I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
One of the books I was most looking forward to reading this year was Great by Sara Benincasa because it is an adaptation of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was both a little intimidated by it, and excited to see just what this author had to say in her adaptation. I was not disappointed. Not only does Benincasa introduce us to a unique view of the Gatsby world, but she does it with class. She effortlessly shows us a world very similar to Gatsby's, but pleasantly modern.
The beauty of today's society is the freedom writers have with their writing. Benincasa delves into the homoerotic feel of The Great Gatsby and plays with the idea of what it would be like for a Gatsby character to be gay. While the original only hints at the undertones of sexuality in that particular decade, this modern-day take bravely infuses the GLBT community with the great American dream of being rich and loved. I'm not talking about one single character portrayed as gay for the sake of having something different, but about a setting where being part of the GLBT society is as normal as breathing. This was refreshing and helped Benincasa's rendition appear more modern and intriguing than the original.
Naomi, the protagonist, is introduced to us right after the pivotal moments of her summer have already happened. For a moment we're left to guess what happened to this Jacinta character we haven't met yet. For those of us who have read the original, we get a glimpse into the unavoidable outcome of this important character. Much like her predecessor, Benincasa's protagonist puts the Gatsby character, Jacinta, on a self-destructive pedestal. This particular summer promises to be much more exciting than the mundane summers Naomi's always spent with her mother. Though we are introduced to the new changes in Naomi's life, we're all just waiting to see who Jacinta is and what she's going to do next.
In the original Gatsby story, Fitzgerald focuses largely on the grandeur of the wealthy American dream by describing lavish parties that speak louder than the characters' dialogue and action. Benincasa stays true to the lavishness, but she makes her adaptation more about the characters' relationships than about the grandeur of wealth. Her writing comments on how we appear as nothing without human companionship (Naomi often thinks of herself as invisible during these summers, since she doesn't connect with anyone around her), and makes this even more clear when Naomi suddenly comes in contact with the elite...and stays in contact. This contemplation raises this particular question: are we products of the relationships we build , or are we products of the desperation (because we are all inevitably seeking human contact) we feel when we want to connect to something or someone? Is Jacinta a girl who yearns for one particular connection, or is she a product of her self-made popularity?
Interestingly enough, Great, much like Fitzgerald's book, comments on society and how it can affect our mentality and how we act. Naomi's mother is obsessed with her public persona, while the elite view Jacinta as a wondrous person, even if they know nothing about her, much like Gatsby who in the end, we find that we really don't know anything about him. We know what the protagonist shares with us and the rumors, and the supposed truths, but we never really know the truth behind Gatsby.
With fluid prose and a storyline that begs to be read, Benincasa's young adult debut is a wonderful comment on today's society. We all want to be famous, we all want to be connected to someone famous, and we all want to create these images that portray fame, perfection, and happiness. But as we learn of Jacinta's imperfect past, Naomi's unhappy relationship with her mother, and the wealthy's inability to accept someone who doesn't fit their mold, we see that underneath all the sparkle of fame that we all seek, is the gritty truth of it all.
This review has become a commentary on how both Benincasa and Fitzgerald's novels comment on their respective societies, because it's impossible to not become enamored with these storylines. That's just what happens when you write a successful adaptation. The harsh reality of our current society and their views on the GLBT community, the need to live a luxurious life, and the urgency we feel to be associated with success is too well presented in these two texts to not become passionate about the subject.
If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby and want an adaptation that intelligently brings societal concerns into young adult literature, then this might be the book for you. This isn't a story about Naomi's summer, this is a story of a girl who only wanted to feel loved, gave her trust too easily, and lost the world she sought because she fell victim to the society that created her. (less)
This was really cute and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I couldn't put it down!
I might sound like a pervert, but this was very clean compared to other new a...moreThis was really cute and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I couldn't put it down!
I might sound like a pervert, but this was very clean compared to other new adult novels. I know, I know, sexy scenes don't make a novel (not even close!) but I felt like the build-up to the eventual love scene was a lot greater than the actual scene itself. It's hard to believe that Hoover and Glines are such tight friends when their writing varies from piping hot, to censored "shh, the kids are in the next room!"
That being said, the romance was great and I loved the tension! This is my first Hoover book, so now I know what to expect from her other books!
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Recklessly Royal by Nichole Chase is the companion novel to Suddenly Royal, which was a romance novel about an American woman learning that she was a duchess. In Recklessly Royal, however, we meet the royal family's princess and her love woes. Though this isn't a perfect read, the quick pacing, fun, and extremely adorable situations make Chase's latest novel a great light read for any romantic enthusiast!
Catherine (or Cathy), the protagonist, is a princess with a big problem: will she ever find a man who will love her for her and not her title? Enter Daniel, sexy friend of her new sister-in-law and someone that might just be able to help her in her plight. What happens after these two characters meet is funny and romantic. I couldn't help laughing when Cathy meets Daniel (because of a particular situation), but I was also skeptical of their budding romance.
Whereas it's a dream to meet someone and automatically have that sense of impending love, it's not exactly realistic. Not only were the people in Cathy's life throwing her words of caution, but the whole insta-romance situation made me slightly confused. All of the warnings that Cathy heard about Daniel made me think that something huge was going to happen to challenge their romance, but in the end, they were just red herrings, resulting in a story that was all a bit too cookie cutter for me. Is Daniel as perfect as he seems? Apparently, he is.
I enjoyed this one because of its simplicity, but it lacked the weight that the first book carried. The romance was a bit too easy and all problems were solved very quickly and very neatly.
Throughout the book, Chase alludes to the impending trouble that Cathy would face later on in the story. With every hint thrown at the reader, the book becomes more and more predictable. But when the time comes, the major event goes out like a small spark caught in a downpour. Everything is magically solved and everyone is living a happily ever after fairy tale ending.
My major concern with this one, however, was how rushed it felt. Yes, I got to know Catherine, but saw only a little character growth. I barely got to know David (other than that he was perfect), and the events just sort of passed me by, without even giving me time to think.
Again, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this one because it was cute, a quick read, and very light--I just wish it had more substance. This was like those Baskin Robbins tasters, where you get just a small taste of what could have been, rather than the whole lot.
I recommend this one to readers who enjoy quick light romantic novels. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, then you might enjoy this one.(less)
I received a copy via the author in exchange for an honest review
Where Life Takes You by Claudia Y. Burgoa is an adult contemporary novel that I was actually kind of excited to read. With a high rating, excellent reviews, and a promising premise, I expected great things from this one. But one of the big no-no's I've learned as a reviewer is to not put too many expectations behind a book. Though I received this book for reviewing purposes (thank you, Claudia), I can't say that I liked it. If you do get the chance to read this, be prepared for the drama, the over-the-top characters, and an ending so ridiculous that you'll wonder why you read the book in the first place.
The reason why I'm not giving this a one star rating is because Rebecca, the protagonist, faces so many dramatic moments that it was entertaining in how much of a disaster it was. I couldn't put it down, just like you sometimes can't look away from something that you know isn't all that good for you. I'm not a fan of writing these kinds of reviews, but bear with me.
Let's discuss the characters. There are so many characters that it's kind of hard to differentiate them. The main issue however, is Dan, Rebecca's best friend. This man is the kind of guy that controls everything you do, say, and think and will still justify it as a way of loving, protecting, and taking care of you. I give props to Rebecca for telling him off regarding his protective stance, but take the props back when she immediately regrets it and misses his controlling nature. There are just so many issues with Dan's character that I just couldn't even deal with him. He listens in on her conversations, makes decisions for her, uses money to control those around her, and even tells her what to do at work. Yeah, no thank you.
Rebecca herself is a pretty weakly written character. She let's everyone walk all over her and when she does grow a spine, it immediately disappears since she can't deal with the consequences of standing up for herself.
The other minor characters that enter into Rebecca's life are also unbelievably cruel. I have honestly never seen such horrendous characters. Openly insulting Rebecca in front of others, undermining her to her face, and being all around ridiculous--these are just a few of the things these characters do. The cruelty is to such a level that it makes me wonder if this book is testing just how dramatic people can be.
The dialogue is also frustrating. Almost everyone calls Rebecca "baby" and Dan calls her "Little One". Um, does anyone else see this as incredibly condescending? Every time he called her this, I wanted to say something incredibly rude to him (you know, if he was real.)
This book, in all honesty, offers no closure. Yes, there's a second book, but I'm not going to be reading it. It could have easily ended after just one book, but that conclusion left me more mad and annoyed than anything else that had to do with this book. I lost sleep over this, hoping that after all of her struggling in such a cruel world, Rebecca would finally be aware that she has people around her who care about her, but nope. Silly me for wanting something undramatic about this book.
The issues raised in this book (abuse, in all its forms, and depression) are important ones that should always be approached with care because there are so many readers that can relate. I actually felt bad for Rebecca when she finally shared her experiences, but I found that this book just made everything way too dramatic.
I think I'm still stuck on the conclusion of this novel and just can't get over this whole thing.
If you like drama, controlling men, and verbal abuse towards the protagonist then you'll like this one. However, I'm hoping that I don't encounter something like this again. I'm not a big fan of female protagonists being treated as toys and seeing other characters act out because the author wants the protagonist to be viewed as the victim. There are other, less dramatic ways of going about this.(less)
I received a copy via Enticing Journey Book Promotions for a book tour in exchange for an honest rev...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via Enticing Journey Book Promotions for a book tour in exchange for an honest review!
The Line That Breaks by J.M. Miller is the sequel to The Line That Binds, which was a surprising young adult paranormal novel that left me wanting more. In this final installment of the series (which contained only these two books), we finally start getting some answers, while also seeing the toll that the curse takes on LJ’s relationship. At the risk of spoiling too much for future readers of the series, I will try to be vague while letting you know why this might be the next series you should read (I love this series, seriously!)
One of the fun aspects of this series is the narrative. The reader gets to see the story from both Ben and LJ’s perspective, which I always find to be the best way of introducing the main characters. I like knowing that all bases are covered when it comes to a story, so having two voices instead of one limited first person narrative always makes for a fun read.
Keeping that in mind, I have to say that I definitely liked Ben’s narrative more in this installment than LJ’s. Though LJ’s situation is understandable, I still found her take on the situations around her to be a bit dramatic. There were instances where I didn’t even want to read her side of the story because she was so frustrating. I remember that there was one instant where she admitted that her love interest (will not ruin this one!!!) didn’t have a right to feel heartbroken, because only she should feel hurt. That made me cringe because what does it say about her character when she is unable to empathize with someone that she supposedly cares about. Yes, I get that she is hurt and is in a pretty dire situation, but still, that was pretty bad.
What I remember liking from the first book is how down to Earth the whole paranormal aspect was. This sequel didn’t disappoint, since it still kept some semblance of simplicity that other over-the-top paranormal novels lack. It allowed me, a lover of contemporary fiction, to connect with the simpler side of the story without feeling overwhelmed by the paranormal moments. Plus, I understand LJ’s plight to do good, even if in the end it could be her downfall.
I honestly thought there would be more books in this series, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was the final installment. I’m not a lover of drawn out series, especially when they can be completed in one or two books, so I was a huge fan of Miller’s ability to complete the series in only two books. The pacing of the book was great, making this a pretty quick read.
I recommend this series to fans of low-key paranormal romances, especially if you like your romantic stories extra cute!(less)
Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson is a quick read that re-introduces us to the characters of...moreMini Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson is a quick read that re-introduces us to the characters of Jane Austen's famous romance novel, Pride & Prejudice. Wilson's novel is a quick read that showcases the illustrious world of dog shows, and I must say, this is an entirely unique way of introducing the Darcy and Elizabeth romance.
While I did enjoy this one because of the cuteness factor, I did find that it was at times a bit hard to see it as its own story. What I mean is that while it is unique with the dog show idea and the way some of the characters are introduced, the dialogue made it hard for me to believe that Elizabeth was not only an American, but that she was from this century. After watching the film adaptation from 2005 of P&P, I realized that the dialogue from this book borrowed a lot from the original text. A few inconsequential lines here and there would have sufficed, but it was everywhere. I remember at one point even looking to see if the author was truly American. I loved the story because it was wonderful, but I wish the author would have taken a few more risks with her characters, rather than just borrow the dialogue from its predecessor.
All that being said, I still loved this one and recommend it to anyone who loves a good P&P adaptation!(less)
I was really exciting to read Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich because I'm a sucker for...moreMini Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I was really exciting to read Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich because I'm a sucker for a promising romantic tale. Also, being a bigger girl, I was excited to finally read a novel about a girl who wasn't introduced like all the other near-perfect female protagonists. However, from the get-go, I started noticing situations that made me feel increasingly uncomfortable. While I enjoyed a good chunk of this book, there were discrepancies that made me, on occasion, laugh at the ludicrous narrative because of how offensive it was.
Despite all of this, Big Girl Panties was still an addicting read for me. And like others have stated, the fat-shaming and assumptions made by the male love interest were a bit disturbing. Also, the fact that he was unable to defend her to those who made fun of her weight (which can't possibly be as extreme as the author makes it out to be) did not endear him to me whatsoever.
I read this one quickly because I'm a sucker for chick-lit, but I've definitely read better.(less)
Tangled by Emma Chase was a big surprise! I never expected to enjoy this one as much as I did,...moreMini Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Tangled by Emma Chase was a big surprise! I never expected to enjoy this one as much as I did, because it sounded like one of those dark and dirty sex books that I sometimes try to avoid. But make no mistake, Chase's adult romance novel is not only addicting, but the male character is hilarious--even if he is sometimes hard to like.
Full of insights for us women on how men think, this book was not only entertaining in its hilarity, it was also informative. For example, Chase's protagonist lets us know that if a guy calls you by a pet name merely five minutes after meeting you, then he has most likely forgotten your name.
While some women might find what this character has to say offensive, it's hard not to find the humour in the situation. The self-deprecation, the continuous alluding to an audience (us), and the very sweet character growth that happens in this one make it one of the best romance books of the year.
Keep this in mind, too, if you've read Wallbanger by Alice Clayton, then you will love this one!(less)
Sophie Hart's The Naughty Girls' Book Club features an array of women in various stages of life...moreMini Review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Sophie Hart's The Naughty Girls' Book Club features an array of women in various stages of life (plus a man) who decide to read erotic novels that have either changed the way literature was viewed in the past, or has paved the way for a type of liberating read. While the title and cover may suggest a sexy romp ahead of you, it is not nearly as uncensored as the books the book club members read--after all, this is filed under general fiction, not romance or erotica.
Hart's novel gives voice to all her characters as we learn of their personal struggles and watch them overcome them. It's intriguing to read a novel that deals with the idea of sexuality in literature, yet remains almost PG-13 throughout the whole book. This shows that this story is more focused on the effects of reading, and how coming together to enjoy a good book with others can change the way a person may see the world. This is a unique read in a time of sexy literature and dominating men.
Also, before I conclude this mini review, can I just mention that one of the love interests in this book is simply delicious?!(less)
I received a copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Rumor Has It by Elisabeth Grace is a new adult romance novel that offers the beloved character trope of famous man meets slightly disgraced woman. Grace’s novel isn’t as saucy as the synopsis suggests, but it’s still a light fun read. I only mention this because I have a feeling I know what you, the prospective reader, is thinking after reading the synopsis.
Ellie, the protagonist, is introduced to us as someone who has a dark past that keeps interfering with her life. She just wants to start a career and get on with things, but thanks to a less than stellar event with an awful ex, this is near impossible. One of the issues I had with Ellie is that she is slightly simple. Here you have your typical female character who is living a less than stellar life, when suddenly she meets a very sexy, very mysterious man. I will admit, this aspect of new adult is fun and it definitely makes reading a book like this one incredibly hard to resist, but after a while they all start sounding the same. I also have another issue with Ellie, which I can’t state completely, or else I’ll be giving away a spoiler—but I found her to be lacking in the gonads department (if you know what I mean…)
I liked how the characters could connect by talking about their troubled or less than perfect pasts. It was great seeing that these characters had depth and that we were able to learn about what motivated them to be successful young adults. I just wish that we could have had more time with some of the people mentioned by both characters. Sure, we get to meet some of them once, but I’ve always been a bit iffy about how new adult writers sometimes breeze right over such introductions, especially when said characters have had such pivotal roles in the protagonists’ growth.
Rumor Has It is a very quick read. The pacing is great and once the story reaches its climax, I couldn’t wait to figure out how the characters would go about fixing the damage. I actually connected with one of the characters as life showed him/her a crappy hand yet again, because I wanted something good to come out of all the unnecessary drama. While this one is a bit predictable, it was still enjoyable.
Although Grace’s novel isn’t perfect, it’s still a fun read for anyone who loves a good new adult romance novel. If you’re a sucker for romance, bad boys, and a protagonist whose life is less than perfect, then give this one a shot!(less)
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review for a book tour hosted by Xpresso...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review for a book tour hosted by Xpresso Book Tours
Let me start by stating that Undying by Valerie Grosjean is one creepy read. Sure, the romance featured is pretty sweet (from the protagonist’s perspective), but let’s be clear here: the sweetness is over-shadowed by the pure awesome force of Grosjean’s ability to create fear in the reader. By introducing zombies to her “isn’t that sweet” story of our protagonist’s upcoming lunch with his best friend, who also happens to be the object of his affection, Grosjean is taking your typical could-be love story to a whole other level. But hey, if the horror doesn’t intrigue you, then maybe the quickly paced storyline, engrossing descriptions of the apocalypse, and the protagonist’s will to find and protect those he loves will keep you entertained.
Christian is the protagonist of this bloody tale and he’s on a mission to find the girl he loves, his family, and safety. Before I get into the exciting aspect of this novel, I’m just going to comment on Christian’s love interest. Iris is a high school student who finds herself in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, but we don’t get to see the world through her eyes, since this story is told from Christian’s perspective, so the mystery of whether she’s alive or not is unknown until we know the outcome.
What frustrated me about the romantic aspect of this novel was how Christian is so completely in love with a girl who is the least bit likeable. I’m going to stop here before I give too much away, but the few times that Christian does talk to her on the phone before the apocalypse happens doesn’t exactly paint her as a saint who will reciprocate Christian’s love.
Now onto the zombie bit (pun intended). There is one particular scene that I’m recalling at this very moment that I think will haunt me for a while. You know those horror films when someone you believe to be dead rises and is suddenly completely focused on you? Now imagine that said undead thing wants to chomp on you—cue the shivers.
Grosjean’s novel may be short, but it does not cheapen the horror and terror of her version of the zombie apocalypse. The mixture of the two fear-inducing techniques of horror and terror make for a creepy read that will have you waking up in the middle of the night wondering if today will be the day that the world ends.
I’m a fan of zombie tales, even if they terrify me, so I obviously enjoyed this very much (ignoring the love story, which I honestly thought was a bit forced, especially considering that Christian’s road trip could have been taken simply to see if his family was ok.) The catchphrase on the cover of the book, “A story of love…and zombies,” is both genius (because it undermines our immediate reaction to the mention of a romantic tale) and a bit counterproductive (because the zombie aspect could have survived perfectly well without the romance, though it seems that the “love” aspect was just introduced to gain the attention of romantic lovers seeking a story of hero worshipping…but I digress.)
This was a good, quick read. If you like gory and bloody zombie tales, then you’ll enjoy this one. I’m looking forward to the sequel, especially after the intense conclusion! (less)
I receive a copy via Enticing Journey Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review for a book to...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I receive a copy via Enticing Journey Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review for a book tour!
True Colors by Melissa Pearl is a young adult (dangerously close to the new adult age group) novel that follows a protagonist whose life changes drastically after a chance encounter. This mystery resembles the TV show, Veronica Mars, if she had the ability to read people’s true emotions (Just so you can get a gist of what to expect!) Pearl’s novel is also the first in a series, which I’m hoping to read more of, and shows a lot of promise, since it has such a unique premise. True Colors is a quickly paced and very filling meal for romantic gluttons—oh and the mystery, which begs to be solved, makes this a very entertaining read.
Caitlyn, the protagonist, is the type of girl in high school that fits in but at the cost of letting others, like her best friend, walk all over her. What I immediately disliked about Caitlyn was her bratty attitude at the beginning of the book, but what redeemed her for me was the amount of character growth she’d experienced by the end of the book. Despite her character flaw of letting others walk all over her and having a particular addiction to running away when things get too complicated, I liked Caitlyn’s (ironic) tenacity to do the right thing. Her ability to see others’ mask is an intriguing concept that I’m not sure I’ve seen before, so that was refreshing. What I find extremely interesting, however, is how through Caitlyn’s sight of others’ true emotions, she learns to see and accept her own, as if she is unconsciously pulling away her own emotional masks.
I loved the mystery in this book. The question of who is behind the force controlling the students of Caitlyn’s school is a question that drives the story forward, urging the reader to watch Caitlyn solve the problem. I liked the fact that Pearl allows for the reader to become accustomed to Caitlyn’s new sight by introducing minor situations that challenge her ability to read the people she thought she knew well. Like Caitlyn, at first the reader may feel a bit flustered with the sudden change, what with the confusing descriptions of what she sees and how she handles the situations. But then, with some help from an unexpected source, we, like Caitlyn, finally begin to understand exactly what is happening. The conclusion of the mystery was both a surprising and expected, since the story had me guessing at who was really behind the strings of the operation, so it was fun to second-guess my idea of who-done-it.
What I had a hard time believing was the romantic aspect of the novel. If you’re into sappy romantic tales of heroes in the form of sexy men who, by the way, love to make the girls they like promise impossible things, then you’re going to love this budding relationship. Not exactly an insta-love novel (though Pearl does comment on this phenomena in her narrative at some point), Caitlyn’s blossoming romance moves very quickly, considering how the events occur in probably only a few weeks. While I loved the mystery, the pacing, and the uniqueness, it almost felt like the romance was an added bonus just so Caitlyn could have a hero to call her own. Yes, her love interest is sexy and predictable, but with the whole build-up of her (view spoiler)[ promising to never read him, though she is in no way capable of fully controlling her abilities (hide spoiler)], I expected something huge to happen between him and her. Readers: a protagonist doesn’t always need a hero to save the day, even if she appears to be a helpless teen girl. (Which Caitlyn proves not to be—most of the time.)
One more minor issue that I had with this one was how quickly Caitlyn mastered her gift. I know that for the sake of the story she had to become a pro quickly, but it would have made the whole situation a bit more realistic if Caitlyn’s mastering of her sight was a constant struggle throughout the book. I found it to be a bit convenient that she was suddenly very good at controlling a life-altering gift that she’d received only weeks before.
Other than the issues I had with this one, I found it to be an enjoyable and quick read! I started reading True Colors while reading another book, just to get a feel for it, and I found myself unable to stop thinking about it. I wasn’t disappointed in the story’s premise and I absolutely loved the mystery aspect. I recommend this to readers looking for a dark mystery and anyone who likes a slightly predictable romance that mimics the formula of insta-love (but not really.) I’m looking forward to the sequel! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I received a copy via NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in exchange for an honest review and for...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy via NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in exchange for an honest review and for a blog tour
The Dirt Diary by Anna Staniszewski is a middle grade novel about a girl facing troubles at home and bullying at school. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I don’t read a lot of middle grade novels, but I was pleasantly surprised. Being a victim of bullying at a younger age, I think that a story like this one, where the victim is an imperfect character, is important to note. Not only does the protagonist learn to stand up for herself, but she also learns an important lesson herself. Bullying is never okay, but we see in this story that there are always two sides to a story. Written in fast-paced prose and introducing a witty protagonist, The Dirt Diary is a great quick read.
The quirkiness of Rachel, the protagonist, makes the story unique because it makes her character unforgettable. Her creative way of cussing (though she doesn’t actually swear) is a funny touch and her character growth makes the story run smoothly. A character like Rachel is a great example for younger readers, especially those suffering from bullying and from separated parents. Her need to fix the broken issues in her house and her desire to be noticed by the most popular guy are very relatable issues in today’s youth.
The idea of a dirt diary that shows all of the dirty secrets of the rich and popular isn’t something entirely new, but it is still entertaining, especially when the antagonist of the novel is so horrible. Staniszewski’s novel is very tongue in cheek, especially with how Rachel views the world and how she is treated. At least, it’s risqué for a middle grade novel, but this makes it a lot more fun. Though The Dirt Diary is a slightly predictable read, it’s still good fun.
I loved reading this one because it was so different from what I’ve been reading lately. The storyline was refreshing and the characters endearing. If you enjoy novels about girls who come into themselves, while also learning to trust and appreciate those who love her, then this is the novel for you. Also, there’s a touch of romance, and who doesn’t like a little dose of that in their literature?(less)
I received a copy via Merit Press in exchange for an honest review
Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend is a fun little book about murder, mystery, family, and romance. Though it was written in third person (I’m not a huge fan of this narrative), the storyline pulled me in right from the get-go. While this wasn’t a perfect read, it was entertaining and a great way to pass a few days of the holidays.
Sadie, the protagonist, is a tough girl that comes from a less than wealthy family. I like the relationship that she has with her dad, making the opening sequence of the novel pretty cool. Also, it makes a statement right from the start that Sadie’s family is completely different from the other families who have enrolled their kids in the Keating Hall Academy. Of course, some of the students were rude to her because of her financial situation, but for the most part, the characters of this novel focused on more important matters, which was refreshing.
One of the greatest issues I had with this one is how slowly the story started. From the synopsis, I expected to read all about the blindfold/kidnapping within the first couple of chapters, but it takes a lot longer than that. In my opinion, it is this slow start that lowers this story from an addicting story, to a few days’ reading kind of story. I was hooked, sure, but not enough to be unable to put the book down.
The romance explored in this novel, once it began, goes a little fast, but it also isn’t insta-love. That being said, it was also a bit predictable, especially when Sadie gets abducted. It’s also a little creepy and coincidental—read the novel and you’ll understand.
The secret group itself is ultra creepy and it makes me wonder just how many things are hidden in actual secret societies. It gives me the creeps to think about all the evil that is allowed, simply because s/he is part of the group. The perks are awesome, yes, but what I like about Friend’s book is that it focuses on the negatives as well as the positives of being part of the social elite.
The twist at the end took me completely by surprise, which was a nice turn of events for me. Afterwards, I could tell that Friend had been slowly throwing hints at the reader throughout the novel, but I didn’t catch on until it was too late—like Sadie.
I would recommend Poor Little Dead Girls to readers who enjoy a nice mystery and some light creepiness. (less)
When I first heard of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, I thought to myself, "Why not check out...moreQuickie review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I first heard of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, I thought to myself, "Why not check out her adult work before her YA work?" And now, I'm more curious than ever.
The thing with this one is that while it was interesting, in a very existentialistic way (whether this was Rowell's intention, or not), I can see why some readers might be put off by the storyline after several chapters. The pacing is a bit slower than usual, and while the concept of meeting someone by reading his/her emails is completely unique, it is also a bit of a patience drainer. In a culture where we're used to just seeing things happen, Rowell forces us to really look at her story and find the truth behind falling in love. She takes away the notion of falling in love with our eyes, as one of the characters states, and instead forces us to witness a character falling in love with another's mind.
There is sharp wit in this one and I found myself looking forward to reading the emails--which had me connecting with the protagonist. I can understand his need to know what's going to happen next, and if he'll be mentioned or not, but it doesn't stop the whole situation from being slightly creepy and very intrusive. But then again, this plays into the whole idea of how computers make our daily interactions much more unsafe. Considering that this novel is set right before Y2K and after the obvious lack of Y2Kness (for those of you who are too young to have experienced the fear of Y2K, or even remember it, read up on it here,) the idea of such an invasion of privacy via a computer and internet enabled world is nearly perfect and ironic.
I found this read to be existentialistic because while Rowell explores the ever growing attraction that her protagonist is feeling, she also focuses on the trials of life after a break-up, how to accept that you have your own life to live, and how to finally take that step that will separate you from the security blankets that society places on you.
Attachments was a good read, I won't deny it, but it won't be for everyone. Anyone expecting a novel dripping with love and flirtation and happiness should definitely not jump into this one with such high hopes. This is a slightly realistic tale of love lost, found, and how we don't always have the answers and how we don't always get what we want.
This was a fantastic read that immediately pulled me in! I've been thinking about reading this one for a long time now and I'm glad I finally sat down...moreThis was a fantastic read that immediately pulled me in! I've been thinking about reading this one for a long time now and I'm glad I finally sat down to read it. Needless to say, I read straight through the night because I couldn't put this one down!
The characters are memorable and the romance is beautifully created. The author captured the horrors of the island, the isolation, and the reality of being away from everything and everyone we know. I liked that there wasn't too much focus on the mundane, but on the things that mattered and established an exciting tale.
The underlying theme of age differences and what we want in life is explored seamlessly, while the decisions made by the characters are realistic and not dramatic like so many fictional romances out there right now.
A great read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romance in general fiction, and for anyone who wants a story that explores not only the survival of oneself, but the survival and growth of one's heart.
I received a copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey is a new adult novel that introduces the controversial topic of exchanging money for sex. This was a fluffy romance that would go great with a cup of tea, and a quiet night.
While this is a relatively quick read, the protagonist is a bit hard to connect with, since she showcased so many of the typical traits found in new adult fiction. Though the synopsis of the novel is intriguing and the romance enticing, I found this to be just an okay read, but not something memorable. Aubrey’s novel is perfect for any reader looking for a sexy read and a male character who can make the supposedly tough heroine appear less than put together. I mean, what’s more exciting than a romance where a woman goes gaga for a guy?
Mia, the protagonist, is witty and entertaining. Admittedly, her reason for putting her virginity up for auction is pretty cool. A very, “I am woman, hear me roar,” type of deal. What I find so interesting is how Aubrey starts her story with such a strong female character, then slowly shows her unraveling as the story progresses. I know that this can be attributed to the act of falling in love and losing all of one’s senses, but to me it’s just another case of weak-woman syndrome. Aubrey is basically just showing us how easily Mia is swayed by the male characters in her life. Though she has a strong resolve to not lose herself to the possibility of love, she completely becomes lost in all the wrong things.
Adam, the male love interest, though he meets the necessary sexy requirements of any male love interest in the new adult age group, he is imperfect, which is great because it becomes tiring always reading about the supposed perfect male (because no such person exists). Of the two characters, I found Adam to be the stronger of the two.
Don’t get me wrong; I did enjoy the novel for the greater part. I giggled during the funny bits, and swooned over the romantic parts, but by the end of the novel I started get antsy. There was so much buildup that the eventual climax of the story was a little underwhelming. I mean, I get that the popular aspect of new adult is the sexual content, but these scenes should at least be heat inducing, wild moments. Plus, the conclusion was just so conveniently done. Like I said, I swooned over how Adam displayed his affection towards Mia in various ways (metaphorically and literally), but what killed each moment for me was Mia’s attitude. She was just so much weaker than what she was advertised as.
Okay, I’m sounding like I didn’t like this book, but I did for the most part. It was just a few things here and there that irked me. Mia was weak (not the personality kind, but a typical, less than stellar character—I feel like I have to mention this every time I refer to a character as weakly written) and almost contradicted the woman who introduced the manifest at the beginning of the novel. Some of the conflicts could have been easily avoided and I often found myself skimming over the pages.
At Any Price is a great book for lovers of the new adult age group—I think I’m just becoming a little frustrated with the sameness of these books. Flawed female character, supposedly strong male, “hero,” character, and impossible situations are becoming all too common in new adult. Yawn. This novel has a lot of potential and could be something empowering, instead, it’s a light romantic read for any fans of the new adult category.(less)
This was an OK read, considering how many romance novels I've read in the past few weeks.
I wasn't a huge fan of Andrew's constant self-deprecation, especially when he showcased any emotions towards Fable. (view spoiler)[Often referring to himself as a "Pussy" (hide spoiler)]
The conclusion was just, ugh, so conveniently set for a sequel and by the first chapter preview of the sequel, I've concluded that I probably won't be checking it out.
The drama was intriguing and I felt really bad for Andrew and I sort of wish that Murphy would have explored this more--allowing Andrew to have some closure, rather than drag the book into a sequel.
Also, what the hell? 7 days? I know it has happened in the past, but very rarely--but 7 days to fall in like, not to mention love? I'm sorry, the whole thing just felt unrealistic, and there were so many unresolved issues that could have been dealt with in the first book, rather than a sequel that I couldn't one hundred percent say at the end, "My, that was a great book!"
It is definitely a fast read, since it's such a small book. And you do get hooked by the storyline, but there are instances where you're just left wondering, "What?"
With a title and cover like that, Chelsea M. Cameron's novel, My Favorite Mistake, could have easily...moreReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
With a title and cover like that, Chelsea M. Cameron's novel, My Favorite Mistake, could have easily been one intense erotic novel.
To my surprise, however, her novel is much tamer than I was expecting and to be honest, I loved that. I like books to have a strong storyline, regardless of whether it has sexual situations or not. I find that a lot of romance authors forget this and hope that the sexy innuendo is enough to keep the reader entertained. Cameron's new adult novel features two characters who both have very difficult pasts. Coincidently, they're both attracted to each other, but thanks to their pasts, they're also wary of what could come of their attraction. Of course, it's insta-connection with these two, but it's how they come to be that is intriguing.
This book is a big one, but so worth the read!
If you like new adult romance with wit, sass, and a kick-butt heroine, then you might enjoy this one!(less)
I received a copy via Enticing Journey book tours in exchange for an honest review
The Line that Binds by J.M. Miller is a young adult paranormal mystery that features a strong heroine and a very interesting male character. I will admit that when I first jumped into this one, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve read quite a few paranormal novels that have had lackluster romance and overdramatic situations, but thankfully this wasn’t one of those forgettable reads. Miller’s novel is intriguing, realistic (in how her characters are portrayed), and has just enough romance to make the story swoon-worthy. I for one look forward to the sequel, since this installment has left me craving more!
Lila, the protagonist, has dealt with some pretty nasty stuff in her life, but Ben isn’t a stranger to the darker side of life either. Both of these characters work well together because they offer each other a way to grow past the negative idea of first impressions.
Lila, in my opinion, is the one character who changes the most, and I’m not stating this to be obvious, especially because of what happens in the novel. I think she changes the most regarding the way she views the world and how her life changes so drastically, but most importantly, how well she treats the change. Ben, however, changes in how he judges people (not that big of a deal compared to Lila, in all honesty).
The mystery is like a song that grows steadily as the story progresses, reaching a false crescendo near the conclusion of the novel, leaving us with an impossible need to know more. Miller knows how to create suspense and how to connect everything. The reader should note the instances where Miller throws you a proverbial bone just so you can understand what is exactly happening. This isn’t to say that the reader will be mildly confused—not at all—it’s just pretty neat to watch an author weave a story full of hints so well hidden, that sometimes a reader glimpses right over them without acknowledging them.
The pacing is awesome, which helps a lot for the wary reader. Like I mentioned before, I was a little unsure about this one before I read the first page, but the quick pacing and addicting storytelling pulled me in. I loved the concept of both protagonists having a voice because it leaves no room for doubt, and because it allows us to connect with both characters.
There’s one other thing I want to mention before concluding this review. I want to comment on the very realistic situations that Miller puts her characters in. Ben’s sexual history, and the descriptions of sexuality introduced to the reader via Lila’s unfortunate experience with her boyfriend show us what we already know. The topic of sex in young adult novels is one of those taboos that every author in this age group tends to skirt around. Characters are either very naive and innocent regarding sex, innuendo is assumed with metaphors and allusions to certain situations, while some authors don’t even breach the topic. Miller doesn’t shy away from the fact that sex is very prevalent in today’s teenage culture. Hollywood sells it, parents have become a bit more lax thanks to the inability to monitor everything a child sees/reads/hears, and kids talk about their sexual conquests among friends in school and in social settings.
I’m not saying this is a good thing—the sexualization of kids—but I do approve of an author being realistic and not sugar coating the reality of today’s youth. Plus, with the creation of the New Adult age group, I know there will be more risky young adult novels.
If you like a young adult novel with an interesting premise, teenage love, and if you’re a fan of young adult paranormal stories that feature curses and mystery, then you might enjoy this one.(less)
Alice Clayton is on a roll with her adult romance novels! The Unidentified Redhead features a very in...moreReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Alice Clayton is on a roll with her adult romance novels! The Unidentified Redhead features a very intriguing romance between a woman in her thirties and a man in his twenties. Again, this does feature sexual situations that make the novel that much hotter.
Clayton's protagonist in this novel is a lot more open than her female lead in Wallbanger, but it all adds to her personality. She's the happy after-effect of a woman who's recently lost a lot of weight and regained her sexuality. The hero is a rising star who offers her the key to feel completely secure and happy with herself--it's really sweet, romantic, and naughty.
Much like in Wallbanger, the dialogue is superb, and I'm really seeing a pattern here. It's easy to note that the dialogue aspect of writing and the ability to create unputdownable romance are definitely Clayton's strongest assets.
This is part of a series however, so, if you're willing to wait it out for the next two books, then check this one out (especially if you love romance, wit, and sass.)(less)
I received a copy from the author for an honest review
Katy Krump's Blue Dust: Destiny is the sequel to Blue Dust: Forbidden, which was one of the best sci-fi books I had the pleasure of reading last year. Krump doesn't disappoint as she seamlessly brings us back to her fictional world, where danger is everywhere and where one's destiny is of the utmost importance. In this sequel, we're further introduced to various characters from the first book, and shown the true power of the divine beings helping Qea, the protagonist, on her quest.
Krump's second novel showcases the power of loyalty, promises non-stop action, witty dialogue, and a unique world. If you enjoyed the first book in this series, then you're going to love this continuation.
The idea of God in a different universe is a lot more apparent in this one and while I normally chide books for focussing so much on a God-like being, I understand that without Qea's belief she wouldn't be on this journey. But the idea of a divine being assisting Qea isn't just about God itself, but about faith and how innocence (in this case, the children) can be the most powerful source in the world.
Krump shows off her masterful skill at creating a whole different world than ours and manages to further draw her readers in. She delves even deeper into the universe she has created, allowing us to explore different worlds than the ones we discovered in the first book. Through Qea's eyes, we become more than observers, but members of her world. Instead of skimming over the planets, we learn nearly everything about specific planets and how they affect Qea's universe.
While the action was definitely awesome and the unfolding mystery surrounding the disappearing children deeply intriguing, I found the dialogue to be a little contrite. Rather than children speaking, the dialogue felt like it was coming from overly intelligent adults. But then, I know that I should keep in mind that this is a completely different universe with different languages and different English dialects. Even so, the effect was slightly jarring, since I'm used to more colloquial dialogue in young adult fiction.
Even with the whole dialogue issue, I found this sequel to be a fun read. I will forever be a bigger fan of the first book because Qea's growth was impressive and the romance touching, but this sequel was still surprisingly fun. Though the beginning was a little slower, I couldn't put it down once the action picked up. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Qea and her army, and I wanted to know just what the heck was going on with the disappearing children.
Also, we get to learn a lot more about Qea and that was kind of cool. There's some intriguing surprises that will definitely prove to be interesting in the next installment. The twist at the end of the novel will take the readers by surprise, but *hint hint* make sure to take note of what your reading, since Krump inserts clues and foreshadowing, but also be wary of red herrings, since she has proven to be a master of those as well.
I recommend this series to readers who love high fantasy. If you like well-crafted worlds, action, and tough characters, then check this series out!(less)
I received a copy via Oops! I Read A Book Again Blog Tours
American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin is a young adult contemporary romance that takes the teenage fantasy of being (literally) locked up with a few of the world’s most famous boys. This novel is so much fun and full of so much cuteness, that it was hard for me to put it down. Quickly paced, addicting, and romantic, American Girl on Saturn was a fantastic surprise.
Chloe, the protagonist, lives a very interesting life. Right from the beginning we can see that her family isn’t exactly normal. The first clue is probably the fact that a crisis can be labelled under one of two different ice cream flavors, and the second clue is that her father works for the secret service. Immediately, the reader is pulled into this bizarre world where certain code names can mean the difference between large disasters and minor disasters.
But despite the fact that Chloe very obviously lives a privileged life, she is still a teenager that can’t escape her past decisions. Despite her age, Chloe’s story is romantic without being overtly sexy—which was a surprise. It was kind of nice reading a romantic contemporary young adult story that didn’t veer too far into the nitty gritty of sex. The storyline was intriguing and addicting enough without having to add in any unnecessary erotica.
What makes American Girl on Saturn so entertaining was how realistic and imperfect the boyband is. Each boy has his own quirk, like any normal teenager, and comedic situations arise once Chloe’s family begins to adapt to the boys’ presence. Milo, Chloe’s love interest, is serious to a fault, while Noah, the strawberry milk addict, shows his loneliness by stating that he’s always “out of the loop”.
And that’s just two of the boys.
American Girl on Saturn was easily one of the cutest books I’ve read all year. The dialogue makes for a witty read, while Chloe’s sisters add spice and mischief to the storyline. Romance is brewing in Chloe’s house and I like that the issues faced are larger ones, rather than simple, easily solved issues.
Watching the characters grow from their experiences during their summer lock down made this novel more believable, and Chloe’s at times fangirl behavior made the novel both more realistic and funny. I loved the allusions to present day pop culture—especially when Godwin goes as far as mocking some of the popular outlets for pop culture and the idea of how addicted our society is to said outlets.
Godwin’s novel is a great read for anyone looking for a cute contemporary romance that features dreamy boys and a hint of celebrity.
If you like romance, funny and cute situations, fast-paced stories, and novels that focus on the fun of the situation, rather than what could go wrong—i.e. strict parents interrupting the fun, or unnecessary moaning about not being good enough for a guy—then you just might love this one!(less)
Funny, sexy, and irresistible, Wallbanger is the first book I read by Alice Clayton and she did not d...moreReview also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
Funny, sexy, and irresistible, Wallbanger is the first book I read by Alice Clayton and she did not disappoint!
The dialogue is brilliant and perhaps the most realistic dialogue I have ever encountered. There's also a comedic aspect to this novel that makes it flow easily and allows you to fall in love with the characters.
Does this novel have sex, or does it allude to sexual situations? Yes. This is a romantic comedy with the added sass of good sex. The great thing about Wallbanger though, is that it doesn't rely on sex as a story--sex is just an added benefit. Considering how many books nowadays subsist on sexual situations alone, Clayton's novel is a breath of comedic fresh air.
If you like adult romance, realistic characters, fantastic dialogue, and a sexy hero, you will absolutely adore this one!(less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
I’m not a big fan of novels that have side novels beyond the storyline (check out novels with additional points in their series numbers—1.5, 1.6, 1.whatever), but I am a person who does have a weakness for a good romance story… and not just that, but a romantic story that is retold from a completely new and enticing perspective. Trust in Me by J. Lynn does just that by pulling us back into her fictional world through the eyes of her sexy male protagonist, Cameron.
I’ve seen other readers complain about the similarities to Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and I get it, trust me, I do. But here’s the difference between these two new adult novels: Travis is no Cameron—which is made all that more obvious by showing us Cameron’s perspective. While reading Beautiful Disaster, I tended to shy away from the uncomfortable moments where Travis lost his cool and became a bit abusive and controlling. I never felt this anxiety while reading Cameron’s story. I get the whole “she’s mine” mentality, because a lot of guys will feel slightly possessive of the girl they love, but when it becomes a constant theme and an actual way of controlling the girl, then it’s too much. Cameron is a more realistic male character because he’s not perfect and because he has his fair share of insecurities, too.
Trust in Me is a great addition to the series because it not only offers us more romance, but a deeper understanding of Cameron’s character and just how perfect he is for Avery. Lynn’s writing is just as addicting and engaging as it is in Wait for You, and the pacing is just as great. I read this one in just a couple of sittings (and just because I had to sleep!)
If you’re a fan of this series, then make sure to check out this installment because it is absolutely delicious. Plus, if you aren’t ready to leave Avery and Cameron’s romantic world just yet, then this is the perfect remedy for your addiction to this ridiculously cute couple! (less)
I received a copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Sick by Tom Leveen is an unconventional zombie read that is getting some backlash on Goodreads for a few of the characters’ comments and behaviors. I’m going to state this from the get-go, just so my opinion is clear: I do not think Leveen’s intent was to be unknowingly racist or for his writing to be portrayed as one of a bigot. His book’s “heroes” are in fact anti-heroes, which aren’t your conventional heroes that shine like the sun and crap rainbows. They are imperfect characters (teenagers, which is even more important to note) that grow throughout the novel. They are offered the ultimate redemption as the apocalypse strips more and more of life’s normality from them. Also, they’re kids in an affluent community with a sudden influx of lower class students. Come on.
And I will mention this as well: Protagonists aren’t always made for a reader to love them—this notion is both incorrect and highly naïve.
Not every hero is perfect, so to expect as such in a character is ridiculous. Authors don’t write a hero for your benefit, but for the benefit of the story. If the story begs for a character to be redeemed, then it will happen, but the character will not be a white-toothed perfect citizen to begin with. And if people looked beyond the so-called racism that allowed for this fun book to be rated lower (all due respect to people and their opinions), they would see that these horrendous characters were either redeemed or were given a heavy dose of humanity when the time called for it. Also, may I mention that there are instances where these “bigoted” characters showcased their change in attitude? These changes are visible in the small moments of interactions between these kids. As for the whole The Breakfast Club relation, it is like the film because it showcases kids from different social statuses coming together as one to solve one common problem: how to escape. It doesn’t have to be exactly like the iconic 1980s film for it to share several aspects.
It’s so easy to classify a book one way or another from the first glimpse, from the first racial or sexual orientation-related slur, but if given the chance, books like Sick can offer so much insight into humanity, especially when it is at an imminent end. The pacing in this book is quick, the action addicting, and the friendships are touching. The kids are realistic because they are imperfect. There is a glimpse at the possibility of romance, and there is a heck of a lot of redemption. Leveen is actually pretty genius for including so many different kinds of kids (who by the way, face exactly what normal teenagers face in high school).
At first, I was going to talk about how fun the story was and how I love unique zombie novels, but then I saw the rating on popular pages like Goodreads and the reviews this book was receiving and felt myself getting angry. I agree that everyone has their own opinion and I DO respect those opinions, but this reminds me so much of what happened to September Girls by Bennett Madison that I decided to comment directly on the negative comments circulating about this novel.
I’m not telling you to go out and buy this book and read it—all I’m asking is that you give it a glimpse yourself before basing your entire choice on whether you want to read this book or not by reading the reviews on pages like Goodreads. Sometimes the author’s intention for a novel is lost in the background noise of society’s obsession with calling everything or everyone a racist or a bigot. It’s like what happened to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Such a classic story had the “N” word in the text as a way of showcasing the racism of the time, yet instead of looking beyond that, people naturally assumed the worst and censored it. It’s scary to think that we live in a society where literature is either getting censored for something that adds to the story, or getting put aside because of a character’s characteristics that actually give the character a reason to better him/herself later on in the story. Might as well ban almost every book—since they all touch on the topic of race, sexuality, and abuse in one way or another.
But I digress. I enjoyed Sick for what it was and while a couple of the characters’ actions and words were a bit shocking, it didn’t give me a reason to throw the book away with anger and misplaced self-entitlement.
If you like young adult zombie stories full of imperfect characters who DO change as the story progresses, then check this one out. (less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Snapshot by Angie Stanton is the second installment in The Jamieson Collection. This installment follows a new female character and the second brother in the famous rock band. Like the first novel, this installment is also very dramatic—but not to the extremes of the first novel. I found myself liking this installment more because the characters didn’t grate on my nerves as much. The pacing is quick and the story flows well, showing us the dual perspectives of young love.
Marti, the female protagonist, is the child of a drug addict and a rocker. I like her because she is a fighter from the get-go, always stating her opinion and following through with her need to want something better out of her life. She is also one of the reasons why I like this installment of the series more. Unlike the female protagonist in Rock and a Hard Place, she is a tough girl who deals with less dramatic and more realistic issues.
The second brother who is given a voice in this novel is Adam, the youngest. He is a strong character right from the beginning, since he is trying to find himself in a world that sees him as just one thing: a rockstar. I like him more than his older brother from the previous book because he doesn’t suffer so much from the “hero” syndrome, but he does still experience extreme moments of being the savior of the day.
One of the things I have to give Stanton credit for is her ability to make her readers weep at the horribleness of her female characters’ lives. She knows how to pull at the heartstrings of her readers and make them fall in love with the male protagonists because of their ability to save the girls.
Snapshot is your typical young adult contemporary novel that is a very quick read and can be enjoyed in the span of just a few sittings. The characters are fun (the friends) and the romance is a bit of the love at first sight type of thing, but it’s still sweet. With that being said, the romance does build a little too quickly and one of the major issues the couple encounters is resolved much too soon.
I did appreciate the idea of redemption found in this one. Stanton shows that even the most unlikeable characters can have a moment of salvation. Also, I liked that Marti wasn’t a whiny teenage girl, despite her circumstances.
If you’re looking for a quick contemporary romantic read, this is a book for you. Snapshot is especially great for summer reading and for a rainy weekend. I may not find this series to be perfect, but I know I will definitely be reading the future books in the series, simply because they’re so entertaining.(less)
I received a copy via NetGalley & the authors in exchange for an honest review
Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes is the third instalment in their Twisted Lit series, which is a collection of young adult adaptations of Shakespearean classics. For this instalment, the collaborative writing duo tackle Romeo and Juliet in a completely original and slightly less dark way. With its unique approach to the classic and with a storyline that is slightly addicting, Anyone But You is a novel that may remind us of how powerful (and sometimes disastrous) love can be.
Gigi, the protagonist, is the Juliet of one of the feuding families, which are ironically Italian. Her story and that of her great-grandparents’ is shown, displaying just how the feud began and how it affects the present. Not only is Gigi a more appropriate age than her predecessor, Juliet, but she’s also a little less quick to act when given bad news. One of the unique aspects that these two authors bring to every adaptation is the ability to teen-a-fie (let’s make it a new word) so many of the naïve and younger characters from “The Bard’s” plays.
The comic relief, I believe, comes from the love at first sight aspect of the novel. Not only is the immediate attraction between Gigi and her beau unrealistic, it’s a correct way of modernizing what happened in Romeo and Juliet. Through the over-exaggeration of the romance between these two characters, we see just how ridiculous such an immediate connection would be in today’s day and age. So, rather than worship the story of Romeo and Juliet as an end-all and be-all of romantic stories, Anyone But You satirizes the idea of these two star-crossed lovers.
In my opinion, the real winner of this novel is the sub-story showing us how the feud began. It showcases the power of friendship and just how much damage a broken heart can do. The fact that the two characters in the sub-plot were so well created shows amazing literary prowess. Oftentimes, I find sub-characters to be lacking in growth because the author(s) is so focused on the main characters set in our contemporary time, but not in this novel. Whereas Gigi’s infatuation with her enemy’s heir is light and perhaps sugary sweet, the sub-story about two male best friends is deep and has a heart that would have made Shakespeare want to do a rewrite. Not only do Askew and Helmes create a story that gives us a heartbreakingly honest reason for why these two houses are feuding, but also they offer an intense sort of redemption that, I admit, made me cry.
Of course, the pacing was great and each chapter walked me towards an eye-opening conclusion. Clues and red herrings are given throughout the story—which, I must say, is very tricky. Not only do we NOT know why these families are fighting until the end, but we also don’t know which boy (in the sub-story) represents which family. Tricky, tricky. This mystery plays on the reader’s curiosity and will have him/her wanting to snatch up any clue thrown his/her way.
In my opinion, Anyone But You is by far the best instalment in this series. Askew and Helmes write an adaptation that isn’t blatantly copying Shakespeare. They take what is classically shown and make it their own in every way—hence the name of the series, Twisted Lit. These two authors focus on the messages and warnings written within the classic plays and then present them in ways that teenagers and readers alike will not only understand and relate to, but will want to devour.
If you like romance, unique Shakespearean adaptations, and a heart-warming/heartbreaking story of how friendship can go awry, then please give this one a shot. The humour is palpable and the genius of the storylines is proven with every page. (less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Okay, let me just say something about Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day: this is a heartbreaker. No matter the outcome (because I refuse to give you a spoiler), the journey that these two best friends go through in this book is devastatingly beautiful. I’ve read a few books that take on the tough subject of cancer, but only a couple or so have made me this emotionally distraught.
Look at me, I’m writing a review at six in the morning after no sleep, because yeah, THIS BOOK.
Zoe, the protagonist, proves to us that there are indeed friends out there who surpass the mere status of best friendship and enter the realm of family. Her character, though flawed in its humanity and realistic teenage aspects, is strong as she guides us through a horrible year in her and her best friends’ life. Though the romantic aspect of this novel is slightly predictable, you and I both know that we’re not here to discuss the lusty kisses and stolen moments of passion that may, or may not have taken place somewhere in the storyline.
What was really brilliant, however, was that while Zoe’s world as she knows it slowly disintegrates, Kantor manages to only make her character stronger. Rather than a whiny, “Woe is me,” protagonist, we have a girl who reacts in a way that we can relate to if we ever find ourselves in a situation similar to hers.
While Zoe is indeed that protagonist of this novel, we can’t forget her best friend, the character who stands on a pedestal for Zoe’s character growth, Olivia. There’s this one particular moment near the end of the book where Olivia just says a few words to Zoe because she trusts her that absolutely gutted me, simply because it was just so pure and honest. Olivia is a character who gives to us a reason to root for Zoe. We can talk about Zoe’s social life and how it changes throughout her overwhelming year, but what we should really focus on is how these two characters share a relationship that overshadows everything. Their friendship shows us that so much more can be said through actions than through words.
The pacing of the story allowed for the novel to not only be impossible to put down, but it also made it so easy to get lost in. The story unfolded before me, breaking my heart a little bit at a time. There are so many unexpected twists in this one that I found it hard to see the predictability with certain situations, and the direct approach that the author takes when she delivers her final verdict is uncanny.
I recommend this one to fans of The Fault in Our Stars—simply because John Green isn’t the only author capable of tackling this difficult subject and allowing the reader to connect with two characters that care very much for each other. If you enjoy a book that refuses to let go of you, books that tend to break your heart, and the difficult struggle that characters face with cancer, then this is a book you should add to your to-read list.(less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens is a contemporary young adult novel that looks at the issue of abuse not before it happens, or while it happens, but after it happens and what the consequences can be for staying quiet. Stevens' novel shows us that friendship in young adult novels is possible between two characters, especially before love can take root in the heart of the protagonist. With a mystery that builds and begs the question of what exactly happened that night right up until the end, a surprisingly strong connection between two unlikely characters, and a storyline that promises to keep you hooked, Faking Normal is anything but a normal read.
Alexi, the protagonist, is a girl hiding a dark secret that is threatening to destroy her, both physically and emotionally. Her story is powerful because of how realistic the portrayal of her situation is and how disturbingly clear her thought process is. My frustration with her would grow when certain situations occurred, but then I would berate myself because that is exactly why she is so quiet about what happened to her. It's incredibly hard reading a storyline where a protagonist is suffering and you know what she needs to do--at which point you have to remind yourself that she is a fictional character.
But imagine all those girls in our very non-fictional world who do deal with this type of secret. These girls like Alexi, the protagonists in their own stories, might also deal with outsiders who wish she would just say something, before realizing that these girls don't need someone asking why they're not saying anything, but someone who will just offer any support s/he can give.
Perhaps it's the reality of the situation introduced in this novel that makes this one a tough, but necessary read. Perhaps if we see more young adult books where the protagonist isn't shown as a tough as balls girl, but as a flawed girl who is broken in more ways than one, then maybe more young readers--girls or guys--may be able relate and speak up.
Bodee, the quiet outsider who moves in with Alexi's family after the tragedy that changes his world (no spoiler, it's in the synopsis), is a surprising ally in Alexi's personal and private war. Not unlike Alexi, Bodee isn't perfect, but he helps our protagonist slowly find herself underneath all of the denials and the pain. I like the fact that he's not a perfect male character, waiting to save the protagonist. He offers the help, sure, but he has his own healing to do as well.
The mystery of exactly what happened the night Alexi's life changed is the driving force in this novel...well, that and the question of who her perfect desk partner is--the guy who keeps leaving her song lyrics that somehow match her life. Stevens is brilliant at building up the suspense as she occasionally drops us a proverbial bone about the guilty party. In some part, it was this suspenseful build up that made me unable to put this book down. I enjoyed the fact that we aren't told right away what happened and who is to blame, it made the book impossible to let go.
One of the things that irked me, however, is the constant preaching. I'm not anti-religious or anything, but I usually like my books with a lot less God-fearing dialogue and thoughts. Sure, the characters swore on occasion and did other things, but the over-allusion to God and Christianity made me itch a little bit.
Overall, this was a good read. It was a surprisingly quick read that had a very strong message: You are not as alone as you think you are.
If you enjoy books with protagonists who are dealing with abuse, then you might want to check this one out. Strong in its message and very well written, Stevens' novel is a fantastic debut. (less)