Month: September 2014

Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson

Wintergirls

Wintergirls

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Publish Date: March 19th, 2009

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Psychology, Mental Illness

“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.


Review

Yay for another review for a book that came out a long time ago! Sorry guys but my tbr list is just really long so I’m trying to get through reading some of the older books.

Anyways, Wintergirls tells about the path of recovery of Lia, an anorexic girl trying to recover after the death of her ex-BFF Cassie. It’s a poignant, realistic read about anorexia and the repercussions it may have on loved ones.

Lia’s journey was heartbreaking. It made me hurt for her because it was heartbreaking that she believed these things about herself. The way that she strove to weigh seventy pounds at a height of 5’5″ was painful to read about. Every single thought she had about Cassie and her weight and family was just one reminder that she was toeing the boundary between life and death.

I love how she penned the name “Wintergirls” to describe girls that were suffering from anorexia and bulimia because of how tragically beautiful it is (not that eating disorders are beautiful). It’s kind of hard to explain my take on the name but I think it’s a way of saying that while the girls are constantly fighting their cold inner demons, they’re still beautiful no matter what. Winter is cold and harsh but it can still be beautiful y’know? I don’t mean to be offensive if it’s taken the wrong way.

The writing in this book was beautiful. I loved the different ways that Anderson chose to describe the moments of the book. I felt that they really illustrated the grief and helplessness of Lia. The metaphors and placement of them made scenes raw and even more moving than they would have been, had she used different words. While some may find it pretentious, I found that it was nice because she used it in moderation. There isn’t a two-page long description of a metaphor or philosophical idea but instead, they are sprinkled throughout.


“The unforgiving November wind blows me towards the building. Pointy snowflakes spiral down from the cake-frosting clouds overhead. The first snow. Magic. Everybody stops and looks up. The bus exhaust freezes, trapping all the noise in a gritty cloud. The doors to the school freeze, too.

We tilt back our heads and open wide.

The snow drifts into our zombie mouths crawling with grease and curses and tobacco flakes and cavities and boyfriend/girlfriend juice, the stain of lies. For one moment we are not failed tests and broken condoms and cheating on essays; we are crayons and lunch boxes and swinging so high our sneakers punch holes in the clouds. For one breath everything feels better.

Then it melts.”

Page 11


“Ghosts are waiting in the shadows of the room, patient dull shimmers. The other can see them, too, I know it. We’re all afraid to talk about what stares at us from the dark.”

Page 18


Yeah I picked quotes from the beginning in case anybody didn’t want any spoilers and counted those as spoilers? I dunno. But like I said a paragraph earlier, the writing in Wintergirls is beautiful. I liked how it contrasted with the dead, empty mood of Lia’s voice and the heavy topic of anorexia. Anderson did a really good job of making Lia sound like a girl obsessed with her weight that was spiraling deeper into anorexia. It was a highly accurate account of anorexia and there was clearly a high amount of research that went into it. The topics of bulimia and anorexia were both well applied to the novel. Everything from the mental effects to the physical deterioration and doctoral visits were described in full detail.

While the writing was great, I felt that the book lacked characterization of the protagonist, most likely due to the fact that Lia was ill that there was little room to expand on her personality before anorexia. This is completely okay with me because if anything, it brings the focus of the book onto the problems that Lia face. Even so, the secondary characters and Cassie, could have been elaborated further. I think I would have liked Elijah if he had actually been better characterized.

I didn’t really like the format of the writing. There were random parts in the book that reminded me of computer programming (Example from book: “youhavetoeat/I’mnothungry/eatsomething/stopforcing/listentome/leavemealone”). It might have been an internal struggle or her sub-conscious or something along those lines. But other similar parts make me think that it’s probably something else. Either way, these parts broke the flow of my concentration of the book and confused me more than it did contribute to my understanding. There were also strikethroughs and italicized parts, clearly meant to portray her sub-conscious. These weren’t as big a problem because you know. I actually understood them.

There was one character flaw of Lia that I didn’t really like. I’m not at all sure if this counts as a spoiler (highlight to read), but I really hated that the entire reason that the two girls began to lose weight was because Lia started a bet. I feel like in a real-world situation, it would take a little more than just a bet to cause people to develop eating disorders.

I’m really happy that I picked up Wintergirls. Even if it’s not going to become one of my favorite books, I don’t regret reading it at all. It’s opened my eyes even more to the minds of those that may be fighting these illnesses as I type these words. I’m definitely going to pick up her book Speak now.

Wintergirls may trigger some if read. Please be careful if you have recently suffered from similar issues. And if you have, you guys are strong and beautiful enough to not need to engage in these actions.

4/5 Stars

[ARC Review] Rites of Passage – Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

Author: Joy N. Hensley

Publish Date: September 14th, 2014

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


Review

I received an ARC of this book free from the Goodreads First Reads program.

I was so so so happy when I found out that I won this book. I was extremely excited to read it because it reminded me of that Disney Channel Movie Cadet Kelly and because it sounded so cool.

First things first. I was really happy when I realized that the drill sergeant was NOT an old guy but someone that was Sam’s age. I hate reading about weird relationships like teacher/student, elderly/young woman, etc. It makes me feel really uncomfortable. The same goes for cheating if the main character is directly involved in the relationship. The romance in this book was great because it didn’t take over the story. The relationship didn’t even really ignite until more than halfway through the book. I liked this because it focused on Sam and ohmygod Sam is FAB. She’s confident and persistent and she has flaws and she’s just great guys. She’s great.

What I really liked about Rites of Passage was the format and structure of the writing. It was nice and told in a way that gave all details while also not causing it to become really slow and with the plot of this, it could have easily happened. I loved the first-person narration of Sam. I liked how Hensley put the story together and especially how she waited on the romance. Sam didn’t just give up all her morals and goals and go after Drill. She knew that doing it could cause her to be kicked out of the school. Sam was logical and because Hensley wrote her this way, sticking to the character, the plot was logical. The only problem I see with the romance is that although Sam and Drill might have seen and spoken to each other a lot, they didn’t really know each other. There was chemistry and them getting together was inevitable but I would have liked to see more scenes where the two of them interacted like a couple. It makes sense that there weren’t very many (because Sam had more important moments in the book and because of the circumstances of their relationship), but maybe in a sequel? *awkwardly winks at imaginary Joy N. Hensley*

jung ilwoos awk wink

Just try telling me that this isn’t awkward

THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THIS BOOK GUYS. SO SWEET. SO VERY VERY SWEET AND GOOD. Sam’s attitude and relationship with the other characters is so realistic. Her relationship with her parents is real and her relationship with her friends is even more real. It’s all extremely realistic for a character who is quick to judge and even quicker to not trust others. They were crafted perfectly.

What I love in a book is when everything is relevant. There aren’t many unnecessary scenes that don’t contribute to the plot like in certain other books *cough The Here and Now cough*. Everything leads up to an important scene whether it’s the actions of another character or a meeting Sam has with someone else. It shows great planning and thorough analysis of what the author is going to write.

There was so much research put into this book. Everything from life at a military school, uniform, positions, clothing, structure, to speech patterns. It’s executed fantastically and I learned a lot from it. I now know what dress blues are and how recruits are initiated and other stuff. I had no idea that military schools were that tough and I know that I ain’t ever gonna go to one now.

Rites of Passage also touches on a few topics. Early on in the book, you learn that the reason Sam is at the school is purely because it was the last dare her older brother, Amos gave her before he had committed suicide. There are feelings of never being good enough, having no support, etc. It’s not romanticized but it’s not the focal point of the book either. Hensley balances it extremely well with the mystery.

I’m extremely unhappy about the fact that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as other reviewers. I loved the technical aspects of the book and the way that everything was written and planned but I didn’t ever connect with Sam most likely because I can’t really relate to all of the aspects of her life. It had everything I loved in a book but I didn’t end up loving it like I wanted to. I really wish that I would have liked it more and I’ll probably be rereading it a lot in the future so that hopefully, I’ll connect with the characters more and end up sticking this on my favorites shelf.

Rites of Passage is a well-written, unique contemporary that has all of the components of an amazing book. Definitely a must-read for all fans of the contemporary genre.

4.5/5 Stars

Illusive – Emily Lloyd-Jones

Illusive

Illusive (Illusive, #1)

Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones

Series: Illusive #1

Publish Date: July 15th, 2014

Genre: Dystopian, YA, Action, Sci-fi

The X-Men meets Ocean’s Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of “super” criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She’s what’s known as an illusionist…She’s also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn’t?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.


Review

Illusive had the potential to become one of my favorite books of 2014. The premise was unique and amazing (well to me at least) and I thought that it’d be the perfect thing to read after the many contemporaries I’ve been reading lately. Illusive wasn’t bad per say, but it was a let-down.

Illusive is set in a world where people with powers exist but instead of making them superheroes, Jones chose to make them the “villains” instead. In Ciere’s world, those that are “immune” are regarded as dangerous weapons. They are brutally imprisoned if found and constantly are on the run to avoid it. It’s a really cool idea and I was hoping that it’d be just as amazing as it sounded. Unfortunately, there were two major things that brought the book down.

Firstly, the characters are flat as a board. They had so much potential and could have become some of my favorite book characters if not for the crappy characterization. I know I would have loved Ciere, Magnus, Devon, Kit, the whole lot of them if they had been more deep. They were each unique and had extremely rough character sketches. Evidence that the personalities were considered were definitely present, but the rest of it was all in the author’s head. I can take a wild, educated guess that Devon was sarcastic and that Magnus was a grudge-holder but Illusive lacked the deep characterization that would have brought the crew to life.

Secondly, Illusive had a great premise but the plot itself wasn’t. It doesn’t ever really pick up and if I could draw a line graph that showed the amount of action and suspense, it would be a straight line from the exposition to the conclusion with the exception of one teensy, tiny bump at the end that hits a record high of 0.02 excitement points. It’s a really slow read with no end in sight. When the “climax” is finally there, it falls flat.

I will give some praise to Jones for that twist in Part 3. I never saw that coming. And the action scene at the end in Part 4 was really cool. And I ship two couples in this book. For the first couple, I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just say that he and Ciere are adorbs together even if it’s a seriously bad case of insta-love. The lack of development is so terrible but I still kind of ship them regardless. In fact, I think part of the reason I ship them is because the nonexistent character development makes the nonexistent romantic development slightly better (which is kind of sad). I love Kit and Magnus’s banter. At this point, I’m not sure if they’re gay or if they’ve just had some really messed up history but I’ll be reading the second book to find out. I really wish that the characterization had been better because then I’d be shipping these characters even harder together. But alas, obviously it can’t happen.

Illusive is a solid book that didn’t illicit any particularly strong opinions. It was disappointing to say the least but I will be picking up the sequel and hoping that these issues improve.

3/5 Stars


Sorry if this review kind of sucks. I had to return it to the library and didn’t get a chance to thoroughly analyze it! ;__;

Top Ten Underrated Book Authors

Top Ten Underrated Book Authors (and

series/books)

50ab0-toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, participating book bloggers blog about their top ten lists.


I actually have a problem with remembering author names. Therefore, to make this easier for me, I will amend the “underrated author in respective genre” to “underrated author/book anything book related”. This list will probably have a lot of middle grade because I have only recently started reading YA (think like half a year ago) and I haven’t read nearly enough to have encountered many underrated YA authors. Also, “top underrated authors” suggests that I’d have to have read many many works by each author. Obviously, I’m just going to toss that out the window.

Also, these authors might not be “underrated” but I have picked them because I haven’t heard about them a lot online and they aren’t popular where I live. And now, in no particular order………

1. The Testing Series – Joelle Charbonneau

I don’t remember how I got around to picking up this book. I just remember that it was a better version of The Hunger Games. It’s so good like words can’t even express how great it was. The Testing made my heart pound and my entire body to shake. Charbonneau does a fantastic job at building up the suspense in this book, a type of suspense that I had never before felt in my entire reading career (is that even a thing?). Even better, the sequel doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome. I haven’t gone around to book three, but I will before the year is over.

2. Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta

I love her writing. I loved Jellicoe Road. It’s a lot better than a lot of mainstream YA nowadays and I know a lot of people like this book, but it deserves even more publicity than what it already has. Marchetta is also on my list of authors to read more of. I’m going to read her book Saving Francesca super soon and I’m super excited about it. I like her books more than I like John Green’s (which isn’t saying much to be honest). And yes, I know that I’ve only mentioned this book like on three other posts already. The book is just fabulous. Go read it.

3. I Hunt Killers – Barry Lyga

Just Barry Lyga in general. This book isn’t really “underrated” where I live seeing as it was put on the list for the state award/nomination or something like that but the fact remains that I haven’t seen or heard of many people that have read this book and it’s something that needs to be changed now. They’re making a TV show off it but I haven’t heard a lot of hype about it. The third book just came out and I really need to get a copy. Just keep in mind that this series is extremely gory and very very gritty. Barry Lyga’s Hero Type was also good.

4. The Unwanteds Series – Lisa McMann

Okay this series is probably more accurately classified as Middle Grade but I absolutely loved this series when it first came out. I think I was probably the first person at my school to read it and from there, a lot of kids picked it up. It’s not popular outside of my school though. This series revolves around a dystopian world where creativity is regarded as useless. People showing creative skills are exterminated. Twin brothers Alex and Aaron Stowe have reached an age where their positions in society will be decided. Alex has always had a passion for art and of course, does not get picked to attend the elite University for children that are trained to become government leaders.

Okay my summary sucks but it’s better than it sounds.

5. Matthew J. Kirby

This guy is a fantastical author. My first encounter with his books was in fourth (?) grade when I bought a copy of his book The Clockwork Three. Great writing and one of the books that fed my want for historical fiction at the time. A few years later, I read Icefall, another amazing book about Norse mythology that is dreadfully under appreciated. If it helps make you read it, it won an Edgar award at one point. He has a penchant for writing great historical fiction books. So far, I’ve only read these two books and I really need to take the time to read his other ones.

6. Julia Golding

Julia Golding has penned a lot of different types of books. She has a Greek mythology series titled the Companion Quartet which was pretty good but my favorite books by her are definitely Dragonfly and it’s companion novel The Glass Swallow. While her other books might be a bit juvenile, this series is definitely not. It’s romance-y and historical-y and beautiful. Her books were one of my biggest book obsession at one point.

7. Wendy Mass

Another one of my obsessions. Her books are amazing and extremely well written. Yes, they are catered to a younger audience, but they are still very enjoyable. I suggest reading The Candymakers, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, A Mango-Shaped Space, and Every Soul a Star. If you’re an older reader, I’d suggest you to refrain from reading her Willow-Falls series. They are, for the most part, written for a much much younger audience (with the exception of Finally and 13 Gifts). If you don’t mind though, I’d recommend you read them. Finally is exceptionally funny.

8. Libba Bray

Libba Bray is fab. She’s simply amazing. She wrote The Diviners, one of my all time favorite books and Beauty Queens, a satirical beauty pageant book that had me cracking up every page. She’s also written the very popular Gemma Doyle series which I have not read yet but I will read sometime in the next few weeks because I have the first book checked out from the library. But The Diviners is evidence enough of her amazing writing. And yeah, I realize she’s probably not underrated nationwide, but I’ve seen a total of two other people read a book by her where I live.

I tried to get ten. I got eight. Close enough.

Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3

Publish Date: August 14th, 2014

Genre: Chick-lit, Contemporary Romance

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.


Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After was easily my least favorite book in the series. At least with Lola, there were some aspects of the book that I liked. Sadly, this was not the case with Isla.

What I liked about the books before this, were the amount of growth that the characters had. Anna learned how to love and how to be more confident and understanding. Lola learned how to let go and accept what has happened in the past. Isla learned….. uh….. erm….. how to not be jealous of her boyfriend?

The entire plot of the book was boring. It was boring from the beginning to the end. The book had a bad case of insta-love, something that I will not accept in any books I read unless it’s executed well. Obviously, in this situation, it was not.

The book opens up to the summer preceding their Senior year. Isla is eating with her best friend, Kurt, when she spots Josh, the object of her affection since freshman year, in the cafe. What ensues is a loopy conversation due to the painkillers she’d been on for the removal of her wisdom teeth. And from there, a story of love unwinds.

There was one huge difference between Isla and the other two books in the series. Isla and Josh are technically a couple before half of the book has even elapsed, which is completely different from the long amount of development Perkins took in the other books. What I didn’t really like about this was that it didn’t allow me to analyze and appreciate the relationship that the characters had prior to the start of dating. Isla and Josh’s relationship is extremely rushed and consists of a lot of inane plot. As a result, in my opinion, they weren’t characterized as well. The relationship felt cheap and manufactured. Kind of like one that wasn’t formed because of chemistry or actual attraction, but of one of convenience. I really couldn’t buy into their relationship whatsoever.

Isla pissed me off. She was whiny and always thinking about sex or her relationship with Josh. I’ll remind you that they haven’t even been dating a month. Just because Isla has crushed on him since freshman year does not mean that she knows him enough to engage in these type of actions in such a short period of time. Her character was so weak, so whiny, so dependent on others. The amount of times that I’d read about Josh and how she felt that he was perfect and amazing was annoying. There’s also the tiny fact that she pretty much threw away her grades and friends after she started to date him. It’s repeated numerous times in the book that she’s really smart but then she doesn’t have enough common sense to realize that boys aren’t the only part of her life. I tried to love her, but I really just couldn’t. The fact that the entire book was from her POV was what made this reading experience my least favorite out of all of the books.

Josh was slightly better, but not by much. I feel like his personality has changed a lot from the first book, which is understandable considering the circumstances he’s gone through in the book. I didn’t really like him as a character. Actually, I didn’t really like anybody in this book as a character. They were characterized badly and the plot was slow and had no purpose.

There were some points I did enjoy though. Like Josh’s art projects and the treehouse. I can only wish that I was that artsy.

2/5 Stars

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publish Date: September 10th, 2013

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

“Touching and utterly real.” —  Publisher’s Weekly


Review

I liked Fangirl a lot more than I did Eleanor & Park but I was still let down by it. I’ve heard from many people about how much they loved Rainbow Rowell’s books and I still haven’t felt that magical love for her books that I’ve been expecting. It hasn’t met up to the hype that it gets.

Cather is a freshman at her Omaha college. She is a huge fangirl when it comes to Simon Snow and has been, ever since she read them. Her twin sister Wren, originally her best friend, has decided to room with someone else and make new friends. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem, if not for the fact that Cather is socially inept.

Fangirl covers a few ideas. Coping mechanisms, growing up, divorce, plagiarism, etc, but it didn’t really go as deep as I would have liked it to be. Many of the details seemed glossed over. Her mother leaving her is one of the central conflicts of the book, yet it’s barely even explored. In this case, I felt like the romance in the book drowned the other parts. I would have liked the book more if the romance was more of a side to the other plot aspects. I mean, obviously the book is literally about how Cather, her fangirl-ness, her family issues, and how she learns to not depend on it as much. The fact that Rowell chose to focus on the romance aspect instead annoyed me.

The characters were alright but I didn’t really feel attached to any of them. Simon Snow  was clearly a reference to Harry Potter. Cather was a complicated character and I enjoyed her growth from the beginning to the end of the book but I never really connected. I didn’t like her but I enjoyed reading about her, if that makes any sense at all. I wasn’t ever emotionally invested in this book. I never shipped Levi and Cather. I didn’t empathize with the characters. The book was enjoyable but it was missing that connection that would have made it even better.

The plot was pretty dull. It was interesting enough for me to continue reading, but it wasn’t really anything that I found new. I liked the little excerpts of the Simon Snow stories. The ending was terrible. Abrupt and ties nothing up.

The one thing that was the bulk of the good aspects of Fangirl was the relationships the characters had. I loved the relationship between Cather and her sister Wren. They were drawn extremely well. Cather’s relationship  was her father was explored excellently. It was probably my favorite relationship in the book. I do feel that Rowell could have explored Cather’s relationship with Laura more. It too, was glossed over.

There honestly isn’t much to say about Fangirl. It was a solid book with great writing. The only problems was that it was hard to connect with the characters (to me at least) and that it felt shallow. The raw issues that Cather faces aren’t brought to light and dealt with in a way that’s realistic to the situation. This is something that I’ve noticed is consistent throughout her novels. She chooses to discuss difficult topics, but then she does not talk about them in a way that makes it realistic. People fawn over how her novels have lots of verisimilitude in them, but then important issues such as these aren’t discussed in a way that is realistic.

It’s safe to say that I will not be picking up any more Rainbow Rowell books from here on out.

 photo shakinghead_zps1f12fe46.gif

2/5 Stars

The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani

The School for Good and Evil

The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil, #1)

Author: Soman Chainani

Series: The School for Good and Evil #1

Publish Date: May 14th, 2013

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

New York Times Bestseller * Indie List Bestseller * Soon to be a Film from Universal Pictures * A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013 * Waterstones Children’s Prize Nominee * Children’s Choice Reading List Selection

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.


Review

I was very very excited to read this one. It was a well-received break from all of the chick-lit and contemporary books I’ve been reading lately.

The School for Good and Evil was an interesting take on fairy tales and what might go into the creation of them in an alternate universe. I really liked it. It took a boarding school and fairy tales and put them together! How could I not like it?

I’m a sucker for books set in boarding schools. I might have bypassed this book if not for the fact that it revolves around oh what do you know? A boarding school. Nevertheless, the book had a very unique premise compared to other fairy tale books.

It begins with an introduction of our two protagonists, Agatha and Sophie. Sophie is a girly, pretty girl who believes that she’ll be the next in line to be kidnapped to attend the School for Good and Evil. Agatha on the other hand, is an ill-tempered girl with a liking for frumpy black clothing. Many believe her to be the candidate for the evil school. A series of events occur in which the two are snatched, not going along the plan that had originally been laid out. The two’s positions are switched, with Sophie entering The School for Evil and Agatha entering The School for Good. Agatha, determined to get her and Sophie home and away from the nightmare, begins formulating a plan to get them back to their beloved Gavaldon. From the beginning, anybody can tell that friendship will be a central idea of this book. I like that it had friendship as a bigger overarching theme than romance.

I liked this book right up until the last few chapters. Agatha was my favorite character from the beginning with her snarky, logical, anti-social personality. It was pretty clear who was evil and who was good even if the characters stubbornly refused to see it. But what annoyed me about the book was that in the end, Agatha changed from her personality. She was no longer the lovable, snarky girl that I had liked going into the book but instead, had become a little similar to the Sophie from the beginning of the book.

The romance was developed poorly. There was a total of two possible boys that Agatha and Sophie could have dated and one of them had a 0.000000000000000000000000000001% chance of actually getting the girl. So in  other words, there was a love square. Now where’s the fourth person you may ask? Oh it’s just Beatrix, another girl that happens to be at the school. So much of the romance is chalked up to the fairytale soulmate crap that there’s absolutely no evidence of development between the characters. I expected that even though this was fairytale based book, that there would still be at least some development. Nope. One minute they’re enemies, the next they’re soulmates. The same lack of subtle development was seen in the way that Sophie became evil. I personally think that it would have better for small details and cracks in her persona to reveal the ugly personality she had inside. Just like the jumps from enemy to soulmate, Sophie jumps from nice to evil.

The ending was disappointing. It was rushed, felt disorganized, and lacked the compelling storytelling that the rest of the book had had. But I do feel that Chainani ended the book in a good place. It sets it up really well for a sequel.

In conclusion, Chainani wrote a unique book but executed it poorly. Development isn’t executed well on all aspects from plot to his dynamic characters. Even so, I enjoyed reading this book and will definitely be picking up the sequel.

3/5 Stars

Long Walks Home and Heels

Today was picture day and everybody knows that picture day is the devil’s spawn. Almost nobody EVER looks good in school pictures, especially after those pesky braces destroyed the chances of ever having a nice smile ever again. To this day, the braces I got on in 4th grade and off in 8th grade have taken my original smile and beaten it with a club.

And is it just me, or does skin just decide to break out like one or two days before picture day? It’s happened for me like three years in a row now or something.

The only positive thing about picture day is that I can have an excuse to dress up. Not everybody might like dressing up, but I do. I think it’s a chance for me to try out the nicer style options that are out there without looking overdressed on a regular day.

I already knew what I was going to wear that day and I decided that “What the heck. I’ll wear those cute sneaker wedges I got.” I think it’s fun to try to stand out with edgy fashion choices.

I really should have planned ahead.

I had my outfit planned a good three days before picture day. So when a club meeting for a new one came up, I decided to go on a whim and it in no way crossed my mind to change what I was going to wear. I figured that since my mom said that she could pick me up, it wouldn’t be a problem for my feet. (Usually I ride the bus home) Obviously, it wasn’t going to work out.

I can do fine with heels compared to other girls of my age. The entire day, my feet were absolutely fine. That was, until I decided to be stupid enough to walk home from school after the club meeting because my mom wouldn’t pick up any of my twenty phone calls.

I had way too much pride. I refused to succumb to the pain of wearing heels and walking barefooted like my comrades might. And so the thirty minute walk became a forty to fifty minute one. I didn’t acknowledge my poor feet. I kept chanting, in my head, “Beauty is pain. Beauty is pain. You’re almost there,” when I most certainly was not anywhere close.

I finally gave up on my pride when I was going to walk into my neighborhood. It was way too late to save my feet by then. The balls of my feet had blistered to the point that I hadn’t even noticed when another one had formed from the heels. I staggered home, masking the very obvious appearance of someone who had made a poor choice of shoe-wear and collapsed, yanking my socks off to examine the appearance of my blisters.

One was in the shape of a heart, the other in the shape of a lopsided maple leaf. Go Canada.

I soaked my feet in hot water (didn’t help much) and got a painful lovely foot massage forced on me by my mother. Gotta love that motherly love.

Yes I took pictures. One was shaped like a heart! You can’t blame me for thinking that it’s picture-worthy.

I’m not attaching the picture of my other foot. The maple leaf looked kind of nasty. Sorry if the appearance of my feet offends you.

Is it sad if I thought the heart-shaped blister was cool?

IMG883

I think I’m going to have trouble walking at school tomorrow.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Publish Date: October 11th, 2011

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a cosmic mismatch of disastrous proportions?


Review

I have yet to find a book with John Green-esque writing that I actually like. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, was a short, Christmas-y (sort of) romance novel that I think would have been better to read two or three months from now to maybe try to get into the Christmas spirit.

Actually, now that I think about it, it wouldn’t help me get into the spirit at all. It doesn’t really talk about Christmas in a positive light. Both Dash and Lily had kind of terrible Christmases.

Anyways, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares was co-written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. In the Author’s Bio, you find out that each person wrote one point-of-view. Cohn wrote Lily’s and Levithan wrote Dash’s. This was evident in the book when Dash talked like a fifty-year-old man that majored in philosophy and Lily talked more like a normal person. I had a hard time believing that Dash was actually a teenager. His vocabulary might have been one thing, but the extremely pretentious attitude that he had was just annoying. He was a snobby, narcissistic character that didn’t seem to understand that his actions might have been annoying to other people. Lily was fab and only because she made the book a lot more enjoyable. She was fresh, quirky, and one of the better aspects of the book. Even so, I can’t say that either of them were characterized very well.

I went into the book thinking that Dash would be a cool character because his name. HIS NAME IS FAB. Then I learned what it stood for and it became significantly less fab. Dashiell? Really? It’s a good thing it was abbreviated because the name just makes him seem even more pretentious.

The idea was a different take on the classic “romance in a notebook” tale. Essentially, Dash finds a notebook (courtesy of Lily) in the Strand bookstore. He opens it and discovers a little riddle with clues that he solves to get the answers. Obviously, he solves all of them and their romance unwinds.

The book is extremely predictable. There are two main characters, and two other “contenders” that blocked the paths of the characters. It’s pretty obvious that these “contenders” weren’t real “contenders” for Dash and Lily anyways, seeing how the shoddy portrayal of them is enough for anybody to show that they weren’t for the main couple.

I enjoyed reading about the different challenges that they each had to do to return the notebook to each other but I didn’t really like it when they ran into the issue where they suddenly lost the ability to transfer the notebook back and forth. The book just seemed to drag without the adventures to hold up the plot. Normally, I would have finished a 250 page book in a day or so, but Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares just seemed to take so much longer to read. I was never really into it and I had to force myself to read the last fifty pages.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares wasn’t really anything special in the world of YA. Just another book floating around that follows the generic romantic novel outline.

3/5 Stars

Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting at My Lunch Table

Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be

Sitting At My Lunch Table

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, participating book bloggers blog about their top ten lists.


Okay so I probably follow way too many book blogs and decided that I should participate in some of these book memes because A. it’d help me post more without requiring me to spend all of my time reading (not that I’m complaining) and B. because it’s sound super fun.

Anyways, at school I’d always stick with my Asian friends during lunch. I swear I’m not prejudiced, it’s just that most of the other kids were a little bit high-strung. The drama they had was ridiculous, and since I was trying to stay out of it, I didn’t really hang out with them. Thus, the reason that most of my lunch buddies were Asian. Nowadays, at lunch, since the cliques of drama have split due to the transfer to high school, I sit with a more diverse group because most drama was been alleviated.

The kinda sad thing is that now that I look back on all of the characters that I adore in a book, most, if not all of them are angsty or kind of a jerk which makes picking hard because I don’t want mean characters to be at my lunch table! But I will think very hard to find a character that isn’t that bad. I might not be able to think of ten but I’ll try!

1. Nico DiAngelo from the Percy Jackson Series

The first of the angsty characters that I adore. I read this series about when I was in 4th grade but I never really finished the series until I was probably in 6th grade. Either way, I was young enough, and forgetful enough, to actually think the first Percy Jackson movie was good. It’s a really embarrassing confession. I have always loved Nico. Even though he goes through that angry stage around books 3/4, by the time the Heroes of Olympus series rolled around, he became the coolest character. Yes, I’m heavily opinionated but that’s okay right? I’d want him at my lunch table because I’d really really want to get to know him, even if he wouldn’t want to know me, but let me dream okay?

(I refuse to insert that terrible picture that the publishing company produced to represent Nico.)

2. Evie from The Diviners

This book. I adored The Diviners when I read it. Evie was so sassy and I know that she would be so much fun at a lunch table. She knows how to have fun, how to dress, how to make life a little more interesting. She is the definition of fabulous. She might be in the wrong time period, but I suspect that she would treat it like an adventure. She could bring me a souvenir like a flapper dress or one of those fancy feathered headpieces.

3. Day from Legend

I don’t think I need an explanation for this. Day is fab. Day is hot. Day is the best. Day is ambidextrous (which equals AWESOME). We could become besties if he sat at my lunch table. He could tell me the stories of his journeys in Legend. He could show off his cool athletic tricks.

4. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss

Anna is super fun and I think I’d have a blast if she was at my lunch table. She was so cheerful and even if she does kind of support the white girl stereotype at times, I don’t really care. She’s friendly and funny and I would LOVE IT if she dragged me off to watch some movies. Life would be more colorful if everybody at the table was different anyways.

5. Luna and Hermione from the Harry Potter books

I feel the need to add some more intelligence to the list so far. Hermione would be able to add tidbits of knowledge and debate about modern day issues. Lunch debates are always the best and I’d learn so much from her. Plus I could ask her to Accio my lost objects to me and help me study for quizzes.

Luna is just a unique character that is deserving of being at my lunch table. I’d enjoy having her quirkiness and kindness at my table.

6. Magnus from the Mortal Instruments Series

Magnus is fab and I’ve always wanted a cool gay/bisexual friend. He’s one half of the amazing ship Malec and his glitter, warlock-ness, and wardrobe alone justify having him at my lunch table. He’s the best conversationalist and we could totally talk about fashion.

7. Ben and Rafaela from Jellicoe Road

Ben was my favorite character in this book. He was quirky and funny and omigod I don’t even know why I loved him so much because he wasn’t even the main character. His dry, sarcastic humor was something I absolutely loved in the book. And Rafaela…. that girl was such a great friend to Taylor. She was funny and amazing and I absolutely loved her.

Actually, let me just say that I’d want the entire cast of that book to be at my lunch table.

8. Ally from Every Soul a Star

I loved this book. This book defined my childhood and was the peak of my 4th grade. Ally and Jack were probably the first couple I remember shipping and the book was just really really good. Even though she might be a little young, it’s been fourish years, so she must be grown up by now (okay these reasons are terrible but it’s alright right?). I love Wendy Mass’s writing so you guys should all go check out her writing!

That makes ten if you count all characters I have listed! What book characters would you want at your lunch table?