REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

From Goodreads:

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.16143347
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Review:

WOW. Never have I read a book that came with a warning label (in the form of an editors note, essentially saying: YOU WILL GET A BOOK HANGOVER).

But “We Were Liars” had one and they weren’t kidding. I finished it last night and I am still reeling.

Cadence Sinclair Eastman is born into a family of wealth and luxury, distinguished Democrats whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower. They have a lot to live up to and as the pressure builds, one thing becomes clear: everything about the Sinclair family is about to change.

Told alternately between prose, poetry and fairytales, “We Were Liars” breaks all of the conventions of classic fiction. Cadence’s development as she slowly uncovers what really happened one summer is artfully unveiled along with each new secret.

Some people say the narrator is unreliable. But I think those people missed the point. There’s a reason she’s unreliable and nervous. There’s a reason we get so lost in the tunnels of her mind. You must read the book to fund out!

I don’t want to say too much because this book is so easy to spoil! And telling any secret (or even any aspect of the plot) would truly hinder the novel’s suspense, which is so carefully and wonderfully mastered.

Instead, I will leave you with this: “We Were Liars” is so superbly crafted that it will leave you in a daze. Lockhart has created a dazzling, thrilling novel, full of rich suspense, friendships, romance and rebellion.

It comes out May 13, 2014. KEEP AN EYE OUT! In the meantime, check out this book’s sick tumblr page, detailing the family relations and geography of the island. It’s very cool.

9 OUT OF 10 STARS!

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I love you, Stephanie Perkins

Today, I thought I would try something new. I just finished Stephanie Perkins’ delightful novels “Anna and the French Kiss” and “Lola and the Boy Next Door.” There are quite a few reviews on these books out there already, so I decided to make this post less of a review and more of an author spotlight.

John Green recommended “Anna” a while ago, and while I rarely question that dude’s book recs, I was really putting off reading it because of the frankly lame title. LIIIIKE, I was totally judging the book by its cover. I am unfailingly cliched at times. It’s QUITE embarrassing.17453983

Long story short: I walked into Barnes and Noble, $25 gift card in hand, dreams of Tahereh Mafi’s “Shatter Me” clouding my thoughts. I rode the elevator to the second floor where the woefully limited YA section was located. But there was no Mafi. Then, there were no recently added books on my Goodreads to-read list. I mean, NONE. When I spotted “Anna,” I picked it up and trusted my precious gift card to the wise words of John Green.

Four hours later, I WAS STRAIGHT WIGGIN’. It is SO GOOD, you guys! If you have ever considered reading Perkins, but then decided against it because of the weird titles like I did, I implore you to reconsider.

Perkins beautifully wrote a quick read that has all the romance of a YA novel, but with no cheesiness or cringeworthy mushy moments. She created a world in which I felt I naturally belonged. Her characters are deep and you can just tell that so much love and care went into bringing them to life. It’s witty, lovely, so thoughtful and honest. It’s not at all overdone or cliched, but rather, a serious meditation on a young person’s pursuit of finding oneself and redefining the personal meanings of home, love and friendship.

16101168This all goes for “Lola and the Boy Next Door” as well. Though they are different stories with completely individual people, Perkins brings the same heart and depth to this second novel.

Her characters are so complicated and real that it’s easier to get lost in their lives than it is to get lost in your own. It’s exciting and hard to find characters that you can connect with on a deeper level. Perkins’ Anna, St. Clair, Lola and Cricket become so real to me (and I’d say other readers as well), sharing the same thoughts and emotions that everyone has at some point, that they almost stop being people on a page and become real (and I’m probably not crazy).

I love when an author’s passion for her characters emerges in her words so much that it almost becomes a separate entity. Like there’s the book, and then hovering somewhere above it is the love that Perkins’ has for her people. It’s so big and consuming that it can’t be contained to a mere page! I think that’s really difficult to get across to readers, and she did it from the beginning. I was taken with her from page one.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t read these books if you have like a bunch of work to do. Wait until the weekend. There’s not a warning label, but there should be. “Warning: You will be unable to put this book down until you’ve finished. Do homework first, trust us.”

REVIEW: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Welcome to the “Being Sloane Jacobs” Blog Blitz!!!! HOORAY!!!!

From Goodreads:

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she 978-0-385-74179-8does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

“Being Sloane Jacobs” is a funny, cute and original take on the common parent trap-like plot construct. It’s another story told from two different views: the two Sloanes, one a tough and gritty hockey player, the other an equally tough, though perhaps less expressive, figure skater.

When they are sent off to their respective camps, life seems bleak. But when they literally run into each other, they see an opportunity and go for it.

“Being Sloane Jacobs,” simply put, is a novel about discovery. When they decide to take this risk together, everything changes. They learn to become independent of their families. They learn what it means to be a fierce friend. They learn the weight (but not burden) of being accountable for the feelings of others. And they learn how to be brave and confident and to stand up for themselves.

This novel has the romance and the family drama and the friendship, but that’s not why I like it so much. I liked it for the courage that it inspired. It takes a lot to leave everything you know for a new adventure, and that’s what the Sloanes did. Immersing themselves in a completely new environment takes them out of their elements and forces them to adapt. There’s a strength in making one’s own choices when everyone and everything seems to be against you. This is a strength that shouldn’t be overlooked, but sometimes is. Lauren Morrill did an excellent job at describing that strength and experience seriously, while keeping up a funny tone and hopeful diction. Self-discovery in novels is not exactly unique, but Morrill was able to successfully write about it in a charming, refreshing and honest way. And you all know I like a good coming-of-age, self-discovery, comfort-zone-breaking novel. That’s definitely what “Being Sloane Jacobs” is (with some super cute boys thrown in there).

As much as I love this book, there’s one part that didn’t quite work for me. When the Sloanes decide to switch places, I was struck by how unconvinced I was. I mean, that’s a big deal. You have to be pretty desperate to give up your entire identity and commit to something brand new. I understood why figure skating Sloane wanted to switch places. Her anxieties were more explicit, more discussed. But I didn’t know why hockey-playing Sloane wanted to change. I know she had her family issues and anxiety about being unable to perform on the rink like she wanted to, but I never got the impression that those things made her want to stop playing hockey. And throughout the novel, she mentions a few times that she still loves and misses hockey, whereas the other Sloane doesn’t seem to miss anything about figure skating. I know they are different people and she doesn’t need to hate hockey to want to escape it, but I guess I didn’t feel she had a good enough reason to trade places. Until the end of the novel, at least, when more factors are brought to light. But still, I was a little bit distracted while I was reading because I kept wondering why hockey Sloane would truly want to trade places (figure skating camp was definitely more luxurious, but still. Doesn’t seem like a good enough reason). I probably overlooked her reasons for the switch

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and/or it’s entirely possible that I know nothing about hockey Sloane. If this is true, please someone enlighten me.

Overall, it’s impossible for me not to love a Lauren Morrill book. She had my heart from the first sentence of “Meant to Be” and she has unwaveringly kept it so far. I suspect she’ll have it forever. She’s one of those truly funny and loving authors that, you can just tell, puts her soul into every word. This shows in “Being Sloane Jacobs” just as it showed in “Meant to Be.” If you have any interest in YA fiction, or fiction in general, or people, or the world, or life, you should probably read both of these books. Now.

9 out of 10 stars!

I just finished Allegiant…

…and I am SUFFERING. S U F F E R I N G. SUFFERING. SUFFERING. SUFFERING.

SPOILERS.

Okay, so I just finished reading the Divergent series today, and I went through all the stages of grief that one goes through when an incredible book ends. Tumblr knows.

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And I’m now doing the thing where I question why I do this to myself, you know, get so invested in these people that don’t exist and their fictional problems and relationships only to crumble when something horrible happens or when the story ends. With excellent books and series like Divergent that grip you and weasel their way into your heart where they make a home, this is particularly devastating. And yet, we keep going back to them, re-reading the passages that specifically ripped us apart and I always ask myself, why? Why do I do this to myself? Why do we keep reading? At moments like these, it almost seems masochistic; like we’re only reading to feel something, even if that something is heartbreak.

Then, it only follows to SCREAM at the author. WHY would you do this to us? HOW could you let this happen?! It’s instinct to blame the author. After all, they wrote it. They could have made all of this better.

This is the part that interests me. I think most authors will tell you that at a certain point in the writing process, the story takes control. You are just a supplicant of the pen (or key board, in these cases. “The pen” just sounds more romantic amirite). The outcome no longer becomes a matter of what the author desires- it becomes a matter of writing what is faithful to the character that you created.

To me, it’s incredible. It’s incredible that writing, which is a deeply personal and creative process, can leap from you and become something you didn’t expect. How can we lose control of something we are actively thinking about and writing down? It comes from our heads, but it doesn’t seem that way. It becomes almost like a symbiotic relationship: the characters and environment giving us the words, and our hands then writing them down.

I think in the end, we always go back to books not because we are masochistic, but because we are searching for human connection and for a way to better understand. And it becomes clear that our authors are surprised by their writing, just like we are. Though maybe not to the same extent because, come on, they did write it after all.

If you, too are suffering Allegiant feels and sobs and anxiety, I encourage you to read what Veronica Roth has to say about the ending. It is rare that we are so lucky as to understand what an author thinks of their writing. It made me feel better at least. 

Side note: I realize I post a lot about this stuff whenever I finish a great book. Sometimes, it just needs to be said over and over until you feel okay. Thanks for bearing with me. And plz, rant and then tell me where I can read those rants so that we can rant together.

See ya in a bit. Review on Lauren Morrill’s Being Sloane Jacobs coming next week!