I liked Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle even more than its predecessor, Famous In Love. And I neveWarning: Major spoiler from the first book.
I liked Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle even more than its predecessor, Famous In Love. And I never like second books more!
This is the age of celebrity, whether it's 15 minutes of fame, or fans clamoring for glimpses of your daily life and every move. Paige Townsen belongs to the second group, having rocketed to stardom in her first movie, Locked, a movie about August, Ed, and Noah whose plane crashes on a small island, thus throwing together the two love interests that shouldn't be. (view spoiler)[In this case, life imitates art, and our real-life August (Paige) has chosen her Ed (Rainer) and is internally struggling with her strong emotions for Noah (Jordan). (hide spoiler)]
Still with me? LOL.
What I liked about Paige's transition into Truly, Madly, Famously was that her celebrity didn't go to her head. She wasn't all "I have all this money now and I'm famous" and actually abhorred the idea that her privacy was a thing of the past. She truly was in it for the love of the craft, and not because she wanted to be the center of attention. Her struggles with fame and the paparazzi felt honest and actually, she reminded me very much of another actress from a popular series of movies who was always said to have needed to smile more, and who also jealously guarded her personal life. It didn't end well for that particular celebrity, but in Paige's case, she grows a lot from the photos and tabloid stories, and she truly does learn the value of her real friends.
Rainer was just an okay character for me. I didn't feel like we got much of a chance to really love him or connect with him, despite the revelations made about his father. Was I sympathetic? Yes, of course. Did I care if he never really graced the pages of Truly, Madly, Famously again? Nope. I also felt that the revelation of why he and Paige began dating was kind of forced and unnecessary.
Jordan, on the other hand, was fairly fascinating to me, despite that nothing all that big is revealed about him, except for his own struggles with his celebrity and fame. His relationship with Paige was real and I got the feeling that he needed someone that could ground him. I just liked him and he was hunky, so leave me alone, 'kay?!
In Truly, Madly, Famously we get to meet new characters, some whom are celebrities in their own right. My favorite was Alexis. I had suspicions about her from the beginning, and I was right, but it was fun seeing how it all came to light. She's a strong personality, and initially, I was wary of trusting her because of how she enters the story, but Serle writes her so well, that you as the reader can't help but fall in love with her. Can we puh-lease get a spin-off about her?! She's so fun and honest!
Speaking of Alex, the whole situation involving her (that I won't spoil) really sheds a light on how Hollywood can actually be. None of it is all that surprising, but the lengths to which agents will go to secure top stories in tabloids is kind of outrageous, as is the manipulation by the stars themselves to get mentions, either positively or negatively.
There's a kind of bohemian vibe in Truly, Madly, Famously. Stars switch homes on a whim, everyone's got the keys to your beach house and off days are spent lounging on beaches. There is an air of casualness among all the fakery, as if some celebrities just can't be bothered with manners or social norms. In Hollywood, plastic is as real as the skin it replaces.
There are a lot of themes in Truly, Madly, Famously. Love, friendship, betrayal, trust. Paige has to navigate all of these while she decides if she should listen to what her heart wants. Who can and should she trust? Family? Friends? I enjoyed finding out in this rather addicting tale.
This love-triangle has a great ending, and I think (or hope) most readers will be thrilled with where it ends.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill is an amazing story, and I don't think this book gets the attention it sorely deserves. And I will do my best to reviAsking For It by Louise O'Neill is an amazing story, and I don't think this book gets the attention it sorely deserves. And I will do my best to review it adequately, but please forgive typos, because I am doped up on Nyquil.
Trigger warning: Rape and bullying.
Emma is, by all accounts, a normal teenager in Ireland. She parties, she has a few close friends, she's into boys. She's also confident and a little egotistical. But all of that changes when videos and photos of her male classmates running train on her appears on Facebook. To cap it all off, she remembers none of it. "Rape culture" is a polarizing topic. I, myself, have certainly been on the fence as I see both sides duke it out in online articles and on friends' feeds. And let me be clear: when I say I'm on the fence, I'm certainly not victim-blaming or thinking boys have a right to do that to girls when the girls are incapable of saying no. I'm on the fence in regards to decisions that lead there. Or...I was.
For the first 100 pages or so, I was bored. The story moved very slowly as it established her character. And, frankly I hated Emma. I thought she was bitchy and self-centered...and yes, a part of me thought she might have been asking for it. But something strange happened, and somewhere in the middle of Asking For It, I began to feel sorry for her. And then I got mad for her. And suddenly, I was no longer on the fence. I was solidly on #TeamEmma.
"They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest."
O'Neill writes a very captivating story. Here is this girl who makes poor decisions that lead her to being essentially gang-raped - by boys she was "friends" with. The author wants you to hate her and question her, and she explains why Emma is such a frustrating character. That's the whole point of the book: even the worst of people don't deserve this to happen to them. It begs the question: Why are we teaching our girls to avoid rape, instead of teaching our boys that a lack of "no" does not mean yes? Why are we not teaching them to respect women?
Emma's spiral down into the pits of depression was vivid and authentic. She considered her ways out. She watched her family fall apart - and blamed herself. She wasn't just a victim of rape; she was also a victim of society. I've said it so many times: sexual and domestic violence victims are victims twice: first by the perpetrator of the crime and then again by society who looks for reasons why this thing might have happened to her. Was it because her skirt was too short? Was it because he knew she wasn't wearing panties? Was it because she dared to get drunk and flirt with them? Answer: None of these things is an acceptable answer to violate someone. Just because someone is perceived as morally indecent doesn't give someone else the right to violate them.
"That's what it feels like now, like a cancer is spreading, and I can't do anything to stop it. I don't have any control over it."
Asking For It also shows the vilification of sexual assault victims through social media. Emma's friends turn on her with taunts on Facebook, disparaging comments and words like slut, whore, bitch. As such, Emma struggles with her own guilt for what she thinks is her place in this whole mess. If only she hadn't done this or that, she'd be okay and they wouldn't have done that to her. The if, then scenarios that play out in her mind made me sad and angry that anyone ever has to feel that way.
The relationships in Asking For It are all complex and very well-rounded. Emma struggles with her parents before and after the rape, particularly with her mother, whose main goal in life is good perception of her family. She spent her time before telling Emma how beautiful she is and fussed about family appearances. This makes the tragedy all the more hurtful, because who exactly is rooting for Emma?
"I want to eat them. I want to make myself fat on their innocence."
There is a peculiar sort of loss of innocence in Emma's story. Was she an innocent girl? Of course not. She made bad decisions, she took unnecessary risks. But she was still a child, convinced she was invincible, because she had never learned she wasn't.
I think a lot of readers will struggle with the ending of this story. But I loved it. Sometimes endings are wrapped up in a bright red bow, but I am glad that O'Neill leaves this ending messy and ugly. As a reader, yes, I was frustrated by it, but it was also authentic and truthful. And with subject matter such as this, we really can't ask for anything more, can we?
This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more
The last book I five-starred that I read (not including audios) was Little Peach by Peggy Kern...seven months ago. Those who know me know that I don'The last book I five-starred that I read (not including audios) was Little Peach by Peggy Kern...seven months ago. Those who know me know that I don't dole out 5 stars all willy nilly. I have become quite stingy with the five-star rating. But The Girl from Everywhere by debut author Heidi Heilig wins all five hard-earned stars from me without question. Folks, put this one on your pre-order list because you will not regret anything other than not having gotten to read it sooner! I SOLEMNLY SWEAR ON ALL MY BOOKS THIS TO BE TRUE, AMEN!
*heavy excited breathing*
Now where in the hell do I begin? Ah yes, world-building. Heilig has crafted a world beyond imagination. From 2016 NYC to 19th century Hawaii, to the myths and legends of Chinese lore, we get to travel the world as a passenger on The Temptation alongside Nix, Slate, Kash and the rest of The Temptation crew. Heilig is generous with her descriptions: Hawaii is lush and tropical, and it's easy to get lost in the dirt roads of the market and shops, as well as the not-so-beaten paths through the mountains. You can hear the waterfalls and see yourself standing next to magical ponds.
Likewise, NYC is bustling and noisy, with its skyscrapers and ships in port. I'm not sure I need to describe NYC to anyone, because even if you haven't been, you know.
But the majority of The Girl from Everywhere takes place in Honolulu, and so Heilig focuses much of her descriptive prowess on that place and time. Having lived there myself, I found the cultural and visual representations to be so accurate, it was like being back there again (but you know, in the 21st century), although it was difficult to picture Waikiki without its trademark hotels and restaurants lining the beach.
The plot for The Girl from Everywhere was unique and exciting. Beginning with a purchase and theft in a 1700's Indian marketplace, we speed off with Nix and Kashmir for the ship, and ultimately, their next port of call. Slate, the captain of The Temptation and Nix's father, is on a long, 16-year quest to get back to Nix's mother, so he can save her life. His dedication to rescuing his love does not come without a price, and that price happens to be his relationship with his daughter, who is tired of chasing what she thinks is a lost cause. But Nix has never loved anyone before, so how can she understand how it feels to have something, and then have it stripped away from you before you are ready?
The Girl from Everywhere is like a big, beautiful scavenger hunt, where Nix's mother is the prize as they search for the items that will lead them back to the year of her death. To do that, they rely on hand-drawn maps and legends, folklore and myths, that help them sail from place and time to place and time. Heilig weilds her words expertly, so that the gray fog that envelops the space surrounds the reader as well.
Now, I did spend about 3/4's of the book confused as hell. The plot is fairly complex, especially for a YA novel, so my head spun at times, but in the last quarter of the book, it all comes together in a way that just makes your mind explode, much in the way JKR does with the Harry Potter series. I was like, oooooooooh! And then I think I clapped in glee. The characters really round out this novel. Generally, a book can get away with a weaker plot if it has strong characters; likewise, a strong plot will usually carry weak characters. But in The Girl from Everywhere, the plot and the characters are delightful and strong. Nix is a forward leading lady, uncompromising in her morals and wise beyond her years. Kashmir is charming and cunning, but not without his soft spots for the people he cares about. Blake is noble and loyal, almost to a fault and it's impossible to dislike him because he's all smiles and positivity. Slate, for all his flaws, is just a man trying to make it back to the woman he loves. His dedication to her drives the message home "anything for love." Auntie Joss was mysterious and wise, and I had so many suspicions about her. She was easy to like, and easy to be suspicious of, which I just loved. The relationships are complex. Nix and her father; Nix and Kashmir; Kashmir and Slate; Nix and Blake, Nix and Auntie Joss....all of these relationships are well-crafted and believable. But I especially loved the relationship development between Nix and her father. I got the feeling that she always was second-best to him, like in his quest to return to his love, he lost sight of what he had gained from that tragedy. I think the author sends a very clear message to be thankful for what you have, and not necessarily dwell on what you desire.
Oh gosh and Nix's relationship with Joss was ever so lovely and fine-tuned. I had lots of suspicions about Joss, and I was right about some of them, which made me feel oh so good, like I was solving a complicated puzzle (because I was lol).
There's a budding romance in the story, but I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that it developed at a nice, natural and credible pace so there was no insta-love or anything like that. There were hints at a love-triangle, but it never bothered me, because that, too, felt natural. It's a cross-genre novel. It's got everything: time-travel, romance, a little bit of steampunkishness, historical references, mythology. It has it all and then some! And nothing conflicts with the other. It all just works together to be this flawless fantastical contemporary historical novel with some legends intertwined, and also kissing.
I think The Girl from Everywhere can be read as a standalone because it wraps up nicely, but as I understand it, it's part of a duo-logy at the very least, so I'm interested in seeing where The Temptation takes us next. This is an excellent story. I don't think it can really get any better than this. My review cannot do it justice, but please just do yourself a favor and pre-order it right now!This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post.
Sometimes growing together means growing separately and that can't be any more true than in the meat of Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
Three years haSometimes growing together means growing separately and that can't be any more true than in the meat of Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
Three years have passed since the day Adam played the music that brought Mia back from the brink of giving up. Things are much different now: Mia is on track to be a world-renowned cellist; Adam is living the high-profile life of music super-stardom. And they haven't spoken since Mia's departure from Oregon several years before.
I'd like to take a minute to talk about such a devastating loss as Mia has survived. She lost her entire family in a car crash that tried to claim her, too. In If I Stay, she ghosts through the halls of the hospital, outside of her own body, experiencing the pain and devastation her friends and grandparents are suffering. But really, that Mia is no different than this Mia; instead of ghosting the halls of that hospital, she has instead ghosted out of her old life while she tries to find the meaning behind what happened and who she is now. Or at least that's my interpretation of her circumstances since Where She Went is told from Adam's perspective.
Yes, Mia suffered a tragic event that might continue to haunt her for years. But what about Adam? The one thing that is never addressed in If I Stay (because of the timing) is Adam's loss. Mia lost her family, but to Adam, they were also family, and I found it very telling that he also became a ghost in his own life, while the specters of the past continued to haunt him.
That's the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is.
In some ways, I enjoyed Where She Went even more than If I Stay. Narrated by Adam, whom some readers might find too emo and angsty, I felt it the perfect follow-up and conclusion to the first novel. I really liked Adam in both books. He and Mia are messy and flawed, but that kind of makes them perfect, because the story feels real. Here we have two protagonists who absolutely love each other and are perfect together, and we realize tragedy can strike anyone and no one is going to be immune to it. Reading Adam's heartbreak over Mia's parents - and with a lot of heartwrench - his particular devastation over Teddy. Adam's quote about grieving (above) puts all my feelings about his feelings into perspective. He's angry. He made a promise to her when she was comatose that he would let her go if it meant he knew she was alive. And he did. But it made him angry, because he was heart-broken, too, and how dare she not recognize his own loss? And it made me realize that he broke his promise; he never wanted her to leave him and so he made a promise he had never intended to keep.
Where She Went is told in the span of one day, where Adam encounters Mia again after those years of separation. But there time together feels like a lifetime to me (and I'm sure to them) as they navigate the choppy waters of their reunion and dredge pent-up angers from their pasts. How could she leave him? How could he have begged her to stay? These walls between them demand to be pounded on until they are broken down.
Where She Went is, to this reader, flawless. It has its ups and its downs, and the only bad thing I can say about it is that I'm mad I didn't read it sooner.This book may have been provided in exchange for an honest review, and therefore will be noted on the original post....more