://skyink.net).
Pretty Little Liars is not a book I would usually read. I’ve seen it many times in stores, and — I admit — it’s the kind of book that looks like garbage. It just looks like it, I’m sorry! Even though I frequently read books that involve teenagers, I don’t normally read books that I think are just about a bunch of bickering girls in high school because it’s not my thing. Well, this book does involve a bit of that, I won’t lie, but Pretty Little Liars was surprisingly good! I ended up liking it quite a bit despite going into it thinking, “I probably won’t like this very much”. I picked it up to read (I live like, 3 minutes from the public library) after my friend Marjorie gave it a shot and ended up quite liking it. And I trust Marjorie’s opinions on books so I decided I had to read this too.
I think this has become a guilty pleasure series for me.
The story begins with five close friends in the 7th grade — Ali, the “ringleader” of the group, and Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria. They’re all great friends, but there seems to be a little fear of Ali as well, because she knows a secret about each one of her friends, a secret that they don’t want anybody else to find out. Even worse, the five of them have a group secret, a terrible one that involves a terrible prank gone wrong that they told no one.
However, one day, Ali mysteriously disappears after a sleepover party.
Three years later, the girls are entering the 11th grade. They more or less have stopped being friends ever since Ali became a missing persons case. They have each moved on and found new friends. But now, each one of them are receiving mysterious messages via text messaging and e-mails from someone who is haunting them with their secrets, and seems to be tracking their every move.
I’m not going to pretend this is a stellar piece of literature because it’s not. It's quite the opposite of stellar literature, actually. It is, however, addictive and easy to read — perfect for those summer days where you’re just feeling too hot to move much (which is the circumstance I was in when I read this, heh). The characters are quite easy to relate to. I don’t mean directly — how many of us are (or were) rich girls from rich families attending a rich private school? — but I’m sure many of us have had to dealt with boys, self-esteem, insecurity issues, living up to your parents’ dreams, avoiding rumours from your peers, etc.
While I didn’t really like any of the characters, and I can’t say I had the same high school experiences as them, the characters (like Marjorie mentions) reminded me of how idiotic one can be when they were in 7th grade, or 11th grade. 7th grade is around the time girls start taking an interest in boys (as opposed to “ew! cooties!”) and I still remember how boy-obsessed me and my own friends were during that time — embarrassing memories, to be sure. Anyway, two of the girls in this book are actually admirable in some ways — they are A students who are aiming to be the best they can be. So it’s not just silly teenagers doing silly things :P
There is quite a bit of underage drinking, sexual scenes and smoking of pot in this story. While I do not condone such behaviour for middle-and-high schoolers (mostly middle-schoolers; I always figure high schoolers are old enough to make their own decisions, and drinking never seemed that bad to me but that may be because up here the legal drinking age is 19 (the characters are 17/18)), I disagree with the reviews I read that this is not a realistic portrayal of 7th/11th graders. Actually, I think it is realistic. Obviously not every kid does all this stuff, but you’d be surprised how common this kind of behaviour is in kids these days — and it’s happening at even younger ages, shockingly enough. I never did any of that kind of stuff because I hung out with a different circle of friends, but I heard of many kids from my old schools who did. Anyway, if that kind of stuff bothers you, I don’t recommend reading it.
But! If you don’t mind that kind of stuff, then you are in for a suspenseful story! It’s a light hearted and fun story, the kind you don’t really want to put down because you’re just so intrigued by what’s happening between the characters. There actually isn’t really much gossiping or backstabbing or catfights between the characters at all. Instead, it is about four girls who are, in a way, trying to “discover” themselves and their true passions … while their past keeps haunting them.
I can honestly say I really enjoyed this book! The ending was really great too, it was something I never predicted. The book ends in a way that it gives you a sense of closure, but also leaves enough room open for sequels. And I know this series has quite a bit of sequels — and I’m going to read them all! (Eventually)....more
Some of my friends may know that I am pretty anti-beauty-pageant. So it may come as a surprise that I decided to go and read a book about, well, beautSome of my friends may know that I am pretty anti-beauty-pageant. So it may come as a surprise that I decided to go and read a book about, well, beauty pageants. The synopsis said that the book was about a group of beauty queens who find themselves trapped on a deserted island and must use their beauty supplies, equipment and knowledge to survive until rescue. I actually found the idea pretty interesting, which is why I decided to put it in my “Want To Read” list (and consequently, my sister got it for me).
Fifty Miss Teen Dream beauty pageants are traveling on a plane to a beach area to take some promotional pictures. Unfortunately, the plane crash lands on a deserted island, killing nearly everyone, except for thirteen beauty queens (I believe it was thirteen — it started with twelve, but then they found one more survivor). With only themselves to depend on, the Miss Teen Dreamers attempt to organize themselves and think of ingenious ways of survival.
Meanwhile, on the same island, the Corporation is aware the Teen Dreamers have crash landed on the island. This is not part of their plan, however, they plot a way to weave the bright and beautiful young ladies of America into their plan for world domination …
I walked into this story expecting a chick-lit type book. I won’t argue if you want to categorize this book as such, but it is also a lot more than that. This book, to me, is a completely hilarious satire of American culture and lifestyle (or, more broadly, North American).
The way many of the girls hold the beauty pageant in their minds shows how much emphasis everyone puts on appearances. The way the entire book is written with (fake) product placements shows how much corporations are taking over (for example, if I remember correctly, one of the characters comment on how a natural clay she finds on the island makes a great moisturizer. It was followed by a superscript, and in the footnotes, an “advertisement” for a Corporation product: “For skin that’s silky smooth, try The Corporation’s Pore It On mask.” There were also references towards celebrities, TV shows (ex. Jersey Shore), Facebook, a variety of beauty products with silly names like Tan-So-Right. There were the beauty pageant application pages submitted by each contestant, with footnotes from The Corporation censoring certain parts or hinting that said contestant should change some of her words so that they are more Corporation friendly. And then there were the “commercial breaks”, which were my favourite: just straight-up silly, blatant satire of commercials and American lifestyle, telling you what you want, because the Corporation knows best.
There were all kinds of characters, and they were mostly one-dimensional, but given the nature of the book and the cartoon-y effect it was going for, there really was no need for “deep” characters at all. While there were some of the stereotypical “dumb blonde” type of beauty queen, I also encountered many different social issues that the characters explored in this story. We have some girls who are in the pageant because that is all they know how to do, and they are extremely determined to win. We have girls who are in the pageant only to win scholarship money to go to college. We have a Black girl and an Indian girl, who both know the odds are stacked against them because it is unspoken that there can only be one non-White beauty queen in the final round (racial issues). We even have an undercover feminist journalist who is trying to expose the beauty pageant world for what it “really is”. I know she may seem like the “beacon of hope” in a story such as this, but even she has her problems, because she’s the type of feminist who decries make-up and dressing up and fails to realize that sometimes, a girl just wants to pretty herself up, not necessarily for the sake of a boy.
This was a very fun book to read and I enjoyed it immensely. It really is laugh out loud funny and it was incredibly thrilling trying to catch all the pop culture references.
While I found the beginning of the book quite addictive, I found the last third of the book a bit eye-roll-worthy. I think the book crossed the line between satire and plain ridiculousness. The ending of the book was just a bit too cartoon-like, if you know what I mean. For example, the Corporation hanging its captives over a tank of piranha fish and slowly lowering them in head first. I also wasn’t too crazy about the shipful of hot boy (actor) pirates who randomly crash land on the deserted island, and naturally, InstaLove was abound. Granted, it was satire and meant to be humourous, so I didn’t expect any deep meaningful relationships but … come on, really?
Despite my complaint about the ending, I think all in all, this was a great story and it was really addicting to read. Even if you don’t catch all the references or understand the satire going on in the background, I think anyone can enjoy this book and take something away from it.
I’ve been hearing a lot about this book, and now that I read it, I totally understand why. This book was flirty fun, a smooth and quick read, and wasI’ve been hearing a lot about this book, and now that I read it, I totally understand why. This book was flirty fun, a smooth and quick read, and was just all around entertaining! It’s like chick-lit for teens (and I always love a good chick-lit book to relax with).
The story is about an American teenager named Anna. Her father, having become quite wealthy from his bestselling novels, decides to send Anna to the School of America in Paris (SOAP) to study, so she can get ‘cultured’. Anna is quite upset at first because she has to leave behind her best friend and a boy that she is sure she’ll get together with soon.
Luckily, she encounters a new group of friends at her new school, and even better, this new group of friends includes the most gorgeous boy at school, Etienne St. Clair (though everyone just calls him St. Clair). The downside? St. Clair already has a girlfriend. However, as the school year progresses, she and St. Clair become closer and closer …
This book is super cute ! It is written in first person from Anna’s perspective, in a very personal manner, so it almost feels like Anna is your friend, excitedly relaying to you the events that happened to her in Paris over the phone or something, rather than being all “narrator-ish”. By the end of the book, Anna felt like a very good friend of my own. She’s (thankfully) not annoying, is able to see things from other people’s perspectives (even if not right away) and is someone I think I could get along with quite well if she was a real person.
I loved reading this, it was so much fun, and Anna is a really cute character. She truly feels like a realistic teenager in this book. I loved her circle of friends, they were so colourful and I appreciated the fact that each of her friends had more presence than merely being the observers of Anna and St. Clair’s evolving relationship.
I think the only characters I had any issues at all were the students that played the antagonists, mainly Amanda (was that her name?) and Dave. Amanda, in particular, was too much of a stereotypical high school queen bee, so much that I found her actions kind of unbelievable. The Amanda thing is really minor though, just something I noticed.
The story is, in some ways, a bit cliche, but it’s the way Anna tells her story that is so adorable and really hooks you in. The ending was sweet and predictably happy. I definitely would recommend this book to everyone! It’s so enjoyable! Stephanie Perkins has become one of my must-read authors now!