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)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Dear Killer is a young adult thriller debut by Katherine Ewell that showed such intense promise that when I saw it come up on Edelweiss, I was more than happy to snatch it up for my reading pleasure. However, the promise this book showed slowly burned out less than halfway through the book.
Since the protagonist, Kit, lives by a set of five rules, I'll make my own rules for this book:
1. Don't expect to be introduced to a character that does not sound American (even if she was born and raised in London).
2. Knowing that English people use the word "Arse" instead of Ass does not mean that your character is truly English. Especially when it's the only word that even resembles English dialect in this novel.
3. Paragraphs and paragraphs of inner contemplation and wisdomy bullshit does not make for a fun and quickly paced read.
4. Don't be too offended if people simply skim over above-mentioned sections.
5. You're not as good as you think you are. Blood will appear on a black carpet, the police won't let just anyone (especially a 17 year-old teenager) suddenly become part of an investigation, and you leave so much evidence, it surprises me that you weren't caught after your first murder!
If you find yourself pulled towards this one, enter with care and keep those rules in mind, because this book sounds so interesting but lacks that particular punch so many great books have.
I will admit that at first I was intrigued because this type of book fascinates my weird interest in the macabre, but I quickly learned that this wasn't at all what I was expecting. I could almost see the teenager behind this story, since it was so poorly researched and written. I've read books by teenagers before and have found them interesting, so I don't usually have an issue with how old an author is. But Ewell is the kind of young author that shows potential as a future author if she does more research for her books.
Whereas other readers had a major issue with the concept of this book, I just couldn't really focus because of how inaccurate the dialogue and the prose was in relation to where this book was set. The fact that Kit sounded more American than English was distracting and kept getting on my nerves. If a character is born and raised in a different culture, the least you can do is make the character sound like s/he belongs in the setting you've created.
I also found myself skipping over sections because it all felt repetitive, boring, and drawn out. Ok, I understand that you think you will never get caught, you don't have to remind us so many times that it starts sounding pretentious. Kit's character was hard to like because she liked to pretend she was very mature, which only translated to a character playing a part badly. She wanted us, the readers, to believe that she was this celebrity that was smarter than everyone around her, but I just saw a child in grown-up clothes.
The reason why I'm giving Dear Killer two stars instead of one is because of the potential. Like I previously mentioned, at first this book looked very promising and I think if it had been approached differently by the writer (with a lot more research, too), then maybe it could have been salvageable. My stating this shows just how much I really wanted to enjoy this.
I don't know if I would recommend this. Some people do like the type of book that delves into philosophy and what it means to be inherently good or bad--or even better, what it means to believe that neither good or bad exists. If you're looking for an edgy murder book, however, then this isn't the one for you. (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 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 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)
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 Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Battle of the Beasts is the sequel to the middle grade novel, House of Secrets, written by Chris Columbus and the late Ned Vizzini. Though I entered this book with a few doubts, I ended up liking it a lot more than its predecessor. The action was more fluid and the characters were more realistic (with a few exceptions). I also felt like the pacing was a lot better, making it a much faster read--and if you look at the print edition of this book, it's not a little book. More addicting, more exciting, and more gruesome, Battle of the Beasts serves up an awesome adventure.
One of the main issues I had with the previous installment in this series was how immature the narrating felt. I'm one of those readers that reads whatever age group of fiction that I want to, but reading House of Secrets was tough because it felt so young (despite the content). Imagine my surprise when I began reading Battle of the Beasts and seeing a much more mature narrator. I know that some time passed since the last adventure the Walker kids had, but it had only been a few weeks, so I attribute it to a better writing style. I felt like the narrating in this one was more welcoming for an older audience. I also liked the Walkers a lot more this time around. The character growth was a lot greater in this one for the two older children, Cordelia and Bren. I love the idea of this book teaching kids how some of their selfish choices can not only affect the people around them, but also the children themselves.
The one character that was slightly disappointing was Eleanor. Other than the fact that the name Eleanor is old-fashioned and often alludes to a person full of wisdom, this character is only eight years-old. A reviewer of the first book stated that it seemed a bit unrealistic that a child with dyslexia could nearly read a full adult novel on her own, and I have to agree. In the short time between the first book and the second book, Eleanor has become a much better reader and though this is a fantastic boost of self-esteem for other children in similar situations when it comes to reading, it's also unrealistic. Plus, there were instances where she acted like a mini adult in Battle of the Beasts, but then regressed to acting like a child again. This discontinuity made Eleanor a bit intolerable at times.
If it weren’t for the gore and slightly disturbing cinematic moments, this could almost be read as a hallmark movie book adaptation. Especially when the children share their love and teach each other life lessons through mistakes and dangerous situations.
I would recommend this one to kids who are on the cusp of teenage-hood. The descriptions and situations in this installment are a lot darker than the first novel, making it a bit too old for the 9-12 age group. If you like adventure, quirky characters, and a story that doesn't revolve around romance, then you'll enjoy this one!(less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss for an honest review
Elusion, by the writing duo Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam, is one of those young adult novels that will most likely receive a lot of mixed reviews. The dystopian storyline of Elusion isn't as flashy as other popular novels going around, and it isn't full of romantic subplots. Unlike other dystopian novels, Gable and Klams' novel doesn't deal with a corrupt government, but a corrupt company. All of the characteristics that make Elusive so different from other dystopian novels are probably some of the greatest reasons why I might have actually gotten through this one and enjoyed it.
As some of you may know, I've been an avid contemporary reader for a long time and dystopian novels have been a bit of a turn off for me lately, since they all feel the same to me(the ones I've tried reading, anyway), so it was both refreshing and exciting to find a novel that actually kept me curious about a dystopian world.
At the heart of this novel is the mysterious death surrounding the protagonist's father. Regan is a less than perfect character trying to navigate the suddenly confusing world around her. A world that casually puts aside her father's accomplishments.
I had a complicated relationship with Regan, as a character. On one hand, I could relate to her having to come to terms with her dad's death and the fact that everything in her world is now completely different. On the other hand, however, I wasn't a huge fan of her continuous ability to question herself. Sure, it's a character trait, but I sometimes wish characters would just see how their actions set them back. I appreciated her love for her family and close relationships, but her narrow mindedness and righteousness proved to be her (near) downfall. So, it's mainly because of this character trait that I enjoyed watching her grow as a character.
What made me like her even more, however, was her curiosity when the moral question of what is right and what is wrong was asked of her. I liked the character she became then, following her own path in order to fuel her curiosity. Though there is an instant were said curiosity is replaced with drama, it is her recaptured spirit of wanting to know the truth that got this novel moving forward.
The romantic aspect of the novel was meh for me, really. When I went into the story, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I try not to read a synopsis before reading a book, since so many of them contain spoilers, so I didn't know about the love triangle that would appear once she meets another male character aside from her male best friend. I'm not big on love triangles so its appearance in Elusion wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but I endured it because unlike other novels, this triangle actually pushed the story forward.
I've read in other reviews that Regan is pushed to do out of character things, like steal and betray those she loves, by her interest in this new character, but I'm going to have to disagree. In my opinion, I believe that this new character was actually the spark Regan needed to fuel her own drive. Regan, since her dad's death, always had unanswered questions and this new guy just showed her that she is allowed to be curious; that she is allowed to ask, "why". If anything, it's the love interest who is pushed on by Regan. And may I remind you, fellow readers of Elusion, that Regan, before third wheel boy came in, was a product of her best friend's manipulation and control? I like to view Regan's acts of defiance as her way of breaking free of the proverbial firewall that her best friend has built around her life. Since when is it a crime to become self-sufficient?
Elusion's pacing may not be fast, but it can easily become addicting for any reader who loves a good computer story (think Tron...2?). If you're looking for passionate romance, monsters, and a crazy storyline, this isn't the book for you. This is more of a mellow and curious read about what happens when we allow ourselves to ask the questions we were always too afraid to ask, even if it means alienating those we thought loved us most.(less)
I received a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas is a young adult debut that hosts what I call, the increasingly popular "What If" trend. This trend is a recently used theme found in young adult fiction where two plots coexist within one novel. I'm a fan of these kinds of novels because I love being able to see the outcome if a protagonist were to make a different choice. Plus, it's like getting two stories for the price of one.
Heart, the protagonist, is faced with a dilemma: who should she go to prom with? A group of her friends, her brother's best friend, or a techie who helps out her drama crew during play productions? Rather than being left with that big "What if?" question, we are introduced to how each choice affects Heart during her junior prom.
What I found interesting was how different Heart was when faced with two different outcomes. While in one she was confident and fun, in the other she was more at the mercy of someone else. In a way, it's like showing how being forced into a situation can be detrimental to your fun factor, especially when you're unable to speak up for yourself (after all, this side of Heart in itself is a result of her inability to stand up for herself.) This side of the story showcased the most character growth, while the other side of the story, though not perfect, didn't challenge Heart as much.
While I enjoyed seeing two stories form in this novel, there were instances where two stories felt unnecessary, like Czukaz felt Heart's confusion and fear of hurting one of the people asking her to prom. There were moments where the story didn't quite hook me and I had to force myself to sit down and read. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Czukaz's novel, it just didn't grab me like some contemporary novels do.
One more thing I want to comment on is the slightly spoilery (is that a word?) chapter titles. Personally, I prefer chapter numbers to sentences that basically tell the reader what's going to happen. I mean, where's the mystery? Granted, it IS a contemporary novel, so it's just a story about a teenage life in today's society--but just because a story may be a tad predictable does not mean I need spoilers before I even read the chapter. Imagine going to the movies and reading a disclaimer telling you what's going to happen before every scene takes place. Okay, enough about that rant.
Overall, Ask Again Later is fun and it's a fairly quick read. If you like stories about prom, then you might like this one because it offers a unique way of viewing the topic of choosing a prom date. If you're a bit wary of relationships, like Heart (the irony of her name and her determination to never fall for someone is not lost on me), then this might serve as a reminder that not every past decision (made by her mother, in this case--which, by the way, is a topic left unexplored by the end of this novel) is going to be repeated.(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 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)
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)
This was a fun read, but not something I will be re-reading for a while. Though I love the adve...moreShort review also appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
This was a fun read, but not something I will be re-reading for a while. Though I love the adventure and the concept of this book, it took me a while to really get into it and finish the story. The prose felt somewhat childish, given the context (people die, for example), like I was being guided through the world of these three children, rather than shown. Yes, younger readers are going to read this one, but it still felt a bit...condescending in the way it addressed the events taking place.
I also kind of wish there was one set narrator, rather than a mashup of all three (plus whoever else was around) because this made it slightly harder to connect with the characters. I find that omniscient narrators in middle grade novels are a bit too simplistic in their explanations, somehow dumbing down the events so the kids reading the books will understand. But here's the thing, kids are a lot smarter than they're credited. Not to mention that just because a book is for a middle grade audience, doesn't mean it needs to spell out everything that is going to happen, or everything every character is feeling. Simply put, being a middle grade author does not exempt you from using the literary practice of showing us what's going to happen, not telling us.
I recommend this one to readers looking for an adventure that is truly epic, but even with the powerhouse team behind this one, don't expect magical prose and memorable writing.
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)
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
What If...? by Jessica Barondes is a middle grade novel about a girl, nicknamed "P" for Penelope, who is being raised by a single dad. Her main goal, as the story progresses, is that of finding the perfect partner for her father. During her (mis)adventures in the world of dating, we learn that what our protagonist most yearns for is the comfort of having a mother figure in her life. If the adorable idea of a young girl looking out for her dad's happiness doesn't catch your eye, then perhaps the powerful friendships, and moral lessons will appeal to you.
An important thing to note as one reads this novel is that while Penelope is looking for someone for her dad, she is also, in a way, trying to figure out who she is. Whereas the idea of her constant search for a mother figure may appear as the main plot, I like to think that her character growth (both metaphorically and physically) is actually more important to note. Through her search, we see Penelope confront her fears and come to terms with the fact that just because her family life is different, doesn't mean it isn't right for her.
The game that Penelope and her best friend play of "what if?" is also a great way of seeing the progression of growth in Barondes' characters. The innocent responses the girls give at the beginning of the novel, compared to the more in-depth responses near the conclusion, serves as a stark contrast of just how much Penelope has changed.
To be honest, What If...? ended too soon and left a few questions unanswered, and a couple situations where the conclusions where a bit too tame. I would have loved to see more of Penelope's world unfold before her as she navigated the rough waters of adolescence, but then again, I understand that imagination is what's supposed to take place after the conclusion. In a way, Barondes' conclusion is successful in creating intrigue, since we find ourselves wanting more.
Penelope, though a young character, was at times a bit frustrating, especially since she harbors ideas and expectations that are unrealistic. While I'm glad that she slowly learns that every family is different, it's the naive notion of perfection that she imagines in every family, simply because both parents are present, that makes her a slightly difficult character to like.
This is a great novel for young readers who have either broken homes, or single parent homes because it shows that no matter if you have one parent, or both parents, a home is what you and the people who love you make it.(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)