I feel like I should begin this review by stating that the reason why I read The Selection by K...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I feel like I should begin this review by stating that the reason why I read The Selection by Kiera Cass was mainly because of the front cover. Of course, after reading the synopsis I just fell more in love with the idea of reading this Young Adult novel. I decided to read this novel despite some negative comments going around about the author's bad behavior towards a reviewer, because I care more about the book than the author's actions.
Cass's story has its own unique fun to it. I devoured this novel because it was a light, sometimes funny, and super romantic read. It did have some issues, but not enough to repel me.
"For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined."
1. How cheesy is it to give your protagonist the name "America" simply to make a point of her fighting spirit? I am a huge fan of using the protagonist's name to send a message to the reader, but being so obvious is kind of irksome.
2. While a lot of the characters in Cass's novel added mystery and fun to the storyline, America's mother was a bit on the undecided side. By this I mean that one moment she was all, "You are my daughter, so I will guilt trip you into a potential marriage that will make you miserable just so we have a better life", and the next she was "I understand your pain sweetie, but we love you and want you to be happy." I want to say she felt a bit bipolar, but I don't want to offend anyone.
3. Ugh, why must protagonists be portrayed as weak women pining for men who act like complete assholes? I acknowledge that it is unrealistic to make a character completely emotionless when she and the one she loves stop being together, but when a breakup happens because the guy is too chicken-shit (excuse my language) to fight for the girl he so obviously loves, I get annoyed that the protagonist yearns for him even more. Really. Oh and by the way, the whole scene (view spoiler)[ with her and him after she is in the castle is ridiculous. Girls reading books like these need strong protagonists to look up to, not women who immediately revert back to the I-love-you stage (hide spoiler)] in an already broken (and previously unhealthy) relationship.
1. I loved the storyline of America being taken to a palace to possibly meet her prince charming (pun intended). Though a bit slow at first, the story quickly gets interesting and I'm a sucker for romance. Which this has a lot of. Cass's novel was a bit predictable, but it didn't stop it from being a fun ride.
2. I was never a huge fan of The Bachelor, but even though this book is like a novelization of a season from the once popular show, it was neat seeing everything happen from the perspective of a contestant, rather than from the cliched viewpoint of the prince.
3. The ending was expected, I mean, the prince had like a gazillion girls left to pick from and under the pressing conditions (which I will not reveal) it is understandable what he had to do. I just wish Cass would have gone a little longer before concluding, but then that means that her ending was enough for me to want to read the next installment.
4. I liked the mystery that some of the characters in the novel offer, made me incredibly curious!
5. The cover was eye-candy. I have to add this to the list because it is what attracted me in the first place.
I eagerly await the next installment in the series!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7 Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral is a young adult novel that tells a story thro...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7 Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral is a young adult novel that tells a story through a scrapbook full of photographs, chat logs, and notes. The moment I saw this book I knew it was something special. The cover alone shows the emotion that the two characters share before things turn sour.
“After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As readers flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, they see a girl on the precipice of disaster.”
I found it easy to get lost within these pages and watch Glory's descent into madness.
Since it's my first time really reviewing books like this one, I'm going to jump straight into the positives and negatives.
1. The ending made me a bit confused. I know that the synopsis on the back of the book says that the ending should hint at Glory's madness and that it should question whether everything that has happened actually happened, but honestly, I only grasped a bit of what was intended. I had to think about it after I read the book and even now, as I write this review, I'm still pondering the ending. But if a novel affects me like this, would this truly be a negative aspect?
2. Why does Glory disappear? This is one thing that bothered me at the end because I don't think it was fully explained.
1. I am so used to prose that this was a new and slightly scary experience (at least when I first began reading it). Unlike other novels that use the concept of pictures within a storyline, Chopsticks relies on pictures, drawings, and other media techniques to tell a story. I thought this was sucessful and I loved the way they easily told a story without prose.
2. Though the ending was slightly unclear, the story was easy to follow.
3. The romance was sweet and it hinted at what was happening to Glory's mind. I loved watching everything come together until the end.
4. The hints and suggestions of lunacy were interesting to decipher. I think this is the type of book that needs to be looked over more than once to truly see the beauty of it.
5. I'm happy to say that the quality of the media presented was excellent. Nothing was grainy or low quality printing.
I'm excited to see what else Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral will produce in the future!(less)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
Amy Spalding's debut, The Reece Malcolm List, is an interesting young adult novel that dissects the sometimes difficult relationship between parents and their children. Despite the dark underlying themes of abandonment, trust issues, and less-than-stellar home lives, Spalding's novel manages to capture the essence of teenagehood in this fantastic debut.
Devan is a sixteen year-old teenager whose life changes drastically after her father dies. Not only does she have to mourn a difficult relationship with her father, but she has to maneuver her new life with her previously absent mother.
I love Spalding's writing style. Quirky, sarcastic, and unforgiving, Spalding shows us how difficult this new life is--not only for Devan, but also her mother. The dialogue is sharp, thanks to the many diverse characters, and the story is well-paced and inviting.
The idea of writing a new entry every chapter regarding the little things Devan knows about her mother is brilliant because it is both original and heartfelt. Devan is unfamiliar with familial love, so it is sweet to see how her small list progresses throughout the novel.
One of the coolest aspects of Spalding's novel, however, is the subject of musicals. What I admire Spalding for is how rather than challenging Devan's love of music and theatre, she gives Devan an opportunity to better herself through her one true passion.
Devan is an intriguing character. She shows pride and confidence--so much so that it flirts with cockiness--when it comes to her musical talents, yet she has a difficult time facing others and speaking up. Her inability to be more active vocally most likely stems from her lack of a caring home, and it is as months pass with her mother that Devan begins to grow as a character. It is always interesting/fantastic when a character's persona is affected and changed (positively) because of the world around her.
The romance in the novel is extremely relatable. Unlike other novels that feature straight to the point romance, Devan is a true teenager figuring out love through trial and error. Nothing comes easy for Devan, as it usually does not for real life teenagers, and I think this will make her even more relatable with young adult readers.
I recommend The Reece Malcolm List to fans of contemporary literature for young adults, teens who are searching for an understanding between obvious love and difficult love when it comes to parents, and readers who simply want a powerful story that is occasionally freckled with teenaged moments of growth. (less)
I received a copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Hilary T. Smith's debut Wild Awake is a young adult contemporary novel that touches on grief, mental health, and the expectations that parents often place on us in order to make us either copies of themselves, or better than the disappointments they've faced in the past.
Smith's writing is gorgeous, if not at times a little intense, and it is her unflinching ability to portray a young girl not only on the cusp of escaping her parents' expectations, but also on the verge of finding herself after an intense breakdown, that makes Wild Awake such an intense ride.
Kiri Byrd (check out the last name and its connection to being free as a bird in a world of constrictions?), the protagonist, is a gifted pianist who comes from a slightly affluent family. We are first introduced into Kiri's world after her parents have left her home alone for a cruise--which immediately screams, "Bad Parents" alert. From there, we see Kiri slowly fall apart when left to her own devices with a heavy and dark secret that she unfortunately comes across on her own.
Smith's writing is riddled with very quotable metaphors and descriptions, making it easy to picture what Kiri is seeing. Also, Kiri is so quirky that we can't help but either laugh, or squirm uncomfortably as she slowly loses her perfectly controlled world.
No one, it seems, can understand Kiri's pain, and we're made privy to this information as Kiri sees the world through angst and grief filled eyes. One of the reasons why I love when authors write in the first person narrative is how easy it is to become the protagonist. Unlike with third person, where we look on as unattached strangers, we can navigate the dark passages in the character's mind alongside him/her when in first person. Kiri's slow descent into her own destruction would not be as powerful if it were in anything but first person.
Kiri's story also brings to question the popular notions of madness, drug-abuse, homelessness, and obsessiveness in the arts. Kiri and her deceased sisters' beautiful music or art were the creative outcomes of their personal struggles. Kiri's obsessive piano playing and unrealistic goals hint at her imminent mental break. There's only so much a teenaged girl can take.
The romance is as cute and unconventional as Kiri herself. Skunk is nowhere near perfect, perhaps more broken than Kiri, but they somehow help each other. While fighting off imaginary enemies, experimenting with drugs, and reaching new levels of intimacy, Kiri and Skunk indadvertedly heal each other. Though the romance is a little quick, it also plays into the hurried pace of, "If we don't act now, if we don't do this NOW, then we might lose it all; we might not find ourselves in the end."
The reason why I'm not giving Wild Awake five stars is because it is a slightly messy read. While the writing is gorgeous, all of the bad crap happened so...suddenly that it took me by surprise. I was still reeling by the time Kiri came back to her senses. I remember thinking, "What just happened?" And while this is perhaps the exact feeling Smith was going for, it came off a little intense and messy. I understand Smith wants us to experience Kiri's mental and emotional instability as intensely as Kiri does, but it was, perhaps, too much.
The conclusion, in my opinion, is pretty perfect since it showcases what truly matters in the book.
I recommend this to anyone seeking an adventure and more realistic romance (no blue-eyed, blond, insta-love boys here). Kiri isn't someone you forget, since we all have that one little thing that can tip us over the edge and is capable of changing how we see everything and everyone around us.
Kiri's unforgettably destructive, yet healing summer is all jam-packed into Wild Awake--be prepared. (less)
I received a copy from Merit Press in exchange for an honest review
Piece of My Heart by Lynn Maddalena Menna is a young adult debut about hopes, dreams, and how far we would go to achieve our dream careers.
While it was definitely glamorous to see Menna's characters living it up in New York City, the story was at times a little difficult to read. While I did enjoy it for what it was, a story about a young girl overcoming obstacles, from a stylistic point of view, the writing and execution of the novel is less than stellar.
I always love a sassy protagonist, especially a latina one. So when Marisol appears with her attitude and goals, I was immediately intrigued with her story. I could relate with her on so many levels: having a goal that may appear impossible to accomplish, growing up in a single parent home, being Spanish and bridging the cultural gap between the world I live in now and my history, and of course, the cost of striving for your goal.
Underneath the slightly chaotic narrative, lies a dark storyline that, in my opinion, was perhaps too dark for a book of this nature. I'm not saying that fighting for your dreams won't have you facing difficult times, or dangerous situations, but I felt like the conclusion of this extreme plot line was overly dramatic.
Before I go over what I found to be Menna's downfall with her debut, I will state that I really did enjoy this novel. It was entertaining, juicy, and full of the drama reminiscent of reality television. But what comes with reality television is also the idea of being "fake," which was an issue on occasion here.
First off, Piece of My Heart has a very redundant narrative. We are not told the same thing twice, or three times--but repeatedly throughout the story. I can't even remember how many times we were told that Marisol never really ate in the mornings, or how much practicing her scales in the morning helped her. Readers are a lot smarter than some people think, we usually catch onto hints of a character's personally after mentioning a fact once, or twice.
Secondly, the writing felt unnatural, to the point where I was being told what to see, rather than shown what to see. The narrative was straightforward, as well, making me feel disconnect from the story being told. Marisol was hard to connect with (beyond what she stands for) because she, at times, comes off as unlikable and boring--thanks to the dry prose.
Thirdly, Marisol, for all her virtues and talents, was a spoiled jerk. She took advantage of her friendships (which I understand was a learning experience), was too naive with certain things, contradicted herself (she wore a sexy outfit once that bared a lot of skin, but then refused to wear a bikini), hypocritical (Girls are really catty here), and is, at times, too single-minded. I know she has goals and that she is young and ready to truly start her life, but all of the aspects mentioned above not only made her hard to connect with, but more of a child than a high school graduate. Also, it's sometimes hard to believe that she is only 17 for a good chunk of the book.
The believability of the novel is also challenged because of the quick and easily resolved issues. The most complicated plot line here is that of Marisol's romantic life, but that was kind of a yummy part of the book, especially since it was one of the only things that actually had a pulse to it.
Also, and I may sound like a hypocrite here because I drank around that age, but the large amount of drinking really confused me. Marisol isn't even 18 yet for most of the book and she's drinking champagne and other various drinks. Again, I know it's normal for teens to drink nowadays, but this was bordering on unbelievable. I guess things are different in New York City?
After writing this review, I'm just wondering how I still found this one so amusing. Like I said, I love the message this story gives about teens fighting for their dreams, I just didn't love the way the message was relayed. The writing didn't do it for me. Instead of reading like a contemporary young adult sassy novel, it read like a diva-ish novelization of a reality television show--better watched on television.
I'll recommend this to any reader who wants a very light read. If you like dramatic situations, then you might like this one. Also, if you're into reality television, you might also like it.
I had high hopes for this one, but I'll settle for a book that kept me entertained simply because of its romance and message.(less)
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales is a cool young adult novel that simultaneously explores the unique world of DJing and depression. The powerful narrative made for an impressive ride, and the simple adoration of music came across beautifully. Wonderful pacing, a realistic protagonist stuck in a very real situation, and a rarely used storyline, makes for a very memorable book.
Elise, the protagonist, has to deal with what a lot of teenagers unfortunately have to deal with now: Divorce, bullying, depression, and a need to just be either invisible, or to belong. I loved her character because she was so relatable. When a reader reads Sales's novel, they might be surprised with just how real her character is. Sales doesn't shy away from showing us the nitty gritty of high school when you're not part of the "in-crowd", and how depression can sometimes go a little too far when we follow our need to just be seen.
The truly amazing aspect of this novel, however, is the love of music. I've always loved music (very rarely do I not have my iPod and headphones on me), but seeing someone who uses music as a life saver is incredibly empowering. It shows that we can use our love of something to remind ourselves who we are and why we need to remain strong.
The adoration of music in Sales's novel is simply fantastic. The concept of DJing is fascinating and Sales makes it easy to understand how DJing works. She somehow simplifies the difficult task of blending music together for our benefit, but the powerful effect that the act of putting music together has on Elise is very, very obvious--hence the title of the book.
The romantic aspect of This Song Will Save Your Life is powerful in that it helps Elise grow as a character. It is only pivotal in the sense that it challenges Elise to understand what is truly important in life.
The portrayal of family in Sales's novel is another important aspect, since Elise's situation may be relatable to other readers. In fact, Sales touches on a lot of different issues--friendship, bullying, acceptance, first love, substance abuse (sort of), family, depression, and being honest with yourself, among many more issues.
Overall, Sales's novel is brilliant. Her protagonist is quirky enough to be relatable, and realistic enough that we can sympathize with her situation. The storyline is unique because, honestly, I don't think I've ever read anything about DJing before! So, it was a great treat.
I recommend This Song Will Save Your Life to readers who enjoy a powerful young adult contemporary novel. If you like relatable stories set in high school, and are a fan of music, then this one might be the next great one for you!(less)