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While I most definitely do have a sweet tooth for all things romantic and gushy when it comes to YA, when I start reading a contemporary romance I always go in with two reservations: One, it might at times feel like a cycle of cliches and two, the plot will probably develop unnaturally.
But Eleanor & Park was a very different kind of contemporary romance than I am used to reading. Not only was it unique, the course of events felt natural and real.
The dual perspective between the two main characters strengthened each scene. Both Eleanor and Park were so distinct and well imagined, it definitely felt like they were real teenagers who I could bump into on the street. I loved how they were both quirky in completely different ways that complemented one another so well.
There were moments when I was frustrated with Eleanor because of how often she would push away or be rude for seemingly no reason, but everything she did felt true to her character, and reasonable considering her circumstances.
Before I really get this monster of a review started, I’d like to first take a moment to rewrite the above summary, as I feel as though it isn’t quite accurate. Forgive me the repetition, but let’s go over that blurb again. If you read carefully, you’ll notice that I’ve made some changes, albeit very slight ones:
When quirky and loveably vapid supermodel Mary Sue goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian “I Have Emotional Issues and a Great Jawline” Grey, she encounters a man who is sex incarnate, and a world-class emotional predator to boot. The stupidly naïve Mary is startled to realize that she wants this man’s rockin’ bod and, despite his irrational mood swings and unsettling obsession with her ovulation cycle, finds she is desperate to get close to him. And by “close to him,” we mean “have a great deal of degrading and emotionally unfulfilling sex with him.” Same thing, really.
There are few books that I feel ever get the “teenage speak” right. There are even fewer that feature all those little awkward moments we’ve all dealt with in high school. Because let’s face it, sometimes being a teen is awesome, but other times, it completely sucks. Really, really hard. The Symptoms of My Insanity takes a few of those moments and presents them in such a relatable way where I could sit back and go, “Oh, it’s my teenage self all over again when I was socially awkward!” Then I realized, “Wait. I’m still socially awkward.”
Izzy has a lot going on her plate in Symptoms: her mother’s cancer seems to be coming back, a popular guy in school is suddenly showing interest in her, her best friend is acting strangely and she has to prepare her art portfolio. It’s a lot. And thank goodness for Raf’s humor, because without it this would be one sad novel.
This is the first novel that I’ve read from this author and I have to say that I am very impressed. I don’t usually seek out crime, mystery or thriller/suspense novels, but I’m really glad I had an opportunity to read this one. There aren’t many books where I can say I have almost nothing to complain about. And even though I’ve finished the book weeks ago, I still have nothing but high praises for it. Simply put, How to Lead a Life of Crime had fantastic writing, realistic characters and old fashion, damn good plotting.
When I first read the blurb for this book, I’ll admit to having pretty low expectations. I thought it would take on more of a humor angle, though I’m not exactly sure why I initially thought it would. The blurb took on a lot of serious topics that I thought, “Surely, this must be from a comic standpoint?” And I’d be wrong.
Before we even get this par-TAY started, I’m going to throw something out there: This was not a bad book. I’m saying this now because I know I’m about to be the black sheep when it comes to Sins & Needles. So before everyone in my Goodreads friends list comes out with their torches and pitch forks, guys, I can totally see why you all love this book.
Alright, now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, strap in because I’m about to light it up. BTW, yeah, spoilers ’cause that’s how I roll.
Sins & Needles started off very strong for me. The main character, Ellie Watt, has a great presence and voice. She’s someone I’d even consider badass… at first. Obviously, her profession demands nothing less with her being a con artist and all. But for once in her life, Ellie feels like she’s had enough and goes home to Palm Valley.
Cat’s struggle to escape the pull of her abusive mother coupled with her fear of closeness, combined with the bustling setting of downtown New York in the 1980s, gave White Lines the potential to powerfully impact the reader. Instead, I found it flatlined, meandering from one conviction to another just like its disoriented heroine.
Cat is surrounded by interesting people, all with their own damages. Julian harbors a traumatic relationship history, Angela is a paradox of doll-like perfection and desire to rebel, Giovanni appears cheery but is in actuality isolated and desperate. All of the characters had so much depth, but reading about them was like looking at a flashlight through a frosted pane of glass. The effect of their glow was dulled by the narrative.
This could be due to the dialogue which was rarely strong, and more often formulaic. Think a vague statement, followed by a short question, ending in some showy answer.
I think I can count on exactly one hand, minus one or two fingers, how many Middle Grade novels I actually enjoy. Now I have one more to add to that number. I admit to being very skeptical of MG for myself because they just don’t usually work for me. I can appreciate them from a literary standpoint and may even recommend a few titles to younger readers, but do they entertain this picky reader? Nu-uh. But I decided to give it a chance because I liked the premise. Guys, I am shocked because I really loved this book! There is only one other MG novel that had me this excited and that was A Monster Calls for obvious reasons. (I mean, c’mon. That books just freakin’ rips your heart out.) But The Bully Book was hilarious and utterly charming.
The reason why I think I connected so well with this book is because it covers a topic that everyone must have dealt with at some point in their lives as kids.
I’m really starting to think I need to spend more time in the Contemporary genre. While I’m there I might as well finally read If I Stay and Where She Went. Yes, I can’t believe I haven’t read them yet either. No, I’m not sure what my malfunction is. But what I am sure of is how happy I am to have finally read a Gayle Forman novel. Just One Day came complete with a charming cast of characters, Parisian backdrop and such a relatable coming of age story.
Right from the start I knew I would love this book. Allyson reminds me so much of my younger self. She’s unsure of herself, follows the rules to the T, is more focused on the approval of other around her verses what she wants, etc. I’m sure we could all relate to feeling that way at one point in our lives and that’s what made this book real for me.
Some novels are debatable in their quality. Sometimes a novel can be like junkfood, but completely satisfying. Other novels are clearly made of better stuff though less able to hold the simpler demographic. Speechless has the happy coincidence of being made of better stuff, but clearly satisfying on a simpler level.
Throughout my entire life, my father has had one reoccuring expression. This doesn’t include his, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” speech which I’ve heard a thousand times and, YES, DAD. YOU’RE RIGHT. But his other thing that he says to me all the time in the hopes that I’ll eventually listen: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Use them in that ratio, girl!”
Now that one I’ve never paid much attention to but I recognize the value in it. However, Chelsea Knot really gets it. One day her gossipy, thoughtless ways deeply and negatively impact another human being and she takes responsibility for it in a story that is worth telling and worth reading.
Regardless of whatever else I say in this review – Such a Rush is a good book. Well-written, funny, smart, heart-touching. I devoured this novel in a matter of hours. I ignored family on Christmas day to read it – which is okay, because they’re used to that.
But this doesn’t mean it was a perfect read. Leah was brilliant but, other than Mr Hall’s brief appearance, she was the singularly likable character in this book. Smart, focused, complex, interesting – everything you want out of a main character except not a single other character in this book deserved to bask in her presence let alone be her friend or date her.
Ready to meet the grand poobah of douchebag love interests? You thought Daemon from Obsidian was bad? You thought Daniel Grigori or any other of those dudes was bad? In my opinion Grayson Hall would probably mop the floor with them.