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Archive for the tag “contemporary”

Book Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Review of Reality Boy by A.S. King

realityboyStarted: 11/25/13; finished: 11/30/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: OK

pages: 272

found: netgalley.com

 

Reality Boy is the story of Gerald Faust, the youngest of three children that were presented to viewers on the reality show Network Nanny when he was just five years old. Back then he took his anger out on the drywall. And when that didn’t work he crapped on the table. All in front of the cameras.

In his small town he never outgrows his childhood as “The Crapper.” He’s seventeen now but has no friends and is still tormented by his oldest sister, Tasha, who lives in the basement and spends her time banging some guy. When she’s not trying to kill or provoke Gerald. Gerald’s other sister, Lisi, has escaped to college in Scotland. His mother is completely nuts and sees nothing Tasha does as wrong and keeps Gerald in special ed classes even though he’s not “retarded” as she calls him. His dad is a complete push-over and refuses to rock the boat.

Gerald feels completely abandoned by his family and society after they plastered his young indiscretions all over national TV before he could even understand the impact. So he goes about his life: school in the SPED room with the other “undesirables,” work at the arena where he deals with angry costumers and tries not to stare at the pretty girl on checkstand #1, and at the gym where he practices boxing despite being forbidden to get in the ring.

Things start to change the day a random hockey fan gives him a hug and lets him know that not everyone enjoyed watching him be tormented by his family on TV. Then he meets the son of a circus owner who hates his life just as much. And finally talks to the cute girl on checkstand #1 whose name is Hannah and wants to run away from him. But can he really do that? Run away and leave his crazy family behind?

 

For the most part I really liked this book. It was a look inside of a mentally ill teenage boy that has had to endure more than his fair share of issues in his seventeen years. Through flashbacks in the book you get glimpses of the realities of “reality TV,” and how Gerald was literally tortured by his psychopath sister, Tasha, who repeatedly tried to kill him and Lisi all while their mother looked the other way and always took Tasha’s side. Gerald learns very young that his mother doesn’t actually love him because she could never feel more love than she does for her first born and never wanted the other two kids. He lives in a sick and twisted family that made me want to scream. He begs his father to get him out of it but his father does nothing until the very end. It takes him finally running away with Hannah to get through to his father.

Gerald and Hannah’s relationship isn’t in the traditional style of rainbow and roses young adult romance. It’s much more real. The more secrets the two try to hide from each other the more screwed up things get. They fight a lot, they made up. It’s a confusing roller coaster of a ride but they might just be the only two people on the planet that can understand where the other is coming from.

I only gave it three stars mainly because the pacing seemed slow. Parts of the book just dragged on. At first I loved it and just couldn’t stop reading then after a night’s sleep I couldn’t get back into it and by the end I was just wondering when it was going to end.

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Book Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Review of The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

thesummerifoundyouStarted: 11/18/13; finished: 11/19/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH

pages: 239

found: netgalley

Okay, so I’m trying to finish up the last 13,000 words or so of my NaNoWriMo novel and I’m just kind floating there with no motivation or inspiration. I need to read, I think. I need some good old-fashioned teen love drama to get me in the right mood to write my teen love drama novel.

And boy did I get it with this book. I gave it five stars probably because I was in such a mood for this kind of book. It just had me all twisted up inside. In a good way.

The book is about Kate, a senior in high school, who has been dealing with the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for a year. Or more precisely, not dealing with it. She’s got her parents and sister and best friend worrying about her constantly, making her feel closed in. Then her boyfriend breaks up with her. Here comes the teen drama. Oh, how perfectly this book captured the melodrama of being seventeen.

Enter, Aiden Connelly (which happens to be a name we almost chose for our last child). He’s living above the garage of Kate’s best friend, her cousin. Aiden’s trying to figure out his life after losing his arm in Afghanistan.

The two get set up, sort of, by Jen (the best friend) as a kind of distraction from their problems. Despite Kate saying just about every inappropriate thing you could say to a guy with only one arm there’s a connection between them.

The book is from both POVs so you get to see how confused both of them are as they wade through their ever changing lives and slowly fall in love. Okay, it wasn’t that slow, but it takes them awhile to figure it out.

 

I know a lot of people don’t like this kind of drama but I live for it. I loved the heartache and confusion and fears. Heck, I’m almost 37 and I still have a lot of that drama going on in my life—like finishing school and figuring out what I want to do with my life once my kids are all in school.

I did feel some of the book was predictable and Kate kind of annoyed me that she wasn’t taking things seriously but she’s only 17. I can picture myself at that age just wanting to ignore the problem instead of facing it straight on. I kind of did that with my own crippling depression.

I LOVED Aiden, though. Even Kate describing his shoulder and scars… it made him all the more appealing. And I loved how he was written, muddling through life trying to figure out how to live with only one arm. And not his dominate arm. I felt his frustration and anger. I remember in grade school we did this experiment where we all taped our thumbs to our palms and went around for the day without opposable thumbs. It was nearly impossible to do anything.

My only big complaint is they never say the words. They both say they really like each other but I wanted those three little words. Still, I thought it was a beautiful story.

Book Review: Here Without You

Review of Here Without You by Tammara Webber

herewithoutyouStarted: 9/30/13; finished: 9/30/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH!

Pages: 250 (ebook)

found: my kindle library

 

I can not express enough how much I LOVE this series. Way back in February I checked out the Amazon preview for Between the Lines—the story of four actors, stars: Brooke and ex-boyfriend, Reid; and fairly newcomers: Graham and Emma, trying to figure out life and love. The second book, Where You Are, follows their lives outside of the set as Brooke and Reid scheme to break up Graham and Emma. Which of course, backfires completely when Reid (the consummate bad boy) finally finds a conscious.

Graham and Emma go about their lives with the third book, Good For You, following Reid as he does community service after wrecking his car while under the influence. He meets do-gooder Dori who has to supervise his work and is taken by her. His new found moral compass has him wanting to do the right thing by her and it blooms into a real relationship.

Here Without You gives us the story of the fourth character from the first book, Brooke. She’s known as conceited, shallow, vapid. Bitch is a word normally associated with her. But she’s now ready to change things about her life. Starting with finding the son she gave away for adoption four and a half years ago, when she was just sixteen.

When she finds him he’s in foster care after his meth addict mother loses custody of him. Determined to get him back Brooke goes out of her way to change everything about her life, including her personality. Well, not so much change, as let out the real her. Getting her son, River, back isn’t going to be easy.

Reid gets sucked into the drama when he’s asked to sign relinquishment of custody papers. He was only fifteen when River was born but didn’t believe the boy was his until recently. But, maybe, he’s not quite ready to do that yet.

But the secret he’s kept threatens to ruin his relationship with Dori. He realizes he might have to choose between his true son and his responsibility towards the son he’s never met.

 

The story is beautifully told through alternating viewpoints—Brooke, Reid, Dori and River—as they all struggle to do the right thing when doing the wrong thing is just so much easier.

I absolutely loved this book. I was near tears so many times and the ending was just beautiful. I loved the fact that Booke, who is such a bitch in the previous three books, finally gets her redemption. I fell in love with Reid all over again as he struggled with the emotional impact of being in love for the first time and having a son that needed him. And watching Reid and Brooke finally forgive each other and move on to something like a friendship had me teary eyed.

Dori kind of made me mad because she gave up so easily but she thought she was doing the right thing, too. But seeing Reid hurt so much made me want to poke her eyes out or something. I’m kind of protective of my fictional love interests.

All in all this was a great read. I suggest starting from the very beginning with Between the Lines but you can probably get the gist of this book as a stand alone, too. But let me reiterate how much I LOVED LOVED LOVED the entire series.

 

Book Review: Gated

Review of Gated by Amy Christine Parker

gatedStarted: 9/27/13; finished: 9/28/13

Goodreads rating: 3/5 stars

my rating: Cool

pages: 352 (hardcover)

found: library

 

This book wasn’t quite dystopian but had the feel to it. It’s set in modern times except that Lyla and her family live in a secluded community awaiting the apocalypse which their leader, Pioneer, says will happen in three months.

Lyla’s been intended to her best friend, Will, but when she meets outsider, Cody, one day she’s sucked into a confusing vortex of emotions she doesn’t know how to deal with. Her other best friend, Marie, is always getting Lyla into trouble until nobody trusts her. Especially not when she brings back word that their nearly worshipped leader might be lying to them.

 

Most of the book just showcases Lyla’s life in the community as they prep for the end of days, how she deals with her parents and friends and Pioneer. She’s conflicted over having to actually shoot to kill (as Pioneer says they will have to), her feelings for her Will and her trepidation about eventually being sealed inside the underground bunker known as the Silo to ride out the apocalypse (that she absolutely believes is coming just as Pioneer as said).

Each chapter is prefaced with a quote from Pioneer or other cult leaders like Charles Manson and Jim Jones. The setting is creepy and Pioneer is obviously up to something but none of that comes to light until the end. That’s when the action takes place.

The relationship between Cody and Lyla is insta-love and kind of unrealistic except for maybe on Lyla’s side since she’s never known anyone but the people inside the community and she doesn’t really have feelings for her intended. Cody is new and dangerous and cute. She’s attracted to him and lets herself fall hard. The ending is exciting although a little unbelievable but it was a fun read.

Book Review: The Distance Between US

Review of The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

thedistancebetweenusStarted: 9/27/13; finished: 9/28/13

Goodreads rating: 5/5 stars

my rating: GAH!

Pages: 320 (paperback)

found: library

This book gets five stars from me simply for the amount of snark in it. The main character, Caymen is the queen of sarcasm, or dry wit as others like to call it. She lives above and works in a porcelain doll shop with her mother. All her life she’s heard about how horrible rich people are and how they’ll use you and break your heart. Just like Caymen’s father did to her mother.

So when rich boy, Xander, comes into her store and beckons (yes beckons) her over for help she can barely hide her disdain or her sarcasm. But Xander seems to take it all in stride. Not to mention he’s frickin’ hot. He shows up again days later to pick up another doll. The flirting between the two is nearly overwhelming.

Caymen’s ready to dismiss him, he’s rich after all which means he’s probably shallow and self-absorbed, but Xander is out to prove all her theories wrong. He shows up every day to walk her to school and they form a tentative friendship that quickly heats up into something more.

But can Richy Rich really fall for the poor girl, barely scraping by?

By the end secrets are revealed and a lifetime of lessons need to be unlearned for Caymen. Then she can see Xander for who he really is, beyond his wealth.

I absolutely adored this book. The romance was super sweet with a bit of angst thrown in as misunderstandings and misgivings arise between Caymen and Xander. The supporting characters were quirky and fun and the twist at the end changes everything Caymen (and the reader) knows about her life. This was yet another GAH! book for me. I just couldn’t put it down and when I was done I couldn’t create words to adequately express my love for this book. It’s going on my favorites list which means someday I will actually buy it instead of getting it out of the library.

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