Monday, July 27, 2015

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Genre: Contemporary

Source: NTTBF

Rating: 3/5 Stars

The Lucy Variations Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. But without music in her life, Lucy's not sure who she is, or who she wants to be. Then she meets Will, her brother's new piano teacher, who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy find her way back to piano-not for an audience, but on her own terms.

The Lucy Variations was a sweet read. After reading the blurb on the back, I was instantly enamored. After reading, I was slightly let down, but it was still a good contemporary novel.

Originally, I found it a little hard to get into the story because all of the things Lucy is complaining about are so trivial and minute. Then, I realized that I do this. After coming to that somewhat unsurprising conclusion, it was easier to relate to Lucy. However, I simply cannot get over her fascination with older men. I just thought that was weird. The other characters were good too, but the character development wasn’t as outstanding as Lucy’s was (I guess this makes sense haha).

The plot was enticing, yet boring at points. I felt like the same events were happening over and over again. But, the magical thing was that at each event, Lucy would grow. That being said, the character growth for Lucy was exponential. I especially liked how at the end she finally decided to do what she wanted.

My goodness, the romance though. I could not stand the weird romance thing happening between Will and Lucy. He’s married for goodness sake! That was one part of the book that I just couldn’t understand or find a way to relate to at all. If you asked my sister how I felt about this book towards the end where a certain something happens, she would say that I was yelling at the main character. I was so frustrated with this romance. From an authorial perspective, I can see why Zarr put this in the book, but from a reader perspective, I’m just confused.

Overall, The Lucy Variations was endearing and a nice break from all the fantasy reading that I’ve been doing.

Monday, July 20, 2015

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Genre: Contemporary

Source: Library

Rating: 3/5 Stars


I Was Here

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.



It’s so difficult when an author that you really enjoy comes out with a new book. It’s always the question of will it be as good as their others? Unfortunately, I was Here was not as good as I was expecting. I lacked emotional connection with the characters. I’m not saying that the characters weren’t well developed, because they were. I’m saying that for some reason, I couldn’t find the thing that linked me to the characters’ emotions. It can’t be that it wasn’t relatable, because I’ve experienced similar situations with people I know.

Perhaps it was Cody’s actions themselves. I mean, Cody was obsessed with Meg’s death for a while. I can understand being upset, but man she got really really into it. She did some questionable things throughout the book, which I can’t disclose for fear of spoiling, but just know that many times I wanted to scream in frustration. While Cody makes some realistic decisions, others I felt would never happen in real life.

The plot was stimulating however. I did want to know what really happened. I wanted to find out who Meg really was. I wanted to discover what Meg tried really hard to hide. Some points I felt were redundant, like a continual return to clubs multiple times in the book.

Okay. What even was the romance. I felt SO violated by it. I felt like it was inappropriate of them, not just because of Meg’s death, which certainly had a factor. To me, they didn’t really have a connection besides both having been friends with Meg. I don’t know, I had a little niggling in my brain that was whispering that it felt like Cody was trying to be Meg. It just felt so wrong. The romance was a main reason for me giving I was Here 3 Stars.

The way Forman writes and forays into these types of topics is beautiful. She isn’t afraid to show the gritty side of life. She goes where other authors are scared of. I really appreciate Forman for doing this. However, I was Here was merely adequate in comparison to her other novels.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Barnes and Noble

Rating: 3/5 Stars

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,’ Neeve said. ‘Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.’ It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

I wish that I had a more positive and raving review since this is now my second time reading it, but I don’t. After the reread, I’ve just been met with disappointment again. It just wasn’t as entrancing as Siefvater’s other books.

I found the plot to be exciting, if a little predictable. I think the myth and search for the ley line was cool, but about half way, I just wanted them to find the dang thing so the book would be over. Then, the ending was pretty awesome,  so I somewhat forgave the boring middle. At the same time, I’m still unsure about what actually happened at the end and I’ve read it twice. I did however enjoy the small town setting! I like how strange and odd their town was! Plus, that forest was weird oh my goodness!

The characters were a thorn in my side. Blue and Adam are entertaining enough, but I don’t really like anyone else. I guess they have a bunch of mystery and questions surrounding them to create suspense, but they don’t have enough substance for me to relate or even grasp onto them at all. Also, I don’t get the romance between Adam and Blue when she’s clearly meant to fall in love with Gansey. I guess I was supposed to see a sort of tension between Blue and Gansey, but I didn’t.

Stiefvater’s writing style was glamorous enough, but not enough to completely captivate me.

Also for full disclosure, I hated the chapters from the Latin teacher’s perspective. They were unnecessary and actually killed suspense.

I will most likely read the other books in the series and I have hope that they’ll be better, but this book was a drag the first and the second time.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Teen Talks (1)

Teen Talks is a sporadic little feature, created by the wonderful Aneeqah from My Not So Real Life where I/whoever blogs about things relevant to teens


Summer. One word that has the power to elicit a multitude of emotions, ranging from elation to dread. I’m certainly excited for summer. I mean, who doesn’t need a break from school? But, I’m also struggling with my parents (and others) who believe that I need to do *something* amazing during the summer. Something like hang out with friends every day, but not because I must see my family sometime; something like work a lot, while somehow hanging out with friends a lot and also not going to sleep right when I get home; something like enjoy every single second that I’m out of school, but also prepare for the next school year and finish all my summer assignments. Sometimes (like the majority of the time), I just want to relax, curl up with a good book, and read. Or watch Netflix. I feel like there’s this stigma surrounding summer where teens have to be doing magical things in order to “make the most of it.” Trust me, lazing around and relax is *my* idea of fun.

I guess what I’m saying, is that summer has begun to feel like it is a competition between my peers and I to see who can do the most fun things during the summer. I don’t know, maybe its just me, but that kind of takes away from the relaxation part of summer.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary

Source: Library

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Anna and the French Kiss was a light-hearted, cutesy read that was perfect to begin my binge-read of contemporary books. The characters were relatable-especially Anna and her awkwardness. Perkins is a master at encapsulating the thoughts and feelings of teenage girls. Plot-wise however, Anna and the French Kiss was almost a little too buddy-buddy with some other realistic/romance YA novels that I’ve read in the past.

Anna embodied the teenage spirit and emotions.

She felt and she felt it deeply and sometimes overdramatically. Often, I can catch myself overreacting in a situation and while reading this book, I was able to identify with Anna. I am truly in awe of Perkins’s ability to capture these feelings in their whole entirety. No, I’m not saying she or other authors aren’t/couldn’t be able to accurately portray teenagers; I’m making the observation that sometimes, authors can overlook the complexity and genuine emotions of us. We teenagers are complex beings that simply continue to grow even more complex as we continue to grow and develop. Anna and the French Kiss portrays teenagers in a way that doesn’t devalue changes in emotions or mistakes.

Perkins’s writing style is girly, flowery, and flowy. While some may find this style to be shallow, I found it to be a perfect fit for this genre and type of book. It coordinates well with the characters and allows the book to be a pleasant and relaxing experience-in contrast with other genres, like Game of Thrones for instance. For me, contemporaries almost solely centered on a romance aspect require a similar writing style because without a more flowery-ish writing style, I might feel like the romance is forced or doesn’t fit.


  “Why is it that the right people never wind up together? Why are people so afraid to leave a relationship, even if they know it's a bad one?”

Although I did enjoy Anna and the French Kiss, some of the plot was too cliché. It’s difficult for an author to make their book stand out because there’s already so many books that attempt to capture the emotions and feelings behind teenage romance and first loves. I definitely saw some common plot points of the contemporary romance YA genre within Anna and the French Kiss, which made it a tad bit less special and stand out-ish.

Anna and the French Kiss was just what I needed to get back into contemporary YA fiction. It had stellar characters and genuine emotion, yet the plot felt slightly similar and overdone.