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#sunathon wrap up

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I participated in #sunathon, a read-a-thon created by the lovely Emma and had such a blast! I had originally planned out to read 6 books, but because of university and preparing for Eid, I didn’t manage to read that much. But still, 3 is quite a feat to me considering I had a giant reading slump that I still can’t get out of. I’m happy that I managed to read 3 books, made new friends and discovered some amazing new books that I wouldn’t have picked up from my bookshelf (one I’ve pre-ordered last year and still haven’t read it till now) if it weren’t for #sunathon. I struggled a bit to keep up with my reads, but hey, doesn’t matter how much you read as long as you read, right?

I will be participating in #fallathon as well from the 13th – 19th October, so if you missed out on this one do participate in #fallathon! You can find more details on this here.

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse By Katie Coyle • Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek By Maya Van Wagenen • The Thousand Dollar Tan Line By Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

 

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Golden By Jessi Kirby

Golden By Jessi Kirby
Published May 14th 2013 By Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Goodreads

SummaryLove, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

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Golden is beautiful.

There is something about the writing that makes Golden remarkably beautiful. Golden follows the story of Parker Frost who discovers the journal of Julianna Farnetti and decides to go on a road trip to uncover the truth behind her disappearance. Parker is an intelligent girl; she’s a straight A student, on the way to getting a scholarship to the school of her dreams, but she’s also lost. Parker has always tried to please her mother, and did whatever she was told — but now that she’s graduating, she wonders if she’s wasted her youth pleasing everyone but herself.

The diary of Julianna Farnetti is something of a gem. It is absolutely beautiful and the writing about love and wasted youth was just breathtaking. I really could relate to both Parker and Julianna, and I felt connected with them. Golden explored many of the common themes in adolescence that made it such a great coming-of-age, new beginnings, finding yourself type of book. I really enjoyed the characters; they were intelligent, present and wasn’t annoying. It may come off as slightly pretentious, with Parker and friends going on a road trip to find a missing girl and desperately wanting to give her a happy ending that they felt they couldn’t have — but its done in a way that is rather sweet and touching that the pretence quickly disappears.

Among the things that I loved about Golden other than the growing process was certainly the friendship between Parker and Kat. To me, it is one of those rare female friendships where they are equals and fit each other like a glove. Neither secretly wanted to kill the other or thought negatively about the other. The desire to stay together and desperation to always be friends is something that touched me. It is so rare to find female friendships that are genuine or the equal and balanced in Young Adult fiction (to me and all that I’ve read anyway) that this friendship was an absolute breath of fresh air.

I am Parker Frost, in a way that I do well academically and try to please my parents. Going into my final months of University I am feeling a little lost and in the process of finding a journey best fit for me so reading Golden helped me. It was encouraging to know that it is possible and not too late to discover yourself and that it’s okay to feel lost and in need of help.

The writing, characters and plot made Golden a great novel. Its relatable, hopeful and encouraging that would be especially useful to those who are struggling to find their place in life. Though Golden didn’t provide me answers, it gave me enough encouragement to go out and take a chance on something.

“How many people have gotten older and forgotten about the things the hoped for and dreamed about when they were young? Or given up without ever taking a chance, or settled in life because it’s easier, or they’re scared, or whatever other excuses? How many people need a reminder of who they once were?”

/

“But that first day we met is one of those things you look back on and see, so clearly, that it was meant to be. He saved me from being lost and out of place, and that’s what he’s been doing ever since. I showed up here in pieces. He put me back together.”

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June Wrap Up

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Incredibly late with my June Wrap Up, but better late then never right? I took things easy in June, seeing how I read a whooping 25 books in May and I was feeling a little bit burnt out from reading all those books. I only read 9 books in June but it is certainly a lot better than not reading at all so I’m not too bothered about it!

Spud By John Van de Ruit • #GIRLBOSS By Sophia Amoruso • Suicide Notes By Michael Thomas Ford • Everything Leads to You By Nina LaCour • Pack of Dorks By Beth Vrabel • Brunette Ambition By Lea Michele • Black Chalk  By Christopher J. Yates • Smart Girls Get What They Want By Sarah Strohmeyer • In Too Deep By Amanda Grace

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The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line By Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line By Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Veronica Mars #1
Published March 25th 2014 By Vintage

Goodreads

SummaryFrom 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.

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I am a Marshmallow. I absolutely love Veronica Mars so imagine my excitement when the movie came out and the book was released afterwards.

The book takes place after the Veronica Mars movie, so you might want to check the movie out first if you haven’t yet before reading this book (to avoid spoilers etc).

I listened to the audiobook which was read by Kristen Bell herself, who played Veronica Mars and everything was perfect. I think the audiobook really helped boost my enjoyment for this book mainly because of Kristen’s voice that really added to the voice (and as the voice) of Veronica.

The book is canon, so it remains true to the characters and plot which is especially great if you’re a fan of the original VM series. I really loved how nothing much has changed with Veronica, neither did her friendship with Wallace and Mac. Logan isn’t featured much in the book because of his job as seen in the movie but Kristen NAILED Logan’s voice in the audiobook.

The plot was great and in true Veronica Mars fashion. It was engaging and there were a lot of twists and some familiar faces return as well which added to the drama of the story. Of course, being Veronica Mars she’s still as snarky as ever without a filter and the writing is still as hilarious.

I’d recommend the audiobook version — you really can’t go wrong with Kristen Bell narrating the story as Veronica Mars. Personally, it helped me get into the story better and the dialogues are funnier read to you then on paper. Definitely worth reading and picking up as a VM fan! I’m so excited and can’t wait for the next book to come out!

I don’t think you necessarily have to be a VM fan/watched the show or movie in order to read this because it is a stand-alone case and a lot of things are explained in the book. But of course, it would be best to start from the begining of you haven’t — everyone needs a little Mars in their life.

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Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek By Maya Van Wagenen

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek By Maya Van Wagenen
Published April 15th 2014 By Dutton Juvenile

Goodreads

SummaryA touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen 

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular? 

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

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Oh Popular how I adore you so. Maya Van Wagenen, please be my best friend.

Popular is so heartwarming and funny; it is undoubtably one of the most relatable books I have ever read. Popular is a memoir of a fifteen year old girl who found this popularity book written in the 50s by a former teen model Betty Cornell. Maya is not popular, she’s at the bottom of the popular pyramid. So at the challenge of her mother, Maya decides to experiment the tips in the book and write a journal about the results.

The final product? Absolutely whacky.

Maya is hilarious. It is filled with pictures of her dressed in pearls, with her wonderfully charming family and her writing is just great. She’s brave and absolutely sporting in trying out these tips and eventually she just learns that you just need to love yourself and be brave. Popular is one of those books I wish I read when I was fifteen. I think this book would be useful for the younger generation who is struggling with the idea of popularity and those who are just too shy to break out of their shell. I think that’s what I love about Maya — she really tries her best to make everyone comfortable in their own skin and open up to her and be friends.

I find Popular so hard to review because you just need to read it. Popular would appeal to the masses regardless of age or wherever you are on the popularity scale. It is definitely one of those books I would keep trying to recommend to people and one I can see myself re-reading in the future.

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Vivian Versus the Apocalypse By Katie Coyle

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse By Katie Coyle
Vivian Apple #1
Published Sept 5th 2013 by Hot Key Books

Goodreads

Summary: A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated ‘Rapture’ -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church’s thrall for too long, and she’s looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed ‘Rapture’, her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling…

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been ‘left behind’, they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving ‘Believer’ gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the ‘New Orphans’, Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning.

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I loved Vivian Versus the Apocalypse.

I’ve never read anything quite like it before and I really enjoyed how different it was from the normal contemporary or dystopians I’ve read before. Interestingly, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse is a mix of contemporary and dystopia — but it’s not just any contemporary, it’s a road trip contemporary.

Vivian Versus the Apocalypse is about a girl whose parents are Believers, which essentially is a new type of religion, and they believe that the Rapture is upon them. Vivian on the other hand isn’t a Believer and doesn’t think the apocalypse is coming as they’ve predicted. But on the day of the supposed rapture, Vivian’s parents disappeared as did many others. In comes Vivian’s best friend Harp and cute guy Peter who come along with Vivian on this journey to find her parents.

I really enjoyed how this apocalypse and this new religion was built. It was very interesting to see how Believers behaved and the texts that they lived by. In some ways it is quite realistic and relatable and the book really talked about faith and in society.

Personally this book was very enjoyable for me, especially towards the end when things kinda took a wild turn and was just so exciting to read about. Because of the main plot of this book, it might not be for everyone but it is really interesting if you’re okay with the subject matter.

The book ended with a cliffhanger (kind of) and I can’t wait to read the sequel. Overall it was really interesting and different from your usual dystopia or road trip contemporaries which makes it memorable for me. It was a little bit slow and difficult to get into but once everything begins to unfold, it gets a lot better. Would recommend it, but again because of the subject matter I’d say go for it if you’re comfortable!

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#sunathon TBR

If you haven’t heard already, I’ll be participating in #sunathon from the 21st – 27th July. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and #sunathon is definitely going to help kick me off my butt and start reading! I’ve decided not to be too ambitious for the #sunathon and opt for smaller books and ones I’m most excited for at the moment! Here’s my TBR list for #sunathon:

vivian versus the apocalypse by katie coyle • if i stay by gayle forman • popular: vintage wisdom for a modern geek by maya van wagenen • the lemon grove by helen walsh • fever pitch by nick hornby • how i live now by meg rosoff

You can find out more about #sunathon here and participate in the read-a-thon! If you’re already participating, leave a comment with links to your TBR or tell me what you’re reading!

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Pieces of it All By Tracy Krimmer

Pieces of it All By Tracy Krimmer
Published May 9th 2014

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the author in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads

SummaryAn alcoholic. A scarred man. A thief.

Harvey, a twenty-two-year-old high school drop-out arrives home, a brief stint in rehab behind him and ready to start his life again. Then he meets Beth and her innocence and her desire to have it all capture him completely.

A girl on the cusp of womanhood. Determined. A bright future.

Beth, a recent high school graduate among the top in her class, can’t wait to get to college and fulfill her dreams. Then she meets Harvey and with his mysterious past, he stirs feelings in her she can’t ignore.

The chemistry between them is unmistakable but Harvey doesn’t trust easily and refuses to divulge his past to Beth though she wants to be a part of his future.

The pieces of their lives lie broken all around them, but can Harvey put his life back together and win Beth over before she begins her new life without him? And can Beth find the strength to become the woman she wants to be without sacrificing her integrity?

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Remember when they used to tell you don’t judge a book by its cover? Yeah, this book is exactly that.

Admittedly the cover isn’t the most gorgeous thing, but it’s story is something worth reading. I went into this a little skeptical, but I sooned got immersed in the story.

The main premise of this story is about Harvey who just got out of rehab and college bound Beth who fell in love at first sight. Their story started out typically, they met, fell in love instantly and embarked on a too-fast-too-soon relationship. I really hated Beth at the start. I hated the insta-love and how incredibly stupid she is for defending a guy she knew for three seconds (exaggeration, but still). Beth is intelligent. She’s one of those good girls that hasn’t had much experience in the dating field and as Harvey describes her, pure. But meeting Harvey made her stupid. She allowed her sexual awakening do her thinking for her. It was clear that this relationship sparked out of lust. And there was no love. I was angry; at Harvey for being a prick, at Beth who just wouldn’t question anything he says or does. It was a destructive relationship and it frustrated me.

But I supposed its this destructive relationship that moulded the story and made it interesting. It was interesting to know what they did apart and at some point were even more likeable apart.

There’s nothing in particular to pick at with this book, but I did have a slight problem with the alternating voices. It didn’t feel very balanced and I felt like I was hearing more about Beth than Harvey. I would have liked to see him having more interactions with his former friends or what kind of life he led outside of the memories with his dad.

I enjoyed this book. It was a refreshing change for me. It’s no secret that I’m generally cautious of New Adult as a genre and having it too focused on sex. While the idea of lust and sexual awakenings were discussed, a large majority of it focused on other issues, keeping sex scenes to a minimal. I appreciated that it discussed sex in a relationship, losing your virginity and exploring willingness/consent. Overall a solid contemporary with a captivating plot.

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Cameo By Tanille

Cameo By Tanille
Published Jun 6th 2014 By Fire Flies Entertainment

Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the Publisher via Netgalley.

Summary:

Nia is a high school beauty who discovers she is being stalked by a secret society. Everyone is suspect. Even the basketball star she’s been paired with for a senior project. The girl who thinks she knows everything finds out she knows nothing at all. The pressure is mounting and problems are stacking up. Who is behind this secret society? Why would they be after her?

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When I requested this, I was intrigued by the premise of an underground society in schools. I’ve read a lot of secret society books, so naturally I got excited for this book. My mistake.

Everything from the plot to the writing was just bad. I hardly ever give a one-star rating — I’m really easy to please, so believe me when I say this was bad. I hate giving such negative reviews but this book just warrants it.

The book didn’t have a great start. Its prelude was 15 pages long (and it might as well just be the first chapter) and was too complicated from the get go. The transitions are so choppy from one scene to another that I had to read it twice. There’s just too much going on at the start and too confusing for me. The writing was juvenile at best; a lot of the conversations and descriptions just wasn’t necessary or made sense.

Page 6: “Lucy had a digital camera hanging from her wrist. The camera hung down lower than the hemline on her denim miniskirt.”

Page 31: “I was in the process of downloading all my CDs onto my mp3 player. I tried not to look at my picture wall when I was searching for my dazzling, superstar nightgown.”

I’m not sure if this was a final copy but I did find several mistakes (I didn’t note the page numbers) which I hope didn’t make into the final printing. Bad writing aside, the characters were so uninspiring. The fact that this “secret society” was just a ploy for revenge to be prom queen is just silly. It had potential to be interesting, but the flat characters and bad writing didn’t help.

I don’t understand why Nia is so aggressively angry all the time. I think the author tried her best to really emulate the way teenagers talk or behave but it was too much and seemed so juvenile. They didn’t do anything except care about prom or get angry at each other. There was just too much focus on other things that the development of the secret society really fell through. For the most part, revealing the true identity of Michelle in the prelude took away a lot of the development/mystery of the secret society.

I knew going in that this book had a song accompanying it, but I didn’t know that the product placement would be so obvious and blatant. The song is discussed all the time, its Nia’s favourite song and there’s so much talk about this Underground Starlet brand…

Tanille is a singer but a writer, she is not. Won’t be recommending this to anyone. Ever.
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Suicide Notes By Michael Thomas Ford

Suicide Notes By Michael Thomas Ford
Published Oct 14th 2008 By Harper Teen

Goodreads

Summary:

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy.

Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between “normal” and the rest of us.

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I really loved Suicide Notes.

I found it really hard to write a review immediately after because there was just so much to process and I wasn’t sure my review would have done the book justice (though even now, I don’t think it would). Suicide Notes is a bit of a gem. I haven’t seen anyone else talk about this book, so I went in quite blindly with only a synopsis which I think is a good way to go into this book.

I’m going to try, as much as possible to keep this review spoiler free, though it would mean I’m unable to share one of my favourite quotes off this book.

Suicide Notes is about a fifteen-year-old boy, Jeff, who ended up in a psychiatric ward after trying to (as the book title suggests), commit suicide. He’s being put in a 45-day programme to help him try to process the situation and talk about it. The book revolves around his journey in this 45-day programme, and its written in a diary-type format, though this is not explicitly so.

The general plot is really good, though perhaps a little bit predictable (especially if you’ve seen the genres its placed in on Goodreads) but still a solid book. Perhaps my only quip with this book is the middle got a bit slow and boring, but I assure you that as you push through it definitely gets better. The last third of the book was spectacular, and I really loved how it all wrapped up. It was thought-provoking and it really made you think about the way society works.

The characters are quirky, at best. They’re cooky and funny, but still lacked a bit of finesse. I wouldn’t say Jeff, nor the supporting characters to be memorable, but Suicide Notes seem to be more plot-driven than character. Of course, each character has their own abilities. That being, the side characters being more interesting, while Jeff had a more compelling story.

I wouldn’t give this a 5-star rating if not for the ending and Jeff’s character development at the end. The writing and plot was a solid 4-star book in itself, despite the lack of memorable characters. Suicide Notes brought to light many important and current social issues, and I certainly hope it gets more recognition. Suicide Notes covers such difficult subjects like suicide attempts and sexuality, and tried to adopt it in a funny and approachable manner.

Suicide Note is an overall great read, and I’d recommend you reading this with an open mind.

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