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)

adventure · fantasy · paranormal

Review: Poison Study

Author: Maria V. Snyder
Series: The Chronicles of Ixia

Summary from Goodreads:

Choose: A quick death and hell or slow poison and hell.
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Comments:

Actual rating is 4.5

It all started out with Yelena’s chance for a new life.

I love the setting the of the story. I was never into fantasy or magic, but somehow this novel made me reconsider. The pace of the story was slow, with memories of Yelena strewn along the pages. As the big picture was slowly presented, I was able to empathize with Yelena for the choice she made. The themes of loyalty, betrayal, thirst for power, and even romance worked together to create this intriguing novel. I have to agree that this is a welcome break from the usual YA.

I love the characters in the story. They were realistic in their reactions to different situations presented to them. Yelena’s distrust and survival instinct came because of all the harsh experiences she had. Valek’s loyalty to the Commander was also explained. There was Rand who was torn by his good nature and debt. The evil characters were driven by their lust for power and greediness to the extent destroying other people. The only confusion I got was from the Commander’s past which was actually weird for me.

I was a bit disappointed with the romance between Yelena and Valek. Although it was very obvious that Valek liked her, I’m not sure how Yelena came to reciprocate the feeling. Maybe it was because she finally decided to trust him by recounting her past but I am unconvinced. I feel like all she views Valek as a protector and a teacher, which somehow leveled up to be a lover. Again, that’s just my opinion.

Will definitely read the next book in the series when I have a copy!

My Rating: ★★★★ (4.5)

adventure · fantasy · middle-grade

Review: Wish You Weren’t

Author: Sherrie Petersen

Summary from Goodreads:
Marten doesn’t believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn’t expect it to make any difference.

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

The thing I absolutely love about this book is that it is so relatable. As the oldest of four, I know what it is like to be blamed for your younger siblings’ actions. You know that feeling when you just can’t believe your parents always seem to side them even though it’s not your fault? Yes, that is exactly what our boy Marten’s sentiments are. The pesky little brother always gets away with everything. So, out of all that rage and frustration, there is one solution left – wish that his younger brother weren’t here.

If I loved the idea, you might ask why the three stars? I think I didn’t really but that part about the shooting star. It became confusing for me because of the lack of explanation for everything that is happening. There are some ends which weren’t neatly tied together like that time when Susan accidentally teleported with them. She just went on with her life like nothing happened.

Really nice concept and good values for being appreciative of our siblings. I think children will better understand how it is to be more patient and loving to each other.

My Rating: ★★★ (3)

fantasy · romance · sci-fi

Review: The Vanishing Girl

Author: Laura Thalassa

Summary from Goodreads:
Every night after Ember Pierce falls asleep, she disappears. She can teleport anywhere in the world—London, Paris, her crush’s bedroom—wherever her dreams lead her. Ten minutes is all she gets, and once time’s up, she returns to her bed. It’s a secret she’s successfully kept for the last five years. But now someone knows.

A week after her eighteenth birthday, when frustratingly handsome Caden Hawthorne captures her, delivers her to the government, and then disappears before her eyes, Ember realizes two things: One, she is not alone. And two, people like her—teleporters—are being used as weapons.

Dragged off to a remote facility where others like her live, Ember’s forced to pair up with her former captor, Caden, to learn how to survive inside until she can escape. Only Caden’s making escape seem less and less appealing.

But even as Ember falls for the boy who got her into this mess, she knows that she is running out of time. Because the government has plans for those like her, and those plans might just cost Ember her life.

Comments:

I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest feedback.

From someone who isn’t usually into fantasy and science fiction, 4 stars is saying a lot. One of the things that I really liked is its power to engage me from the beginning. There is kind of a mystery feel to this book because it warrants so many answers yet to be discovered. However, even upon finishing, there still remains the confusion on who is the enemy, or who should be trusted. Twisted right?

Character-wise, Ember can be cool or irritating but due to alterations, it seems she can’t be blamed. I was a bit skeptical with the love story because again there’s the case of insta-love but at least was a bit played down. Caden just had to be perfect in every way as with other book boyfriends. o_o

I also liked how luck wasn’t always on Ember’s side just like how it seems with other plots. It was a plus that she was caught. I’d seriously be rolling my eyes if she wasn’t considering the government are supposed to be watching. I’d be watching out for the next installment and hope it’ll be awesome as well!

My Rating: ★★★★ (4)

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)

action · adventure · animation

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Summary from IMDb:
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Comments:

Baymax: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?

I love, love this movie! Funny, heartwarming, and clever at the same time! Who knew nerds could be super cool? And that robots could be the future of health care, or San Francisco would blend perfectly with Tokyo?

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Seriously, if you haven’t watched this, you are missing out a lot!

My Rating: ★★★★★(5)