February 20th, 2013
Hooked by Liz Fichera
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: Jan 2013
When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.
But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.
But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile…–From Goodreads
Short of it: This one started out strong for me, but started to fall apart midway through. I appreciate the tough topics the author tried to tackle, but ultimately ended up being just an okay book for me.
Plot: I appreciate Fichera making the book more about just romance. Racism and gender equality are important issues, but how it was handled didn’t work for me. I understand that Seth was upset at being kicked off the team, but he never had any true passion or skill for golf. I know there’s the additional layer of abuse with his stepfather, but it doesn’t excuse the levels he took his hate for Fred. He didn’t even know her beyond that she took his spot; a spot that she was asked by the coach to take. Granted, perhaps some of the anger could have been subdued by have her “try-out”, but I’m not so sure. His anger should have been directed at the coach, not Fred, but since she was the easy victim she had to bear the brunt of it. And while the pranks started off relatively harmless they get to a point of life and death. While bullying at any level isn’t okay, the lengths to which Seth takes it is absurd. He’s willing to physically harm someone to the point of hospital/death because the coach put her on a High School golf team.
I also don’t like that he never faces any consequences. I’m not saying he should be in jail, but there should have been some sort of punishment to his actions. I appreciate forgiveness/being the better man, but I seriously hope that neither Ryan nor Fred ever go near Seth again.
However, I did enjoy how Fichera made golf seem interesting. It’s the one sport I usually find extremely dull, but I never felt that way during Hooked. I also enjoyed how she weaved in Native American culture into the story. I have no idea if the legends/ceremonies are based in truth or not, but they were a nice addition to the story.
Character: I’m torn on how I feel about Fred as a character. On one hand, I love how she was willing to be the only girl on an all-boys golf team. She knew it would cause trouble, but she knew it could be the ticket she needed to get into a good college. However, I don’t like how she just took the abuse from the guys. I get not making waves, but at a certain point you have to stand up for yourself. Game after game, she proved her worth and yet it barely earned her any respect from her teammates. They still pulled pranks and gave her the cold shoulder. I wish she had pushed back herself a little instead of playing the damsel in distress card.
I do want to make a side-note that I loved the relationship between Fred and her father. While their home life wasn’t perfect, he tried to make it the best he could for Fred. I love how he built her a putting green in their backyard. And even though he knew it would be tough for her on an all-boys team, he didn’t stop her from following her dreams and tried to support them.
Romance: The romance for this one drove me a bit insane. It was insta-love and I never felt they were building their relationship on something solid. I longed for something more from them, especially because I thought they could be adorable together, but never really got it. Instead, what I got was this back and forth love-hate romance. One misunderstanding would send them spiraling into not speaking to each other for weeks. Fred too often took what she saw as fact without trying to talk to Ryan and find out the truth. I know that new relationships can be fragile, but communication is the only way to make it grow. Fred wouldn’t even listen to him when he tried to explain what was going on. I never felt like the level of trust a relationship needs was ever truly there.
Not that Fred was the only one to blame. Ryan could be a real jerk at times as well. I hate how he didn’t stand up to his friends when they were being bullies and acting way out of line. While he never agreed with what they were saying he didn’t do much to stop it. Even when he does man-up about some issues, he doesn’t really confront his friend about it. I appreciate him taking the blame and apologizing when needed, but I felt like he didn’t confront the true issues until the very end (and even then not really). While the thing he does to help her and her family is a bit cliché, it was ultimately very, very sweet. It was the thing that solidified me liking him even with all his mistakes.
Writing: I can’t say that I really have any complaints about Fichera’s writing. She was able to create a story that kept me interested enough to finish the book despite my issues. In fact, I will most likely pick up the sequel/companion.
Librarian-Mode: Romance is such a huge genre and this would most likely satisfy those looking for that fix. However, I would pair this one with Catching Jordan and Dairy Queen, which have the same theme of girls breaking into a boy’s sport world.
September 10th, 2012
Welcome back, Amanda, my teen reviewer.
No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Release Date: May 2012
The Basics: This was a story told from multiple points of view about what happens when a mall is put on lock down with the shoppers still inside. As people fall ill tempers run high as those inside the mall become increasingly desperate. The shoppers want out but the government is determined to keep them in.
Characters: The author did a wonderful job of creating real and relatable characters. They weren’t to over exaggerated and none of them tried to ” play hero.” The author made the situation feel more real by making the characters average and giving them flaws.
Action: this book was not short on action. Between the conflicts amount the shoppers and the desperation of those inside the mall there is not a dull moment to be found in this book.
Romance: This book is mostly devoid of romance except when two of the characters have a very short fling. The lack of romance does not in any way hurt the quality of the book as a whole though. Overall: Overall this was a well written book about the desperation of people trapped
July 1st, 2012
This is a teen review by Amanda. I, Drea, have invited her to post to Book Blather as a teen blogger and from time to time you’ll be seeing posts by her! (And please give her a warm welcome!)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: Feb 2005
The basics: In Tally Youngblood’s world everyone who looks normal is considered ugly, but on his or her sixteenth birthday they get to be turned into a amazingly beautiful pretty. All her life Tally has waited to get to experience her own fun, care free life as a pretty but her new friend Shay is about to ruin every thing. Faced with the choice of betraying her friend of a life time as an ugly ,Tally goes on an amazing journy that will change her life forever.
Characters: The author did an amazing job of character development in this novel. The changes you see in all the characters throught the book fell real and un-hurried. A big part of what makes this book great are the strong characters.
Action: This book was jam-packed with action and surprises. It was not at all a boring or predictable read. Because of the great deal of action and suspense, it was one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. Scott westerfled has mastered the art of surprise with this novel. This book was far from predictable or boring.
Romance: For the most part there is not much romance in this novel. There are some brief times where romance comes up but if your looking for a book with a lot of romance you should proably keep walking.
My opinion of the book as a whole: In my opinion this book was very good. It had a good balance of action and surprise. while it was lacking a bit in the romance department that did not take away from the rest of the novel. I would reccomend it to anyone girl or guy looking for a good dystopian book with action and suspense.
June 18th, 2012
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Release Date: June 2012
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? (from Publisher)
Short of it: This is not an action-based book and is a bit slow moving. However, it’s a fantastic book with memorable characters.
Plot: I went into this one thinking it would be a cute beach read. A nice little romance with lots of kissing and falling in love. Instead what I got was so much more. Yes, there was lots of kissing and falling in love, but for me it wasn’t the heart of the novel. In fact, I would say the heart and soul of the book is family. How different families function and how the picture perfect ones are far from perfect or the best.
The plot is rather slow moving, but in a way it was perfect. I love character-driven stories way more than plot-driven ones. However, it does sped up a bit about halfway through when a bombshell is dropped. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s massive. It challenges the boundaries of family and what is right and wrong. Samantha truly struggles with doing the right thing, especially since it means that everything in her world could crumble. It was something that no 17 year old should ever have to decide and my heart went out to her fully. While I’m not sure that ending was 100% believable (are people really that nice?), it stayed in character with how the family acted.
Character: I liked Samantha a lot. She knew her mother’s opinions of the world were skewed and she wasn’t afraid to jump the tracks, so to speak, when the opportunity came. While I hated that she hide Jase from her mother for a while I also completely understand. It’s hard to come clean with something you know will upset your parents even when you know how wrong they are. Plus, Samantha was kind of painted as the mature, perfect child and I imagine that pressure made it harder. Overall, Samantha is a great character and one easy to relate to.
However, I do have to say the Garrett children are what truly stole the show, especially George and Patsy. Seriously, how could you not love a little girl whose first words were boob and poop? Or a little boy who knows too much trivia (and is often scared by it). I kind of wanted to hug and squish them and made me wish I had kids like them in my life.
Romance: This is what a relationship should be. There was no instant love between Jase and Samantha, but a slow building romance. Yes, it may have been a little weird that he suddenly climbs up to her roof and how she decides to just go over the next day, but oddly enough it worked for me. It was this awkward sweetness that I could see happening in real life. And even though she’s pulled into Jase and his family’s life instantly, there is still a period of getting to know each other and creating a friendship. The fact that the first kiss doesn’t come until 100 pages was perfect. Jase knew that Samantha wouldn’t be an easy girl to catch, but he was willing to give her the time and attention needed to win her over. Sure, there are still a few flaws here and there, but overall their relationship is one of the most down to earth & healthiest I’ve read in a long time.
Writing: This was the only place I had some issues. There was several spots that the wording was quite rough and I had to read them three or four time to make sure I was understanding it correctly. Granted it wasn’t a lot, but the few that happened really pulled me out of the story. However, I was reading an ARC and these areas may have been corrected since then. Overall, Fitzpatrick knows how to write a beautiful story. A fabulous debut and I look forward to what she creates next.
Librarian-Mode: I’ve seen several people say this an Anna and the French Kiss read-a-like, but I’m not sure that it fits. Sure, romance lovers will eat this up, but I think it’s better paired with Sarah Dessen or Elizabeth Scott.
June 5th, 2012
Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte (Random House)
Release Date: June 2012
Source: ALA (ARC)
When Violet stumbles across a painting of an unknown girl from 1790 that looks like her mirror image, she knows she must find out why. While there is not much to on all her clues point to Italy. But a summer in Italy may not be all it is crack up to be. Sure, there will be lots of parties, cute boys, a few kisses, but there may be a bit of danger, too. Violet is about to have a summer she’s not likely to forget anytime soon. (from Publisher)
Short of it: Henderson’s writing is solid, but overall I was disappointed by the lack of action and conclusion for this novel. I feel like it’s sorely incomplete with book two (and three?) and therefore hard to thoroughly enjoy.
Plot: After reading 300+ pages I can’t really say what happened in this book beyond Violet has a mystery to solve and a hot thing for a boy that she meets in Italy. At the end of the book she is no closer to solving her mystery or hooking up with the boy. I felt so frustrated when I got to the last page and was told I should read the next book to see where Violet’s story will go. I don’t mind series, I really don’t, but I would have liked there to be more to Flirting in Italian. I was interested to find out more about why Violet looks so much like this family, but instead all I got was girl bonding, parties, long sighs over boys, and lessons about Italy. Just not enough to wet my appetite. I will continue on to book two, but only because I want to know how it all goes. It does look like this will be a trilogy, so I only hope book two offers more than book one did.
I will note that there is a lot of drinking mentioned, but the book is set in Europe where drinking ages are much different than here in the US. In fact, they are all old enough to be able to enjoying the wine they have. One thing I really liked was the several mentions that Italians do not drink to get drunk. And the one girl who does get hammered gets reprimanded for it the next day. I don’t know if Italian teens are truly that responsible, but I was glad it was handled maturely/as part of the experience.
Character: I don’t know how I feel about Violet. She’s a likable character, but she’s also a bit forgettable. I know she likes to think outside the box and that she likes art, but there isn’t much to know beyond that. Most of her focus is either on the mystery, longing for Luca, or on her fellow classmates/her lessons. While none of the girls are fully rounded, someone like Paige who is loud and proud stick out more in my mind than Violet.
She’s also got this weird wishy-washy insecurity thing going. One moment she is comparing herself to the other girls and how she doesn’t measure up and the next she’s cool with it. The majority of it has to do with her body and is constantly described as having “meat on her bones” but she’s not fat. I would assume she is average, healthy size, but sometimes it was hard to tell. Several times she says she’s not fat, but she’s also not super skinny or athletic and she’s not 100% happy with her body either. I suppose that’s true of all women, but it was weird to her flip-flop so often on if she was secure with herself/her body or not.
Romance: I’ll be the first to admit that Violet and Luca’s moments are HOT, but I’m not sure I’m feeling it yet. Luca is rather standoffish and at times mean. He may be sex reincarnated, but he is not someone I would want my friends to date. I hate how she gets so wrapped up in him and melts at a simple glance. But I know bad boys are still hot, so I’m sure I’ll be in the minority in this opinion. Luca does have several good moments, though, and I’m hoping as the series continues his true side will come out more and he’ll become a love interest I can get behind.
Writing: I won’t lie Henderson has a great style. For all I disliked about the book, it wasn’t until I peeked at the end of the book that putting it aside even crossed my mind. But even with knowing there wouldn’t be a true conclusion I still continued until the last page. Add in the fact, that while disappointed, I plan on checking out the next book. That’s skill. Henderson knows how to tell a story, I just wish there had been more of it in this one. I’ll probably check out her other books in hopes of finding something more satisfying.
Librarian-Mode: This is your classic beach read novel. It’ll go well with Dessen and general chick-lit fans. It would also go quite well with Jenny Hanh’s Summer series.
If you’ve read Flirting in Italian be sure to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought!