Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: The Truth About Alice

The Truth About AliceThe Truth About Alice
Jennifer Mathieu
YA contemporary

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

While The Truth About Alice isn't perfect, it's got so much going for it it still tops my recent 'to-recommend's. The story isn't a new one- girl is completely socially destroyed by rumors about her. However, this was the first book I read on the subject (that I can remember) that deals EXCLUSIVELY with that one storyline. While that might sound like a drawback to you, I'll explain soon why I liked it for that. 

TaA is very short and reads very quickly, partly because the relatively small chapters are narrated by four different students in Healy High. With these different POVs you see the kids' various motives for keeping up the rumors and ostrasizing Alice. In the background you have a lot of dynamic material like Josh obviously being gay, Kelsie traumatized from her past, Alice's mom basically deserting her and the like and yet these things aren't elaborated on much. I liked that because it underlined that everyone has a backstory- but it doesn't justify horrible actions. It also added depth to the characters without getting off-topic and made me really intrigued by them. 

Another thing I liked was the relatability of the students- they were all very flawed people. I figure every high school reader will be able to relate on some level to one of them- socially akward, shallow, slow, bent under peer pressure, etc.. Ironically, the character in which I saw the most development was Elaine, the shallow, has-it-all popular girl. That made for a nice unexpected twist and a break off the cliche(:

I will acknowledge one little thing that I saw also bothered others around the blogosphere. The Truth About Alice is a really touching story but it doesn't have any sort of climax or conclusion. There's a bit of a build up and you feel a little like there's going to be some sort of message in the end- but it never came. On the other hand, I felt the book was kinda unique because it didn't have that - it was like, here, this is what happened to Alice. Make of it what you will. It was very realistic in this way. The story ended with things looking up a bit, not to worry(: 

As you can see, I'm still caught up in a sea of tests. I'm still available on comments and Twitter, just will be reading and posting less. Thanks for understanding and keep up the feedback!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer #1)
Jenny Han
Contemporary romance

Some summers are just destined to be pretty.

When each summer begins, Belly leaves her school life behind and escapes to Cousins Beach, the place she has spent every summer of her life. Not only does the beach house mean home away from home, but her favorite people are there: Susannah, her mother's best friend, and her sons, Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly has been chasing Conrad for as long as she can remember, and more than anything, she hopes this summer will be different. Despite distractions from a new guy named Cam and lingering looks from Conrad's brother, Jeremiah, Belly's heart belongs to Conrad. Will he offer his to her? Will this be the summer that changes everything?

Hey people. It's May and you know what that means.... every high schooler in the northern hemisphere's nightmare. So as you saw for the last two weeks I'll be blogging a less. Also, in between every new book I'm rereading a TMI novel to refresh before City of Heavenly Fire. 

So. The Summer I Turned Pretty. At one point a few years back this series was all the rage. I'm so glad I finally got to read it.. it really was a sweet read. The setting was absolutely gorgeous- a beautiful beach house, hot boys and summer. Also, I loved how Belly already has a long history with Jeremiah and Conrad in the book's beginning because it added depth and believability to the relationships. 

As for the characters, I almost fully approved of Belly. She was smart and sweet, girly but tough. Quite honestly, the only thing I didn't like about her was her friendship with Taylor from back home. Taylor is a bitch and I really didn't see what Belly liked about her. She mainly used Belly during the flashbacks in which she appears. Not to mention, who someone is friends with usually says a lot about a person in my opinion so I really thought that relationship was out of place. Unfortunately, it seems like we'll get more of her in book #2. 

Jeremiah... I love you. I was backing him the whole way. Strong but funny, confident but not cocky unless joking. He was always there for everyone in the book. #TeamJere 

Cam- I relatively liked him, but not especially. I did think it was cool and exotic how he's Japanese and speaks tons of languages. 

And Conrad. Fans of the book may scream at me, but I just didn't get what I was supposed  to love about him. As both Belly and Jeremiah mention in the book, he's been brooding and acting like a jerk. Even in the flashbacks, he had little dialogue. It was more like, Conrad danced me around the room. Conrad laughed and told Jeremiah to... it made it impossible for me to love him like Belly did. 

The ending- was kinda horrible. And not in the it-was-random-and-stupid. As in it was beautifully sad. I hadn't realized when picking up the book that it wouldn't be all light and fluffy so I really wasn't prepared for that. It still was beautiful, though. 

The POV- I didn't love the fact that sometimes the chapters were from age 11 and 14. I didn't want to read from the POV of a kid or read about the characters as kids. It felt unnecessary and kept interrupting the story I was enjoying. Of course, sometimes this arrangement works wonderfully, but not in this case for me. Rating:


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
Oh my gosh, is my short response to this book. I kinda wanna smack myself for not reading this years ago. On the other hand, I'm glad I read it now with my literature class because I better understood it at this age and was able to ask my teacher questions. 

I don't think I've read a story told from the POV of an eight year old since I myself was that age. And yet, I was so REFRESHED by Scout's perspective on things. The issues in the novel were so simple to her- she and her brother (and children in general) are able to cut through all the prejudice and rumors her community has drowned itself in and see things clearly. The candidness in which she describes things and her matter-of-fact way of life was so beautiful and so FUNNY. I'm beginning to understand why adults laugh at many things kids say. 

There were multiple wonderful themes in this book. My favorite was how growing up is slowly sewing your mind shut (you can see this especially when Jem and Scout are talking about different types of people and Jem says something along the lines of 'I used to think like you, when I was your age..'). Another was the theme of family- Atticus' strict but loving education, the childrens' respect of Aunt Alexandra although being opposed to her views. Not to mention Jem and Scout's relationship. Another, obviously, is criticism of society who is blinded by racism. About that, I liked how the author showed us (through Atticus pointing it out a few times) how even the prejudiced were very good people sometimes. There was even a little bit of a feminist statement. Scout remarks on how the women of Maycomb are hypocrites and gossipers, but when it really came down to it, they're each hiding the secrets. In the end, you see how their little parties are really them putting on a brave face for each other. 

Also, I developed a little crush on Jem(:
All in all, I was totally blown away by this book. I loved every minute of it and plan to revisit the novel every once in awhile. Rating:

In other news, Kayla has won my giveaway for the signed copy of Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mylnowski! Congratulations, Kayla! I have sent her an email and she has 48 hours to get back to me, at which time I'll choose another winner. Thank you all for participating!!