BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

 

Book review image

Eleanor and Park

Star Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Short Reaction: Um…okay. Not what I was hoping for. 
Published on/by: February 1st 2013 by Orion (first published April 12th 2012)
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 328 pages
Synopsis provided by Goodreads: Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

REVIEW

Oh no. I’ve put off reviewing this book for a month now because honestly…I’m still unsure of what to rate this book. My initial rating was 4 stars, because I was too afraid to rate it less than 4 stars. Rainbow Rowell is an acclaimed author, and having bought both Eleanor & Park and Fangirl a year ago in anticipation to join the bandwagon, I guess my expectations were a little too unrealistic.

I expected to love, love, love this book. You have two misfits in high school falling in love? In the 80s? Sign me up. That is my JAM. Everyone knows and loves Rainbow Rowell, everyone has read and loved a Rainbow Rowell book and I think that triggered something in my brain to make me feel like I have no other choice but to love it too, you know? And I know, this is entirely on my own doing. Nobody forced me to impulsively rate it 4 stars at all! It’s just that I felt that I should have liked it more than I really did?

And with that said, I am officially rating this 3 stars. If I’m adhering to the goodreads scale description, I’m definitely on the “it was okay”–which is 2 stars, because that’s how I felt. I did not love/like it very much nor did I hate it. I think I’m just very indifferent towards it. However, 2 stars, for me is a little too low so my final consensus is that this book, for me, is a 3 star read– it was ok.

Wow, I spent so much time explaining my rating that I haven’t even started to defend myself yet! So here goes nothing…

This book was like a cake with icing, without the cake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sweet tooth. Love icing. But it’s nothing without the cake, and unfortunately I felt like this book didn’t have the depth that I hoped to see and feel. Despite the lack of ‘feels’, I really enjoyed the pacing of the book. The writing is easy to follow (sometimes a little too easy, lol), but it wasn’t slow in the slightest and I quite enjoyed that it was told in third person. So many YA’s are told in first person nowadays, in an attempt for readers to relate better to the protagonist, that I think the skill of being able to make such a relatable character through third person so much more special. However, because it was told in third person, I thought the alternating ‘views’ were quite unnecessary, and in result it was slightly choppy and messy.

Another aspect of the book that I liked was the contrast between Eleanor and Park’s home life. I was able to fully see the dysfunctional and abusive environment Eleanor’s home life was and I think that was the strongest point of the book; seeing the dynamics of her household. It was heartbreaking and frustrating to watch and I felt for Eleanor, I really did.

Now, on the aspects that lacked for me…

The time period was almost unnecessary. I don’t think it was fully explored and it sucks because Rowell could have pushed this book to its full potential. The subject of race could have been delved into much further and I honestly felt like showcasing all these races were just tools for ‘Ooh, lookey here! Diversity!’ It just wasn’t enough for me, especially since the book was set in the 1980s. I also thought the book played on a lot of stereotypes regarding Park’s mother and Eleanor’s two African American friends. For a book that avoided exploring the depths of racism and equality of the 80s, in an attempt to make Park just like any other boy, they sure did make Park’s mom and Eleanor’s friends sound like cookie cutter typical Asians and African Americans. Seriously. I liked that Park’s mom’s background was explored but there was almost zero development on Eleanor’s so-called friends. I felt like they were just there, and nothing else.

And that brings me to the biggest issue I had with this book–the romance. I can say with full conviction that the relationship between Eleanor and Park could have worked better as a friendship. Well, in my opinion. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get why they liked or thought they loved each other. Seriously. This was insta-love in full effect. I think Rowell tried to avoid the label of insta-love by making them hate each other’s guts in the beginning (also for no good reason) but she pretty much failed because just one day after, they suddenly want to bite each other’s faces off and hold hands and undress each other and whatnot. It was just so sudden and at first, I thought it was really cute. I mean, lust. Who hasn’t experienced lust? But soon, I just thought it was really, really annoying. Especially after Park was convinced he was in love. What followed were wrinkles. Lots of them. From the cringing. The reasons why they liked each other was just so vague and unexplored and I felt like the book served the romance on a plate and was like, “Eat this. We have nothing else on the menu, so you best be eating or you’re gonna starve!”. SERIOUSLY. I know it’s a weird analogy but as soon as the romance kicked in, I felt like this is all the book had to offer. I know it’s a story of first love and coming-of-age experiences and whatnot, but it just felt like the romance was trying so hard and there was no where else that I could escape to find any other redeeming aspects…well apart from Eleanor’s home life BUT IT’S SO GODDAMN DEPRESSING! To sum it up, I know that their feelings for each other was supposed to provide an escape for Eleanor but I just felt that it was contrived and overdone and slightly unrealistic.

So yeah. That was my review/ramble and I am probably going to put off Fangirl till the disappointment wears off.

Advertisements

SUMMER LOVIN’: Books I’ve Devoured!

Summer Lovin Collection

With Fall approaching (I’m not even sure if it’s already here!), I’ve decided to compile a short list of the books that I feel were stand-out to me in the season of Summer! I’ve read more than three books, mind you, and while I did like a lot of them, I feel like these three were simply engrossing and they are the books I still think about, weeks after reading them. I’ve done a proper review for only one of these so naturally, I won’t yap on and on about that particular book but for the other two, I have yet to write reviews so I’m going to treat this post like a collection of mini FIVE-STARRED reviews 😉

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent Cover

Blurb provided by GoodreadsOne choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

MINI REVIEW

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Fun, fun, fun. This book was an absolute blast, and I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s the least favourite of so many people?! This was the best instalment in the trilogy, in my opinion. It had so many conspiracies, new characters and twists and turns and it was just so enjoyable to see Tris transform into someone I never thought she would. Granted, her actions and mentality were a little annoying because of what happened in Divergent but I thought they were warranted for and it created a more vulnerable side to Tris.

Another reason why I thought this book was infinitely better than the first and third was the constant appearances of Uriah. Yes, Uriah. I. Love. Uriah. I think I even love him more than Four? Described as the devilishly handsome jokester, he lightens the scene with his easy humour and grin. How could you not love Uriah, right? To sum it up, this was definitely a blast to read as it kept me up late at night and was definitely the strongest in the only trilogy I read this summer! 🙂

2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Jellicoe Road Cover

Blurb provided by Goodreads: Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

MINI REVIEW

I’ve been saving this book for years. And when I say ‘saving’, I mean I bought it several years ago and kept it on my shelf, hoping for that one special day where I felt ready to crack it open. I know, I’m making reading sound like some kind of invigorating religious experience BUT I KID YOU NOT, this book was a very big deal to me because 1) I have never read a single bad review of this book and 2) I loved loved loved Melina Marchetta’s previous book, ‘Saving Francesca’.

To get straight to the point: I loved this book. This was grief, loss, love and friendship done right. It was realistic, heartbreaking and raw. A story within a story; I was so, so, so engrossed with the tale of Taylor Markham and her Jellicoe school friends and their intriguing “turf war” games with the Cadets and Townies, intertwined with the mystery and history of the five friends twenty years ago who shaped the dynamics between these friends and Taylor’s broken family life.

This book touched me to the point where 30% in, I promised myself I would re-read it again before the year ended because even though I flew through this masterpiece, I know there is more to absorb and savour. Having re-read ‘Saving Francesca’ a couple of times, I know I won’t have trouble re-reading Jellicoe Road as Marchetta writes beautiful prose. This book definitely made my Top 5 favourite books of all time.

3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You Cover

Blurb provided by GoodreadsLou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

MINI REVIEW

I’m going to try and write this mini-review/gushy commentary without crying. This was the last book I finished and I swear to God, I spent so many hours upon finishing it, just thinking about everything that had happened. I was a Jojo Moyes virgin, and now I am not. And my God, reading her book was a magical experience. This was my first chick-lit in a while and I’ve only ever been exposed to Sophie Kinsella and the odd Cecelia Ahern. I didn’t realise how much I missed reading from a perspective of an adult since starting this book.

It’s about a 26 year old girl, Lou Clark, who is pretty much going nowhere. Sounds harsh, no? But she’s pretty content with what she has–the semi-detached seven year relationship with her boyfriend Patrick and her job in a cafe. Until said cafe closes down and Lou is out of a job and in a scramble to help out with her family. So, she takes a job as a carer to a 35 year old quadriplegic, Will. Will, who is so incredible infuriating, and thoughtful and intriguing. I have to say, Will Traynor is one of the most interesting characters I have ever read in my entire life. In this book we explore the beliefs and attitudes of people, people who were comfortable with what they had until what they had was gone. Will has only been a C5/C6 quadriplegic for two years. Before that, he was a rich attorney living in London, with a gorgeous supermodel-like girlfriend and a love for travelling and extreme sports until they day of his accident… Everything changes, obviously. Not only in his environment but something in himself changes and he can’t seem to shake it off.

I’ll just say that I started this book with the knowledge of what was going to happen in the end, but it didn’t stop me from crying and loving everything Jojo Moyes had done. This book is not a conventional romantic love story, heck, I don’t even think it should be described as one! This book is a story about choices and how we see ourselves and how we have the power to choose what defines us. This book will remain with me for a very, very long time.

 

And so, that was a cluster of mini reviews on the books that I’ve enjoyed the most this summer! I’m not sure if this will be a seasonal thing, seeing as it’s summer all year round where I live but, hey! Who knows right? School has just started and I’m trying to get back into the swing of things–studying, reading, reviewing and more 😉

BOOK REVIEW: On the Fence by Kasie West

Book review image

On The Fence Book Cover

Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Short Reaction: THIS IS TOO CUTE!
Published on/by: 1st July 2014 by HarperTeen
Format: eBook
Page Count: 304 pages
Synopsis provided by Goodreads: For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can out-run, out-score, and outwit every boy she knows–including her long-time neighbor, and honorary fourth brother, Braden.

But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chi-chi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and bedazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pick-up game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

 

NON-SPOILERY REVIEW:

Having loved Kasie West’s previous contemporary book, “The Distance Between Us”, I expected nothing but an aww-inducing romance and a sweet and likeable protagonist. And boy, did I get it! Starting this book, I was a little wary because I couldn’t exactly relate to Charlie as I’m pretty much the complete opposite of her. Where she goes on 5 mile runs everyday, I prefer to IMAGINE myself exercising while eating potato chips, watching re-runs of Project Runway.

Charlie is a fire-cracker. She is so much fun to read about, mostly because she is the opposite of me. It was so fun to be in her head, and yes she can be slightly insensitive and hard-headed but she’s a character that grows and develops and learns more about herself. Having been raised without a mother, Charlie has many doubts and insecurities about appearances and the way she interacts with people, which made me appreciate where Charlie was coming from. I especially loved Charlie’s relationship with her family–a house of four boys! It was so fun to read about, especially since all off them had distinct personalities. The romance was especially sweet, and even though there was a love triangle–a half-hearted one at that, it was a really sweet tale of first love and being comfortable with who you are and what you want.

Now, although I did really enjoy this book for the most part, I couldn’t give it 5 stars, mostly because I thought some of the characters were stereotypical and there were more tropes than I would’ve liked. Although I really appreciated the steady unravelling of what really happened with her mother throughout the novel, which provided a much needed deeper backstory, this story was not so memorable for me. However, it is definitely the perfect kind of book for a day to the beach or just a perfect Summer cutesy love story in general!

BOOK REVIEW: Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead Cover

Star Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Short Reaction: Yikes, mixed feelings.
Published on/by: April 1st 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format: eBook
Page Count: 336 pages
Blurb provided by Goodreads: It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

 

NON-SPOILERY REVIEW:

I read this book alongside a book-lover friend, Emily (you can follow her on Instagram! http://instagram.com/book.addiction) from June 2nd to June 5th as part of a (hopefully) monthly read-along! To be honest, I didn’t go into this book with high expectations, especially seeing less than stellar reviews from my Goodreads friends. I was prepared for it though, and set my expectations really low…so you can expect my surprise to find that I kind of liked this book. Kind of. I say ‘kind of’, because I realised that I found more things to dislike in this book even though the book wasn’t bad! For starters, the pacing was very easy to get into and it’s a book that you can finish in one sitting. Another thing I liked about this book was the ‘mystery’. We are told that her sister, May, died but we are not informed of the circumstance and was pleased by how it unfolded. The last thing I liked about this book was the cover. Yup, that about sums it up.

The biggest problem I had with this book was how passive and devastatingly annoying the main character, Laurel, was. I was okay with her for the first few letters…but soon I wanted to reach into the book and clock her a few times. She had no personality whatsoever–well, if you count pretending to be someone she’s not…then, that’s Laurel for you. After all the things she learned about her sister, she still wanted to be her, wearing her clothes and her make up and listening to the same music her sister loved. She had no identity whatsoever, and she pretty much ate up every single little thing her sister fed her. She was annoyingly naive and I had hoped for an amazing character development, seeing as the character begged for it, but I was let down. Another character I truly disliked was May herself. She is the very definition of a manic pixie dream girl and in my honest opinion, why Laurel thought she was such a great sister is beyond me. Other than that, I also had a problem with the tone of the book. I mean, who was I kidding? Dear Kurt Cobain was the first line in the book.

Liking the main character, or empathising with her at the very least is incredibly important to me in order to enjoy a book. And although I pretty much disliked the two main characters of this book, I enjoyed the book as a whole. The story was eventful and interesting, there was no lull in the pacing and the supporting characters like Hannah and Natalie were very intriguing. Laurel failed as a protagonist, for me, which pretty much plummeted the ratings.

 

SPOILERY DISCUSSION:

This is just going to be word vomit from here on out. May was a crappy sister, end of discussion. She repeatedly used Laurel to go see her senior citizen of a boyfriend and she left her thirteen year old sister with his FRIEND whom she barely knew? Are you freaking kidding me? May was selfish and unhinged, clearly. I get that she was hurting over her parent’s divorce but she needed to get a grip. Do not bring your little sister along to your little rendezvous and leave her with a twenty something year old guy to take care of her. Because more often than not, they’re creeps. Creeps who molest your younger sister and steal her innocence. She was so caught up in her hurt that she didn’t really care about Laurel, not really, because if she did she wouldn’t have freaking brought Laurel over. Incredibly selfish, if you ask me.

However, Laurel also infuriated me. She said nothing. This is what I meant by Laurel being incredibly passive. She was entirely clueless and all she thought about was how much she loved May and how much she didn’t want to let go of May and how much she wanted to be in May’s world, that she didn’t even protest or didn’t even tell May about what was happening. She just went with it. And when she decided to tell May? May was shocked for like three seconds before Laurel changed the subject and May decided to pretend to be a fairy again. And to make things worse, history repeats herself when Laurel gets molested again by Blake’s roommate. She didn’t protest, again. It wasn’t clear at all what brought her to be silent and passive in this moment, which infuriated me. Did she feel like she deserved it or something? When I reached the end of the book and learned of the circumstance of May’s death, I saw the parallels. I think that was what Dellaira intended, right? But still, that particular scene was kind of glazed over.

And then another time at the party where guys gave her a pill and told her it was a caffeine pill. Laurel’s stupidity is inexplainable (but of course, not as horrendous as the boy’s actions). I have no words, seriously. NO. WORDS. She took the pill. And then someone else sexually assaulted her again. The part where her boyfriend, Sky, broke up with her? My favourite part of the book. It could’ve been a good pushing point for her to re-evaluate what she was doing with her life because Sky really hit the nail on Laurel’s crazy obsession with trying to be her sister, but she continued down this wannabe manic pixie dream girl path.

I wish I liked this book more, I really do. Sigh.

Anticipatin’ & Waitin’: June 2014 Releases!

Hello, hello!

It is that time of month again where I talk about the books that I absolutely must have, that are coming out in the month of June! I’ve had a great month of reading since I had a semester break, so you can bet I gobbled some books up. Granted, I didn’t follow my original May TBR, I’m glad I actually picked up some of the books that have been laying on my shelf for a million years! So, in the month of May, I’ve read a total of 5 1/2 books, all of which I’ve done a review on. Come to think of it, typing that out…I feel kind of pathetic, HAHA. I could’ve done so much better than 5,  I think, but I really took my time with ‘Last Sacrifice’, which could’ve been the reason why my number was so low. So basically when I say I had a “great month” of reading, I didn’t mean by the numbers, but instead on how much I loved all the books I managed to read!

Moving on…I finally have a wide range of YA books in this list…okay, maybe not perfect but at least it’s not heavily centred around contemporaries like the last two ‘Anticipatin’ & Waitin’! I think I’ve had a huge dose of them this month, and when I read ‘Unearthly’, I just remembered how much I loved the urban fantasy/paranormal genre…so here I am, BRANCHING OUT on my long lost loves!

5. #scandal by Sarah Ockler (June 17th 2014, Simon Pulse)

#Scandal Cover

Synopsis provided by Goodreads: Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. Andespecially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…

 

I have read all of Sarah Ockler’s previous books and needless to say, this lady has a knack for contemporary writing. I love, love, love all the stories she’s written, especially her debut, ‘Twenty Boy Summer’ which made me bawl like a baby, 20 pages in. If an author can do that to you, you know she’s a keeper. However, I’ve decided to approach this book warily…and not because I don’t think I’ll like it, but because it deals centrally with infidelity. I hate infidelity, and almost never read about it, because of all the books I’ve read dealing with it, the execution just never sat well with me. But I have faith that Sarah Ockler will kick her new contemporary right out of the park, because DUH! She’s Sarah Ockler!

 

4. The Girl Who Never Was by Skylar Dorset (June 1st 2014, Sourcebooks Fire)

The Girl Who Never Was Cover

Synopsis provided by Goodreads: THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS is the story of Selkie Stewart, who thinks she’s a totally normal teenager growing up in Boston. Sure, her father is in an insane asylum, her mother left her on his doorstep—literally—when she was a baby, and she’s being raised by two ancient aunts who spend their time hunting gnomes in their Beacon Hill townhouse. But other than that her life is totally normal! She’s got an adventurous best friend who’s always got her back and an unrequited crush on an older boy named Ben. Just like any other teenager, right?

When Selkie goes in search of the mother she’s never known, she gets more than she bargained for. It turns out that her mother is faerie royalty, which would make Selkie a faerie princess—except for the part where her father is an ogre, which makes her only half of anything. Even more confusing, there’s a prophecy that Selkie is going to destroy the tyrannical Seelie Court, which is why her mother actually wants to kill her. Selkie has been kept hidden all her life by her adoring aunts, with the help of a Salem wizard named Will. And Ben. Because the boy she thinks she’s in love with turns out to be a faerie whose enchantment has kept her alive, but also kept her in the dark about her own life.

Now, with enchantments dissolved and prophecies swinging into action, Selkie finds herself on a series of mad quests to save the people she’s always loved and a life she’s learning to love. But in a supernatural world of increasingly complex alliances and distressingly complicated deceptions, it’s so hard to know who to trust. Does her mother really wish to kill her? Would Will sacrifice her for the sake of the prophecy? And does Ben really love her or is it all an elaborate ruse? In order to survive, Selkie realizes that the key is learning—and accepting—who she really is.

 

Doesn’t the synopsis sound fantastic? I love, love, love fae mythology and especially in a urban fantasy setting?! Sign me up. This book sounds like a lot of fun what with the magical parents, a mother who wants to *GASP* kill her and of course, a cute fae boy! 😉 This totally reminds me of Puck’s affection for Meg in the Iron Fey series which I absolutely already ADORE (even when I’m only on Book 3!). Also, can we please just take a seat and think about how a fairy and an ogre did a deed? LOL.  This sounds like a really promising new fantasy series and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

 

3. Inland by Kat Rosenfield (June 12th 2014, Dutton Juvenile)

Inland Cover

Synopsis provided by Goodreads: Callie Morgan has long lived choked by the failure of her own lungs, the result of an elusive pulmonary illness that has plagued her since childhood. A childhood marked early by the drowning death of her mother—a death to which Callie was the sole witness. Her father has moved them inland, away from the memories of the California coast her mother loved so much and toward promises of recovery—and the escape of denial—in arid, landlocked air.

 
But after years of running away, the promise of a life-changing job for her father brings Callie and him back to the coast, to Florida, where Callie’s symptoms miraculously disappear. For once, life seems delightfully normal. But the ocean’s edge offers more than healing air … it holds a magnetic pull, drawing Callie closer and closer to the chilly, watery embrace that claimed her mother. Returned to the ocean, Callie comes of age and comes into a family destiny that holds generations of secrets and very few happy endings.

 

I don’t know about you, but this synopsis just enchanted me. I’m still confused about what the entire book is truly about, but the suspense…Good lord, I want it NOW. I really don’t know how to categorise this book, seeing as it sounds a little like a contemporary and then all of a sudden: paranormal/psychological thriller. Could this book touch a little on the possibility of mermaids? Although the premise is not the same, this book gives me a ‘Please Ignore Vera Dietz’ vibe, which I’m so happy for, because I like it 20% more already. Can we also appreciate the beautiful, eerie cover? I’m so hoping my local bookstore will stock this in the month of June (they’re usually two months late!)!

 

2. The Merciless by Danielle Vega (June 12th 2014, Razorbill)

The Merciless Cover

Synopsis provided by Goodreads: Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
 
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
 
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
 
In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?

 

Oh my god. If you didn’t get goosebumps from that description…are you human? This, I can tell, is not for the weak of heart. And I know this because a few book-tubers received review copies and the emblazoned on the first page: NOT FOR THE WEAK OF HEART. This is like The Exorcism plus Mean Girls and I want it SO BAD. I admit, I hate horror movies and gore. I have a weak stomach and I suffer from this weird thing where the skin connecting my ankle to the heel of my foot as well as my wrist are incredibly vulnerable at times where I’m sick to my stomach. And from that, you can probably tell I diagnosed myself. Even after all that, I still want to read this because not only is the book cover amazingly designed (hats off to the irony), but I’m so intrigued to find out how it’ll all end. Also, I hear that Marlene King of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ is already adapting this to go on the big screen! That was quick!

 

1. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (June 3rd 2014, Roaring Brook Press)

The Truth About Alice Cover

Synopsis provided by Goodreads: Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

 

Do you notice a trend? Yes? Yeah, me too. I know this book is going to wreck me (maybe less so) than ‘The Merciless’, because let’s be real… Any story to do with bullying in highschool? It gets me, EVERY TIME. I especially love darker contemporaries touching base and I know this is right up my alley as it sounds like it will touch base on slut-shaming and public perception and I’ve yet to read one told in this particular way. The book will be in the perspective of four people which always intrigues me because I feel that this is an amazing way to provide so many dimensions to characters–whether it be Alice or one of the four. Not only is the cover so beautiful (cover lust to the max!), but I really love that it gives a little bit of insight on what the book is about–with the girl’s silhouette looking down, ashamed, maybe? I’m so eager to get my hands on this book and I already have a feeling that I will absolutely love it, with all the early glowing reviews!

 

So these are all the books I’m anticipating in the month of June! What are the books you’re looking forward to?! 🙂

BOOK REVIEW: Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

Prep School Confidential cover

 

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Short Reaction: AHHH, SO GOOD/FUNNY. Totally going to pick the next one up!
Blurb provided by Goodreads: Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne could care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate, Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school. When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

Review: 

I was pleasantly surprised to have loved this so much. I do owe it to Khanh, because without her review, I would have never given this book a second thought.

The story takes place at a boarding school (my favourite setting because my parents loathe the idea of sending me somewhere else to live, so naturally it’s become a fantasy of mine) in New England where politicians and public figures send their kids to. We follow Anne Dowling, a Manhattanite (is that a real term or?) who was recently expelled from her Prep School in the Upper East Side. She is Queen B, smart, funny and incredibly resourceful. She is NOT your damsel in distress, and it is SO REFRESHING. She fixes her own shit (well her dad had to intervene on her accidental crime but that’s different) and she takes matters into her own hands.

I also really liked the fact that she was perhaps a little spoilt. It was a refreshing spin and it just made her have so much dimension and really made me, the reader, appreciate her actions a little more. I mean, when we have a selfless, humble character, we expect her to do the right thing…right? But with Anne, it was especially satisfying and refreshing to see her stand up for her roommate.

The plot itself was great. The entire mystery was well written and thought out even though I knew who the killer was already, right when he/she introduced. Not that it was predictable or anything (in fact the story truly wasn’t), but I just took a wild guess and was right in the end, HAHA.

And let me just tell you something. You KNOW a book is good when the plot is interesting enough that the romance(s) don’t overshadow it. OR you know a book is so good that the romance isn’t the focal point. It was done SO well and I’m already shelving it under one of my favourite romances ever. The relationships were SO BELIEVABLE! None of that instalove bullshit. This is an author that understands the teenage world. Anne plays the waters, and even if there is a love triangle, it’s realistic. She’s not in love with them, but she has feelings for both of them.

One side note though: I prefer one-sided love triangles because I like knowing who the real winner is and this book frustrated me because there was no indication (until the end of course). I do have a favourite though, Brent, and even though we end with Anne clearly with one of the love interests, I know he hasn’t won yet. I mean there are two more books after this one. God, I hate suspense.

Now on to the boys who helped Anne throughout the book with the murder mystery case. You’ve got the ‘wrong side of the track’, rough hottie, Anthony, and the clean-cut, popular jock, Brent. Maybe they were a little stereotypical, each being on different ends of the spectrum (but both super hot, of course, I mean YA guys are anything but -_-) but I really found myself rooting for Brent. I’ve read billions of books where the nice guy finished last, so I’m really really hoping the nice guy will finish first this time. Not that Anthony is evil or anything, but I feel like it’s expected for her to be with Anthony because the bad boy (who later turns good or something) always wins the heroine’s heart. It’s YA tradition and a boring one at that.

Another thing to add is that not only were these three characters great but the minor characters were also all very well done. At first glance, I had unfairly pegged them all: brat, mean, vapid YOU NAME IT!, only to find my accusations all knocked down. Their exteriors were stereotypical but as we delve more into each of their lives, we see many cracks.

Sharp dialogue, kick ass heroine, intriguing plot… I really can’t wait to see what Taylor has next in store!