Sometimes it's hard, impossible even, to know how much magnitude a choice holds until it is al...more(This review is also posted on B's Book Blog!)
Sometimes it's hard, impossible even, to know how much magnitude a choice holds until it is all over.
Duncan Meade enters the Irving School a senior this year. As a school tradition, each senior gets their own dorm room without having to share it with anyone. On the first day of school, each senior will go to the senior hall and find their room; and in the room, there will be "treasures" left behind for them from the previous senior who lived there. Duncan has one fear: he is afraid to find out if the smallest room in the hall belongs to him. And of course, it does. The treasures the previous owner, Tim Macbeth, leaves behind for Duncan is a note and a stack of CDs. Those CDs play the recordings of Tim's story for Duncan as the "meat of your Tragedy Paper," which is the Irving School's senior English paper to be handed in at the end of the school year.
The Tragedy Paper started out, for me, as intriguing; I was curious to see how the connection between Tim Macbeth and Duncan Meade would play out. Would it be, you know, like Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which Macbeth kills Duncan? Or would Tim Macbeth share the same tragic flaw with Macbeth, and Duncan the receiving end of that flaw like King Duncan? Or what? Of course, I was expecting the use of these two names to have some significance. I have been taught in Literature class that a text alludes to something like this, it is saying something implicitly, and you should find what it infers. But it looks like this book falls flat in that department, because as far as I know, the only function of this allusion is only to tell the reader: Hey! This book is a tragedy because its two main characters are named after the two in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth! Hmm. Right now, in my head, I can even see my beloved Lit teacher hold up her index finger in a warning manner, and hear her say her favorite disapproval: "Nonono."
Again, I don't seem to share everyone (who's read it)'s enthusiasm about this book. Some say that it's "deep" and "profound," but I honestly don't see how that can be. It's not like I suck that much at reading between the lines and critical thinking; how about it's just meh? 90% of the book is about Tim told, narrated by Tim's recordings which Duncan listens to; while Duncan's part takes up only about 10%. And this makes me wonder why it has to be written this way. Not only does it bother me that the book doesn't just simply tell Tim's story--which already is the focus, if not the entire meat, of this story--it has to have Duncan as a medium (why bother?), but it also irritates me that, knowing very well Duncan's function is only to hang around and play the CDs so we can listen to them as well, the book tries so hard to have Tim affect his romantic life--in a way trying to make a connection between them when it's strained and uncalled for. If there'd been some believable and close connection between them for the recordings to have their natural effects, I would've believed it and appreciated it more.
In the end, I'll say that The Tragedy Paper is not a bad book, but there are a lot of things that I personally didn't like. The ending, for instance, felt too contrived in the way that it is steered into a tragedy pattern, which I understand since I get it, the point is that this book is a tragedy; but I still didn't like it that much. And the effects Tim's story has on Duncan are to me a little too unbelievable. I'd love for it to have more substance, and if the switching between two points of view is going to be this unbalanced and the connection this strained, how about no switching at all? I'd be happy to read Tim's story alone as the whole book without Duncan having a voice in part of the narration. That's just me. For the most part, I enjoyed Tim's story and wanted to see how it was tragic and how it would end, but once I did, I felt greatly underwhelmed. Still, as I said, it's not a bad book. It has good potentials but it's just not my cup of tea. 2.5 stars.
------------------------ I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.(less)
I have no father. I have no mother. Then you came along and everything changed.
Uses for Boys majorly caught me off guard. I started this book thinking it would be just another YA Contemporary about troubled teenagers. In the beginning it does feel like one; but then the story takes a totally different turn from what I expected, and led me along a road I would've never taken if it I had known any better.
Anna grows up with no father. In her early childhood, her mother would tell her again and again that Anna is all she ever wanted, and Anna loved the idea. It was bliss, until her mother starts going out all the time to chase after new husbands, one after another, and then she has no time for Anna anymore. Growing up with no father and as good as no mother, Anna turns to the people who give her attention: boys. All of a sudden boys start talking to her, saying that she's pretty, flirting with her, and Anna goes along with it, giving them all they want, one boy after another, just so she can have their company.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it's quite entertaining. If it were dull, I would've hated it, but it wasn't, so I went through it pretty fast. It has an easy narrative style, like a person talking, rather than a well thought-out piece of writing like other novels. The story is divided into a lot of parts, and each parts come up pretty randomly, so it isn't always predictable. And that's agood things. But on the other hand, the subject matter is quite discomforting. The book talks about sex pretty bluntly, and I feel weird reading this in the words of a thirteen or fifteen year old (I don't remember which one). For a young girl her age, Anna is very experienced with boys, (view spoiler)[having slept with 4 or more (I lost count), not to mention that she got pregnant, and had an abortion (hide spoiler)]. I didn't enjoy watching someone let her life slip away like that for no good reason other than to feel loved.
Her mother is partly to blame, I get that. Negligent parents do a lot of damage to their children. And we can see how Anna's mother affects her pretty clearly. She would say that she cares, but then she never shows it. What kind of mother lets her child quit school and move out at 13 to live in a boyfriend's apartment? As hard is it is to imagine, I know there are parents like this out there.
In a way, I think I understand that this book just wants to "tell it like it is" with no fancy fabrications, no glorifying, no denouncing. That would explain why the narrative is this way, and why Anna doesn't acknowledge any of her actions to be anything (not the right thing, not the wrong thing, not a mistake, not anything) other than things she feels like she has to do. Trying so hard to impress, Anna willingly falls victim to her so-called friend and boyfriends, and this is very common among teenagers. Like Anna, they're not always likeable, and don't always know right from wrong. We can judge all we want, but it's also important to understand them, why they are the way they are and why they do the things they do. To me, Uses for Boys is a story that speaks of real teenagers with problems. Even though the book falls short of plot and denouement, it's quite an easy and enjoyable read, unless you're put off by dark, discomforting stories with (too) many sex scenes.
------------------------ I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
There was only one reason I could ever feel that way with anyone. I belonged to him. It was then that I knew. Without a doubt in my mind, without worry of what others would think, and having no fear of mistakes or consequences, I smiled at the words I would say.
Who would've thought that I would like Beautiful Disaster as much as I do? I'd read a lot of negative reviews; but then I'd also noticed even more positive reviews. Curious, I started reading, expecting the worst, expecting to turn a page and start hating it, but it never happened. Actually, I ended up liking it -- which totally caught me off guard. I finished this in three sittings with sore butts and a slight backache. I literally couldn't stop reading. This has to be one of the most addictive books I've ever had a chance to read!
I blame it on my inner hopeless romantic. I am drawn to the ideas of love that is no good and can't work but can't be stopped. I don't even know where I got this from; it's like a chronic disease -- I can't seem to shake it. For some very strange reasons, I am in love with the idea of hopeless love, just as I am in love with heartbreaks. Though I'd hate to have to deal with this kind of love in real life, I love to read about them. And Beautiful Disaster offers me no less than that, and still a lot of fun.
It's easy to see why some readers do not like this novel. It has some of the elements that I don't like at all. To illustrate this, I hate clingy boyfriends. The kind that has been fine all their lives until they meet you and suddenly they need you to breathe. The kind that is overly jealous and will take down anyone that lays their eyes on you. The kind that goes crazy when they don't know your whereabouts and won't stop calling you until you talk to them. The kind that has your name tattooed on their skin. This is Travis, and this is insane. Normally behaviors like this would have turned me off immediately, but for some unknown reasons, I became even more engrossed in the book. I think this may be because in other books, such demeanor is simply annoying and off-putting, but in this book, it is scary like hell! It made my heart race, fearing for Abby if Travis happens to lose it, which happens quite often too. Poor minor characters who get beaten senseless. Travis's violence made me wince every time.
But I don't hate Travis. I don't know how exactly I feel about him, maybe just scared? And I definitely don't find him cute or attractive. I think he's an interesting human being who seriously needs anger management and needs to tone the over-protectiveness and jealousy down big-time. But I understand why he's like this, or at least I think I do. There's someone I know who had never been in a relationship before, and when he had his first girlfriend, he messed it all up by being -- just like Travis but without the violence -- clingy, jealous, and overprotective, because he really didn't know how to act. Could this be the case with Travis? Probably. He's never needed anyone before but when he needs Abby, it scares him, so he tries to keep her closer but it only pushes her away.
Abby, the narrator of the story, is a likeable person. I think she's smart. She knows better than to be involved with someone like Travis. Basically, he is the human form of everything she runs away from in the past to be at Eastern. But even so, despite trying to be his friend, she can't help but be attracted to him too. For whatever reasons. I found myself agreeing with a lot of things Abby says and a lot of her decisions. Travis is stupid, and he doesn't always know what he's doing, but that doesn't mean it's okay. I respect Abby for standing up for herself and leaving him when she has to. I didn't think she's being difficult, I thought she's being right. The best way out is always through, as they say.
Their on-and-off romance is more than interesting. It's many things together: heartbreaking, painful, scary, terrible, sweet, beautiful, and disastrous. I didn't always like it, but it's definitely entertaining to read. Travis is so hopelessly in love with Abby that he has his nickname for her (Pigeon, which I find a little stupid but it didn't bother me) tattooed on his wrist, which is a little extreme in my opinion, but he can be real sweet at times, too. And Abby, who's so determined not to fall for him, finds herself doing exactly that. Sometimes it seems like their relationship is doomed to fail, but the fact that it still keeps going because their love can't be stopped satisfied my inner romantic more than I can explain. It would send electricity through me (I'm not kidding. I really felt it.) and make my chest tighten, unable to breathe for a second. It was an awesome experience. Some of the words Abby says are spot-on, which I totally loved. For instance: (view spoiler)[
If I gave in, either he would change his mind about Benny, or he would resent me every time money could have made his life easier. I imagined him in a blue-collar job, coming home with the same look in his eyes that Mick had when he returned after a night of bad luck. It would be my fault that his life wasn't what he wanted it to be, and I couldn't let my future be plagued with the bitterness and regret that I left behind.
(hide spoiler)] This broke my heart. It's so precise, and I could feel the bitterness dripping from these words already. She loves him against her better judgement, and she isn't afraid to make a decision she believes is right even if it's going to hurt them. Wow, Abby. I really like her. Even though this is not how the book ends, I think I would've liked it more if it had ended this way -- bittersweet.
Having said all that, I don't think there's anything much to add. I really enjoyed Jamie McGuire's writing. It's true that I wouldn't have liked many things in this book, but because it is well-written and beyond entertaining allowed me to overlook its imperfections. Expecting the worst, I surprised myself when I realized I liked this book a lot. I almost didn't pick it up as I hesitated, and now I'm glad that I read it. I recommend this for readers of contemporary romance. And maybe older audience, because it has sex and violence in it. I'm looking forward to reading book two, Walking Disaster, which isn't a sequel but only Beautiful Disaster told in Travis's point of view. It should be interesting.
I received the digital version of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"On occasion patients have dreams while in their coma. And you seem to be one of those special situations. These dreams can mix fantasy with reality, and memories of people and places sometimes jumble within these dreams."
In my opinion, Reflection is, in one word, different. It was a totally different reading experience for me. A good different too, I might add. I haven't had that many chances to read books involving coma--in fact I remember having read only one, If I Stay. So reading Reflection was kind of like trying something new.
I was unsure about it at first. I'm not a fan of confusing shifting perspectives, and this book has a lot of those. Most of the time I didn't know if I was reading it as it happens the first time, or reading it as Heather recounts her memories to the doctor. I didn't know this until like past halfway through the book, when I decided that it must still be the recounting. But confusing as it was for me, I coudn't stop.
It didn't take me long to finish this book, mostly because it was so addictive. I wanted to know more, needed to find out what's happened before and what will happen after. It was all very interesting and exciting to hear Heather talk about what she remembers about her first 6 months at college. Shitty friends, good friends, her crush, etc. There were some elements that seemed supernatural, but they turn out to be her coma messing with her memories.
In a PRS [Persistent Reflective State] coma the brain responds very differently than when it's in a typical coma. The first distinction has to do with memory.Unlike a common coma where the brain is stagnant, in PRS the brain works overtime, distinguished by overzealous brain activity [...] As it does so and the memories are called back to the surface, the mind begins to then live out those experiences, as if for the first time. To the mind, these prolonged dreams, 'reflections' as we call them, are current and real, as if living a life through the mind, but with experiences that have already occured in a person's life. As the mind sorts through memories and lives them out, sometimes it mixes people, places, and even adds imaginative experiences as it would in a typical dream, filling in parts that it cannot remember.
Not knowing what is real and what isn't kills Heather, and it killed me too. I was eager to see Heather out of the hospital and find out whether the romance with Nick was real. But there are shocks along the way. For Heather, the memories of those 6 months seem like just yesterday; but for everyone else, it has been 2 years and 7 months. Everyone has moved on without her. Everything has changed.
Reflection leaves me wanting more. Its ending is a good one, preparing us for the next book. I can't wait to read Reaction and see Heather fight to win back what she has lost. This is a very good read!
I received a digital copy of this book for review. (less)
Reread: September 12 - 14, 2012 Still love it just as much the second time around.
First read: August 25 - September 7, 2012 This is a beautiful book. V...moreReread: September 12 - 14, 2012 Still love it just as much the second time around.
First read: August 25 - September 7, 2012 This is a beautiful book. Very touching. It surprises me that I'm not crying my eyes out right now. I love it! This has to be the best assigned reading ever. Sure, it took me so long because of all these unfamiliar German words, but the reading experience was very well worth it. I could feel my heart aching and tears brimming. A poignant book about war, loss, love, and what it means to live. (less)
A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
This book is very hard for me to review.I've been trying to find the words to say...moreA digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
This book is very hard for me to review. I've been trying to find the words to say about this book and it seems like I still can't find anything worth saying. I enjoyed the book, and that's about it. I don't really have any opinion on the book, partly because it isn't all that memorable to me. Not the kind of book that makes me sit and think about it after finishing. This one's more like the come-and-go to me. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, and now that I've finished it, I don't really have anything to say about it, I just let it go.
Knee Deep is about Ronnie who finds herself in a love triangle. She's been with her boyfriend Shawn forever, and he's all that she knows. Luke is their mutual best friend, who's sweet and relaxed and comfortable to be around. But lately Shawn hasn't been himself, or his "old self", the guy Ronnie fell in love with years and years ago. Her teases and jokes can make him suddenly rigid and glare at her now these days. Ronnie's tired of having to worry about him and not knowing how to act around him without doing something wrong anymore. She doesn't even know what's wrong. Shawn doesn't tell her anything except that he's stressed and his father's stressed and his family's stressed. Ronnie puts up with everything, even when glaring turns into angry outbursts and into grabbing and bruises, believing that things will get back to how they used to be if she gives him enough time. At the same time, Luke and Ronnie get to spend more time together because they're in a play together. She finds herself feeling something she shouldn't with her best friend.
This isn't the most original plot ever, but "I'm a sucker for stories that involve best friends having a chance at more." (Quoting the author. Yes, me too.) So I wanted to read this and see how it'd go. And yes, I found the same old I-feel-like-I-can-just-be-myself-and-comfortable-around-him, and the why-do-I-feel-this-way-he's-my-best-friend thing. There are a lot of sentences similar to those in the book and at one point, it really got too much. Would it be so hard to just admit that you're in love with your best friend? Instead of saying you don't know why you feel this way, or that he's just Luke? I guess I wasn't really impressed with Ronnie trying so hard to pretend to not acknowledge her feelings.
What surprises me is the abusive part, which I totally didn't expect. She should run, but she doesn't. She doesn't want to rock the boat after being together for so long. I really don't know how to feel about that. Of course, it's stupid, she should leave him, but I also understand that when you're in a relationship for that long, you're afraid to change things, to cause even a little change in how things are, and you want to hold on and believe that it'll be okay soon. Ronnie must feel like that, and we can't really blame her, can we?
I wish I can say this book made an impression on me. It didn't. I enjoyed the moment of reading, but after that this book just became one of the books I'll soon forget about. Some parts of the book bored me, but some were really good. I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked Ronnie and Luke, but I didn't feel connected to them.
While reading, I kept comparing Knee Deep to Sarah Dessen's Dreamland, which is the best book involving abusive relationship that I've read so far, which I seriously loved. The violence in Dreamland is more disturbing and much stronger. It sent chills down my spine. It felt more real and cruel, and that made me so into the story. Knee Deep just falls short in comparison. I think this is one of the reasons this book left me kind of underwhelmed. It's not strong enough.
Well, I told you I don't really have anything to say about this book. Yeah, it's enjoyable. It's a good read, but that's it. Again, I seem to be the minority, as everyone else who's read this book seems to really like it or even love it. I don't know if something's wrong with me, preventing me from liking this book as much as everyone else. I find it okay, mediocre, not something special. It's not for me. Sorry for the honesty. If you're looking for other books by Jolene Perry, I'd suggest Night Sky. I certainly enjoyed it more than this book.(less)
"Hey, look. It's that girl. That rape girl, right?"
After Adam's raped Valerie and her mother's told the police, Valerie is labeled the "rape girl" and a liar. Her friends turn their backs on her because they either really don't believe her, or they just want to still be on Adam's side, the popular people side. Valerie is torn. She's the victim, but people treat her as if she's the guilty one. She's separated from class and can't show her face in public, while the rapist still lives his life normally as if nothing's happened. What's more, Valerie is blamed for making up a story that will keep Adam from his becoming a missionary. This is ridiculous.
While I was drawn to the heavy subject matter of this book at first, I regret to say I didn't like it. I didn't feel connected to Valerie at all. This is probably because the author didn't allow us readers to get to know her that well within the limited 126 pages. Yes, this novel is very short, and that's the problem for me. There's hardly any tension to feel at all. And although this is a young adult contemporary, I feel like Valerie's voice isn't strong enough. It sounds like a teen voice, as in a 13-year-old teen complaining about life or something like that. I could hardly feel anything from her words. If anything, I think she's only telling a story without showing us how she feels. It's hard to like a character when she doesn't really allow us to feel her emotions, in my opinion.
I won't argue that it sucks. Being raped and still getting treated like the wrong one. And having to go through all those tests, rape kits, interrogations, and everyone's whispers and stares are no fun. Your life changes even if you're the victim. I know, it sucks, it's terrible, it's infuriating, and it definitely isn't fair. But I have to say that the book doesn't portray it that well and is well-developed enough for me to like it. This isn't the best story about a rape victim either. In the end, it still remains unclear whether or not Valerie can put it behind her and move on. But honestly, I don't care about her enough to want to find out.
I received the digital version of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. (less)
A digital copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review and book tour.
Girl I’ve loved, girl I’m falling for. Now that they’re both in view, the problem is clear.
This is the second book written by Jolene B. Perry that I've read. Night Sky is an addictive read, which explains why I was hooked since the very first sentence all the way until the end of the book. I enjoyed it very much.
Night Sky is told by a male narrator, Jameson. Jameson has a best friend named Sarah, but she doesn't know that he's been in love with her for three years. His heart is broken to see Sarah get together with Eric. That night while he's driving home, he spots a lost girl and offers to give her a ride home, which happens to be just across from his. That's Sky, and so begins their relationship. Sarah and Sky couldn't be more different. According to Jameson, Sky is all tall, dark and angles. Sarah is all smooth, short and soft curves. Jameson finds himself becoming addicted to Sky and craving her presence more and more, but his feelings for Sarah are still left unresolved. Being with Sky, who insists on brutal honesty at all time, makes Jameson realize that he's falling head over heels for her in a way that's not the same as his being in love with Sarah.
There are a few things about this book that impress me, but let's just start with the fact that I really like its story. I'm glad that this book isn't just about a love triangle, about a guy trying to figure out who he wants to be with, because it definitely felt deeper than that to me. There are family issues that send shudders through me. It felt so real! And there's this thing about "honesty" in this book that really makes you think. Yeah, why can't everyone just be honest? No more guessing and over-analyzing for anyone else. That would make life much easier, wouldn't it? But if you think some truth might scare someone away from you, someone you care about very much, would you say it anyway?
Initially I didn't get this honesty thing about Sky. I didn't see why it's so important, but near the end of the book I understood. And I loved that the foreshadowing is followed by such a twist. I loved that I didn't even see the twist coming and that it isn't just out of nowhere. It didn't feel forced, and it comes at just the right moment. That's one of the great elements in this book.
Another wonderful thing I have to mention is that the male narration feels so natural! Forced and unnatural narration is a big turn-off for me. At first I had my doubt, because not a lot of female writers can really pull that off. But after I've read this book, I have to say that Jolene B. Perry did an awesome job with the narration! It's so believable, the things Jameson feels and says and does are the things that guys feel and say and do. I didn't have any problems with it at all. Throughout this book I saw how Jameson gain maturity, come to terms with his problems, and finally figure out what he really wants. I found myself going along with him like it was the most natural thing in the world.
While I enjoyed Jameson's storytelling, I can't say I liked Sky. Sky is a Native American who comes with mystery and leaves with mystery. She wears next to nothing most of the time. She accepts a stranger's offer and jumps into his car; she strips down to black panties and jumps into his pool. I'm not sure if it's because of the way she's written and portrayed or because I just don't like girls like her in the first place. Although there are some things that I couldn't grasp about her, she's nice enough in the story that it didn't really bother me.
However, I think Sky, among other things, did slightly affect my overall liking towards the book. I think this book is 'good', but it's not what I'd call 'great', as I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't see any quotes memorable or outstanding enough to highlight. Night Sky is well-written with dramatic plot twists, great character developments, and natural, enjoyable narration. If you're a fan of coming-of-age stories, I recommend this book to you. There's something about it that's very addictive and the next thing you know, you might still be up at 2 AM, caught up in this book like I was, unable to put it down. (less)
I finished this so fast. Wow. This book is refreshing and I like it mainly for that. Not much else is particularly striking. Apparently I haven't writ...moreI finished this so fast. Wow. This book is refreshing and I like it mainly for that. Not much else is particularly striking. Apparently I haven't written a proper review in ages, and already forgot how to do it. So this is all you're getting from me tonight at 1.18am. For me it's a good book. Not amazing. Good verging on great. (less)
This is a story about a girl with a stellar vocabulary who is four years away from college and a year and a half away from a driver's license. About a girl trapped in a hostile universe where the virginity clock is ticking down--relentlessly--with zero consideration for her extenuating traumatic, lifealtering circumstances.
Let me start off by saying that this book is not for me. From the start, I knew that I wasn't going to like it much. Throughout the book, the story failed again and again to interest me. It's just incredibly boring This is one of those books that I won't want to pick up again once I lay it down.
Which is, to be honest, quite unexpected. I know Rose has lost her father in the war in Iraq. And I tend to love books whose main character's father is dead, which I can totally relate to. But most of the time I was annoyed by Rose. Her character isn't all that believable to me. She is supposed to be angry as described in the blurb. But no, she feels pretty normal to me. Just any other normal teenager who's pessimistic and sarcastic and annoying. Rage issues? Please, what an overstatement. It's just a way to make Rose sound more interesting, I guess, but it's so deceiving. She does have angry outbursts but only no more than 3 times, and they are nowhere near rage issues. She claims to be very smart, but I really couldn't see how.
The other characters in the book are also just as, if not more, annoying. There are your typical mean girl named Regina (but is nowhere near epic as Mean Girls' Regina George), the best friend who can only talk about "doing it" without protection with her boyfriend, and the crush--oh, the unattainable crush who's with someone else but plays with Rose's heart anyway and then quits by saying he's not for her. Hmm. I'm not sure which one of them I want to punch first.
Frankly, I feel like this book is maybe for the teen age group. It really didn't do it for me. There are a lot of things that I really don't like in the book that feel immature and childish. Girl drama, crush drama, best friend drama. None of that really interests me. And in the end, I could say that the plot really goes nowhere. No character development, that's for sure. I couldn't feel the climax, if there is one. The story just goes on and on, and then abruptly stops. Seriously. I emphasize, abruptly. And then? Oh, there'll be book two! Haha, well, too bad I'm not impressed enough to want to stick around when it comes out. This is a very forgettable read for me.
I received the digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.(less)
She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale: a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that's why it doesn't hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn't hurt, because she's not real anymore.
This is one of those novels I think I might like but end up not liking. I've never read any books that involve eating disorders of any kind before, so I thought this could be a new experience. But it is an understatement to say that I am disappointed.
I didn't like this book. Because of the 3rd person point of view, I couldn't get into the story to begin with. I found it hard to read and it didn't help that it really kind of bored me. But there are other things that endlessly disturb me, like the narrator's thoughts.
The narrator, Sethie Weiss, starts out an anorexic and then becomes a bulimic as the story goes on. Being extremely thin is her idea of beautiful. What really makes me uncomfortable is the fact that she glorifies her eating disorder like she really believes it. Realistic? I don't know. But definitely uncomfortable. She says she loves lying down on the floor and feeling her hipbones pressed against the hard floor, because it's telling her that there's no fat there. This girl is seriously obsessed. There are a lot of scenes where I had to turn my eyes away and scrunch up my face because I was really terrified. Especially the scene where she wants to "cut the fat right out" and "scrape out the fat" with her nails. So what does she do? She scratches her right knee, the place where she makes her scab flick off, and then she leans closer and sucks. Yes, DIY liposuction! Only she doesn't suck out the fat. What comes out is blood, which according to her, is "disappointing." If you want to her if she swallows the blood, no, she doesn't, because "for all she knows, blood might have calories."
This book makes me want to cry big time.
It might be because I couldn't relate to the main character, not having had an eating disorder and all. However I, like most girls, have felt ugly because of my fat. Sure, I used to hate myself and be depressed because of it, but I got over it. The thing is, I don't ever remember having ideas as ridiculous as Sethie's. I don't sleep with a knife under my pillow or mattress. And I sure don't play with it, let alone using it to trace my skin and thinking about cutting it to let out the fat. Which is precisely what Sethie does, among other things like throwing up and starving herself. Like I said, it disturbs me a lot.
Except for disgust, I hardly felt anything reading this book. I didn't find Sethie sympathetic, and I definitely didn't like her. There's no character development whatsoever. It's kind of ironic that, being a realistic young adult novel, there are a few unrealistic aspects. Sethie is supposedly very smart, but she also uses drugs, and lets herself be used for sex. And in the end, she miraculously wakes up. No, it doesn't work for me. If someone has been so stubborn about her behaviors, she doesn't just get up and change herself like that.
After everything I've said, as you might have guessed, I have to give it just one star. The subject matters may sound interesting, but trust me, that's really all there is to it. Unless you want to spend your time reading the wrong book and experience disturbing issues, there are other books for you. I'm definitely not going to recommend this book for anyone.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.(less)
I received the ARC of this title from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
From now on, I'll make it a point to review a book right after I finish it, or maybe a day afterwards. But not three day like this. By the time I felt like reviewing Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, I had already forgot a lot of things. That makes reviewing a little more difficult. This is a bad habit I have to kill very soon. Well, enough chit chat haha.
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe is one of the very light and fun reads for teens rather than young adults. It is obviously about teenager Chloe Camden, who likes to think she's Queen of the Universe. And yes, she is. he looks like she's the girl who has it all. She's perpetually optimistic, happy, friendly, and talkative. Queen Chloe is the center of attention. Wherever she is, there's fun and laughter. She makes people smile when they're sad and makes them laugh. Chloe has two best friends whose names I had to pause 5 seconds to recall. Right, their names are Brie and Merce. Chloe says they're a perfect trio because Brie is the beauty, Merce is the brains, and she is all personality. According to Chloe, together they're whole. Chloe works part-time at a Mexican restaurant called Dos Hermanas, wearing a burrito costume and handing out flyers--a job she enjoys very much. It looks like everything's going well for Chloe, the girl who's always happy and doesn't have to worry about anything. But then one day thing start going downhill for our little Queen.
That day, while enjoying herself as a burrito outside the restaurant, doing what she does best--getting noticed by people, Brie drives by. Chloe cheerfully walks over to talk to her best friend only to be told she's so self-centered Brie can't stand it, and that she's the last person tearful Brie wants to talk to. Then Chloe comes home to find WWIII in her house. On top of all that, A. Lungren, the school counselor, wants Chloe to choose a new topic for her JISP (Junior Independent Study Project) because she deems Chloe's shoe project lacking.
For Chole's new JISP, she's to join the school's low-wattage, student-run radio station, KDRS 88.8 The Edge, which needs promotions help. Ditched by her two best friends, Chloe now hangs out with the crowd working in this radio station. There Chloe befriends Clementine, the ever-upset manager with a nose ring; Duncan, the guy who loves fixing things; Frick and Frack; and Haley, the film reviewer. They work together to save The Edge from getting shut down by the school and lack of fund. It's true that it starts out as a necessity, but then it turns into friendship as they learn to trust each other and the time they spend in the station bonds them together.
Chloe is a fantastic protagonist. I think I'd love to have her as a friend. Her personality and attitude are what's really outstanding in this little novel. I love how Chloe can still remain herself while learning to cope with problems crashing down on her. She can make the best of a bad situation. An optimist that she is, she values fun and laughter. She learns to be a better friend, to be there for her friends when they need her. She reaches out to people through her radio shows and wins their hearts all over again after the lies Brie tells to turn people against her. I really love this about Chloe.
Duncan Moore is also a great character. At first he seems mysterious, always quiet, and doesn't say much if not necessary, but after a while he opens up to Chloe, letting down his guard. Chloe learns that Duncan lives a totally different life from hers, the kind of life a great guy like Duncan shouldn't have to live. I totally feel for him. Together they fulfill each other: Duncan needs a sunshine in his gloomy life, and the little miss sunshine herself could really use a guy with a romantic heart like him.
Another character I really like is Chloe's grandmother, whom she calls Grams. Grams loves Brad Pitt and is a big fan of Brad's sexy "heinie". Hahaha. Grams is funny. Though you can't tell by looking at her, she's suffering from Parkinson's disease. She loses her temper quite often and does unreasonable things, and that causes the conflicts between her and Chloe's mom. Chloe takes care of Grams and Grams looks after Chloe. Sometimes I couldn't help but feel for Grams, too. It's sad that a free spirit like her has to be affected by the disease that's slowly changing her.
I have to say the author did a great job creating the characters and this cute story. Although it isn't that focused on the radio station as I first expected and would like it to, the outcome is great. This is a story about a girl who shines brightly, and in the meantime lights up other people's worlds as well. All in all, while there are quite a number of conflicts like friendship, family and love present, this book isn't heavy at all. This is probably not one of the deep, profound books that will stay in your heart for a long time, but it's one that you might want to read if you need to take your mind off things for a while and need a laugh. Told in Chloe's bubbly, cheerful voice, this novel is ever so light and easy and very fun to read. :-) (less)
No, Caro, you don't understand. You don't even try to understand. You live in a world that revolves completely around you, and you never once, not even for a second, try to see what other people might be experiencing or feeling. You just never think about anyone else, and it's beneath you.
The Opposite of Hallelujah is one of those books that take me pretty much by surprise. I'd go in expecting one thing and end up getting another. I don't usually handle long books well, but this one didn't feel long to me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was constantly interested in the characters and the story. I found this book to be quite well written.
As I finished this book eleven days ago, I found it hard to try to recall what I wanted to say about it once I was done reading it. I don't remember much, so this review is going to be short and, hopefully, straight to the point.
This story is about a lot of things: sisterhood, friendship, family, religion, and coming to terms with the past—holding on to it and letting it go. And I enjoyed that a lot. I liked how the author put those things together and made it work. Watching Caro learn a lot of things and grow up in a lot of ways before my eyes was a good experience. I think the author did a very nice job portraying Caro as a stubborn brat who doesn't care much about anyone, and developing Caro's character gradually until she becomes an opposite of herself. I liked how she stands up for herself even when everyone else backs out of her life. She doesn't beg; she needs no one's help; and she's determined to figure things out on her own. Unraveling Hannah's past was also thrilling. Not only that, but also learning how that past affects her choices, making her become the person she is today. A lot of that has to do with her faith in Christianity. I usually don't like it when religion plays a big role in books, but this one doesn't seem preachy. It's not trying to make a point, but just giving food for thoughts, and that was good enough for me. More than the plot, I enjoyed the characters and their development throughout the story. The author's prose kept me going and captivated.
------------------------ I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.(less)
An ARC of this title was provided by the author for review.
Unfortunately, I am only myself. I am only Amy Fleishman. I am one of the legions of middle-class white girls who search malls for jeans that make them look thinner, who search drugstores for makeup to wear as second skin, who are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins ... and one of the only girls I know to get arrested on prom night.
I think I've learned at some point in my high school life that opening sentences are very important, as it has to "entice the reader and sets the subject, the tone and possibly the style for the whole work". Honestly, I've never paid that much attention to opening sentences of the books I've read in the past, though there are quite a few lines that caught my eyes and are still stuck in my head. The opening sentences of Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein, which I just showed you, are one of those very few that have made an impression on me, making me feel connected to the main character right away. There's something about the voice of Amy Fleishman in those sentences that reflects her endless insecurities and pessimism and angst, which I think is also the voice of many high school girls struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin, and all the while wishing they could be perfect. It's so real. And to me, that's what's so haunting about these sentences.
Pretty Amy tells the story of Amy Fleishman, high school senior. We're introduced to Amy on the prom night that changes everything. Amy and her best friends Lila and Cassie are all ready to go to the prom, but their dates never show. Frustrated, Lila breaks into her boyfriend's house and takes back with her a huge bag of pot, which is quite a stupid thing to do, because later that night they're arrested for possession. It's a night of frustration, anger, and disappointment, and their lives start going separate ways and downhill after that.
Amy's mother doesn't handle the arrest very well. It can be said that the relationship between Amy and her mother isn't very healthy. There's a lot of forcing, crying, tantrums throwing, and banning. For one thing, she takes away her cellphone and prohibits any contacts with Lila and Cassie. And then she hires a lawyer for Amy, for whose service Amy will have to pay on her own with the money she will earn from working at a convenient store (or was it a supermarket? I'm not sure), which is one of the things her mother forces her to do. To make things worse, Amy now has to visit a therapist who encourages Amy to talk when she doesn't want to. No, that's not all. On top of all that, she has to do community service, which turns out to be not a very good experience for our Amy at all.
The story of Amy Fleishman is quite a series of misfortunes. I really like it. I was hooked from the very first sentence. It's incredibly engaging and kept me wanting to know more, wanting to see how Amy will handle the situations she finds herself in. I could sense teenage angst on every page of the book. I found myself wishing the best for Amy and furious at her mother and was glad that mine isn't like that. Although I can't exactly relate to the story, it's Amy I can relate to, and I believe that it's true to a lot of girls, too.
Amy is a fantastic, strong character with a unique sarcastic voice of her own. Bad things keep happening to this girl, and in the middle of all that, she struggles to stand on her own feet and become herself, after years of following whatever Lila and Cassie do. Amy used to be a nobody with a real friend, Joe, before she met Lila and Cassie. She was sick of blending in with the crowd, the face that didn't stand out. She wanted to be cool, to be different. When she starts hanging out with beautiful Lila and kickass Cassie, she ditches Joe and allows herself to form her shape around them. She picks up their habits like smoking. She feels like there's a place she belong when she's with them.
But does being with "cool" friends make her feel less insecure? No, not really. Amy still has very low self-esteem. I think she feels intimidated by Lila and Cassie that she wants someone to tell her that she's as good as them, too. She often needs reassurance that she's pretty and that there's someone worse off than she is. She does things and say words she feels she's supposed to do and say and she doesn't confront. You'd think hanging out with Lila and Cassie would boost up her self-confidence, but it's actually the opposite. That's kind of sad. But who cares, right? Being with the cool people make you look cool, and appearance is really what matters, isn't it?
Poor Amy. She's spent so much time with them and trying to become of one them that she doesn't quite know who she is anymore. Now, what happens when they're taken away and she's not allowed to see them or talk to them? She's lost, and doesn't know what to do. But there's nothing she can do now except to find herself again. I totally understood how difficult it is to try to do that after having thrown it away in order to fit in and be accepted. And Amy accomplishes that. She rises and stands up tall and fights for herself, as she has to do what she has to do.
Maybe it takes encountering a dire situation together to know who your real friends are.
Lisa Burstein's writing in this book is impressive. Her words are very cleverly used. Lisa gave Amy just the right voice, the voice of a teenager who's struggling to be heard, who feels lost and scared and alone. You can tell Amy's feelings just by looking at things she says. There are a lot of lines that I've highlighted just because they're pure brilliance on Lisa's part. Sometimes they can make you laugh because they're so funny, and some other times they make you chuckle or snort because it's so true and the truth is ugly. Pretty Amy is undoubtedly very well-written. I think that's all I have to say about Lisa Burstein's amazing writing skill. I'm expecting great things from her in the future!
Pretty Amy: A great realistic young-adult book, one that should not be missed!(less)
I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
Let's just start by saying that Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is one of the best YA Comtemporary that I have ever read. Although this story is dark and intense, it is engaging and it takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride: it makes you laugh, smile and cry. And here's a fact that might show you how much I really liked this book: I wasn't supposed to read this book right now, because midterm is approaching real fast, but I couldn't wait until after July. I couldn't possibly be studying, knowing that I still hadn't finished it! I decided to put my grades a little more at risk, and I was totally glad I did!
This is a story of two awesome characters. Echo Emerson, perfect girl gone freak, comes back to school only to find that things aren't the same. After that horrible night, Echo has kind of lost her mind and couldn't remember what happened to her. This haunts her and gives her nightmare. She has a bad scar on her arm, and she covers it with long-sleeved shirts every day. People don't care enough to ask; they're happy with believing their own assumptions that she's cut herself. Her father has remarried and she isn't allowed to contact her mother in any way at all. What's more, she has to do therapy sessions with Mrs Collins, and so does Noah. And this is where the romance begins. Noah is a great guy, totally undeserving of all the bad things that have happened to him. His family is shattered after his parents died in a fire. His two little brothers are lucky enough to survive, but Noah has never been able to erase the guilt from his mind. Jacob and Tyler , his two brothers, are then adopted, and visitations is the best Noah can do before he files for custody. With determination to bring his family back together, Noah will just about do anything he has to do, and that includes, much to his dismay, tutoring sessions with Echo Emerson.
I must admit that I wasn't sure about if I would end up liking this book at first. The first 30% something of the book couldn't manage to get me hooked. But then afterwards things start happening and it gets a whole lot more exciting! This book is narrated by both Echo and Noah alternatively, which, in my opinion, works very well with. We get to know what each character is thinking and what they're feeling. I really enjoyed Noah's nasty thoughts, haha! The POV switching between chapters were not bumpy at all, but very smoothly done. It picks up where the previous chapter leaves off. But what irritated me is the fact that my copy doesn't tell me who is speaking at the moment. I would read a few sentences, unaware of the switch, and realize that it's the other person speaking, and had to reread the whole thing to make sense of what would come next. Normally this would be a very big problem which would affect my overall enjoyment of the book. Yes, it was a little tiring, but I decided that I liked Pushing the Limits so much that I didn't really care about this!
It's understandable why a lot of people love this book. Not only is it so real, but it also tore my heart apart. Big time. This isn't your typical teenage romance, it's so much more; it's about family and friendship and coming to terms with the past and horrible things that happens in your life. The part I adored most is when Noah decides to do what's best for his little brothers, despite its being what he's been going against, my heart broke to little pieces. This, I think, is love. You stop being selfish, you don't think as much of your happiness as someone else's. You love them enough to let them go, to let them have what's best for them, when if you're not a part of it. I love that family plays such a big role in this book. Friendship, too, is nicely touched upon. While Echo's friends ignore her publicly because she's been labeled as freak, Noah's friends stand beside him as family. This is a real situation and it's very well portrayed in this book. Sometimes people use friendship as a tool to achieve things, and when it's not useful anymore, what good is it to keep it? It's nice to know that in a world where friendship can be used as a means to some other end, there are friends like Noah's who have been through so much together and won't abandon each other. It's very touching. *adds tears here*
Apart from the story, I love the characters. Both Noah and Echo are great. Throughout the story, their developments are very evident. I love when there are character developments. Echo goes from a girl who hides away to a girl who has the courage to show her scars in the end; from a girl who blames everything on her father's new wife to a braver girl who accepts with tears that her mother isn't who she thought she was. I'm happy that Echo comes to terms with her past and heals her mental wounds to become herself again. Noah, a troubled boy whose only wish is to put his family back together, learns that sometimes "doing the right thing doesn't necessarily mean doing the thing that feels good." (Quoting Mrs Collins) These are all touching issues and I found myself so emotionally invested in both of these characters. I cried with them. I guess it's true that opposites attract, because they make a really great couple. It's not about going out and dating, it's about helping each other through tough times and being what the other person needs. Their romance is sweet and it made my stomach all fluttery. I love it. Other characters in this book are great as well although they're not not likable all the time. There really is such a thing as a father who just doesn't know better; a stepmom who does all the wrong things and can never be good enough; and a mother who's selfish. I love that even these minor characters are three-dimensional. They're not all bad, but they're not all good either. Katie McGarry has done an awesome job creating her characters! I loved every bit of it!
All in all, Pushing the Limits is an awesome read. I'll never get over how this story is very well-written and how all these issues fit together perfectly. Most importantly, I'll never forget how this book made me cry like a baby. I recommend this to people who love to read YA Contemporary, 'cause this is definitely one of the best out there!
I received the digital version of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review.
All it takes is one moment for your entire world to turn upside down.
The very first moment I finished Kristina McBride's One Moment, I decided to hold off writing a review for a while. It was overwhelming and it definitely was too much for me to handle. I didn't intend to wait this long, but due to the circumstances, I have to post less regularly. But every day that I waited to write this review, this book has crossed my mind, screaming, "Review me already!" which doesn't happen often. Mostly if I hold off for this long, I'll just forget about it and move on. This book is kind of haunting in a way, but other than that, it's pretty amazing.
There are lots of things I really liked and loved about One Moment. For one thing, it's the idea that one moment can change everything. It's fascinating. For me, it's hard to recall which moment in my life that really made a difference. I have tried a lot of times before to think about it, because it's my obsession, but I can't recall the instant in which my life took a different turn. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. If I knew, then maybe I'd have regrets, so maybe it's better off this way. And when I saw what this book is about, I knew I had to read this. For Maggie, that moment is so easy to identify. Even if she can't remember anything as an aftershock, the moment is always on her mind, and when she does remember it, it devastates her.
There's no doubt at all that this book is very well written. This book has three of my favorite things that I love in book: death and heartbreak and emotional devastation. The story line is amazing and it flows smoothly. I think everything is done exactly the way it's supposed to be done. The opening scene wastes no time and jumps right into the plot. I love this. The mystery in this book really kept me on the edge of my seat! What happened? How? Why? It was almost too much to handle! The little bits of what happens on the cliff, the moment that changes everything, slowly come back to Maggie in fragments, then these fragments form together a whole memory. And then one memory leads to another and then she discovers an ugly truth that's been staring her in the face for so long but she hasn't thought much about. I can understand why she hasn't, and I didn't scream "Stupid!" at her like other heroines in the same truth-discovery situation. It's as real and believable as fiction can be. The mysteries and the surprises in this book are totally awesome, and the heartbreaking moments are just as precious.
I couldn't help but love the characters. They're all natural characters. The friendship in their circle of friends is so real, and I can imagine why it never crosses Maggie's mind that two of them will ever stab her in the back. Maggie is strong despite the grief she's feeling, the betrayal, and the heartbreak. I really loved her. I loved the way she copes with things: she learns to cope. It's not easy, but she can do it. She goes all the way to find out the whole truth, gets her heart broken and shattered badly, and she recovers. She lets go. She says goodbye. This is one of the most touching moments in the book. You have to learn to let go at some point. And Joey. Gosh, Joey. Who'd have thought? I can't say I didn't see it coming, because I did, but I didn't think it would go that far, that he's capable of that much evil. But the hint that he might be giving it all up, but dies before he can do so, was totally killing me. If Joey could go back in time and do it all over again, would he change anything? Does he ever regret it? Shannon, despite all the things she's done wrong, has her own reasons too. Can we really blame her? These questions and the fact that Joey isn't here to answer them killed me as painfully as they did Maggie. I loved Adam for being everything that Joey isn't, who loves his friends enough not to say anything, who stands on the sideline watching and helping whenever help is needed, for being so sweet. Not to mention he carries my most favorite male name of all time.
In the end, I can't recall what I didn't like about this book. I love, love, love it. I really enjoyed Kristina McBride's style of writing. This is the first book of hers I've ever read (and already a new favorite!), and I'm sure it won't be last. If you're looking for a combination of a good book, a good time and a good cry, know that this book is patiently waiting for you. (less)
I received the ARC of this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press.
What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.
This book was a love at first sight as well as at first read for me, meaning it is as good as it looks! I was hooked from the very first page where Paige talks about last spring and the accident that changed everything in her life. It's told in such an honest clarity that I fell in love with the voice of Paige Sheridan aka Princess Paige or Perfect Paige.
After the accident, Paige is exiled to Paris. Her mother cleans up the mess that was the accident during her absence. When Paige comes back to Iowa, she expects to see her two best friends, Lacey and Nikki, and her boyfriend Jake, waiting to welcome her back at the airport, but they don't show up. She meets them all later at Jake's barbecue party (if I'm not mistaken), that's when she realizes things aren't exactly the way they were before. Lacey, now crippled from the accident last spring, is mean to her and avoids her. Nikki spends all her time trailing after Lacey and sucking up to her. And Jake doesn't even have time for Paige anymore, always saying something like Lacey's going through a tough time right now and he has to be there for her.
Apparently Paige and Lacey are having a fallout. You'd think that if Lacey's s having it so tough she'd turn to her best friend and tell her what was wrong. But no, that's not what she does. She, in fact, barely says a word to Paige at all since she got back, if not a sarcasm or something mean. That annoys Paige. And the fact that her other best friend and her boyfriend are practically taken away from her by Lacey also annoys her even more.
I totally felt for Paige. I hate people like Lacey. I hate it when best friends turn their backs on each other. I hated Lacey so much. I wanted to smack her head on a goddamn stone. I wanted tattoo "bitch" on her friggin forehead. I wanted to run a car over her. Using her own private misfortunes to manipulate people like that disgusted the hell out of me. It was also no excuse to be a bitch. You know the feeling when you hate someone so much you want to scream and break things? Yep. My hatred for this character was so strong I thought my head was playing tricks on me, but then I realized it was the book. It could make you feel so much. Good job, Backes!
I think the greatest thing in The Princesses of Iowa is the Creative Writing class. I've never had a creative writing class before. High schools where I live don't have this class, which sucks, because it's the one I want to take most, rather than stupid math and frustrating Thai I could never ace. Anyway. Paige takes Creative Writing (which is an elective Jake was supposed to take with her but he changed to Film Appreciation or something because "Lacey needs a friend". Yeah right.). There is a new teacher, Mr. Tremont, who's totally gorgeous and also a great teacher. In this class, they interview a partner, do free writing starting with "I remember...", and do a workshop where the selected few write something for the whole class to analyze and criticize. This is so cool, guys. I never knew what a Creative Writing class is like, 'cause apparently I've never taken one, so it's nice to read about it. Mr. Tremont is awesome. Through this class, Paige slowly discovers things about herself and about other people. She realizes that she's happy when she's with Shanti and Ethan, two new friends she makes in the class, as well as feelings about certain things she never knew she feels that way about before until the free writing. It dawns on her that maybe Princess Paige isn't who she really is, but who she wanted to be, who everyone expects her to be. And maybe she doesn't want to be a princess anymore.
I love that The Princesses of Iowa starts out with the day the accident happened last spring which leaves some questions in our heads, like who was driving, and what happened exactly. I thought the author would leave it at that, and I was prepared to say that I didn't like it that way. But this book goes on to surprise me when near the end, things are finally revealed. Memories start coming back to Paige in vivid details. Love it!
Now, as I already mentioned my hatred for Lacey, let's talk about other characters. I really really do like Paige for her down-to-earth-ness and her honesty. She might seem kind of snobby at first, being the perfect girl everyone looks up to and all, but her character develops and she evolves to become a very likable character indeed. I also like Shanti and Ethan very much. Shanti is this opinionated person who isn't afraid to say just what she's thinking, no matter how unvarnished it is, and takes no crap from no one. Ethan is a funny and sweet guy. A total cutie! He likes to joke and every time he does, I felt myself falling a little bit more for him. At first, Paige is slightly held back with them, but then she relaxes and then she's happy when she's with them. Awww. They really have fun together.
Paige's family is a little bit weird. She rarely ever mentions her father who's actually there. I often found myself convinced that she has no dad or something. Her dad's really nice, from little information we have about him. However, Paige's mom is such a pain in the butt. I mean, what kind of mom insists that her daughter wears only a tiny dress and no sweater although the day is cold as hell, just because the sweater doesn't look good with the dress and that Paige has to make a good first impression because she only has that one chance? Please. She's trying too hard to keep Paige's image perfect that she doesn't really have time to care about the real Paige. I understand why Paige's little sister, Miranda aka Mirror, is so against her in the beginning of the story. Paige is her mom's favorite daughter, I guess, because she's pretty and has a shot at becoming Homecoming Queen. Mirror was practically a bitch to Paige, but then it changes when she sees that Paige has changed. The sisterly love is between them is cute.
Paige's boyfriend Jake and the other best friend Nikki are okay characters to me. Jake seems very endearing at first, but when the Lacey thing happens again and again, he started to bug me. However, he does some really sweet things for Paige, like writing her poems. That's extremely sweet, okay. Another part I like is when Jake accepts it when Paige says it's over, and graciously steps back. Although he's a bit of a jerk, you can't say he's that bad a boyfriend. Clean-cut ending, yay! Nikki similarly bugs me too. She's like a dog trailing after Lacey, always trying to please her. She's also kind of dumb. She hasn't been a great friend to Paige after her return to Iowa, so I can't really say I like Nikki much.
Mr. Tremont = fantastic. Enough said, really. I hope my to-be Creative Writing teacher will be like him.
I didn't have any problem with the length. I didn't think it's too long or much longer than it needs to be. The characters and the story both need time to develop. Honestly I think it's good the way it is, although it really is long. It's so fun to read and so addictive that time just flies by. I really did enjoy Backes' writing. There are some parts where she created fast-paced narrations using no full stops. She just let Paige talk. It's these parts that I really enjoyed reading, because it gave me such excitement and the feeling like I was on top of the roller-coaster going down as my eyes quickly followed the words. She did a great job with both the characters and the storytelling here. Fantastic.
The Princesses of Iowa deals with teen problems such as drinking and driving, friendship falling apart, and self-discovery. Told in a clear and honest voice, it's the kind of book you want to read again. At least for me. I'm definitely going to pick up a copy when it hits bookstores on May 8, 2012. (less)
Hannah Harrington did it again! I hereby worship her and declare my undying love for her, as she's now one of my favorite writers. Actually, she already became one when I read Saving June. I swear, whatever she writes, I'll read. I'm that loyal, and she's that good. And I'm sure her next works will still continue to blow my mind over and over and over and over again. I have no doubt about that at all.
I must admit that I was a little bit surprised to find that Speechless isn't what I thought it would be about. This is because I'd totally got the wrong idea by watching the book trailer released by Harlequin last month. I don't know if this is just me or the misunderstanding is universal (unlikely, though). From the video, I understood that Chelsea Knot (main character) walks in on Noah (whom I thought was her boyfriend) in bed with someone, and then she decides not to speak ever again. Well, that doesn't make much sense, does it? I mean, if that's what it is, then why wouldn't her saying sorry be enough? What does she have to apologize for anyway? She just catches them in bed! Hahaha. I was so clueless. And now, I'm so glad to find that the real story isn't like that!
So what is this book really about? Okay, first, meet Chelsea Knot. She's one of your typical popular girl sidekicks, equipped with sidekick attitude and personality and all. She's proud to be queen bee Kristen's best friend, and she has been for two years. Until one day she isn't anymore. That day at Kristen's party, she walks into a bedroom and finds Noah, one of her schoolmates, in bed with a guy. As a girl who can't keep a secret, she rushes downstairs and tell Kristen and her jock friends. Noah and his guy friend leave the party. It couldn't ended like that. But this is where things go wrong: her jock friends decide to chase after them to teach them a lesson, which is jock language for beating the shit out of them. And duh, that's what happens. They beat him up so terribly that he lies in coma in the hospital bed. Chelsea knows this too, and so she calls the cops, who later put her jock friends in jail. And then Chelsea is hated by everyone including her "friends."
She's called a lot of names such as "rat," "stupid whore," and "bitch," to which she replies "Bitch? Really? Whoever is behind this is in dire need of a thesaurus. The level of creativity is tragic more than anything." You gotta love her. But that's beside the point. The point is her so-called friends turn their backs on her, and this put her on the receiving end of all the things she's done while being Kristen's sidekick. It's terrible and ridiculous, now she realizes that. And she's sorry. Not for the social status it costs her, but for what she's done to land people in coma and in jail. Realizing running her mouth does more harm than good, she decides to "do the world a favor" by taking a vow of silence.
Speechless totally blew me away. It tackles tough issues like bullying and LGBT rights and still can manage to be funny and very entertaining without being too heavy. I love how Chelsea, determined to be silent, makes an evident progress in sympathizing with other people and listening to them, which I don't think she would've learned, had none of this happened to her. It's like she opens up her mind more and becomes a better person. Her character development is impressive. Chelsea goes from the girl who follows Kristen around, not really having an opinion of her own, who lives to gossip, to a selfless version of herself who cares about others and stands firmly for something she believes in. Although many reviewers say that they find Chelsea difficult to like at first, it was the opposite with me. I liked her from the beginning, but not because I liked what she was doing. I liked her voice as it resonated in my head, giving me things to think. I liked how her character is very well portrayed and well-developed that it's hard not to think she's real and to feel like you already know her.
Other characters are great as well. I think this is one of the many outstanding talents of Hannah Harrington. She can create well-crafted characters that feel so real and so alive and so wonderful. I love Chelsea's two new awesome friends, Sam and Asha. They come into her life and make it all better. Asha is bubbly and sounds like a fun person to be around. And Sam, oh-my-god Sam, is so cute! I'm not even going to gush about him, because it would be really over-the-top. Noah and Andy, they're lovely. I love Noah for this:
"Hate is...it's too easy," he says. His face is calm, calmer than it has any right to be, his eyes not wavering from mine, like he's so completely sure of what he's saying. "Love. Love takes courage."
I'm sure this must've put tears in my eyes, even though I don't remember it. It's like, wow. Forgiveness. It's awesome. It's totally worth having your eyes brimmed with tears. As I earlier stated, Chelsea's voice totally impresses me. No, actually, Hannah Harrington's writing renders me speechless. (Haha!) This is one of the things I love Hannah Harrington for. Whenever her characters talk to us, I know it's my cue to grab my highlighters. Gosh, I can't begin to explain this. I'm a big fan of words and when words line up as beautifully as Hannah Harrington's do, I'm hypnotized. I'm seriously lost and I drown in them. It's her thing, I supposed. Whenever her characters tell us what they're thinking or how they're feeling, it's almost always something memorable that never fails to strike a chord with me. This also happened a lot of times with Saving June, her debut novel.
If I were to compare Saving June with Speechless, I'd say I loved Saving June more. Because it's true. I'd also say they are quite different from each other. In my opinion, Saving June is tinted with teenage angst and sadness of someone who's lost a loved one, which hits very close to home for me and therefore scores more points. While Speechless doesn't have that kind of sad vibe I love so much, it's still a great journey of a girl trying to find her own voice, a story about mistakes, forgiveness, bullying, and the right to love. I can't say which one is better but I can assure you that both books are brilliant.
With beautiful prose (as always), wonderful characters, cute romance and just enough humor, Speechless is guaranteed to take you on an awesome journey that will leave you... well, speechless! (Ha!)
I received the digital version of this book from NetGalley and the publisher for review. --------
Words of wisdom from Hannah Harrington in the Q&A section: "Words matter--how we use them and how we don't. Sometimes it is really difficult and even scary to speak up for what you believe is right, but it is important to do. At the end of the day you answer to yourself, no one else, so you'll be happy that you did."
I received the ARC version of this book from NetGalley and Random House to read for review.
Well, I'm a sucker for sad stories. This one is it. This book made me cry big time.
Someone Else's Life is sad, dramatic, and tense. Heavy stuff, you might say. I enjoyed it very much, although it's kind of too long for my taste. The writing is enjoyable, the story rich and powerful.
Rosie Kenning, 17, decides to have her DNA tested to see whether she's inherited Huntington's Disease that took her mother Trudie away from her. This disease is hereditary and the offspring has 50 percent chance of inheriting it. Sarah, Trudie's best friend and midwife, tells Rosie that she doesn't need the test, because she definitely doesn't have the disease. The reason Sarah is so sure is that Sarah swapped Rosie with another baby. She meant well. That night, two mothers gave birth to two babies. One was Trudie, the other a 17-year-old girl who wanted to give her baby up for adoption. Trudie's husband was driving to the hospital to be with her but got into a car accident and was killed that very night. The baby Trudie desperately needed was extremely weak and it looked like it wouldn't survive. The other girl's baby who was named Holly Woods, on the other hand, was healthy, and in no way wanted by the mother. Sarah thought she wouldn't be able to stand watching Trudie suffer anymore that she already did, so she swapped these two babies, believing it was the right thing to do, since Trudie's baby was going to die, and the other wasn't wanted. When Rosie hears this, she is devastated. Then everything begins to make sense -- the way Trudie's hair color was chestnut while hers is dark, etc. It's around then that Andy, Rosie's ex boyfriend, comes around again. Together they try to search for Rosie's biological mother, only to find out that she's working as an actress in America. When Andy says he's going traveling, Rosie sees it as a perfect opportunity to look for her, as America is the first destination. It starts out as a quest to only find her biological mother, but little does Rosie know how many lives she will be affecting, how much pain she'll be causing... It is much more than she bargains for.
Such a powerful story! WHOA WHOA WHOA! Seriously. I remember crying my eyes out for such a long, long time, and I wasn't even half way through yet. I have to admit I have never heard of Huntington's Disease before I read this book. It was heart-breaking to read how greatly and horribly a disease can affect you and the people around you. I personally find the story very rich and complex. Kind of complicated, too, but that's what makes the story so interesting. There's always something that keeps you from putting the book down. Always some sub-plots and twists and turns that are constantly thrown into the story.
If you plan to read this book, know that you just sign up for an emotional roller coaster ride. A good one, too, I might add. There's sadness, confusion, anger, jealousy, guilt, shock, surprise as well as love and hatred. It was overwhelming for me in a good way. To feel all these emotions within an hour or something. I was feeling sad and sympathetic with Rosie for a moment, and then the perspective switched and I was extremely angry at Rosie, cursing her, hating on her. I was really into the story. It has a way to suck you right in.
I like how the characters are portrayed. But to talk about them here is like showing you spoilers, because there are many more characters involved in this than you might imagine. So, no, not gonna do that. I only have a few things to mention about the main characters that you already know about: Rosie and Andy.
Hmm... I don't think there's a gentler way to put this... but I kind of hate Rosie. I don't know... I guess some things are better left alone, especially when it's too late to change anything. But of course, she has to try to find her mother, and when she does, that should be the end of it, accept it and move on. Except that it isn't and she doesn't. She has to make her way into other lives and shatter them with all this I-have-to-tell-them thing. Really? I don't think so, Rosie. You think you're doing them a big favor by showing up and changing everything, but darling, I think they're better off before you came around. Sorry.
And Andy. Ugh, dear God. He annoys me. This guy keeps leaving her and keeps coming back. He keeps demanding the truth and promising to understand and can't take it and keeps getting mad. If it's just once or twice, it would be fine with me. But it was more than that. If I'm not mistaken, it's around 4 or 5 times. What an ass. If a guy kept leaving you and coming back and saying sorry, would you always forgive him and then everything would be okay like Rosie and Andy here? No for me! Make up your mind, Andy, it's either leave or stay! Ugh!
Anyway, enough with the rant. Those were the only problems I had with this book, along with the length, which in my opinion is much longer than it really needs to be. Other than these, this book is great. If you like sad and dramatic and heavy stories with powerful emotions, this book is definitely for you!