Book Review: My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins

MTLGTMTitle: My True Love Gave To Me

Authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt De La Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White

Publication date: October 14, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 321

Source: Review copy from publisher (Thank you, Macmillan!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis: If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Christmas is my favorite holiday ever and to get in a festive mood early, I read My True Love Gave To Me, an anthology composed of twelve holiday stories written by highly acclaimed authors in the YA world. Dear readers, this book is a sweet Christmas treat as it infuses you with the excitement and joy that the holiday season brings. I haven’t reviewed a short story collection before so I have no idea how to go about it. I thought of breaking down my thoughts into twelve points according to the order of stories for a perceptive review, instead of a general one for the whole book.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell: A story that is simple, witty, and filled with love! Reading it was like eating the yummiest Chex mix in the world. Rainbow Rowell writes simple realities with a bang, making little moments big, magical, and ever so swoon-worthy. Infinite hearts for Midnights! 🙂

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link: Personally, this one is a bit weird and dragging. I didn’t understand its concept nor identify with the characters. Also, there was a strange paranormal or fantasy thing going on that made the story confusing. It’s unfortunate to say that this story didn’t impress me. I’m sorry!

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena: Feel-good with a little emotional punch. I like how it talked about family, being brave to face your problems, and being true to yourself. It’s a story that you’d want to read more of.

Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han: An unusual yet amusing story that has a cute concept! Although I found the ending bittersweet, I’d say it is really something that readers would enjoy.

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins: This story charmed its way to my heart! It made me feel the extreme happy flutters and the spark that flickers inside you when you’ve made a connection with someone special. I swooned and smiled the whole time I was reading! If this story were a full-length novel, it would definitely receive a 5-star rating from me. 🙂

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan: A bit introspective, raw, emotional, and funny at times. Surprisingly, for a David Levithan fan like me, it’s not the type of story that I’d like to read during the holidays because of its melancholic ambience. Nevertheless, it’s an honest tale and the writing is beautiful.

Krampuslauf by Holly Black: I like how this story is about believing in greater things. However, what didn’t work for me was the fantasy element. It’s bizarre to the point that it made the story vague, without clues as to why some events happened. I guess I’m really not that of a huge fantasy reader.  

What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman: Authentic and really interesting. I love the humor and diversity of characters!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire: I have never read a Myra McEntire book and this story won my interest to check out the author’s novels. I enjoyed this a lot. It’s light, fun, and such a delight to read!

Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White: Fantastic, touching, and very memorable. This story is full of hope, love, and swoon-worthy moments that are sweeter than candy canes! Kiersten White brilliantly captured the true spirit of Christmas, which is HAPPINESS—the warm, genuine kind that makes you glow from the inside. It’s the happiness you’d want to infect other people with. Welcome To Christmas, CA is a story that you’ll read over and over again until it’s engraved in your memory. 

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter: I loved this story! It’s about finding home at a time when things are complicated, finding one’s self, and discovering the true meaning of happiness. Heartwarming and worth reading! 

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor: An enchanting, otherworldly story with remarkable writing and creative execution. Although there are some parts where I got lost and couldn’t understand the story, it still drew me in because of its bewitching and mysterious element.

My True Love Gave To Me is a wonderful holiday anthology! Truly, a must-have on your bookshelf!

 

 Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard

Fool Me TwiceTitle: Fool Me Twice (If Only, #1)

Author: Mandy Hubbard

Publication date: May 6, 2014

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Pages: 272

Source: Gifted by my aunt and uncle

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Books-A-Million

Synopsis:

Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they’re back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It’s the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can’t have, and Mandy Hubbard’s hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

In quest of a cute and fun contemporary YA? Fool Me Twice by Mandy Hubbard could be the book for you!

An easy and feel-good read, Fool Me Twice entertained me no more than a few chapters in. Who wouldn’t be enticed with a story about a girl who takes advantage of her ex-boyfriend’s accident to get back at him for dumping her? The pranks that main character Mackenzie and her best friend, Bailey, pulled on Landon (the-ex) are so clever! Fool Me Twice is definitely the kind of funny story that makes you giggle like you’re being tickled on the soles of your feet. There are also sweet and swoony moments that would make readers root for a happy ending! 🙂

The characters are good! Although I didn’t connect with them as much, I still liked how authentic and quirky they are. Their sparky personalities blended perfectly with the lighthearted tone of the story. Author Mandy Hubbard’s direct to the point and witty writing gave the story a legit romantic comedy atmosphere. Her clear and vibrant descriptions masterly illustrated the setting of the story as well as conveyed the emotions felt by the characters.

The first in Bloomsbury’s If Only YA romance series, Fool Me Twice appeals to those who love books with hilarious storylines and heartwarming undertones.

 Rating:

3.5/5 stars

Check out my reviews of the next two books in the If Only series: Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae and Not In The Script by Amy Finnegan!

Book Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara

RelativityTitle: Relativity

Author: Cristin Bishara

Publication date: September 10, 2013

Publisher: Walker Childrens

Pages: 272

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked

Synopsis:

There are so many moments Ruby Wright wishes she could change. The moment her dad uprooted her from California to live in backwoods Ohio with their new stepfamily. The moment she moved away without telling her best friend George she loved him. The moment a car accident ended her mother’s life.

But no one can rewrite time. At least, that’s what physics-obsessed Ruby believes.

Then she stumbles upon a lightning-powered tree—a doorway to a series of parallel universes. How many possible worlds will Ruby have to explore to find the one with the perfect combination of people, relationships, and experiences? And is she willing to risk everything she has to get back what she has lost?

With a deft blend of science and heart, Cristin Bishara’s thought-provoking debut novel explored the laws of time and space…and the even more mysterious nature of love and loss.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Sheathed in thought-provoking situations and scientific intellect, Relativity is a novel illustrating the various possibilities existing between space and time. It tells the story of Ruby, a girl who moves with her dad from California to Ohio and discovers a tree that functions as a portal to parallel universes.

Although bewildering at times because of the mind-boggling scientific terms, mathematical equations, and theories, I still enjoyed Relativity! The concept of parallel universes is very fascinating. I like the burning potential surrounding the idea that such could exist in our world. And if they do, there could be many chances for us to start fresh or to change something in our life. Or perhaps choose the life we want to live in the universe we desire to be.

Ruby is a well-developed main character and I adore her! Reflective and physics loving, she’s persistent in finding the perfect life through the parallel universes. Each universe Ruby visited differs in surroundings, people, and circumstances that are far from the ideal life she wants. I love how Relativity spotlights the truth that there is no such thing as a perfect life. This story imparts the message that instead of dwelling on life’s imperfections, people should just embrace them. Rather than feel sorry for what you lack, be grateful for all that you have. Doing so would certainly make your life worth living. Author Cristin Bishara’s dynamic and genuine writing infused brilliance in this geeky and heartfelt story.

Absorbing and original, Relativity is the kind of novel that tugs at your heartstrings and at the same time feeds your brain with knowledge. Totally a unique YA science fiction!

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into PlaceTitle: Falling into Place

Author: Amy Zhang

Publication date: September 9, 2014

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 304

Source: Review copy from publisher (Thank you, Harper Collins UK!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Contemporary YA + Newton’s Laws of Motion = YES PLEASE! Physics was one of the subjects that I loved in high school. I wasn’t very good at it but it was a study that challenged my critical thinking and it fascinated me a lot. Falling into Place brought me back to senior year, truly a strong force that set my mind in throwback motion.

Falling into Place spotlights a troubled teen’s disconcerted state of mind. Poignant and reflective, the book follows the story of popular girl, Liz Emerson, through a puzzle-like sequence of events. Each chapter is a puzzle piece in the protagonist’s life recounting the episodes that took place before, during, and after Liz’s tragedy. What I like about Falling into Place is that the story didn’t center on Liz alone. It also expounded on the people around her. Consequently, the story procured a deep-seated intensity that came from the individuals whose lives Liz affected. Showing how Liz shaped those lives into what they have become provides readers a powerful insight into the causes that led to the effect, which is Liz’s attempted suicide. In the book’s entirety, the enigmatic narrator is the element that stood out to me. It possesses a mysterious semblance and a voice that resounds on every corner of the heart, making it an exceptionally compelling character.

Gifted with a graceful flow of thoughts, author Amy Zhang magnifies the power of words through knitting heart-wrenching emotions that blow readers away with a piercing impact. The author’s writing is very impressive. Her sharp and profound prose will haunt you in a way that is too beautiful to forget.

Falling into Place may not be a book for everyone with its catastrophic and depressing nature. However, I still recommend it because the story is a wake-up call for us to be aware that there might be people going through dark times right now and who need our help. Maybe one of those people is someone dear to us. This story illuminates the essence of asking for help when life gets tough. There are times we feel alone in this world. But the truth is, we are not. There’s always a helping hand out there. All we have to do is ask.

A stunning and emotionally gripping debut, Falling into Place is a novel charged with hope that things, no matter how terrible they are, will be better for someone whose world is falling apart.

Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

A Little Something DifferentTitle: A Little Something Different

Author: Sandy Hall

Publication date: August 26, 2014

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Pages: 272

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

A Little Something Different is completely something out of the ordinary. The idea of a story told in fourteen viewpoints seems a bit confusing, don’t you think? Questions like “Wouldn’t this story be difficult to understand?” and “Would I be able to follow the story without getting a headache?” clouded my mind. However, I set aside my doubtful thoughts and let my contemporary YA-loving self surrender to the pull of the book’s catchy storyline and the intriguing manner by which it is told.

For a debut novel, A Little Something Different is a clever breakthrough in contemporary YA storytelling. Each narrator’s voice has a distinct sound and charisma that made the multiple POVs work perfectly well. It wasn’t confusing as I expected it to be. Reading the book actually felt like devouring a box of assorted chocolates. You get a taste of the same thing in different flavors, which is totally awesome! In young adult fiction, anything is possible. A Little Something Different is a great example of a book that showcases the unlimited probabilities of how stories are told. Moreover, author Sandy Hall’s straightforward and intelligible writing heightened the genuine feel of the story’s present day situation.

I read A Little Something Different in a breeze because it’s the kind of book that you couldn’t put down even if you need to pee. The narrators are very entertaining so is the story they are telling. I was an explosion of giggles and smiles from page one! Gabe and Lea are adorable characters. Both have spark since the beginning and it was so fun seeing them respond to the attraction they have towards each other. A Little Something Different really did a great job in encapsulating a developing romance fueled by shyness, insecurities, mixed signals, and awkward encounters.

A smart and original novel, A Little Something Different is a light contemporary romance that will charm your heart in no time.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

 

 

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks LikeTitle: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication date: April 2, 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 404

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

 

 

Synopsis:

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

*Book details from Barnes & Noble 

My review: 

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith was one of the books I looked forward to in 2013, but I never got a chance to read it because of work duties. Now that I’ve got free time, of course, I grabbed the opportunity to read it. This is the third Jennifer E. Smith book I read. Although I found the book lengthy, it didn’t matter to me because I was smitten from the first page until the last.

This Is What Happy Looks Like is an eye-opener, exhibiting happiness in a way that one doesn’t normally perceive it to be. The kind of happiness expressed in the story comes from within, and is something that material things cannot epitomize. Through its exceptional and poignant prose, the novel could be a soul-stirring journey for readers as it provides them with a deeper and meaningful sense of what happiness is really like.

What I admire in This Is What Happy Looks Like is the complex backstory of characters Ellie and Graham. It makes their personas organic and convincing. Ellie and Graham’s skin-deep flaws paint readers a picture of who they are within. That picture is definitely a strong foundation of each character’s frame, helping readers understand Ellie and Graham down to their core. Jennifer E. Smith is undeniably a champion when it comes to well-developed imperfect characters. The romance in the novel is really earnest and sweet. It’s not insta-love since Ellie and Graham have communicated with each other prior to meeting in person. Their email exchange is so adorable and I loved how it was the beginning of what will become something special—offline.

Jennifer E. Smith’s writing combines rich imagery and strong emotional punch. The author’s dynamic descriptions never fail to project clear mental pictures of scenes that make readers feel involved in the story. Should you be looking for contemporary YA with a unique storyline, depth, and authenticity, you’ll never go wrong with a book by Jennifer E. Smith. Reflecting the truths of teenage life, her stories are oftentimes a phenomenal reading experience as they fill the mind with wisdom that is worth keeping in life.

Shining with hope and bright promises, This Is What Happy Looks Like is a realistic and endearing novel that will carve a smile to anyone’s heart.

Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlineTitle: Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publication date: July 8, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 308

Source: Review copy from publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!)

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Whenever it comes to Rainbow Rowell books, there’s a spark within me that catches fire every time. I couldn’t explain what it is but it feels like I’m set to acquaint with truths of a vulnerable world. Reading a Rainbow Rowell book is not just going through pages of words. It’s experiencing life and its inevitable reality in a fictional setting. It is also meeting people who reflect who you are or people who open your eyes to possibilities you never knew existed. With its attention-grabbing description, Landline became one of my most anticipated 2014 novels. Not only that, it’s by the phenomenal Rainbow Rowell! I know for certain that I wouldn’t go wrong with a book written by her.

Giving readers a glimpse into married life, Landline illustrates the harsh reality of when a couple’s marriage is on the rocks. I’m not married yet (or even in a relationship) but this book contains everything a person could expect in a complicated marital situation. I wouldn’t expound more on this matter to avoid spoilers but here’s what I can say about the story:

Landline is a stark reminder that people are susceptible to being blinded by their desire to fulfill their passions in life. Hence, forgetting about the things that matter most like family and even their self. Does your life revolve on work alone? Sometimes we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “What is my reason for living?” There are people who love and care for us that we have taken for granted. Just because our family understands our determination to succeed doesn’t mean that everything’s fine that way. They also need us in their life because that’s what living is all about—devoting our time and sharing our life with the people we love. At the end of the day, family always comes first.

Main character Georgie McCool is wonderful. Realistic and vulnerable, readers could identify with her easily. My favorite features in Landline are the flashback scenes of Georgie and her husband (then boyfriend) Neal in college. Those give the novel a fresh YA feel that makes Landline even more entertaining to read. I actually didn’t feel the shift from YA to adult fiction because of that aspect. It was a totally genius idea to take readers to memory lane and relive the youthful and fascinating start of Georgie and Neal’s relationship. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is a winner, as usual—truthful and dynamic in form and essence. She is so amazing particularly in evoking happy, swoony feelings! I look forward to reading her future books!

Beautifully uplifting and legitimately remarkable, Landline is a novel that brims with hope, love, and lasting magic.

Rating:

4.5/5 stars

Book Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved BeforeTitle: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Publication date: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Source: Bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Book Store

Synopsis:

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review: 

As one of my highly anticipated contemporary YA novels this year, I literally snagged a copy of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before as soon as it’s available at our local bookstore. I read the book in three days and that was so far my fastest reading time. Did I like the book? Read my review to find out:

What fascinated me to read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is its unique concept. I’m a fan of old-fashioned things like love letters. I appreciate handwritten messages because the emotions feel more truthful. Moreover, things like those exhibit the time and effort a person has put into writing the love letter. The fact that you have in your hands the heart and soul of the person—as embedded on that piece of paper—makes it special.

Although I find the story a bit simple, I still enjoyed reading it. The romance, well, I wouldn’t really call it romance because it’s just “for show”. Lara Jean Song and Peter Kavinsky are a couple for reasons that are somewhat shallow and irksome. But interesting things happen halfway through the book as Lara Jean and Peter get to know each other better. They become comfortable in each other’s company, which is a good start in establishing a connection with someone. There are a few moments in the story where Lara Jean and Peter just have fun being silly and doing random stuff. They are so amusing!

Lara Jean’s sparkling wit and genuineness make her a commendable character. Her pleasant and effervescent aura attracts readers right away. I also liked Lara Jean’s great concern toward her Dad and little sis after big sister Margot leaves for college. I was not smitten with Peter Kavinsky at first. His I’m-cool-and-popular attitude made me expect him to be the kind of guy that regularly falls in the “elitist” category of a high school social hierarchy. But Peter scratched off that notion when he and Lara Jean started to be “together”. The way he relates with Lara Jean’s little sister, Kitty, is so endearing! He’s a good friend and is like a big brother to her. And the little things he does for Lara Jean such as giving notes, helping her bake cupcakes, and buying her donuts are totally heart melting. Turns out that Peter K’s a sweetheart after all!

An ideal novel for diversity in young adult literature, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before greatly captures a Korean-American family’s lifestyle. As an Asian, reading something like this makes me proud of who I am. The story illustrated nothing but authenticity of the family’s relationship—their closeness, daily routine, and the proper upbringing of the Song girls. Everything’s believable and purely honest.

Jenny Han’s writing is straightforward—nothing fancy, just real. Her words are thoughtful and the sincere tone resounds until the end of the book. The author’s writing style significantly contributed in shaping the personalities of the characters, making them appear natural and easy to connect with.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a light contemporary YA deliciously glazed with charming cleverness and warm fuzzy feels that leave you craving for more.

 

Rating:

4/5 stars

ARC Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Untitled-1Title: Being Sloane Jacobs

Author: Lauren Morrill

Publication date: January 7, 2014

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 352

Source: e-ARC via Edelweiss / Finished copy bought from Fully Booked

Purchase the book: Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository / Fully Booked

Synopsis:

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads 

My review: 

Being Sloane Jacobs is about two girls with the same name who both want to escape their complicated lives. One day, figure skater Sloane Emily Jacobs and hockey player Sloane Devon Jacobs bump into each other at a hotel in Montreal. Upon discovering that they’re both going to skating camp (Sloane Emily) and hockey camp (Sloane Devon), they grab the chance to live an unfamiliar life and decide to switch places.

Fresh, witty, and honest, Lauren Morrill’s writing would charm its way to anyone who reads her stories. Her words sound natural and effortless. Authentic emotions drip from her characters’ voices that explain how simple conversations become meaningful.

Adorned with relatable characters and plausible situations, Being Sloane Jacobs certainly won’t disappoint. This novel truly encapsulates the ups and downs of teenage life—falling in love, fitting in, family drama, low self-esteem, and a string of other teenage obstacles. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon each have interesting thoughts. Every chapter carefully describes the lives of both characters showing elements that make them different from each other yet so much alike. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon’s lives blend well together so their switch makes perfect sense. Moreover, the alternating POVs offer fresh and exciting adventures. Having said that, reading this book was a lot of fun! The romance is appealing especially that of Sloane Emily and Matt. I swooned over Matt’s sweet words and good looks. Such a lovable, charming guy!

Aside from the delightful things I mentioned, I also find Being Sloane Jacobs an inspiring read. The story conveys that getting out of a person’s shell leads to becoming a better version of one’s self. Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon both have varied interests. And with their switch, they are challenged to try something new—something way out of their comfort zone. The outcome? Both girls discovered they could do things they never thought they could. It’s really just a matter of being fearless to welcome change. Well, you never know until you try, right?

A cheerful, entertaining novel, Being Sloane Jacobs characterizes a story that is worth reading. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a light and amusing contemporary YA experience.

Rating:

4/5 stars

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlTitle: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publication date: September 10, 2013

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Source: Copy provided by the publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!) / Bought at Fully Booked

Purchase the book:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble Book Depository / Fully Booked / National Bookstore 

Synopsis: 

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

*Photo and synopsis from Goodreads

My review:

Fangirl is an extraordinary, funny, and heartwarming story of love, fan fiction, family, and self-discovery. The story’s fresh and exceptional concept sets it apart from other contemporary YA novels I read in 2013. Euphoria vibrated all over my body every time I turned a page. I savored every word of this book, never wanting the story to finish. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is so authentic, honest, smart, and filled with warmth. Her words are alive. Emotions surged from every chapter and carried me away to the land of amazing feels.

The plot is well developed and very engaging. This book thoroughly illustrated what it’s like to be engrossed in a fictional world, and yes, being a fan. My fellow bookworms, you MUST read this book to understand what I’m saying. You have to feel to believe. Reading Fangirl unlocked memories of my grade school days when I wrote fan fiction with my best friend. We both enjoyed writing stories set in the world of the book series we loved. We didn’t want to leave the fictional world and what’s the best way to stay than to write our own stories!

Fangirl may be centered on main character Cath’s love for fan fiction but that’s only the surface. Beneath all the fuzzy feels lie realistic issues that Cath goes through—college life, family problems, social anxiety, and matters of the heart. It’s fascinating how a story can be so much more that what it seems to be. I suppose that’s the magic of reading a Rainbow Rowell book. Readers are surprised in beautiful, unexpected ways.

Cath’s character is so real. Readers are sure to connect with her from the beginning. Although Cath started out as withdrawn and a bit awkward, she evolved into a better version of herself in the course of the story. Moreover, I greatly admire how Cath is such a family-oriented girl. For me, that’s her character’s strongest trait. Her love for her Dad and twin sister, Wren, is precious.

Then there’s Levi, Cath’s love interest. He is an adorable guy who exudes a positive attitude and is very friendly. He is always there for Cath and will do anything for her. Cath and Levi’s romance is charming and genuine. Seeing their friendship blossom into something more is a priceless kind of bliss. My heart melted with Levi’s romantic gestures as well as he and Cath’s swoon-worthy conversations. I have no words. Really, guys. Everything’s just…perfect.

Each of us has a spark inside our being. To make that spark shine brighter, we have to open ourselves to the possibilities around us. Try new things! Be brave to step out of our comfort zone. That’s what this story is about. Once again, Rainbow Rowell crafted a delightful story that certainly altered my perception of a perfect contemporary YA.

Rating:

5/5 stars