Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Recommendation: Wild - Hannah Moskowitz: Deafness and Bisexuality

In WILD, Zack wants to meet up with his online girlfriend, but has no idea that she's Deaf.
What intrigued me: Bisexual Jewish #ownvoices! Hardly any white people in the main cast! Deaf romance!

Hilarious and Authentic Romance

WILD has one of the most authentic teen voices I've ever encountered in YA. I'm super picky with contemporary romance, most of the time it's like pulling teeth for me, but not with WILD.

The combination of a great voice, teens who truly feel like teens, great humor, and diverse, non-white protagonists (Guatemalan/Jewish Deaf bisexual love interest and Filipino bisexual protagonist), make this one an absolute success for me. I couldn't get enough of WILD and read it super quickly. Despite being short, I feel like Moskowitz made the most out of this story and wrote a fast-paced, compelling, and adorable romance that will make you laugh out loud.
I can't emphasize enough how funny this is, I seriously had to pause sometimes, because I couldn't breathe. I can confidently say that I have never ever seen any author write believable chat convos between teens until I read WILD. Honestly, you guys, it's so good. Moskowitz writes teens a little dorky, a little dirty-minded, and 100% authentically. I'm so in awe. It hasn't been that long since I was a teen, but this is the first time I'm not painfully aware that this is an adult writing teens while reading chat convos and texts. Bless.

Deaf Culture and Organic Romance

While WILD is a romance at heart, it really shines more with the protagonist and side characters instead of being a straight-up romance. I didn't really feel like it's about Zack and Jordan getting to know each other or falling in love, because this is an established relationship and they've sort-of been dating since long before the events of the novel start. Zack and Jordan truly feel like people who genuinely enjoy each other as friends first and foremost, which is very rare to find in YA, and I'm all about this. This is as far from instant love and tropey romance as it gets. 

My favorite element and the one that you have to definitely prepare for when you're picking this up, is Deafness. It plays a really big role in WILD. I am not D/deaf, so I cannot speak for the accuracy of the representation, but it does feel like to me that Moskowitz put a lot of research into this: There are bit of bobs you'll learn about Deaf culture while reading and all signed conversations are written in <<>>. Zack and Jordan communicate either through sign language or texts. 

Signing plays a big role, too, because Zack starts learning ASL for her (and is terrible at it, which is just hilarious to read). A lot of the characters are either Deaf and/or signing, which is super refreshing and interesting. Again, can't speak for the accuracy of the rep, but I did learn a lot about Deaf culture that I didn't know before. WILD is unlike anything I've ever read, and an absolutely refreshing and fun delightful Deaf romance.




Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WILD is probably my favorite romance of 2017. Even if you don't like contemporary romances, give this one a shot, I beg you! Who can say no to a hilarious and adorable romance between a Deaf Guatemalan/Jewish bisexual girl and Filipino bisexual boy?

[If you're D/deaf and have reviewed this, I'd be happy to link your review! Let me know.]


Additional Info

Published: April 26th 2017
Pages: 228
Publisher: Amazon
Genre: YA / Romance
ISBN: B06ZZMBMVS

Synopsis:
"Zack Ramos is training for two things: being a parent to his twelve-year-old sister once his mother's early-onset Alzheimer's (the same kind he and his sister each have a 50% chance of developing--but let's not think about that) progresses too far, and running a one hundred mile race through the mountains of Tennessee. His support system is longtime girlfriend Jordan Jonas, who's sweet, sarcastic, and entirely virtual. They've been talking for years but still have never met in person. Because Jordan, it turns out, was still waiting for the right time to tell him that she's Deaf. 

The revelation brings them closer together, and Zack throws himself into learning sign language and trying to navigate their way through their different cultures. But with the stress of a tumultuous relationship, a new language, a sick mother, and his uncertain future, there's going to be a breaking point...and it might be out there in the Tennessee wild."(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any books by Hannah Moskowitz?



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Thursday, October 27, 2016

[Review] The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon: Diversity and Deportation

In THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, science geek Natasha and poet Daniel fall in love right before Natasha is supposed to get deported back to Jamaica.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Yoon's books, after the success of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.

Unique narrative style

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is an incredibly unique novel. From the beautifully emotional writing to the narrative style; the story is told from multiple POVs of random strangers the protagonists meet in the story. The chapters are all very short, five pages at most, and anything that isn't told from Natasha's or Daniel's POV reads more like a footnote than a continuation of the story. 

This may sound strange, but Yoon absolutely is able to pull this off seamlessly without interrupting the narrative flow. Through all those POVs we are presented with an eclectic view of Natasha's and Daniel's world that is truly entertaining to read about. It's especially noteworthy how effortlessly diverse her cast is and how pleasant and organic it feels to read about these two non-white teens falling in love.

However, aside from the fantastic world and the undoubtedly incredibly multi-faceted characters, there isn't really much to THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. We have the side plots involving Natasha's deportation and Daniel's worries concerning his future career path, but that's it. It truly reads like you're following these characters around, like the story is making itself up as it goes along.

Eccentric and Romance-Heavy

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR doesn't try to trick you into thinking that it's more than just a romance at any point. The story itself dabbles along but never quite deviates from the course; if there even is any to begin with. The lack of structure is evident very early on and irritated me, because I was expecting the side plots to grow more important and the romance to be more of a side plot.

Personally, I do like my contemporaries less on the romance-heavy side and more on the plot-driven side which is ultimately why I had a hard time concentrating and truly making peace with the lack of story. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is a very eccentric and unique novel that will ultimately be hit or miss for you.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is incredibly unique, incredibly well-written, and if you love romance, absolutely a novel that I'd recommend to you.



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 344
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA / Romance
ISBN: 9780553496680

Synopsis:
"Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read one of Nicola Yoon's books?

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Tropes I Dis/Like In YA Romance Novels | YA Talk


Especially YA romance is a genre full of cliche tropes that keep getting repeated over and over again until only the mention of said tropes makes you want to rip out pages and eat them. 

Not that I've contemplated doing that. Or have I

Then there are tropes that make you want to get legally married to a book. Not that I've contemplated doing that either


Here are some from both categories.






ALL THE LIKE 

5. Having The Talk With Your Boyfriend Instead of Your Parents
I don't think I've ever read about a guy and a girl discussing protection before they get it on. This right here is the cause of teenage pregnancy, my friends.

4. No Love Poems!
Teenage guys don't read love poems ... actually, I can't think of a single teenager that reads love poems. Or anyone for that matter ... also I don't understand how that makes a dude more attractive, but ok.

3. Realistic Portrayals In Terms of Looks
19-year-old boys aren't super muscly or manly. Most 16-year-old girls don't even have fully developed breasts. And most importantly, no 19-year-old would go for a 15-year-old like it's so common in YA novels. That 19-year-old who does decide to settle for the slightly younger girlfriend is most likely not insanely attractive and caring and loveable but also deep and bruding. Come on.

2. No, or late love confessions
Love is a complicated thing and especially when I'm reading about teenagers falling in love I don't want them to confess their undying everlasting love for each other after one novel. If so, it has to be written over a long period told-time. One way to make me instantly like your novel more is to just leave out the I love you.

1. Breaking Up
Yes, you read that right. Not all romantic relationships work. It's a fact. Why do people always have to end up together in a romance novel? That's not how life works. 

DISLIKE, ABSOLUTELY DISLIKE 

5. Super Celibacy
Let's face it, the one thing teenage boys want the most is to get laid. We've all been teenagers, let's not even try to protest against this. Guys who act oh so super mature and understanding when the girl isn't ready yet, are rare. Especially among 15-21 year olds. Show me that one teenage guy who'll wait for you until marriage and I'll show you my pet unicorn.

4. Stalker Boyfriends
It's not cute to have the guy wait at your door every evening. It's not cute to have him even break into your house and wait in your bedroom because he wanted to see you. It's not cute if he goes completely bonkers whenever another dude does as much as look at you. It's creepy. This guy belongs in jail.

3. Neglecting Your Friends 
The second the hot guy/girl comes around the corner, the friends are passé. Who cares about your best friend of 10 years when you've got a hot guy waiting for you at home? 

2. Ridiculous Eye Colours
"His eyes were so green, that kind of green that you only find in flowers blooming deep down at the bottom of the sea."
"His eyes were so blue, not sky-blue, but the blue the sky turns after a storm."
Don't. Brown's a fine eye colour, too, yet I can't recall ever having read a novel with a super hot love interest that didn't have a stupidly exaggerated eye colour. Stop.

1. Instant Love
Yes, I do understand that it's the easiest way to get the side romance plot out of the way and get on with other oh-so-dramatic things that are about to happen in your novel, young debut author. But come on, do you really want to read a novel about two people that instantly fall in love without knowing each other? This doesn't only portray a completely distorted image of Love, but also gives young readers the wrong idea of what to look for in a partner - looks.


What tropes would you like to banish from or welcome into this world?

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Monday, January 18, 2016

[Review] Landline - Rainbow Rowell


In LANDLINE, Georgie McCool gets a chance to fix her failing marriage by talking to her husband's past self through a magical telephone.
What intrigued me: I read both FANGIRL and CARRY ON by her. Plus, a magical realism(ish) premise always hooks me.

This isn't as upbeat and fun as I expected it to be


Actually it's a terribly sad and depressing read about a marriage that's falling into pieces. The premise absolutely tricked me. I expected a mind-blowing super cute time travel romance story, but it's more of a poorly executed unbelievable and annoying pseudo romance story. Rowell mainly uses flashbacks to establish character relations, which throws you off the current plot every single time. I couldn't even concentrate on the non-existent story.

Even as a novel about a crumbling marriage, this doesn't work. The husband Neal is basically absent the whole novel and by making him such an unusual character, Rowell perfectly manages to create the most unlikable person I have ever read about. His lack of appealing physical appearance isn't even the least of the problems, he's an emotionless, mean and equally as oblivious as Georgie kind of person. Neither of them act like mature grown-ups. I felt like I was reading about oblivious teenagers that can't manage to actually talk about their problems. I didn't enjoy any of this at all.

Very unlikable protagonist & A confusing storyline!

Georgie McCool is a TV comedy writer and stuck in a marriage that's just not working out, but she refuses to realize this. When it's Christmas time, she decides to stay at home and work and let her husband go off to their grandma's alone. Just thinking about the fact that she did this, you don't even need to read the novel to know that Georgie is an unlikable character. 

She is a 37-year-old woman, but has no sense of reality, maturity or in general self-awareness whatsoever. She's completely oblivious to her surroundings and it actually physically hurts to have to read about her mess up her marriage more with every page. In her world, everything is fine though.

I had a hard time concentrating on what was actually going on, because there are so many flashbacks and narrative passages that don't really bring the story forward. It's generally a poorly paced novel. The premise is supposed to be the magical telephone, but until page hundred, the telephone isn't even used. I might as well could have skipped the first fifty pages or so and would have still had the same reading experience. 


Rating:

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I wish I hadn't read this. This is definitely the last Rowell novel for me. If you haven't read anything by her before, don't start with this one.


Synopsis:
"Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside 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 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?"
(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any of Rainbow Rowell's other books?

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Monday, October 12, 2015

[Review] Don't Get Me Wrong - Marianne Kavanagh






"Don't Get Me Wrong" by Marianne Kavanagh is essentially about the relationship of the sisters Eva and Kim throughout the years. Eva's best friend Harry is always tagging along and constantly annoying Kim.
When Eva gets sick, Kim and Harry are forced to spend more and more time with each other.




Not a Light Read! This NOT Chick-Lit

It's a very tough book to rate. There is just something about Kavanagh's writing that sucks you in every single time. I just couldn't stop reading.
The thing with Kavanagh is that her books seem like cute little contemporary romances that you can read quickly and forget almost as quickly - but in reality they are so much more. Every other page there are sentences that make you want to put the book down and think about it for a while. I could impossibly just read this in a day. I found myself going back and forth all the time because I wanted to avoid overseeing something important. It's just insane how she casually throws in similes that leave you baffled all the time.
...

Again, the story is told over several years to establish the relationship between disillusioned socialist Kim and rich banker Harry.
What worked very well in "For Once in My Life" just isn't as charming in "Don't Get Me Wrong" anymore. I didn't like the time jumps and had a huge problem with the shifts in perspective. 

In general my biggest issue with this is that the novel absolutely lacks direction. I didn't feel like every scene contributed to bringing the story forward. Sometimes Kim would ramble on endlessly and lose herself in comparisons, and the next second there is a cut and you'll find yourself thrown into the next scene. While I do love Kim's rambles and snickered about her comments, this makes it very hard to follow the story. Just like "For Once in My Life", this is absolutely a character-driven book.

Great Character Dynamics!

While I'm not a fan of the pace, I loved the characters. I'm just a sucker for anything along the lines of hate turns into love. Smug Harry and sarcastic Kim, who just can't stop talking about how much she hates him, are a match made in heaven. Their relationship makes up for every other thing that I didn't like as much.
It's flat out hilarious how you can tell from the beginning that Kim has a giant crush on Harry. It's even funnier when you get to Harry's point-of-view and realize that isn't even aware how much influence he has on Kim. You just have to love these two.

The same goes for the relationship between Eva and Kim. I love how Kavanagh builds the novel on the premise that Harry and Kim have nothing in common aside from their unconditional love for Eva. It really translates in the writing.

Rating:

★★☆☆

Overall: Do I Recommend?

Witty, cozy, and heart-breaking. Kavanagh's characters steal my heart every single time.
When reading Kavanagh's writing, I always feel at home. The reason why I'm such a fan of her books is that I've never read anything like this before. Her style is completely unique.

I've recommended her debut "For Once in My Life" a lot to romance lovers, just because it stands out in the flood of cliché romance novels with characters that you'll forget very easily.

If you love romance and character-driven writing and aren't shy to try out something new, I'll recommend "Don't Get Me Wrong" to you as well. Even though this one lacks in pace, her characters will stay with you for a long time.


Additional Info

Original Title: Don't Get Me Wrong
Author: Marianne Kavanagh
Published: August 26th 2015
Pages: 352
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781925240559

Synopsis:
"Londoners Kim and Harry can’t see eye to eye…until the life of the person they both love most hangs in the balance. 

Kim has never grasped what her free-spirited big sister Eva sees in a stuck-up banker like Harry and has spent her childhood trying to keep him out, while Harry’s favourite occupation is winding Kim up.

Both Harry and Kim are too trapped in their prejudices to care about what’s really going on beneath the surface of each other’s lives. They’ll never understand each other—until the worst of all tragedy strikes.

Faced with the possibility of losing the person they both love most, long-buried secrets come to a head in ways that will change both Harry and Kim forever."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite romance novel?


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

[Review] This is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith

Headline Cover 2013



In "This is What Happy Looks Like" by Jennifer E. Smith, famous movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends an email to small town girl Ellie O'Neill.

They keep sending emails to each other for months. Ellie has no idea who her new online pen pal is - until Graham manages to move his new movie project to her home town to get an opportunity to finally meet her in person.


Sugary Sweet Romance

The premise of the famous superstar coming to a small town and falling in love with the average high school girl isn't very realistic - but it sure is fun to read. Smith has an insanely entertaining writing style. I didn't even notice how quickly the pages flew by.

Graham and Ellie have an established relationship in the beginning of the novel. It's frequently mentioned that they have written to each other for months, when the reader in fact only gets to read about a handful of their email conversations. While I think the novel could have been better had the relationship just begun in the beginning, I think Smith made the best out of it. Graham and Ellie genuinely seem like they have fallen for each other and it's really cute to see them interact.

Dual Narration: You're Doing It Right!

Usually I'm not a fan of alternating point of views and multiple narrators, especially not in romance stories.
For "This is What Happy Looks Like" it actually works, because there are two sides to the story. Smith makes sure to feed the reader with important details that fuel the plot through each switch of narration. This is the first time I've seen a dual narration work very well. I enjoyed Graham's narration way more than I did Ellie's. There is just something to the character of Ellie that makes her insanely unlikable to me.
Ellie didn't seem half as enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting a movie star than every other teenage girl. She just overall seems absolutely indifferent to the whole thing. Maybe that's part of why Graham is initially smitten with her, but to me that's just not realistic. I didn't like Ellie for her whole sense of unbelievableness. First she really doesn't care that a movie star fell for her, then she has no intentions of reconnecting with her friends, and lastly she has absolutely no common sense. She's just a very exhausting character to read about.

Random, Unnecessary Side Plot

In general the story has a very rocky start. The whole mistaken identity hook is wrapped up way too quickly and I feel like a lot of funny passages got lost there. What bugs me the most about the novel is that everything just works out to smoothly. There is no teenage drama, there are no authority figures actually trying to break them up.
The attempts of Ellie's mother and Graham's manager are very, very lax. it could have made a super interesting side plot to have someone try to break them up (maybe use Quinn in the process? What was the point of her character by the way?). I feel like along the way Smith just lost the sense for plot. Having Ellie try to meet her father is just unnecessary and elongated the story for a very unlikely reason.
All in all, I did enjoy reading this, but I'll forget it very soon. "This Is What Happy Looks Like" is a cute summer read, but that's it.

Rating:

★★★☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had fun reading this, but I doubt it will stay with me for a long time. I love the beachy and summery vibe and the love story is alright, but it's nothing out of the ordinary. If you're looking for light literature, this is it.


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?"
(Source: Goodreads)

The Series

This is What Happy Looks Like (#1)
Happy Again (#1.5)


Additional Info




Original Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Published: July 2nd 2015
Pages: 368
Medium: Paperback
Publisher: Carlsen
Cover: Carlsen, 2015.
Genre: YA / Romance 
ISBN: 978-3-551-31413-0

This Is What Happy Looks Like on Carlsen

(pictured above: Carlsen 2015 Cover)



Recommended for Fans of:

  • "Starcrossed" by Josephine Angelini
  • Small town love stories
  • Beachy reads
  • Celebrity meets Average Girl stories

What's Your Favorite Summer Read?


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Sunday, June 21, 2015

I Hate Love Triangles | YA Talk


Either you love them or you hate them.
Eventually every reader of YA will come across them. Love triangles seem to be trend that just won't get out of style.

What's a Love Triangle?
Love triangle commonly refers to the situation a protagonist of a novel finds themselves in when two different people are interested in them romantically.

Usually, the protagonist requites their affection or is in the process of learning to love them, hence leaving both love interest in competition with each other.

Some may say "Twilight" started it all, but I think we need to stop blaming Stephenie Meyer for everything that's going wrong in recent YA.

Popular Books about love triangles include
- "Delirium" by Lauren Oliver
- "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare
- "The Selection" by Kiera Cass
- "Shatter Me" by Tahereh Mafi

Books with love triangles usually play with the "bad boy" character and the "guy next door". I've noticed that more often than I'd like to admit, at least one of them is a super problematic villain. Not sure how that makes any guy attractive though.

Here's What Bugs Me

Love triangles in theory are absolutely fine. If you're looking for them. If you love reading about them, great, but I'm just not. The market these days is FLOODED with hidden love triangles. Most of the times you can't even tell from the blurbs whether the books are all about the romance and only feature the actual topic of the book on the side.
which I am absolutely not. Love triangles never have and probably never will be something that I'm personally interested in.

I've encountered it numerous that I've tried to read a book, let's say, about angels descending their heavenly wrath on the Earth, only to find out that the novel is actually about a teenage girl falling in love with an angel and a demon (any relations to existing books are just coincidental).

This has ruined the reading experience for me so many times. Had I gone on looking for a love triangle and a girl stuck between the evil overlord and the brave hero, I would have bought a novel about that.

Every popular YA novel these days features a love triangle.

Realism? What is Realism?

If you'd live in a dystopian society where every day is a struggle for survival, your number one concern would probably not be which one of the super hot two guys you should choose. I mean, these days it's a miracle if you find a guy that's attractive, smart and respects you, let alone two! If you're seventeen, cut the odds in half.

Here's What I Demand!

There should be something like ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) ratings for book romance like:
- N for no romance
- E for established romance
- X for multiple love interests
While I'm at it, there should be a rating for instant love, but I guess we can't have it all at once. I just want to be warned before I get invested in a book and then get drowned in love triangles. I actually did encounter novels with multiple love triangles, god knows why.

Do you like love triangles? 
Which novel do you think has portrayed them the best so far?


More YA Talk:
15-year-old Protagonists Confuse Me 
Mary Sues and Why We Need More of Them 
Instant Love and Why It Ruins Everything 
Hey Authors, Why Is LGBTQ Representation So Hard? 
I Fall For Problematic Love Interests 
Are Diverse Characters and Representation Unnecessary?

See All
Continue Reading...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

[Review] Loving - Katrin Bongard

In LOVING, book blogger Ella has to do a school project with the hottest boy in her year. It doesn't really help that her best friend Zoe is in love with the school womanizer Luca as well. 

A Book Blogger Portrayed Accurately, Hallelujah!

I love how smoothly and fittingly Bongard incorporates Ella's pastime blogging hobby. I've only ever read one novel starring a book blogger before and in that one, it didn't even play a role for the plot. It absolutely makes sense for Ella, the introverted book nerd, to do this and to prefer it to going to parties and going out in general.
It's so fun to find all the things that we are concerned with in the novel, even accompany her to a major book expo! She's a thoroughly well-developed and absolutely believable character and her being "one of us" makes it even twice as remarkable that Bongard pulled it off realistically. In general her characters don't really seem to act their age.

Especially Ella is very mature and down-to-earth and even the so-called teenage meltdowns she has regarding Luca don't even seem dramatic enough. High schoolers don't keep it together and are always quiet and collected like her. I would have loved more major drama that really gets ugly, because that's what high school is like. Luca and Ella seem like new adult characters in college to me. I recall that some people have even labelled this a New Adult novel. I don't really agree, it's set in high school and the language is comparable to Middle Grade, so it's somewhere inbetween and a mash-up of all three genres.

Problematic Character Development

During the course of the novel protagonist Ella goes through the typical ugly duckling transformation which ends in her being the object of desire for a lot guys. I'm not a fan of that. I know that in reality high school boys are that superficial and will start to notice girls the second they take off their glasses and dress a little more extravagant - however, does this really have to be the topic of a novel for teenagers? I would have loved this way more if Bongard left out the whole lasik surgery thing and the makeover and just made Luca fall in love with Ella for her personality. Maybe he does fall in love with her because of who she is, but he would have never been interested in her in the first place, had she not become a swan.

The way that Ella develops in the novel and completely turns her habits inside out (starting to do sports, makeover, extroversion) doesn't make her sympathetic and frankly, it doesn't give off a positive vibe for teenage readers her age. You don't have to live up to society's expectations to be happy and fall in love. That's exactly what the novel advertises for - change everything about you and the hottest boy in school will like you - yay.
To me, that's a very problematic view point. However, if we're not talking about deep matters and all, I can fairly say that I enjoyed this novel a lot. I read it really quickly because of the easy writing style and because I loved that Ella is a book blogger and talks about the little things we bloggers worry about a lot.

Rating:

★★


Overall: Do I Recommend?


LOVING is absolutely not what I expected and that's a good thing. It's a cute, quick, but probably easily forgettable read. It's nice if you're a blogger yourself and one of those books you can read over and over again when you're on a vacation. It's beachy somehow, it's light and it's entertaining. Well-deserved four stars and a recommendation to all you book bloggers out there.


Synopsis:
"Ella's not really into the party scene at her school; she'd rather read or blog about books. When her best friend Zoe starts crushing on Luca, the school Casanova, she can't understand it... until she gets to know him better and discovers that he's not just hot, he's also intelligent and sensitive. How could a person not fall for him?"

Have You Read A Novel Featuring A Book-Blogging Character Before?

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

[Recommendation] For Once in my Life - Marianne Kavanagh




In FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, Tess and George are destined to be with each other, but first have to find each other. If you listen to what their mutual friends say- they're soulmates.

Even though they've shared several paths in life, gone to the same school and live in the same city, they have never met. Their friends try to set them up multiple times over the years, but something always comes up.

When they do eventually meet, Tess' theory that everyone has a soulmate somewhere out there is put to the ultimate test.


A Sense of Calmness 

Some books just have a certain emotion or feeling tied to them.
In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER I felt like I was sitting in the cold snow the entire time without her actually doing anything to give the reader that sensation. In "For Once in My Life" Kavanagh gives the reader a feeling of calmness, almost one of comfort. Her writing is very, very pleasant and not intrusive or pushy.

It's perfect for that kind of story; a calm, sweet romance story that just makes you want to crawl inside the book and cuddle everyone in it.
I didn't like that Kavanagh decided not to structure the novel in too much detail and didn't put the happenings in chapters. Sometimes there are cuts that seem very random and I found myself wondering how much time had passed inbetween the paragraphs. I'm not a big fan of changing the point-of-view mid-chapter, but if you don't have chapters, it's inevitable.

Amazing Character Building  and Development

Tess is a vintage enthusiast that loves 40s style clothing and whose biggest dream is to open up a secondhand clothing business. She's a very smart, but nervous person and overall just a sweetheart. It's impossible not to like her. The group of friends she surrounds herself with are as diverse as they are entertaining and it's just pleasant to go through her everyday life.

George is an aspiring musician who dreams of his band making it big eventually. Things don't always go well for him, because in contrast to Tess, he knows exactly what he wants in life. I loved all his band mates, who are again diverse and interesting characters with all their own stories and motivations.
With all characters in the novel you can tell that there was a lot of work into developing them and making them as realistic as possible. I could tell you stories from the top of my head about every single character and what they would or wouldn't do, which just makes the novel overall very, very realistic, life-like and interesting.
...

The plot sometimes drags, but that's inevitable if you're telling someone's whole life in a contemporary novel. There isn't necessarily always something interesting happening and there is indeed some filler, but that just contributes to the realisticness. Never did I have the impression that the novel was boring me or stalling time. I would have hated the idea of Kavanagh deliberately putting unnecessary drama into the novel just so there's more action.

Despite the lack of actual happenings, I was very much entertained and I read the novel pretty quickly and enthusiastically.


Rating:

★★★½

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

A wonderful novel. It's impressive for a debut and I'm stoked on reading more of Kavanagh's work. Love the writing voice, the story idea and the marvelous character development.

You won't want to put this novel down. A clear recommendation.


Additional Info



Published: February 16th 2015
Pages: 384
Cover: Blanvalet, 2015.
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 978-3-442-38389-4


  Synopsis:
"Everyone has a soul mate... but what if you never find each other?

Meet Tess. A vintage clothes–obsessive, she’s trapped in a frighteningly grown-up customer relations job she loathes. Still, she’s been dating the gorgeous accountant Dominic since university, and has a perfectly lovely flat, which she shares with her best friend, Kirsty. But if her life is so perfect, why does she tear up whenever anyone mentions her future?

Meet George. He’s a brilliant jazz musician who spends almost as much time breaking up fights between his bickering band mates as he does worrying about his ailing father and living up to his stockbroker girlfriend’s very high expectations. For a guy who has always believed in romance, the grim practicalities of twenty-something life have come as something of a shock. Seemingly always on the verge of a big break, he’s looking for something more...something special.

They just might be two halves of one perfect whole. Now, if only they could manage to cross paths...

Follow Tess and George through a decade of bad dates, chaotic dinner parties, magical birthdays, dead-end jobs, romantic misalliances, and lots of starting over. For Once in My Life is a charming and intelligent modern comedy of manners, friendship, and missed connections
"

Do you believe in soulmates and the like? 

Do you like reading about them?

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

[Review] Stay with Me (Wait for You #3) - J. Lynn




In STAY WITH ME, Calla tries to track her mother down that owes her money and ends up staying in her hometown. There she meets Jax, the new manager of her mother's bar Mona's and hopelessly falls for him.

The Success Formula Strikes Again

J. Lynn seems to have a very clear success formula: Shy Girl + Dramatic Backstory + Hot Guy with Helper Syndrome. STAY WITH ME reminds me a lot of the first novel WAIT FOR YOU, even though it stars different protagonists and features a completely different story:

Calla is a rather introverted 21-year-old virgin who hasn't had any significant experience with men. She's supposed to have no idea about relationships and no experience, but in the novel all she does is think about Jax in a not so subtle way. It's hard to believe that this girl who's constantly making sexual comments in her head, is actually a inexperienced virgin. The authenticity of her as a character is just completely off, I didn't believe her anything for a second. 

Jax is a super attractive bartender that makes all girls' jaws drop. Of course he's interested in her immediately, despite her alcoholic mother and despite that gigantic scar she has on her left cheek. He's not an original character. He's a stock Gary Stu, the dream of every girl's fantasy: The insane attractive, well-built, smart and caring guy that is not just interested in you because you're pretty. 

Wait, Haven't I Seen This Before?

You can read this novel without knowing anything about the series. It can be seen as a standalone. Characters from previous novels make quick cameos, but you don't necessarily have to have read them and know the characters to understand their significance for the plot. Hint: There is none.

They don't know anything about each other, yet they are instantly smitten. Lynn rambles a lot in this novel. There is so much that could have bit omitted, so many little everyday things that the reader doesn't necessarily have to know. I found myself skimming page after page, because I just didn't care and wanted something actually interesting to happen. It feels like the novel only revolves around the relationship of Calla and Jax and everything that doesn't involve these two is just random filler material. 


Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

No. In fact, I won't be continuing the series. Her New Adult novels don't seem like my cup of tea.

Both novels felt to me like the plot was going nowhere and were way too long. I had to force myself to push forward and finish this, hoping that it would get better. I was disappointed.



Synopsis:
"At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she'd left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.
"

Have you read a book from the series?

Did you like it?

Wait for You (#1)
Trust In Me (#1.5)
Be With Me (#2)
The Proposal (#2.5)
Stay With Me (#3)
Fall With Me (#4)
Dream Of You (#4.5)
Forever With You (#5)
Fire In You (#6) - See more at: http://thebookavid.blogspot.de/p/series-reviews.html#sthash.hoQX1lWH.dpuf
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

[Review] The Last Song - Nicholas Sparks: Summer Lovin', It Happened So Fast

In THE LAST SONG, Veronica "Ronnie" Miller discovers that not all men are bad. Especially rich volleyball players with tragic backstories that have no relevance to the plot whatsoever.

What intrigued me: This is clearly a random read just for fun. I loved the movie.

Typical Summer Read

This will probably be the first and last book I read by Sparks, not even because it's bad but because it's just such a summer read.

Summer, as in, I didn't feel like I got anything from this novel besides light entertainment. Loved Ronnie. Loved Steve, Ronnie's dad, but really didn't see anything interesting in neither Will, nor him and Ronnie as a couple. They just had absolutely no chemistry. 

From the beginning I did not care the slightest about love interest Will, he felt like a cardboard cutout in comparison to all the other wonderfully developed characters in this book. The fact that Sparks switches in POVs for basically no reason just makes it even more difficult to keep up with the characters and bond with them. Had I not had such an interest in Ronnie and Steve, I probably wouldn't even have finished this.

A novel this length has to be justified. The romance has to be right there and capture the reader, you're going to have to root for them big time to make it official and there should absolutely at no point be scenes that aren't bringing the story forward. Sadly, I felt like Sparks just tried to lengthen the story with random scenes that neither interest me nor help character development. He cuts the days into short little events, sometimes goes too long, sometimes adds unnecessary pages.

Strange POVs and An Übervillain

The forced antagonistic notion going out from Marcus' character is just unnecessary and he's a ridiculous pseudo-villain. He is just a bad person overall, is just evil through and through for evil's sake. Sparks just wants the reader to hate him, but by using such an obvious character as the bad guy, my dislike isn't necessarily envoked, I just get bored.

Another thing I have to mention is the peculiar writing style. Sparks is very inconsistent with his point-of-view passages and tells every chapter from another person's perspective. As a reader, this isn't only confusing but also makes it impossible to bond. Hell, I can't even tell you who the protagonist is supposed to be. In YA or romance I am not a fan of getting both lovers' perspectives, because it just makes everything too forseeable. We know from the beginning how the characters feel about each other and this just takes away the tension, and therefore also my interest. 
By having so many main characters the storyline gets blurred. It feels more like a way for Sparks to develop his characters than an actual novel that is supposed to be read like this. Essentially, this is a rough draft. Ronnie's and Will's relationship is insta-love-y to no end and I didn't bond with either of them. The twist is so painfully obvious that I can just shake my head.

Still, this isn't a bad book. It's just very, very light entertainment, you can read it without turning your head on. Sometimes you need books like this, even if you know it's not going to be a work of art.

Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you've already seen the movie, there's no need to read this. This is average entertainment without any original thoughts, characters or quotes. If you just want something light, go for it.

Rating: 

★★☆☆☆


Synopsis:

"Seventeen year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father… until her mother decides it would be in everyone’s best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. 

Ronnie’s father, a former concert pianist and teacher, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will become the centerpiece of a local church. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms – first love, the love between parents and children – that demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that deeply felt relationships can break our hearts… and heal them."

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Review] The Summer I Turned Pretty (#1) - Jenny Han: It All Comes Down To Beauty






In THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY, 15-year-old Isabel's entire life changes when she discovers one summer that she actually turned pretty. 


Toxic Mindset

The novel is set in your typical summer beach town and if I read another sentence like "this summer everything would change" or "this summer is the summer of a lifetime", I might roll my eyes so hard that they simply get stuck in the back of my head. 

I can't stand novels that give toxic vibes to teenagers. Having your main characters life suddenly become perfect and beautiful the second she grows boobs and looses her braces? Come on. We have enough of that in all those terrible high school romcom movies.

The Summer of Every Cliché Ever

There's every single cliche of a summer read in this novel, we have bonfires, parties, weird dudes to hook up with, jealousy and I wouldn't even be surprised if she gets blackout drunk in the last chapters and hooks up with one of the dudes. I didn't finish this one, because I honestly had to force myself.

Love interest Conrad is the only one that's halfway not boring me to death but he's just a walking cliche so I'm also conflicted about him. The dark, overprotective, super deep, guitar-playing older brother that Belly obviously crushes on. And he also thinks she's immature, that gets the party going. Like, so totally, because, like, so hot. Can you feel me rolling my eyes? I never understood why girls that age are so obsessed with dudes that think they're 12. I mean, she does act like she's twelve, so he has a point.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

The problematic thing about this novel isn't only the title - which I thought was a metaphor, else I would have never bought this - but also the toxic, toxic vibe.
  • You can't have fun if you're not pretty.
  • You can't have friends if you're not pretty.
  • Also pretty much everything sucks unless you wake up one day to a pimple-free face, C-cups and straight teeth.
  • Oh, and if you don't drink, you're a kid and you should go play with your barbies.

Let me tell you something: The second you're old enough to legally be able to do all the exciting stuff that Belly is dreading to do, you're going to want to do it. It's only exciting because it's forbidden. There's a reason it's forbidden, too.

I don't even want to imagine how many teenagers read this, sighing to themselves why they aren't as pretty as Belly and couldn't land all the hotties that are all about her. Absolutely toxic.




Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2009
Pages: 276
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA / Romance

ISBN: 9781416968238

Synopsis:
"Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along."
(Source: Goodreads)



 Have you read The Summer I Turned Pretty?

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

[Review] The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan


THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY tells the story of two people and how they fell in love. It's not a retelling of how they met but rather a collection of quick moments in their lives that, some more, some less, shaped them as a couple.

What intrigued me: David Levithan is my favorite contemporary writer!

Unique Format and Storytelling

Due to the fact that the story isn't told in a linear way, it is somewhat difficult to keep up with the story and it takes some getting used to. 

I rooted for the story to continue the traditional way, marriage, kids et cetera, but again Levithan stays far away from the norm. That's what I love about his novels, that he doesn't try but always ends up on the unconventional, unexplored pathways. The special thing about this novel isn't the fact that the two proatgonists remain nameless, but the format. It's told in dictionary entries. While this might sound extremely strange and make people back away from this novel, I can assure you that you're missing out. When I discovered it in the bookstore and saw the name of the author on it, I just knew that I had to take the risk - because Levithan knows what he's doing and hasn't disappointed me so far.

Levithan manages to make the reader connect emotionally to the narrator without even revealing his name. This is actually one of the best cases of extremely sporadic but great character building I've read about.

Incredibly Minimalist, but Enthralling!

I imagine this to be of essential help for aspiring authors - this is how you build characters, you give them personality and not appearance, you give them quirks and not a tragic backstory. I was engaged in the story and invested and I wanted desperately to know what was going to happen.

THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY can't really be described, it's not a story, it's more of a feeling. I fell in love with the characters the way they fell in love - entry after entry. Levithan uses mostly difficult words in this, I was lucky to be reading the novel in a foreign language anyways, so I didn't have to look anything up, because it was all translated from English. Some of the words I never would have understood because they're sometimes extremely old-fashioned.

I was a bit sad that the entire plot revolves only around their love, not because it's boring to read about, but because I longed for being able to dive in more into their world. This is defnitely worth a read, maybe even multiple. Some passages were so poetic and probably even foreshadowing and I think that it is impossible to get all the references during your first read.

Rating:

★★★★


Overall: Do I Recommend?

Yes I do. I know this novel might not be for everyone, this is why I don't explicitly put this on my recommendations page, but I know that for everyone that is a risk-taker - this might be exactly what you're looking for. "The Lover's Dictionary" is poetic, it's more an artwork than a novel and it leaves you wirh a weird feeling. Maybe it's love. I wouldn't know.



Additional Info

Original Title: THE LOVER'S DICTIONARY
Author: David Levithan
Genre: Adult / Romance

Synopsis:
"A modern love story told through a series of dictionary-style entries is a sequence of intimate windows into the large and small events that shape the course of a romantic relationship."
(Source: Goodreads)



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Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Review] Ugly Love - Colleen Hoover


In UGLY LOVE, Miles and Tate decide to start a friendship with benefits. Well, without the friendship. Basically they decide to just go for the hot stuff. Tate is all for it until she notices that the object of her desire is pretty darn loveable. But shockingly, he has sworn off love forever. So what are they going to do?

What intrigued me: The tumblr hype.



One-dimensional characters

Honestly, these characters are cardboard-cutouts deluxe. It's just annoying that everyone breaks down crying in this novel, especially Tate for basically no reason. Miles, I get, he's still grief-struck, but Tate's random emotional outbursts annoyed me. Had I been Miles, I wouldn't have to want any part of her either.

The rest of the characters are so cliché, it hurts. We have the overprotective brother Corbin, who beats  everyone who even dares to look at his sister. He seems to exist solely for that purpose and isn't home in 99% of the cases, possibly on quests to get laid. Or just "away" in order to give Tate and Miles some quality lonesome time. Then we have Dillon, who cheats on his wife, is super-sleazy and gross and hits on everything that moves. Obviously there's a dramatic scene in the novel where he gets told to lay his hands off of Tate. Because yeah, every guy in this novel wants Tate. If he doesn't, he's probably just a plot-device character or eighty years old.

Of Gary Stus and bad writing

And Miles, the oh so wonderful love interest is a Gary Stu. He has got ice-blue eyes that are so beautiful, you can't take it. He's tall and muscly (when does he have the time to work out), and after not having sex for six years, he's still a sex god. The development of the storyline just made me cry and weep, and not because I was emotionally affected, but because it was so such wasted potential. Cheesy to no ends, completely predictable and where was the plot twist that I was promised?

Another thing that massively bothered me are the shifts in the point of view. Every chapter switches in POV to justify the horrible, horrible past that poor Miles had to go through. If you want to include flashbacks in your novel, one tip: don't. Because this whole thing made me care even less about annoying Tate and root really hard for Rachel and Miles.
I'd rather have read about their love story because it was a thousand times more interesting than the mess that is the present tense story. I really didn't care and the only reason I continued reading was to find out more about Rachel. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Nope. This is really a frustrating and disappointing read. I didn't have any fun reading this at all, simply because it was so cheesy and unnecessarily dramatic,



Additional Info

Synopsis:
"An unforgettable love story that breaks all the rules.

When Tate Collins finds airline pilot Miles Archer passed out in front of her apartment door, it is definitely not love at first sight. In fact, they wouldn't even consider themselves friends. But what they do have is an undeniable mutual attraction.

He doesn't want love and she doesn't have time for a relationship, but their chemistry cannot be ignored. Once their desires are out in the open, they realise they have the perfect set-up, as long as Tate can stick to two rules - never ask about the past and don't expect a future.

Tate convinces herslelf she's ok with it, but soon realises that it's harder than she thought. Will she be able to say no to her sexy pilot when he lives just next door?"


Have you read UGLY LOVE?

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