Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: ‘Between the Lines’ Trilogy by Tammara Webber

Between the Lines (Between the Lines #1)Where You Are (Between the Lines #2)Good For You (Between the Lines #3)

I call this series a trilogy because there are only three books, but my fingers are crossed that Webber will write at least one more book.  (Don't leave us hating Brooke!  She deserves love, too.)  I had two days over the holidays when I didn’t feel well.  All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a book.  This series completely fit my mood.  Pure escapism!  The characters were well developed, the story was compelling, there was plenty of chemistry between the love interests and the Hollywood element added just a touch of glamour.  Since I read all three books in one long sitting over the course of two days, the stories blur together for me, so I have to review them together. 

Book one, Between the Lines, starts when a group of teenaged actors are hired to be in a big budget, modern day version of Pride & Prejudice.  Filming is in Austin, Texas, and the cast moves into a hotel for the months of production.  The second and third books follow the cast as they deal with promotion, premiers and paparazzi.  In typical teen fashion, crushes develop, friendships are formed and lost, egos and emotions get bruised.  But rather than coming across as vapid, over-privileged brats, these characters have fully developed back stories.  The author allows them to make mistakes and learn from them.  None of the teens are all good or all bad--rather they are all a realistic mixture of both. 

I would say this series is meant for older teens.  There is quite a bit frank talk about sex, drugs, alcohol and the trappings of fame.  Profanity is used, but didn't bother me.  The sensitive or controversial topics were handled with care by the author.  We all know that children who grow up in Hollywood face adult challenges.  I think Webber stayed true to her characters by addressing these issues head-on, not sugarcoating the story like a Disney film.    

Overall, I give Between the Lines...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Love Stories - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Hunter Parrish (Reid Alexander), Ashley Benson (Emma Pierce), Jean-Luc Bilodeau (Graham Douglas), Blake Lively (Brooke Cameron), Jessica Brown Findlay (Dori Cantrell)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: ‘Will Grayson Will Grayson’ by John Green & David Levithan

“One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.”
(Amazon product description)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Upon closing this book when I was finished, I wanted to jump up and sign really loudly.  What an uplifting story!  It reminded me of a modern day John Hughes movie in the tradition of Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club

WG^2 was such a fun story with quirky, yet lovable characters and a really beautiful message.  No character is fully good or bad, and the authors did a great job in staying away from stereotypes.  Will Grayson number one is a heterosexual boy who’s best friend is the giant homosexual teddy bear, Tiny.  As pessimistic Will is, Tiny matches him in exuberant optimism.  Out of all of the characters, it is Tiny who upstages the others in every scene.  He is one of the most unique and self-confident characters I’ve read in young adult literature. 

Through a chance encounter at a porn shop, the pair is introduced to the second Will Grayson.  You might think having two central characters with the same name would be confusing, but the execution of this novel is so brilliantly done, that I never lost track of who was who.  In fact, I don’t know if this book could have been pulled off so well had there only been one author writing it.  The two writing styles added to the distinct voices of the two narrators. 

The story itself covers several heavy topics--cyber-bullying, teen homosexuality, love, mental illness and the meaning of friendships.  But this is far from a heavy story.  Many times while reading I found myself smiling, and several times I even laughed out loud.  (The screw up with Will Grayson #1’s fake ID is priceless!) 

I can’t recommend this book enough!  The story is beautiful and touching.  The moral lessons taught about friendship and appreciation are big take-away’s.  There is a little bit of profanity used, but I don’t think any more than you might expect from normal teenagers.  

Overall, I give Will Grayson Will Grayson...

Plot - 5 bookmarks
Character Development - 5 bookmarks
Message/Lessons - 5 bookmarks
Humor - 5 bookmarks
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Lucas Till (Will Grayson #1), Anton Yelchin (Will Grayson #2), Quinton Aaron (Tiny Cooper - okay, I know Tiny was Caucasian in the book, but I can’t help who I picture, right?), Rachel Hurd Wood (Jane), Daviegh Chase (Maura), Nick Roux (Gideon)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review ‘Wither’ by Lauren DeStefano

“By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males born with a lifespan of 25 years, and females a lifespan of 20 years--leaving the world in a state of panic. Geneticists seek a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

“When Rhine is sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Yet her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement; her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next; and Rhine has no way to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive.

“Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?”
(Amazon description)

I bought this book because the cover is absolutely gorgeous, but also the premise sounded interesting.  While I liked the book, I can’t say I loved it.  Rhine is a strong character, even though her actions at times had my skin crawling.  For example, her sister wife Cecily is the most obnoxious, insensitive bitch, but Rhine continues to be kind to her and overlook her faults.  I kept waiting for Rhine to smack her or get revenge on her or something but it never happened.  Toward the end, when Rhine finally speaks up to Cecily, I felt like she was pulling her punches, holding back.  Rather than leaving the reader with a nice cathartic release, it left me wanting more. 

This also happens in Rhine’s interactions with Linden.  Every once in a while, Rhine says she is just being nice to him because she has to win his trust in order to escape, but her actions give us a whole different impression.  To me, it felt like she didn’t have enough fire in her belly for this man who essentially is her prisoner.  Linden is annoyingly oblivious to the world around him, and I suppose we should sympathize with him, but I just didn’t care about him at all.  I wanted Rhine to blow up and tell him the truth of how she came to be his wife and what happened to the other girls he rejected.  That never happens.  Then, when she is with Linden, all thoughts of Gabriel disappear, and that irritated me. So she is supposedly crushing on Gabriel, her servant, but when he is out of sight (which is most of the time) he is also out of mind.  We also don’t get very much sexual tension or emotional connection between either her and Gabriel or her and Linden.  If this was meant to form some sort of interesting love triangle, it left me lukewarm.  

(Side note:  Linden’s gold teeth made me picture Flava Flav.) 

The story was dark and captivating, but I thought the world building could have used a bit of fleshing out.  So there is this “virus” that kills girls at exactly 20 years old and boys at exactly 25 years old.  Since this is a science based book and not a paranormal, this seems a little too thrown together without much thought given to the science behind it.  Why the five year difference between the sexes?  Why does this virus suddenly kick in at exactly the right ages?  The only explanation I could come up with is that the author needed something quick and easy to justify her plot.  The thing is though, with a bit more realistic explanation, it could have taken this from a good book to a great book. 

Overall, I give Wither...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 3 bookmarks (We get a lot from the girls, but nothing from the boys)
Age Appropriateness - Warning: 20 year old Linden knocks up 13 year old Cecily. This may skeeve some parents out.  This child mother creeped me out and did not make me like Linden.
Romance - 1 bookmark (Just didn’t care about it.)
World Building - 3 bookmarks (Not bad, but could have been so much more with a little more thought.)
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Bridgit Mendler (Rhine), Willow Shields (Cecily), Nina Dobrev (Jenna), Blake Lively (Rose), David Henrie (Gabriel), Logan Lerman (Linden)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: ‘Forget You’ by Jennifer Echols

WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . .  AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?  There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.  But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.
(Amazon product description)

Forget You

I started off really liking this book.  Zoey’s head injury has caused her to forget the night before, but because her jerk of a father, she has to pretend like nothing is wrong.  When Brandon and Doug start acting strangely the next day, she sets out to piece together the truth of what happened before her accident.  Cool plot.  However, Zoey take a little too long to catch on to the clues.  I mean, she knows from the beginning that Brandon is a total player.  Why she thinks she is his exclusive girlfriend is beyond me.  Her naivety irritated me at times.  That being said, I liked Zoey.  She was sweet, a tad innocent, and a good person.     

The love triangle between Zoey, Brandon and Doug really isn’t a triangle, because at no point does the reader think there is any kind of chance for Zoey with Brandon.  The guy is a total meat head.  Doug, on the other hand, is hotter than hell!  He’s slightly brooding and dark, but in a sexy way, not annoying.  The chemistry between him and Zoey is perfect. 

Like a lot of young adult books published by MTV, there are some sexual situations in the book.  Obviously, they are not graphic, but some parents might prefer younger teens not read this.  Older or more mature teens should have no problem with the content. 

Overall, I give Forget You...

Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character development - 4 bookmarks
Love story - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Emily Kassie (Zoey), Evan Alex Cole (Doug), Ed Speeler (Brandon)