Book Talk: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Book Talk: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah OcklerThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon Pulse on June 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Twenty Boy Summer, The Book of Broken Hearts, #Scandal
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Elyse was on her way to a singing career with her twin sister when an accident took everything away from her — her voice. She decides to get away from her home in Tobago and goes to live with her aunt and cousin in a seaside town in Oregon. She meets Christian Kane — a notorious ladies man — who doesn’t treat her like she’s The Girl Who Can’t Talk and his adorable mermaid chasing little brother Sebastian and suddenly finds herself, in spite of her new fear of the ocean after the accident, in a high stakes boat race to fight for the town and the people in it she’s grown to love.

a2“Where’s my quote notebook? A few I need to add from this one!!”

a4

I think this one was so excellent and it was one of those books that got better to me after I finished it and thought about it a bit! It’s a contemporary Little Mermaid retelling but don’t let that scare you off if you don’t typically do retellings — it’s pretty loose on the retelling. I would say more INSPIRED BY. I honestly didn’t know until about half way through the book and would have probably never thought OOOH LITTLE MERMAID RETELLING.

Here’s what I enjoyed about it:

1. The idea of losing one’s voice: In the book the main character physically cannot speak anymore after an accident but throughout the book you see all sorts of people who have lost their voices to some degree. They can’t speak up. Elyse experiences the physical loss of her voice but throughout the story she really GAINS her real voice. I loved the exploration of ones voice — losing it, finding it, etc. It’s one of those books I really wish I read with a book club to TALK about this because I think this is something a lot of us can relate to.

2. The setting: Oh my gawwwwd you have no idea how badly I want to visit the Pacific Northwest now. It’s set in a teeny seaside town on the Oregon and the way Sarah wrote it is beyond gorgeous. I could envision it all and just found myself yearning to be there. VERY strong setting that really added so much!

3. The romance: One of the sweetest romances I’ve seen in a while. I loved it — their banter, the way they became friends first, the way they really got to see things in each other that they wouldn’t open up to others about. I didn’t think I was going Christian at all because he’s the town player that everyone has hooked up with but there’s definitely more to him but not in a super angsty “I’m just misunderstood/my tragedy made me this way” sort of way. He has depth and I really grew to like him.

4. The absolutely gorgeous writing: This is my 4th Sarah Ockler book and I think she’s an amazing writer but this book really stood out to me in the writing department. It’s just so BEAUTIFUL — I can’t even explain it. Lots of lines that just cause you to pause and really soak it in and beautiful descriptions that made me pause.

5. HELL YES STRONG WOMEN & FEMINISM: There are so many strong and flawed and amazing women in this novel. Elyse herself is amazing and I really enjoyed her as a character watching her fight through the hardest thing she’s ever been through and rebuilding her life after her dreams are taken from her. But then there are all these amazing ladies — Elyse’s aunt and cousin, Vanessa, Vanessa’s mom, etc. I just loved the strong women and how I could feel that pulse of feminism in this novel.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ characters, writing, romance, setting, plot, how it made me reflect about a lot of things
Nothing really..maybe that it took me a little to really get into it/care.

Re-readability: I would probably audio it sometime later in the future.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Probably not but making sure my library ordered it!

a5contemporary YA fans, readers looking for an amazing and absorbing setting, readers who are looking for a book that is equally as sweet as it is heart-wrenching.

a8I loved Elyse’s story so much and watching her find her voice again after a terrible accident and start living life after her dreams are shattered. It was an emotionally powerful journey with a vivid setting and a stirring romance.

review-on-post-itThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids review Sarah Ockler

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

Book Talk: #Scandal by Sarah Ockler

Book Talk: #Scandal by Sarah Ockler#Scandal by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon Pulse on June 17, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: Twenty Boy Summer, The Book of Broken Hearts, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

A1

Lucy’s best friend Ellie begs her to go to prom as her boyfriend’s date when she becomes sick before prom. Lucy doesn’t want to because she’s not really into the social scene and would rather stay in and play her zombie video game but she does it for Ellie. Even though it’s a bit uncomfortable for her because, unbeknownst to anyone, Lucy has been in love with Cole before Ellie started dating him. And then Lucy and Cole end up kissing which was bittersweet and, before Lucy can even figure out what to do, someone uploads picture proof the betrayal along with incriminating pictures of others at the party on to Lucy’s Facebook. Everyone assumes Lucy did it and nobody will give her a chance to explain and she’s immediately branded as a rat, a slut, a horrible friend and more. Lucy knows her only chance for things to get better is to find who took those pictures and uploaded them and hope Ellie will forgive her.

a2I’m so glad that I was too old to see this cell phone/social media culture in high school. Our phones were bricks and texting was just getting to be a big thing.

a4I’m so conflicted and it breaks my heart to be because SARAH OCKLER. It was an intriguing enough read to keep reading but it did not blow me away like the books I’ve read and LOVED from her — The Book of Broken Hearts and Twenty Boy Summer. The magic that those two, ESPECIALLY The Book of Broken Hearts, had for me kind of lacked in #Scandal unfortunately!

What worked for me:

1. The subject matter: I’m so intrigued by this social media/internet, smartphone obsessed culture –especially how people are now growing up WITH IT. As a teen I begun to be introduced to the texting and all that but I didn’t grow UP with it because it was just becoming a THING so I’m always so curious about how this young generation is affected by it especially in relation to gossip, bullying, how they relate to one another and that kind of stuff. I was intrigued watching how this whole scandal played out via social media and also how they used in ways to “solve” the mystery.

2. How the “mystery” unfolded: There is a bit of a mystery (complete with VERONICA MARS references and banter) to find out WHO was the person who took the pictures that were uploaded for everyone to see on Lucy’s account and started all the scandal. I think THIS is what kept me turning the pages even when I wasn’t connecting to Lucy is that I so desperately wanted to know who did it and why.

3. I appreciated some of the thoughts about how we use social media and the internet as well as how we see other people: Now there was this (e)VIL group who was completely tech-free and while they were silly in some ways they had some good points. They were entertaining and I appreciated how thought-provoking it actually was. And I loved how we see Lucy see these people who she’s overlooked or written off in a different way.

What didn’t seem to work for me:

1. I really didn’t find Lucy compelling really at all: All the other Sarah Ockler books I’ve read I’ve REALLY connected to the main character and cared for them so much but in this situation I cared more about the plot and the secondary characters than I did the main character. In my head it’s like, “Poor girl. Nobody deserves to be bullied” but my heart didn’t really feel much anguish over her plight. I just wasn’t invested and I don’t really know what it was. I don’t mind a difficult main character as you know, so even though what she did to her best friend was HARD for me, that wasn’t really it. It was more like I just found her bland and not this vivid character that she was kind of being painted to be and how her response to the bullying was written it almost made me feel like it was such a minor annoyance more than something that hurt her. I couldn’t tell if it was her defense mechanism to seem like she didn’t care but it didn’t transfer to me as the reader to care much.

2. There were some really great characters besides Lucy but sometimes I felt there were too many and they all didn’t get the development they deserved: There were a lot of other characters that we were introduced to and that all became tangled in this with Lucy and I found myself so intrigued with some of them and others had great potential that never came through. We had Lucy’s sister who I didn’t care for, the (e)VIL group who I found fascinating though sometimes outlandish, Franklin (who I loved!!), the two best friends, a foreign exchange guy who liked Lucy and even more. There are people who are “suspects” and I get how they wouldn’t be fleshed out as well but some of the others I wanted MORE from who fell a little flat.

3. The romance never did anything for me: It wasn’t even HOW the romance happened. It was just that I didn’t find them all that compelling considering that they both loved each other for forever. I wasn’t NOT rooting for them but I wasn’t all I SHIP THIS. He was also kind of a flat character as well. I actually thought the romance was going to go in a different direction than it did, that maybe I would have been MORE interested in, but alas it did not.

 

a6
RATING-OKAY
factors+ plot & how it drew me in, interesting discussions about social media and how we use it, a couple great minor characters
lack of feelings toward Lucy, not enough fleshing out of other characters, romance

Re-readability: Nope but I now I’m itching for a re-read of The Book of Broken Hearts because THAT is my favorite of hers.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No.

a5fans of books that deal with social media/cyber-bulling, Sarah Ockler fans who want to read all her books

a8Sad times infinity. I have LOVED Sarah Ockler’s books in the past so I’m really sad that this one wasn’t in the LOVE/FAVORITE category the way her other books were for me. I have to care about the character’s story/feel really invested in things to really like it and that just wasn’t the case here. Intriguing plot that kept me reading but I really didn’t feel much towards it from start to finish.

 

review-on-post-it

#scandal by sarah ockler

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* Have you read Sarah Ockler’s books before and, if so, what was your favorite??
* Were you surprised about who stole the phone and took the pics? (I wasn’t)
* How did you feel about the romance?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler | Book Review

The book of broken hearts by sarah ocklerBook Title/Author: The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Year
: Simon Pulse May 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA – Realistic Teen Fiction
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Twenty Boy Summer, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Jude watched through the years as her much older sisters had their hearts broken by the Vargas brothers and swore she’d never involve herself with a Vargas brother in a pact build on sisterhood. Her older sisters have long since been out of the house and Jude, now a high school graduate, is the only one in the house with her mom and dad and taking care of her dad who is slowly fading away because of an illness. She’s dedicated her whole summer to stay with her dad and help him. When she finds her dad’s old motorcycle from his glory days she sets out to hire a mechanic in hopes that this restoration will help her dad. The mechanic turns out to be the youngest Vargas brother and Jude knows she can’t give into his flirty smiles and good looks — things she knows led to the heartbreak of her sisters. She tries to fight her feelings but it becomes increasingly hard as she grapples with the sweet Vargas brother in front of her and the tear-stained history her sisters shared.

If you saw my top ten books of 2013 so far list, you know that The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler in fact made it on that list! So naturally, I loved it. I read most of it while at the pool and I’m so glad I had sunglasses on during some parts because some big ol’ crocodile tears were forming in my eyes. If you are a fan of contemporary YA — this book NEEDS to be on your list. I mean it. It’s heartfelt, has some amazing characters and deals beautifully with portraying a family in a really tough situation. OH and I will say that I’m not a big swooner over fictional characters but EMILIO…..that’s what I’M talking about.

At first glance, by reading the summary, you might think The Book of Broken Hearts is going to be overly depressing or sad because there is a hint of a sick parent in the book. You’d be wrong. Sure, there were some moments were I thought my heart was going to seize up from the emotion that just rocketed out of this novel but the balance of everything with Jude’s dad and the playful nature of Jude & Emilio’s relationship as well as Papi’s fiesty spirit was PERFECT. It was one of those bittersweet kind of novels for me but never once felt overly sad so if you run away from those types of novels — fear not! You’ll be laughing and swooning and occasionally tearing up with both sad and happy tears — a full range of emotions.

While I LOVED the romance in this novel so much, my favorite aspect of this novel was the focus on the family. This family was one of my FAVORITES hands down in a while. I loved Papi. So much. My heart broke for him as his mind got even more and more lost inside the disease. I LOVED Jude’s attempt to help in her own way and try to fix his beloved motorcycle. I could have listened to Papi tell stories forever about his motorcycle days. He was feisty and felt SO real to me — in his moments of clarity and his moments where the disease took over. I loved that sisterhood was a bit of a big topic in this novel and I could feel Jude’s disconnect because all of her sister’s were so much older  than her. I also loved the way their culture was woven into the novel and I’d love to read more books featuring  families from different cultures.

Sarah Ockler NAILED the ups and downs of having a sick parent and all the emotion that comes with that. I can’t even tell you. While my mom, as you know, had brain cancer rather  than early on set dementia — a lot of my mom’s brain was affected and she slowly through the years lost all of her independence and eventually reverted back to the state of a child. These moments where we watch Papi struggle with these things were  powerful and full of emotion but, even harder, was having to watch it through Jude’s eyes because it’s never natural to have to take care of a parent as if they are a child and still try to grapple with the fact that that person is your parent. So when I watch Jude have to help prevent a meltdown by her dad in a tampon aisle,  I think back to my time of having to help my mom to the bathroom or explain to her for the 5th time in an hour that I was babysitting and didn’t sneak out to go to a party. This book wasn’t surfacey in this aspect and I really appreciated the depth in which we see how an illness like this affects the whole family. One of the most realistic books I’ve encountered in this way!

The playful nature of Jude and Emilio’s relationship, and of the immediate tension when she figures out who he is, was perfect! She KNOWS the Vargas boys are nothing but trouble and heartbreak, and she knows the  pact she made with her sisters, but she starts to be interested in him anyways. I loved how he challenged her to be in the moment & that she needs to keep living and not feel guilty about it. That’s something that is so easy to do — feeling like you can’t keep living your life when someone you love is fighting to live. It’s a strange guilt that I could feel in Jude which made her really easy for me to connect to.

I wholeheartedly loved The Book of Broken Hearts. It’s the kind of book where the emotions I was feeling so vividly rocketed out of me to produce very physical reactions — happy and sad crying, some chuckles and clutching of my chest. It was a beautifully bittersweet story full of unforgettable characters, a sweet romance and pages that begged to be dogeared. I’ve read a lot of books that deal with families in the midst of a crisis like an ill parent but none have been as poignant or special to me as Jude and Papi’s story. It was undoubtedly such an authentic look, through the eyes of a teenager who has to watch her dad fade away,  at how a tragedy like that affects the whole family.

 

the-book-of-broken-hearts-sarah-ockler

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you love Papi as much as I did? ONE OF MY FAVE FICTIONAL PARENTS EVER!

four-half-stars

Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book Title/Author: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From AuthorFixing Delilah, Bittersweet & out in May 2013 — The Book of Broken Hearts

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Ockler’s Website

Every girl dreams of their first real romance. When Anna finally experiences this she is dying to tell her best friend Frankie. Only problem is that her new boyfriend is Frankie’s brother. A tragedy occurs before Anna and Matt can tell Frankie the truth and Anna keeps the truth hidden from everyone — especially Frankie. A year later, Anna is still holding on to her lost romance with Matt and Frankie decides that Anna is in need of a summer romance. Whilst on their summer vacation together at Zanzibar Bay, Frankie plots that for every day they are there (20) they will have a competition to see who can snag a new guy each day. Under the weight of her secret, Anna halfheartedly agrees to go along with the plan though conflicted with being true to her love for Matt.

I got interested in this book back when the whole Scroggins-was-a-douche-and-tried-to-ban-this-book-without-reading it drama llama happened. I procured a copy and so it has sat on my shelf like a lot of other books I really want to read. So this summer, as part of  my Read Backlisted Books Plan, I decided to read it. So take that Scroggins, your stupid little tirade made a lot more people interested in this book. SUCKER.

Seeing as though it was part of a banning debacle, I kept WAITING for something “bad”  or “edgy”. I was waiting. And I just didn’t really understand why this was being challenged at all. Ok, so teens drink sometimes (a pretty minimal part in this book)?? Shocking. And they sometimes have sex (SAFE SEX with a condom in this novel) and think they want to lose their V card? Really? And this is different from what teens are experiencing for real in their high schools? Different from things they are seeing on tv and the movies?  I don’t know. I’m not seeing why it’s so dirty and filthy.

I thought Twenty Boy Summer was so powerful — no light, fluffy beach reading here. That grief just gnaws at your heart throughout the book — just as you see it doing to Anna (and Frankie too obviously). The general grief and pain, Anna’s secret, the what could have beens, etc. just are written in such a way that you can’t help but feel an immense amount of sorrow. I felt the complete and utter devastation of love lost. You can feel Matt’s presence in her heart. Sarah Ockler doesn’t lose him in the novel. He’s not easily forgotten. I felt it to be very realistic portrayal of grieving and coping and trying to put back those pieces. This book was one of those where I could feel my eyes and nose starting to sting because the tears were a comin’ and I was trying to hold them back so much. It annihilated my heart. More quietly and over time than say If I Stay where I was in full out SOBBING mode. But still. Shredded. Minced. Diced. What have you. Sarah Ockler didn’t hold back on my heart. I’ll say I felt hopeful and a little bit of peace at the end but there is no reversal to this type of slaying. Certain books leave their mark like that on me.

Sarah Ockler’s writing was just perfect for me — right from the beginning as she hooked me with such a sweet, playful & innocent romance. My heart. She also nailed the setting for me. I had to look down at my pasty white skin to remind myself I was not actually enjoying their summer fun on the beach. I really connected with Anna right away and I could tell that behind the messy exterior of Frankie there was a really great character that I’d grow to love. You could just tell. She grieved her brother like my sister grieved my mom. A little more attention seeking and rebellious…and attention turned to boys. I also thought some of Frankie’s family interactions were written were just brilliant to be honest; though I was quite disappointed that they seemed SUPER oblivious to what was going on all summer. Grief is just this big ol’ elephant in the room and sometimes it decides to show itself in the strangest of ways, places and times. I could relate to it.  And the way the secret came out – HEARTWRENCHING.

 

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is just one of those books that you easily get sucked into (the pain evoked experiencing a sweet love lost, the jump-off-the-pages variety of characters, the gorgeous setting, etc.) and find yourself come tumbling out of the pages hours later; bruised, tattered & with a heavy sense of something in your heart. Sarah doesn’t totally pulverize your heart as you see the beauty of friendship & family, hope,  and a new found appreciation for every day. It’s a good mix of heavy & uplifting. I do not understand AT ALL why this book was challenged. I expected something way more scandalous and promiscuous based on the title and then on the whole Wesley Scroggins thing. I will say that I’d be more likely to hand this to older teens as there is a little bit of drinking and sexual situations involved.

 

Young Adult Contemporary Novel Twenty Boy Summer

 

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, books from Jennifer Echols, Moonglass & In Honor by Jessi Kirby, books from Sarah Dessen

 

Did any of you read this book? Did you agree with Scroggins assessment of it? Tell me what you thought!

four-stars
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