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#FridayReads | 30/08/13 + Library Haul

I’m home from a library trip with a mini book haul! Here are some books I hauled today (and last week):

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  1. Commencement by Courtney Sullivan
    A sparkling debut novel: a tender story of friendship, a witty take on liberal arts colleges, and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose.Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with her grandmother’s rosary beads in hand and a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, pristinely dressed in Lilly Pulitzer, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately.Together they experience the ecstatic highs and painful lows of early adulthood: Celia’s trust in men is demolished in one terrible evening, Bree falls in love with someone she could never bring home to her traditional family, Sally seeks solace in her English professor, and April realizes that, for the first time in her life, she has friends she can actually confide in.

    When they reunite for Sally’s wedding four years after graduation, their friendships have changed, but they remain fiercely devoted to one another. Schooled in the ideals of feminism, they have to figure out how it applies to their real lives in matters of love, work, family, and sex. For Celia, Bree, and Sally, this means grappling with one-night stands, maiden names, and parental disapproval—along with occasional loneliness and heartbreak. But for April, whose activism has become her life’s work, it means something far more dangerous.

    Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencementnot only captures the intensity of college friendships and first loves, but also explores with great candor the complicated and contradictory landscape facing young women today

  2. Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson

    ‘As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …’

    Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

    Welcome to Christine’s life

  3. XVI (XVI #1) by Julia Karr

    Every girl gets one.
    An XVI tattoo on the wrist–sixteen.
    Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay.

    Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help–and he just may hold the key to her past.

    But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure…

    For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

  4. Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara

    A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

    Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

  5. Beneath the Glitter by Elle & Blair Fowler

    From internet stars Elle and Blair Fowler comes a scintillating new novel that takes readers Beneath the Glitter of the glitzy L.A. social scene.Welcome to a place where dreams are made.  And where nothing—and no one—is ever what it seems.

    After their make-up and fashion videos went viral on YouTube, sisters Sophia and Ava London are thrust into the exclusive life of the Los Angeles elite.  Here fabulous parties, air kisses, paparazzi and hot guys all come with the scene. Sophia finds herself torn between a gorgeous bartender and a millionaire playboy, and Ava starts dating an A-list actor.  But as they’re about to discover, the life they’ve always dreamed of comes with a cost.

    Beneath the glitter of the Hollywood social scene lies a world of ruthless ambition, vicious gossip…and betrayal.  Someone close to them, someone they trust, is working in the shadows to bring the London sisters falling down. And once the betrayal is complete, Sophia and Ava find themselves knee-deep in a scandal that could take away everything they care about, including the one thing that matters most—each other.

  6. Bunheads by Sophie Flack

    As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

  7. A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook & Brendan Halpin

    A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
    Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents’ divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

    Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog– and Emmy definitely doesn’t. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

    Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
    A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

#FridayReads

For this week’s #fridayreads pick, I’ll continue reading Beneath the Glitter & Lovely, Dark and Deep. So far I’m really liking Lovely, Dark & Deep. Beneath the Glitter is okay, it’s just a very simple read so far.

What are you reading this Friday?

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Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky
Anatomy #2
Published January 8th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Summary: After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.

In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through

Review: If you recall, I previously spoke about how much I loved Anatomy of a Boyfriend. Sadly, the sequel, Anatomy of a Single Girl failed to please. While Anatomy of a Boyfriend shed light on first loves, and first sexual encounters, Anatomy of a Single Girl follows the aftermath of it all. The sequel is equally hilarious, fun and a super quick read as it’s processor but I found myself docking off points for several reasons.

Dom is now single – and as they say, she’s ready to mingle. Well, sort of. Dom is just like how she was in the previous book: she thinks too much, doesn’t give herself much credit and assesses the idea of love far more than she should be. Understandably, after her first encounter with ‘love’, it’s normal to build a fence around her. I felt that Dom didn’t seem to learn much from her previous relationship. She’s behaving in the same manner she did when she was with Wes in the first book: clingy and expectant. Dom and Guy’s relationship is more physical and sans love this time, unlike her relationship with Wes. The ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ terminology was used briefly, and in that period Dom really pissed me off. She wasn’t really that understanding and acted a little bit like a brat when Guy couldn’t do this or that for her when he’d move the Earth and back for her if she asked.  I found her less likable after she discovered her sexual awakening of sorts, wanting and needing more from Dom. She became more antsy and was really annoying when she couldn’t get laid.

Dom’s reaction towards new relationships and purely physical relationships is understandable. I get it, we’ve all been there. But in relationship aspect of things, she’s still behaving like she was previously and didn’t seem to be that understanding of others when they were understanding and accepting of her decisions. Dom seemed more annoying in this book than the first and sadly while I did enjoy the story as a whole, I needed to force myself to finish it, rather than wanting to finish the book.

The book started off great, unfortunately, Dom didn’t seem to grow on me as she did in the previous book. And I didn’t find her doing anything in particular that showed her growth as an individual or in all her relationships.

All in all, Anatomy of Single Girl disappointed slightly in comparison to it’s first book, but is still an overall good book. I’m curious to see if Snadowsky will be writing a third book in the series given the ending but otherwise, I’d be keen in picking up another Daria Snadowsky book.

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Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iocopelli
Outer Banks Tennis Academy #1
Published May 1st 2013 by Coliloquy, LLC
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her arch-rival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break. Welcome to OBX: Where LOVE is a four-letter word, on and off the court.

Review: Finally, my first read for the Debut Author Challenge 2013!

Game. Set. Match. was surprisingly hard to put down. I love tennis, so naturally the premise intrigued me enough to pick the book up. I’ve never actually read much sports-related books, despite my love for it and to my surprise, this book was very well written and completely sucked me in. This book is told in three different perspectives: Penny Harrison (golden girl of OBX), Jasmine Randazzo (child of tennis royalty) and Indiana “Indy” Gaffney (upcoming tennis prodigy).

One of the main things I liked about this book was how it was a good blend of tennis and an exploration of their lives. I find that even if I didn’t like or know anything about tennis, I’d still be able to understand and pick up all the different tennis terminologies used in the book. It wasn’t so tennis-heavy, such that each page was just tournament after tournament so it doesn’t get boring and when there is a tournament, it gets really exciting. The descriptions of the game throughout the book was lovely. I was able to imagine the game happening in my head and I really enjoyed that about the book.

Apart from all the tennis, a good portion of the book is dedicated to the relationships the characters have, with each other, their agent and all that comes with being a professional tennis player. We get to see how these three main characters’ lives intertwine with each other and how they cope with the pressure and even some locker room drama. And of course, the romance. We get not only one, but three different romantic links and we begin to see how things progress throughout the book. There wasn’t any insta-love, that happens quite frequently in YA books and for a book that has three romances going on, all three love lines were well written, well thought and well developed.

The one thing that bothered me about this book was Indy’s excessive use of the word friggin which made her look incredibly juvenile. I found that her description of her love interest was already so cheesy and her saying someone is friggin hot made me roll my eyes and laugh. I don’t know if this is supposed to be her “pet word” of sorts, but it seemed a little much and unnecessary, considering how Indy is actually already pretty cool.

I also found the ending a little bit cheesy but considering it is the first book in the series, it’s not too big of an issue. Overall, Game. Set. Match. was a very good read and I’m really looking forward to see how the series picks up.

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This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas

This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
Published May 25th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Olivia Peters is absolutely over the moon when her literary idol, the celebrated novelist and much-adored local priest Mark D. Brendan, selects her from hundreds of other applicants as the winner of his writing contest.Not only is she invited to take his class at the local university; she also gets one-on-one sessions with him to polish her story and prepare it for publication.

But the writing sessions escalate into emails, and texts, and IMs, and gifts, and social events. What was once a delightful opportunity has become a dreadful burden. What kind of game is Father Mark playing? And how on earth can she get out of it?

Review: I came across this book through the recommentations section of Goodreads and painstakingly went to two different libraries to get a hold of this book. (First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the cover of the book is? ) Looking at the synopsis on Goodreads, I was expecting a really horrifying story about a Priest who abuses his power on a high school girl. While I did find myself turning the pages fairly quickly, unfortunately I didn’t find myself enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

This Gorgeous Game is not an explicit story. It’s told in Olivia Peters’ perspective and you follow her thoughts as she tried to understand what is happening to her. I found myself not liking this book for several reasons. The book itself is split into three parts: and introduction to Olivia and her first meeting with Father Mark, then an escalation of their relationship and of course the ending. I found myself incredibly bored towards the middle of book where we begin to see their relationship escalate into something more than a student-teacher relationship. By the end of the book, I was glad it was over.

I understood completely why Olivia reacted the way she did. It’s a very realistic reaction – her state of confusion and her withdrawals is understandably normal for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. Her reaction and situation makes you feel a lot for her as a character. However, I had trouble with the conversations and her train of thoughts toward the middle. A lot of it was chunks of similar thoughts/conversations and it became increasingly repetitive and predictable.

Freitas didn’t offer me the ending I was looking for. Father Mark didn’t exactly have a backstory; all we knew was that he’s a famous Priest and that he’s a famous writer. We don’t actually find out why he acted the way he did or what was the outcome of his actions towards Olivia. The ending was more Olivia-focused (as is most of the story, seeing how it’s told in her point of view) though it would have been nice to have a small chapter to just explain Father Mark’s behaviour. The ending was a little disappointing, a little predictable but also very vague.

Nevertheless, This Gorgeous Game was an overall good book. It’s a relatively short book with only 200+ pages but it was still able to address a lot of serious issues within those pages. Like Tampa, the book provides a good look at the abuse of power from the people we believed we could trust. The book was fairly realistic and gives you an insight through the victim’s point of view (unlike Tampa which followed the perpetrator).

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2013 Debut Author Challenge

I came across this challenge whilst reading Little Book Owl and was quickly intrigued into doing it. I’ve thought about it for a while and now that I’m done with uni for a while, I figured I’d give this challenge a shot. This challenge is hosted by Tara of Hobbitsies. This challenge will last all through till January 31, 2014 so there will be plenty of time (even though I’m late to the reading party!) for me to catch up 🙂

Here are my 12 picks for the challenge:


I managed to get a bit of a mix in there with the dystopian and contemporary novels. I’m mostly excited to read Starstuck which is a historical fiction book and I’ve never really read one of those. I managed to get all of these in ebook format so I’ll be lugging these books in my kindle for the next couple of months.

Will you be reading any of these books?

Check out the books on Goodreads:

  1. Reboot by Amy Tintera
  2. Dr Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
  3. The Last Academy by Anne Applegate
  4. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
  5. Game Set Match by Jennifer Iacopelli
  6. 45 Pounds by K.A. Barson
  7. Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
  8. Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor
  9. Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
  10. Dualed by Elsie Chapman
  11. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
  12. The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
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Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
Anatomy #1
Published Janury 9th 2007 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary: Before this all happened, the closest I’d ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it’s not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn’t believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I’d only read about in my Gray’s Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

Review: I love this book. This book touches on the subject of teenage love, long-distance relationships and of course: sex. We’ve all been there and I think that’s one of the aspects of why I immediately fell in love with this book: it’s relatable. A majority of the plot undoubtedly revolves around sex, but Snadowsky writes it in such a manner that it doesn’t turn you off. As the title suggests, Anatomy of a Boyfriend explores the male anatomy and the world of sex. Snadowsky approaches the topic realistically and it will help in learning more about the male anatomy and sex if you’re entering that stage in your life to adulthood.

Dom started off as a strong character who wants nothing more but to enter Medical school and is that girl that does Science Quiz for fun. Dom’s character may be a hit or a miss for some; seeing how she does get a little whiny and annoying at certain turns of the book (as teenage phases go) but I did find myself feeling for her.

The book itself is predictable. You know what’s going to happen from the first time she laid her eyes on Wes and gradually you just know the direction it’s gonna go. Although it is predictable, I didn’t find myself wanting to put it down at all. It’s like every other chick-lit book or movie: you know what’s going to happen but you just can’t help but root for the main character.

I adored this book a lot, although I did wish it was slightly longer to see how things played out after the ending. Anatomy of a Boyfriend is a book I would have loved to read at 16 when we’re all busy obsessing with boys and toying with the idea of sex.

Oh, and how cool is the cover?

DISCLAIMER: As mentioned earlier, this book does heavily mention sex, so do make sure your parents are okay with you reading this book (if you’re younger!) / are comfortable with talk about sex.

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Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

Angus, thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Georgia Nicolson #1
Published April 20th 2000 by Harper Teen
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads

Summary:

There are six things very wrong with my life:
1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
2. It is on my nose
3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.
5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones’s Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

Review: If you don’t know about this series is already, you should. I remember reading the series (in random order) at around 14 when I picked it up at my school library. This book is the first in the Georgia Nicolson series and is a journal written by, of course, Georgia Nicolson. I really enjoyed reading this book. I found myself connecting with Georgia, and it was nice to go back in time a little bit where things were less serious.

The book itself is extremely fast paced, seeing how it’s written in journal format. A word of caution: the book does contain a lot of British slang, so if you are unfamiliar with it, you may be a little confused. Georgia also creates her own slang of sorts throughout the book – but not to worry, both British and Georgia slang are later explained at the back of the book in the glossary (where Georgia herself hilariously explains it to you).

There isn’t much of a plot. It’s a book mostly targeted to girls about 14 ages or so; everything is pretty simple and easy to comprehend. The book basically follows Georgia throughout the year and her interactions with her family, her crazy cat and the Ace Gang and of course, the Sex God. Georgia is your typical 14 year old teenager who is obsessed with boys, in her coming-of-age years and wackily overdramatic. Hilarity ensues.

Funny, silly and downright fun, I will definitely continue reading the rest of the books in the series.

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Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Published July 3rd 2013 by Ecco
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

Summary: Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She’s undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste’s devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.

In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.

Review: How does one describe their emotions after reading this book? I finished this book about a week ago and I’m still struggling to understand how I felt about this book. I went into this book thinking it would be a crime novel but boy was I mistaken.

Tampa started off brilliantly and captured my attention immediately. Over the next few pages filled with brazen and vulgar thoughts, I was quickly invested in her life. I don’t know what drew me in: was it the icky thoughts about young boys or was it Celeste’s hunt to find the right boy? My initial thoughts were simple: this is very fifty shades. Except with better writing, no S&M and more… horrific because of the 14 year old victim.

I don’t know if this book left a great, or rather, correct impact on me. While I did feel mortified (which I’m assuming is what the author intended) enough to never become a sexual predator, I’m not sure it truly left a huge impact on me. Rather, Tampa left me in a hit-and-run situation. I read it, but I will never go back to it. I want to forget about it, immediately.

Tampa was intense, but it is a good book to read and discuss. This, ideally is one of the books that touches on a topic that we should be discussing and worry about. Student-teacher relationships are very real and this book, although troubling, can be a starting point for discussion. If you’re looking for a book that will horrify you, then Tampa is the book for you.