Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Greg Gaines has made it as a senior in high school.From here on, it should be smooth riding to graduation. All he had to look forward to is hang out with his sort-of-friend Earl to make a final movie, and avoid the discussion of college. It sounds easy– until his mother crashes his plans, and makes him hang out with a classmate who was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, Greg’s plan of low-key profile before graduation becomes a long distance dream.

Personal Take: I watched the movie first, and I LOVED it. So much so, that I decided, maybe I should read the book because it’s bound to be more awesome than the movie. Except…I was surprised to find that it wasn’t. Many readers already warned me that I would probably prefer the movie over the book. And while I appreciate that the movie closely at least maintained the spirit of the original story not being a romance story, the characters in the book…could have been more. It seemed that Andrews tried his hardest to make our protagonist Greg such an unlikable character. He is definitely awkward, and his narrative is absolutely hilarious.  But I think towards the end, there was too much emphasis on his apathy, which I found slightly unbelievable. Or maybe he’s too realistic of a character.

Other characters like Earl and Rachel were great to read– Earl especially was amazing. Sickening sometimes, but loved each chapter he was in. The story itself lacked a connection with what Rachel was going through, but keeping observation at high-level was interesting to experience.

Towards the end though, I found that I wasn’t attached to any of the characters, which was a shame because they were so well-written. It was a good read at the end of the day, but I’d still pick the movie over the book for this title.

Audience: Older teens for language and disturbing references.

Rating:

 

Other recommendations: Andrews also authored The Haters and an anthology of new writers Take a Pique.

Review: How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson

How-To-Buy-a-Love-of-Reading

When Carley Wells admits she’s never read a book she liked, her parents take it upon themselves to enlighten their daughter on the beauty of literature and reading. And what better way than to commission a writer to write Carley’s story for her sixteenth birthday?

But it takes more than just moving Bree McEnroy, failed meta-novelist, into their home to get Carley to love reading. Carley’s only consolation is Hunter’s fascination with the project. Hunter, party boy and mister popular. Hunter, who loves reading and writing stories, and who’s slowly, and not-so-secretly destroying himself.

Personal Take: From the title and the book description, I thought this was going to be a cute, sweet read. It had the makings of it, at least, and maybe it was my mistake to assume that. I think I would have enjoyed it if it wasn’t a light read either, but the issue I had with the book was that, I wasn’t sure what it was.

The book switched between multiple points of view, from both adults and teens, which is fine, except I didn’t think some of the POVs were that relevant to the story. The characters, while sometimes I felt for them, didn’t feel real to me. Their motivations didn’t feel real, their behaviors (excessive as the teens on Gossip Girl) didn’t click with me. There were times were I did sympathize with the young characters, but they switched behaviors so suddenly, sympathy is out the window and the reasons are not clear to why this sudden incident happened.

For most of the book, I felt that Gibson tried to show depth in her shallow characters, which I wasn’t sure if this was intentional or not. The set up and beginning of the novel alone was brutal to get through; to understand who’s who, and why were they important. Sometimes, charaterization was great, but I didn’t see how the development took place. Supposedly, through dialogue, it’s hinted that there is a “change”, but how did that happen?

It was when characters interacted among each other that it felt stinted the most. For a book that’s almost 400 pages long, it felt like it skimmed on the emotions and pivotal points for a character’s growth,, because I couldn’t understand how the characters got to their next conclusion.

I tried to like this book, because it had potential, but I just couldn’t help being frustrated towards the end.

There is no denying that Gibson’s writing is sumptuous and beautiful, but I came to the conclusion that this book just wasn’t for me.

Audience: I’d say older teens and adults, for sexual themes and…weird perversions.

Rating:

2stars

Other recommendations: As far as I know (from Goodreads), this is the only book written by Gibson, but she’s was the editor of a book on digital photography.

Review: Social Suicide (Deadly Cool #2) by Gemma Halliday

 

As a new joiner to her high school’s online publication, Hart has to prove to her fellow student journalists, and especially bad-boy editor, Chad, that she has the knack to be a journalist just like them. So when she goes to interview Sydney Sanders, a fellow student caught in a recent cheating scandal, for what could the hottest story of the semester, she finds Sydney dead in her own swimming pool. While police rule it as suicide, Hart is convinced that there’s more to the story behind Sydney’s death.

Personal Take: I enjoyed Deadly Cool so much, especially Hart’s snarky voice. That voice is back again in this instalment, and I loved every moment of it. I have to say, that the characters stole the show in Social Suicide more than the events in the book.
The mystery was still very well planned and somewhat unexpected, but it wasn’t as exciting a journey as the first book. Having said that, Hart’s adventures of being romantically appealing is hilarious, and I just couldn’t get enough of her and her friends (unfortunately, this book didn’t feature them enough!).
I’m now patiently awaiting an announcement of when the third book will be out, because these books are just SO addictive!
Audience: It’s cute and safe, so younger and older teens, and even adults will have fun with this!
Rating: 
4stars
 
Other recommendations: I’ve already reviewed the first book in this series, Deadly Cool. Other than her Deadly Cool series, she also authored the Jamie Bond series, High Heels series, and Hollywood Headlines , among others.

Review: Deadly Cool (Deadly Cool #1) by Gemma Halliday

 

After experiencing the humiliation of her boyfriend cheating on her with a cheerleader, Hart has another bout of unwanted experience– absolute terror when she finds the body of said cheerleader at her ex-boyfriend’s house. All fingers lead to her ex, but Hart is convinced that someone is framing him. As she gets closer to finding the culprit, signs start hinting that Hart may be the next victim.

Personal Take: It’s been SO LONG since I enjoyed a good contemporary mystery! Just from the first few pages of the book, I knew I’d love Hartley. I loved her even more with her gutsy personality and sense of humor. It reminded me so much of Veronica Mars (with less edge), which was another reason why I loved it.The events were fast paced, the mystery was REALLY good. The secondary characters were fantastic. There were elements that Halliway decided to build up as she goes through the series, which I totally appreciate. Her writing flowed wonderfully, and the characters were so well written for such a short book.

One thing that probably knocked off a pumpkin was a minor thing with Hart doing something she promised not to do, and not feeling guilty about it– character growth/development is important!

Still, I loved every bit of the story, and if it weren’t for other reading commitments, I would have jumped to the second book instantly.

Audience: This is a teen-approved book, but I would say older teens for suggestive language.

Rating: 

4stars

Other recommendations: After researching about Halliday, I’ve come to learn she’s the queen of contemporary chick-lit mysteries. Other than her Deadly Cool series, she also authored the Jamie Bond series, High Heels series, and Hollywood Headlines , among others.

Review: The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead

Even though Alchemist Sydney Sage is not where she wants to be- pretending to be a senior high school student to keep an eye on the Moroi princess, Jill, instead of being in college, but it’s not all bad. In fact, she can’t help but feel close to the group of Moroi and guardians. But she is well aware of the risks in blurring the lines of her job. When an unknown group of vampire hunters make their presence known, Sydney finds that there are things about the Alchemists that is not all right.

Personal Take: It’s hard to write this review without breaking into fan-frenzy babble. I love, love this series. It’s no where close to the excitement that was Vampire Academy, true, but I can’t help loving the characters and the situations they’re in. Mead just takes her time building the bigger picture and the character relationships.
Even though I said that, I CANNOT WAIT to see what Mead has in store for us, because I want to get to the bigger picture NOW.
Sydney… I just love this girl. She is so smart but so socially awkward, it’s just fun to read about it. And you can’t help but feel sorry for her at times, but at the same time pleased at how far she’s coming along from VA’s days. And then there is Adrian. Funny, witty, soulful Adrian. I’ve loved this guy since VA, and I can’t help but love him more in this series.
This series, for now, is more character driven than plot, but you can almost see the plot peaking through as we read more.
Bottom line- loved this installment. And I want more. Please?
Audience: Fans of Vampire Academy. I’m a firm believer that this series should be read after its predecessor.
Rating: 
4stars
Other recommendations: I’ve already reviewed all of the Vampire Academy series by Mead, and the first book of this series, Bloodlines. Looking forward to The Indigo Spell.

Review: She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

 

When Ally’s father made a bad investment and lost all the money belonging to Orchard Hill’s residents, the only option for her family was to move away. A year and a half later, Ally returns to Orchard Hill, but not to her old life. Her mother hopes for a new beginning, her father is missing, and Ally hopes she gets through her sophomore year without any drama. Unfortunately, her former friends declare war, and the new joiner of the exclusive gang, Jake, is a hottie, and a little hard to resist. Survival is proving difficult already.

Personal Take: Starting this, I actually liked the book. It had a Veronica Mars/Suburgatory feel to it, and Ally’s voice was quite snippy and entertaining. But when the chapters alternated to Jake, it just felt a little ‘eh’. Especially because it feels like Jake doesn’t have much character. Throughout the book, he does grow on me, but the evil rich friends becomes tiresome towards the end.

The star of the show is Ally herself, and she was a strong character throughout, except with Jake. I never could understand her attraction to him, but like I said, he does grow on you, but only a little.

We get snippets at the end of each school season from anonymous students that sort of builds up on the characters and gives insight to the past.

While the characters were interesting, I found it a little frustrating that there isn’t much of plot progression. I’m not saying I wanted it to be a masterpiece, but comparing it to some of the good chick-lit high school genres (Meg Cabot anyone?), this one lacked the “oomph” that could have earned it an extra pumpkin.

In the end, I did enjoy this book, and I think I’ll read the rest of the series to see what happens to Ally.

Audience: Older teens, definitely. This  book is filled with sophomores doing and saying stupid things.

Rating:

threestars

 

Other recommendations: This book is part of the He’s so/She’s so series, and includes He’s So Not Worth It and This Is So Not Happening (Phew! Long titles!) Scott also wrote the Cheerleader trilogy.