Book Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

15726915Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: February 25, 2014

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

good good

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, HarperTeen for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

Alexi’s story is so moving and I think that everyone can relate to it. Her personality and denial about things that happened not only can be related to sexual assault victims but victims of pretty much any type of abuse. I felt for Alexi and Bodee and although their relationship at some times are…out there, I really enjoyed this.

Faking Normal actually starts off pretty boring. It took some time for me to actually get into the story and even more so the characters. Alexi and I have a bit of a ‘love hate relationship’ because although I loved her story, I didn’t really like her. I felt that she’s really stiff at times, especially when people wanted to help her. The romance itself is really typical and I didn’t like it, it’s the same broken girl meets broken boy and they heal together type of thing and it got old for me really fast. The way that Bodee knows things annoyed me more than anything. Another thing I didn’t like is how the flashbacks or story is told surrounding the rape. The same thing is told over and over again without any new information. This is one of my pet peeves–when someone tells me something over and over again with nothing new to add to it. Whenever Alexi brought up how it happened I found myself skimming it and moving on to the next thing.

Like I mentioned before, I really did like this story. It’s awkward and I wasn’t really suspecting it to turn out the way it did. The journey and her pain is so raw and relatable, I felt as if her struggles were my struggles too. For the most part, I liked most of the characters because they’re very realistic and complex. They had me guessing about their actions and emotions and I liked reading about them.

Faking Normal is quite the story. It’s not bad but it does have a few flaws and a dash of stiffness. Nonetheless, Stevens has created a lovely début and I recommend this to anyone looking for something serious to read and don’t mind the main character. I really hope that she keeps writing serious topic novels because there aren’t many of them out there that are well done or are even mediocre and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

3 Clouds
3 Clouds
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Album Review: Acceptance Speech by Dance Gavin Dance

Acceptance_Speech_-_Dance_Gavin_Dance

Acceptance Speech by Dance Gavin Dance

Record Label: Rise Records

Genre: Post-Hardcore

Release Date: October 8, 2013

Songs: 11
good good

Dance Gavin Dance are a post-hardcore band that formed in Sacramento, California in 2005. Since then, they have released two EPS- Whatever I Says is Royal Ocean and Secret Band. As well as five albums-Downtown Battle Mountain, Dance Gavin Dance, Happiness, Downtown Battle Mountain 2, and Acceptance Speech. Current band members are: Jon Mess (unclean vocals), Matt Mingus (drums, percussion), Will Swan (guitar unclean vocals, rapping), Tim Feerick (bass guitar), Josh Benton (guitar), Tilian Pearson (clean vocals).

opinion

I am so out of the loop when it comes to this band. The last time I listened to anything new by DGD, it was off of their self-titled album. Of course, everyone knows about Jonny Craig and his issues but I never knew that he rejoined the band. Anyway, they weren’t this heavy and they liked to add a lot of conversations to their songs like in Rock Solid. But out with the old and in with then new, right? Acceptance Speech is definitely an album that  might come as a surprise to some fans, especially older ones who have lost faith because Down Battle Mountain is an awful album but I assure you that this is fairly good.

Tilian Pearson, the newest member of Dance Gavin Dance has really smooth vocals that make me a great choice as a clean vocalist. Add in some rough vocals from Jon Mess and the harmonic balance is slightly off. Pearson’s voice is amazing but sound too clean in The Robot With Human Hair Pt. 4 and Acceptance Speech. Throughout the album there could have been a few nicely executed build-ups in Death of the Robot With Human Hair instead of it going from slow to fast quickly. It also doesn’t help that the song sounds like it could be the theme song for the Power Rangers or Power Puff Girls. Strawberry Swisher Pt. 3 is just awful with lyrics that just bash bands and bad producing skills that make the song sound like a child went crazy in the production room.

Drums keep the band together and sounding like one and in Carve and Doom and Gloom Matt Mingus is so tight and spot on that it’s hard not to notice how smooth it is and makes everything else. The change-up in Honey Revenge is nice with clean vocals taking the lead. Unfortunately, this song is beyond fucked with Pearson sweetly singing about rape: Oh (I’m just tying the knot)/Can’t wait to catch you all alone/Oh (I’m just tying the knot)/Girl, then I swear I’ll take you home/Whether you want it or not/Whether you like it or not. Creepy, right? Dance Gavin Dance ends the album on a more relaxed note with Turn off the Lights, I’m Watching Back to the Future Pt.2 that includes a flowing guitar solo to stay in listeners’ heads.

Acceptance Speech still has that snarky tone that Dance Gavin Dance has always had. They tend to provoke people and push the limits and like to insult their listeners with nice tunes and harsh lyrics. After the wreck that is their last album, this one might just save their damaged relationship with their fans. I would say that the best songs on this album are- Acceptance Speech, Doom and Gloom, and Turn off the Lights, I’m Watching Back to the Future Pt.2. Maybe even Honey Revenge if it weren’t so damn creepy. I recommend this to anyone who has been skeptical of DGD in the past because although this album still has flaws it is a step in the right direction since DBM2.

3 Sexy Treble Clefs
3 Sexy Treble Clefs

Songs on the Album (Click on the title to listen to the song!)

1. Jesus H. Macy-3:27

2. The Robot with Human Hair Pt. 4-3:35

3. Acceptance Speech-4:27

4. Carve-2:50

5. Doom and Gloom-3:41

6. Strawberry Swisher Pt. 3-3:36

7. Honey Revenge-3:30

8. Demo Team-3:09

9. Death of the Robot with Human Hair-5:09

10. The Jiggler-4:56

11. Turn off the Lights, I’m Watching Back to the Future Pt. 2-6:01

Book Review: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

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Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre: Thriller and Young Adult

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for “normal.” Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that-or succumb to a killer.

First of all, I would like to thank the Publisher, HMH Books for Young Readers for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review.

opinion

I feel bad about review this book because of my mixed feelings  towards it. The message it’s trying to get across gets there, loud and clear. Yet, there are so many things that I just couldn’t overlook since this is a novel telling a story that might be fictional, happens to people all over the world. Before getting to the things that disappointed me, I want to say that Cheryl Rainfield did make me uncomfortable and she did make me remember that my life could be worse no matter the situation that I’m in. I think that Stained will remind readers of how lucky they are and how to always, always, always trust their gut, no matter what.

Stained is a tough book to get into and didn’t take much to lose my attention since it is so very stiff and bland. Especially the characters, although I admired Sarah’s courage and determination, I still couldn’t connect with her and feel the emotions that Rainfield was trying to get me to. Nick, like Sarah, feels extremely contrived and odd because all I got from him is that he loves Sarah, like, a lot and he’s willing to do anything for her. That’s about it. He’s only there as an accessory to Sarah rather than an actual friend who helps her get through a harsh time.

But, I did find the writing style to be okay for the most part. It flows nicely even if it doesn’t give off an intense feeling. Like I mentioned before, Sarah’s determination and courage changed her and for the better. I love the main message this novel gives off (Inner beauty is much more important than outer) as well as the smaller, albeit just as important, messages of how cruel some people can be about certain things.

Overall, this is a novel that I think should be read for the message rather than the story. Without enjoying it much, I was left disappointed and a bit confused at how quickly it moved at the end. The ending isn’t as realistic as I wished it to be nor did it have me at the edge of my seat and thrusting my fist in the air. However, I still recommend this book to everyone because it’s a great reminder as to how easy it is for a person to disappear by someone they know and may even trust.

3 Clouds
3 Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

Book Review: Clean by Amy Reed

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Clean by Amy Reed

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: May 8, 2012

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

good good

You’re probably wondering how I ended up here. I’m still wondering the same thing.

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They’re addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they’ll all have to deal with themselves—and one another—if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there’s nowhere to go but down, down, down.

opinion

 

Sometimes, shit happens and depending on it, it can really mess a person up. I love how Amy Reed has shown this with all of her characters. They all have their different personalities, families, and preferred drugs. Their lives are intriguing and exciting yet sad and vulnerable at the same time. The road to recovery is one of the hardest ones there is because it has to do with self recover and self discovery.

Jason is by far my favourite character in this novel so of course I wanted a lot more from him than what I received. And this is partly because actual chapters are only told from Christopher and Kelly’s perspective. I love poetic writing but I have ADD so the constant writing for Eva lost my attention more often than not. I appreciate the creative style and how her story is told from a little girl’s perspective rather than in first person but sometimes a little bit of simplicity goes a long way for me.

Clean has short chapters between the actual chapters. These sort chapters are mostly with the group and I love these chapters because they’re simple and realistic, like an actual group of teenagers speaking their minds of a certain thing and explaining their thoughts. The characters are all realistic with their problems, I found it easy to relate to them all in some way because I’ve been or know how it feels to be in their situations.

Amy Reed is an author that I feel like understands the amount of crap that teenagers face in life. I recommend this novel to everyone because it’s not just a novel for teens but for adults as well and I think everyone can learn a few things from it.

3.5 Dreamy Clouds
3.5 Dreamy Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.