Unveiling the new Real Rad Rads!

Hi everyone!

excited gifs I’m very excited at the moment, since it’s finally time to share the new Real Rad Reads website! I’ve been making myself refrain from sharing any of the amazing new design for months now, and I can finally unveil it for you and everyone else on the internet.

So, without further ado, here’s the link to the offical new design: Realradreads.com

elsa gif

Go forth and click, and be sure to subscribe, as I’ll be getting rid of this wordpress website in the coming weeks to fully transition to the new site.

The design was done by the lovely Lizy Bloom, a web designer who blew me away with her creativity, skills, and general awesomeness. Thank you so much, Lizy, for all the phone calls, emails, and for accepting all of my crazy, random ideas and turning them into a masterpiece. I will forever be recommending you and your amazing talents.

My favorite part of this new design is the how colorful, bright, and RAD everything is. I loved personalizing the site by choosing my favorite quotes for the background, and for the titles of my favorite books that are actually on the spine of the books in the new header. These key details made everything so personal and fun, and I’m glad that there are so many pieces of me and my favorite books integrated into the new design.

I hope to see you around the new blog! I’ve got lots of fun posts planned, and I can’t wait to share all that’s new with you! See you there, and have a RAD day!

emma watson gif

~Mary Claire

ANNOUNCMENT: New Site Design & Update

Hey Real Rad Readers,

I wanted to let all of you know that I’m currently in the process of working with a designer on the final touches of the new design for Real Rad Reads! The new site is super cool, colorful, and of course, rad! I’m excited for all of you to see it, and read all the new posts and reviews that are coming your way! I will not be posting any new reviews on this old website unless they are already pre-scheduled, so I’m absent for a very good reason, and will hopefully be using the new site fully in the coming days.

Thank you for all your support! See you soon, lovelies!

~Mary Claire

the third twin

Early Review: The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

the third twinThe Third Twin

By: C.J. Omolou

Publication: February 24th, 2015

Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

My rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

 Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist. When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life. Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.

The Third Twin had a very interesting concept, and that’s what got me to request a review copy instantly when I saw it up on Netgalley. The synopsis promises twists, thrills, and a killer to be unmasked, and let me tell you, all of these elements were present as I followed Lexi and her twin Ava on the trail of a murderer, with everyone and anyone around them easily becoming a suspect.

Usually when I read thrillers, I pride myself on figuring out the identity of the murderer about halfway through the book. But the The Third Twin kept me on the edge of my seat, always questioning each of characters and their motives; this is truly  a “Who done it?” kind of book, and it reminded me of my favorite thriller masterpiece, Dangerous Girls. I didn’t know who the killer was until the last chapter or so, and that made reading all the more fun as I pushed past pages and reached the stunning conclusion.

The characters were well developed and quite believable as teenagers: reckless, hard on themselves, and growing up in definite ways. Lexi and Ava were polar opposites in everything but their looks. While Ava loved partying and boys, Lexi was more focused on school and grades. Even after many fights and bad decisions, they had each other’s backs. I enjoyed their friend groups and all the secondary characters made their lives feel just like a teenage girl’s would, full of different people that are in different areas of their lives. The author didn’t have to mold her other characters into stereotypes, all of the people in Lexi and Ava’s lives seemed like fresh characters who could be real people.

In terms of romance, it was slow to burn and very cute, especially the end. It takes two of our characters more than half the book to stop being stubborn and realize they like each other-and they do realize it at a particularly bad time when both of their lives are in danger. Besides that, the romance was adorable.

Moving onto the creepy parts of the book, many of the murders were very gory. Details where thrown in at just the right time when a descriptive sentence came up, and I found my spine wanting to shiver. I think that the author captured the elements of this book perfectly-high school, growing up, murders, family revelations-nothing ever felt fake or cliche like with some thrillers.

If you’re looking for a thrilling debut, check out The Third Twin when it publishes in a few weeks. I enjoyed the unique plot and the murder mystery, and was left satisfied with all the thrilling moments and revelations.

~Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for providing this digital ARC~

Real Rad Interviews: Lisa Aldin talks boys, highschool, and her debut YA novel, ONE OF THE GUYS!

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview the lovely Lisa Aldin about her new YA contemporary novel, One of the Guys. Find out more about her debut YA novel below, and then check out the interview full of boy advice, tomboy talk, and Lisa’s writing experiences.

The Book:

one of the guys coverOne of the Guys

By: Lisa Aldin

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming-of-age

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.
Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.
But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends–the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

About the Author:

lisa aldin Lisa Aldin graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in English Literature. She now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and daughter. ONE OF THE GUYS is her debut novel.

Twitter: @LisaAldin

Tumblr: http://delicatelittlebursts.tumblr.com

Website: https://lisaaldin.wordpress.com

The Interview:

Q: What was it like when you found out that One of the Guys was going to be published? What do you want readers to take from your debut novel?

Lisa says:  Oh, gosh. IT WAS THE BEST PHONE CALL EVER! I’d like for readers to have fun while reading ONE OF THE GUYS. I hope it’s an uplifting read. I hope people have a smile on their face when they finish it!

Q: In One of the Guys, Toni Valentine, our main character, is a total tomboy. Are you a tomboy or where you ever a tomboy? 

 Lisa says: I’ve never been huge fan of skirts. =) But sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up and get a pedicure. So I think I’m a mix of a tomboy and girlie girl. Sometimes it just depends on my mood!

Q: What is your advice for girls on boys, whether friends or crushes? 

Lisa says: Tough one! This is sort of cliche but I’d say just try to be true to yourself. Don’t make yourself into someone you’re not because you want to impress anyone. Also, honesty. Try to be honest.

Q:Did you have more guy or girl friends in high school? What’s your most embarrassing/silliest boy story?

Lisa says: I had a group of girl friends in high school. And I had a series of crushes, none of which went anywhere. I think they all remained pretty secret, actually. So I don’t really have many boy stories from high school! Ha. I guess I kinda watched from a distance! I didn’t really start dating until college, which suited me.

Q:What is your advice for teen writers? 

Lisa says: If you write, you’re a writer. Read and write and never stop working at it!

Q: Finally, do you have anymore upcoming projects? Can you share any exciting new details?
 

Lisa says: I’m working on a major revision for a novel right now. And I’ve got ideas for more! I don’t have details yet, as nothing is finished, but I hope to publish more in the future!!

The Giveaway:

The rules:

-No cheating!

-Must be 13 years or older. If younger, we ask that you have permission from your parent or guardian to enter.

-This is not an international giveaway. Entries from the U.S. only!

-If you are chosen as the winner, you will receive an email from me. Your prize will be sent to you as soon as possible.

Go forth and enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

book puzzle

Real Rad Mail #1

Hi everyone! I decided that I’m going to start a new feature post to show what books have popped up in my mailbox-whether from publishers, friends, or even just books I’ve pre-ordered. Welcome to the first addition of “Real Rad Mail”!

package from paige

So this pops up in the mail…and like any other book nerd, I’m crossing my fingers that it’s books!

And….it is!

books stacked

Thank you to my amazing friend Paige for sending me all of these books, and make sure to mark your calenders when March comes, because she’s going to be writing and posting a super awesome review of a book that’s coming your way in April! Paige and I are doing a book exchange, so after receiving this package in the mail today, I’m excited to pick out all of the books I’m going to be sending her way!

Check out all of the books she sent me and add em’ to Goodreads!

~They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

~Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

~A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron

~Oh Yeah Audrey! by Tucker Shaw

~An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

~Defy by Sara B. Larson

book puzzle

Thank you, Paige, for all of these books! I can’t wait to read them! Hope you enjoy the ones I’m sending to you!

Do you ever do book exchanges? have you read any of the books i RECEIVED? if not, what books have popped up in your mailbox lately? leave a comment below, i’d love to hear from you!

Febuarary 2015 Reads: A GIF-Guide

Hi everyone! I’m in shock that February is here, and with it comes some of the biggest books of the year! January felt like a slow publishing month to me, but suddenly, with February around the corner, I’ve found myself scrambling for my leftover B&N gift cards from Christmas and marking the biggest publishing dates on all of my calenders, planning strategic visits to the bookstore in hopes of grabbing the new titles I want  on the same day.

Without further ado, here are the biggest YA releases of February 2015, with a few GIFS to match!

~Fantasy~

fantasy gif

This month’s spotlight is Red Queen!

red queen coverRed Queen (Red Queen  Trilogy #1)

By: Victoria Aveyard

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?
Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood–those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard–a growing Red rebellion–even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

I’ve heard Red Queen is epic, but some other reviewers have also said it fell flat. Either way, the synopsis has me excited!

Other fantasy titles:

A Darker Shade of Magic                           A Wicked Thing                                     Beastkeeper

A Darker Shade final for Irene    a wicked thing  beastkeeper cover

 

~Contemporary~

crying-waterfalls gifs

 

Now, I chose this GIF for a very specific reason, because contemporary books can be cutesy and feel-good reads, heartwarming coming-of-age stories, or sad, I-want-to-cry-my-eye-out-now books. Some of the big books of this month match the last description in their themes and stories.

My contemporary spotlight for February is not one, but two books.  And from all the early reviews from some of my Goodreads friends, they  fit hand-in-hand with each other in terms of the topics they explore, and both seem to give readers reactions like the GIF above. My advice: stock up on the tissues!

The first spotlight goes to My Heart and Other Black Holes

My Heart and other black holesMy Heart and Other Black Holes

By: Jasmine Warga

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

The next spotlight is: The Last Time We Say Goodbye

the last time we say goodbyeThe Last Time We Say Goodbye

By: Cynthia Hand

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.
Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.
As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.
Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.
From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

Both of these books tackle the hard issues of suicide and grief, and I think that they will become must-reads for teenagers and adults-alike.
Other contemporary titles:

7 Days                                                    When Reason Breaks                 I’ll Meet You There

7 days goodreads cover when reason breaks cover il meet you there

The Distance Between Lost and Found   Better Than Perfect

distancebetween_final cover_4_1.indd       better than perfect

~Thriller/Mystery~

thriller gif

This month’s spotlight is Shutter

shutter cover Shutter

By:Courtney Alameda

Publication: February 3rd, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.
Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

So, Shutter looks awesome, no? Probably scarier and weirder than my usual reads, but I’m up for it this month!

Other thriller/mystery titles:

Scripted                                                   The Third Twin

scripted cover the third twin

 

Next, I would usually have a science fiction category, depending on the books being published this month. But, February is unique and I’ve some books that are mixed genres and are hard to classify. So, here’s my mixed category:

mixing gif

 

The two books featured in the mixed category are unique and very intertwined into different genres. Introducing, City of Savages, a science fiction thriller set in a dystopian world.

city of savages coverCity of Savages

By: Lee Kelly

Publication: February  3rd, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Warden Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For 17-year-old Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s 16-year-old sister, Phee, the P.O.W. camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.
When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the outbreak of the war, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual P.O.W. census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.
Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that ends in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District, and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past. Sky and Phee are dependent on each other, and their ragged posse, for survival, but as their feelings grow toward the handsome English boy Ryder, love and jealousy threaten to break them apart.
While primarily a thriller, City of Savages is also a story about the many meanings of sisterhood, told across two generations of New York women—those who survived a terrible tragedy, and those who were raised to live in its aftermath.

We also have The Glass Arrow, a dystopian science fiction book.

the glass arrow

The Glass Arrow

By: Kristen Simmons

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Find it: ~Goodreads~Amazon~B&N~

 The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.

There you go, those are the top titles publishing in February 2015 and some super awesome GIFS to match!

What books are you planing to read this month? which books from each genre are you most excited for?which gif from this post is your favorite?

ARC Review: Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Meyers

inherit midnight cover Inherit Midnight

By: Kate Kae Meyers

Publication: February 10th, 2015

Genre(s): Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller

Find it: ~Goodreads~Barnes & Noble~Amazon~

My rating:⭐⭐

 The Competition:
Outlandishly wealthy Grandmother VanDemere has decided to leave her vast fortune to the family member who proves him or herself worthiest-by solving puzzles and riddles on a whirlwind race around the globe, from the mines of Venezuela to the castles of Scotland. There will be eight competitors, three continents…and a prize worth millions.    The Players:
Seventeen-year-old Avery is the black sheep of the VanDemere clan, the ostracized illegitimate daughter. Finally, she has a chance to prove herself . . . and to discover the truth about her long-lost mother. Marshall might be Avery’s uncle, but there’s no love lost between the two of them. He’s her main competition and he’ll do anything to win-including betraying his own children. Riley is the handsome son of Grandmother VanDemere’s lawyer. As the game progresses, Avery falls hard for Riley. Suddenly, losing the game might mean losing him, too.As the competition takes treacherous turns, it becomes clear there can only be one victor. Who can Avery truly trust? And is winning worth her life?

Inherit Midnight had plenty of potential, but I felt that it didn’t deliver. I didn’t feel connected to the story, I didn’t find myself cheering for the characters, and reading began to feel a bit like homework as every little annoyance, whether it was from the characters, the writing, or the story itself- built up as the book progressed.

Avery was a Mary Sue, plain and simple. All of her family members were awful, snooty, and even violent. Avery was the only one who wasn’t any of those things and her Grandmother’s favoritism was shown, especially when Avery got a whole research team, a partner to help her with the challenges, her own personal tablet, and access to her Grandmother’s library and other key things for the challenges from Grandmother VaDemere’s law firm.

Speaking of this law firm, who in their right mind would support an old women who created a challenge to teach her family members respect and other values in the form of dangerous competitions that take place all around the world? That’s too far-fetched. Shouldn’t the press be picking up on this story? What would have happened if some of the family members died during the challenges? Who would be sued and who would be doing the suing?

As for the challenges themselves, they were interesting, but I failed to feel any excitement or tension. I knew who was going to win the competition right away and that took away any impact these sometimes dangerous challenges had. Certain challenges felt too easy, while others required skills that our characters seemed to instantly have while participating in them, but would be hard for any person who wasn’t a character to pick up right away.

In my opinion, the writing and characters were dull. I didn’t remember half of Avery’s relatives-they seemed disconnected from the story, as if they were only there to be tiny obstacles in the way of Avery’s success. In fact, all of these relatives hate Avery, and one makes a point of calling her a “slut” randomly. Avery is not a slut. That insult came out of nowhere, and I’m sure if the characters were real, even they would know how weak that statement is. It felt to me that the author was trying to give us another reason to feel bad for our poor protagonist, but I really didn’t like that name being thrown around.

Certain phrases within the story felt awkward and fake, all of them with sugary and cliche words and an exclamation point to match: “How I hated the sound of his condescending voice!” and “It felt so good to wear anything other than a baggy school uniform!” are just a few examples. I understand that an exclamation point should be use to express emotion and add some color to usual sentences, but it felt out of place in those phrases.

Moving onto romance, Riley and Avery were obviously falling for each other throughout the book, though I didn’t feel much chemistry between them. Some of the big, swoony moments came out of nowhere, and I was left wishing for Avery and Riley to tone it down a bit. Overall, the romance just didn’t feel very significant to me, since the two characters involved weren’t significant to me either.

To sum up, most of Inherit Midnight fell flat for me. There was one specific storyline between Avery and her long-lost mother that I found interesting, but overall many things felt cliche, dull, and insignificant.

~A review copy was provided in exchange for a honest review. Thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for this digital ARC!~

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

all the bright places goodreads cover  All the Bright Places

By: Jennifer Niven

Publication: January 6th, 2015

Genre(s): Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Find it: ~Goodreads~Barnes & Noble~Amazon~

My rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning! Thedore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.   Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself–a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.                                                  This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

If you read any book this month, this year, in your life, make sure you read All the Bright Places.

It is beautiful. Heart-wrenching. Nitty gritty. Masterful. A pure must-read.

The topics All the Bright Places explores are heavy, hard, and thought-provoking. Teens and adults alike reading this novel will face the issues of mental illness, suicide, and grief inside the pages with the two main characters, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey.

I’m cutting to the chase, folks: I stayed up past midnight, crying myself to sleep while flipping through the last few pages of this book. It’s inevitable that you’ll cry. I can only count on one hand the books that have made my cry: In third grade, Marley and Me had the tears coming. If I Stay, Second Chance Summer, and The Book Thief brought on the crying. All the Bright Places has the fifth spot on the list; the last book matched with my pinky when I count the small number of books that have made me cry.

I even saw a letter smudged with ink, and thought it was a stray tear (I held the book far away from my face that night so that no salty tears reached the bottom of the pages), but, after a few wipes and scratches, I realized that the book had come like that. From the tears that came from me, I think it’s fair of me to assume that was probably an editor or publisher crying over the book as they bound my version of the book. Sure, it’s probably most likely that the printer splotched some ink, but I’m going with the fun version of the story here.

To get to the point: I am so proud of Jennifer Niven for writing what she wrote. My first instinct after finishing ATBP was to send her an email that would only be able to convey a slice of my emotions, of how proud I was of her, about how grateful I am that she wrote the story she did. You go, Jennifer!

All the Bright Places tackles suicide and depression through the battles of both of our protagonists, Theodore and Violet. Theodore has always had a rough life, from abusive parents to his bipolar disorder. He has a habit of memorizing suicide facts and constantly thinking about death.

Check out the first line of All the Bright Places in Theodore Finch’s perspective:

“Is today a good day to die?

This is something I ask myself in the morning when I wake up. In third period when I’m trying to keep my eyes open while Mr. Schroeder drones on and on. At the supper table as I’m passing the green beans. At night when I’m lying awake because my brain won’t shut off due to all there is to think about.

Is today the day?

If not today—when?”

Violet Markey is drowning in her own grief over her sister’s tragic death, refusing to pick herself up and even attempt to be the girl she once was, feeling bad for being the only survivor in the car crash that left Eleanor, her sister dead.

“I wasn’t acting out. That wasn’t what it was. It’s just—I don’t cheer anymore. I quit student council. I suck at orchestra. I don’t have any friends or a boyfriend, because it’s not like the rest of the world stops, you know?” My voice is getting louder, and I can’t seem to do anything about it.

“Everyone goes on with their lives, and maybe I can’t keep up. Maybe I don’t want to.”

Pretty bleak quotes/feelings from those two, huh?

Well, the darkness inside both of these hurt people collides and burns into something bright and beautiful: a relationship.

Finch and Violet are paired up for a project where they have to “wander” Indiana. Besides being an educational experiences, during these “wanderings,” Violet and Finch find each other in the process, first becoming friends and then falling in love.

What I loved so much about this novel was that the characters: they were so flawed, funny, and endearing. Teenagers alike will fall in love with Finch, Violet and their story. Our society needs more books like this, books that highlight real problems of today and present them in a true light to readers. There’s not much else I can say, because All the Bright Places has so many beautiful moments, thoughts, and ideas expressed in every sentence, that I can’t even pinpoint anything, whether it’s a quote or moment that stands out in particular; everything made me cry, laugh, smile, and deeply examine my life. And, as a side note, being from the Midwest, I actually am only a few hours or even sometimes minutes away from some of the places explored in this book, and it taught me many things about my state. I might have to do some of my own wandering!

To sum up, All the Bright Places has earned a bright place in my heart. And it will earn one in yours.

gone too far cover

Review: Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

Gone Too Fargone too far cover
By: Natalie D. Richards

Publication: January 6th, 2015

Genre(s): Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

Find it: ~Goodreads~Barnes & Noble~Amazon~

My rating:⭐⭐

Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.  Piper Woods can’t wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She’s sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone’s sure it’s suicide, but Piper remembers Stella’s name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse. Drowning in secrets she doesn’t want to keep, Piper’s fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished..

 Gone Too Far started out with an addictive pace, and I was waiting for it anxiously to become a “smart, edgy thriller” as the quote on the cover reads.

It didn’t.

Half of the book went by, and that’s when my problems, in the form of blue sticky notes and angry handwriting were slapped into the pages of Gone Too Far. Everything that bugged me was recorded. 14 sticky notes are officially embedded in my copy of the book, and those were for major annoyances.

One of the problems I had was purely our main character, Piper. She has the power to punish people around her by texting an anonymous figure who wants to “team up” with her to take down the school’s popular kids. Piper does this not once, but multiple times, taking down people who already have many problems in their life, denying that they’re people and human and are loved by someone, only looking through eyes of hate and revenge. Piper sees the effects of what she’s done-a teacher lost her job, a kid’s college career is completely destroyed, and those are the worst, even if all of the victims are humiliated. And yes, I mean that word: victims. 

Throughout the novel, Piper portrays herself as the victim. She constantly justifies her actions by telling herself that she’s doing this for Stella–a girl who committed suicide because of bullying, a girl that Piper ignored in the hallway, a girl who Piper thought was just a “popular kid” until she died. In my opinion, it was never really about making things “right” for Stella, it was really about Piper giving herself a reason to inflict pain and suffering, to go after revenge, and then to have an excuse to quiet her guilty thoughts with.

All the wrong Piper caused made me mad. Sure, she was treated like a nobody, bullied, and teased, but that DOESN’T mean she has to keep the chain of meanness going by bringing “justice” to her classmates. Honestly, all the secrets she revealed about people would’ve come out anyway, given time. It was not Piper’s job to administrate punishment. And it bothers me that she pretty much got away with it and played victim throughout the whole novel.

Let’s add in Nick, our love interest, who’s a bit of prince charming. You know, that perfect popular guy, that one who’s never supposed to fall for the shy girl behind the camera (Piper). But he does anyway, and it shakes the social chain. It shakes Piper. She was always saying how they were from different worlds, with different interests, never even giving the poor guy a chance. And come on, Piper? Different worlds? Try being Romeo and Juliet for a day. Just try.

Nick felt too perfect to me. Sure, the touch of romance lightened my mood as the reader, since things like sex tapes, drugs, and general lying and backstabbing were going on, but Nick just felt like a typical love interest in a typical love story. And guess what? The romance doesn’t even make sense, because Piper is targeting Nick’s friends. She’s hurting them, making them suffer, and Nick barely gets mad at her! If someone I liked was going after my friends, I’d be angry at them. I’d reconsider my feelings for them. Nick kisses her in public just because she says she’s going to try to fix things. I’m not condemning forgiveness or redemption, but I really do think that reaction is unrealistic, especially since he’d just found out that Piper was behind the humiliation of his friends, that she had chose them for punishment.

One final thing I’ll point out before discussing the climax of the book is that Piper’s “anonymous” contact who’s carrying out the punishments and humiliations actually has no good motive. I know who this person is, as it is a central character, and by knowing their background and past situations they’re involved in, this person does not have the time, money, energy, and reason to punish anyone. Why would they want to get thrown in jail for punishing a few people who have wronged them, when they have so much else to lose? I’m trying not to cross the spoiler line here, but I really wanted to touch upon this fact before continuing.

Lastly, the climax of the book had me so mad. It’s in a boy’s basketball locker room, a fight between Piper and one of her classmates. The ending is what makes me mad:

“I pull the first thing I find off the floor, one of those sticks. I don’t even know how to hold it, but there isn’t time. No time. I pull back and swing at Jackson’s head.

The impact jars my shoulder, sends me down first. Jackson’s is still whipped back from the impact. His chin dips forward. Heavy-lidded eyes look down. Blood dribbles over his chin and drips onto my shirt. My stomach curdles. Jackson sways. And I watch him fall.”

Um, hold up. What kind of stick are we talking about here? And where did it come from? A tree branch? A plain stick? Where did it come from and why was it lying there so conveniently close to our main character only after she has a brutal fight? And why would this stick be in a boy’s basketball locker room anyway? I felt that this easy end to the fight totally sucks out all the excitement and anticipation the climax was supposed to deliver.

So, about 15 pages later I finally figure out that it’s a hockey stick. And, call me a skeptic or a critic, but I’m still thinking it’s kind of silly that someone randomly leaves a hockey stick on a locker room floor. Sure, it’s possible and believable, but I don’t read books because I want some half-hearted climax where someone gets bashed in the head, I read books because I want the author to be creative, to thrill and wow me with a creative climax and other situations. I want them to blow me away, to do something that’s never been done before, to make it hard for their characters, to make things complex, different, and beautiful. And honestly, with that ending to tie it up, I just didn’t see those things in Gone Too Far. 

~MC

 

 

 

 

 

FOR THE RECORD by Charlotte Huang Cover Reveal hosted by Me, My Shelf and I

Hi everyone! I’m so excited to be just one of the many blogs that is revealing the cover of For the Record by Charlotte Huang!

About the book:

for the record cover

Chelsea thought she knew what being a rock star was like . . . until she became  one. After losing a TV talent show, she slid back into small-town anonymity. But one phone call changed everything.
Now she’s the lead singer of the band Melbourne, performing in sold-out clubs every night and living on a bus with three gorgeous and talented guys. The bummer is that the band barely tolerates her. And when teen hearthrob Lucas Rivers take an interest in her, Chelsea is suddenly famous, bringing Melbourne to the next level—not that they’re happy about that. Her feelings for Beckett, Melbourne’s bassist, are making life even more complicated. Chelsea only has the summer tour to make the band—and their fans—love her. If she doesn’t, she’ll be back in Michigan for senior year, dying a slow death. The paparazzi, the haters, the grueling schedule . . . Chelsea believed she could handle it. But what if she can’t?

 

 Book link:

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21424692-for-the-record?from_search=true

 

About the author:

charloette author image

Charlotte Huang is a graduate of Smith College and received an MBA from Columbia Business School, which is clearly something every aspiring writer should do. When not glued to her computer, she cheers her two sons on at sporting events and sometimes manages to stay up late enough to check out bands with her music agent husband. Charlotte lives in Los Angeles and is the author of For the Record (Delacorte, 2015)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charlottexhuang
Website: http://charlottehuangbooks.com/index.html
Blog: http://charlottehuangbooks.com/tagged/blog
Instagram: http://instagram.com/charlottexhuang

 Giveaway:

One Winner will get the very first ARC of FOR THE RECORD, signed! Plus FOR THE RECORD swag.

Ships in US only | Must be 13+ To Enter

 a Rafflecopter giveaway