ARC: Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Since she was seven years old, Yvonne has had her trusted violin to keep her company, especially in those lonely days after her mother walked out on their family. But with graduation just around the corner, she is forced to face the hard truth that she just might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school.

Full of doubt about her future, and increasingly frustrated by her strained relationship with her successful but emotionally closed-off father, Yvonne meets a street musician and fellow violinist who understands her struggle. He’s mysterious, charming, and different from Warren, the familiar and reliable boy who has her heart. But when Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she has to make the most difficult decision yet about her future.

Commentary:

Perhaps, I am getting older because it is hard for me to find a good contemporary YA book that pleases me in this day and age. Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert was a choice. The synopsis was intriguing, the plot did seem something out of the CW, so I took a chance on the book. I did receive Finding Yvonne in Yallwest, but opinions are all my own. So, this is a unpopular opinion. Considering the reviews I have seen for the book, there aren’t much negative reviews. This book was an experience, and I was left shaking my head due to certain events that played out. That being said, this will be a rant review with spoilers.
Starting on a positive note, I did enjoy how Yvonne was unapologetic about herself and her sexuality. I have no issues with a character’s sexuality. Yvonne was confident about her body and her choices. That being said, she made a lot of questionable decisions. I will say that the pregnancy aspect of the book did not play a major role as I had anticipated. The pregnancy revelation was placed near the last third of the book. The synopsis presents a story of how a pregnant Yvonne has to chose the right path due to her circumstances…but, the reality was not the case.
It is hard for me to comprehend the actions of Yvonne, especially when it came to her relationships. So, Yvonne was seeing her father’s sous chef, Warren, but it was not an exclusive relationship. The relationship between Warren and Yvonne was secretive because of the age difference between the two. Warren was protective of Yvonne, and did not want to be sexually engaged with her until she was officially 18. It seemed like Yvonne wanted her relationship with Warren to move at a faster pace. I felt myself siding with Warren because she was underage. Though the age difference was not extreme, it seemed that Yvonne disregarded it for the sake of love. I rolled my eyes…but this was not as bad as The Beau and The Belle by R.S. Grey, a book that I had several issues with…
Yvonne was happy in her relationship despite not being official. When she and Warren hang out in Venice Beach, she finds herself completely and utterly drawn by a street musician named Omar. Despite being in a complicated relationship with Warren, she falls completely head over heels for Omar. A major issue I had with this book was the cheating aspect. Yvonne does get into a major fight with Warren because he chose to work on her birthday, and she reacts by destroying the birthday cake that Warren bought her. Yvonne also seeks out Omar, and considers hanging out with him…DESPITE NOT KNOWING THE GUY!
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The story tried to establish a love triangle, but it was lame. I felt uncomfortable with how Yvonne was seeing Omar, while she had her fight with Warren. Yvonne lies about her relationship status to both men. Instead of being rational and calling her relationship off with Warren, she peruses each man. I fully did not trust Omar, he seemed a bit shady…but instead of getting to know Omar, she has sex with him on her first official date with him. It does not help that she continues seeing Warren, and has sex with him a week after she has had sex with Omar. I assumed that she was going to get pregnant by Omar, but I was surprised. As mentioned previously, her pregnancy does not play a major role in this book. NOR WILL YOU FIND OUT WHO THE REAL FATHER IS!
Literally, this book was about Finding Yvonne, and how she was going to deal with her relationships, ambitions, and career choices. I was not the biggest fan of Yvonne because she did have several immature moments. In my opinion, she manipulated both guys. I knew Omar was shady, which did end up being true. Yvonne goes through minimal growth. It seems that she is used to getting praises all the time. For example, growing up she received praises for her violin skills, and then as a teen, she thrived off praises for her baking skills. I really wanted Yvonne to be an awesome character. The only character that I liked by far was her best friend Sabine. Sabine was looking out for her friend, and even warned Yvonne that she could be potentially used. Sabine was supportive, and dealt with Yvonne’s unnecessary drama and antics. Kudos to Sabine for being the true MVP of this book.
Final Rating: ⭐⭐
Publication Date: August 7th 2018

20 by Vastal Surti

20 by vastal surti

goodreads-synopsis

‘It’s really hitting me where I live. Prose poetry about what it feels like to be young and have the whole world caught inside your throat.’ – Lena Dunham

The story of a young model and an introspective writer, “20” is a novel about loneliness, love, hopes and dreams.

One night as she is driving back home from a show, she almost runs over someone. She holds her breath, and through the fog they see each other for the first time. Love begins to form in the space between them, in precognitions and thoughts, lights and intimacies. Seasons change. They come to know more things about each other. Life wraps them in its embrace like a haze, in a vacant space bigger than their eyes can see.
Fans of Haruki Murakami will enjoy this atmospheric and deeply felt debut.

commentary

I received 20 on Netgalley for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

Reading 20 by Vastal Surti was an experience. 20 is the type of book that you have to read the whole way through. The writing is beautiful and poetic. It mesmerized me. But is 20 a book that I will remember reading as time passes by? It’s hard to say for now. I can recommend this book on a rainy day with a nice cup of coffee.

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“Sometimes I was filled with such loneliness. My teenage years were so difficult. I try to please everyone, and I distance myself. Nothing seems real sometimes. I search for meaning in mundane events. I seek identity in empty relationships. All my life I have tried to find a place in this world…”

When reading 20, I was amazed that the protagonists remained unnamed. It felt that I was glimpsing into the life of a young adult who was suffering through her moments of depression. The books deals with themes of isolation and depression, and feeling alienated in the world. If I can sum it up in a phrase it would be this: the struggles of being a young adult, not really feeling complete as an adult.

“She carried a thousand lights inside her heart, and a thousand lights carried her.

The book did get repetitive for me, but I was able to connect with the characters. The book is relatable, no doubt. It’s an experience. But, I do feel it can be a bit forgettable as well. The first half of the book was stronger than the second part of the book. The second half felt a bit rushed.

I keep drinking coffee again and again. I don’t even like it that much anymore, but I can’t stop. It’s like becoming obsessed with someone you don’t even like. It gives you nothing but seems like everything.

As for the romance, it did feel one sided. The girl protagonist was more into her partner, and it felt that her love interest was not reciprocating his feelings back to her. The protagonists found each other by chance. Both characters were experiencing moments of not really feeling their lives until they found each other.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

miriam-michelle

The Gods Lie by Kaori Ozaki

Natsuru Nanao, a 6th grader who lives alone with his mother, strikes up an unlikely friendship with the reserved and driven Rio Suzumura. Natsuru plays hookey from soccer camp that summer, and instead of telling the truth to his mother, he spends all his time with Rio and her kid brother at their rickety house, where a dark secret threatens to upend their fragile happiness.

Add to Goodreads

I kept seeing this manga being advertised on my Amazon recommendations, and I decided to check it out. I read this manga in under an hour. I do recommend checking out the The Gods Lie from the library rather than buying it.

When it came to The Gods Lie, I was captivated by the cover and the title. The title is what drew me in. I did not anticipate finishing the manga in less than an hour. The Gods Lie felt rushed. There was not enough material for me to be satisfied. I felt that The Gods Lie could have had at least five more chapters to have a solid, well rounded story that could have been memorable for readers.

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What I liked from reading The Gods Lie was the unlikely romance between Natsuru Nanao and Rio Suzumura. I felt that there relationship was cute, but I did not like that how rushed the romance was given this manga was five chapters long. So the romance was very fast paced for me. It felt as if they became friends and suddenly they fell in love with each other. I also liked that The Gods Lie dealt with maturity, especially for Rio Suzumara’s case. Rio had to be the adult in her family despite being a pre-teen. While her classmates were enjoying their youth, Rio had to be an adult. She had to tackle the responsibilities that were literally thrown to her. In addition, Rio and her younger brother had to deal with abandonment from their father. Rio had to be both mother and father to her younger brother without the help from any other relative. At the same time, Natsuru learns about Rio’s situation and becomes her protector. Natsuru learns to love Rio despite their differences.

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As for the twist, I did see it coming. The manga does give small hints about the twist. So when it was revealed, it was sad but not shocking to say the least. The ending had a hopeful ending for the protagonists. T Originally I was going to rate The Gods Lie a four out of five, but after much thought this manga is a solid three.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

DNF: The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice

Here are three things to know about Maia:

1. Ever since her mother left, Maia’s struggled with depression — which once got so bad, she had to go to an institution for a while. She doesn’t want to go back.

2. Maia’s sure that if she finds her mother, if the two of them can talk about whale songs and constellations, then everything will be okay again.

3. She’s in love with Billy, the handsome, brooding boy who lives in the group home in town. He doesn’t seem to know that Maia exists… until now.

When Maia sets off on a road trip in search of her mom, Billy unexpectedly comes along. They drive up the East Coast, stopping along the way for lobster rolls and lighthouses. Maia learns that Billy has dark secrets of his own — and wants to outrun his past, too. But what will the future hold if they reach their destination?

From internationally bestselling author Luanne Rice, this is a sweeping, stunning story about the surprising directions our hearts can take.

When I picked up The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice, I was totally judging the book by the cover. I had a feeling that I would not like the book, but I gave it a chance. You can’t judge every book based on the cover, no matter how cheesy the book looks. My gut was right, I did not like the book. I am baffled. Honestly baffled because The Beautiful Lost has positive reviews on Goodreads. I guess my review will be controversial because I haven’t seen any negative reviews for this book.

What I liked about the book is that it did a good job at portraying abandonment issues that both Maia and Billy faced. That’s about it. What killed the book experience for me was the way depression was handled. Honestly hated how Maia would say her depression was gone because of her love interest Billy. I couldn’t believe what I had read. Nope, nope, nope. I had to put my book down, there’s no way that I can continue to read The Beautiful Lost. I don’t even want to know how the book ended. I tried reading it, but it was frustrating. Besides the story being cheesy, the romance was very instantaneous.

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Maia is a girl who has depression and even though her father and step-mother try to help her with her depression, she only blames her new step-mother. Maia misses her mother, and may I add that Maia’s mother only contacts her daughter by snail mail. The book is set in the present. The mom doesn’t reach out to her daughter. Maia’s mother left her family, and has left Maia with an emptiness in her heart. Maia desperately wants her mother back. She runs away from home in order to be with her mother. This aspect of the story I loved, but the romance was such a buzzkill for me.

I hated how there had to be a love interest. Couldn’t Billy just be a really good friend to Maia? The love interest that wasn’t fully developed even though they had a whole road trip to connect and learn about each other. I would have loved a greater emphasis on Maia’s issues and her growth as a person rather than force the reader to enjoy a contemporary love story. I tried to sympathize with Maia, but I am not on board with her romance. Now you may be wondering why I am against this story’s romance.  How did they even get together, you might be wondering. Well, Maia has never really talked to Billy at school. Billy is the mysterious teen attending the same school as Maia. Maia is completely head over heels in love with Billy. When Maia runs away, she stops in front of Billy’s residence. And what does he do? Billy runs away with her even though he doesn’t know her either! That’s a bit weird for me. I see Billy as a stranger because they aren’t even friends. How the heck are you going to let a stranger be with you on a trip? How? I get that Billy is Maia’s crush, but it feels gross for me .The story could have at least focused on some type of friendly relationship between Maia and Billy prior to the road trip. There is no established acquaintanceship between Maia and Billy, and both characters decide to take a trip together. Yeah, no thanks. Will I give The Beautiful Lost another chance? No.


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Final Rating: ⭐️

ARC: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella

goodreads-synopsis

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

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I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me an ARC of Geekerella by Amy Poston. All opinions are my own.

I am completely blown away by Geekerella. I went into the book with no expectations. I love my Cinderella retellings, and so I decided to check this one out. Why didn’t anyone tell me that Geekerella was going to be so good?! It was that good!  I am still shocked that I managed to finish Geekerella in the span of two days. I devoured the book, I had so much fun reading Geekerella. I might even re-read again because it was too good!

Alright, so Geekerella is a Cinderella retelling that made my fandom heart melt. If you loved reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, you need to pick up Geekerella. Do it now! If you’re in any fandom, you’ll appreciate Geekerella. This book made me feel really happy. (It’s been a while folks…ha ha) It follows the basic Cinderella plot. Evil step-mother, evil step-sisters, and a charming romantic love interest. What made Geekerella stand out was that the main protagonists were nerdy and oh so adorable. They were both perfect for each other, it was meant to be. I loved reading both Elle and Darien’s perspective. Both characters had such great development. I was rooting for my two precious babies. Though, I did prefer Elle a lot more. She was so innocent and deserving of happiness. Elle was passionate about her fandom, and she defended it like there was no tomorrow. She was misunderstood and quirky, and a bit stubborn, but had a heart of gold.Elle’s love for her father and her fandom was so cute. Darien was charming, but he all he wanted to be was a normal person, not just an actor. He wanted a normal life, and had to deal with a lot of hate against him. He was coping with bullies and fame. He couldn’t trust people because he was betrayed by his best friend. I have to admit that there were a couple sad moments in the book, I did cry a bit.

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It had so many positive themes, like never giving up when things are impossible. I was immediately charmed by both characters. Elle and Darien had their own conflicts that they needed to resolve. Elle and Darien felt like two unwanted people in their worlds until they found each other. I love how Elle and Darien have back and forth conversations with each other anonymously.

As for the side characters, Sage was my favorite. She is Elle’s co-worker who soon becomes her best friend. I found it really cute how Elle introduced Sage to Starfield. She always pushed Elle to stand up for herself and not give up so quickly. I loved rebellious attitude. She is Elle’s punk rock fairy Godmother. I loved how Sage was a loyal friend to Elle no matter what. I wished there could have been a bit more moments with Sage and her love interest though!

If I can nominate a book to get a live action movie, it would be Geekerella. Can you imagine a cosplay ball and how beautiful it would be? The cosplay ball was absolutely cute, one of my favorite parts in Geekerella. Overall Geekerella was a magical contemporary book that made my heart swoon. Recommend it? Heck yes!

Publication Date: April 4th 2017 by Quirk Books

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

Aisuru by Anma Natsu

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goodreads-synopsis

“You told me before that you’d never regret meeting me. Do you still feel that way now?”

Eighteen-year-old Sakura has spent her high school years living in self-imposed isolation. She’s carefully perfected her role as a cold, stuck up snob at school to keep her classmates, her teacher, the world at a distance so they will never learn the truth: about the night her father’s mental illness tore her world apart, leaving her an orphan and living on borrowed time.

To help her get through the pain, the kind man who adopted her would spin fantastical stories about his childhood friend Kazuki, a magical yokai from another world. Harmless fairy tales to take her mind off things, or so she always thought…

Until the night she finds Kazuki lying wounded in her garden. With the handsome yokai now sharing her house, a jealous young tengu living in her cherry tree, and new friends pushing their way past her walls, Sakura’s stoic acceptance of her fate is slipping.

But is she only opening herself up to further heartache and regret or is she opening the door to a happiness she never imagined possible?

 

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I received Aisuru  on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of Aisuru. I haven’t seen many reviews on the internet, but I decided to go ahead and read it. What got me to read the book was the synopsis since it sounded like a blend of contemporary and fantasy. I was intrigued by the characters, especially Sakura. Aisuru reminded me a bit of Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita, just the whole human-yokai romantic relationship, but that’s just it.

What I was expecting was an action-paced book filled with a lot of magical scenarios and political drama. Now what I got was different than what I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t bad. I was a tad disappointed that most of the book focused on Hakodate, Japan rather than the magical kingdom of Throklana.

Alright, basic plot of the book is that Sakura is dying and has less than a year of life left. Sakura tries to be an ice queen to those around her. Most of her classmates have invented rumors about her due to her cold personality. Though Sakura puts on an act, she is actually sweet and caring. She has hidden her illness from everyone; she wants to be treated like a normal girl. She wants to do many things in her life, but knows she can’t achieve those goals. When I was reading Sakura’s pov, I did tear up. Sakura was very accepting of her fate in the beginning of the story. As chapters progressed, it became harder for her to accept her death. Though Sakura has little character growth in the book, she at least tried to live as a normal girl. She got to accomplish some of her goals on her bucket list. One of my favorite moments of the book was the introduction of Sakura’s classmates that eventually became her friends. I have to say that this book did really great when it came to friendship.

I was actually surprised that this book was a bit dark at some times. Sakura’s past was extremely sad, especially what happened to her parents. Though she was adopted into a loving home after the traumatizing events of her childhood, she grew up mostly independent. That’s one thing that I really liked about Sakura, she always did her best no matter her limitations.

Moving on to Kazuki, I felt okay about him. Kazuki is the yokai prince who is supposed to take over the kingdom while his father is on his pilgrimage. Kazuki never wanted to be king. He is the oldest sibling, but he knows that his younger brother is far more capable of being the next crown king. The author didn’t really give a great description of his features besides his long claws and white hair. So I imagined him like this that whole time:

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Though Tomoe is a far more better character than Kazuki, just saying.

Kazuki was a good guy, but a horrible leader. Here’s the thing: his kingdom is in turmoil and his brother turned against him. What does Kazuki do? Reside in the human realm and leaves his kingdom in hands of his advisors. He abandoned the throne, and though his duty is to the kingdom, he never really does anything to contribute anything. I can see why he is fascinated with the human world, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t till 75% of the book that he decided to take action. As I’ve mentioned, he was a good guy…he did have some cute moments especially with Karasu. Now Karasu was one of my favorite characters in the story. He is a yokai as well and very devoted to his master. He initially hates Sakura and doesn’t trust her whatsoever. I found Karasu to be an adorable jealous little brother. He had a sad backstory that I wish got expanded more!

Anyways, I thought that Aisuru was going have a lot of action, but I got more of a contemporary vibe. Most of the book was spent on Kazuki and Sakura doing normal errands such as cleaning, or cooking. It seemed that this was going to be a book filled with insta-love, but I am glad that the author tried to build up the romance. There wasn’t much tension between the two characters and the kiss happened out of nowhere.

As for the whole plot, I thought it could have been great if there was no conflict in the yokai realm. Since most of the book took place in the human realm, it felt a bit too much to have two conflicts because Sakura was the main focus throughout the book. The conflict in Kazuki’s realm was ignored till the end!! But, despite Aisuru’s flaws, I did find myself enjoying the book. The book did have a villain! Surprise, surprise it wasn’t the brother. I assumed it was another character…since the villain didn’t get introduced till 50% of the book. I won’t give much away, but just wow.

What I liked:

  • Sakura’s pov
  • Karasu
  • The ending was cute

I feel that Aisuru could have made a good graphic novel since the author is inspired by Japanese culture. I was mostly thinking of anime when reading this book!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

miriam-michelle

ARC: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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goodreads-synopsis

Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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I received an ARC on NetGalley.

This review will contain spoilers!

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So the story starts off with Lane Roanoke. She has a detached personality and can be very cynical. Her mother commits suicide and she is adopted by her grandparents in Kansas. Lane was never close to her mother, and she was relieved when her mother died. Initially, Lane had no clue that she still had family. When she arrives in Kansas, she instantly forms a bond with her cousin Allegra. Lane’s life is transformed. Lane is not used to living in a loving home. Though everything seems perfect in the household, there seems to be a lot of things off with her new family members especially Allegra. Lane never stays as a permanent member of the Roanoke clan and leaves immediately as the summer comes to an end. As the years go by, Lane looses contact with her immediate family. One day when her grandfather calls her about Allegra, Lane knows that she has to return no matter the consequences.

When I first saw the title of the Roanoke Girls, I thought it was going to take place during the Roanoke colony. This is not the case for the Roanoke Girls. As I read the synopsis I was intrigued by the mystery, and decided to give it a go. What I read was dark and this book is not for younger readers. Also, don’t read it if you’re triggered easily by rape and incest.

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As I’ve mentioned, the mystery of Allegra’s murder had me intrigued. But, the author revealed shocking secrets in the beginning chapters…thus making it obvious who was the killer was. The book would have been stronger if the author had revealed the incest and pedophilia secrets till the very end of the story. By the time I was halfway done with the story, I knew where the story was headed. There weren’t that many suspects to pick from.

The main story is told in alternating perspectives between adult Lane and teenage Lane. There are also chapters including the povs of the other fallen Roanoke Girls who have died. I really liked that the other perspectives of the Roanoke Girls were told, though their chapters were short. Other than that, it felt as if Lane had not changed at all in her adult years. Lane’s character stayed consistent throughout the book. Though she became a bit more destructive as an adult.

One thing I can say is that the characters were not likable especially Lane. Lane is distrusting and angry, and resentful all the time. Lane is extremely bitter at how her life played out. Though she didn’t suffer as much as her cousin Allegra did, Lane is very hesitant to change. She still sees herself as destructive due to life events. Honestly, I found it hard to like Lane. She made it difficult to feel sympathy for her due to her actions. Instead of moving on, or at least getting a form of therapy to cope with life, she chooses the destructive path.

Lane could have avoided the pain and trauma of that summer if she had spoken. If she had said something to the authorities, Allegra’s death could have been prevented. But no, Lane chose not to speak to anyone. She felt that there was no person that she could have trusted. In a way, I feel that even Lane played a part in Allegra’s demise.

As for the other characters, I can say the same thing: none of them were likable, except for Cooper. Like Lane, Cooper also had a horrible childhood. Cooper suffered more than Lane, but he chose to better himself and not end up like his abusive father. Cooper became wiser as the years went by and tried several times to get Lane to open up.

When it came to the big revelation, I was not surprised at all. Most of the time, Lane spent her time having sex than looking for clues. When the killer confessed to the murder, it happened instantly. All I can say is that the Roanoke girls suffered from abuse: sexually and mentally. The Roanoke girls had no help from anyone. All the girls suffered a sad fate, which was death. I really despised the grandfather and the grandmother, but more the grandfather. It was such as sad book to read, but there were so many frustrating moments that could have been avoided if characters had helped out.

Despite all of it, the ending was a bit sweeter than I had anticipated.

Book Release: March 7th 2017 by Crown

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

miriam-michelle

Orange: Movie Review

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Last year, I read the short manga Orange by Ichigo Takano, and absolutely loved the story. The manga is about Naho, the main protagonist, who keeps receiving letters from her future self. Naho’s future self has many regrets in her life, and feels that in order to remove her guilt, the letters she writes to her sixteen year old self will alter history for the best. Most of the story deals with Naho and her love interest Kakeru, who happens to be one of Naho’s regrets later in life. Kakeru is a boy that appears to be happy on the outside, but he is in a dark place and has to be saved.

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I have to say the Japanese adaptation of the movie was spot on. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the anime yet. I’m saving it for winter vacation. As for the casting, I really liked it and it was well done. Tao Tsuchiya was spot on as Naho, and the actress definitely knew how to portray Naho’s innocence and sweetness. I was highly impressed with Kento Yamazaki who played Kakeru. He was really convincing. I found myself crying through most of Kakeru’s sad parts. Kakeru is such a heart breaking character because of his circumstances. As for Suwa’s character, he is still one of the best characters for me. I was emotionally invested in this movie and I am pleased that there were a couple minor changes to the story. The romance was adorable, but most of all, I loved the friendship between the group of friends. Orange is light hearted, but it can really make you cry when you see Kakeru’s circumstances or how the others feel about saving him. I’ll keep this short and sweet, I highly recommend watching the movie, but do check out the manga first!

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

i'm not your manic pixie dream girlAuthor: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreadsgoodreads-synopsisBeatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?he-he1

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Imagine the movie you really like right, and it gets a sequel that no one asked for, but the sequel is sort of good. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil felt like that to me. It’s a standalone, contemporary, young adult novel that was released earlier this month.

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According to Urban Dictionary, a manic pixie dream girl is:

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

Guys, I really didn’t know how to feel bout this book. Let’s start with the cover art. Not my favorite, and yeah, I judged the book by the cover. My sister looked at the book and said it looks bad. She didn’t read the synopsis. Anyways, I decided to read it. Honestly, this book is extremely cheesy…to the max. Like an extremely cheesy version of a Disney Channel Movie. (Not bashing on Disney Channel Movies, I actually like watching them.) As for my reading experience, oddly enough I couldn’t put this book down. It became a guilty pleasure despite how stereotypical it was.

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Beatrice is known as the “math girl” in her school. She has a passion for math and hopes to win the scholarship to MIT. She and her group of friends aren’t popular.  There’s Gabriel who is the ambitious, “nerdy” journalist friend, who happens to be hated by jocks because his article fired the football coach. There’s also Spencer who is sarcastic, moody, and an artist. It’s obvious that he is in love with Beatrice but the girl is oblivious. She starts dating Jesse who constantly drops hints that she should be more outgoing and try to more social. I thought he was somewhat sweet, but I still didn’t trust him.  Beatrice hopes for a better senior year. Unfortunately, she and her friends are still being bullied by the most stereotypical jock bullies who are irrelevant.

Beatrice the genius she is, comes up with a wild idea that will guarantee popularity for her friends and stop the bullying. Beatrice applies math to solve her situation. She knows numbers like there’s not tomorrow. The formula is useful for Beatrice because she decides to use it as an experiment in order to win the scholarship for MIT.

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Only she and Gabe are thrilled about applying the formula for instant popularity, while Spencer is against the idea. Long story short, all three friends apply Beatrice’s math formula. Gabe, who is gay by the way, becomes the most stereotypical version of himself by being super flamboyant, and Spencer doesn’t do much to his image besides advertise his art to people. Beatrice becomes a stereotypical version of herself by offering free tutoring to the popular folks, but she’s the only one that does not become popular.

Remember Jesse? Beatrice’s boyfriend. There’s a new girl in school that is a manic pixie dream girl. Her name is Toile Jefferies, and she steals Jesse away from Beatrice. Beatrice applies the same formula to herself and becomes a manic pixie dream girl, who ends up being Toile’s rival.

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Alright, so I summed up pretty much what happens during the first half of the story. Beatrice becomes Trixie who becomes one of the most popular girls at school. Beatrice becomes confident and far more outgoing in her Trixie persona. Everything seems to be going great for her and her friends, but what Beatrice did not expect her formula to fail her. Spencer is the voice of reason throughout this whole ordeal. He constantly reminds Beatrice that what she’s doing is foolish. He was a jerk, but the boy was being honest. He didn’t want to “change”, but did it to support Beatrice.

What ends up happening is that Beatrice becomes obsessed and competitive towards Toile. Girl literally forgets that the reason she changed her persona was to win her boyfriend back. Although Trixie is popular among the students, she almost loses her friends in the process by constantly hurting them even though she feels she’s doing the right thing. I called the ending and I didn’t stumble upon spoilers if you’re asking, it was very obvious from the moment I started the book.

What I liked from this book:

  • Spencer. The made the most sense from the cast of characters. Yeah, there were moments where he was a jerk, but he was being honest.
  • Supportive friends: It took Beatrice a while to understand she was hurting everyone, but her friends still loved her despite everything.
  • The romance: I admit that it’s not so great, but Beatrice realizes who she loves and she doesn’t get with him till the very end.
  • The comedy: This book reminded of Mean Girls. Ha ha. There were some moments that had me laughing. I enjoyed reading Beatrice’s pov, especially the situations she put herself into.
  • The rivalry

What I didn’t like:

  • Jesse….bye-felipe
  • The nerdy rival…I forgot his name, but he was so unnecessarily extra. Hated that he got a happy ending because he was a pie-hole.
  • How stereotypical the book was. This book is geared to a younger audience. I rolled my eyes a lot, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
  • The cover

Overall, I was mildly surprised by I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Final rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

Why I DNFed Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami

Goodreads Synopsis: Almost Transparent Blue is a brutal tale of lost youth in a Japanese port town close to an American military base. Murakami’s image-intensive narrative paints a portrait of a group of friends locked in a destructive cycle of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. The novel is all but plotless, but the raw and often violent prose takes us on a rollercoaster ride through reality and hallucination, highs and lows, in which the characters and their experiences come vividly to life. Trapped in passivity, they gain neither passion nor pleasure from their adventures. Yet out of the alienation, boredom and underlying rage and grief emerges a strangely quiet and almost equally shocking beauty. Ryu Murakami’s first novel, Almost Transparent Blue won the coveted Akutagawa literary prize and became an instant bestseller. Representing a sharp and conscious turning away from the introspective trend of postwar Japanese literature, it polarized critics and public alike and soon attracted international attention as an alternative view of modern Japan.

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Before I DNF Almost Transparent Blue, I had high hopes for it. I’ve never read anything by Ryu Murakami. I decided to check out his works because he was recommended to me. In addition, I was curious to see how this Ryu Murakami had a similar style to Haruki Murakami.

Honestly, I tried reading it several times throughout the summer. I couldn’t. It’s 126 pages long and I had to put it down. I wasn’t a fan of the depiction of orgies and drugs. Wow, I couldn’t get over it. I was very squeamish when I was reading. I didn’t even make it half-way through.

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Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The synopsis should have been a warning sign, but I decided not to judge the book by the synopsis. Oh, was I wrong. For every single time I tried reading, I never made it past page 40. I couldn’t. I want to take my reading experience back. Almost Transparent Blue is the first book I DNFed this year and you know what, I’m okay with it. There are some books that you can’t mentally push yourself to read. This was the book for me folks. Moral of the story: Don’t do drugs!

This gif perfectly describes my reading experience:

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I would not recommend reading Almost Transparent Blue if you’re very sensitive to strong languages and the disgusting depictions of drugs and orgies. Will I pick up Almost Transparent Blue in the future? Give it a second chance? Absolutely not. Even if you bribed me with money, I couldn’t read this book. Never, ever, ever again.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Negative Five Stars)