Sunday, April 30, 2017

Literally by Lucy Keating

"Without realizing it, I break into a run. My life is filled with TKs, because my life does not belong to me.
My life belongs to Lucy Keating..."

Annabelle is a normal, if somewhat type-A, teenage girl. She lives in a beautiful home with her parents, older brother, and their somewhat evil dog Napoleon. Her brother's best friend Elliot is always around and tormenting her. Annabelle meticulously schedules every part of her life, color-coding each event in her planner. Naturally, she is startled when her parents announce that they will be selling the family home...and living separately. The truly world-shattering news is yet to come.

An author named Lucy Keating visits Annabelle's fiction writing class. Ms. Keating announces the plot of her newest book: a girl with everything under control who learns just how messy life can be when her parents sell her childhood home and separate. The character even has a weird little dog! Obviously, Annabelle sees parallels with her own life. She asks Lucy if her new book is based on her, and the answer is...yes. She created Annabelle and is writing her story.

Thankfully, Ms. Keating plans to shake up her newest book. While past stories tended to end tragically, she is now dedicated to happy endings. Annabelle ends up meeting a new boy at school, Will. He is absolutely perfect for her, another type-A rule follower. Another Lucy Keating staple is the love triangle, which seems crazy-cakes because things are so great with Will.

Then Annabelle starts to feel romantically about, of all people, Elliot. Lucy lets her know that her destiny is with Will, but she can't stop her feelings. Annabelle and Will decide to take charge of their own stories. They decide to demand that Lucy stop writing about them. The author agrees, but their lives don't return to normal. Because they aren't being written about, Annabelle, Will, and their families and friends start to fade away.

Literally was a fun and unique story. I'm a fan of meta stories, so I was there for this. Annabelle could be a bit too perfect, but I liked her. She watched The Great British Bake Off, so we're cool. It sort of blows my mind that Lucy Keating wrote a book that involves Lucy Keating writing a book about Annabelle. What even is reality, y'all?

I received my copy of Literally from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

What was the point of all this shit happening if when you died it just got erased, like it hadn't meant anything at all?

It seemed like a normal football game...until the mascot jumped off a bridge into the river. Everyone is shocked that popular and sweet cheerleader Brittany would kill herself, most of all her twin sister Angie. The worst part is that they can't even hold a funeral because the body hasn't been recovered from the rushing water.

The entire situation seems suspicious to Benny. He's the president of Winship Academy's Mystery Club. The only other member is Virginia, because she is the only one who wanted to join. She used to run a gossip website about her classmates that made her very unpopular. Now, Virginia hopes that joining the Mystery Club will change her reputation, though it really just makes her as invisible as Benny.

They were both there when Brittany jumped off the bridge. Someone else was standing nearby, someone who scared her into jumping. The plot thickens when Benny and Virginia discover that Brittany is still alive. So, who jumped off the bridge?

I'm a sucker for a mystery, as in the mystery intrigues me so much that I have to find out who dunnit. The mystery was pretty good, and I almost liked the book. There were just weird little things that kept putting me off, like a really gross scene where a dude pleasures himself in a car while holding a gun. I just don't know what that added to the plot? There was also a Nice Guy who basically stalked all the cheerleaders. Blech. I can't really recommend this book, but it wasn't the worst thing ever.

I received my copy of We Know It Was You from Edelweiss, courtesy of Simon Pulse. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

"There's just something terrifying about admitting you like someone. In a way, it's actually easier when there's no chance of anything happening. But there's this threshold where things suddenly become possible. And then your cards are on the table. And there you are, wanting, right out in the open..."

The Upside of Unrequited is set in the same universe as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, but it's not technically a sequel. The main characters, Molly and her twin sister Cassie, are cousins of Abby from the previous book. Abby makes a couple appearances here, along with Simon and Nick. It's nice to see the characters again, but also nice not to have to remember a lot of details about the previous book to enjoy this one.

Our main character is Molly. She's seventeen and has had lots of crushes, but no boyfriend. Molly meets a girl named Mia and introduces her to her twin sister Cassie. Cassie and Mia start a relationship, which is different for Cassie. Molly's twin has had casual flings, but never anything serious. Unfortunately, the sisters start to drift apart a bit. Cassie urges Molly to get together with Mia's friend Will. Will also seems to like Molly. Yet Molly can't stop thinking about Reid, the geeky guy she works with.

Molly was so easy to relate to, both for teenage and current Caitlin. Seriously, there were so many lines for me to write down afterwards. I'm also a big fan of how LGBTQ friendly the book was. Molly is straight, Cassie is gay, and they were raised by two moms. Mia is pansexual (I think?). None of this is treated as a big deal, which I loved.

Honestly, The Upside of Unrequited is completely delightful. It made me laugh and cry, and make little squealing noises. You should totally read this, and read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda if you haven't. Hopefully, Becky Albertalli will write even more awesome books for me to love and recommend in the near future (Please and thank you!).

I received my copy of The Upside of Unrequited from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer & Bray/Harperteen. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

"But I'm tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again..."

All it takes is one little mistake. Simon forgot to log out of his gmail at the school library. This wasn't just some ordinary email account, it was the secret account that Simon uses to talk with Blue. Simon and Blue both go to the same school, they don't know each others' real identities, and they are both secretly gay.

Class clown Martin reads the emails and uses them to blackmail Simon. He wants Simon to help him get together with Simon's friend, new girl Abby. Simon isn't ready to come out, and he definitely doesn't want to expose Blue, so he makes a few lackluster attempts to help Martin. Abby isn't very receptive to Martin and she eventually starts to date mutual friend Nick. Their other friend, Leah, has secretly liked Nick for a long time, so it's very complicated.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was such a good story. Simon is funny and awesome, and I liked reading his point of view. It feels like the teenagers are authentic, but not as scary as real teens. Becky Albertalli's book was so fantastic that I absolutely had to read her follow-up, The Upside of Unrequited, as soon as possible. Actually, that's my next review.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari

I first encountered this book at my job at the bookstore. It had a fun cover! It sounded sort of cute and fun!!! Years later, I spotted a copy for sale at the Dollar Tree ("Where everything's a dollar, but people are priceless!") and grabbed it. It was a decision I would come to regret.

The Makedown is completely vile. It's a book that I threw across the room while reading, demoted to a "bathroom book," and still couldn't bring myself to finish it. What I wonder is if it's actually meant to be a straightforward story or if it's some sort of parable or parody or something...?

It's the story of a girl named Anna. She starts the book fat and ugly. Like all fat girls (Insert sarcastic eyeroll), she binges constantly. After her parents divorce, she moves away to New York where she gets a job with a caterer. Her boss, who she secretly refers to as "MFG," or My Fairy Godmother, takes a special interest in her, forces her to walk long distances to lose weight. She also gets the restaurants in her neighborhood to stop selling her food. Eventually, Anna becomes skinny and gets a makeover.

Everything is far from perfect, however. She keeps a "Dear Fatty" journal where she writes horrible letters to herself. MFG should have gotten Anna some counseling. Eventually, she meets an extremely attractive man who is interested in her...but he's maybe a little too attractive? That's when she starts the makeunder, and basically ruins the poor guy's life.

Ben seemed perfectly nice and is into her, but she is riddled with insecurity. She lies to him constantly. He's a vegetarian and she claims to be one as well. (She's not.) She lies to cover up her dysfunctional family, the divorced parents and weirdo brother who still lives at home. Anna ruins him, getting him addicted to junk food (Though a major point is how she switches his granola bars with Heath bars, which...granola bars aren't great for ya anyways), taking away his motivation, and basically making him so unattractive that even she doesn't want him. Then she tries to change him back but can't and it's all. The. Worst.

Usually I don't read bad books. I like to like things, but I said, this book was gross. The characters were awful, especially Anna. As a fat girl myself, I was offended. Still, I have no doubt that this book would also disgust you no matter your size or shape. So, my advice is that you don't read it, a lot, right now and forever.