The Lovely Reckless: A Book Review

“Some things, and some people, are written across your soul in permanent ink.”

Book: The Lovely Reckless

Author: Kami Garcia

 

The Lovely RecklessBlurb:

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My thoughts:

To be honest, my first thought after reading this book was about Katie McGarry’s Crash Into You (Fabulous book, by the way). From the surface, the books look similar. Rich girl who doesn’t get along with her family meets rough, promiscuous, “dangerous” boy who’s a great racer. She stops being judge-mental about him and his friends,and family. They bond and friendship turns into something more complicated.  The star-crossed lovers get involved in crime.

To make this different, Garcia covers much more. It doesn’t work well.  Along with romance, this book attempts to tackle issues like mourning, moving on and unhealthy relationships (as may be obvious from the blurb). Somewhere in between, she slips in standard warnings about addictions and praises close girl friendships. The resulting novel seems cliched, almost insultingly simple analyses of issues that deserve more thought and sensitivity.

Each character is a stereotype. There’s the main character, Frankie,  a rich, traumatized girl with a family that doesn’t understand her, and friends who have drifted apart.  The inspiration for the love interest probably came from a stock-photo labelled “hot bad-boy”. Of course, he has an instantaneous soft-spot for  Frankie. Obviously, he has a cute, traumatized sister that makes Frankie realize that she has it good and that she and Marco ‘belong together’. I kept waiting for the twist because I thought I knew what it was: Since, Frankie  blocked out the memory of her ex being beaten to death in front of her for drug related issues, and Marco had friends who were involved in drug related crime, I thought the conflict of the story would have been Marco knowing who killed Frankie’s ex and not telling her about it.
Yeah, no such twist came.

The romance was frankly super unhealthy; my head’s still spinning from the insta-love.  Though this book supposedly features street-racing, the fastest thing in this book is the romance. Frankie and Marco went from zero to hundred in about 2 seconds flat. Like most spontaneous teen relationships in YA books, it’s not very healthy. Marco’s awfully possessive and Frankie seems to be okay with it, even flattered. Considering these characters are high-school students, I want to scream at them; high-school boys really shouldn’t be so domineering.

Moving onto story-line. If you’re excited about reading this book because you saw the words “street”and “racing”, you will be disappointed. There’s maybe two scenes and they’re not very descriptive. This book has a terrible plot and it deserves to be spoiled. But, just in case the hundreds of favorable reviews on Goodreads have convinced you to read this book (I maintain that I received a different copy of the book), I won’t spoil it for you. Instead, I’ll just tell you that the main conflict in this book revolves around the “Adults are clueless/evil” trope that’s pretty standard to the YA genre.

Now that I’ve complained so much about this book, you want to know if there is anything redeemable about this book. Well…I liked Cruz. She’s Marco’s friend and befriends Frankie. Though raised by an abusive father, she makes sure she protects her sisters (even if she has to do some stupid, dangerous stuff to do that). She’s so confident about her place in the world, I am amazed by her strength. Garcia probably should have written about Cruz. The writing style wasn’t too bad either. Despite all these issues, I managed to make it to the end of the book.

Overall rating: 1.5/5

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This Savage Song: A Book Review

“Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all…”

Book: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity)

Author: Victoria Schwab

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)

Blurb:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

My thoughts:

It’s almost pathetic how eager I was for this book. But then, I’ve always had a high opinion of anything that Victoria Schwab writes. It’s rare for me- but I think  I’ve given 3 of her books (Vicious, A Darker Shade of Magic and The Archived) a 5 star rating.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like This Savage Song nearly as much. If I was just rating it on concept, this book would get a perfect rating. I love the idea of lovable monsters and horrible people. I like the idea that every evil we commit has direct, tangible consequences in the birth of a monster. I adore the mob-like atmosphere and how vicious and unforgiving it is.

Unfortunately, the characters break this book for me.  I don’t find anything redeemable in Kate. She aspires to violence and is slavishly devoted to a father who doesn’t care much for her. To prove herself to him, she commits crime and terrifies well-meaning teenagers. In general she’s horrifying. I hated her from the very first page where she burns down her school because she “didn’t want to be here.”

On the other hand, August is terribly masochistic. He hastes himself and the darkness he is made of. It’s like someone took a stereotype of a brooding teen, slapped a monster label on him and made him a character. Honestly, I’m disappointed.

“He wasn’t made of flesh and bone, or starlight.He was made of darkness.”

I see no chemistry between the characters, although I know they’ll end up with each other. I don’t want them to because their relationship will be unhealthy. They’ll egg each other on to commit terrible crimes and in the interim they’ll sigh a lot and be boring together.

I wasn’t a fan of the dystopian walled city, with the elite and moneyed enclosed inside and the poor, scary masses outside. Dystopia just doesn’t appeal to me these days. Yet, This Savage Song is still salvageable. Like always, V.E. Schwab’s writing is lyrical and beautiful.

But the teacher had been right about one thing: violence breeds.Someone pulls a trigger, sets off a bomb, drives a bus full of tourists off a bridge, and what’s left in the wake isn’t just she’ll casings, wreckage, bodies. There’s something else. Something bad. An aftermath. A recoil. A reaction to all that anger and pain and death.

Additionally, the ending is just cliff-hanging enough for me to want to read the next book.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

 

People Watching: A Poem

I like to sit on sun-lit benches

In crowds full of people

But alone.

 

Nobody stays still. I watch them

Laugh, eat, run and linger

Watch them go.

 

I like to close my eyes and hear

Melting conversations

All mixed up.

 

“…merely inconsequential.”

“Ate pancakes till I threw-up…”

“…Lap-dancing…”

 

Sometimes I wonder who each one is.

I give them their own backstories.  

All made up.

 

A matador, running with bulls.

Royal princess in disguise.

Tired felon.  

 

Sometimes I see others sitting on benches.

Watching the whole world ebb and flow.

What do they see?

Cares, concerns and writing college essays

‘Tis the summer between senior year. And that means it’s the summer before college applications. It’s no wonder that I’m inundated (SAT word) with a dearth (another SAT word) of well-meaning but ambiguous so ultimately useless advice. Especially when it comes to essays.

I recently was told to “Don’t listen to all the advice. Just write about whatever you care about, whatever concerns you”.  There’s some irony in there somewhere, but here it goes:

I care about feminism and am worried about what people think the statement means; somewhere in the past few decades public perception has insisted on changing the sentiment from “equal opportunity for both genders” to “women above all”.  I am concerned about the fact that my SAT scores are too low for me to get into the schools I want to, and that my leadership experience is too sparse. I care about the cookies I baked yesterday as part of my “American desserts” thing and I suspect my brother has been attacking them. Also, I am worried about the box of “unicorn snot” my brother won and gave me because no matter how pretty and sparkly it looks, there’s something disgusting about putting something labelled “snot” on your face. I am terrified that I do not have a shred of originality in me and that my college essays are overly structured and formulatic. I dislike not being brave enough to write the quirky college essays I wanted to. I worry that I’m taking a math class that’s not “tough enough”. I have no idea why I am taking 7 classes next year; I have enough to do next year and I really only need 2.5 classes to graduate. I am worried abut the fact that I don’t understand 10% of whatever’s going on in my internship (and I have a niggling feeling that the 10% is the most important part). I am worried that my parents can’t pay for my college without either taking out something from their retirement fund or my brother’s college fund; I know they’re not going to take out loans. I hate the fact that when I go back to read all this, it all seems petty and selfish.

I doubt that colleges want to see that chaotic expulsion of thoughts. They want a propaganda- worthy piece, with all the disarray and doubts censored out. When they say they want something that shows I’m human, I’m afraid they mean “Super-human”. I’ve been to 10 different schools, lived in two different countries with a dysfunctional family and survived one dangerous disease. I should have more things to write about than the average person. In a way, it makes it worse because I expect myself to have amazing essays that will knock the socks off admission officers.

Well, now that I’ve committed my concerns to the paper and the very scary internet world, I can actually go write something halfway decent. I’m stressing out and I know I’m stressing out. But I know if I don’t do stuff this summer, I won’t have time to do it later either. Wish me luck.

Walk the Edge: Book Review

“The boy everyone sees but nobody knows is with the girl who everybody knows but nobody sees.”

Book: Walk the Edge (Thunder Road #2)

Author: Katie McGarry

 

Blurb: 

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

My thoughts:

Katie McGarry writes awesome romance. If there was any way to describe YA Romance as gritty, Katie McGarry’s books would be it. She does an amazing job taking people from very different backgrounds, concerns, economic statuses, social statuses, experiences,etc. She does a a great job making these people relate to each other and an even better job giving them chemistry.

“This is heartbreaking and consuming and addictive. It’s terrifying and peaceful, crazy and serene. It’s a million things in one brief moment and it’s something I don’t understand and never want to live without.”

Like Breanna and Razor, I initially had a hard time seeing the similarities between the two.  There’s a line where Breanna tells Razor that he’s the anti-Breanna. It’s kind of true. She comes from a large family, he comes from one that’s too small. She’s into English and the humanities; he’s a math whiz. But in a lot of important ways, they are similar. They’re both surrounded by people with stronger personalities and louder mouths. They both feel trapped by their family. They’re loyal to their friends and they both want something more out of life. If that isn’t enough to fuel a teen-romance, then what is?

Internet bullying. It’s a theme that’s sadly relevant to today’s world and McGarry portrays the pain, the humiliation and the worry that being blackmailed evokes. Like Jennifer Brown’s Thousand Words, Walk the Edge tackles the very scary topic of being judged for a leaked photo.

“Not sure how this whole social media thing is supposed to be fun. It’s like being back in elementary school and waiting to be picked for kickball.”

For people who are expecting a hardcore motorcycle-club story, you’re looking at the wrong place.Though the motorcycle club setting is an important part of the story, it doesn’t overwhelm it. And it’s not as dark or violent as you might expect. For me, that made it better instead of worse.

You should read this book if you’re looking for a sweet but satisfying YA romance.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Circles: Freewrite

circles-1010798_640

Every day, circles loop infinitely in my head.

I know circular reasoning with it’s strange ability to tangle your head like endless, knotted string. I empathize with the philosopher who wanted to know which came first: the chicken or the egg because I am equally puzzled. My question is is whether I created stories or  became Image result for ouroborosa voracious reader first.


As I ponder this strange matter, I’ve felt my mind turn in an ouroboros, my own logic eating me from the inside out. Do I love reading because I am addicted to seeing a character be built, piece by piece until they’ve turned into someone that can almost breathe, eat and dream?  Do I write stories because I revel in smashing together the plots of the 40 books I read in the last month, watching the weird chunks fall away and my favorite parts meld?  Do I like writing short stories and poetry because they’re echoes of the bookImage result for circless I’ve read and loved and just a more active, involved form of reading? I see the sense in both theories but no way of verifying an answer. So, in the mean-time  I am content to read and write and accept both as equal loves.

I appreciate the irony of coming full circle. It’s when you go so far, travel so long- only to end right where you began. The path between California and India is my mobius strip. At age 8, I moved to the Californian bay area and then at 10, I moved halfway around the world to India. 7 years hence, I am back exactly 19 miles from where I started, eager to fling myself off the mobius strip.

Image result for circles

In my head, I hear my own question what’s the point of this strange exercise? Why circles? Why are you looking at it from so many different perspectives when it’s essentially the same? Somewhere in me there’s an answer, but it’s hard to explain exactly how a circle is essentially multiple points equidistant from one important point.

 

Because you could say the same for life, couldn’t you? Everyone’s life is almost uniformly similar, revolving around an individual who thinks they are the center of their universe. There’s birth, there’s childhood, there’s adulthood and creating new children and then there is death. But something in me recoils from describing life this way. Of courImage result for circlesse, this is life, but like any circle, it has some intangible quality which somehow, miraculously makes it more. The circle of life is almost sacrosanct.

Within my self-absorbed life too, I draw circles. There’s a tiny circle around me- I guess you could
call it a bubble. Then there are circles of varying radii. My friends and family in my inner circle.  My past and my future in separate circles which flow into each other. The jogger who I’ve never seen before but who just ran past me, wearing a yellow top and in time to some beat I can’t hear — she’s in a distant, distant circle of mine too, isn’t she? From my perspective, the only unifying bond in this wacky Venn diagram is me.

I’d say life is circles. But somehow that doesn’t seem encompassing enough. Because even though I haven’t experienced death or inanimation yet, I’m sure they’re circles of their own too. Circles are crazy thoughts and they ring around me almost tauntingly. Circles are the beautiful brain-child of a sentinent being far more advanced than me. Circles are infinite and circles are limited. They are contradictory, but they are oh so simple. 

And yet, when’s the last time you drew a perfect circle freehand?

 

Pimples and Deep Thinking: A Poem

As long as I can remember,

the fear of being shallow has been the stick

and the hope of clear skin,

the carrot,

driving this donkey forward,

into it’s adoloscent years.

And a part of me hates how easily

manipulated I was

by the lure of wisdom

and the threat of a pimply face.

 

Maybe I’ve consigned myself to

ankle-deep ponds by worrying about

something as frivolous as skin,

And maybe I’ve ensured that it

will remain pimply forever,

by worrying about anything

so deeply at all.

 

Or is it the other way around?

But it doesn’t matter.

because

This is a poem about zealous zits

and how I was one of those girls

who single-handedly

fueled the beauty industry.

 

I put mud packs on my face,

Never mind the fact

that mud should never be put on the face-

Ever.

I felt the burn of lemon juice on my skin,

because apparently it could burn

the pimples right off.

 

I went to the dermatologist

and he told me

that the blocked pores around my face

could be because of dandruff.

Um…Doctor I don’t have dandruff?

But I bought the fucking shampoo anyways.

 

It wasn’t stress.

I let go of all my burdens and pressures

until I was so airy and light,

I was surprised when I looked down

to see that my feet

still touched the ground.

 

I have these dark brown spots,

the scars of pimples dead and gone.

And if I squint long enough,

lie loud enough to the mirror,

I can convince myself

that they look a little bit like

weird freckles.

 

But I have that skin.

The you-know-honey,

its-okay,

you’ll-be-beautiful-when-you-grow-up

kind of skin.

I waited for that ambiguous, intangible date.

Still am, in fact.

 

Just like I’m waiting for the day

I’ll wake up wise and all-knowing.

Deeper than the kiddie-pool.

An ocean where people

older than five

can wade in.

I can read Proust and Rousseau and Thoreou.

Like a good little citizen,

I can quote them to death.

But it still doesn’t change the fact that I never knew

them or that

we’ve never fucking met.

 

And I’m still a teenager

So I’m still hoping.

Zitty face turned towards the rising sun,

that there’s some truth to the phrase:

Clear waters run deep.