Gypsy by Trisha Leigh was my first experience with author Trisha Leigh’s work, but I am certain that it won’t be my la...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
Gypsy by Trisha Leigh was my first experience with author Trisha Leigh’s work, but I am certain that it won’t be my last.
In Gypsy by Trisha Leigh, we meet a girl named… well, Gypsy. And her politically incorrect name (fitting for the book’s plot; those who named her aren’t exactly concerned with the PC factor) isn’t the only interesting thing about her.
With powers of a minor magnitude, Gypsy grew up on a secluded Southern plantation with other teens like her– the Cavies (another name that almost didn’t work for me until I learned the contextual meaning). One day, the Cavies are torn from the only life that they’d ever known at a secluded farm called Darley.
Despite the fact that I dug that Darley gave me a vaguely “Xavier’s Institute of Higher Learning” (of X-Men fame) vibe, I was thrilled when our time there was short. The world simply felt too limited while there. Trisha Leigh established the character’s roots there very well, but when the Cavies are restored to the “real” world, well… that was when things got interesting.
Because despite the fact that they’re expected to live like “normal” teenagers, the fact is that the Cavies are not normal. And now that they’ve left Darley, the world knows about them… and some know more than they should. I loved the Cavies coming together to try to work out what’s happening to them– to understand their past and who is targeting them now. The danger and mystery is interesting and engaging, but I admit that my focus lies primarily with character and relationship arcs for this book.
Gypsy is thrilled to be getting the chance to be normal after being united with her father and told that she’ll be attending high school. I liked the fact that Gypsy’s interactions with her new acquaintances and friends feel genuine, but they don’t keep her from missing the other Cavies. She maintains the bond with them while simultaneously finding her own footing, and discovering confidence and leadership that she never would have had at Darley.
Leigh also plays with some love tropes (at least I think she does, though I expect I won’t really know for certain until later books). One thing reminds me the teeeeeeniest bit of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater but shhhh, I can’t tell you what. Spoilers, after all. There are times when things sort of have a vague love triangle feel, but never overtly. It’s more of a love blob. You have to squint at it.
The blob doesn’t detract though. The blob is fine, all hail the blob.
Going hand-in-hand with Gypsy’s attempts at normal life, one of my favorite things about Gypsy by Trisha Leigh was the blooming relationship between Gypsy– who learns her birth name is Norah– and her rediscovered father. He seems like a genuine dude and I loved the two of them trying to navigate what “normal” father-daughter rules are together.
But I had to respect Gypsy when, in the end, she decides it’s more important to make her own rules.
Basically, Fleetwood Mac would agree… You should “see your Gypsy.”
DNF at about 16%. Simply couldn't get into the book. I did find the world quirky and interesting, but it seemed to read as a younger YA, closer to the...moreDNF at about 16%. Simply couldn't get into the book. I did find the world quirky and interesting, but it seemed to read as a younger YA, closer to the middle grade range which isn't my cup of tea.(less)
Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is the kind of book that held a lot of promise for me: a fantasy concept of betrayal and death, an interesting chapter set-up, and a cover that is kind of bananas-awesome.
But those things are not enough to hook a reader, and here’s what lead to me declaring Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper DOA– errrr… DNF.
Predictability- I’m not sure if this was intentional or what, but there were “twists” as early in as the first few chapters of Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper… and I saw them basically as each new character was introduced
Distant narration- We go through multiple POVs, which is fine, but we’re distant… especially in the opening chapter which is not only distant, but BORING. Justin Somper seems to have been going for the slow poetic, meandering feel, but missed by a mile. The ruler of the kingdom was just assassinated. A little more urgency wouldn’t have been out of place.
Filtering- So, Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is written in 3rd person past, which isn’t the closest POV as a rule, but that’s not something that would have ruined it on its own. (While I think that 1st present or past would have helped it, that’s neither here nor there) But there is a lot of “Jared could see” and “Jared felt” going on which only distanced us more. To put me with the character, the writer should have removed that extra layer of distancing… at least sometimes.
Adverbs and adjectives- I LOVE ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES TOO, JUSTIN SOMPER, BUT JEEZ. To make matters worse, he often used two-four adjectives for one thing (a la “It was ___ and ____, _____ and _____”).
Dialogue tags- Sometimes you don’t need them. And Jesus, sometimes, they can just “say” a thing instead or needing to “inform” or what-have-you.
Repeating unusual word choice in close proximity- When you use the word “conjure” to describe someone imagining/picturing something, I like it the first time. When you do it again a few pages later, I’m rolling my eyes at you.
Basically, internally editing as I read got real old, real quick. This book made an assassin of me– and the victim was my reading of it.
I was quite unsure how I’d feel but #scandal by Sarah Ockler, to be honest with you. These types of stories– the ones where the main character becomes ostracized at school– don’t have a history of resonating with me.
But I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of #scandal.
Let’s get this statement out of the way: if you are looking for a book in which the main characters hold long conversations about the meanings of their lives, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a book that is fun– a book where the characters’ relationships change around their situations– you might find yourself enjoying #scandal.
I used to watch both Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl, and I found that #scandal appealed to the part of me that was into those shows. There’s the element of feeling a bit watched, feeling reported on, like there are eyes and ears everywhere– and yes, trying to take down the mastermind behind the drama. It’s exciting– especially in an age where social media is more and more pervasive in our society and does, in fact, infiltrate the lives of students at school. Some parts are certainly far-fetched (I did not quite buy the student organization against social media, for instance), but I derived pure enjoyment from them.
My main quibbles were 1) that I saw coming– and was disappointed by– the social media “tattler.” And 2) that Cole, the boy whom this drama revolves around, did not make me swoon. I did not get why Lucy would be willing to take the risk of a friendship on him.
Still… this book was a fast, light read and while I don’t think it will have much staying power after a couple of Facebook platform updates, it’s enjoyable in the meantime.
Better than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or somet...moreBetter than I remembered. (Seriously, I remembered only the vaguest things about this... I'm wondering if I was sick the first time I read it or something)(less)
I hate reality tv. Hate it. Which is why I didn’t initially request Something Real by Heather Demetrios, which was SUC...morePosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I hate reality tv. Hate it. Which is why I didn’t initially request Something Real by Heather Demetrios, which was SUCH a huge mistake.
Because it’s utterly and 100% fantastic. Thankfully a slew of positive reviews from bloggers I trust convinced me to buy it, for I now have a new favorite sitting on my shelf.
Reality TV sets the stage in Something Real, certainly, but it provides the framework for our main character who has a simple problem: she wants only to be the version of herself that she feels she is. Born Bonnie™ Baker, she goes by Chloe now– the name that she chooses. Her mom, the producers of the show, and, well… America press her to act like someone she’s not and the situation grows increasingly fraught with tension.
This point was particularly driven home by the author’s mention of 1984 and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. A character analogizes being knowingly observed, as with cameras and the like, to the social media age, where we send versions of ourselves out into the ether. She goes a step further and makes the point that people act differently with their friends or family than at school. We are constantly oscillating between versions of ourselves based on what people expect from us.
Something Real is about finding the courage to stand up for who you are, despite what others want you to be.
Thankfully, Chloe has a great support system in certain members of her family. Benton™ is her brother and he’s AMAZING. Benny is funny and wonderful and cares very genuinely for his sister in a way that comes off the page as real. He’s exactly the sort of brother you’d want to have. One who is your best friend, but who doesn’t try to convince anyone that means he’s the boss of you.
There’s also Patrick, aka The Boy. Despite a relationship that is only just budding, Patrick not only stands by Chloe, but becomes one of her biggest support systems. Patrick is funny and sweet, and I loved that he doesn’t charge in to try to save Chloe. He helps where he can, but he gets that she needs to save herself.
There’s also Chloe’s best friends Mer and Tessa, who are great. They’re the types of friendships that I love– strong, non-antagonistic female friendships. Other authors, more like this, please!
Actually, you know what I can say about the relationships in Something Real across the board? They grow. None of them remain stagnant, which is perfect. Because as people grow and change, their relationships must too. From the first spark with Patrick to a boyfriend. From friends that know her only as Chloe, but get her past as Bonnie™. To Chloe’s sibling Lexie™ who is still pissed about her past as Bonnie™, but grows to forgive her as Chloe. To Benny’s relationship with his boyfriend, WHICH IS SO PERFECT I’M STILL BEAMING ABOUT IT.
To Chloe’s relationship with her mother, already pulled tight and fraying at the seams.
I wanted a different ending to this book, but the one that Heather Demetrios gave her readers was absolutely the right one for Something Real. (view spoiler)[What I hoped to be given was a mother that stood up for her daughter, and a family that stood clapping in the stands at Chloe and Benny’s graduation. Chloe’s mom keeps her family on the show. Lexie™ is the only one who comes to the graduation.
And that’s what was right for Something Real. It would have cheapened the book’s theme of standing up for yourself if Chloe’s mother had been the one who “saved” her in the end. The proud and smiling family at graduation is what I wanted– which is how I know it’s how MetaReel, or reality tv, would have scripted things. It would have felt false for this story. (hide spoiler)]
It was a simple message that life isn’t all it appears to be in media. Life simply is.
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