Book Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

16068910The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: May 20, 2014

Pages: 384 (Paperback)

good good

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

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

The Art of Lainey isn’t a book for everyone. Sure, for some,  it’s cute and light and a great book to read in between heavy novels but for others, it’ll be annoying and unrealistic. This novel has both good and bad qualities and although I liked it, I wished I could have liked it more. Hopefully Paula Stokes fixes these problems with her next novel.

Like I said before, Lainey is a hit or miss kind of character yet I found myself in the middle with her. She’s refreshing with her sense of light humour but she only thinks about Jason and soccer. It’s like nothing else exists to this girl except these two things which isn’t very realistic and really annoying. Another thing that I had a problem with is the lack of history the characters have. Because of this everything felt very forced and fake to me, there are only a few examples of how things were with characters before they got dumped like the relationship that Jason and Lainey had before. It’s pretty non-existent to the reader because there aren’t many examples of how much fun they had together or many flashbacks. The book mostly consists of Lainey telling readers how much she loves him and nothing more.

Every chapter in the book starts off with a quote from The Art of War which I thought was really good because it summed up some of the chapters. I liked how Paula Stokes decided to use a quote and then write a chapter surrounding that quote, it’s well done. What I love most about cute books like this one are the relationships between the characters, the way they interact and make each other laugh, cry, scream, etc. With Lainey and Micah, it’s so much fun! Their bickering and sarcastic banter is light-hearted and cute and my favourite thing about The Art of Lainey. Moreover, I just adored Micah! I loved his whole tough guy personality because it’s actually meaningful. He’s not doing t because he’s dying to fit in, or because he’s mad. He’s the way he is because he’s comfortable with himself despite the world and I loved that. I also loved his sarcasm and how realistic he is. The ending is fairly well done, I liked how things aren’t straightforward and the many obstacles that stand in Lainey’s way of happiness.

All in all, I still found this book to be really cute. Lainey learns a few things and I liked how her character grows throughout the story, understanding the views of her friends instead of just blindly following. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cute books with a plan to get an ex back.

3 Clouds
3 Clouds

Book Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

18635076The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Genre: Mystery and Young Adult

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Pages: 304 (Paperback)

good good

Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.

But secrets, even ones that are long-buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.

So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.

As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Balzer + Bray for giving me an ARC of this book to review. Thank you so much! Really appreciate it! All right, now for my review. opinion The worst kinds of books are the ones that start out promising and then just decide not to deliver anything good in the end. The Secrets of Lily Graves is that kind of book. It starts out pretty good, there’s a creepy girl who likes to hang out in the cemetery and wear black all day with a dark sense of humour. The author could have made this novel fucking golden yet decided that she wanted an idiot main character who does stupid things because she’s in love with a stupid boy. All in all, don’t read this because you will be let down depending on how much you enjoy different main characters.

My first problem with this book is when Erin is dead. Not much details are told about it yet Lily somehow knows how she died.  Lily also doesn’t even suspect that Matt could be the killer, not even for s second because she knows him for a few months  and that he never would do anything like that. This leads to my next problem with the novel-Lily. For someone so smart they’re awfully stupid. I don’t want to give anything away if you decide you may want to check this out but for fuck’s sake, why would you stand there with incriminating evidence in your hands and then try to walk away with it in plain fucking sight when someone sees you? Do you not know how people work? Do you need a brain to understand that you run and then ask questions later before someone sees you? Stupid. I also had a problem with the romance because it feels extremely contrived and fake. The feelings Matt have for Lily feels too forced to be real and it didn’t help that he says, “I’m so sorry. I won’t let anything happen to you. I’ll explain everything. I really, really like you,” everything second her gets (which is every second he’s in the story). Adding onto that, the pacing of the novel is slow and everything is boring, even when the killer is caught, things are resolved fairly quickly. The ending is actually kind of predictable and so is the killer if you actually think about it.

Although I didn’t like this book as a whole, I did enjoy the sarcasm. It’s funny, dark, and refreshing. Moreover, I liked that some things happen in the cemetery because it’s quite a different scene and gives this book a bit of originality.

The Secrets of Lily Graves isn’t the best mystery book. It’s more about the forced romance than anything. Lily felt forced to solve the murder to me than actually doing it for a good reason. The police didn’t even suspect her until she kept digging and she just met Matt, who cares about him. Overall, I don’t recommend reading this unless you’re in the mood for some good humour and nothing else.

1.5 Odd Clouds
1.5 Odd Clouds

Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

18339662We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: May 13, 2014

Pages: 227 (Hardcover)

good good

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

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

opinion

We Were Liars relies heavily on its setting to tell the story and despite the rating I really liked this one. It’s different from the other novels I’ve read with the writing style and the atmosphere. If it weren’t for the setting and the fact that it’s so well put together, I think that this book would have been boring and typical. Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading about this, Lockhart made the writing work and held my attention for most of the book. 

My biggest problem is how Lockhart dealt with the truth. She could have went in a ton of different directions yet she didn’t. And I had to lower my rating because of that. I skimmed a few reviews so I already had a vague idea of what happens or what ‘they’ are and I think that that’s well done.The characters delicately use the information of the past to remind our protagonist yet in a way that wouldn’t trigger another episode and keep readers guessing as to what really happened. However well the characters react, I still didn’t actually like them. They’re all rich and spoiled and whiny especially the mothers. I didn’t understand Cadence’s mother and felt that Lockhart left her unfinished or undecided because she’s mean and then she’s loving in a way that doesn’t make enough sense. 

Although I disliked the characters, I surprisingly liked the writing style and I really hate the poetic writing with close to no dialogue at all but it fits the story, giving it a unique style in a pretty confusing way. I also liked the stories and variations that are included because they’re different, dark, and exciting and I loved how the variations connected with the chapter that it’s featured in. Like I mentioned before, the setting really makes We Were Liars and I can’t stress enough how important a setting is regardless and the author does a fine job with it.

All in all, I liked this book, truly. I’m not the kind of person who enjoys reading about rich people complaining about being less rich and writing that’s more poetic and boring than anything but the mysterious setting and creepy truth does make up for it. At least, it did for me and for anyone who enjoys confusing stories and a different way of a story being told and don’t mind weak characters.

3 Clouds
3 Clouds

Song of the Week#39-Born to Love You by Skylight (The Bonus Interview Edition)

song of the week

This is a weekly meme that’s for the most part, the same as Song Of The Day except each week there will be a different ‘edition’ and it’s going to be updated once a week. This week’s edition is: The bonus interview! Interviews are not my strong point, they make me nervous and I always try to come up with fun questions but never do. However, with Skylight and more importantly, their publicist, Genevieve for being so kind about it! I had fun reading their answers and listening to Made for More and album you should all go check out!

wpid-Skylight-Cover.jpg

Skylight’s roots can be traced back to 2009 when three like-minded musos – Greg Jorden (vocals and guitar), Peter Klein (bass) and Bradley Cumming (drums) and later Wesley Ayliffe (guitar and back-up vocals) – joined forces after performing at a music event. The trio soon began writing music together, the chemistry instantaneous, and their individual visions started to take form.

Skylight are such a great band and I love their music, truly. It’s so soothing and warm and I can’t get enough! Born to Love You might be your favourite song come this summer. It’s so light and sweet and just screams not only summer but happiness which I think, is what everyone is going to need this summer.

My favourite part of the song is:

My heart has seen where I am free

Where you are walking next to me

Lungs filled with life feeling like new Yeah, I was born to love you

The sun is breaking through

Breaking through this storm

Yeah, I feel better now

Skies are turning blue

I’m coming home to you

Yeah, I feel better now

To listen to Born to Love You click here.

Lyrics are here.

 

Now, it’s time for the Q and A that I did with the band! They are so nice and some of their answers are quite funny like Greg losing his capo before a gig. Hopefully you all like their answers as well!

1. What’s the story behind your band’s name?

Greg: We wanted a name that captured what we want to do with our music… let some light in.

Brad: We believe there is a message of hope that we need to get out. A Skylight lets light in where it is dark, I guess we are trying to do the same.

2. I know a lot of musicians have tattoos dedicated to albums and songs, ect. I was wondering if any of you have tattoos dedicated to something music related. If so what do they say?

Greg: I don’t have one, but if I did I’d love ‘free’ tattooed on my arm. That’s how I feel when I play music.

Wesley:  No tattoos… I can never make up my mind what I want! When I do, it’ll definitely be music related.

Brad: I have a pair of drum sticks on my right shoulder. No words but I would like to add to it sometime.

3. Funniest moment of musical career?

Greg: Losing my capo before a song that needed it and asking the rest of the band to look for it in front of a high school audience

Wesley:  Hitting myself in the face with my guitar while trying to do a guitar sling (flipping it right around my neck). It wasn’t very funny at the time, and I looked like a complete idiot! I’ve definitely matured, along with my taste in music! 

Peter: Definitely Greg losing his capo on stage and asking us to look for it. 

Brad: Funniest or awkward? We had a Capo go missing on stage during a Highschool gig, I don’t think Greg will ever live this one down. It was on His music stand behind some music notes…

4. Best moment of musical career?

Greg: The best moments in my musical career are the ones that not many get to see – the jokes, the prayers, hanging out, jamming, and just doing life together with the band… that’s the best part about being in Skylight.

Wesley:  We’re all very close friends in the band – for me there is nothing better than getting to play music with three of my best friends; even if it’s just a rehearsal. That’s what making music is about. 

Peter: Playing at Joburg day back in 2010.

Brad: I’m tempted to say it was when we played at Joburg Day in front of 18000 people but the truth is when we’ve played a gig for 15 people it’s been as much fun. It comes down to being able to play music with amazing friends.

5. Since I’m a high school student, I was just wondering what type of high schooler you guys were like? (Eg. The jock, the writer, the nerd, the roamer, ect.)

Greg: The guy who didn’t fit in.

Wesley:  I was the coolest kid in school! (I was also homeschooled).

Peter: The NERD…still am!

Brad: The guy who got along with everyone.

Book Review: This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

18038539This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

good good

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined…

First of all, I would like to thank the publisher, Simon Pulse 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’m not a religious person and I highly doubt I will ever become one. I think that this is one of the reasons why cults interest me so much, they explore different kinds of religions, mashing them up and manipulating people to believe complete nonsense and stealing their hope and faith, some of the last things they have to offer. The idea of cults in this story is a lot different from the ones seen in documentaries and that’s what first interested me. I was looking for something different and well explained however,  This Side of Salvation isn’t that novel, it lacks depth and a solid back story but I liked it enough. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover is fucking beautiful.

The Rush pretty much takes up the whole story and although I loved reading about it, it makes everything else suck. All of the relationships between David and a family member is floppy and not well done. What makes it all worse is the relationship they all had with John is barely discussed until the very end. There’s no story there, there’s no emotion, and I felt like he was just shoved into the story to get the book to go in the direction of grief. Moreover, I didn’t like the style this book is written in with the past/present tense. Not a fuck was given about the past because all it told me was how the romance between David and Bailey came to be and odd David’s family started acting after John’s death.

This Side of Salvation has a really great idea. I’ve only read one other cult like novel and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I liked how Smith-Ready went with this and made it as mellow as possible but still keeping the parts after the Rush really interesting. It’s not the typical cult where people are completely cut off from the world, there’s a  few children brides, and some gore/abuse. David, for the most part, is a strong character because he’s really flawed yet he tries his hardest to be a good person and readers get to see him grow as a person. I loved how willing he is to give up everything he’s worked so hard for to become closer to something he believes in even if it’s just for the sake of his parents. The religion is really kept to a minimum throughout This Side of Salvation, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it and I actually learned a few things about it.

Anyway you look at this, it’s still disappointing how This Side of Salvation is executed. I mean, I’m glad that it’s not the typical cult like stuff and the first chapter is really well done, it’s exciting and gritty and had my attention instantly but the story has huge holes in some crucial places like the characters themselves and their relationships. Nonetheless, I would still recommend this, mostly to anyone who’s looking for something a bit different to read about and don’t mind some boring characters.

2.5 Mess Up Clouds
2.5 Mess Up Clouds

 

For quotes from this book, click here.

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

17586458The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 352 (Paperback)

good good

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

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

opinion

Wow. What a fucking ride this book is!

Upon starting, I thought I was getting just a bunch of insta-love and maybe some “Okay. I okay with myself yay!” kind of stuff. But what I got is something different. A lot different. Okay, so I did get the insta-love (mutual by the way. Ugh) and the romance did take over some times but all in all, it’s great. I loved how Verdi teaches the lesson between right and wrong. Like how some people believe that being gay is wrong and is a sin but know that abuse of any sort is certainly wrong for everyone.

The worst part of this novel has to be the romance. It’s just so infuriating. I didn’t want to read about how much Lexi wanted to kiss Carolyn when she’s supposed to be focusing on herself and what she really wants. From the very first day, there’s romance and it really takes away from the story. I also felt that the characters for the most part were choppy. This is evident because the only time anything is told about the characters is at the very beginning and that’s it. There’s not much of a back story except then. The activities that the characters do are all right, but are quite confusing because they’re either too simple or too silly.

The Summer I Wasn’t Me is still a fairly beautiful story about acceptance. Lexi is a strong character, especially by the end of the story and I loved the way she accepted herself and her friends. Beautiful! The best thing about the camp is the cult-like feel it has, the exorcism that goes on is really well described and intense. I was shocked and enraged by it. It’s pretty awesome in a very sadistic way.

I was really skeptical when I first read this simply because many authors have tried this (not in YA) and have failed miserably. However, Verdi does a good job and had me at the edge of my seat more than once. Lexi’s story is pretty typical and so is the romance, but the execution is lovely and I felt connected to her. I recommend this to anyone who’s curious to see what it might look like inside of a “de-gaying” Christian camp.

3 Clouds
3 Clouds

Book Review: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

18048731The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

good good

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

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

opinion

In all fairness I made it to roughly 40% before I started skimming and then at 70%  I went straight to the penultimate chapter.

I love books about teens with depression and who face suicide. I could never get bored with this trend, I really don’t think I could, yet so far this year, the ones with these topics are just bad. They’re unrealistic and boring. And I don’t mean boring as in their story is terrible or not exciting enough. I mean boring as in they’re just words. No emotion, no connection whatsoever between the protagonist and the love interest, no explanation, nothing. It’s just words being told like a fucking monologue and it’s horrendous.

Caggie’s story of struggle and forgiveness should be full of heartache and connection because everyone wishes they could go back in time to change something, whatever it may be. It shouldn’t be a fucking snoozfest where the love triangle is with a sweet guy who’s pretty one-sided and the other one  so forcefully funny and it’s disgusting and seems to have no fucking care in the world yet can tell she’s hoarding some dark secrets. What the fuck is this bullshit, Serle? I’m very fucking disappointed with this.

Luckily, the only thing I didn’t completely hate is the best friend, Claire. Solely because she’s punk and does whatever she wants to and doesn’t seem to care. But even this, to a point, got ridiculous, there is a flimsy relationship between her and Caggie.

The Edge of Falling should be a book that has its readers at the edge of their seats. Not trying their best to stay awake. If I wanted to read an essay on the life of a teenage girl I would ask my English teacher. I wanted a novel that I could connect with and what I got was nothing close to it. I am beyond disappointed and I don’t recommend this to anyone.  Save yourself the trouble and frustration and stay far away from this one.

1 Lonely Cloud
1 Lonely Cloud