Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life of a Blogger: Handwriting

Life of a Book Blogger is a feature created by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat where we just get to know the bloggers behind our fave blogs with weekly questions unrelated to books. If you want to know more click the link above. I'll be doing this every Thursday.

Okay so this week's topic is about Handwriting. Excuse me while I have a freakout. I have always hated my handwriting. There has never been a time that I didn't that I can recall. When I write in stream of consciousness or I'm angry, I write like my dad. It's sloppy and hard to decipher, much like a doctor. But I love to journal. It's one of my favorite things in the world. It keeps me calm and helps me exhale. I have PTSD and anxiety disorder, among other things, so it helps with that because as much as I joke about needing a Xanax I don't like to use drugs to make me better. This is what my writing normally looks like:

My sometimes co-blogger Joel says he loves my writing and that it's pretty, but I think his is nicer....which seems to be the thing with us.

So this is me and my handwriting. Which, when I'm calm? I write just like my mom. I was able to forge her signature by the age of 8. I was a little deviant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Read and Review: My Life With the Walter Boys

Title: My Life With the Walter Boys
Author: Ali Novak
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Summary:Sixteen-year old Jackie Howard knows nothing about her new guardian Katherine Walter when she moves from New York to Colorado. After discovering that Katherine has twelve boys, Jackie fears that living in the Walter house isn't going to be easy. It's just icing on the cake that the boys look like Abercrombie models...

***Trigger Warnings*** Bullying, Traumatic Events

Review: Other than reminding me somewhat of one of my favorite novels Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys (which will be recced at the end of the review) this book is a whole nother level of boys being boys.

Jackie loses her entire family in a car crash and ends up living with her godparents, who she's met all of two or three times in her life...years ago. And what does she come to? They have 12 boys, well technically 11 because Parker is a girl who thinks that being one is a dishonor to her family, of varying ages. And it seems that, from the get go? They do not want Jackie there.

Jackie was actually a pretty interesting character. She was extremely organized, put together, and had nerves of steel when it came to the 'pranks' the boys played on her. She was determined to prove she belonged too. And eventually she did prove it. There were various times that Jackie ended up 'saving the day.' One of which was taking over the wedding planning for Katherine (the mother) for her oldest son's wedding so that Katherine and her husband could go on their anniversary trip.

I really liked how all the boys differed and that the boy Jackie was closest to was the 14 year old Nathan. He never treated her unkindly and took to her in the sweetest way. Their relationship was adorable. In Jackie's mind she had no family, she was an orphan, and Nathan treated her like she was his sister, the first of the boys to do that.

I also like how they actually did become a family. From what she did for Danny to how she ended up diffusing the rivalry between Alex and Cole. I'm not saying she "fixed" them, because regardless, they were a family before. But sometimes, in a house full of boys? They need a girl.

I didn't like Alex and Cole's fight over Jackie. I do like how it was resolved. It could have been a lot more dramatic and explosive considering how things went down between Alex and Jackie, especially with Alex's confession. But, in the end they just promised to be friends. I loved the resolution between her and Cole too. That whole thing could have played out a whole lot worse, but I loved that Jackie didn't lose her head. It made it a lot let messy. (Please note that the reviewer is not saying that if Jackie had lost her head in it all that it would have been a bad thing.)

The ending warmed my heart. Usually I hate open endings, but this one warmed my heart because while Jackie was spending the summer in New York and facing the trauma she left there, she was coming back home to the Walters, her family.


About the Author
 Ali Novak is twenty-two-year-old debut author and a recent graduate from University of Madison Wisconsin's creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel My Life with the Walter Boys at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 24 million reads and will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in March 2014.

When she isn't writing, Ali enjoys watching Food Network shows even though she can't cook, and reading any type of fantasy novel she can get her hands on. She is a Wisconsin native and hopes to make a career out of writing.

Where to Purchase: Amazon / Barnes&Noble
Recommended Reading

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a classic blog hop feature hosted by Breaking the Spine. As a book blogger myself, no matter how inconsistent I may be ;), I know a lot of the blogging community is plugged into the writing universe, such as when a sequel they've been salivating over or their favorite author's new book or even a brand new author who's getting a lot of buzz, when books come out. WoW is a way to share our tastes and signal boost upcoming books, as well as a wonderful opportunity to socialize and hop on other blogs.

Okay so I don't know if I have any other Marshmallows on my blog list, but since the Veronica Mars Movie came out? We were granted, not only a web series, but a book series following the events of the movie. Even better? If we get a sequel to the movie? It will tie in with the books. The book came out last month but I've been waiting for it for a couple of months (read: frothing at the mouth) and I'm using it for this week's WOW!!!

Title: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
Author: Rob Thomas
Summary: From Rob Thomas, the creator of the television series and movie phenomenon Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling mystery series that picks up where the feature film left off.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

As a long suffering Marshmallow (and I know I have more than a few out there freaking out over this with me) and bibliophile? This is a dream come true. The review is coming soon, I'm gonna freak out over this a little while longer.

Link me to  your WOW and I'll comment and all that jazz.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Read and Review: Heavyweight by MB Muhall

Title: Heavyweight
Author: M.B. Muhall
Genre: LBGTQA, Young Adult, Heavy Issues
Summary: Secrets. Their weight can be crushing, but their release can change everything—and not necessarily for the better. Ian is no stranger to secrets. Being a gay teen in a backwater southern town, Ian must keep his orientation under wraps, especially since he spends a lot of time with his hands all over members of the same sex, pinning their sweaty, hard bodies to the wrestling mat.

When he’s trying not to stare at teammates in the locker room, he’s busy hiding another secret—that he starves himself so he doesn’t get bumped to the next weight class.

Enter Julian Yang, an Adonis with mesmerizing looks and punk rocker style. Befriending the flirtatious artist not only raises suspicion among his classmates, but leaves Ian terrified he’ll give in to the desires he’s fought to ignore.

As secrets come to light, Ian’s world crumbles. Disowned, de-friended, and deserted by nearly everyone, Ian’s one-way ticket out of town is revoked, leaving him trapped in a world he hates—and one that hates him back.
**Trigger Warnings: intense homophobia, hate crimes, violence, descriptive passages about EDNOS, racial slurs, and physical abuse from an adult in an authority position.

Review: This is a hard review for me to write. The thing is? It should be hard. Eating disorders, racism, and homophobia should never be a light topic in any situation. This is a heavy book and, for a lot of people, it isn't going to be a their cup of tea. Perhaps the most distressing thing is that, for all that we talk about anti bullying? Hate is still alive and well in far too many lunch rooms. This is one of the better books I've read in the recent years that truly tackles these subjects. Immense in it's realism on the subject matters it tackles, M.B. Mulhall deserves every award in the book for not taking the easy route on this. It's gritty ,and at times very hard to handle, but the way Mulhall crafts the story allows it to be the punch in the face it should be.

It's been over 24 hours since I finished this book and I'm still grappling with myself and my need to do this book the kind of justice it did for the kid who's scared to come out of the closet, the kid who feels the immense pressure to be perfect, or the kid who walks with their shoulders hunched, hoping to God the student body won't tear them down for something so far beyond their control such as race or sexual orientation. Still I'm going to attempt to do this book some semblance of justice.

Ian has a lot of secrets. From his home life to his sexuality to the way he stays in his weight class. He's breaking under the stress. Underneath all that baggage though? Ian is a great person. He will do anything to protect the people he loves. Even if it means he'll take the fall for it. In the beginning, he has one good friend and, luckily for Ian? Clay is a good friend. Clay has his moments, just as we all do. He's human. he has moments where he is an ass and he says things that no one should ever say about another person, even if it is over jealousy. But, in the end, bro are bros because Clay's got Ian's back no matter what.

I want to make it clear that this Ian's story. It's about his struggle with his parents, his future, and trying to be true to himself. His home life isn't ideal, it's clear his mother loves him but, as often is the case? His mother is loyal to his father. No matter how much she loves her son, she'll never choose Ian over her husband. Ian's father is a leech on society who is content to live off the system while reliving his glory days. Discontent with the way his life turned out he is determined to have Ian live as he does. He wants him to quit school, a constant mantra of his was something along the lines of '8 years was enough schooling for me, why do you need more.' He constantly tried to tear his son down for 'not being good enough.'

Ian needs control. However when twins Julian and Mei Li come into town? It turns his entire world upside down. It makes the lines he's set for himself blur. For the first time in his life he's attracted to another man that's in the same school as him. And the town Ian lives in is very narrow minded and very white. I'm not saying that all towns are like this, but I know a lot of towns here in the south that are just like it. Justin and Mei Lei are treated awfully from the get go and Ian's ex girlfriend targets her from the minute they lock eyes.

I loved the friendship between Ian and Mei Lei and how it progressed. I also loved how it was a completely separate thing from what he had with her brother. She became like his sister in a way.

Something very very wonderful about this story is that is was not just about the romance. I said before that it was Ian's story and I was serious. This is about his battle with himself and against his outward demons. That being said? The romance was omg steamy. I definitely had to fan myself a few times.

I did like the end result of the book. I liked the resolution. It showed that, even in a narrow minded place, there are still a lot of people that see the person, not the orientation.

Whether the reader realizes it or not? Ian was lucky in so many ways. Not everybody else is.

It's a great book. I hope you'll pick it up. I promise it's worth every word.


About the Author
MB Mulhall is an author and a budding photographer. When she’s not pecking away at her keyboard or looking at the world up close through her lens, she’s got her nose stuck in a book.

A Jersey girl, born and bred, she spends much of her time scouring the boardwalks for images to capture and conversations to overhear.

MB dreams of one day having at least one bookshelf filled with her own work and of decorating her walls with photographs she’s taken from places around the world.


***Recommended Reading***
The God Box by Alex Sanchez
Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature created at the iconic blog, The Broke and the Bookish. If you like making lists then I highly recommednd that you participate in this. Check out about how to participate in the feature HERE.

This week's topic is Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors In My reading Journey AKA Books or Authors that got you into reading an author, book, or genre you wouldn't normally read or that you never thought you would.

Here Be My List

1. This top spot almost went to Harry Potter, which was the book that got me into reading in the first place. But it definitely belongs to Julia Quinn. It is ALL HER FAULT that I got into reading Adult Historical Romance. Joel had been trying to get me to read her for YEARS. But if you know anything about me you are aware that you can't convince me to do anything until I'm good and ready. And the harder you push, the more reluctant I am. I'm not a very docile woman and I probably never will be. But because of Julia Quinn I discovered a ton of other historical romance authors. And a lot of literary snobs will call them trashy chick lit, but I call them delicious works of art. :) 

2. Because my top spot went to Julia Quinn, my second must go to Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone because that book was my gateway drug into all the books. I literally would not be the kind of reader I am now if not for those books. My mom got me the first three books at my school's book fair and I read them in less than twelve hours. After that I looked around my room like, "What's next?" Which leads me to my third entry.

3. Ann M. Martin was the author of the Babysitter's Club books. I was OBSESSED with those books when I was ten to fifteen years old. I sold my collection at fifteen. But I tried my damndest to get every single one of those books I could. A lot of them were written before my time and out of print. So, in order to find them, I'd go through thrift shops, used book stores, and garage sales trying to complete my collection. They probably sealed my obsessed reader status.

4. And if Ann M. Martin didn't seal my status? Then Tamora Pierce's The Circle of Magic did. Sandry's Book initiated me into the world of Emelan and, just as I grew up with the Golden Trio? I grew up with the four mages who became each other's family. Every time I find out there's a new book or series about them (as it stands there are The Circle of Magic, The Circle Opens, and The Circle Reforged which has one more book before it's completed) I get just about excited as I do/did when a new Harry Potter book came out.

5. The Princess Diaries were a huge impact in my life because they introduced me to Meg Cabot who, even to this day, was one of my formative influences. I worship that woman and when I found out she followed me on twitter (I'm not sure if she still does) I fell out of my chair and just started crying. She's written some of the best young adult and adult fiction I've read in my life. Rife with sarcastic wit and great pop culture references, this woman was a GOD to me when I was younger and still is to this day.

6. Sarah Dessen definitely deserves a HUGE mention here because she was the gateway book into young adult contemporary. After her I discovered Susane Colasanti, Jennifer Echols, and Rachel Cohn etc etc. Everytime there's a new Sarah Dessen Book out I absolutely freak out.

7. Secret Society Girl is one of my favorite series, but before it I'd never really read ANY adult fiction. Growing up my parents had some really really serious restrictions on what I read at times. It took me forever to get around to reading it. But once I did I was absolutely smitten. Now I'm much more apt to look for adult fiction than I was before and I really enjoy stories about Secret Societies, or just college experiences in general.


8. I'm not even ashamed to say that Twilight was my gateway book into loving paranormal romance. And to this day I can still read the first two books with fondness and great affection. I don't hate the series anymore and I'm grateful for what it ended up exposing me to. I found great books like Vampire Academy,Tiger's Curse (still a paranormal romance), and many more.

9. Rick Riordan helped me tap into a world that I've always loved but never really delved into: Mythology. It's because of him I ended up reading Aimee Carter, Jennifer Estep, and anything I could get my hands on Mythology related.

10. Ilona Andrews, the husband and wife team, got me into the adult paranormal romance scene. The Kate Daniels series is just such a kick ass series and Kate is a TOTAL BAMF. I don't see how anyone could not love her. Once again this was an incidence where my mother wanted me to stay away from her book collection, but I ended up loving it too much. So here I am (im)patiently waiting for the next book to come out....and pondering giving Richelle Mead's adult books a try.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  Do it on whatever day that floats your boat and you're invited to put your link in the list on her page and blog hop comment for comment. Vicariously! participates in the blog hop on Mondays, showing my fellow bloggers my haul for the week. I don't always have something to show so this is interchanged with the occasional guest post.
So sometime within the last two years there was a ebook lawsuit with several publishers for overpricing ebooks (from what I understand). As most of you know I have a NOOK, so while Barnes and Noble was not implicated in the lawsuit, they still refunded their customers in accordance with the lawsuit. I had no idea this thing had even happened. So imagine my surprise when I come home and open my e-mail only to find that I should check my NOOK for credit given to me by this lawsuit. So I opened my NOOK and what do I find? I have $75 to spend. So a special thank you to Barnes and Noble for this Edition of Stacking the Shelves.

1. I Am That Girl by Alexis Jones
Summary: In a crazy, media distracted world the important questions often get lost like: What’s your passion? What’s your purpose? Who do you want to be? Alexis Jones has built a career listening to and helping girls around the world figure out those questions in order to inspire them to think for themselves, to speak their truth, to discover their purpose, and to dream HUGE! Alexis believes that you’re not broken nor do you need to be fixed. You already are that girl who creates magic wherever she goes, who lives fearlessly, who inspires those around her to dream bigger, and who will leave the world better, just for having been in it.  

Stop listening to that voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough. Stop worrying that you don’t have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect relationship, or perfect anything for that matter. Stop letting other people draw boundaries and limits around your life. And start living the life that you truly want (now!), the one you didn’t think you had the courage to imagine, but the one that’s absolutely possible! Including stories from thirty incredible women, Alexis has compiled everything she’s learned into one complete guide to being That Girl, the best version of you.

Blogger's Thoughts: This book has been getting A LOT of celebrity hype. From Kristen Bell to Sophia Bush to Hilary Duff and more, this book is about getting off your butt and doing what makes you happy. I'm loving it so far.

2. The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Summary: For the first time in print, New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn presents a collection of "second epilogues" to her Bridgerton series, previously published as e-originals, plus a new bonus Bridgerton novella: "Violet in Bloom," a short story in which we finally meet Edmund Bridgerton.

Blogger's Thoughts: Anyone who remotely knows me know that Julia Quinn is my crack and that The Bridgertons were the WHOLE reason I got into histiorical romance. I can't wait to get a peek into their lives after their books ended :).

3. Play With Me by Anna Katmore
Summary: Hunter grinned but he didn’t seem as happy as the guy next to me. More like he knew crap was about to fall.
“He can’t play when someone’s watching him,” Justin almost sang into my ear. “Totally screws up then.”
“But you all are watching him,” I pointed out.
At the back of the room, someone laughed. “Yeah, but we’re not girls.”

Ryan Hunter’s parties are legend. And tonight she’s going to be there.

Liza Matthews has been in love with her best friend since kindergarten. They’re close as can be. They’ve even slept in each other’s bed. But they’ve never kissed. Weeks away from her seventeenth birthday, Liza hopes that soon things will change between them. But when Tony comes home after summer soccer camp, his mind is focused on someone else. And worse, that new girl is a soccer player.

Fighting for her love, Liza gets carried away and makes a stupid decision: Without the least bit of talent or any passion for the sport whatsoever, she goes for the co-ed soccer team.

The tryouts are hell, the first match ends bloody, and the morning after the selection party she wakes up in the worst place possible—in the arms of the captain of the soccer team. The hottest guy in school. Ryan Hunter.

Blogger's Thoughts: This looked interesting. Predictable, but interesting.

4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Summary: Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
Ages 12+

Blogger's Thoughts: I've actually been eyeing this book for a couple of years. I've heard nothing but good things about it so I finally bought it. I cannot wait to get into it.

5. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Summary: Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

Blogger's Thoughts: Thank GOODNESS I was able to get the sequel at the same time because I hate waiting for books. In fact, I hate it so much that I will wait til a series is completely fnished before I'll read it. 

6. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Summary:  Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things. 
But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Blogger's Thoughts: The Sinner or Saint premise intrigues me on many levels. I cannot wait to delve into this one.

7. You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Summary: Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother's grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbor, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.

Blogger's Thoughts: I love books. They're probably my second love, however one of my favorite type of books are road trip books. And this one sucked me in from the first sentence of the summary. I'm more than a little excited about this one.

8.Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
Summary: Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

Bloggers Thoughts: I was just browsing through books when I came across this summary. It intrigued me while also leaving me with hundreds of questions about how exactly this worked. I'm really excited to read it and figure out the mystery ;).

9. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Summary: Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Blogger's Thoughts: This book has gotten such a mixed reception in the blogosphere. However I adore the premise and cannot wait to delve into this one.

10. Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
Summary: Sometimes you have to get lost . . . 
The Girl: Clio Ford, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.

The Mission: Survive her father's crazy antics. Oh, and also find some missing underwater treasure that could unlock the secrets of civilization.

The Crew: Dad's wacky best friend Martin, his bizarre research partner Julia, her voluptuous daughter Elsa . . . and then there's Aidan, Julia's incredibly attractive, incredibly arrogant assistant.

As Clio sails into uncharted territory she unveils secrets that have the power to change history. But her most surprising discovery is that there's something deeper and more cryptic than the sea-her own heart.

. . . to find what you're looking for

Blogger's Thoughts: For some reason I keep stumbling upon Maureen Johnson's books and they have such good premises. I think I may just be one of her biggest fans.

11. Panic by Lauren Oliver
Summary: Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

Blogger's Thoughts: Lauren Oliver has always been a must read for me. So when this book came out the only thing that ran through my head was I MUST BUY THIS NOW. And then when I read the premise? I was like HELL YEAH.

That's all for this week's Stacking the Shelves. Link me to yours because I ALWAYS follow & comment back! :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Read and Review: You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Title: You Look Different In Real Life
Author: Jennifer Castle
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary
Summary: For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.

Trigger Warnings: Nothing

Summary: One of my favorite things about this novel was that, they DID show the gritty nature of reality TV. A lot of people assume that reality TV is people being walking and going about their normal day. And they aren't. They're given a script, their interactions are manipulated and timed. They cut footage and edit it to suit the studio's and the viewers "needs."

The premise of this book was that a group of five random kids got thrown together every 5 years to make a movie to see how their lives and interactions with each other progressed as they got older. In theory it was a good idea. In a way you got to see the kids mature. However, when turmoil went on in the kids life, such as one of their mother's leaving them, instead of treating the matter with delicacy, the big time producers set it up so that they could FILM the child's father telling her, so that the reaction would be more real.

The two people that came up with the idea in the first place, they did seem to genuinely care about the kids and, in one particular instance, instead of using something juicy for the their documentary, one of them gave the kids an opportunity to handle it together, without the judgement of the cameras.

It was very interesting to look at the relationships between people in the books. Some of the 5 kids still talked to each other, but they weren't close anymore. And there was a lot of jealousy and pressure on Justine. As a child, she was a natural star. The camera loved her and she was constantly making things interesting. She didn't think the 5 at 16 film would ever be made. She didn't want it to be made either because that meant Justine would have to face something awful she'd done to someone else. She felt sorry, but didn't know how to say it, didn't know how to face the consequences of her choices.

Maybe the characters weren't hella developed, but they definitely had their own personalities and stories to tell. I think that anyone who reads the book will identify heavily with one, if not all the characters. There was a story in there for everyone.

This is one of the rare books I think everyone can relate to in one way or another.

About the Author

Jennifer Castle received her B.A. in Creative Writing at Brown University and worked as a celebrity publicist’s assistant, an advertising copywriter, and a struggling screenwriter (yes, that’s an actual job) before falling into a niche producing websites for kids and teens. Her first novel, THE BEGINNING OF AFTER, was a 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection as well as a Chicago Public Library "Best of the Best" book. Her next novel, YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE, was published by HarperTeen in June 2013. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters.