Kick Push: A Book Review

“You said that life’s just like skating; I just need to kick forward and take a chance, push off the ground and follow through. And when everything works out, I’ll coast.”

Book: Kick Push

Author: Jay McLean

Kick Push (Kick Push, #1)

Blurb:

There’s a single defining moment within every skater.
It lasts only a second. Two if you’re good.
Three if you’re really good.
It’s the moment you’re in the air, your board somewhere beneath you, and nothing but wind surrounds you.
It’s the feeling of being airborne.

The sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve said it was the greatest feeling in the world.
Then at seventeen, I had my son.
And every single second became a defining moment. Even the ones that consisted of heartbreak when his mother left us.

Seventeen. Single. Dad.
That’s what my life became.
Yet, every day, I managed to find that feeling of being airborne.
Or at least I convinced myself I did.
But I lied—to myself and to everyone around me.
Until she showed up; Tanned skin, raven dark hair, and eyes the color of emeralds.

You know what sucks about being in the air?
Coming down from the high.
Sometimes you land on the board and nail the trick.
Then kick, push, and coast away.
Other times you fall.
You fall hard.
And those are the times when it’s not as easy to get back up, dust off your pads and try again.
Especially when the girl with the emerald eyes becomes your drug…
And you become her poison.

My thoughts:

Kick Push was one of my Random Reads. I don’t know why I picked it up. It was about a skater. I know nothing about skating. It was a new-adult romance. I typically dislike angsty, over-blown new-adult romances. It promised to cover teen pregnancy. (This is going to sound awful) I’ve never considered the difficulties of being a single parent in your teens. Not in anything more than a vague, distant way.

Kick Push has amazing writing. It is lyrical and descriptive. Each word is violent and necessary. Each sentence high-kicks you in the face and each paragraph shoves your head under water. Sometimes, the writing was so beautiful and sad and simple, I found my lungs burning because I had forgotten to keep breathing.

“He punches the steering wheel. And then he breaks. The boy I love breaks. And there’s nothing sadder, nothing harder in the world than watching the person you love fall apart right before your eyes—and you can’t say or do anything”

Yes, it’s melodramatic and overblown. You can tell just by reading the blurb (which I did not do because it was a Random Read). It’s overly-poetic and unabashedly sorrowful but I can forgive it….Almost.

This book gave me so much more respect for single parents. In an abstract way, I knew that it wasn’t easy to be a single parent (or to be a teen parent). I know that jobs rarely want to hire high-schoolers with no experience. I know that child-care is expensive and I know that parents make sacrifices, but never has it resonated so much with me.

I am so impressed by Ms. McLean’s gutsy decision to write this from the perspective of a guy. Again, this  makes me sound recklessly uncaring,  but even though I’ve heard of single-mother teens, I’ve never considered how tough it would be for the father.

“You know what’s worse than your landlady calling you out on wearing cologne purely because you want to impress her granddaughter? I’ll tell you what. Being in the confined space of a truck while your son tells said granddaughter about how you paid him five moneys for him to tell you about what she said about you. Yeah. That’s happening.”

But (there’s always a but, isn’t there?)  this is first and foremost a love story. While I loved both characters individually, I couldn’t root for their relationship. They were just so broken and dealing with so many responsibilities, that I kept thinking their relationship was unhealthy. Maybe, that’s why I wasn’t surprised the relationship turned to shit, that the break-up was so destructive.

I appreciate that the book acknowledges that real-life lesson, that love isn’t always enough. That sometimes there is some scary, horrible things happening below the surface and that you need to be careful when you give your heart to someone, even if they’re the most selfless, bravest, kindest person you know.

This book ends on a cliff-hanger and I’m not even angry about it. If there was a happy-ending, I would have considered it rushed. Both characters fought some of their nasty demons in this book, but they still have a lot of growing up to do. There’s a second book (no idea when it’ll be released though).

“There’s a big difference between being happy and being selfish. Choose to be happy. Fire truck the rest.”

Overall Rating: 3/5

On a barely related side-note, this book makes me realize that real-life is scary.

Five Flavors of Dumb: A Book Review

“…bands fall out. But at the end of the day, they’re like family. You get back together because you have to, because you’re stronger together than you are apart.”

Book: Five Flavors of Dumb
Author: Antony JohnFive Flavors of Dumb

Blurb:

The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?

Piper can’t hear Dumb’s music, but with growing self-confidence, a budding romance, and a new understanding of the decision her family made to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, she discovers her own inner rock star and what it truly means to be a flavor of Dumb

My Thoughts:

This book has hovered around on my TBR list for over a year, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it. When I saw it in the library, I felt chastised and I picked it up. Trust me, I’m glad I did.

I hate to sound pretentious and condescending, but initially I found the premise impossible. When I read the blurb, I wondered out loud: How can Piper be a band manager when she can’t even hear music?
I’m sorry for that tactless question. Piper really proved me wrong. At the risk of sounding cheesy, just because you can hear music doesn’t mean you understand it; just because you can’t hear it- doesn’t mean you can’t understand it.

This book is a journey on appreciating music, family, friends and your own power. This is a coming of age book set in Seattle focusing on the early heavy and grunge rock that the city’s famous for. If you’ve ever lived in Seattle (like me!) or even visited- you know how much pride the city takes in its’ music scene and its’ casual love for the art.

The supporting characters were well-developed, multi-facetious ones. The band was full of strong personalities (that clashed more often than not). In a non-preachy way, Mr. John shows us the perils of quick judgement and how powerful bonds can be formed amongst the most unlikely people.
Family played an important role in the book. Mom, Dad, Younger Brother, Baby Sister- Piper’s eyes opened to who they really were and vice versa. In recent memory, I can’t think of any book with such stupendous character development.

The romance in this book is seriously cute. A crush which grows into friendship which grows into something more, all set against the backdrop of chess, drums and coffee (yes, another Seattle thing).

This book is a fantastic learning opportunity. You will learn so much about deaf culture, Seattle and music. At the same time, you’ll empathise so strongly with Piper and the Five Flavors of Dumb, you will walk away amazed. Read the book. You will not regret it.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Books Like This: Everything Leads to You, Made You Up

Quotables:

“Don’t worry about wanting to change; start worrying when you don’t feel like changing anymore. And in the meantime, enjoy every version of yourself you ever meet, because not everybody who discovers their true identity likes what they find.”

“Not at all. It’s why people come. They say it’s about looking smart, or beautiful, or professional, but it’s not. Gray-haired ladies try to recapture their former brunette. Brunettes want to go blond. Other women go for colors that don’t arise in
nature. Each group thinks it’s completely different than the others, but I don’t see it that way. I’ve watched them looking at themselves in the mirror, and they’re not interested in conforming or rebelling, they just want to walk out of here feeling like themselves again.”

“Music. It’s not about those things. It’s about a feeling. It’s about expressing yourself. It’s about letting go.”

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor: A Book Review

What you did to me wasn’t this brilliant thing, like you think it was. You took me away from everything – my parents, my friends, my life. You took me to the sand and the heat, the dirt and isolation. And you expected me to love you. And that’s the hardest bit. Because I did, or at least, I loved something out there.
But I hated you too. I can’t forget that.”

Book: Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

Author: Lucy Cristopher

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

Blurb:

It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back?

The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.

My thoughts:

There’s one (and only one thing) in this book that will make or break it for you: Ty.

He broke it.
Yes, he was brutally raw, primitive, passionate, beautifully honest and towards the end of the book, he was very compelling. I’m not going to lie- I felt for him. And in another setting, I might have loved him.
But he was obsessed, and that’s why I couldn’t. He was insane, a sick madman who teeters on the brink of anger and violence. At times, he was terrifying.

He stalked a girl for six years (ever since she was ten). He ‘protected’ her from other stalkers. And then he stole her. He drugged her. He imprisoned her.

Yet, you can’t completely hate him. He does it with the best of intentions (you know what they say about the path to hell). He feels that her parents don’t value her enough (true.). He never ‘touches’ her, much less rapes her (there’s not a single kiss in this whole book). He clearly cares for her, maybe even loves her.

But I can’t excuse him.
I shouldn’t excuse him because he scared a 16-year-old girl and then confessed romantic intentions towards her (he was in his mid 20’s at least). I shouldn’t excuse him because he drugged and dragged her like a caveman to his freaking cave. And another reason that justifies me condemning him:

“How long will you keep me?” I asked.
You shrugged. “Forever, of course.”

I can’t excuse him.

“It’s hard to hate someone once you understand them.”

Yet…in the middle he negotiates with her. If you still dislike it after four months, I’ll drop you off at the nearest town, he says. In that sense, if he’s a kidnapper- he’s a  good one. In the end, He gives up his freedom, to save her life.
It was tough for me to choose- but I couldn’t excuse him. But could I hate him? Of course, not!

“Lets face it, you did steal me. But you saved my life too. And somewhere in the middle, you showed me a place so different and beautiful, I can never get it out of my mind. And I can’t get you out of there either. You’re stuck in my brain like my own blood vessels.”

If Ty was complicated, Gemma was anything but. She was instantly relatable. She reminded me of…me. A little bratty, a little jaded, surprisingly insightful, curious and so, so brave. But still so believable. Yes, she pissed herself. Yes, she was terrified through half the book. But, she was empathetic, tenuous and determined. If I was ever in such a situation, I would be proud to behave like her. And when Stockholm Syndrome gradually began seeping in, I was as confused as she was.

The writing (lyrical, descriptive, poetic) and the setting (the wild, flame coloured sandy desert in Australia) almost steal the show- but not quite. No matter how gorgeous the scenery, our hearts and minds remain entangled by the bewitchingly bewildering situation, and the powerful characters.

Stolen: A letter to my captor, is so heart-breakingly confusing and beautiful, you will walk away from the book half dazed and completely in tears.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Books like this: On the Jellicoe Road, 5th Wave

Quotables:

“People love what they’re used to, I guess.”
“No.” You shook your head. “People should love what needs loving. That way they can save it.”

“Icy blue, looking back at me as if I could
warm them up. They’re
pretty powerful, you know, those eyes, pretty beautiful, too.”

“One day they’ll let you out of that dry, empty cell. You’ll return to the Separates, and you’ll feel the rain once more. And you’ll grow straight, this time, toward this sunlight. I know you will.”

Sloppy Firsts: A Book Review

Book: Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling Book #1)

Author: Megan McCarthy

Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, #1)

Blurb:

“My parents suck ass. Banning me from the phone and restricting my computer privileges are the most tyrannical parental gestures I can think of. Don’t they realize that Hope’s the only one who keeps me sane? . . . I don’t see how things could get any worse.”

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment–from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

My thoughts:

This book confused me. There’s no other way to put it.
No wonder when it’s written in the form of a 16 year old’s diary. Yeah, life confuses me too.
It was a jumbled, confused mess of thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts were hopelessley shallow and petty and made me roll my eyes (I’m a teen I do stuff like that), while at other times I could relate with the MC so much I wanted to cry and then there was the occasional stray thought which was so introspective and profound that I could actually understand why she had been labelled a genius.
But throughout this book was raw. Raw and organic -which makes it sound like some healthy kind of food. Her writing was as tangential as mine (typical teen mind, I guess) but there was something beautiful about the fact that it was so unedited.
Fake friendships (I thought this was particularly interesting dealt since it dealt with both sides-being the untrue friend and being betrayed by someone else), being true to yourself (whatever that may be),parental expectations, appreciating the irony of life, unrequited crushes, missing friends, the consequences of drugs and manipulation- this book dealt with it all. And very poignantly, that too.
I don’t know if I liked this book, but I can’t deny that this book made me feel.

Overall Rating: 3/5

The Art of Lainey: A Book Review

Book: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey

Cover: 4/5

Plot:5/5

Blurb:

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

My Thoughts:

Yes, I thought the cover was really cute but in this case it was the blurb that drew me in. I was practically salivating to read this book after reading the blurb. For one thing, it promised lots and lots of girl power. If you want another reason, I’ll give you one: I secretly (not so secretly now) love the whole premise of pretending to date someone to make someone else jealous. And this book did not disappoint. This book had girl power galore. Lainey uses the help of the Sun Tzu’s famous book ‘The Art of War’ to make her ex-boyfriend see what he’s really missing out on. At first her tactics were a bit obvious and weak but then she grows to be a skilful manipulator. At the same time she never loses her sweet, innocent and (maybe just a little bit) idealistic side. This book celebrates friendships- both new and old- ,the unconditional support they give and how they always do what (they think) will be best for you.

Characters:4/5

I really didn’t like Lainey at the beginning. She’s beautiful, popular, athletic, etc. etc. Worst of all is that she acts totally entitled and snobbish looking down on people who don’t act like her or choose to look different. When her boyfriend breaks up with her, she gives such shallow reasons for why it was a bad idea. In the first hundred or so pages, I repeatedly cringed at Lainey and her desperate, stalkery behaviour.  But her lies the true beauty of the book: Lainey’s opening of her world-view is gradual and it feels so realistic.  As a character she grows quietly and sweetly, empathising with people she would have never talked to before, going places she never would have before and taking the freedom and time to develop her own personality instead of conforming to her friend’s expectations. This book really struck a chord with me. Yes, Lainey can be selfish and shallow. But then, that’s part of being a teenager isn’t it? . She’s ordinary enough to make you feel like she’s someone you know (maybe even yourself) but at the same time she grows and changes so much it’s impossible not to admire her.  

Her best friend Bianca is there for her every step of the way. She’s not as popular as Lainey but the girls have a true friendship that reaches way back.  They have an amazing relationshipthat is effortless to understand. Within seconds of Bianca appearing in the book I was completely invested in it. The loyalty and support between these two is completely heart-warming, even though the girls aren’t entirely alike. I loved how Bee was there for Lainey when she needed to be, and managed to always say the right things, without feeling like a superficial sidekick. It reminds how powerful an ordinary friendship can be in a character-driven story, when written well. 

You can’t help but hate Lainey’s other best friends, Kendall who is overly popular (and obsessed with it), narcissistic and manipulative. But Paula Stokes does a good job developing her and at the end, you can sort of see where she’s coming from…sort of.

Micah’s sister was truly adorable. She was precocious enough to give good advice, enough flair to suggest blue clip-on highlights and just young and sweet enough to hero worship her brother and Lainey.

Paula Stokes really has a gift for creating side characters. All of them felt so realistic and well-rounded. I’d love to read a spinoff in any one of their point of views.

Romance:5/5

I fell in love with the romance. It may sound cliché but it’s true. The romance was sweet, gradual an thoroughly beautiful. The love triangle was kind of a metaphor: Jason was Lainey’s ex and he was the golden-boy. He was popular and he was the easy choice, the shallow choice. Micah was more difficult. He had tattoos and piercings, he baked pastries and was a bit of a softie inside. His subtle mocking challenged Lainey to step out of her comfort zone and broaden her horizons. Definitely one of my favourite love interests.

Plotholes:5/5

Other than Lainey’s shallowness in the beginning, there was really nothing I was against. But even then, Paula  Stokes was laying the framework for the book so I can’t really complain about that.

Overall Rating:4.5/5

One of my favourite 2014 releases. This book inspred me to go over The Art of War myself. Maybe I’ll do a follow up post on that someday. In the meantime, go ahead and read this cute, sweet and fun book.

 

 

On The Jellicoe Road: A Book Review

Book: On the Jellicoe Road

Author/Authoress: Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe Road

Cover: 4/5

Plot: 5/5

 Blurb:

I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago. Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again. And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

My thoughts:

If you thought-even for a second- that it was impossible for a single book to be light-hearted and mysteriously dark and emotional, then you need to read this book just to prove yourself wrong. The book starts off with a fun and frivolous rivalry between three groups of teenagers; the students from the Jellicoe School, the Cadets and the Townies. The three groups negotiate with each other so seriously and solemnly for land access, return of hostages and so earnestly declare ‘war’ on each other, it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Throughout all the skirmishes and pranks, the characters come up with such sharp, witty remarks it’s impossible not to fall head over heels for them.

Melina Marchetta introduces another dimension to this book by bringing in the histories and backstories of all of the characters. The leaders of the three opposing factions somehow bind together to become a group of five. Together, they figure out the tragic and beautiful story of a group of five friends who fell apart when a member died. As the story winds together the teens figure out just how entrenched the story is in their pasts. This book is about past and present colliding and of figuring out how history can shape your story. It’s about how things get lost in interpretation (or should I say, misinterpretation?) and figuring out how everyone belongs.

Characters: 5/5

The characters in this book wrung me out, stamped all over my heart and ultimately broke it. I guess I have some masochistic tendencies because I went back to this book over and over again. And every time I had a reaction just as intense (if not more so) than the previous time.

I don’t know when it happened-maybe it was the very first page or maybe it was somewhere further along the book- but a part of my heart was relinquished to Taylor. I think these two quotes do a brilliant job of describing what Taylor wants:

“I crave history. I crave someone knowing me so well that they can tell what I’m thinking.”

“‘What do you want from me?’ he asks. What I want from every person in my life, I want to tell him. More.”

Taylor is abandoned over and over again. First by her mother at a petrol pump and then by her closest confident and mentor, Hannah in her very own backyard. When they leave she becomes closed off and cynical. She becomes depressed and even slightly suicidal. She’s nowhere near perfect but maybe that was part of the draw. The pain is often overdone in YA and maybe it was here too. But her pain was so honest and raw, it actually hurt me.

Fear not! Taylor did not spend this book as a mourning and abandoned vegetable (Yes Bella, I’m looking at you). Taylor had a strong support system and she- I wouldn’t say she got over it- but she functioned admirably; she lead her school in the ‘war’, was an admirable house leader and made a bunch of hilarious quips. By the time I was done with the book, I was attached to her like…like a suction cup on glass.

Ben, Anson Choi, Raffaela, Santiago, Jenna. They form the support system and they were just so witty and profound and multi-dimensional, I kind of fell in love with them. The unnamed girl with the eyebrow piercing deserves a special mention too.

Romance: 5/5

Jonah Griggs is bad. Like killed-his-father bad (don’t worry it was self-defence) He’s as disciplined and tough as hell but he’s a softie (especially when it comes to Taylor). He’s intense without being melodramatic…and I’m doing a terrible job explaining him. The goodness of Jonah Griggs cannot be described in a paragraph. Let me just say that Jonah is not the kind of guy you let into your heart- no, he’s the kind of guy who just walks in without an invitation but with so much panache that you don’t mind.

Plotholes: 4.5/5

It took me a while to get into the rhythm of Melina Marchetta’s writing. I was a bit confused with the italic parts and how that story tied in with the rest of the story. But the story unfolds really nicely once you get into the flow of it.

Overall Review: 5/5

I’ve done a terrible job explaining this book but it’s not completely my fault. This book is a literary masterpiece and you should read it. Right now. In fact maybe you shouldn’t even have read the review cause I have the sinking suspicion that this is the type of book best enjoyed when you know nothing about it.

Corrine Jackson: Crazy…But in A Good Way or Bad Way?

Corrine JacksonAuthor: Corrine Jackson
Where From: Haxton, Colorado, Untied States of America
Books: If I Lie, The Sense Thieves trilogy (TouchedPushed and Ignited)
Awards: If I Lie is on the ALA Rainbow List, 2014

If I Lie:

If I Lie

Blurb: Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise

My thoughts:
This book was a very emotional one. Not only is it a story about bearing burdens, guilt and the knowledge of the real truth. It’s about facing shame, anger and the fact that you may have damaged a bond that was supposed to be unbreakable Quinn lives in a town where practically everybody is either military or related to someone in the military. They know what it’s like to be in a war-zone in constant peril and wonder if your life at home remains waiting for you. And they can’t tolerate the people who can’t cope with a husband or boyfriend who’s away. So when Quinn cheats on her boyfriend and a picture of it goes viral, she is ostracized by the town who is aghast that she was disloyal to the ‘town hero’. But she didn’t cheat on Carey. Not really. However, she can’t bring herself to tell anyone that she didn’t because if she did that, she would have to reveal the fact that Carey was gay. And there’s not a lot of respect in the military for gay people.

At the same time, she has to cope with the abandonment . She caught her mother cheating on her father and told him.  Her mother dropped her off at her grandparents house and left. The book If I Lie is about torn families, friendship, and the army; it is also a story about hope and perseverance and the ability to find strength and courage even in the darkest of times.

Sense Thieves trilogy: Touched, Pushed, Ignited

Summary: Remy O’Malley is different. She can heal people. You would think that would be great except every time she heals someone, she absorbs their injuries into her own body. Only when she arrives Blackwell Falls does she realize just what she is. She’s hunted –  both by Healers and Protectors, because she’s half of both and she’s got  the best of both worlds. She needs to be exceptionally strong –  both physically and mentally – if she wants to acquire a stable life. This is her story.

My thoughts:

Touched: I liked the first book even though at points it resembled a fanfic with huge parts of it based on angst and abuse (trust me, fanfiction frequently overoses on angst, trauma, abuse and all sorts of clichés). But Remy was a paradoxical character who while physically weak had a great deal of mental strength. The take on healing abilities was new and innovative and the romance was relatively simple and uncomplicated. As was the enemy. On the whole this book was imaginative, simple and sweet in certain places.

Pushed: Boy,was I surprised by the next book- in a good way. It lightened up on the angst and self-pity but the plot became increasingly more complex. A love triangle was introduced. But don’t worry; it was the good kind. Remy and Gabe develop feelings for each other in a gradual way, bonded by a shared loss.  At the end of the book it was not at all obvious who she was going to choose because both men (yes men, not boys) had their strong points but didn’t fall into the cliché good guy and bad boy roles. The enemy in this one was more complex as well. You don’t find out who he is until the middle of the book and even then it’s possible to say that he is more passionate about his cause than evil. But you won’t walk away from the book thinking that.

Ignited: As far as conclusions to trilogies go, I think this is as good as it gets. This book was my favourite one. The ending was surprising but not completely unexpected if you paid attention to the foreshadowing in the previous books. In this book Remy struggles to keep her mental strength as tense arguments arise, the stakes change and awkward moments abound amongst her allies. At the same time she has to keep herself focused on defeating the enemy from the second book (I’d tell you who he is, but it would spoil the second book beyond reading) and detangling herself from her complicated love-life. At the end of the book, we don’t get a perfect ending. But it comes pretty damn close.

So if Corrine Jackson is crazy, it’s definitely in a good way. I’m planning to read her next book as soon as it comes out.

We Were Liars: A Book Review

Book: We Were Liars
Author/Authoress: E. Lockhart

We Were Liars

Cover:4/5

I thought the cover was pretty good. All that sunshine, swimming and water suggest a cutesy, light-hearted and fun summer read but the subtle shadows and the smudgy letters make sure we don’t misjudge the book by it’s cover. Also, the way that the whole cover is lightly blurry is pretty cool. Personally, I thought it was a representation of the narrator’s state of mind- confused and unable to remember the whole truth.

Plot: 3/5

Blurb:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE

My thoughts: So to keep the suspense alive, we’re not supposed to tell you anything about the plot. Too bad. This time I’m not going to follow the rules. It’s ridiculous to expect us to know whether we want to read a book or not without a decent blurb. And a few words strung together haphazardly does not a blurb make.

There’s actually not much to the plot. Basically, Cadence Sinclair is wealthy. She is loved (maybe because of the previous statement). She is one of the Sinclairs, a good-looking “old-money Democrat” family. They have names like Liberty, Taft, and Tipper (oh the heights of pretentiousness that can be reached are high indeed).They go to Ivy League schools. They have trust funds. They have sired a generation of children, the leader of which is Cadence. Cadence and her crew call themselves “The Liars.” The Liars are composed of her cousins Mirren, Johnny, and the outcast Indian love interest, Gat. All of them the same age.Every summer, the liars go to a private island where they spend their holidays in beach houses specifically built for their mothers. Every year, they spend their days playing in the sand, swimming in the sea and generally being lazy and having a good time. Until the summer when they’re all 15. That year, something horrible happens. Something which Cadence has no memory of but makes her sick anyways. She theorizes she was a victim of something so awful, her mind blocked it all out to protect itself. But Cadence is desperate to remember what happened that fateful summer. This book shows two summers in parallel. One happening in the present and the other in the form of flashbacks.

Characters:2/5

I had little to no patience for the characters. They were such cliché’s based solely on stereotypes. There was nothing original or interesting about them. Let’s start with the MC

Cadence Sinclair is a snobbish little hypocrite. From the very beginning, I was certain I would never see eye-to-eye with her. I was not proven wrong. There are precious few  characters that can get away with calling their Mom ‘mummy’ without me losing any respect I could have had for them. Kids under the age of 10, people pretending to be snobby heiresses, snobby heiresses who exist for comedic purposes only and people from the Victorian era. Cadence falls into none of these categories. She actually is a snobby heiress. The type who speaks flippantly of Tiffany crystals, silverware, Mercedes cars and Harvard. The type who’s just rich enough (or going to be rich enough) to get away with not knowing the ‘help’s’ names and caring more about yellow labs than people. After the ‘accident’, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her. Not only is it partially her own fault but she stops functioning like a normal human being after it. Her grades drop, she stops taking interest in any activity, she sends pathetic e-mails to her cousins asking about Gat and then sends even more pathetic e-mails to them pretending she doesn’t care. She falls into bouts of self-pity where she moans about her migraines (which apparently could end the world) and the fact that she had to go to Europe the previous summer instead of being allowed to go to the beach house. And rich enough for her to be hypocritical about her wealth, criticising her mother for depending on it, and giving away all her worldly possessions ‘to be charitable’ and ‘do some good in the world’.*Facepalm*

Despite the fact that Mirren and Johnny form one whole half of the ‘Liars’, they’re given disproportionately little screen-time (what do you call it in a book?). Apparently Mirren is candy-sweet and a bit of a romantic. Johnny is archetypical annoying male cousin, sometimes prone to annoyingness. Each of them appeared in what, four scenes each? Not nearly enough for the ‘supposed’ main characters.

Gat Patel was somewhat annoying. But at the same time, he was the character that seemed the most…real. He kind of reminded me of Gus from The Fault in Our Stars. He is self-aware. Too self-aware in a hopelessly pretentious way that some people think teenagers are like (and maybe we are…just a little). But he still feels authentic and less contrived than the other characters. I liked him. He is accepted into The Liars, but he’s not altogether accepted in the family. Because of his skin color, because of his lack of family money, he feels left out.

The Grandfather was another interesting character. Proud, manipulative and a bit bigoted. But no one dared to ever tell him that because he was in charge of all the money. He used to pit all of his daughters against each other, to make them prove that they deserved the inheritance and that they could make good use of it. He was a really twisted character but at times he could be a loving and fun grandfather, spontaneously taking his grandchildren on outings and tossing money everywhere. Did anyone else automatically think of King Lear?
The liars theorize that he became twisted after losing his wife and his manipulative behaviour was a cry for help, for his family to actually start acting like a family. For once (the first and last time ever) I agree with the liars.

Romance: N/A

Writing:1/5

More than anything else, it was the writing which killed this story. The whole book is in the point of view of the MC who had the incredibly infuriating tendency to write in disjointed prose with an overuse of commas and repetition of words. The sentences are fragmented and the main character is forever using long, running metaphors to describe everything.

And then I completely loathed (no, it’s not too strong of a word) the way she over dramatized everything. Take a look at this:

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my ears,
my mouth.

It took me forever to realize that she didn’t meant if literally; only figuratively and that her Dad didn’t really shoot her. But seriously, what else was I supposed to think?

Ending:3/5

Don’t read this unless you want spoilers. <spoiler> At the end, Cadence tells us about their plan for the fire. We’ve been told throughout the book that Cadence and Gat, at least, are very bright kids. I thought burning the house was a clever and beautiful twist, until Cadence said that they would light it from the inside. I repeat- from the inside. Who (especially supposedly ‘brilliant’ kids) would be stupid enough to light a mansion on the fire from the freaking INSIDE? And then they’re surprised that people died? People this stupid simply do not exist.

I think the whole ghost/ the MC went crazy thing was pretty good. Obviously, I knew that something was up throughout most of the book: (When the Liars hung back from welcoming Cadence on the docks, how they were always in Cuddlemere despite the fact it was ‘haunted’, how they never went anywhere and there was no interaction between them and anyone other than Cadence, etc.) but I was never able to actually put my finger on it. However, a lot of people said they saw the twist coming from a mile away. </spoiler over>

Plotholes:2/5

Gleck! That was the sound of me choking. This book is full of plotholes. The most obvious being the ending, but there was other, smaller stuff that really bugged me. The only reason this book got more than a one was because there wouldn’t have been much of a story without some of the obvious pitfalls.

Overall Rating: 2/5

Considering the fact this was supposed to be the ‘It’ contemporary book this year, I was pretty disappointed. But I never was a big E. Lockhart fan anyways, so I guess it’s all okay. If you’re able to get past the choppy and annoying writing style and the even more annoying main character, this book is actually a real page-turner. Full of suspense with a not-too-shabby plot and a decent (if slightly stupid) ending. Unfortunately, I could not and neither could most people. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they would like to read it to make some sort of point (which type of point that would be, I have no idea).

Rainbow Rowell: Rave About or Rant About?

Name: Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow RowellOrigin: Nebraska, USA
Books: Attachments, Eleanor and Park, Fangirl
Recognition:In 2013 Rowell published two young adult novels: Eleanor & Park and Fangirl. Both were chosen by The New York Times as being some of the best young adult fiction of the year. Eleanor & Park was also chosen by Amazon as one of the 10 best books of 2013 and as Goodreads’ best young adult fiction of the year.Fangirl was chosen for the tumblr reblog book club.
Her Blog:http://rainbowrowell.com/blog/

 

First of all, I want to fangirl a bit about her name because is just so awesome! The first time I heard about it, I thought it was a pseudonym because it matches her writing so perfectly. It’s quirky, alliterary (probably not a real word since I’m getting that ugly red squiggle underneath) and the ‘Rainbow’ part adds a touch of irony- very nice.

So what is this going to be, a rant or a rave? If you haven’t already guessed, it’s definitely going to be a rave. Rainbow Rowell convinced me of something that, a year ago, I would have thought was impossible. She (gasp!) got me into contemporary young adult. Let me tell you- this was a major feat. In fact it’s practically award worthy because I had sworn never, ever, ever to read contemporary. About a year ago, I was just getting into the whole young adult thing. I had read a handful of YA contemporary and they all turned out to be bad. Uninspired, bland, shallow. Really bad. Then along came Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell like a dragon hell bent on encouraging me not to misjudge it’s entire race.  The blurb was cute and catchy. The title even more so. Especially since I had spent two whole years reading and writing huge (and I mean HUGE) amounts of fanfiction. Obviously, I fell in love with the book. The rest, as they say, is history. Actually no, it’s not- if you take a look at my blog, you’ll notice that nowadays I review quite a few contemporary young adult books. I would have missed a lot  good books (This Song Will Save Your Life , Wanderlove , 45 Pounds: More or Less , Just One Day) if I never got into this genre. So, I owe Rainbow Rowell a lot. A lot more than I can say thankyou for.

And what exactly makes her so awesome? I think it’s a combination of things. First and foremost is her characters. They’re quirky, interesting, unique, surprisingly profound but at the heart of it still realistic and well rounded. Eleanor deals with bullying and self-image issues at school and her home life is a train wreck waiting to happen. But at the same time, she never loses her sense of humour or her individuality. Cath is socially awkward. The thought of actually interacting in person with real people turns her into a nervous mess but she’s a gifted writer. She has the talent to write amazing stories which have major fan-followings Unfortunately for her, her writing teacher doesn’t believe in fanfiction and fanfiction is what Cath writes best. But Cath is the kind of character who grows as the story progresses. She moves (or maybe shuffles is a more appropriate word for it) out of her comfort zone and shell and actually forges new relationships.

Which brings me to the next thing I love about Rainbow Rowell’s books: The Relationships. How does an author create such different characters? More importantly, how does she make such different characters get along? Most importantly, how does she make their relationships so…memorable and perfect? I have no idea but let me give you an example. Reagen is a girl who’s larger than life. She’s prone to mockery and is excessively blunt. How does she even get along with (much less become BFF’s) with quiet, nervous, head-in-fanfiction Cath? I don’t know how it does, but it works. Rainbow Rowell proves that in fiction at least, the best pairs are the ones with the least in common.

How else would you explain Eleanor and Park? Eleanor is all red hair and wrong clothes. It’s impossible not to stare at her and the force of her personality (and her size) makes everyone seem duller and flatter. She comes from a broken home…quite literally, her home is broken. Her parents, both not so great to begin with, are divorced. Her mom remarried a man who loves to drink and loves to bully…and bully he does, but he does so much more (I can’t say much more without giving major spoilers). Park, on the other hand, has a wonderful home life. His Dad met his Mom in Korea, married her and brought her home. They still kiss and hold each other like they haven’t seen each other in months. They are simply adorable. Park himself is popular enough and respected enough at school but sometimes he feels like he doesn’t fit in. And that’s where the tagline for the book comes in: Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

But the real oomph and glamour of the book doesn’t come from the characters and their relationships (although we’ve already mentioned that they’re much better than great).  What makes these books so spectacular is the writing. Yes, the writing.

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

“I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”
Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”
Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Rainbow Rowell’s writing is so unabashedly sweet and profound (but not in a in-your-face way). Sometimes just reading quotes from her books is enough to make me catch my breath, sigh and let loose a few tears. I chose a few of them but these are just the tip of the iceberg. On a scale from 1 to 5, her quotes are a ten on quotability. For some more of them, click on the link here (it’ll take you to goodreads). Better yet, read the books.

   

 

 

 

 

 

They might not be pretty, but seriously (in this case, at least), don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

Wanderlove: A Book Review

Book: Wanderlove Author/Authoress: Kristen Hubbard

WanderloveWanderlove

Cover: 5/5

I love both covers. Okay, the first one might be a bit of a cliché with a petty girl being wistful and the second might be a little cartoonish but both of them cover (pun not intended) the main aspects of the book. The first cover is gorgeous. A little bit sad, wistful and hopeful at the same time. Personally, I think that the violet flowers (could they be violets by any chance?) were a great addition, somehow bringing colour, vibrancy and playfulness into a cover that would have otherwise been sort of dull, without messing up the pensive quality of the book. The second cover is something that I can actually imagine Bria, the MC, drawing. It’s a outline map of Mexico with all the important sights that she saw marked and sketched (or pencil-shaded) with exquisite detail. Along with the quintessential, anonymous backpacker girl (you’ll see why that girl is so important in the story; she’s sort of Bria’s muse). And the backpacker girl just so happens to look a bit like Bria. Coincidence, right?

Plot:5/5

It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back. Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story. Wow! Wow! Wow! It’s hard to imagine a plot more exciting and wholesome than what this blurb promises but somehow it’s true. This book is full of new experiences, adventure, gross hotels, travel tips, art, self-discovery and second chances. It seems hard to believe that all this can be found in just one book. But this book is not just any book. Dun dun dun. This is a backpacking book. And a pretty good one too. The scenery adds to the plot and brings it from great to swoon-worthy (if you’re the type that swoons over books; and I totally am.) . Mayan cul­ture, pineapple liquitas, the vibrancy of crowded cities, the jun­gle, the humidity, the rides on the chicken buses, and the bluest waters with exotic fishes in it.

Characters: 4/5

Backpacking has been on my bucket list since…forever. My destination wasn’t Guatemala and Belize (it was Europe in case you wanted to know), but whatever. Same difference, right? And just like Bria, I have the tendency to overplan and compartmentalize. Thankfully not overpack though. Travel has been over-romancised in Bria’s mind. She wants nothing more than to learn how to be spontaneous. Her goal for the summer is to learn how to travel effortlessly and ‘just go with the flow’. Unfortunately Global Vagabonds, the tour group that she signed up with, is non-conducive to her goals.  Every­thing is planned out for her from the walking tours to the food they eat. There’s no downtime or room for self discovery.  Once an oppor­tu­nity to ditch them arises, she takes it to prove her­self to all her  doubters back at home that she can do this. And to herself as well. Bria is the kind of character that evolved as the book went on. In several ways. As a traveller, she lost her fear of shabby rooms and humongous insects. As an artist, her drawings became more emotional and complex. And as a person, she tried new things, overcame several fears, regained her self confidence and started acting more spontaneously.

Rowan has a…checkered past. He subscribes to a policy of wanderlove.

“Wanderlove is about forgetting the bad things and focusing on the good. Out with the old and in with the new… The only way to escape the past is to keep moving forward.”

His life used to be like a nonstop rave, with rowdy parties and pounds of…something (that is probably not bananas). But during the time the book is set, he’s on the straight and narrow (except for a few stray pranks here and there, misguiding not-so-well-travelled travellers). But seriously, other than the pranks part, Rowan was a sweet guy with a lot of travel knowledge and an interesting perspective on life. Starling was a pretty interesting character. She’s Rowan’s half-sister and alleviates her first world guilt by volunteering as a teacher in third world countries for pennies. Throughout the book, her goal numero uno is to keep Rowan happy and safe. Even if she has to keep him safe from himself.

Romance: 5/5

Loved, loved, loved the romance in this book. It’s an interesting pairing but it makes so much sense. I liked Bria and Rowan as friends. The way they shared their philosophies, talked about books, travelled together and encouraged each other to step out of their comfort zone. But those two had chemistry and I was really, really glad when the friendship turned into something more. The romance was so believable. Their issues were handled perfectly. All in all, I think the romance was sweet and believable.

Ending:4/5

Perfect ending. The story ending is the closure but not-yet-the-end type. And that’s my favourite type. We closed one chapter of their life but that doesn’t make the story over (I’m not a fan of Happy Ever After’s in case you didn’t notice). But I’m cutting off 1 star for the cheese. Sometimes it works but not this time…

I can wait until tomorrow to call my college, where I’ll probably be sleeping on a cot in the basement, but at this point, I don’t care. When you fall for a guy like Rowan, nothing’s certain. But I’m pretty sure we’ve found the antidote to Wanderlove: each other.

Seriously, overkill.

Quotables:

Envy is when you want what someone else has. Jealousy’s when you also don’t want them to have it.”

“Hearing about vacations is like hearing about dreams — no one cares except the person who’s experienced them.” “What everyone forgets — even me — is the people who actually live here. In places like Central America, I mean. Southeast Asia. India. Africa. Millions, even billions, of people, who live out their whole lives in these places — the places so many people like us fear. Think about it: they ride chicken buses to work every day. Their clothes are always damp. Their whole lives, they never escape the dust and the heat. But they deal with all these discomforts. They have to.
“So why can’t travelers? If we’ve got the means to get here, we owe it to the country we’re visiting not to treat it like an amusement park, sanitized for our comfort. It’s insulting to the people who live here. People just trying to have the best lives they can, with the hands they’ve been dealt.”

“Prices are relative. So is poverty. So is happiness.”

And this one made me laugh because it’s just so…Bria.

“I want to draw you. All of you.’ Then I pause. ‘That came out wrong-you can keep your clothes on.”

Plotholes:3/5

At the beginning, Bria comes across as sort of snobby and a bit of a brat. In fact, when she was on the plane and lied that she was a photographer, I wanted to simultaneously laugh at her, slap her and slam the book shut. Not necessarily in that order. Besides up till, like 1/8th of the book, it seemed like Bria and the author was keeping us (the reader) at arms length. But seriously, don’t give up on the book. It gets better. And once you get Bria’s backstory, all will become clear.

Overall Rating:4/5

A great summer book when you’re stuck at home. I almost felt like I was on the trip with Bria. I loved the characters and the plot was pretty good. And the cover’s really pretty. Almost like an accessory. So stop making excuses and pick up this book. As soon as possible.