Tag Archives: young adult

Story of a Girl (Sara Zarr)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Story of a Girl by Sara ZarrWhen she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother’s best friend – Deanna Lambert’s teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of “school slut,” she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, The Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

Sara Zarr is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. :) Just like Sweethearts, I thought this book would be all about angst. In a way, there is teenage angst, but it wasn’t all about that.

Deanna Lambert feels trapped about her past. Being in a small town and labeled as a teenage slut is something that she would carry for a long time. She felt as if she belonged to no one except for her older brother, who has a family of his own. The story goes around those facts in Deanna’s life, including her slight jealousy with her two best friends who are in a relationship.

The characters of the story feel real, and as a reader I felt that I am actually inside Picasso’s pizza or Jason’s house or the basement where Darren and Stacy and April lives. I felt bad for Deanna when people keep on labeling her as a slut and when her father wouldn’t even defend her, and instead is ashamed of her. I liked Lee, Deanna’s other best friend and Jason’s girlfriend, even if she shows up only a few times in the story, and Michael, Deanna’s gay boss who was one of the people who seemed to truly care for her.

I think other than this being a “story of a girl”, it’s also a story about forgiveness, of how one’s past definitely does not define your future, or even your present. Sara Zarr shows the reality that forgiveness is not easy. It may come in quick for some people while for others it takes years. Others need to hear an apology while others need not.

I got this book as an ebook, actually and it’s short so it would fit even the smallest memory stick or iPod or whatever readin/storage device you may have. But because I really liked this one, I will definitely buy a printed copy of this book. :)

Sweethearts (Sara Zarr)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Sweethearts by Sara ZarrAs children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another’s only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she’s lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she’s popular, happy, and dating, everything “Jennifer” couldn’t be—but she still can’t shake the memory of her long-lost friend.

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts is a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

At first I thought this was going to be another YA novel with high school problems between new friends and an old friend showing up, an image to protect and a happily-ever-after in the end, but as I read through the novel, it wasn’t anything like that. It was set in a high school, and there were new friends versus the old one, but oh, there was so much more things into the story that when I initially expected.

First off, Jennifer/Jenna was bullied back in elementary because of her speech problem and her weight. In the midst of all these, she found a friend in Cameron Quick, who was as much as a loner as she is. They had a lot of good times together, except for her ninth birthday at Cameron’s house, which continues to haunt her even as she grew up. Then Cameron disappears and everyone told her that he was dead. It was then Jennifer decided that her old self would be buried with Cameron, and she emerges as Jenna. Then Cameron returns and Jenna is forced to face her past, face her present and finally own up to who she really was and how important Cameron is to her.

The book has a haunting feeling, like there was a past that they all couldn’t run away from. Some of the characters were annoying (example Ethan, Jenna’s boyfriend), but they felt like real people as the story goes on. The conflict that Jenna goes through inside felt real and raw, and I wanted so much for her to choose Cameron and for them to conquer their past. There was just the right amount of angst in the book, and it’s not even the shallow angst but the kind that stems from a troubled past.

And like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the book doesn’t have the typical happy ending. It was sad, but poignant, and the ending certainly illustrated that love and friendship between two people can survive the distance and time and can change a person in more ways than one. :)

I finish this review off with my favorite quote in the book:

Because love, love is never finished. It circles and circles, the memories out of order and not always complete.

The Book of Luke (Jenny O'Connell)

Rating: [rate 2.0]

The Book of Luke (Jenny O'Connell)Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice — but lately being nice hasn’t done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily’s senior year. Only Emily’s first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What’s a nice girl to do?

Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he’s staying behind in Chicago “to tie up loose ends,” and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.

She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don’ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They’ll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys — an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston — the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email — Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

(Spoilers in the review)

I was curious about this book because Amazon recommended it to me while I was checking out Sarah Dessen books on the website. I’ve been on the lookout for YA fiction for a while now and this seemed quite interesting so I picked it up.

The premise is quite interesting: Super nice girl Emily’s life is torn apart when she learns that she has to move back to Boston in the middle of her senior year in Chicago. She’s “super nice” because she’s supposed to be, being the daughter of the etiquette queen. When things go all wrong for her, she decides she’s done being nice.

Emily and her friends take the hottest guy in school, Luke, who is also a jerk who broke up with Emily’s friend Josie through email, as their guinea pig for their school time capsule contribution, which is a list of do’s and don’ts for guys. After that, things went downhill: obviously Emily would fall for Luke as she tests their theories on him, and he would find out about all of it. I’m surprised I managed to read it all until the end, which frankly, was getting a lot boring.

The Emily character was interesting at first, but somewhere along the way she became flat and uninteresting. She decided not to be nice because being nice didn’t make things work out for her, yes, but I kind of expected her to be more mature and all, being an intelligent high school senior running for valedictorian and wanting to go into Brown. Somehow being un-nice wasn’t for “revenge” on her family isn’t that believable. Luke was a bit more interesting than she is, because he had this weird vibe all throughout the book. Josie and Lucy were the stereotype friends, and honestly, there were too little interesting characters in the background. Oh, and the sex in the story didn’t really help the plot, except to probably make things worse for Emily and Josie in the end.

It would have been in an interesting book, but it fell short on the character and plot development factor. I’d have to agree with what one reviewer said, though. Despite the characters being slightly flat, the scenes between Luke and Emily were well-written. I just kind of wish there was something more about their characters.

Privileged (Zoey Dean)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Yale graduate Megan Smith has big plans for a career in journalism and even bigger debt: $75,000 in college loans. She grabs a job at a trashy tabloid, gets fired (small wonder: nothing can make her care which celebrity just got a nose job), and then gets an offer she just can’t refuse.

Seventeen-year-old identical twins Rose and Sage Baker are Palm Beach heiresses best known for their massive fortunes and penchant for flashing the paparazzi. Their grandmother offers to pay off Megan’s loans if she can tutor the girls and get them into Duke. But the twins aren’t about to bend their celebutante schedules to learn algebra. Megan quickly discovers that she has to know her Pucci from her Prada to reach these students. If she can look the part, maybe — just maybe — she can teach them something. What Megan could never imagine is what the whole experience was about to teach her…

So I wanted this book because I watch the TV show based on this one. It’s really more out of curiosity that I asked for this last Christmas, so I kind of had low expectations on this one.

Let me just say: it is so different from the TV show. Let me list it down (and I’ll try not to write as many spoilers as I can):

  • Megan. Megan in the TV show is more uptight and more self-righteous than Megan in the book. She’s still smart, yes, but the Megan in the book seemed to care more for her money first than for the girls, whereas the TV show Megan took her responsibility seriously immediately (whoa, so many -ly’s!). I’m not so sure which Megan I like better though (and frankly, she gets on my nerves a lot of times).
  • Rose and Sage. The Rose on TV seems kinder, and the Sage on TV is less wild. The twins in the book were a bit out of control from the start. And honestly, I felt like I didn’t see them that much in the book — not to many things about their school or their progress, except in the end.
  • Lily. This is like, the most different one ever. Lily in the TV show is obnoxious and wild and she doesn’t have a good job. In the book, however, Lily is the nice sister, so nice that Megan kind of dislikes her but has no reason to, and she’s a well-known actress and model.
  • Megan’s family. Megan had a very dysfunctional family in the TV show, while this one…it’s almost normal.
  • Will. Will in the book is rich, and is close friends with the twins, but in the TV show they’re not. I find the Will in the TV show more charming though.  (Brian Hallisay! ♥ )
  • Charlie. There’s no charming best friend Charlie in the novel! Instead, there’s Charma, who I didn’t really notice until she said something. Er. The loss of Charlie is saddening. I like Charlie, the best friend who’s always been there and always been in love with Megan.
  • Laurel. Laurel was still as intimidating, but I kind of felt that she was younger in the novel than on TV.
  • Marco. I think he’s the only consistent guy from the TV show and the novel.
  • Megan is not from Palm Beach but is originally from somewhere else (I can’t remember where exactly, but I’m sure it’s not vegas), so there’s not much family stuff in the novel.
  • Megan has another boyfriend at the start of the novel, who is rich, and whose parents don’t approve of her.

It’s not really disappointing as I think that the TV show and the novel are quite different and it shouldn’t really be followed that way. It’s not really a “clean” book as there’s sex and a lot of cussing and mean tricks done to Megan as well as a lot of lies, but it’s quite entertaining. Nothing too spectacular, but if you’re curious about the TV show, then you’d probably enjoy this one too.

Just Listen (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Just Listen (Sarah Dessen) Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

I picked this book on a random book splurge. I think I wasn’t in a good mood then, so I browsed around National Bookstore and waited a bit before deciding to buy it. It seemed very interesting among all the YA books I saw in the bookstore, plus I remember seeing some of my friends recommending her books…and so I bought it. The last time I bought a YA book (I think it was Private by Kate Brian), I was really disappointed, so I hoped this one won’t disappoint.

And it didn’t.

Just Listen is about Annabel, a seemingly perfect girl on the outside who needs no treatments for acne, but a lot devastated on the inside. The novel talks about her family, her friendships and her growing relationship with Owen, the music lover who always says what’s on his mind. Annabel, on the other hand, prefers to keep things inside her, especially if she thinks it would disrupt the “peace” that other people have. It’s not about keeping a reputation, but just looking out for them in a way that she could and at a cost.

The novel is very realistic, and it deals a lot about eating disorders, complicated friends and being true to yourself. I loved how I can still relate to it even if I’m way above the YA age (or not :P), how I managed to see myself in Annabel as I read the novel. While reading Just Listen, you’ll find yourself rooting for Annabel (and Owen) and hoping that things become okay with her. The flashbacks were seamless, almost like you were really looking into Annabel’s mind as she recalls them all.

This is the kind of fiction I love. It kind of reminds me of those YA/Chicklit books written by Christian authors that I buy, but this one is more mainstream and doesn’t talk of God. However, the lessons that the story has is very valuable, and this is something teens should really read.

Two things I wish that would happen (spoiler alert): I wish to know how Clarke lost her allergies and I kind of wish there’s some kind of resolution for Annabel and Sophie, other than them not talking anymore. Or at least, some kind of encounter. But then I guess that part is left open to interpretation and possible spin offs. :)

If only there were more Dessen books available in Manila! I found one in BookSale, which I will hunt down soon, and then I’ll look for some during the Book Fair. :D If all else fails, I’ll ask my dad to get me her books. I’m definitely a fan. :D

Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)“BELLA?”

Edward’s soft voice came from behind me. I turned to see him spring lightly up the porch steps, his hair windblown from running. He pulled me into his arms at once, just like he had in the parking lot, and kissed me again.

This kiss frightened me. There was too much tension, too strong an edge to the way his lips crushed mine—like he was afraid we had only so much time left to us.

* * *

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob—knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?

NOTE: If you haven’t read New Moon yet, DON’T READ THIS REVIEW! You’ll be spoiled. ^^;

I really wasn’t planning to buy this one yet. I was planning to wait it out, wait for the paperback to come out, which I bet would come out a bit before Breaking Dawn does, which means I would only have a short time waiting until book four. Buut…I couldn’t wait. Plus I saw that the copies of Eclipse were running out in the bookstore nearest me…so I grabbed it and it was on sale, so yay. :) This book definitely helped me through my fasting this past weekend, and I can’t believe I read it this fast. It must be really captivating, eh?

I don’t know how I could review this novel without spoiling anyone who plans to read this book. I think this book saved New Moon. As I mentioned, New Moon was saved by Jacob Black, and I’m glad there’s more Jacob AND Edward here, which are both favorite characters. I like how there’s so many realizations happening in the story, how the characters interacted with each other, and how this story flowed more easily than New Moon did. I love how Bella finally started being nervous about her decision to be a vampire in the previous book, instead of her just wanting and not thinking of how this decision would affect other people in her life who were not immortal.

Okay, I’ll talk about three things here: Edward and Bella, Jacob and Bella and how Stephenie Meyer portrayed love in the story. There might be potential spoilers in this post (sorry, I just can’t avoid it :D), so proceed with caution. ;)

Continue reading Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer)