After Pushing The Limits (Pushing The Limits #1), in which Echo and Noah's chemistry blew me away, I've always looked forward to more of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series. Crash Into You is about Isaiah, a foster kid, who was never my favourite character but not my least favourite either; someone we always caught glimpses of in the previous books and seemed so let down in Dare You To. He's practically Noah's brother, was mooning after Beth and finally, in Crash Into You, we get a close-up of him.
I finally understood him and respected him so much for everything he had made of himself despite the odds that are stacked up against him.
Despite having the punk-boy-meets-rich-girl-and-there-are-obstacles storyline that has the potential to be so cliched, Crash Into You was funny, sweet and surprising. The credit, I think, goes to the characters who popped out of the page and refused to be pigeonholed into a "type".
Isaiah meets pretty, wide-eyed and car-crazy Rachel Young at a drag race and their story accelerates from there. It's partly told in Rachel's point of view which I really enjoyed as Rachel had this innocence about her that was so refreshing! Seeing Isaiah through Rachel's eyes was incredible- even for Isaiah. She saw the best in him, made him feel worthy and in the process, we get to see how strong and loyal she is, despite the people around her overprotecting her. She's definitely not the textbook-private-school-girl teen reads love to portray. The girly, giddy rush that accompanies first love was written so well that I was grinning like an idiot whenever we got to read about the events from Rachel's perspective!
Isaiah's social worker, Courtney, was pretty awesome too. I loved how while she was still learning the ropes, she cared enough to make sure Isaiah knew she was there for him in the long-term. Abby, Isaiah's friend, came off shady in the beginning but ended up being endearing and yes, a little strange but in a good way. Echo, Noah, Beth and Logan make cameo appearances while we also get acquainted with the Rachel's brothers: Ethan, West and the lot. There is also a "villain", street thug Eric, who is not-so-three-dimensional and a little over-the-top but it kind of went with the adrenaline-junkie-cars-backdrop, so I don't think it made the story flawed in any way.
Isaiah and Rachel make perfect sense in a way that made me cheer for them throughout! I loved how they never for a second doubted their feelings for each other and accepted that Rachel's parents weren't going to greet him with open arms immediately; two things that might've been a source of relationship theatrics in most books. By throwing light on the weight that comes with the prospect of aging out of the foster system and painting the beginnings of a relationship that is joyous, transforming and far from superficial, I enjoyed reading Crash Into You even more that Dare You To. I was reading this on my phone non-stop, through bus rides, in the supermarket, you name it, and it was definitely worth the ride!(less)
Skimming through the blurb of Elite, I was... quite taken with the plot. It seemed mysterious and sexy. Very what I wanted my next New Adult read to be like: with some of the tried-and-tested New Adult formula, Gossip Girl-style drama mixed a dash of mystery and action. But once I started reading the book, I was... just... so...
I couldn't connect with the premise. And that's never a good thing.
Rachel Van Dyken sets Elite in Eagle Elite College; the destination of the rich and privileged. It is like a kingdom on its own and a gateway to opportunity. This mini-kingdom is however highly regulated as everything, from the cliques, lunch hall passes to elevator rides, are controlled by The Elect; consisting of Nixon and his posse.
Tracey Rooks is a country girl who, after spending half her life in a farm, is swept into the exclusive world of Eagle Elite College. Of course, since she's on scholarship, she is automatically treated like vermin by the populace there and dubbed Farm Girl. When she refuses to be treated like dirt and rebels against the "system", she catches the eye of Nixon. What follows is a capitalisation of how Everything is Not As It Seems, senseless attacks and slut shaming, regular students who behave like uneducated flakes, a surface-level love triangle, some mafioso-style action and Revelations (with a capital R) connected to Tracey's repressed childhood and lineage.
I found nearly half of it highly improbable and the other half repulsive.
Why would things like the number of elevator rides a person is allowed per day or lunch room allocation be left to a group of students, however high up and powerful they are? What's with nearly. every. person. in the book having zero redeeming qualities?
Barring Chase and Nixon's sister, Monroe, every other character -however significant or insignificant their role in the scheme of things- was stereotypical and judgmental. They weren't beyond egg-ing the New Girl or depriving her of her lunch just because she was "poor", "farm girl" and -allegedly- a "slut". The drama had a pained and sickly edge to it, very unlike the deliciousness of scandals in Gossip Girl.The students of Elite were more a part of a mob than individuals, echoing each other at every turn in a way that made me want to tear my hair apart. What do they even teach them at this place?
Seventy five percent of the book is filled with such WTF moments that go WAY over your head. It is ridiculous. It is over the top. It is riddled with implausible extremities. Even the love story, which had its moments, was ninety percent garbage. I wonder if Nixon would've ever acted on his attraction for Tracey, or if it would've been more than a lust-filled affair, if he hadn't figured out who she really was. It's a pity as the writing is not half bad, Tracey's back story is laced with genuine charm and tragedy and there are some parts that do make you swoon. Also, it's fair to say that the plot never dragged or felt dreary at any point.
Too bad most of it was unbelievably ludicrous! Elite #1 almost ruined the whole lives-of-the-rich-and-privileged theme for me. I would definitely not want to attend Eagle Elite College... even for a day... nor am I curious about what's in store for these characters in the later books.(less)
(Review to appear on my blog On Books! on the 28th of September.)
Friday Night Alibi ended up being a standard New Adult affair with the two main ch...more2.5
(Review to appear on my blog On Books! on the 28th of September.)
Friday Night Alibi ended up being a standard New Adult affair with the two main characters with lonely and painful pasts respectively, kisses, quarrels and a predictable reconciliation. The protagonist, Kelli Pinkins, uses her squeaky clean rich girl reputation to act as people's Friday Night Alibis -all for good pay, of course- when they are out partying or with a girl their parents don't approve of instead. This is until twentysomething Chase walks into her life with his terrible pick-up lines and threatens to put her job and heart at stake.
Do you believe in judging a book by its cover?
Do you believe in judging a book by its blurb?
Then, chances are you'll get exactly what you're looking for if you decide to read Friday Night Alibi. Me? I expected a little more Veronica Mars-style snark and a little less fluff, given that the main character has a rather clever side business going on! That, I did not fully get but to be fair, I shouldn't have expected.
Some things I did end up enjoying in spite of the predictable ups and downs of the plot:
-It's light and funny despite the angstiness that slowly creeps in -The main character, Kelli, lends a good deal of sass to the book! -Kelli and Chase do not have the worst chemistry -It was just the sort of silly but harmless read that was right for the summer -While the slang-laden writing felt a bit too much in the beginning, I warmed up to it pretty quickly. Towards the end, I think I enjoyed it
What put me off was that while Friday Night Alibi was a sunny read and impossible not to like... other than Kelli's job as your Friday-night Alibi, this book felt like every other New Adult book. Girl in college or heading to college- check. Tortured boy or seemingly normal boy with a sad past- check. Dependence on each other to work through their problems- check.
Chase did have his moments, though. Chase and Kelli's first meeting made me laugh out loud! I had to give it to Chase for using the worst pick up line ever and infuriating the poor girl! While the characters were likable, their characterisation did not make up for the plot basically consisting of every love-hate situation you can think of. I also could not buy into Kelli's poor-little-rich-girl troubles.
All in all, I ended up liking Friday Night Alibi in spite of myself. I just wish it had stepped outside what seems to be the tried and tested formula of every New Adult book in the block.(less)
It was the sunny yellow cover that made me request A Really Awesome Mess on NetGalley. It was the wacky characters thrown into...moreFrom my blog: On Books!
It was the sunny yellow cover that made me request A Really Awesome Mess on NetGalley. It was the wacky characters thrown into a reform school of sorts, Heartland Academy (later jokingly rechristened Assland) that ultimately made me warm up to the book.
I started reading the book nearly a month ago during a 9AM-5PM power cut and finished it on the same day. Yet, somehow, I kept putting off reviewing it... very unlike times when I'm absolutely brimming with things to say about a book that I have to review it immediately. I guess this was partly because while A Really Awesome Mess wasn't unremarkable or terrible, it wasn't very memorable either. It was one of those books that was just okay.
I liked the protagonist, Emmy, well enough. She was struggling with a lot of issues that might have stayed buried if it weren't for her backlash to an incident in her school that got her suspended. It lands her in Heartland Academy, where she meets the kids in her Anger Management therapy group; most of whom are as much in denial about why they were sent to Heartland. There's Justin, still coming to terms with his parent's divorce and caught in a compromising position by his father, "psycho" Diana, pig-loving Jenny who refuses to speak, a compulsive liar and others who band together with a goal to make their stay in Heartland as far from resembling hell as possible.
In the course of the book, there's moments of hilarity, surprising intensity complete with occasional pangs and flutters. The characters were diverse as far as personalities and backgrounds go and the bonds forged felt unpretentious; which I think is what I appreciated most about the book. The therapeutic process was realistic and even gut wrenching with insights that did not feel cliched or formulaic. There is a rather unrealistic pig subplot thrown in which a lot of readers felt was too much... but since I was in the mood to suspend disbelief, I enjoyed it! It was cute, a little over the top and yet was pretty essential to tie some of the loose plot-ends together.
All in all, A Really Awesome Mess was pretty darn awesome. I would compare it to a part-entertaining and part-insightful TV Movie that would go great with a bowl of butter popcorn and unfinished homework! I'd watch parts of it if it came on TV again but wouldn't really go out of my way to purchase it. Definitely a borrow-not-buy, this one.(less)
Dare You To, like Pushing The Limits, was an engaging read that made quite the impact (see tag: swooon)! Both Beth and Ryan are trapped, almost, because of where they come from and in Dare You To, these barriers are recognized before they come apart. They were wonderfully fleshed out characters who stayed with me even after their story ended.
I loved Ryan's growth throughout Dare You To. While on the outside, he seemed like Mr. Perfect, it was because he was following the perfectly mapped out life his father had planned for him. While his father was very invested in Ryan and his brother's future, it seemed to be to the point of being controlling. Ryan's brother, Mark, was shunned from the family the minute he did not meet the Perfect-Family criteria and only in the course of the book does Ryan stand up for his brother and go after what he wants. I kept picturing Dan from One Tree Hill as Ryan's father!
I felt Ryan's growth made him ready to be with Beth. Ready to dispel the beliefs in her head that no one is trustworthy and everyone can hurt her- beliefs triggered by very traumatic experiences He is everything she needs and together, they are so much more. My heart went out to Beth throughout the novel and I was so glad she found Ryan. We also get glimpses of the central characters from Pushing The Limits: Noah, Echo, Isaiah and Rico. Let me just say Isaiah's presence was heart wrenching and haunted me throughout the novel! I'm glad he gets a story of his own in Katie McGarry's upcoming novel!
Dare You To is told in two points of view, just like in Pushing The Limits and is a sweet, intense and explosive story!(less)
It's 3AM and my mind is reeling as in the past few hours, I have chuckled, smiled and cried into the early morning hours reading this beautiful gift for teens. I vaguely recall the numerous teen reads that filled my bookshelf when I was still in high school and NONE of them match up to the complexity and depth with which Confessions of An Almost-Girlfriend explores various issues that grapple us at the age of sixteen.
Confessions of An Almost-Girlfriend is the second part of the Confessions series, so if you're reading this review and haven't read the previous book, you would probably want to look up the first part.
The second Confessions book turns up the angst, conflict and confusion a notch which I thought would be impossible. The first book was an angry emotional rollercoaster on its own! Here, Rose struggles even more with standing out versus blending in, taking a stand versus staying away, figuring herself out and figuring others out. She finds it impossible to stay away from her grief over her father's passing away one and a half years ago as that's the only way she finds herself holding on to him. She struggles with trying to understand her mother's feelings as she wants Rose to shut down the memorial website she made for her father and cannot understand Jamie, the boy she adores, who is tapping at her window one minute and telling her they will not work out the next second.
Rose wonders if she's cut out for anything as her friends seem to blossom and shine around her. At the same time, she doesn't know what to do with compliments, always second guessing them and doubting herself. I felt so involved as she struggled and came closer and closer to facing up to who she was and accepting herself for it. A lot of things were beyond her control and a lot of decisions slipped out of her reach and that only added to the realism of the plot.
On the surface, Confessions has all the elements any teen series would have: cheerleaders, best friend problems, hook ups, break ups, crushes, bullying, mean girls and partying. What makes this series so much more intense is the layers with which various social issues that involve teens are explored; from identity to tolerance.
What more, there is so much more to these characters than what high school stereotype they fall under or the clique they belong too. There's a flicker of humanity even in the heartless "swim thug" the protagonist used to relate to in the eighth grade; before he entered high school and his ego grew with it. The mean girl has a story of her own. The protagonist is jealous, inconsiderate, irrational, self-doubting and indecisive at times but never refuses to acknowledge it. Nothing is black or white and the dynamics between various characters run deep. And they learn. They learn so much about real world issues without making it look like an After School Special.
By the end of the novel, I was proud. Of all of these characters. Of everything they had become when just a novel ago (Confessions #1), they had just started high school and had been scorned and stomped over in every way. Despite the feeling that at times, there felt like there were too many issues and it felt like everyone had way too much on their plate, I still applaud this novel and the series for what it is. I cannot wait to read the next novel for more of this wholesome, emotional, honest and REAL series that I wish was written and published when I was still in high school.(less)
I was excited to read Twerp because of a review that compared it to Wonder by RJ Palacio which was one of my favourite books of 2012! Julian "Twerp" Tverski is a sixth grader who, along with his friends, was caught throwing eggs on a kid called Danley Dimmel. When Julian is assigned to write a journal which includes a report of the incident by his English teacher, he starts writing because it also gets him out of a Shakespeare report. Soon enough, it almost becomes a regular journal as Julian finds it to be helpful in making sense of his friends, misunderstandings involving love letters, a running competition that might squander his self esteem and more.
I hate to compare one book with another but while reading Twerp, I kept thinking that it lacked the certain something that made my favourite Middle Grade reads extremely endearing and poignant. It wasn't that Twerp didn't strike a chord, it's just that overall, it didn't impact me as much.
It wasn't that the book was completely lacking. The main character, Julian, was wonderfully fleshed out. I felt like we got to know Julian as how he saw himself and of course through his conversations with other people, particularly his sister, we got to see things he didn't see as well. Julian is a smart and well-meaning kid who gets carried away sometimes when he's with his friends- particularly his best friend Lonnie, who can be pretty manipulative.
I found the first chapter pretty hard to get into. It definitely helped set the stage but somehow, it just wasn't shaping up to be my kind of read. I'm not sure why this was; maybe because I was unable to relate to the exploits of an eleven year old boy? It might have just been a subjective thing. However, as I read on, I found myself sucked into Julian's life as he opens up about his fears, his hopes and moments of self doubt. I loved that it was set in the sixties...the subplots were age-relevant and the way they were dealt with was enjoyable. Julian's a pretty standard kid who makes mistakes, does things he isn't proud of, gets taken advantage of at times but faces up to it when the consequences tear him apart.
This book asked the right questions, never took the easy way out when it came to depiction of issues like bullying and innocence and I applaud the author for that! Overall, Twerp was a rewarding and accurately portrayed coming of age story that is sure to have more of an impact on younger readers.(less)
I had NO idea what this book was about till I dove headfirst into it. And I'm glad. It made the plot, at its core, all th...moreReview originally posted here
I had NO idea what this book was about till I dove headfirst into it. And I'm glad. It made the plot, at its core, all the more heart crushingly poignant.
The Opposite of Hallelujah opens with the arrival of Caro's elder sister, Hannah who had left home eight years ago. Hannah's departure from the family is something Caro could never understand, making her the sister Caro pretended was dead. Eight years later, Caro still feels the need to hide Hannah's existence. Only when clues to what made Hannah leave in the first place are unearthed, Caro is shocked at what has sister has been dealing with all along.
I could relate to Caro's annoyance and unexplainable shame when it came to explaining her sister. Her sister, Hannah, was after all mostly absent during her pivotal years as a kid and there was no concrete explanation for her absence. There is something so flinchingly honest about so many of the conflicts, Caro's own thoughts and how she coldly ignored what she didn't understand. And when the rationale behind Hannah's choices is delved into, the impact of the raw pain and guilt that had been suppressed for so long gave me the chills.
While the book dealt with heavy themes, there was this innocence about it that made me fall in love with the story. I felt a part of the Mitchell family, loved getting to know Caro's love interest, Father Bob and the other secondary characters also felt so real... they instantly stole my heart! I cannot imagine going through that roller coaster of confusion, pain and epiphany again, it's just that kind of book but I thoroughly enjoyed the journey. While it was more of a one-time read for me, it was definitely a compelling one at that.(less)
The collage cover is ADORABLE and well, so is the book. Dante's Girl is another book taking on the dream-boy-in-dream-destination theme. Reece's chance encounter with Dante happens while boarding her last flight to London where she spends every summer with her father. Son of the most important man in a gorgeous-unheard-of Greek island, Dante is too good to be true. And so is the rest of her summer at said Mediterranean paradise, where she inadvertently ends up.
If you are willing to suspend disbelief, drink in the over-the-top-ness of certain situations and sigh happily rather than roll your eyes every time Dante is described as "beautiful", this book practically has your name written on it. It has that breezy stream-of-consciousness writing style that's perfect for this kind of book... and the main character, Reece, is down to earth, starry eyed and ordinary in a manner that is lovable. It has all the prerequisites of a dreamy summer romance.
I, however, couldn't sigh happily every time Dante was described as "beautiful" and did roll my eyes at some of the over-the-top situations. But despite my lukewarm feelings towards this book (it's a like-not-love for me), I am certain it does have the potential to be in your love-love-love list.(less)
I knew I was meant to read Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill the minute I saw it on Goodreads. Everything about it sounded so CUTE: the cover, the plot and the characters... How can you not want to read about a possible love-hate relationship, a mystery man and childhood crush, all on a school trip to London? Especially when it's all happening to Julia, the most unlikely candidate for boy drama!
Julia, an accident-prone word lover and stringent follower of rules, is pretty much on her own on her school trip to London. Her best friend, Phoebe, couldn't make it to the trip and the rest of her classmates on the trip are not her type at all. They spend most of their "cultural hours" shopping than doing anything else. When Julia is partnered with Jason, the class clown, she's sure Jason is going to ruin the trip for her... as he's the kind of person who manages to turn everything into a joke.
But surprise, surprise... there's so much more to Jason, who after way too many deals, promises to help Julia find the identity of the person who's been sending her romantic texts. There's secret identities, secret admirers and numerous mishaps gone right in this book as Julia realises that her search for her MTB (meant-to-be) ended sooner than she thought it did.
Being an accident-prone word lover who takes too few risks myself, I enjoyed living vicariously through Julia as she experiences the adventure of a lifetime! There no one who could've shaken her up and gotten her to live more than Jason Lippincott (how I love that name!) who I looved from their very first interaction at the beginning of the trip. I've become seriously immune to bad boys in Young Adult fiction, making Jason's goofy I-don't-even-take-myself-seriously charm even more authentic and swoon-worthy!
There's also so much of LONDON in this book... whether it's the street culture, quest for the perfect fish 'n chips, Beatles covers and the Stratford-upon-Avon trip... I loved how I felt just a page away from experiencing everything.
Sure, there was a point in the book when it felt like there were way too many boys in Julia's life and the boy-related confusion got a bit too much, especially when Julia's childhood crush, Max Bixford, makes an appearance... but the issue didn't stick long. It was just way too much fun... there was hardly a character I didn't like (though Max Bixford comes close)! Even Mrs. Tennison, who was in charge of the trip and is constantly confiscating phones and handing out punishment essays, was too amusing to be unlikable. And what more, there's a twist at the end that genuinely took me by surprise!
If you haven't found a fun, goofy, sweet and genuinely cutesy read since Anna and the French Kiss (I know I haven't), you have got to read Meant to Be. It's everything the blurb promises to be and more! (less)
Confessions of an Angry Girl made my week! Rose Zarelli, you are my hero. You have ten times the spunk I wish I had in high school.
Rose doesn't have it easy. She's had the worst summer of her life: her dad was killed while working as a contractor in Iraq and now she is starting off her freshman year at Union High being subject to silence from her mother and sympathetic looks from everyone else. To top it all, her best friend Tracy is busy climbing the social ladder and lately, Rose can't help but wonder how they were ever friends in the first place.
With attention from a guy Rose has been crushing on since forever and his girlfriend out for her blood, Rose's freshman year is a mix of highs and lows. The highs make her heart race while the lows make her want to explode into multiple rage attacks. Confessions of an Angry Girl was an amazing book because it was so raw, so real and made me feel fourteen again; with the angst, tangled emotions and all of those firsts.
It was easy to relate to Rose. She was a smart and nice kid who was going through a rough time. She's a confused mess as the people she cares for abandon her without warning and she finds herself all alone... but for Jamie Forta.
I was so intrigued by Jamie who is much older than Rose and seemed too cool for the usual high school drama. I will be interested to see more of him in the next book but I must say Robert, The Other Guy in the Possibly-Future-Love-Triangle was so endearing. He was so SWEET and um, based on how Rose treats him, way too good for her.
But Rose is still one of the more level headed fourteen year olds I've read about... which is great. I'd love to read more about her. It's not easy being anyone in high school; this was evident as Rose feels constantly shunned, even when she's doing the right thing. What is right is not necessarily popular and what is popular, Rose wants nothing to do with (again, so refreshing).
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The fun Gossip Girl references, vivid picture of what it's like being a teen today (they seem to grow up so fast; faster than we ever did) and the sensitive way in which various issues were dealt with has me thoroughly invested in this series already. Take care, Rose. See you soon?(less)
I hate starting my review on such a note but it just wasn't. It wasn't like I had ridiculously high expectations for Beautiful Disaster or anything. I've been told that it's quite the guilty pleasure. But I wasn't looking for more than a college romance I could escape into. I found the university setting, instead of the usual high school setting, pretty refreshing. And yes, the chemistry between the characters was mind blowing. There were times when I was chortling and at other times, completely taken in by the emotional roller coaster that was Abby and Travis's relationship.
But half way into the book, I was just... bored.
I started rolling my eyes at almost every plot device.
And eventually, I got really annoyed.
Abby and Travis are complete opposites. Abby is projected as the prototype of a "good girl" while Travis is a mountain of issues vented out in a floating fight ring through which he earns money to pay for his tuition. But at times, I didn't think Abby and Travis were all that different at all. Travis may be a walking One Night Stand but Abby had an equal amount of issues with commitment. I cringed every time she led Parker -a privileged boy who had the hots for Abby as well- on.
Abby, despite her past and fears, didn't have to go hot and cold with Travis either. It broke my heart every time Abby switched gears in their relationship without any prior warning. It didn't help that all the "obstacles" in Abby and Travis's relationship felt cliched and manufactured.
Yes, Beautiful Disaster is well written and nothing more or less than what it promises to be: a guilty pleasure. The secondary characters aren't all that bad. I really liked Abby's best friend, America. But I couldn't stomach the main character and illogical twists and turns in the plot.
Abby and Travis's story was more of a "disaster" than a beautiful disaster for me: filled with cliches and well, Abby. I was in fundamental disagreement with almost every decision she made throughout the book. If you're looking for a sexy drama-filled romance set in college, Beautiful Disaster might just be for you. It's just not something I loved or would personally reccomend.(less)
It only takes one look at the totally fun cover of The Jelly Bean Crisis to decide it's just the kind of book you might w...moreMore of my reviews: On books!
It only takes one look at the totally fun cover of The Jelly Bean Crisis to decide it's just the kind of book you might want to randomly pick up. But reading The Jelly Bean Crisis made me realise that this book was a far cry from the quirky and funny book I thought it would be. Instead, it was scary relatable. I thought the way Poppy did in high school. I think the way Poppy did even now.
Poppy has always applied the Jelly Bean Theory to all aspects of her life. She gets to the green jelly beans first (or the yucky stuff like homework and studying) and then the orange jelly beans and the others until she finally gets to gobble the red ones, the jelly beans she has been drooling over all along. For Poppy, the red jelly beans were supposed to be her family legacy: a finance degree at Columbia. But then she starts to wonder if maybe, her theory of delayed gratification is all wrong.
Is a full scholarship to Columbia really what she wants in life, or is it what her parents want? Were the red jelly beans worth working her way through all of those green beans? Poppy takes a gap month in which she hopes to figure out what she doesn't like and hopefully something she's truly passionate about. All in all,
The Red Jelly Beans: (or what I LOVED about this book)
- THE MESSAGE. I'm sure there are a lot of people who have no clue about what they want to do with the rest of their life. The Jelly Bean Crisis captures the dilemma amazingly well. I also love how it says that it's okay to get right to the red jelly beans! - I loved the idea of a gap month! It's not as long and scary as a gap year but is nevertheless filled with possibilities! - The characters and all of Poppy's experiences. They were so much fun and I felt Poppy's growth was very realistic. - Poppy's Nana!
The Green Jelly Beans: (or what I didn't love)
- The romance was a little too formulaic for me even though it was pretty sweet.
The Jelly Bean Crisis is a heartwarming and thought provoking story, especially if you're in the process of figuring out your life!(less)
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu takes place in the Community, where computer chips are implanted in everybody's brain; wiping them of any destructive emotions. They are instead Linked to a network which feeds them with constant instructions. When Zoel starts glitching, she gets distanced from the Link and starts experiencing emotions, taste and perceiving the richness of colour for the first time. Should she report the anomalous activity or keep her secret experiences to herself?
Zoe finds it easier to put off turning herself in... especially when her anomalous activity becomes more and more questionable with the sudden emergence of telekinetic powers. And then she finds out there are other glitchers like her and they need to save others from remaining drones under the control of the Community before it's too late.
While my expectations for Glitch weren't sky high, I was taken in by the thrilling storyline. It sounded like the kind of dystopian novel that could shake me up. Unfortunately, for me, at least, the plot fell flat. I wasn't as involved in the plot as I thought I'd be. The characters, like that of Adrien and Zoe, were kind of one-note, especially with the insta-love and love triangle with Max happening.
I appreciated that Max was the embodiment of one extreme where he embraced the darker emotions because he didn't know how to deal with the sudden exposure to them any other way and enjoyed reading about Zoe experiencing her first emotions. It is like living life from scratch... the implications of various feelings and the slow development of love warming my heart.
However, the characters themselves, personality-wise (Zoe and Adrien, for instance) didn't make much of an impact on me. The book wasn't action packed enough and I didn't care for the characters even when it was implied that Zoe grows up to be made of tougher stuff. Max irked me and towards the end, I didn't find myself jumping for the sequel. Glitch clearly wasn't for me but since I did love certain aspects of the plot, there is a good chance that it's the kind of series that might appeal to you. (less)
A bomb, planted by two unnamed students who resent the school and the people who rule it, goes off at Edison Hi...moreOriginally posted on my blog, On books!
A bomb, planted by two unnamed students who resent the school and the people who rule it, goes off at Edison High. Nine die and fifteen others are critically injured. Edison High will never be the same again.
Red Heart Tattoo was a compelling take on the lives of the students at Edison High before and after the bombing. There are the popular kids, the loners and the invisibles. And then the bombing that shakes up the clique system; bringing it to light and then redefining it.
Two characters who stayed in my mind well after I read Red Heart Tattoo: Morgan and Roth. The tragedy transforms them both in ways they could've never imagined. The other characters also cope with the aftermath of the bombing in different ways. I loved how the story showed the larger picture... the ways in which the bombing scarred them and at the same time brought them together.
While Red Heart Tattoo was without doubt well written and thought provoking, it could've been so much more. The characters weren't as well developed as they could've been and the intricacies of the plot could've been explored more. It was a little too fast paced and the resolution of various conflicts seemed a little too rushed... While the heart of the story was phenomenally crafted and heartbreaking, aspects of it weren't as fleshed out as it could've been.
Told in five points of view, Lurlene McDaniel captures the loss, love, frustration, grief and anger felt by these teens as they slowly piece their lives back together.(less)
Every once in a couple of years, I happen to read a book that leaves me filled with awe... reminding of what wo...moreOriginally posted on my blog: On books!
Every once in a couple of years, I happen to read a book that leaves me filled with awe... reminding of what words can do. Code Name Verity took my breath away with a story that broke my heart. The cover haunts me, now that I am aware of the meaning behind it. I can't forget Verity and Maddie and their friendship that was plain beautiful.
You couldn't make these people up, Elizabeth Wein says in the Author's Debriefing and I couldn't agree more. This book was filled with characters that felt so real... I could see them, hear them and feel the intensity of everything around and about them.
“It's like being in love, discovering your best friend.”
“KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!”
"Verity" is a British spy. She looked at the wrong side of the road and now she's at the mercy of the Gestapo, forced to give a full written confession to avoid the worst of consequences. In her confession, Verity writes about her friendship with Maddie, a pilot and the events that led to her capture. Everything about this raw and compelling account had me glued to my e-reader; I could not take my eyes away from the screen, even when I had to muffle a chuckle or blink away tears that threatened to fall.
I do not want to say more about the plot or the characters because it might just give everything away. All I want to say is this: Code Named Verity seemed full of technicalities about flying, codes and World War II that I wasn't sure I would be able to stomach. All those details about something that was alien to me... I couldn't make head or tail of it in the beginning. But I was sucked in soon as the beauty of the relationships and sentiments it was filled with broke through the practiced confession.
I loved the way the story was narrated. Every character, including Verity's captor Hauptsturmfürer von Linden, was multi-layered and intrigued me from the beginning. There are shades of gray in each one of them, including the protagonist. I appreciated the research that was done to give us a vivid picture of the setting behind Code NameVerity. It was especially amazing how the history of the ball point pen was incorporated into the story!
Code Name Verity is definitely one of my favourites of 2012! I want to give a copy of this book to each and every person I meet and say, Read this! For this book was vivid and poignant and crushed my heart into pieces; something that hasn't happened to me in the longest time.(less)
Lies Beneath took me to the depths of Lake Superior and not once did I feel like coming up for...moreReview originally posted on my blog, On books!
Lies Beneath took me to the depths of Lake Superior and not once did I feel like coming up for air. It was brilliant!
I'm relatively new to mermaid YA and I'm already tempted to say Lies Beneath the best(est) in the genre. The mermaids in Lies Beneath are vengeful and murderous. They kill humans by absorbing their energy and are mainly attracted to positive emotions. Calder White may not have killed a human in five months but he's now, along with his three sisters, on a mission to lure Jason Hancock to Lake Superior; given that Jason's father was said to be responsible for their mother's death.
It was very easy to get lost in this novel. I loved the setting and the little things that were revealed about these mermaids. In many ways, Calder was That Paranormal Being who tried to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily, in order to get to Jason with intense stares, relentless stalking and a lot of creepiness that could be mistaken for sexiness.
Thank you, Lily, for getting appropriately peeved and staying away rather than getting instantaneously drawn to somebody who at least initially seemed like he had CREEP written all over him. Sure, you did finally succumb to his charms but it was way after the endless stalking and when you were looking for answers of your own.
Thank you, sisters of Calder, for being a breath of fresh air! I loved to hate you! I was oddly fascinated by Maris's tenacity, Pavati's deadly charm and what became of Tallulah. There was so much to these sisters and I wanted to know even more about them.
Lies Beneath was intense and while easy to read, it also got pretty dark. The climax was a bit too formulaic but honestly, it didn't matter. I was engaged throughout and loved the fluid plot progression. It looks like this is a series (since it says it's Lies Beneath #1) which is great as I cannot wait to read and get to know even more about the mermaids and mermen in Lies Beneath!(less)
Don't you love the cover? I wanted to know more about the woman with wings and was enchanted by the backd...moreReview originally posted here: on books!
Don't you love the cover? I wanted to know more about the woman with wings and was enchanted by the backdrop and the font!
I didn't find The Peculiars to be a "dark and thrilling adventure" as stated in the summary. It was far too slow paced to be "thrilling" or even dark but to me, The Peculiars was a charming coming of age tale and I loved that it was set in the 1800s.
The Peculiars is the story of Lena Mattacascar who, on turning eighteen, gets a map with directions to her father's family mine located at Scree. She sets off on a journey to Scree, hoping she will learn more about the man who walked out on her family along the way. Scree is a place inhabited by Peculiars: people with unusual characteristics who are branded as beings without souls. Lena, who has abnormally huge feet and hands with extra knuckles, wonders if she is half-Peculiar and if that predisposes her in any way to turn out like her father.
I haven't read books from the steam punk genre before and I have a feeling this isn't quite it. Though they were many steam punk elements that I enjoyed, like the aerocopter, I am told this is not hardcore steam punk at all! At the same time, I was perfectly fine with the inventions and the lore of Scree being relegated to the background. The Peculiars is all about Lena and her journey of self doubt leading to self acceptance.
Lena was a character I didn't exactly relate to but was comfortable with. I enjoyed watching her learn more about herself and despite the moments of being made to feel she was dangerous because of her heritage gnawing at her, she emerged stronger than ever! I found myself cheering for her during the moments when she finally neared self acceptance!
I enjoyed getting to know the other characters as well. Mr. Beasley was an absolute marvel but I wondered what drove him to become the person he was. I liked Jimson... I didn't love him but he seemed right for Lena! Mr. Mumbles, the Scree cat, gradually stole my heart as well the way pets in books usually do! I loved that the book was never in a rush to say what it had to say. This may also be the very thing people may not like about this book but it worked for me.
I thought the chapter titles were charmingly quaint and were a better reflection of the book than the cover or the blurb. The interesting bunch of characters, backdrop of the1800s, Mr. Beasley's Zephyr House and the existence and continued persecution of the Peculiars lent a unique atmosphere to this slow paced but heartfelt coming of age story! The Peculiars was a slow but worthwhile read for me. I'm definitely glad I got to read this book!(less)
Pushing the Limits had me hooked from the first page. It was impossible not to be involved in this intense and gripping read that evoked a multitude o...morePushing the Limits had me hooked from the first page. It was impossible not to be involved in this intense and gripping read that evoked a multitude of emotions!
Noah and his brothers lost their parents in a fire. Noah wants nothing more than to graduate high school and take his brothers away from foster care so that they can be a family again. Echo used to be a popular girl before a horrible night she can't even remember that left her with scars everyone is gossiping about. Their worlds unexpectedly collide when they are both mandated by the State to attend therapy sessions with Mrs. Collins, a clinical social worker.
How can I describe my feelings towards this book? It had me thoroughly involved. Noah and Echo were as much a part of my week as the zillion trivial and/ major things that happened to me in real life. The minute I turned on my e-reader and got back to where I'd left off, it felt like I was sinking back into their world. Would Echo be all right? What was her mind not letting her remember? Would Noah lash out and do something reckless? What was Mrs. Collins up to?
I've never rooted for anyone more than I rooted for Noah and Echo to get their lives back on track. And thanks to Mrs. Collins, they do... step by step. She was definitely one of my favourite characters of all time. Others in Noah's and Echo's life also made all the difference. I was on the fence when it came to Noah's friends, Beth and Isaiah but grew to really like them. Echo's friends, on the other hand, were a mixed bag. Grace, who avoids Echo in public because she does not want to be "seen with her", felt all too familiar to me. People like her are everywhere!
And the things you've heard in and around the blogosphere about Noah? All true. He was swoon. I could picture firecrackers being lit in the background as they fell for each other... the chemistry between Echo and Noah was mind blowing! I'm sure Echo wouldn't have been able to survive her senior year without him... what with things at home being equally complex for her. The horrible night that was lost to her for a long time was filled with multiple family betrayals.
Pushing the Limits is amazing on so many levels and I guarantee that Noah and Echo's story deserves your undivided attention!(less)
In many ways, Jersey Angel seemed like it could be a light yet memorable read. I could feel the sun and sand in...more2.5 stars Review originally posted here
In many ways, Jersey Angel seemed like it could be a light yet memorable read. I could feel the sun and sand in my toes just by reading the synopsis back in January. Unfortunately, the book failed to deliver.
Angel lives in the Jersey Shore all year round. Jersey Angel starts out in the beginning of summer with Joey, her on-again off-again boyfriend, deciding that he needs to be taken seriously. He tells Angel he's not going to get back together with her until she's ready to take him seriously; as more than someone she hooks up with and breaks it off with as and when it suits her. And um, for the most part of the book (which stretches into fall and then winter)... Angel is Angel. All she wants out of life is to remain young, pretty and carefree forever. She sleeps with almost everyone, including her best friend's boyfriend and seems vulnerable and confused about what awaits her after high school.
I couldn't stand most of the decisions Angel made, especially decisions related to sex. But more than anything, I was concerned and worried about where those decisions would lead her as there was so much more to Angel. She seemed smart and like she maybe did care about how one decision of hers might affect her best friend but she kept pushing it to the back of her mind. She seemed strong and independent and I wanted to scream, Stay when she ran out in the middle of her SAT exam and stop her every time she did something stupid and fell back into the same old pattern.
Things I liked: Angel wasn't mean-spirited. She was confident and in some ways more mature than the average seventeen year old. She knows that she's probably going to community college as she doesn't have the grades or money to make it beyond that. I loved how she wasn't rattled when she overheard an overly pompous high schooler say as much. High school was probably as good as it got for Angel and she seemed to accept that. There were many instances in the book, particularly towards the end, when I wanted to give her a big hug.
BUT: She slept with her best friend's boyfriend. More than once. And justified it in a million ways. I couldn't respect her after that.
There were many instances in the book when I realised that there were not many books that had main characters like Angel. Girls like her are usually secondary characters who are badmouthed. I was curious about Joey and the history he shared with Angel and by the time I'd got to know him better, I definitely liked him best. His conversations with Angel were different and hilarious and he brought out the best in her.
I wish I found the other characters just as likable but most of them were one-dimensional and some I downright detested. I think other than Joey, the only other character I sort of found endearing was Mimi, Angel's sister. I wish the plot had gone somewhere. I wish I could've liked this book more... I wanted to, just like I wanted Angel to get somewhere in her life. The writing was great and some parts felt real and poignant. Unfortunately, most of the book was full of bad decisions and lacked real plot or direction to make any sort of impact.(less)
Arranged was easily the most fun book I've read this summer: it was cute, charming and swept me off my feet! As someone w...moreReview originally posted here
Arranged was easily the most fun book I've read this summer: it was cute, charming and swept me off my feet! As someone who adored Anne of Green Gables, as someone who crushed on Gilbert Blythe while growing up and as someone who is constantly spoiled by fictional hotties that real life can never match up to, I could relate to the main character, Anne and her predicament.
After a string of relationships that all ended the same disastrous way, a business card that Anne finds lying on the road leads her to Blythe and Company. She approaches them thinking they are a dating service but as it turns out, they are a little more than that. Blythe and Company is an arranged marriage service and after a lot of thought and research Anne asks herself, why not enter into an arranged marriage? She is tired of dating and failed relationships and while pricey, Blythe and Company has an impressive success rate. And that is how Anne meets Jack and marriage is just the beginning of their relationship.
I'm from India and arranged marriages are pretty much the norm here though not necessarily the only option. It's how my parents and grandparents and great grandparents got married and when it works out, it's pretty amazing; when marriage is a mixture of friendship, adjustments and gradually, maybe even love. It was interesting to read about a fresh perspective on arranged marriage, when it takes place in an environment where it's not the norm at all. I loved how Anne didn't just jump into it: she did the research and tried to make an informed decision.
Jack, Anne's match/husband, was a surprise. I loved how he was flawed, down to earth and yet so charming. Even when he was sarcastic to the point of being intimidating and made some pretty bad decisions, he was so open and real, he made me smile so much! I could feel the chemistry between Anne and Jack and it was amazing how we got to see their relationship grow and develop.They both had issues of their own and there were a lot of twists and rude surprises thrown into the mix but there was no doubt that they were made for each other!
But Arranged wouldn't have been half as awesome without Anne's Anne of Green Gables-crazy mother and the rest of her really fun and supportive family. Anne's brother was called -wait for it- Gilbert Blythe and I absolutely loved their banter and that he jokingly calls her Cordelia. It made me nostalgic for Anne of Green Gables (and made me want to pick up the other books of L. M. Montgomery's series, save the two other Anne books I'd read out of sequence). The book was filled with so many Anne references, I loved it and if you are high on the Anne of Green Gables love, I'm sure you'll be charmed by it too!
Though I liked Catherine McKenzie's debut Spin a tiny bit more, Arranged was a fresh, fun and thought provoking read. After Spin and Arranged, I'm sure I'll read anything by this author! I love that her books always deal with real issues with a unique spin to it and are so heartwarming! I think it goes without saying that I wholeheartedly recommend reading Arranged and anything written by Catherine McKenzie, really.(less)
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda: terrific or horrific? I cannot seem to decide.
Let's assume that it really is possible to spend...moreReview originally posted here
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda: terrific or horrific? I cannot seem to decide.
Let's assume that it really is possible to spend years without breathing hard, coughing, laughing, crying or emoting in any way in the presence of unnamed predators who have hunted hepers (that's what they call humans) to the point of endangerment. It seems unbelievable but let's assume the need for survival makes the main character that good at hiding in plain sight; at being one of them.
Few chapters into the book, when I stopped wondering how the main character Gene managed to keep up the act and where the creatures featured in this book came from, I found myself getting sucked into the story. It is definitely a very creative and unique premise, there's no doubt about that. Fukuda has created a horrifying world that's hundred times scarier than any dystopia I've ever read: it involves unnamed creatures who resemble humans and even talk like them but the similarities end there. They don't smile, cough, laugh, the sunlight reduces them to mush, they are not hairy and cannot swim. They scratch their wrists when they are amused, kiss by shoving their elbows into armpits and drool a lot!
I was okay with the main character, Gene, in the first few chapters. He seemed to be a survivor and did everything necessary not to draw attention to himself. When he gets picked to be a part of the Heper Hunt, a chance to hunt down the last remaining humans and drink their blood, he's obviously in a bit of the fix. How long will it take before his fellow hunters, who are a pretty aggressive lot, realise he's a heper?
But eventually, as I learned more about Gene, I found it hard to like him. Acting like one of the vamp-like creatures all his life had clearly turned him into one of them. Gene refers to humans as hepers, a term given to humans by these creatures, even in his head and when he meets the humans who are to be hunted down, he is actually surprised that they are clever and resourceful and thinks he is better than them. This made my blood boil.
Gene's love interest, Ashley June, is still a bit of a mystery to me but I enjoyed the way their relationship blossomed. Amidst the hardened blood-spattered climate, the moments they shared were like little splashes of colour and sparkle that filled me with warmth. There was that one scene in the ballroom that made my heart melt. ❤
But the rest of the book? The gore-filled scenes were brilliantly written. Definitely made me squirm but ultimately also hooked me in and made it impossible for me to stop reading. Yet I despised most of the characters. The ones I didn't despise, I still didn't care all that much about. And characters are everything. They make the story. The characters who were one-note, save few situations and the plot holes almost made me decide this series was not for me. That was until the super huge cliffhanger that made me stop breathing and read the last page over and over again in shock. Now I'll have to read the sequel.
The Hunt is flawed in terms of world building and was too gory for my liking. I found it hard to get attached to any of the characters but the plot is extremely creative and original. Certain scenes were memorable while others made me want to throw something at the main character. But I was hooked throughout. I had a love-hate relationship with this book, which makes it so hard to rate it. I'll have to go with the infamous three stars.(less)
I love the cover! It's bright and colourful and very Chloe!
"People need best friends." I waved my arms in the...moreReview originally posted here
I love the cover! It's bright and colourful and very Chloe!
"People need best friends." I waved my arms in the air. "Like oxygen. Without friends I'd die. I'd be all alone."
A lot can change over one summer. Chloe finds this out the hard way as she skips across the road, dressed up as a burrito for her job at Dos Hermanas while wearing vintage shoes to meet her friend Brie and Brie startles her with harsh words and a quit exit. When the school year begins, Chloe's shocked to discover her BFs, Brie and Mercedes, don't want her anywhere near them. They find her self centered and their issues with her obviously built up over the summer. Brie has even started to spread rumours about Chloe. Add her new counselor Ms. A. Lungren making her change her Junior Independent Study Project (JISP) to the mix and her mother and grandmother being at war for most of the year and happy-go-lucky Chloe is confused and well, not-so-happy.
Let me start by saying that Chloe's probably someone you'd either love or hate and it was full on love for me! She was cheerful and sweet and there was no doubt that she had a big heart! Her obsession with vintage shoes was cute and I loved how she doted on her Brad-Pitt-loving grandmother. But at the heart of it all, she was also a very mature person and this, I did not expect. Despite Brie's attempts to spread rumours about Chloe and impersonate her online, Chloe surprisingly took these things in her stride. She did not attempt to retaliate even once. She seemed beyond payback or revenge!
But Chloe's not perfect. And I liked that too. She had this compulsive need for everyone to like her and there was some truth to her BFs label of her as self centered. Which probably accounts for her need to talk all the time and how she feels personally responsible for other people's problems as well.
Over the course of the book, Chloe ends up having to work at the school-run radio station and hosts a radio talk-show. She meets a bunch of people who aren't very Chloe-crazy and gets to know them better. She bonds with Duncan, a boy at the station who is in desperate need of cheer and fun. Chloe learns to listen and not to chase away solitude all the time.
This book was very Chloe-centric. (Which I guess, I should've expected!) It makes sense as the story is told from Chloe's perspective which is probably why there were these really unique and memorable characters like Clem, Hayley, Ms. Lungren and even Mercedes who I would've loved knowing even more about but we only get little peeks into their lives. Still, I loved what I got to know about these characters. Even Brie, the former best friend who gives Chloe hell, seems justified for hating Chloe in her own way.
Just like Chloe herself, Welcome Caller, This is Chloe is every bit of the cutesy and charming debut it seems to be but also, surprisingly, deals with heavier issues -like drug addiction and Parkinson's- as well. Chloe's grandmother has Parkinson's and the toll it takes on Chloe and her family who struggle to come to terms with it is portrayed well. It's also not very easy to deal with your best friends suddenly hating you. It would make me question the core of myself and even after Chloe makes peace with them, it's obvious that they've outgrown each other. It was a simple yet heart wrenching premise.
Filled with personality, cute shoes, fun and surprises, Welcome Caller, This is Chloe is about a boy in need of laughter, a "princess in skates" who realises that not everybody loves her all the time, a radio station and the coolest grandmother ever. I loved meeting Chloe and I hope you do too!(less)
The Immortal Rules isn't your average story with beautiful vampires and angst for the sake of angst. In fact, The Immortal Rules would probab...more4.5 stars
The Immortal Rules isn't your average story with beautiful vampires and angst for the sake of angst. In fact, The Immortal Rules would probably laugh at the thought of vampires as sexy and alluring! In the world of The Immortal Rules, vampires are thought of as nothing more than bloodsuckers who now rule over most cities. Most humans are registered under them and as a result given meal tickets as long as they attend scheduled blood lettings. Humans who do not register themselves are not as lucky. They are called Unregistered and face prosecution if they are found stealing food and other resources controlled by vampire cities.
I loved how strong the world building was. This is the first book I've read by Julie Kagawa and I was so impressed with the world she created and how she built on it! Kagawa doesn't just give you a comprehensive picture of the world where vampires rule, a result of the Red Lung disease that was wiping out the humans and one idealistic vampire who we get to meet in person, but also leaves traces of life as it once was. Reading is forbidden to most humans and humans are reduced to beings desperate for survival, the most basic need and nothing else. But Allie, the protagonist, was taught by her mother to read and has a book about "four children who go through a wardrobe and into a strange new world."
Little details like this and ruins of hospitals and museums made me wistful and made the world Julie Kagawa created all the more realistic. And there were the vampires themselves who couldn't go out in daylight unless they wanted to waste away in the sun. They had to feed on human blood and in the words of Kanin, the Master vampire who Turned Allie, "Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being, accidentally, or as a conscious, deliberate act. It is unavoidable. The question is not if it will happen, but, when."
Kanin, Allie's creator turned out to be right about a lot of other things. He plays a pivotal role in this story and I wonder what's in store for him in the later parts of this series. He definitely piqued by interest. There are so many amazing characters in The Immortal Rules- it's not just the protagonist that is well developed! Though Allie is someone you'll grow extremely attached too. She's this kickass newly turned vampire (and she, previously an Unregistered, chose to be Turned due to unavoidable circumstances) who wields a katana! Can it get better than that?
Allie's journey is also not an easy one. It was wonderful to watch her grow beyond a fierce Unregistered fighting for survival to someone who had so much more to fight for and had to make some difficult decisions. Zeke, who Allie eventually falls for, also fascinated me! Ezekiel "Zeke" Crosse had such a complex past that I'm still trying to figure out and rather than ruining him, it made him into a caring, kind person who dares to hope and have faith. The story was filled with characters hardened by the world around them and Zeke was like a breath of fresh air. He is sure to make you weak in the knees!
Towards the end, therewas one vampire cliche that had me rolling my eyes a bit and aside from that, I still can't fathom the concept of vampires crying blood tears, but The Immortal Rules mostly, definitely, truly blew me away! Mainly because of the complex and unimaginable world it was set in. Also because of the characters, each with back-stories that fully made them what they were. I couldn't stop reading this book until I reached the last page. Even then, I was left wondering about where Allie and Kanin and Zeke were headed. If you haven't picked up The Immortal Rules yet, I strongly urge you to give it a try! It's post-apocalyptic vampire YA fiction! How is that anything short of ingenious?
I really enjoyed reading Download Dramabecause it was just the kind of book I needed to read after an extremely hectic week and reading optio...more3.5 stars
I really enjoyed reading Download Drama because it was just the kind of book I needed to read after an extremely hectic week and reading options that had kind of become the norm as of late. While nothing spells exciting more than a unique and literally out-of-this-world premise, sometimes you need something that keeps you grounded. It's impossible to say just how much I loved getting to know Kenisha Lewis!
In Download Drama, the protagonist, Kenisha, has a lot on her plate. Other than family issues that run deep and problems she has with people in school, there's the video of her practising in the dance studio which wasn't even supposed to have been taken in the first place that goes viral. Kenisha is now a YubeTube sensation and her fifteen minutes of fame also lands her an offer to dance in a music video with rapper Taj who given everything that's been said and heard about her, cannot possibly mean well. Throw in a pretty awesome boyfriend as well as attention from one of the most popular guys in school and you have way too much drama, or do we?
I was surprised at how well grounded Kenisha was. She definitely has her head on her shoulders! Sure, she isn't always that level headed. But for the most part, she tackles situations as they come and at times, shows maturity beyond her years. She is also extremely talented and of course she bursts with happiness when everyone else gets to see how good a dancer she is, though she is initially annoyed when the video of her at the dance studio is out and goes viral. Yet at times, there she is, like every other teenager, engaging in petty fights, angst and the usual high school drama! I love how she could be any other teenager! While I am nothing like her, I know people like her and they are people I'd gladly be friends with.
Download Drama also deals with moving on from grief, family conflict and explores the intricacies of fame. I loved its simple and fluid pace. It was easy to love this book as it was so high school; give or take a few relationships. This book is my normal. At the same time, it did remind me of how shallow and superficial we could sometimes be in high school. While the conclusion was more than satisfactory, there were a couple of loose ends that had me wondering if this book was a series. That was when I found out there were other Kenisha Lewis books that took place before this one, including Pushing Pause and Fast Forward. Oops?
I've never read books out of sequence but I didn't find it confusing or anything to jump right into Download Drama. I'm guessing reading the other books of the series first would've maybe given me more insights into these characters. I am planning to read the other books when I get the chance. It's the kind of series I wouldn't might investing in! I'm also waiting for a possible next book about Kenisha Lewis because I must know what happened to these lovely characters!
If you're looking for something real, a little light yet with enough substance and personality,do not hesitate to pick up Download Drama. It has some great characters and story lines that are dealt with sensitively!(less)
I was VERY excited to read this book. I love book clubs and books about book clubs and that was enough to get me psyched about The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls. And I did enjoy reading it, not just because I loved the literary references and banter between the four very different girls who are (well, three of them are) forced by their parents to be a part of a mother-daughter book club, but also because it was very different from what I expected!
The Unbearable Book Club For Unsinkable Girls is in the form of Adrienne's summer essay to her teacher. Every chapter starts out with her definition of one of the several things a story consists of- the protagonist, antagonist, dialogue (why isn't it called a trialogue when it's a conversation between three people?, Adrienne asks), metaphors, the climax and so on, and the chapter that follows relates to the theme. I enjoyed reading Adrienne's thoughts about what a story contains and so I really enjoyed the structure of this book.
Adrienne herself was an amazing narrator! Adrienne is pushed by popular-girl-who-messes-with-people's heads, CeeCee (you know the type) into questioning who she really is, what she's all about as well as the absence of her father and her relationship with her mother. All these issues were dealt with a little erratically, but believably. Adrienne was someone I could connect with from the beginning. Her love for books is described so well in several places and yet, she's not someone who is opinionated. She loses herself in a book and at the end of it, all she can say is, I liked it. I could relate to that. It was one of the reasons why I started this book blog.
The relationship between Adrienne and her mother was also very realistic. I loved the mother-daughter element of this book. The mothers weren't just relegated to the background like they usually are in YA; their presence was felt throughout. The relationship between the girls was also very realistic. Adrienne, Jill, CeeCee and Wallis were the four girls in the book club and they couldn't be more different. Arienne was, in her words, a question mark, Jill was an over achiever, CeeCee was popular and Wallis was a mystery. It was refreshing how all of them recognised how different they were and none of them expected to bond and become insta BFFs (and they weren't just telling themselves that, they accepted it from the beginning).
Naturally, as a result of being practically the only people left behind in Delaware for the summer, the four girls had to spend a lot of time together. They talked and they learned unexpected things about each other. CeeCee surprised me, there was more to Jill and we were tortuously kept in the dark about Wallis's family life. But that didn't make them any less different at the end of the summer and the book club remained their only common ground. They will probably go back to their different groups at the beginning of the school year but maybe their experiences in the summer did change them a bit and helped them do things they usually wouldn't have done.
All in all, I enjoyed reading this book. It was the perfect summer read that made me think, laugh and kept me constantly entertained! I liked reading about the books that were read in the book club and how Adrienne said that in a way, those books shaped her summer and made her who she was. In many ways, while Adrienne narrated the story, it was like CeeCee practically engineered most parts of it. I was amused yet at the same time disturbed by her happy-go-lucky way of creating drama and towards the end, things were revealed about her that maybe explained why she was the way she was.
Adrienne will probably get an A for her essay (and she deserves it!) but sadly, I couldn't give this book five or even four stars. I really wish I could because for the most part, I loved this book but towards the end, there is a death, there are parts that were built up that lead nowhere (which I guess, should've felt fun and realistic) and sadly, at that point, the book lost its steam for me. The ending wasn't rushed or anything but I really stopped feeling it in the last thirty or so pages. Maybe I got too attached to the characters and the paths they took were logical but way too normal and realistic for me.
But despite that, you should give this book a shot! It's snarky and fun, it's realistic yet such a summer read and it's about a mother-daughter book club! I'm glad I read this book, despite not liking it that much towards the end.(less)
AMAZING is the word! I didn't expect much out of Starters. I thought it would be mildly entertaining and you know, dystop...moreReview originally posted here
AMAZING is the word! I didn't expect much out of Starters. I thought it would be mildly entertaining and you know, dystopian, but "mildly entertaining and dystopian" is every other YA book these days which Starters most definitely isn't! I did not expect it to be one heck of an adrenaline rush from the beginning till the very end! The twists and the turns were so unexpected as I squirmed and squealed and towards the end, shrieked with disbelief! Starters will hook you in and keep you hooked- there is no doubt about that!
Post Spore Wars, the world consists of only the elderly (or the Enders, 150-ish year olds who are survivors of the war) and Starters, children who are mostly in the streets. Since there was only time to vaccinate the children and elderly, the children are left parent-less. The Starters whose grandparents also perished are left to roam from one vacant house to another and are at the risk of being institutionalised.
At the midst of this is an organisation called Prime Destinations that hires teens to "rent" their bodies to rich Enders who want to look and feel young again. Prime Destinations is headed by the Old Man, one of the creepiest antagonists I've ever read about! There is a ton of mystery surrounding his identity and let's just say that the climax left me so much more intrigued about him. I'm waiting for more back story about him in the next installment!
One thing that really made Starters work is its premise. It's creepier than I thought it would be. First, having an age-based divide and second, the very concept of Starters renting their bodies to Enders. The way a few Enders treated the bodies rented out made me sick! I've never felt such intense anger at a fictional premise. I loved how, despite not having as much back story about the Spore Wars, the stage was set in such a way as to make us feel involved and indignant.
Another thing was the pace. The plot was anything but slow moving! I was literally GLUED to my iPad all day; whether it was because of Callie’s insta connection with the senator’s grandson or figuring out what Helena, the Ender who was supposed to rent Callie’s body for a month, had set out to do!
Although we don’t see much of Michael, Callie’s neighbor before the Spore Wars and Tyler, Callie’s brother who has a lung infection… I have a feeling they will play a larger role in the later parts… Especially Michael! I loved them both. I loved Michael. I love how he showed his affection for Callie. Tyler was also a total sweetheart.
One tiny thing the book could’ve done with: more back story, less plot holes. Maybe a little more about the Spore Wars. What caused the Spore Wars? Why does everyone assume Callie’s father is dead when it is never explicitly confirmed?
But it is action packed and kept me at the edge of my seat. While I could’ve done with more detail and character development… it was mind blowing by itself! Callie was developed enough as a main character and the plot kept moving! And I LOVED every second of it! Plus, my mind is still reeling from the climax. It was so unexpected! I absolutely cannot wait for the next installment, Enders, to come out so that I can finally stop breaking my head about it!(less)
Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie puts its central character, Emma Tupper, in a situation far more horrific than a near-death experience. Emma returns from Africa five months later than she should have... after falling sick and surviving an earthquake only to find out that she had been presumed dead. Her apartment has been rented to a stranger, her bank account has been frozen, her position at work has been taken over by her arch nemesis and her boyfriend has moved on; having dealt with her supposed passing on.What do you do when you're pushed back into a life where everyone has moved on without you?
Emma realises that maybe fate has presented her with a fairly twisted way of starting afresh. Now she's starting at the very bottom of the law firm she was about to be made partner in, rooming with the man living in her apartment who has scars of his own and questioning the aspects of her life that she previously took for granted; making her reevaluate herself and the relationships forged around her.
As someone who has loved every Catherine McKenzie book she's read, I was itching to read Forgotten since the day I read about the premise. While it didn't fall short of my expectations, I didn't enjoy it as much as Spin and Arranged. It seemed to lack the spunk and spice I found in McKenzie's previous books though as the story progressed, I enjoyed the subtle and understated way in which the conflicts were dealt with.
The main character Emma is smart and probably one of my favourite lawyer characters ever... I loved that she loved her job; heavy workload and all. This was also one of the few books in which I actually looked forward to the flashbacks that shed light on Emma's African vacation that changed her life. With Catherine McKenzie's trademark witty and fun writing style, this book was a poignant and compelling read. A bit of a letdown compared to McKenzie's other books but can nevertheless be picked up based on the premise and author's breezy writing style alone.(less)
In some ways it was a relief to have fallen. To have fucked up only to land softly, cushioned, as my dad reminded me, “by a goddamn safety net of your parents’ wealth.”
Following his best friend, roommate and sailing partner, Cal’s suicide, Jason is devastated and a series of events leads him to be booted out of Kensington Prep. With the help of his father’s wealth and influence, he transfers to Bellingham Academy, a notorious co-ed prep school for kids who have failed at other more prestigious boarding schools. In a place full of reckless, wealthy kids who have nothing to lose, Jason finds comfort in Aidan, a girl from the West Coast who has skeletons of her own.
But it’s 1987 and all is not well. When a major hurricane hits the coast leading to an unforeseen tragedy, the stock market collapses, the cruelty inherent in Jason’s own classmates and the way class privilege blurs all sorts of ethical lines becomes obvious, Jason tries not to turn the other way like the rest. Dealing with his own bicuriousness, class barriers, race, divorce, suicide and the path to self discovery, The Starboard Sea is a beautifully paced novel with gloomy imagery of sailing and flying boats in the storm.
I felt myself becoming a cliché. The boy in trouble. The wealthy father. The school in need and willing to offer refuge.
For me, all of the second chances I’d been given had created opportunities for me to tell another lie about myself.
Jason Prosper felt like just that, a cliché until his earnestness and willingness to face things head on crept up on me. I felt no sympathy for him in the first few chapters of the book but as more of the back story was artfully revealed and the tone of the story grew more urgent, I felt myself listening to him and his quest to deal with everything going on around him the right way. For me, that’s what made the book so well written. The perfect pacing, the incredibly real characters, the back story that was heartbreaking and the attention given to the backdrop, the heart and soul of the story: sailing and the ocean.
“It’s the waves you need to worry about, not the winds,” he’d [Cal] always say, and he was right. Winds could knock a boat around, but a wave could seize the ship and blast her open.”
I could go on and on about the characters, how real they felt and how disturbing their actions were. Or the setting, which was perfect and the themes which were dealt with marvelously. Most of the issues were far from resolved towards the end of the story and the weight of all of Jason’s bitter realisations could still be felt. In some ways, The Starboard Sea reminded me of Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld though the sheer breadth of what The Starboard Sea covers outweighs Prep. Comparisons have been made to A Separate Peace, but I’m yet to read A Separate Peace, so I’m not sure how far it lives up the comparison.
What I know is that despite not knowing that much about sailing or the 1987 stock market collapse, it was easy to get lost in The Starboard Sea. I felt one with the characters, their dilemmas and their life of privilege that seemed both great and terrible in so many ways. I fell in love with Amber Dermont’s writing style and way of storytelling, so much so that I’ll blindly pick up anything she writes after this! If you cannot get enough of coming-of-age boarding school novels that keep your mind reeling, The Starboard Sea is for you.(less)