Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Love and Other Foreign Words | Erin McCahan

Can anyone be truly herself--or truly in love--in a language that's not her own?

Sixteen-year-old Josie lives her life in translation. She speaks High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Break-ups, and even the language of Beautiful Girls. But none of these is her native tongue -- the only people who speak that are her best friend Stu and her sister Kate. So when Kate gets engaged to an epically insufferable guy, how can Josie see it as anything but the mistake of a lifetime? Kate is determined to bend Josie to her will for the wedding; Josie is determined to break Kate and her fiancé up. As battles are waged over secrets and semantics, Josie is forced to examine her feelings for the boyfriend who says he loves her, the sister she loves but doesn't always like, and the best friend who hasn't said a word -- at least not in a language Josie understands.

I've noticed a pattern whenever I read a love story starring a nerdy girl. 

We begin getting to know the character and all her little idiosyncrasies: 

A guy starts liking her and they get close and start sorta having a relationship: 

The girl messes up the relationship because of her inability to love or trust anyone. 

The girl learns to love and they get back together and have a happily ever after. 

It happens every time. But I still liked this book, and I'm still going to read every other book like this. It's a vicious cycle. But I still do recommend this book as a cute contemporary. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Catcher in the Rye | J.D. Salinger

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."

His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

While the book had a slow start, I think it really does pick up by the end. 

While Holden does come across as an annoying, whiny teenager, it takes a while for the reader to realize they are Holden. I believe that every teenager, adult, and kid has a part of them that is Holden. A part of them that is unhappy with life. A part that hates everyone and everything. I know even I could connect with him at some points. 

Honestly there's not too much I have to say about this book. Although at its core this book was essentially about "nothing" there were subtle themes. Some people will love this book, others will hate it. I personally don't think it's a timeless class 

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Am Number Four | Pittacus Lore

In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. 

The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth

The concept of this book was fantastic. It's been quite a while since I've read a sci-fi book and this went beyond my expectations. The concept of alien, seemingly overdone and clichĂ© had such a cool twist in this book. 

I will admit, I really didn't enjoy the characters all that much. If I had anything I disliked in this book, it would be the characters. I didn't enjoy Four at all. He was extremely whiny and lovestruck, which wasn't at all attractive. Also, the romance in this book, unlike most books, wasn't cute, it was more 

And for some reason I have a really uneasy feeling about Sarah, Four's love interest. I felt like she was really flat as a character, placed there to play the role as the "pretty girlfriend" and I hope she gets better throughout the series. 

Henri, Mark and Sam were my favorite characters, mostly because they were the only ones who really had personalities.

There's so many questions I still have unanswered. I'm really excited to continue the series but I really hope that the characters get more interesting. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing (A Shakespearen Retelling) | C.E. Wilson

Shakespeare’s work features some of the most memorable stories and characters ever created, yet for too many curious readers the combination of ultra-dense dialogue and unfamiliar historical settings make tackling the Bard’s work something between a tedious chore and a confusing mess of bird-bolts and quondam carpet-mongers.

While it’s nearly impossible to replicate or improve on these works, it is (thanks to their timeless nature) possible to make them more accessible to a wider audience.In this Young Adult retelling of one of William Shakespeare’s most iconic plays, join C.E. Wilson as she breathes new life into Much Ado About Nothing, the first in her series Shakespeare for Everyone Else.

Two couples.

Clark and Heaven.

Beatriz and Bennett.

After years of friendship Clark decides that his senior year is the time to finally profess his love to his long-time crush Heaven; a sweet and simple girl who her father knows to be loyal, trustworthy and caring. She returns Clark’s love because, like him, she has also seen her feelings blossom over time. Theirs is a cute love that differs a bit from the other couple in the play.

Beatriz and Bennett at first glance seem to want nothing to do with the other. Every conversation, every remark is a withering attack which reveals their lost history and similarities. It’s not long before their friends hatch a plan to set them up because everyone is convinced they still love and care for one another. Will either of them be able to resist the strong attraction between them?

As these two couples try to make it through their senior year, their friend Donnie does what he can to keep the group happy. The problem lies in Donnie’s half-brother Jason who wants nothing more than to spoil the fun – even at the cost of Heaven’s reputation.

When both couples are pushed to the limits, whose love will endure?
Find out in this modern retelling of Shakespeare’s memorable play Much Ado About Nothing.

While this didn't have the best writing, or the best storyline (which obviously isn't the author's fault), it fulfilled the goal of making Shakespeare interesting. Upon finishing this book, I ordered the original Shakespearean work.

In order to review this book in the best possible way, I'm separating the storyline of the original play, which I'll go more into after reading the Shakespearean play, from the actual writing of this retelling. While I love that I could see the in bred Shakespeare within the writing, stories and plays are written differently for a reason. When reading a play, all we really have is the dialogue within the characters. But when reading a story we can emphasize setting, plot, subtle character personalities. There are more areas to work with and to convey a story. 

Things that may have worked in the original play, don't really work as much in story-form. In order to add a little personal touch to it, the author could have worked with the setting or time period to create a more believable setting. She could have played around with the characters a bit more in order to give them a bit more personality. 

Again, even though it wasn't perfect, I really really liked the premise of it. Personally, I know that Shakespeare is a bit hard to read, so having it in a simpler form really gives me incentive to read the original text while still being to understand what's going on. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What I Thought Was True | Huntley Fitzpatrick

From the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti

In the mood for a cute adorable love story, I picked this book up, expecting it to just as great, if not better then My Life Next Door. (MLND) Being completely honest, I wasn't satisfied. While the setting created a picturesque scene for a beautiful love story, I didn't relate to any of the characters and wasn't too fond of the setting. While in MLND I could picture myself as Samantha, good grade, only child, etc. I couldn't picture myself as Gwen. Many of her actions throughout the book made me think:

She was super contradictory and hypocritical throughout the whole book and I just really didn't like her. 

Another problem I had, although more of a personal preference, was the choice of names in this book. Samantha and Jase from MLND vs. Gwen and Cassidy. Cassidy? Cassidy is definitely a girl's name, which left me so confused throughout most of this book. 

I will admit that I usually am a bit harsh with love stories, there are certain things that just have to be perfect in order to work. And while MLND was perfection, this one wasn't. And although I didn't like it, you might! So don't let me discourage you! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Let's Get Lost | Adi Alsaid

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

I really disliked this book, with too many high expectations that simply weren’t met. Going into the book, I was told that this book resembled Papertowns by John Green, and although I can see the similarities, in my eyes Papertowns was a much better read.

Spoiler-Filled Discussion 

A successful contemporary story has a lot of different factors that need to be considered during the writing and editing process. These include the characters, the setting, the storyline, and the climax. All of them need to work in perfect harmony with each other to create the beautiful symphony of a story. In this book, each aspect had a different sound, creating a cacophony over a melody.

The characters were so bland. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them; it was that I didn’t know them. Over the span of a couple hundred pages, we were introduced to so many characters: Hudson, Leila, Sonia, Dee, and a few others whose names I don’t even remember. They all served for a singular purpose and then disappeared from the story altogether. Even Leila, our protagonist, was a complete stranger to me. As she interacts with all the other characters, she serves as just a side character, and rather than slowly learning things about her throughout the story, we learn nothing until at the end, within the short range of fifteen pages.

The storyline in this book was unenticing and boring. The story was literally this: a girl drives to Alaska in a red car. Along the way, she stops and makes a friend. None of it added up to make a cohesive storyline. Each event seemed separate and unrelated. While most stories have a plotline that builds towards a big finish, this book had no big finish. The ending was predictable and unrealistic. From start to finish, Leila is practically the same character, just a bit more disappointed and resigned by the end.

I think a better ending should have involved all of the characters, not just Hudson, because that would have been really interesting to see.

Generally, I was very disappointed with this book. BookCon, Barnes and Noble, everywhere I went, I saw this book and because of all it’s publicity I was convinced it was going to be great. Weeks later, with the book finished, I’m just not satisfied. Several factors could have been improved to create a better and more exciting read.