Carla’s Corner: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (NO SPOILERS)

So so back when I was a wee newbie blogger in 2010 there was this blog I fell in love with immediately. It was called The Crooked Shelf and it was run by a sassy Brit who had fantastic taste in books and wrote some of the best reviews ever. We became friends and even got to hang out at BEA 2011…and had the best time ever. Seriously.

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And then she stopped blogging…which was the saddest thing ever for so many of us because her voice was one of the best and early on I aspired to BE like Carla in the way that I just wanted to have my own distinct voice — whatever that was. It was definitely a hit to the blogosphere for many of us oldies when she left.

And now, through a Twitter conversation about missing her as a blogger, I introduce you to Carla’s Corner where Carla will take over my blog sporadically whenever she feels like it and talk about what’s she’s reading and HAS to talk about! I’m excited to have her voice back in the blogosphere and for people who didn’t get to know her back in the day to get the chance to!!

So first up?? It is only fitting that Carla reviews a Maggie Stiefvater book. Fun story: The one and only time I saw Carla lose her shit and become a 12 year old little girl was when she met Maggie Stiefvater at BEA. It was the cutest moment EVER and her and Maggie hugging and talking made me all teary because it was one of Carla’s all time FAVORITE authors!!

So take it away Carla…

 Blue Lily, Blue Lily review no spoilersBlue Lily, Blue Lily by Maggie Stiefvater
Book #3 of The Raven Cycle series (I’ve read, loved and reviewed book 1)
Release Date: October 21st – Scholastic Press
* This book was downloaded from Netgalley for review consideration.

 Carla’s Thoughts:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is simultaneously the best book I have ever read and also the worst.

Let’s start with the best.

Trying to explain or describe how much I love Stiefvater’s writing is like trying to count all of the stars in the sky; impossible, incredibly brain aching and needing calculations and equations that my mind just isn’t capable of fathoming. I’ve never really been that good at math.

Her words are a dream come to life, like Ronan himself has plucked them out of his dreams and handed them over. The characters, they come to life, never once drifting off into slumber like those cows in the barns.  The words don’t sleep like dream things do when they’re not dream things anymore, they roar like the pigs engine. They pull handbrakes turns and skid right into your heart, then come to a juddering stop and stay there.

The character development is soft and sure and strong.  Ronan is still as sharp, shiny and cutting as the edge of a knife but everyone knows that sharp things don’t always stay so sharp. Gansy is still full of wonder and hope and light but everyone knows lights eventually dim until they sputter out completely. Blue is still small and full of yoghurt and truth. Adam is still rustling leaves and springy moss. And Noah is as still as grey and smudgy as a charcoal drawing dropped into a puddle. And yet they are so completely different, as wondrous as the legend of Glendower himself. We’ll never really know them, this little quartet of strange teenagers and I’m glad of it because things that hold that much magic should never really be knowable.

I won’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil but know this; you can dream of welsh kings and girls with spiky hair and boys with peppermint leaves in their mouths but you can’t ever dream a story so full of magic and suspense and heart guttering mind numbing terror.  It’s a dream that only Stiefvater can create for us and I can’t wait stop slip into what’s bound to be a momentous conclusion to the story of blue and her boys and their sleeping welsh king.

You will be so full of dreadful glee that you’ll laugh as manically as Ronan. You’ll worry and fret just like Adam and you will stride forward towards the end just like Gansey (walking ~is~ only for normal people after all). But most of all you hope beyond hope that their story doesn’t end how it started; with a young boy in his Aglionby uniform, his shoulders soaked with rain and the words “that’s all there is” just like Blue.

And the reason why it was the worst? Because it ended and I wasn’t quite ready to let go.
Have you guys read this one? Started this series?? Let us know what you think! Also, say hi to Carla!! 🙂

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford| Book Review

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford| Book ReviewHow To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford
Published by Scholastic on October 2009
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads
four-half-stars

 

 

 

book synopsis Beatrice moves to a new town in her senior year and ends up sitting next to Jonah, the outcast whose classmates have named him Ghost Boy, in Assembly. There’s all sorts of rumors about him and it’s a known fact that he has no friends — he’s just kind of invisible.  Something about him intrigues Beatrice and she finds herself in this unexpected friendship with Jonah — a friendship that consists of late night radio shows, secret missions and more. She learns what happened in Jonah’s past and she so desperately wants to help him as she deals with her own messy and complicated family issues.

good books to read

How To Say Goodbye in Robot is definitely going on my “WTF! Why is this not more popular?” shelf. I REALLY loved it. I read a lot of contemporary YA but this is one of those that completely breaks you out of the mold of the typical  stories — it just had an entirely different feeling. It didn’t feel like anything I’d ever really read before or characters I’d ever met! It’s offbeat and quirky and, man, my heart at the end. WOW. I totally did cry at a part at the end. I think that the quirkiness of the characters might not be everyone’s thing but it was DEFINITELY mine.

I always kind of love books about two misfit kind of characters finding each other — find love, some sort of solace but especially finding friendship and that is exactly where How To Say Goodbye In Robot excels. It’s a wonderful book about friendship that just made my heart soar. They’ve both got their own familial issues that they are struggling with and they both don’t really fit in and they just come together for this strange and wonderful friendship that I enjoyed watched develop even if my heart completely broke at the end. The love that they had for each other makes me tear up just thinking about it but I appreciate that this wasn’t a romantic sort of story between them.

This was one of those books that just had a whole host of excellent characters — even the ones I didn’t LIKE and wanted to hate were just real and vivid and integral to the story. I loved the character who called in to the radio show that Jonah and Beatrice listened to every night. They made me laugh and broke my heart and GOD I LOVED THEM. Jonah’s dad, Beatrice’s parents, and some of the classmates made me SO angry but I thought they were all so believable and I had my own sort of sympathy for some of them in ways.

I loved the writing in How To Say Goodbye In Robot and think Natalie Standiford is incredibly talented. It’s subtle, powerful, sparse yet lush and everything was just so perfectly paced in the story. Where she nails it is in the emotional details. I felt a light through it as I watched their friendship grow but I also felt so much sadness that so subtly nestled itself into my chest…only for the end to completely wreck me but also leave me feeling hopeful in ways that are hard to describe.

book reviewsGod, I loved this book. If you are looking for something in the contemporary YA realm that feels DIFFERENT — add this to your TBR. It’s hard to explain the specialness of this book but once you read it from start to finish you’ll find out. I loved this story of friendship and it emotionally kicked the shit out of my heart by the end. It’s quirky and offbeat (maybe not everyone’s thing but so mine) and there’s a whole cast of vibrant characters within the pages of How To Say Goodbye in Robot. TRULY an underrated book for sure!

short book reviewHow To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford

books you may also likeGod, I feel like it’s so hard for me to come up with similar titles for this one. SORRY.

for-fans-of-bookcontemporary YA that’s a bit quirky and unique, stories about friendship, flawed characters, vivid characters you’ve never met before, books that subtly break your heart along the way (for different reasons) and then completely hit you in the FEELS at the end.

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? Did you feel similarly or differently than me? I didn’t see that ending coming actually…did you? My poor heart!


The Perpetual Page-Turner

four-half-stars

Before I Blogged I Read: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Published by Scholastic on September 2002
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli review

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: June 2009

1. I thought this one was really cute but had a lot of heart with its message of kindness, compassion and non-conformity. A little gem full of wisdom! The main character, Leo, is just as intrigued by the new girl as everyone else in his school is. She’s unconventional, eccentric, lives life boldly with no fear and she’s super confident. As Leo gets to know her he starts to be smitten like the rest of the school — until the rest of the school starts to find her personality as weird and no longer intriguing and gang up against her. Leo is stuck between going against the grain with Stargirl or going with the crowd so he tries to convince Stargirl that normal isn’t so bad.

2. Stargirl is one of those most interesting and eccentric characters you’ll ever come across. I loved her wild, free spirit but there was times that I even thought she was SUPER strange. I love the compassion and love that so freely flowed out of her and it made me sad that people wanted to extinguish that light in her because they thought she was so strange. So many people are afraid to show the things that Stargirl could and I really loved Stargirl. We need more people with her spirit.

3. I remember it was the kind of book that made me want to be better — more kind, not afraid to be myself, going the extra mile to show people they are loved, still find myself awed by the little things and live with boldness.

4. It’s a pretty short book but there is  much depth and I thought it was beautifully written.

Favorite Quotes:

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”

“I had never realized how much I needed the attention of others to confirm my own presence.”

“She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else’s; but timid introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! I’m curious if you read the book that came after it (Love, Stargirl) ? I haven’t read it but maybe I should?

A Corner Of White by Jaclyn Moriarty | Book Review

A Corner of White Jaclyn MoriartyBook Title/Author: A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
Publisher/Year
: Scholastic April 1st 2013
Genre: A blend of fantasy and contemporary YA
Series: Yes, it is the first book!
Other Books From Author: Ashbury/Brookfield series

Amazon| Goodreads | Jaclyn Moriarty’s website |

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

You can win a copy of this book HERE!

 

A Corner of White is a story that spans two worlds — one is the one we know and the other is the Kingdom of Cello; a world where colors are physical beings and tiny fairy-like girls can drop from the sky and bring prosperous crops. Maddie and her mom have gone to England to get away from her father and she finds herself missing her dad and her old privileged life. In Cello, Eliot is trying to figure out what happened to his father who vanished on the same night his uncle was murdered by violent colors. Rumors say he ran away with another woman who disappeared that night but Eliot knows that can’t be the truth. When a crack between the two worlds opens up, which should be sealed up, Maddie and Eliot’s worlds collide and they start corresponding via letters and learning about each other and the events that are unfolding in both worlds.

Not going to lie, I almost put this book down. So very close but I decided to press on even though I’ve been trying to put down books I’m not enjoying and, well, A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty was on its way to the DNF pile. Fortunately, about half way through, it picked up for me and I absolutely could not put it down — much to Will’s dismay when he woke up at 2am to my book light in his face. DANG this going to be hard to review.

A Corner of White is not easy to pin down and it definitely doesn’t feel like everything I had ever read before. It’s this magical blend of fantasy and contemporary with alternating chapters set in two different worlds. One world is the world we know today and takes place in England. The other world is the Kingdom of Cello and it is this wholly imaginative and strange world. For example, colors are actual beings of sorts — some colors pass through and they bring destruction or others enhance your feelings. It was strange and hard to visualize at first but really kind of cool. Or seasons in Cello are not at all like what we know — they roam so it could be summer for a few days and then the next day it would be winter. I loved the Kingdom of Cello parts because of how crazy imaginative it was and how Moriarty wrote it.

Like I said, it DID take me a while to get into it. It’s definitely a slower paced read, which I DO enjoy very often, but I wasn’t really connecting with the story at all..in any way. I wasn’t curious. I didn’t particularly enjoy any characters. I’m glad I was patient to wait for the story to start to come together and take shape because when it did it got REALLY good and just captured my heart. I think the other thing that was hard for me to get used to was how it was told. It was third person but it could jump from character to character and give you their feelings and thoughts so it felt a little all over the place and I think probably contributed to me not connecting until way later.

I loved the way the two character’s stories come together. They are both living in their respective worlds and they both of this element of loneliness that just pervades their life. Maddie and her mother had run away from home and her father but Maddie missed him and she missed their old life. Eliot’s dad has been missing under mysterious circumstances and all he can think about is FINDING him when it seems like everyone else has kind of moved on. Both of them are so distracted and, in their heads, are somewhere else.  The more the story progressed I got more and more invested in their stories though I think I was definitely more smitten with Eliot and the kingdom of Cello. Maddie REALLY took a long time for me to feel anything for. And then obviously, as their worlds converge because of a crack that opens up between their worlds, I just LOVED their interactions and how they learned about each others lives. And then towards the end the story just became more intensely paced and urgent for me and there were so many surprises. It was just a PERFECTLY executed ending and the way the story just comes together was BRILLIANT.

Besides the interesting worlds and the story itself, I also loved how offbeat and comical it was. There were just so many charming parts of A Corner of White where I found myself laughing. And there are just this whole host of amazing characters, in addition to Eliot and Maddie, that I found myself smitten with. I honestly could see this book so clearly in my head as a super quirky and fun movie even from the beginning!

I can’t say this was a favorite book of mine just because of how little of a draw I had to pick it up at first and how I just wasn’t feeling any sort of connection. However, it really became a very solid and delightful read that I’m so happy I was patient with and let myself slowly slip into its fantastical pages. It is truly one of the most original books I have ever read — imaginative, a little offbeat and strange in a GOOD way and a great set of characters. The story really, by the end, had captivated me and I just felt so invested in the characters lives and didn’t want to pry myself out of the kingdom of Cello it all its quirky glory. I don’t think this is going to be a book that will be universally loved. If you are a patient reader who doesn’t mind a slow start and are looking for something wildly different and unique — I’d definitely recommend it. I’m glad I stuck with it and cannot wait for book 2!

 

 

A Corner of White Jaclyn Moriarty

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of the series?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Did you have an awfully hard time in the beginning getting into it like I did or were you into from the start? For me it was no connection to the characters, feeling no interest in the story and not being able to picture some of the concepts. What was your favorite element of Cello? I thought the seasons were really cool but would be TERRIBLE in reality.

three-half-stars

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys cover Maggie StiefvaterBook Title/Author:The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher/Release Date
: Scholastic – September 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy/Supernatural
Series: Yes, The Raven Boys is book 1 of The Raven Cycle series
Other Books From Author: The Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, The Scorpio Races, Book of Faerie series

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I checked this bad boy out from my local library!

 

 

Blue has always kept her distance from boys as she’s been told by her clairvoyant mother that she’ll cause her true love to die. When she accompanies her mother, as she always does, on St. Mark’s Eve  she is able to see, for the first time ever, one of the soon-to-be dead walk on the Corpse Road as her mother days. The spirit, a young boy her age, reaches out to her and directly communicates with her. She crosses paths with the boy, Gansey, and find out he attends the wealthy private school — a Raven Boy. She finds herself curious about Gansey and soon finds out he and his best friends — Ronan, Adam and Noah — are on a mysterious quest that she also finds herself wrapped up in full of myths and magic and darkly strange things.

WOW! This is one of those books that I’m going to have to reread FOR SURE before the second book comes out because there is just SO MUCH TO THIS BOOK. It almost borderlines on TOO much to my brain but seriously these pages were bursting at the seams with WONDER and IMAGINATION and MYSTERIES I NEED TO KNOW. I read The Raven Boys in a single day — a single, very stormy wrapped-up-all-in-my-blankets kind of day and that is how I recommend you to read it. For that day, I pretty much could not pluck my brain and my heart out of this mesmerizing and fantastical world where there is magic, psychics, kings and ley lines and other supernatural things that just were so intricately woven in to the contemporary lives of our characters. Dishes were not done, the husband felt neglected (psh not too badly because that meant a whole day of video games) and I don’t recall getting up too much. One of the most absorbing books I’ve read in a long time!

This story was just SO unique and fresh. I’ve only read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater but both of these books are the two most unique novels I’ve read in a long time. I found The Raven Boys to be much less poetic in nature (but still gorgeously written) as The Scorpio Races but The Raven Boys captured the same captivating storytelling ability I found in The Scorpio Races.  OH my stars can Maggie Stiefvater tell a story!  And the characters! I LOVED Blue and just found myself wanting to go on adventures with the Raven Boys — Gansey was definitely the most memorable for me! I just felt how confused Blue must feel knowing how that she’ll kill her true love with a kiss and then she sees Gansey walking on the Corpse Road and then later actually SEES him as a living and breathing human. I felt her curiosity and I understood why she wanted to spend her time with Gansey and the boys and became so enamored with their mission to find Glendower — just as enamored that I, as a reader, became with this journey and all the mystery! There’s just so much depth to these characters and yet I still feel like there is so much to learn about them!

I will say, while this wasn’t a HUGE problem for me, if you are the type who doesn’t like to wait a while for the story to come together..this might be hard for you…but just keep reading and then the story will really start to come together. And at times there is SO much going on — so many different threads to this story — and it can kind of be overwhelming that it borderlines on confusing at times. You’ll find yourself immediately taken to this story but it’s definitely a slow burn type of book.

Maggie Stiefvater is a master storyteller and I tumbled into these pages and stayed there until I finished it in one day. There’s a lot going on on in this novel but I found myself breezing right though it because of Maggie’s knack for just sucking you into the pages whether we are reading about Blue & her clairvoyant family or the Raven Boys search for Glendower. There’s magic and kings and psychics and ley lines and all sorts of mythological and supernatural intrigue worked right in there with the contemporary lives of these truly memorable, fleshed out characters! It takes a little bit to get into the story and there IS a lot going on but it’s just such a unique and wonderful story that is worth being patient for.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Did you enjoy it or feel differently than I did? Which Raven Boy was your favorite?? I loved Gansey the most though all of them have a place in my heart!

four-half-stars

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Book Title/Author: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The World God Made (children’s picture book)

Amazon| Goodreads |Donna Cooner’s Website

 

 

 

Ever is a fifteen year old girl who weighs over 300 pounds. She’s the girl who can’t fit in the desk at school or who can hear her thighs rubbing together. She already knows what everybody thinks of her — her dad, his wife, her stepsisters, the kids at school and her childhood crush — because of the voice, Skinny, who lives in Ever’s head telling her just how disgusted people are with her. After an incident at school Ever decides she is going to undergo gastric bypass surgery so that she can get rid of Skinny for good and become healthier, show everyone how talented of a singer she is in the school musical and get her childhood friend and crush, Chase, to look at her the same way again. The one constant who has been with her through it all has been her friend Rat who helps Ever try to change her life after the surgery.

I’m not going to lie — I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I’m so glad I read it. Even if you haven’t struggled with weight to the extent that Ever has, I feel like it’s not hard to relate to this novel. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with Ever at first but I quickly realized I could. My struggle with weight was different (I was too skinny and got made fun of for that  up until high school where I become a little more normal weight) but I still agonized over my body. Every day. I saw all the flaws. I can’t imagine what Ever must have gone through. But mostly what I most related to was that voice of Skinny inside Ever’s head. The one telling you that you weren’t smart enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough, not talented enough. It just made me really connect with Ever because I know how unwavering and unrelenting that voice can be. I was really happy I connected with her because it made me super invested in her journey.

Ever was an interesting character. You easily could feel bad for her because of how she got made fun of and because of things that happened but at the same time there were points were I didn’t at all. There were times when I just wanted to smack her and be like OMG ARE YOU BLIND?? As a reader you could see just how much “Skinny” had made her bitter and disillusioned and even selfish. You’ll feel frustrated with her sometimes but I think we all can relate to her to some degree. There were moments of definite heartbreak for me — the school assembly scene or just even the moments when she realized how much her life was going to change post-surgery. I rooted for her through it all — that she’d lose weight, that she’d get the guy, that she’d make real friends and show everyone her amazing voice. As an aside, I LOVED the characters of Rat and Briella!

Her journey — both physical and mental — after the surgery was one that I was so invested in. While it may seem like a dream come true to lose all that weight, there were a lot of things that she had to give up and it was hard. I appreciated that Skinny just didn’t “go away” — that she had to realize that as much as this process was physical it was also even MORE mental than anything. You really grow to love Ever and how she starts to reveal her true self — the one that we saw a little bit through her old memories and some of her humorous commentary. There are still moments in her journey where you know she’s not quite there mentally because she is caring too much about the physical changes and all that it has brought her. It truly was a battle and I didn’t want to put the book down. Sometimes I think it did ring a bit predictable and follow the type of teen makeover story you see in so many movies but it was super compelling nonetheless.

My one qualm with Skinny by Diana Cooner was that, while it didn’t portray this surgery as this magical and easy solution because she clearly had to work at it, I just struggled that it seemed like it was her first real solution. The book talks about how she had tried to lose weight but, to me at least, it just felt like it was some half-hearted attempts rather than really seeking some HUGE lifestyle revamp with the help of professionals and work at it consistently. Maybe that’s just me but that’s the impression I got from where she was at up until the event that led to her getting the surgery — eating bad food, eating big portions, no exercising, just really being content with herself. I wanted some other options more explored. I just don’t want teens to think that it’s the BETTER option than exercise and diet/lifestyle changes that should be really the first thing you try. Obviously that might not work for all but this is such a SERIOUS and extreme surgery so I was kind of hoping that it would talk more about the root of her issues too (obviously her grief was a large part of it & then it just spiraled into an emotional coping mechanism). Especially with her being so young.

Skinny by Donna Cooner was a really good read dealing with self image and that nagging voice inside of your head that whispers all of the things that makes you self conscious or feel like you aren’t good enough through the story of Ever — an extremely overweight teenager who undergoes gastric bypass surgery. Ever is easy to connect with in her highs and lows and I found myself easily immersed  in her journey. I do have some reservations with how she so quickly went to gastric bypass and how her situation is portrayed (explained above) but ultimately it was a really good read with a main character dealing with something that I haven’t encountered too often.

 

You May Also Like: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Food, Girls & Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff, Teenage Waistland by Lisa Pazer

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you connect with Ever? Did you find that you wished that they would have explored her other options or address the emotional component to the reason why she became that obese like I did?

three-stars

Review: Not That Kind Of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

 

Book Title/Author: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Publisher/Year: Push (Goodreads & Amazon are conflicting — one says 2010 while the other says 2011)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The List, Burn For Burn, Same Difference, A Little Friendly Advice

Amazon| Goodreads |Siobhan Vivian’s Website

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie is the good girl — she’s smart,  an overachiever  and is running for Student Council. She holds her reputation in the highest regard and knows what she wants out of a relationship and won’t accept anything less; much less the typical immature, jerk fare of her high school. She’s Type-A and has it in her mind how she and her friends should act as women. But do they agree with her about what kind of girl they should be? Soon she realizes that some of the closest people in her life might not completely share her opinions and are keeping secrets from her. The freshman girls are challenging Natalie’s ideals with their provocative take on female sexuality  and boys she said she’d never give the time of day are suddenly surprising her into bending her own rules. How will Natalie continue to be that kind of girl she’s always thought she should be when so many things are threatening it?

I had heard everyone rave about this one and again felt super behind on my YA contemps since I started reading YA late in the game. The lovely Carla (formerly of The Crooked Shelf but now blogs over with the super fab Jen at Makeshift Bookmark) told me in her very convincing British accent that I MUST read it. So I did. And I really, really enjoyed it. Definitely a book I wish I would have read in high school and definitely a book I think could be such an amazing book for teen girls to discuss together! I will say that, as an adult, I felt I could SO appreciate this book and read it with a different lens.

I have to say – Natalie annoyed the hell out of me most of the time but I really loved her. But confession time? I think my annoyance was spawned from the fact I was SO SO like Natalie in high school. While I can’t say I was super uptight in general nor was I THAT high strung about school, I was such a “goodie-goodie” and had super high standards that I didn’t think most people didn’t live up to. Those girls talking about sex during homeroom? Yep, they were sluts. I didn’t need to know anything about them. I just knew I didn’t want to be like THEM. I wasn’t that type of girl. I didn’t dress like a “slut” nor did I sleep around. And that’s pretty much how Natalie was. We both were super judgey. I think that’s why she annoys me so much because I was coming face to face with my high school self. I’m glad I had my own standards but I needed to chill the EFF out.

So what I really loved about this book is that it opened up a FANTASTIC platform to talk about slut-shaming, feminism and sexuality. It wasn’t preachy and it didn’t say which “kind of girl” was the right path. You saw girls who were struggling to figure out who they were and their path and what was right for them. Natalie herself crosses her own lines (I think that a lot of us girls do that. “Oh I would NEVER DO THAT.”) and Spencer does see the downsides to some of her thinking.  I loved the contrast of Natalie and Spencer (the freshman who dresses provocatively and openly talks about wanting to have sex with guys). Siobhan Vivian shows you sides of both that you might agree with and makes you think critically and challenge your notions of sexuality and feminism — despite who you identify with more. ALL while not being preachy. It was just so well done that I feel the need to slow clap and whistle (though I can’t really in real life).  Just WOW.  And I know this seems a lot like the whole point of Mean Girls — but seriously, this book shows that it’s SO important how we as women treat each other and judge each other. I JUST LOVED IT.

I can’t say I LOVED the romance but that, to me, wasn’t the shining part of this novel nor the point but I thought it DID have it’s place. It was ok but not my favorite. I’ll tell you that Siobhan really knows how to write characters — all of them. I could see them as real people that had roamed the hallways in my high school back in the day. I could feel the struggles. The pressures of high school, fitting in, determining your sexuality, being yourself. She writes it fabulously and flawlessly. I loved the journey Natalie went through and really grew to care about her and the other girls  — their flaws, mistakes and all!

 

Not That Kind of Girl was truly remarkable! It opens a discussion about feminism/sexuality/slut-shaming in a way that is super easy to relate to and NOT PREACHY like some books end up being. The characterization is top notch, the high school setting was authentic and Siobhan Vivian causes you to take pause and think. I loved that. I’ll be recommending this to people who love contemporary YA books that speak to the normal struggles that girls encounter in high school and really beyond. There isn’t super angsty drama or crazy things that happen — but it tells the story of what a lot of girls go through in high school when trying to figure out what kind of girl they are and want to be.

 

For Fans Of: Realistic contemporary YA about normal struggles teens face, books dealing with feminism/sexuality in a non-preachy way, books that make you think, books with incredible characterization

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? I’m curious to know which girl you identified with more?

three-half-stars

Review: Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Take A  Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg Book Cover Book/Author: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher/Year: Point – April 1, 2012
Genre:  Young Adult – Contemporary
Series: No
Other Books From The Author: Prom & Prejudice, The  Lonely Heart’s Club
Amazon  |  Goodreads

Disclosure: I purchased this book with my own cash money.

Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg follows the lives of four talented musicians as they face the pressures of their senior year at their uber competitive performing arts high school. Senior Showcase, college applications & auditions, pasts that won’t go away, confusing relationships, dissolving friendships…Emme, Sophie,  Carter & Ethan experience it all.

I have this love/hate relationship with books that have  more than two perspectives. It has to be done right for me. Sometimes characters really fade into the background or fold into each other or don’t tie in well together at all. Take A  Bow didn’t suffer from any of those things. Each character and their perspective were developed and whole and I found myself so connected with these characters and their journeys. There was something so relatable to me with each one of these characters — their flaws, their triumphs, their naivety, their growth. Even Sophie, who was my least favorite character, jumped off the pages for me. I loved that each perspective just catapulted me into this competitive and cutthroat world of theirs where I could feel mounting pressures and the passion behind it all. The best part of all — the perspectives we gained of each character through the eyes of each other.

The standout characters, combined with Eulberg’s magnificent storytelling abilities, make this one that I honestly couldn’t put down. I was so absorbed in the stories and wanting to see how each conflict in the story would be resolved that this was a quick read! It was that cute, quick read that I needed in between some pretty heavy novels but I’d be remiss if I let you think that’s all it was. It was such a heartwarming story with humorous scenes & fabulous secondary characters.

The only thing, for me, it was one of those times as a 26 year old woman this book felt a little too young for me. I don’t know what that’s all about since I read tons and tons of YA and even the occasional middle grade book but it definitely just felt younger than most of the YA I read.  Maybe it’s that the perspectives were THAT spot on or maybe, as a friend who shared the same gripe suggested, that the prologue of the book started off with them as high school freshman and it kind of throws you off and makes it seem younger. Not sure but had to be honest here.

My Final Thought: Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg charmed the pants off me! It was such a quick and delightful read with characters and storytelling that just draw you in. It, for me, was a cute, lighter book (but not fluff!) that was  exactly what I needed between some of the angsty reads or dystopian worlds I’d been reading about.

You May Also Like: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez — if it’s the musical aspect you crave!

Review On A Post-It

 

three-stars

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Book/Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Standalone/Series: I believe this to be a standalone book. HUZZAH FOR STANDALONES.
Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2011
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher during BEA in exchange for an honest review.

My feelings toward The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater are rather muddled. I feel like I can’t give a straight answer when asked if I liked this book. There are some parts of this book that made me love it and some aspects that really made me not feel like picking it up. I wasn’t really rushing to pick this one up (but I’ll be the first to admit that I was really stressed out while attempting to read this book) but when I DID pick it up I found myself utterly immersed in the story itself as it is quite magical and captivating.

The major source of contention for me was the writing:

Good: Maggie Stievater has this knack for writing in a way that makes everything seem so alive and vivid. Her descriptions of the setting in particular are breathtaking in the way that I feel I’m gazing into that same sunset or standing right next to that horse feeling tense and afraid but so alive that my blood is pumping and my chest is thumping. I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can hear it. Maggie Stiefvater takes me there in an intense way that most writers cannot achieve. Her prose is lovely and spellbinding and takes on ethereal qualities.

Kinda Meh: That same writing that I am memorized by sometimes also hindered my love for the story. Now, this is one thing you must know about me. I am not one that always needs a fast plot that whips me around and keeps my interest. I love a good, slow story with lush prose and descriptions that can go on for pages. I do. I mean, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite authors and THAT MAN is overly verbose. A whole chapter goes by and you realize nothing freaking happened but it was lovely and wonderful all the same. For whatever reason, sometimes I just felt as though some of the descriptions weren’t doing much for me to move the story, thus not making me dying to pick it up. I think one of the issues is that I wasn’t ever feeling SUPER connected to any of the characters so even THAT couldn’t propel me forwards. It may have been my state of mind needing something fast paced but sometimes the writing, while I would get lost in the beauty of it, would also slow me down to the point of exhaustion.

I’m not sure why I never felt too much for the main characters but I just couldn’t. I wanted them to be ok and I was obviously wanting the best outcome for them but I more so wanted to learn more about these crazy horses! They were magical and mysterious and I felt the same brimming curiosity that Puck felt despite knowing they were dangerous. The story itself was so unique and intriguing and that is what ultimately kept me reading and desiring to finish it. I rather like the romantical aspect of this book. I was rooting for that for sure despite the fact it was kind of predictable, to me, what was going to happen but despite that I found myself excited for their every interaction but happy that it didn’t overtake the whole book. I mean romances are a dime a dozen but KILLER HORSES?!? Thank you, Maggie, for not doing one of those tricks where you give me an interesting premise to lure me in but instead focus on the romance.

Final Thought: This was my first encounter with Maggie Steifvater’s writing and I’ll be for sure picking up Shiver soon as I have high hopes for it. I loved so many of the qualities of her writing (despite my issues which could very well have been my frame of mind) but hopefully this time I’ll connect with the characters more and find myself feeling more compelled to pick it up. I definitely enjoyed aspects this one but I won’t say that it was unputdownable. If you get distracted by kind of flowery prose, you probably will have troubles with this one. If you like unique storylines (with a hint of something supernatural..everything was normal except the killer horses) and love the feeling of being transported into the story by means of prose that is quite descriptive and flowery (in a really beautiful way), then you’ll dig this. I’d point this one out for all my readers of the blog who only dabble in YA once in a while. Also, I could see this being a kickass movie.

three-half-stars
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