Raindropreflections: September 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011

What I'd Love to See More of in YA

I’ve been lucky this summer and into September, and therefore read some amazing books that really made me think. Case in point: Libba Bray, Patrick Ness (!), and all these amazing authors I feel lucky to have read. But then there was a spate of equally (subjectively, remember) bad books, and it really got me thinking. What do I want to see more of in YA?

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The New Adult Genre. Dude, this is SO interesting. Remember the Jessica Darling books? I’d LOVE to see a protagonist go through college, just so that when I’m in college myself, I’ll have something to relate to. Besides, I’ve always loved reading about people a TINY bit older than me. And I’m almost sixteen now, so… yeah, bring on the New Adult genre.

No Insta-Love, Please! I know I was supposed to tell you what I WANT, but I’ve always been better at outlining what I DON’T want. I don’t know. Insta-love just doesn’t gel with me, probably the reason I like contemporary books so much- they usually never have insta-love. Insta-like-obsession I can believe. But not insta-love. Ahem.

Creativity. We’ve seen the werewolves. We’ve seen the vampires. Bring on the [creative] superpowers! Bring on the [different] supernatural creatures! 

Writing. There seems to be a perception that a) YA literature is lower in quality than adult literature because b) teens aren’t exactly that good at reading. Plus they have short attention spans. Well, let me (a real teen) tell you: neither is true. We can read, thanks. And we’d love to have our brains challenged, too, and- now I’m contradicting myself- not just through writing. Patrick Ness’s books are relatively simple to read, but DUDE, their ideas, their implied lessons, their everything is so profound. You know what I mean? 

So yeah, that’s about what I’d love to see more (or less, in the case of insta-love) of in YA. What do you guys think? Got any ideas yourself?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine =)

This week, I’m looking forward to The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani, releasing January 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

After her father loses his job, Sonia Nadhamuni, half Indian and half Jewish American, finds herself yanked out of private school and thrown into the unfamiliar world of public education. For the first time, Sonia’s mixed heritage makes her classmates ask questions—questions Sonia doesn’t always know how to answer—as she navigates between a group of popular girls who want her to try out for the cheerleading squad and other students who aren’t part of the “in” crowd.

At the same time that Sonia is trying to make new friends, she’s dealing with what it means to have an out-of-work parent—it’s hard for her family to adjust to their changed circumstances. And then, one day, Sonia’s father goes missing. Now Sonia wonders if she ever really knew him. As she begins to look for answers, she must decide what really matters and who her true friends are—and whether her two halves, no matter how different, can make her a whole.

The story of an interracial girl, probably one of the only people in the world like that? I’d love to read about it. The cover is pretty cool, too. The only thing I’m unsure of is whether it’s MG or YA. I found it in the YA list, but… if you’ve got any idea, let me know!

What are you guys waiting on this Wednesday? Drop a link, because I’d love to visit!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Review- Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Summary (goodreads):

Rogerson Biscoe, with his green eyes and dark curly hair, is absolutely seductive. Before long, sixteen-year-old Caitlin finds herself under his spell. And when he starts to abuse her, she finds she’s in too deep to get herself out…

Before Reading: I’ve heard great things about this book, and I’ve grown to love Sarah Dessen’s books for their realness, but when I saw the old, tattered copy with a not-so-appealing cover on hold from me from the library, my hopes went down considerably. Of course, I ended up loving the book, which just goes to show that I shouldn’t be judging books by their cover or shininess. And this cover is SO much better than that collage one, yes?

My Thoughts

Dreamland is addictive. In fact, I think it’s Sarah Dessen’s best work (from what I’ve read so far). I end up saying that about every Dessen book I read, but I think Dreamland is completely unlike her other books. I mean, Sarah Dessen’s characteristic sombre prose was there, and although this book is like, eleven years old, (surprise, surprise) it’s something teenagers can relate to right now.

Abuse is a tough topic to handle, and an equally tough one to read about. The only book I’ve read about abuse is Split by Swati Avasthi and has this gripping realness to it that doesn’t make you doubt that people can be insanely cruel, but more importantly, that their victims tolerate it even when they know they don’t have to.

Dreamland handled the abuse issue extremely well. I wouldn’t want to classify the type of abuse and the name given to this when it happens to teenagers; all I know is that anyone, anywhere, could be going through this right now, and we wouldn’t know unless we looked hard enough. That’s an immensely scary thought, and one that opened my eyes through this book.

Caitlin- the things that happened to her just broke my heart. Some of those maybes in her life- the parts where she could’ve walked away and none of it would have happened- I wished she didn’t have to face all those things, but it was going through them that made the story that much more special in the end.

And Rogerson- I have to admit, I took to his bad boy attitude immediately. I’d read that the book was about abuse, but I couldn’t believe that Rogerson would do those things until that incident with his father. I know, I know, but until the abuse started, I liked Rogerson. I feel so terrible saying that, but I did. Just as you don’t know who might be suffering from these things, you don’t know who could be the one causing the pain.

Cass, Caitlin’s sister, was the one I could really relate with; so much pressure sometimes that you wish you could do something completely unexpected to show yourself that you were still the master of your fate. And Caitlin’s parents- while at the beginning of the book, I thought they were exceptionally flat characters for a Sarah Dessen book- well, it turned out Dessen has always been a genius at making characters extremely real.

Parting Thoughts: I can see how far Sarah Dessen has come in her writing career, and I treasure every single book of hers that I read: they’re there as a testimony that hey, someone out there understands teenage girls and knows what we go through, though it’s usually less dramatically in real life. Dreamland is a beautiful and heart-wrenching book, and I think that everyone who’s trying to figure out who they are should read it.   

Rating: 5/5.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren =)

This week’s haul is pretty good- aside from a few books on precalc, I got two books I’m totally looking forward to reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

ZOMG I am SO excited to read Blood Red Road, since I fell head over heels in love with The Knife of Never Letting Go, which, from the dialect of Young’s book, seems to be a bit of the inspiration for Blood Red Road. Awaken looks pretty good, too, although I’m not a big fan of the cover.

What’ve you guys got in your mailbox this week? Go ahead and drop a link, since I’d love to visit!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

How Often Do YOU Update?

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For now, I’m kind of lazy. I post a review a week, a Waiting on Wednesday meme, and more recently (okay, only twice now) a discussion post. I don’t know if this is enough per week, or what?

I feel like I should be updating a certain number of times a week, and consequently, I’m super-guilty if I don’t. On top of that, I have like fifty reviews still unposted, but now that school is here, I know I’ll be reading less, so I don’t want to be all out of reviews in only a little bit. Besides, back when I posted like two or three reviews a week, it kind of felt like I was just updating for the heck of it, you know?

So I’m asking you: how often do YOU update? How did you find that happy balance between too much and too little? Any tips for me to find the same balance?

ps: did you notice my Google Friend Connect follower amount? As of right now, when I’m posting this, it’s 98 (!). Feel free to follow if you’re new, so, you know, I get all happy when I see a nice three-digit number when I next check up on my blog and freak out with happiness. Just sayin’…

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This Wednesday, I’m looking forward to the release of Everneath by Brodi Ashton, which is releasing- oh, pretty soon- January 3rd, 2012.

Summary (goodreads):

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT COVER? It’s kind of the main reason I’m dying to read this book. It’s definitely one of the best covers of 2012… and now I realize that the summary sounds somewhat like a Hades-Persephone type story, which I always enjoy, because it’s just so intriguing to think about.

Also, I’ve recently started following the author’s blog, and it’s funny and sweet, so I look forward to reading this book.

What are you guys waiting on this Wednesday?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Review- The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen

Summary (book cover):

A long, hot summer… that’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen- things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, is it really better to be safe than sorry?

What I Expected: now, this might shock you, but the first Sarah Dessen book I read, Lock and Key, didn’t wow me as much as I expected. Of course, I might’ve been reading too much hype, but still. THIS book, though- well, when I bought it, I thought the title was pretty awesome, so hey, maybe the story will be amazing. And you know what? It was.

My Thoughts

Sarah Dessen has a gift very few people do: she knows exactly how to show grief/resentment/angry feelings without it being overpowering- without it being the ONLY thing going on in the book. The Truth about Forever is truly amazing because it has the perfect mix of pain and recovery, of love and letting go, and of course, a strong, beautiful message throughout.

When I learned that the MC Macy’s dad had died, I prepared myself for an emotional, heart-wrenching experience like The Sky is Everywhere. But in truth, this book didn’t dwell too much on the sadness Macy felt at her dad dying; it dealt with the part about death where you can finally remember someone without breaking down.

Even though the end left a major question hanging, which I usually hate in books because I happen to like happy endings, The Truth about Forever still left me feeling like, wow, I just had an AMAZING reading experience.

The characters in this book are EPIC. They’re so well-formed, each with their own traits- I mean, even the mean library girls, Bethany and Amanda, were loaded with personality. Every single character could have a book of their own, they’re so complex and wonderful.

Macy is one of the best protagonists I’ve ever read about. She was a complete human being in a way few YA book characters are- she had her flaws, her strengths, her weaknesses, and she made a whole that was so real that you could see her as clearly as your best friend.

Kristy is my favourite too, because she’s as complex and real as Macy. And Bert? I agree. The end of the world is coming. But hopefully not in our era. Monica was also amazingly well- crafted. I could hear her in my head every time she was like, “Donneven,” or “umm-hmmm.” It made me laugh.

Macy’s mother- oh my gosh, all that hurt, all that pent-up grief- wow. Sarah Dessen showed such a deep insight into how some people grieve. And Caroline was pretty awesome too, just because she was all deep and stuff about Wes’s artwork, delving into those hidden meanings and all.

And Wes- OMIGOSH THIS IS SO MY GUY. I wish guys like him were more common, because the game of Truth Wes and Macy played was way too honest to be true. I lie like seventy percent of the time while playing Truth, and these two were actually not lying. Wow. Anyways, back to Wes- I love him! And his artwork and all was beautifully done. I wish I could see something like that in real life.

Parting Thoughts: if you haven’t noticed it during this review, this book is exactly the kind of contemporary novel I was looking for, and I am officially a Sarah Dessen fan. Second time reading her book worked, then.

Rating: 4.5/5. Do I need to explain?   

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine =)

The Wednesday I’m waiting on Perception by Kim Harrington, #2 in the Clarity series. It’s releasing March 1, 2012, which I guess isn’t so far off… hey, wasn’t that the release date for the first book, too? I feel like it might’ve been…

Summary (goodreads):

When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

So, yeah, it looks like a cool read. I like the cover for the first book a lot better, but this one isn’t exactly terrible either, so I’m happy =)

What’re you guys looking forward to this Wednesday?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Seven Contemporary YA Books I Love

I’ve realized that contemporary is my favourite genre, even more so than dystopian. And I’ve also realized that people, for some reason, think that it’s dark and brooding and all that.

I get that people read to get into another world, which isn’t exactly the point of contemporary, but dude, this genre is full of gems that AREN’T depressing. I promise. Look here, for example, for seven contemporary YA books you need to read to get to know this genre.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I don’t really qualify this as dark, although I find Melina Marchetta’s style a little brooding (in a good way, of course). This is a beautiful book, a haunting book that, if you keep your patience for the first part, will leave you sobbing (or maybe with one little tear in your right eye, like I did). Any book that can make you cry is genius.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Oh, this book is amazing. The title is genius, the writing is beautiful, and the story made me laugh and cry and shake my head at what a genius this author was. This is contemporary at its nicest, contemporary that speaks volumes about friendship.  

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah is one of my favourite authors not because her writing is amazing or her stories genius, but because her books are something I can relate to. They show people who aren’t the ethnicity she writes about (Arab Muslim, which, no is NOT the same thing) a glimpse into their world, and she shows people who are a little of something (Arab or Muslim) what their counterparts in other parts of the world face.

This book is funny, sweet, and a must-read for those who wonder why some people do what they do. 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Oh, how I love this book. And how I am a total fangirl of John Green. But I think that this is his best work I’ve read so far (and I’ve read all his books except for Looking for Alaska). I LOVE Hassan and his laugh-out-loud dialogues, and if I can remember the rest of the characters so long after reading this book, there has got to be something special about this book, right?

The Jessica Darling Series by Megan McCafferty

Okay, this is actually five books, and they aren’t exactly the most relatable books for our generation in terms of pop culture, but HEY I still love these books to bits. They’re raw, funny, sweet, amazing, and OMIGOD I’m in love with Marcus Flutie. Never thought I’d like a guy with rooster hair, but there you are. This is an unforgettable series with characters that’ll stay with you forever.

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

This book is beautifully written, and the setting is so vivid that it feels like you’re right there in the Wyoming badlands along with Grace. And isn’t Mandarin a cool name? I’ll get my named changed to Mandarin whenever I get tired of my own. Well, maybe. But this book is amazing. And different. And raw. And something you’re not likely to ever forget.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Even though it’s set in the eighties, I’ve realized that other than clothes, slang, and pop culture, nothing much changes about being a teenager. And this book is amazing. I loved the writing, the setting, and of course, the love interest in the book, although he was kind of a jerk and I can’t remember his name right now.

This is as varied as I can get in my contemporary books as of now. There’s more contemporary love coming your way for sure, as soon as I read another great contemporary and feel the urge to put it in a list. In fact, right now I have The Perks of Being a Wallflower on my bedside table just begging to be read, and I have a feeling it’s going to be in a LOT of my contemporary booklists from now on.

For now, though, this is enough. Go out and discover these new worlds within our own!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Review- All That Matters by Youseph Tanha

Summary (goodreads):

Ethan Wright is just like any other high school kid that is one day lucky enough to meet the girl of his dreams. Throughout the course of high school the young couple learn to cope with incredibly difficult odds to discover all that matters.

My Thoughts

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from the story after the tell-all prologue. But then I kept reading, and I realized that the book was about a guy who’s with a girl who got cancer, and things got put into perspective there.

I’m not going to say that there weren’t grammatical errors in the book. I won’t say that it was the best writing I’ve ever read. In fact, it’s a big deal that I even read this book, because the author is dyslexic and I think it’s amazing that today he writes books.

The story itself was moving, especially the ending, which I didn’t expect. The book reminded me of A Walk to Remember. A classmate of mine used the book for her book talk and well, gave the ending away, but I remember the story itself: girl who has cancer talks to a guy she’s always liked, and a friendship of sorts develops. This story was kind of backwards, where the guy likes the girl with cancer.

I was a little surprised that the MC, Ethan, would be so cool with dating a girl who has cancer. I don’t mean that in a mean way, because I think it was beautiful, but it showed amazing depth in Ethan’s character to be able to do stuff like that. I very much admired him for it.

I have family members who’ve succumbed to cancer, and I’ve seen firsthand what a family goes through when cancer strikes. It’s worse than just a killer, because to an extent, it kills a part of the family, the people who don’t have cancer, too. Showing this effectively is a tough job, and kudos to Youseph Tanha for attempting such a sensitive topic.

Parting Thoughts: this book is about story, not technique or whatever. I think it has the capacity to move people, and so it’s definitely worth reading.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Note: I received this book for review from the author.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Munki Moo Moo (Toni Brown) by M.E. Purfield

Summary (goodreads):

 Toni Brown knows it’s wrong to visit a Rock God’s motel room, and now she has no choice but to deliver a package for him.

The package: A mischievous yellow-eyed baby that eats grass and causes earthquakes.

The destination: Munki Moo Moo.

But where the hell is that and can she get the package there before monstrous inter-dimensional creatures kill her.

Munki Moo Moo is the first in a series of dark fantasy novellas that follow the surreal and absurd adventures of 15-year-old Toni Brown.

My Thoughts

See that cover there? Isn’t it freakish and unforgettable? That’s how this book was. I couldn’t look away without carrying a bunch of thoughts with it.

I’ve read jesus freakz + buddha punx by this author, and I loved it, so I was totally looking forward to reading this book. But it turned out to be nothing like the other book. In fact, it isn’t like any book I’ve ever read before.

I suppose it was a sequence of events that took place in different realities. But some part of those realities manifested in the real world…?

Whatever it was, this book boggled my mind. It didn’t make any sense, and yet I wanted to keep reading, if only to figure out what the heck was really happening. It was a bit like being high on something, I swear, reading this book. I kept wondering if the protagonist had taken mushrooms or something and was narrating what happens when you do drugs.   

But in the end, I realized that a) this is the craziest urban fantasy I’ve ever read, and b) I didn’t get any of it, but it’s still stuck in my head. M.E. Purfield has amazing characterization, so of course the characters were what shone through. The main character Toni was real, and so was Gaa, the weird mutant/alien baby/Package. I hated all the bad guys, though for a while it was unclear who was a bad guy and who wasn’t, because this world was so messed up.

Parting Thoughts: I thought it’d be pretty much impossible to like a book that made no sense to me, but where things fell into place one after another. I couldn’t stop reading, and even now, every time I think of the mutant baby Gaa I get goosebumps.

Rating: 4/5. A mind-boggling, unique concept.

Note: I recieved this ebook for review from the author.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Goodbye Summer Break, Hello School.

I don’t need to tell you that August is over. And I’m SO sad. Because this means that September, easily my least favourite month of the year (along with October and November and like every month that doesn’t have holidays in it) is here.

And so is school.

If I’m being honest, I’m looking forward to this new year. I want to learn, because deep down, I’m a complete nerd. I want to finish high school already so I can go on living the rest of my (hopefully less nervewracking) life. But still. School starting means that I no longer have all the free time I want. I won’t be able to read five books a week like I did all summer. And I definitely won’t be able to while away my time the way I like.

But I’m going to stay positive. I’m going to enjoy school, because it isn’t ever going to come again. Yeah, I wish I was homeschooled sometimes. But then I’d miss out on meeting all these amazing friends I’ve made, all these cool teachers who’ve taught me, and of course, my crazy, messed up, and (sometimes) wonderful school.

I’m looking forward to this year of school, even though I’ll miss summer terribly and spend all of this year counting down the days until the next summer break. But there’s no harm in donning a new attitude.

I hope you guys are, too.

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