23 March 2019

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (this is a long blog title!)



I was told that this is a feminist book I should read, one that I would wish existed when I was younger. And I find that it indeed is. 

I want to get this out of the way: Yes, Frankie could have been a better character overall. Her motivation to do what she did was admirable at first but then it escalated soon after. Frankie became too fixated on this one thing that may or may not be worthy of so much attention. At some point it made me question her thought process. Why does the club need to be taken down? Why not create a different one? And most importantly, is it truly unjust for her boyfriend to be keeping mum about his involvement in a secret society? I mean, yes, it's antiquated and they aren't exactly model citizens. So to a certain degree, I do believe that they needed to be put in their place. But to constantly be reminded of Frankie feeling upset for not being included or in the know became borderline annoying that it was hard to focus on the seriousness of her cause.

And her cause IS something to be discussed. I loved the commentary on unwritten societal norms and how women are boxed in gender stereotypes all the time, be it in obvious or subtle ways. It really highlighted what is wrong in the world today. Frankie plotted and pulled off pranks that eventually got the Alabaster community talking albeit only to a certain degree. I really enjoyed those parts of the book because the narrative was so alive and entertaining to no end. The witty, sometimes angry, banter between characters were also a huge factor to my enjoyment. 

Another reason why I liked this book is how Frankie learned through her romantic relationships. She started out with one that didn't go as far as falling in love, moved on to dating her ultimate crush and feeling quite elated by it, to eventually learning just what to look for in a partner. Her emotional growth is exactly the kind of growth that I frequently look for in young adult books. 

It delighted me to read Frankie because her story resonated with me. I've felt her frustrations in one way or another and I'm sure others have as well. Character faults aside, I can say that there's value in what the story was trying to get across. And I do hope that more people get a hold of this book to receive that message. 

22 March 2019

Cover Reveal for WE, THE WILDFLOWERS by L.B. Simmons



From USA Today bestselling author L.B. Simmons comes her first Young Adult novel, WE, THE WILDFLOWERS! Check out the beautiful cover! WE, THE WILDFLOWERS will be available on all retailers February 11, 2020!

"Their strength and ferocity stem from below the surface where their roots are forever tangled, interwoven in such a way that for the remainder of time they bloom together, and when winter finally prevails, they perish as one…until spring brings them to life once again."

Addict.

Suicidal.

Criminal.

Homosexual.

When four unruly teens land themselves at a home for troubled youths, they find solace in the unlikely friendships forged within its walls. Together they battle bullies, share the secrets of their harrowing pasts, and because of the hardships each has faced, vow to leave the world in a better place than they found it. But when unwelcome strangers enter the home, they experience the unthinkable. The bonds of friendship are tested as the four are splintered apart, only to be brought back together again to face yet another tragedy. Will they find strength enough within each other to survive? Or will their bonds be too fractured to heal them once again?

Add it to your Goodreads today!

19 March 2019

It's a Four out of Five for My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick



Forget the romance. It was great and all. Jase said all the right things at the right moment. Nothing over the top cheesy. Samantha took it all in like a sport, no unnecessary pushback for the sake of a plot. Really not much to say about it. I loved it. 

What I truly enjoyed about this book was the emphasis on FAMILY. Samantha and Jase had different family dynamics at home and they both faced them head on in spite of the unfavorable circumstances. 

I just love the fact that it all seemed believable. You know how sometimes authors just seem to enjoy throwing too many crappy situations at the characters to get from point A to point B? That wasn’t the case at all here. None of the conflicts seemed out of place. The story flowed beautifully. I was left feeling empty when I turned the last page. I want more of these characters!

Just when I thought I’m slowly becoming a YA snob, I come across this book. And I’m glad. My Life Next Door is a reminder that no matter how old I get, YA contemporary books will always be special to me.

17 March 2019

FRUSTRATING: Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi



I put myself through this. I willingly cracked open the sequel knowing fully that I didn’t enjoy the first book. I feel like I’m a glutton for punishment. 

I don’t understand why there were so many chapters dedicated to Juliette’s inner monologues. She’s a misunderstood girl with good intentions but with little to no control over her powers. And she feels horrible for everything she did. She just wants people to like her. 

Please! We get it! Move on! Time for some character growth! 

But it doesn’t happen. At least not until the very end of the book, which is just sad and pointless. If it was meant as a teaser for the third book then it came too late. Juliette spent way too much time feeling conflicted and sorry for herself. And I spent equally as much time hating her. 

And what is with the sudden Warner sympathy? In what world is being a murderous sociopath okay? (In THIS one apparently, doy!) Juliette tries to justify this by saying he’s never known good in his life so he can’t help who he is. OH MY GOD, STOP. Why are bad guys in love triangles given so much slack? Because you want them to be end game so bad? I would understand if Warner simply had an attitude, a teeny tiny bad streak. But noooo, he tortures people, kills them too. Giving his actions and his character way too much context to make him come out on top is pushing it too far and I hate that the author did this. What impression are we leaving young readers? That it’s okay to like extremely bad guys who hurt us (and others) because they had a rough upbringing? 

Newsflash: Voldemort also had a bad childhood but no one gives a crap. He’s evil. Plain and simple. 

What’s even more frustrating is that I had to read through pages of Juliette feeling confused over her feelings for Adam AND Warner. So much juicy conflict, right? Ugh, no. I honestly think that she only developed feelings for him because they’re both horrible people and Warner can’t die from kissing her. (Talk about meant to be!) The truth is that easy but yet again there were far too many pages making it less so. 

Then there’s the kind writing that Mafi used in this series. I thought I had gotten over it in Shatter Me but I realize that it’s been so long since I read it that I may have forgotten how annoyed I felt at that time. There’s the excessive use of “and” and em dashes (lots of stuttering!), the lack of punctuation (seriously, I feel out of breath just reading it in my mind), and the all too flowery descriptions that often times sound wrong. 

Perhaps the only light in this book for me is Kenji. He’s the most vibrant character in the book and probably the only sane person who drops truth bombs every time Juliette forgets to check herself. But given the many faults in this book, even though I want to, I can’t bump my rating up just for Kenji. If anything, Kenji’s presence may even be a reason why I’m rating the book so low. I feel bad that such an interesting character is wasted in this series, like he was trapped here with no way out. Life is so unfair, even for fictional characters. Sigh. 

The question is, given all that, am I still going to pick up the third book? The answer is YES. Because I have to. (Because I have no choice, I already have the book.) Because I want to see if it’s even worthy of books four to six. What started out as a trilogy is now being extended to SIX books. I know right? Do we really need more Shatter Me books? I’ll find out so you wouldn’t have to. You’re welcome. 

P.S. chapter 62 is overrated. There, I said it. 

15 March 2019

Audiobook Adventures: I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart



Highly entertaining. Not only did it effectively make me laugh, it also gave me a deeper insight into things like life, family, career as told by Kevin Hart. Who would've thought? Bonus: Kevin Hart narrated the audiobook himself. You're pretty much assured of comedy.