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: Random by Tom Leveen

Book Talk: Random by Tom LeveenRandom by Tom Leveen
Published by Simon Pulse on August 12, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
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

On the eve before Tori has a big court date for her role in a national bullying case that resulted in a suicide, she receives a mysterious call from a stranger at random. He says he plans to take his life tonight…unless she can give him one reason why he should live. Being nervous to be connected to another suicide if he goes through with it, she tries to decide if she believes him or if it’s just a prank. But the stakes are too high if she doesn’t take him seriously and try to save his life.
.

a2WHAT!? *also massages hands because DAMN I flew through that*

a4Ever have one of those books where you find yourself, even days later, trying to collect your scattered, fragmented thoughts and they just keep blowing away with the wind every time you get close to articulating them? I’m having a really hard time reconciling my thoughts when it comes to this one especially because it was going so well…and then the ending threw me. So let’s do a pro/con thinger shall we? Maybe that will help you get a better sense of where my head is at. MAYBE IT WILL EVEN HELP ME.

THE YAYS

* If I had to sum up my experience by using a movie title from my youth it would be THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: No seriously, I FLEW through this book. I finished in 1.5 hours. Even Will looked impressed because he witnessed me starting and finishing it. I COULD NOT STOP READING IT. I wanted to know fully what her part was in the death of Kevin and also I was so intrigued by this random phone call and I so desperately needed to know if she would be able to talk him out of the suicide.

* The concept is AWESOME and it delivered on the intensity I expected: A person calls you at random and says they are going to commit suicide and they want you to give them a good reason to live. GULP. That’s a lot of weight on someone and especially someone who has her own craziness going on in her life. Finding out how this all would play out was the only thing I cared about for that 1.5 hours that I read this. The level of anxiety Tom Leveen was able to bring to my reading experience was impressive because I just needed to keep learning about this stranger’s story and the words that Tori will need to say to stop him from doing it.

* It actually took me surprise…like gaping mouth and all: I don’t want to say too much about this because I don’t want to give a hint of what surprised me but just know that it shocked the pants right off me and it takes a lot to do that. MAYBE I should have caught on to something but I DID NOT.

* The conversation starting qualities to this book are great: Bullying online is a big deal these days. This book shows that even if you don’t you pull the trigger/tie the noose/etc that does not mean you are innocent. This is the big thing the main character keeps not getting when she says, “BUT I DIDN’T KILL HIM.” “I DIDN’T BULLY HIM..JUST MADE A FEW COMMENTS.” Etc. Random challenges those kinds of prevalent thoughts when it comes to online bullying.

The NOT-SO-SURE-ABOUT

* I felt nothing emotionally despite how intense the reading experience was: I hate comparing books but a couple of months ago I read a book called Tease that was also from the POV of the bully and that one twisted my heart and frustrated and elicited a lot of conflicting emotions within me when it came to the main character but I felt really invested in her. I literally felt nothing for Tori. She didn’t seem real to me and didn’t illicit any emotions out of me. As invested in the random caller as I was I found myself really detached.

* THE ENDING: GAHHH. Not what I expected and I think it made me further detached from the book. I was like REALLY? THAT’S THE ENDING?  I don’t know how I FEEL about this story now. I don’t know what I was expecting but that wasn’t it and I’m not sure I was really all that happy about it. I was waiting for something super powerful and it fell flat for me. (BABY SPOILER-ISH COMMENT: Also, a little too wrapped up neatly in another area with a KISS and all.)

* The lesson: There was a clear lesson here. An important one. And I’m still struggling to decide if Tori even got it. I mean, it wraps up all nicey like she does but I didn’t FEEL like she really learned her lesson? Tori and the main character in Tease (which I referenced in my first point) were really similar in this way but for some reason in Tease I felt like there was a glimmer of hope for her to learn from this — even if she still had a long way to go. With Tori, I just didn’t even believe it. I didn’t feel any sort of emotions from her at all.

 

a6RATING-mixed

factors+ addictive factor, intensity, writing
pretty much lack of any emotion and a lot of detachment, the ending

Re-readability: No. That said, I plan to read the copy of one of his other books I have (manicpixiedreamgirl)
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I hope my library DOES have a copy.

a5people who want a book dealing with bullying but from a different POV, people not afraid of heavy topics like suicide and bullying, people who like more intense/gritty contemporary YA, readers who don’t mind a really frustrating main character

a8This one had the potential to be AMAZING for me — the concept, the writing and the absolutely intensity that made me read faster and faster to find out how all this would end. But when it came time to the ending…it just wasn’t what I expected and made me feel a bit disappointed. There was a lot of build up for awesome and mindblowing and I just found myself staring at the pages not even able to reconcile the ending and how I felt about it. And the fact I felt nothing emotional, aside from anxiety, just didn’t help. I need to be emotionally connected at SOME point.

review-on-post-itRandom by Tom Leveen

 

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 this feel like something you’d be into?
* Okay was it just me that didn’t feel blown away by the end?? (MAYBE SPOILERISH: I feel like maybe I was looking for a more profound, life-changing ending and it got too lesson-y in a contrived manner? IDK. IDK)
* Did you GUESS or were you shocked??

 


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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Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Book Talk: If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Published by Simon Pulse on August 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

book synopsis When Quinn is caught kissing someone who isn’t her boyfriend Carey, a Marine who is beloved in her military town, she is pretty much cast out and shamed. Her friends have turned on her. Her own father can’t look at her. Nobody even tried to get her side of the story. Quinn knows that she could free herself from this by telling a secret but she wants to stay loyal to Carey who promises her that he’ll sort it out…until he goes MIA while in Afghanistan and can’t help clear things up.

 

good books to read

Wow. Wow. Wow. I started this unassuming and slim little book that I grabbed from the library and finished a couple hours later with tears streaming down my face — and the ending was NOT the first time that book made me cry. Another underrated contemporary YA to love and shout about from the rooftops. SERIOUSLY. I am finger waggling and all right now. Go get this book if you love contemporary YA. I thought it would be a good and quick read but I underestimated If I Lie entirely — it was really special and the kind of novel that just embeds itself in you from page 1.

1. I initially thought this story was going to be more about the secret that Quinn was keeping: I figured we’d be waiting with bated breath for it to be revealed. I had my guess of what the secret before I started and I was right because we were told on like page 25. That entirely shifted how I thought this novel would go down and made me pretty curious to see how it would all play out. The story is more about how Quinn is dealing with the aftermath of getting caught kissing someone else and not letting it define her while protecting Carey’s secret. We see her getting relentlessly bullied by people who used to be friends, shunned around town and even in her own home by her dad and struggling so hard with whether to clear her name or keep the secret — all while dealing with the emotions of Carey being declared MIA while he is deployed.

2. My heart ached for Quinn: So much of me just wanted to scream “HELP YOURSELF. Tell them!” when I was watching how awful things were for her but I really did get WHY Quinn chose to keep the secret and it made me admire her more. To watch her get relentlessly bullied and shut out by all her friends and the whole town really was just so hard as a reader because I knew the whole story. Her own dad is even treating her differently. Nobody even tried to hear her side. Quinn is just so, so alone and then, just when she thinks it all dies down a bit, the news of Carey being MIA happens and everyone is just so angry at her even more. There was just so much going on — the burden of the secret, her love for Carey and her fear for him, her feelings towards the boy she kissed, the bullying, her absent mother and her father who seemed to resent her for what she’d done and the sins of her mother– and I didn’t know how Quinn kept it together. I was really, really proud of her in the end. I can’t even convey that without spoilers.

3. Oh the emotions! GAH: Throughout this novel the tears flowed like unpredictable red hot lava. I was so surprised because I just didn’t see this being a really emotional novel. It’s not a real long book but every page just conveyed things perfectly that it just hit me real hard. There were sad tears but also kind of tender, heartwarming tears. There was just a lot of emotions coming from everywhere but they crept up on me so subtly. There were some moments with people that just hit me emotionally and then the ENDING. Oh god. I was just a sobbing mess at many different points for many different reasons. I cry a lot with movies and shows but it takes a really powerful book to make me SOB while reading. (I mean, there’s still quite a handful of books that have made me cry). It was just all so powerfully conveyed that I really took all of it hard FOR Quinn.

4. George: YEP. I’m not saying anything more. Just one of my new favorite characters.

5. There was so much to this story and I really appreciated it. It wasn’t just one dimensional but rather there were all sorts of little threads but not in an overwhelming way and it didn’t feel crowded considering it’s a small-ish book. I was amazed at how quickly I cared and how the story just flowed together perfectly and balanced the many elements with an undeniable finesse– family issues, romance, friendships, the secret.

book reviewsIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson is honestly one of my new favorite contemporary YA books. It was an evocative and powerful read that I will treasure for a long time to come. I loved that this story wasn’t just about a cheating scandal but SO MUCH MORE. It’s very layered and very realistic and just about as genuine and complex as they come. Quinn self discovery and channeling of her strength was one of my favorite parts. And George. You have to meet George. So read this one, it will be worth your while! Can’t wait to see what Corrine Jackson does next!

 

 

 

short book reviewIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson

You May Also Like: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller // Speechless by Hannah Harrington

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


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Book Talk: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Book Talk: Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasDangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on July 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA, YA Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

 

book synopsis Anna and her group of friends are having the time of their lives on Spring Break in Aruba partying and living at the beach. When her best friend is brutally murdered in the house they are staying at, Anna finds herself quickly being at the center of a murder trial in a foreign country by a prosecutor who seems to have it out for her immediately and friends and a boyfriend who have basically all but abandoned her. Everyone — the media, friends, — seems to think she did it. She knows the truth and learns more as the trial progresses and everything hinders on the verdict that determines whether she is imprisoned or free and whether Elise’s killer gets away.

 

good books to readYou would have thought somebody put a gun to my head and said, “READ THIS BOOK AS FAST AS YOU CAN OR ALL YOUR BOOKS DIE” with how quickly I devoured this one. I started it and finished it in 3 1/2 hours flat with one break to eat. BEGRUDGINGLY. How can one eat when they need to keep reading such a page turner!!? Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was the kind of page turner that will give you paper cuts from frantically turning the pages to satiate your need to know WHO KILLED ELISE AND HOW WAS ANNA GOING TO PROVE HER INNOCENCE.

So let’s talk about why I was cursing my brain and hands for not working together to read this even faster. And I’m going to try to be suuuuper vague because I think it’s best to go into this knowing the barest of essentials which I’ll give to you.

1. The premise: Okay, so the story is right off the bat going to remind you of the Amanda Knox story. I mean, I feel like I was eyes glued to that case and watching all the coverage and speculating on what happened. It also is going to remind you of the Natalee Holloway story that happened when I was a freshman in college and which prompted my mom to freak out and she made me PROMISE I would not go spring breaking. So Dangerous Girls is this mishmash of the two of them with some parallels but with its own tragedy to tell. The group of friends are in Aruba on Spring break and the narrators best friend is found brutally murdered. An investigation is done and she’s being accused, along with her boyfriend, and she finds herself in an Aruba jail being held until the trial. It’s just the kind of premise grabs you from the beginning because of the prominence of these cases and does not let you go until the very last page as you watch this story unfold where a girl’s best friend has been murdered and she’s prime suspect number one.

2. The suspense/mystery: Ah the way this story was told was just so perfect. All the tension and the suspense was palpable and the author just knew how to make you decide you couldn’t stop reading for even one minute. The world ceased to exist to me because I was so planted in the story. We flip back and forth from the past to the present and it’s one of those seamless transitions where you are eager to learn about the back story in the girls’ friendship, their trip to Aruba and the present day where Anna is facing the trial and trying to prove her innocence. Anna’s account of everything was engrossing. I constantly was changing my mind of who I thought it was and it was really easy to have a couple of scenarios in my head for the couple people who were my prime suspects. I kept flip flopping my theories and my distrust and I LOVED IT. If you don’t at all want to know my reaction to the end, skip the next two sentences. I kind of had an inkling of who the true killer was but I had shoved that theory aside so I was SHOCKED at the end but not shocked when it was revealed. There were some THINGS that made me think it but I was like still like WHAT THE WHAT THE WHAAAAT with the reveal and then that final paragraph.

3. The interesting commentary about media coverage & also the legal process in these situations: I know if this was a real case I would have been one of those glued to the tv watching it unfold. Analyzing the characters every move. I mean, in the book we see just how easy it was for the case to happen and then the media frenzy to unleash their campaign against her and paint her as a cold blooded killer before the trial even begun. They analyzed her background, her demeanor, took pictures of her that made her look like she wasn’t affected by this, etc. They took all these things and spun this story. It was interesting to watch this fictional thing to happen but KNOW this is so how it really is. It becomes a soap opera. Everyone has an opinion and an angle and every little thing is scrutinized and taken out of context. It was fascinating to see how media really plays into these stories. I’ve watched it happen and been one of those glued to the coverage. I also found the way the legal process plays out in a foreign country to be fascinating. I know that was one of those things about the Amanda Knox case that fascinated me but I was really so interested by this in Dangerous Girls.

book reviews

If you like books that you are going to devour from page 1 because of the twisty suspense and mystery, get yourself a copy. This book surprised me! Shocked the pants RIGHT OFF ME. (Don’t worry, I put them back on. OR DID I?) You’ll constantly be guessing who did it and pointing the finger at everyone. I loved the premise and the way the story was told — it was this constant mounting anxiety while I was reading where it all was just so, so palpable  — every betrayal and accusation and feeling of hope for Anna and GAH EVERYTHING. It was a nail biter FO SHO and kept me guessing and completely kicked my brain’s ass at times.

 

 

short book reviewdangerous-girls-abigail-haas

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Did you guess?? (If you talk spoilers please label them but I’m DYING to talk about it bc HOLY CRAP!)


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Fault Line by Christa Desir | Book Review

Fault Line by Christa Desir | Book ReviewFault Line by Christa Desir
Published by Simon Pulse on October 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
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!

 

 

 

book synopsis Ben falls fast for the new girl in school — Ani. She’s brutally honest and totally not like all the other girls he knows. In a whirlwind fashion, they start dating and everything is perfect until the party…the party that Ben doesn’t attend. The party where Ani gets raped but doesn’t remember a thing. Rumors are circulating about the details — Ani was shouting about how she wanted them, that maybe it was date rape drugs, she was wasted — and nobody knows what really happened and who is to blame. When Ani pushes Ben away and starts acting out, Ben tries to help her and is met with resistance because Ani doesn’t want to be saved.

good books to readI have ALL sorts of feelings about this book. WOW. What a book. It was a our book club pick and we had A LOT to talk about because it brought up a lot of things. I don’t think that I liked this as much as other people did, as there were some things that just didn’t work for me, but I still think that it’s an important story with good things about it that I couldn’t put down.

What I Liked:

* The POV: I loved that this perspective was male and from someone who wasn’t the victim. I’ve read quite a few books dealing with rape and it’s always from the victim’s perspective, no doubt an important perspective, but this immediately hooked me because of the fact it was from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. I had never read that perspective and found myself thinking, “WHY has this not been done before?” because it’s also an important view to see from people who love and want to help someone when they experience this. I thought it brought up a lot of interesting things to see everything happening from his angle — to see her change and the effects the rape had on her and their relationship but to not be in tune with the inner turmoil she was going through. It added a lot to the story, I felt, and made me think of the struggles that victim’s loved ones also go through in trying to help them through it. I felt Ben’s helplessness and feeling like he just didn’t know WHAT to do. It felt realistic and honest and I appreciated the story being told from his perspective.

* The story itself: My heart was very invested in the idea of this story with some reservations with the characters which I’ll discuss below. Watching this all unravel my heart hurt for both Ani and Ben. To see the before and the after through someone elses eyes and see Ben try so hard to help her as she just is reeling from the rape and pushing him away.  The story was totally soul crushing because the sad reality is this kind of thing happens probably more than we know. All Ani’s actions made my heart hurt and Ben’s struggle to hold on to her was hard to watch…especially at the end. I felt like it was very evident that the author’s background in rape crisis enhanced this story because Ani and Ben’s struggles and reactions seemed very realistic. It was a very powerful story about that “after” and how it affects various people involved and, for Ani, she was stuck in this cycle of blame and guilt and left with all these questions unable really deal with it.

* The discussion that comes from this book: This was definitely a powerful book to make you think and I loved the discussion that it brought up because it is so, so relevant and important. Ani knows she was raped and she can’t remember what happened and only knows what she’s told (the details which make her look to others that she was completely wanting this) and is completely being tormented at school because of what went down. A lot of the conversation and the struggles for both Ani and Ben are if a) she was slipped a date rape drug b) if she got super drunk and was acting “slutty” and maybe a c) is if she just is a “slut”  and wasn’t actually raped at all — all sorts of victim blaming stuff. It was the one thing in the story, and I think in life, that people get hung up on. Does it make it better if it was one or the other? Does it make it easier to handle? Does it change it? Do people feel more sympathy for someone who gets slip date rape drugs vs. someone who got crazy drunk and got raped? Who is to blame? It’s an endless conversation that we even see in the media. “She was asking for it by how she was dressed.” “She got drunk and was flirty and came on to me” “She was drunk but she wasn’t passed out.” I just thought seeing this play out in the story brought up all the relevant news stories I’ve see and things I’ve even heard in high school and college. Fault Line was one of the bravest and most powerful books that really brought this discussion to the table.

What didn’t work for me:

* The romance/development of it:  I know this book wasn’t really ABOUT the romance but it was hard for me to really FEEL why Ben cared so much and hung on because I didn’t see much substance to their relationship. Yes, some young relationships are not based on substantial things but they literally knew nothing about each other and suddenly they were together. She said his hair made him look like an asshole, he thought she had legs for days (that and her honesty seemed to be the two things that made him head over heels for her) and then suddenly she invites him over and they are a couple. We do see a little bit of their beginnings but it just wasn’t much for me. It was difficult for me to care for either characters or their relationship, beyond what I knew I should feel, because there was barely any build up so, while I liked the IDEA of their story, I just felt some sort of disconnect.

During book club we were talking about how maybe there would have been more of an impact had the story been about two people who had dated for longer or at least more of a back story for us to get to KNOW them and see that spark. Ben pretty much gives up everything as he struggles to attempt to save her and it never made sense to me WHY. I never felt it and thus it took me out of the story A LOT — despite how important and powerful the discussion from this book was and how emotional I DID get at the end.

I will say I had NO idea how I felt at the end of this book as a WHOLE but I was teary eyed for Ben and for the very realistic and bittersweet ending.

* the length of this book: Okay so maybe it’s not so much the length, because for how short it brought a lot to the table, but it was more how because of the length I felt some things/characters were underdeveloped and it really detracted (including my above point). There were random people that I thought would be more important that were just kind of dropped. There were things just half developed in my mind and left dangling. A lot of the other characters were hazily developed to me, and I know they WEREN’T the focus of this, but I just would have liked to see a wee bit more development in the secondaries. I DID love  Ben’s friend though (his name is escaping me) and thought he was one of the best.

book reviewsWhile it seems like on paper there were more things that I LIKED about this book than didn’t like, my “didn’t work for me” list items unfortunately made me disconnect a lot from the story. It was a powerful and provocative novel that explored an important and relevant topic that is an ongoing discussion in society from the perspective of the victim’s boyfriend. There were a lot of good things about this book, no doubt, but the underdevelopment unfortunately pulled me out too much from the story and frustrated me — distracting me from what was great about it.

short book reviewfault-line-christa-desair

 

books you may also likeWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

for-fans-of-bookbooks about tough issues, books opening an honest discussion about rape, books that will give you lots of food for thought, flawed and honest characters

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one or heard of it? What did you think of it? This is a very interesting book for discussion so I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!!

The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

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

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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

Live Through This by Mindi Scott | Book Review

Live Through This by Mindi ScottBook Title/Author: Live Through This by Mindi Scott
Publisher/Year
: Simon Pulse 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Freefall

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I purchased this book with my own cash money.

 

 

 

 

On the outside Coley looks like a normal teenager — she’s got friends, is on the dance team, works hard in school and has a nice family. She’s got the typical teenage dramas — fights with friends, trying to be the best so she can earn the captain spot next year and, of course, navigating the boy scene. But nobody knows the secrets Coley keeps — secrets she buries down so deep she goes about her day pretending they don’t exist. When she starts getting closer with her crush, all of those secrets of the relationship that crossed the line come up full force making her feel the shame and guilt she’s tried to bury.

Wow. This is going to be a hard book to review because it’s not one of those books where I can be like “WOW…I really enjoyed that” because it was a TOUGH book to read and saying I enjoyed something like that seems rather awkward. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more uncomfortable while reading a book…ever. Ok, maybe Lolita was more uncomfortable but you understand. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. It was a hard book to read and my heart broke knowing this happens so often and isn’t something that is talked about which is probably where my discomfort with some of the more confrontational scenes happened.

Live Through This starts out with a really, really intense scene. It’s the kind of WOW scene that smacks you in the face and demands that you pay attention — alerting you to the fact that this is going to be a very emotional and hard book to read with the sexual abuse occurring right off the bat. But then the brilliant part about this whole novel is how she tells the rest of the story from there. There is literally, for about half the book, NO mention about what happened. The whole time I was just reading, on the edge of my seat, just knowing that this abuse was lurking on the corner after that explosive first scene. I was nervous. On eggshells.  We really got to see Coley’s life and how she really was careful to be that normal girl with the normal life — trying to ignore those buried secrets. But, as the reader, you could just palpably feel that soon it was going to catch up with her.  By the time the abuse happens again it is intense and I just knew that I unfortunately figured out what was going on and it was very emotional and tense from that point until the very end.

I think what I really appreciated about Live Through This is that it wasn’t so concerned about tying things up in a neat little bow. So often in “issuey” books I find that the story happens, the main character realizes she needs help and then YAY RESOLUTION. ALL IS WELL. With this book, I know when I closed the pages that it would be an uphill battle for this character (you know, because I’m weird like that and think the characters live on when I’m done haha).   I actually found that having her try to stifle all of what she was going through and not even  feel clearly about what she wanted to do/feeling conflicted felt really realistic and made it all the more emotional to me.  I could feel how lost she was about it and I appreciated that, while the end was satisfying, it didn’t try to be  like ALL FIXED NOW.

 

Live Through This is really tough book to read, parts where I literally felt so uncomfortable, but I thought it was balanced well as we watched Coley try NOT to deal with the sexual abuse taking place and try to live a normal life like everyone  thinks she has. I think because of her keeping it at arms length I didn’t feel very emotional for most of the book except at some very explosive scenes that were really hard to read. It feels weird to say if I “enjoyed” this book but I do think if you don’t mind reading a book that tackles a tough topic this is a good one that definitely stuck with me because I just know this happens all too often. Live Through This was at times heartbreaking  and tough to read but it was worth it as it was well written and handles the topic sensitively.

 

live-through-this-mindi-scott

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you kind of guess WHO the person was? Did you think it tackled the subject well/comparatively to other books dealing with this topic?

 

 

 

 

three-half-stars

How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski | Book Review

How My Summer Went Up In FlamesBook Title/Author: How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher/Year
: Simon Pulse – May 7, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: None

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

 

Rosie finds out that her boyfriend cheats on her and then he flaunts the girl in her face. The next thing she knows her ex’s car is on fire and she’s got a restraining order and, in trying to talk to him, is facing stalking charges. Her parents decide, to keep her from getting in any more trouble before the court date, to send her on a road trip across the country with their next door neighbor Matty, the sorta geeky boy next door, and his two friends. As the miles start to grow in between her and the situation at home she’s itching to get back and fix things and win him back — at all costs.

I’m really conflicted on this one. On one hand, especially as my gym read, How My Summer Went Up in Flames was precisely what it was supposed to be — a fun summer read with some entertaining and absolute LOL moments, some romance and a road trip! I read through it pretty quickly,  it was very enjoyable and I was always excited to pick it up — as excited as one could be excited  on a treadmill. But on the other hand, there was so much about it that irked me & pulled me out of it but it seems to probably just be a ME thing from all the rave reviews I’ve seen. All of my feelings are very all over the place… a lot of “I liked this BUT at the same time I didn’t.”

There were some really awesome parts of the road trip — some fun moments and also some self discovery moments where I wanted to hug Rosie. But on the other hand, this road trip was a lot like being stuck in the car with your annoying little sibling who keeps kicking the back of your seat — it makes it a little less enjoyable. Rosie was miserable for most of this road trip because she didn’t WANT to go and was all angsty about her ex boyfriend. That was hard for me to relate to because umm ROAD TRIP? The answer is enthusiastically ALWAYS. But whatever, I could go with it. But it was hard to actually ENJOY the road trip part of it because Rosie made 75% of it miserable because of her bad attitude. I’d be into the flow of their adventure and then she would pull me right out of it. LUCKILY, the boys and a sweet girl we meet along the way more than made up for it. They kept me reading during the moments when I thought I might push Rosie out of the car if I could. I seriously LOVED the boys. They were my favorites. I was really relieved in the moments when Rosie was ENJOYING the road trip and growing.

The romance! Ok, so there were some really swoony and cute parts. There were. The tension was written very well and I was so waiting for some kissing because of all the tension. But here’s the thing…throughout the book I felt like there was some MOMENTS where it felt like she liked or felt some maybe possibly confused feelings with each one of the guys in the car which I found weird considering everything that just went down with a breakup. I can’t explain it but there were parts where maybe they were goofing off and it seemed like there was tension with one guy or she’d be like “hmm he’s really kinda cute” and made me think, “OH is she going to go for him now?” There’s one kinda more OBVIOUS guy but there were just these weird moments I can’t explain without telling you. And then there’s a guy who comes into the picture and is suddenly smitten with her as well and the whole time I was confused as to WHY because there wasn’t much through the story where we saw any reason why she was so desirable or special.

Luckily there WERE parts where I felt like Rosie shined and I was like “Yeah,  I like this girl a lot — she’s feisty and can be fun and I GET her. ”  In those moments, I could see through the grumpy exterior and feel like I was getting to know who Rosie was and saw why people wanted to be friends with her — like how she talked on the phone to her dog or stood up for a friend. But, by the end, I still don’t think I quite got who she was or felt like I understood her though I feel like I was starting to.

 

Unfortunately, for me, How My Summer Went Up In Flames didn’t stand out. It had its moments and generally was entertaining and fun — the perfect type of summer read when you are craving something light that will take you no time to breeze through because it’s paced really well. I loved the secondary characters but there was a lot about the main character and her storyline that irked me and pulled me out of this romp across America. She had her moments where I was like,  “Girl, you rock!”  but never moved past that. It wasn’t that I DIDN’T like How My Summer Went Up In Flames but I just didn’t love it though I know SO many are going to not even notice the things that annoyed me. I did appreciate how realistic it was and that it wasn’t totally romance centric but it just never made me FEEL anything more than, “Ok, that was fun.” I will say that I will be picking up her next book Famous Last Words because I think she writes fun contemporaries.

 

how-my-summer-went-up-in-flames

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? Was I the only one who was drawn out of the story for these things?

 

 

ALSO I don’t listen to a ton of country music but this song and video are HILARIOUS and Miranda is awesome and it totally reminds me of this book in ways as it talks about the “crazy” some of catch during a break up. Even a reference to matches 😛

three-stars

The Program by Suzanne Young | Review

The Program Suzanne Young Book ReviewBook Title/Author: The Program by Suzanne Young
Publisher/Year
: Simon Pulse – April 2013
Genre: Dystopian I guess? It has a very contemporary feel minus that suicide is an epidemic and the way that society deals with it.
Series: YES! This is the first book!
Other Books From Author: A Need So Beautiful series, The Naughty List series

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

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

 

In The Program by Suzanne Young the world is experiencing an epidemic — teen suicide. To combat this epidemic a program (called “The Program”) was created to help anybody who failed at committing suicide or anyone who is flagged as being depressed or suicidal. The Program basically erases all memories that they deem to be associated with what is making you sad or depressed. Then you leave The Program and are integrated back into society without those memories and start anew. Sloane and her friends who haven’t yet entered the program have tried to stay under the radar and keep their emotions in check so as not get flagged and taken to the program. Despite the fact they have watched so many friends and family commit suicide or come out of The Program like zombies, they know they can’t let those emotions or feelings surface.  As Sloane and her friends are slowly starting to succumb to those feelings they’ve ignored and the pressure to keep it together they know The Program will be their next stop if they can’t keep it together.

Oh my goodness — this is a series I am so excited about after finishing The Program. I know it sounds trite because we say it a lot but I SERIOUSLY could not put this book down. One of those “OMG IT’S SO LATE AND I’M NEVER GOING TO WAKE UP TOMORROW BUT I MUST READ” books. The Program was the ultimate kind of page turner for me because it had suspense, tension, an emotional investment and I was never sure what was going to happen despite picking up vibes about certain things. I appreciated its uniqueness and how Suzanne Young took a subject that really IS an epidemic in our society and amplified it — it felt unsettling and frighteningly REAL to me.

The Program is broken up in three parts — I don’t want to tell you what those three parts consist of even though you could maybe guess from the summary — but each part made me more and more invested in the story and layered that suspense even more. Each part opened me up to more emotions and explored a lot of things about this society and I became more and more invested in this story. I cried, I smiled, I felt like somebody took a cleaver to my heart and I felt extreme ANGER sometimes.  There is just SO much to this story and, aside from being wholly invested in it, it made me think a lot, too!

It was seriously scary to be thrown into this world. I immediately felt unsettled — teen suicide is like your every day thing here and, while they’ve grown numb to it in a way, you can feel the profound pain and agony of those left behind. I was emotional just thinking about my friend who committed suicide and then thinking about how in this society it is perfectly NORMAL to have lost lots of friends and family to suicide & it just made my heart hurt and gave me that “this is going to be an intense book” feeling. It broke my heart at how they had to keep a lid on their emotions because ANY sort of sign of sadness or anger or anything, even if it was healthy, was enough to get you flagged. To watch them slowly start to succumb to the FEELINGS they’ve been holding in towards those who have died and those who have come back not themselves is so painful. You just feel the weight on their shoulders. My heart was in an absolute frenzy.

And if that wasn’t hard enough, Part 2 and 3 really were equally as compelling and painful in their own right. There were absolutely agonizing moments where we got to learn how The Program operates and what goes on inside and how they “fix” you. It was anger-inducing and scary and heartbreaking. And then Part 3 is where it got bittersweet but also hopeful and intense in more of an action-packed way towards the end. It got me excited for book 2 until I remembered WAH I DO NOT HAVE IT.

Book 2, I MUST HAVE YOU because there is still so much to learn — like HOW society got to the point where suicide was this bad? Or why people were okay with this solution? Can you fully get your memories back? And, book 2, I need you most because I haven’t felt so INVOLVED and intrigued by a series in a while.

The Program by Suzanne Young was such an interesting, frightening and suspenseful story with the power to poke and prod at my emotions in the intensest of ways. Each of the three parts of this novel heightened the suspense and really added layers to my emotional connection. One of the most exciting and page-turning books I’ve read this year and I cannot even contain myself for book 2. Very unique and unsettling and I highly recommend it for fans of all types of genres as it is set in a world very much like our own but with the fact that suicide is an actual epidemic and society has allowed something like The Program to exist to “contain” it.

 

 

The Program Suzanne Young Book review

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one??  Heard of it?  If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did you enjoy it as I did or did you feel differently? Let me know what you thought!

four-half-stars
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