contemporary · death · realistic fiction

Review: Tease

Author: Amanda Maciel

Summary from Goodreads:

Provocative, unforgettable, and inspired by real-life incidents, Amanda Maciel’s highly acclaimed debut novel Tease is the story of a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide. With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment–and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Comments:

It is interesting to note the inspiration behind this story.
Nine Massachusetts teens were indicted Monday for driving a pretty 15-year-old “new girl” from Ireland to suicide in a case that has become a symbol of high school bullying.

The sweeping charges – which come after months of complaints that the bullies weren’t being punished – include statutory rape, violation of civil rights with bodily injury, criminal harassment and stalking.

Phoebe Prince, a new arrival at South Hadley High School from a tiny seaside hamlet in County Clare, was mercilessly tormented by a cadre of classmates later dubbed the “Mean Girls” by Massachusetts newspapers.
– From NY Daily News, March 2010

This book is a reminder that bullying is real and its effects can be ugly.

I rated this 3 stars because it was a bit lacking. We view the guilty party as shallow and immature but we weren’t really able to see the whole picture. What was this “pain” that Emma had? Why was she always transferring schools? Did the boys really sleep with her or was that just for show? We didn’t really know who Emma was. To what extent really were her faults?

I’m glad the ending was a bit of redemption for the book. I really like how Sara thought about Brielle and what she could have done better to be a good friend. Although she felt sorry in the end, her actions remain unjustified and should serve as a caution for us to be less judgmental of others.

“Don’t add silence to your list of regrets.”

My Rating: ★★★ (3)

contemporary · young adult

The Minnow

Author: Diana Sweeney

Summary from Goodreads:
Tom survived a devastating flood that claimed the lives of her sister and parents. Now she lives with Bill in his old shed by the lake. But it’s time to move out—Tom is pregnant with Bill’s baby.

Jonah lets her move in with him. Mrs Peck gives her the Fishmaster Super Series tackle box. Nana is full of gentle good advice and useful sayings.

And in her longing for what is lost, Tom talks to fish: Oscar the carp in the pet shop, little Sarah catfish who might be her sister, an unhelpful turtle in a tank at the maternity ward. And the minnow.

The Minnow is a moving and powerful coming of age story with a whimsical element that belies the heartbreaking truth of grief and loss. Tom is a character you will never forget.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

Unlike other reviews on this story, I honestly found it boring and dragging. Although I admit it was a unique story, I wasn’t really sure where it was headed. It mostly was about Tom, pregnant at a young age, lost her family in the flood, talks to animals and the dead. While reading, I was just not getting it. What is it that the writer wants me to know or to learn? Is it about the realities of life? Is it about overcoming difficulties? Is it supposed to be about dealing with grief and loss? If it is one of these, it kind of missed the mark.

One thing that turned me off was the story flow. It seems like there was a situation being played out here, but suddenly inserting another different thought, abruptly ending the previous one, only to be continued later. That made me confused, but ultimately made me bored. I thought using “the Minnow” as a way to call her child was clever, along with the words that Tom learns passed along to the readers. However, those are a few of the things that amused me.

My Rating: ★★ (2)

contemporary · romance · young adult

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Author: Kody Keplinger

Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Comments:

Okay so I was intrigued with this book because I saw the trailer of the movie coming out next year. I heard a lot of good things about this book too, but with all honesty, it wasn’t much to my liking.

There are a lot of stereotypes in this book – yep typical high school. Main character Bianca was such a hypocrite most of the time but I got to hand it to her for realizing that in the end. She is just so full of contradictions, lies a lot, hates almost everything, makes excuses about needing a distraction, . She has a lot to say about other people, but doesn’t even stop to think about things she’s been doing.

What is exactly honest about this book? What is it trying to say? Probably that teens have a lot of raging hormones.

“And you, darling, are the Duff.”
“Is that even a word?”
“Designated. Ugly. Fat. Friend,” he clarified. “No offense, but that would be you.”

My Rating: ★★ (2)

contemporary · drama · mystery · worst reads

One Moment

Author: Kristina McBride

Summary from Goodreads:
This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party. She remembers climbing the trail with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below–dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

The latest novel from the author of The Tension of Opposites, One Moment is a mysterious, searing look at how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you.

Comments:

I was so happy to reach the final page of the story. I thought it would never end. I hate giving up on books with hopes that the story would miraculously saved itself from my distaste. One Moment though failed to deliver.

The beginning was exciting; it’s just another fine day for Maggie and her friends till she gave in to a dare. Joey, her “supportive” boyfriend accompanied her up the trail to jump from the cliff. Suddenly, there was a shift in the air, shouting, and Maggie doesn’t remember a thing. What really happened that resulted to Joey’s death? I realized that what kept me going for the most part are the answers. I bet without the air of mystery, this book will be dead. Even though the answers were already revealed, I can’t believe how it dragged on and on and on.

Part of the book dealt with issues on fidelity in relationships. I just can’t believe how these group of kids, professing to be the closest of friends, have big secrets that true friends shouldn’t have tolerated or even made in the first place. I don’t think they understood what friendship was about. Again, an irritating part of the book concerns Maggie, who despite being so slow and annoying, was again the love interest of the boys. Sounds familiar?

And the ending? Uggh, don’t even get me started on that. It goes something like this.. “Yeah my boyfriend just died, and then Adam professed his love. So I’m moving on because I realized it is Adam whom I truly love. Yay, happily ever after for me.”

My Rating:

contemporary · new adult · romance

Brave (The 12 NA’s of Christmas)

Author: Zoe Dawson
Summary from Goodreads:
In the season of hope, in the season of giving…

How far would you go for your friend?

Alissa Thompson has been the good girl her whole life. Her uninterested parents don’t understand her hopes and dreams. But this Christmas when her steadfast childhood friend Charlie needs her more than ever, she can’t back down. Crossing the line means being braver than she has ever been in her life. It means changing and growing and taking a stand.

Dakota Gray was brave in the face of debilitating fear. But he lost himself in that blood soaked day and has shunned everything he once knew. Now shattered and broken, he hides out in isolation, his wounds beyond healing. His heart closed, his emotions buried, he’s a man on the edge of self-destructing. Little does he know that courage would be found in another searching for the strength to be brave.

Now snowbound in the Colorado Rockies one week before Christmas, Alissa thought this was about her journey and her friend, about setting him free. But from the moment she meets Dakota, she learns about what real bravery is all about. What real love is all about. But is the season enough, her courage enough, her love enough to heal this hero’s brave heart and in the end set herself free?

Date finished reading: April 02, 2014

Comments:

I received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

I wonder where I found the strength to finish this. I’ve put it down a lot of times because I was really bored as it dragged on. I have no idea what to expect with this, but the cover caught my eye, and that was one of the very few things I appreciated in this book.

The whole story revolved around two characters – Dakota and Alissa, described physically perfect which was one of the major cliche factors. Both have a dark past they willed to hide, but slowly opened up through conversations and a lot of sexual tensions along the way. I have to admit that I was confused when the story began, but that turned to annoyance and even boredom before even reaching chapter 5. Things were so unreal. Can you imagined how the universe must have conspired for their paths to cross? How lucky for Alissa that Dakota was even a healer? In just a matter of few days they were changed into what they thought was impossible – creatures in the path of moving on. Alissa was described as one having compassion, but seriously she was just lusting most of the time. There was even a part when Dakota was opening up and Alissa was just kissing him (to bring him back to reality or more of taking advantage?)

Most of the time, they just held back from their lust, which Dakota attributed to the demons inside of him (and they appear every so often in the book). I think they should have just succumbed to the call of the flesh so this book would have been over sooner! Or, better yet, the author should have just stopped dragging it on since the story was predictable anyway. That was just 118 pages but seriously felt like forever! I’m happy that with their new resolve to be brave, but other than that, there was nothing else I’ve appreciated 😦

My Rating:

contemporary · fantasy · young adult

John Dreamer

Author: Elise Celine
Series: John Dreamer #1
Summary from Goodreads:
Andy wasn’t usually sure about much, but she was absolutely certain this was the weirdest day of her life as she stood stranded in the middle of a great white room with six strangers. Well, they were mostly strangers. She could have sworn she’d seen the guy with the green eyes before, and maybe that was why he kept staring at her.

When a man calling himself the Guardian appeared and said they had come to make their deepest dreams come true, they embark on an adventure none of them ever imagined, and the consequences of their actions would change them forever.

“John Dreamer” is the first in a series of books set in the confines of the Great White Room.

Date finished reading: March 10, 2014

Comments:

I received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

I was disappointed with this book because I initially thought that the story idea had a lot of potential. Seven teenagers just woke up to find themselves in a strange room without any recollection of how they got there. Each was unique in personality, but they soon found out that there were challenges to surpass and lessons to learn in order to achieve their potential.

The characters were underdeveloped. They were described by the narrator based on her opinions but we weren’t given any idea as to who they really were. They were each given an ordeal that they have to undergo and as they successfully face their fears, they disappear. It turned out that they accomplished something great because of these elaborate setups. They were fully aware though that this was imaginary in a way, yet they fall for it every time. Seriously? And then the stories seemed to revolved around Andrea or Andy, who was by far, the most annoying character in the book. She fell in love with John in just 8.5 seconds? I couldn’t believe that her perception of love was that shallow! Her thoughts – I let him take over my heart, my mind, my soul while they were kissing. Holy creepers!

And the other thing that I don’t get was Andrea’s ability to change the past. She was able to go back to her childhood regret and set things right. How lucky for her then! If only all of our regrets could be taken care of the same way.

The ending was so bad that I was shaking my head in frustration. John chose Andy over his father. He’d rather carry that grudge and be led to believe that his father didn’t care about them just so he can be with his dream girl. This whole book feels like a prologue rather than actually starting the story. I hope that the future books would contain more depth, better plot twists, and a better connection to the readers.

My Rating: ★★

chick lit · contemporary · young adult

The Truth About Forever

Author: Sarah Dessen
Date finished reading: March 04, 2014

Comments:

I’m usually selective when it comes to chick literature because it is not really my favorite genre. However, once in a while, I figured how nice it can be to read these type of books where life and love can be discussed and pondered upon.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. I found myself being able to relate to the lead character, Macy. It’s not that I lost anybody special; it was her being confined to this space where she needs to meet everyone’s expectations. It obviously wasn’t making her happy, but that power or having control and order made her feel safe. Change occurred when by some twist of fate, she became part of the Wish Catering Services. At first, it was only to give her comfort, but soon it became a window of escape leading to true happiness. That is when she began to understand that things just happen, nothing is perfect, and chaos is completely fine. What added to this breath of freedom was Wes who provided her with the meaning of true love.

I gained so much insight from reading this book. I learned that people tend to judge others based on their flaws, as if those contribute to making us less than who we are. But we are all flawed in some way, and the more we try to control everything, the more we also miss out on the opportunities life has to offer. I had to raise my eyebrows during that part where Jason was trying to ask Macy to write down a list of their expectations and goals for their relationship. SERIOUSLY, A LIST? I didn’t even know you could make a list for a relationship. Do those people really exist?

Highly recommended!

“It’s all in the view. That’s what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you’d better make every second count.”

My Rating: ★★★★★