Book Review | Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

Authour:girldefect
Simmone Howell
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 301 pages
Publication date:
September 2nd 2014
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
Girl Defective is the coming of age story of fifteen year old Skylark written by Australian author, Simmone Howell. What I found interesting concerning this book was how, despite being a contemporary novel, there was a bit of a mystery element to it enough to provide this book with a sort of grown up Harriet the Spy feel.

Skylark Martin is a unique character in that despite being exposed to mental illness, addiction, drugs and sex in her life, she manages to still remain fairly innocent throughout the novel. I was fond of how despite struggling to figure out whom she was throughout the book; she almost always puts her family first. However for the majority of the book it felt like Gully, Skylark’s younger brother was the star of the book. He was quirky and awkward, but also endearing and lovable. And he stole just about every scene he was in; the fact that Gully’s “detective” notes were the main source of entertainment in this book, this definitely tells you how significant he is in the book. Still, it is Skylark’s story that’s being told, and it was lovely to watch her attempt to figure out who she by opening up a bit to strangers, in addition to her interactions with her older friend, Nancy. Through it all, readers come to understand just how lonely and confused Skylark is, especially since she is without a mother figure to provide her with guidance and advice.

Therefore while this book was cool for the reason that the story felt different, and that there was a cast of weird and interesting side characters it didn’t wow me. In particular, the romance between Skylark and her love interest, Luke lacked substance and chemistry. This made it fall flat since I wasn’t buying their attraction to each other.

Girl Defective is however a decent story, with a unique setting (a records store) that was extremely reminiscent of those movies from the 1980s, or the teen dramas from the 1990s where there was a focus on the serious nature of growing up as a teenager with a bit of humour to put together a story somewhat uplifting by the conclusion. And though the plot is somewhat slow, it is a quick read for readers due to its short chapters.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Mystery Monday | Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Mystery Mondays

Mystery Mondays is a sometimes weekly, sometimes biweekly and sometimes monthly review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Authour:brokenmon
Lauren Beukes
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 439 pages
Publication date:
September 16, 2014
Publisher:
Little Brown and Company
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
In Lauren Beukes’s Broken Monsters, the story is told from five major points of views, all of whom are characters that are “broken” in their own way and can be considered “monsters” depending on who you ask. Set in the city of Detroit; a place known for its high crime rate, most of the action revolves around the underground street art world in the book. What I love with regards to this book was how the characters provide such a unique take on the events of the book as they have different backgrounds and different roles that connect them to each other and brings them into the investigation.

On the other hand, I will say that within the different perspective offered, there were definitely some that were more interesting than another. For instance, I loved the chapters that focused on Detective Gabriella “Gabi” Versado who was the ideal blend of cool and vulnerable. I love how she was excellent at her job, yet she was also prone to the stresses and trauma that may result from her job as a detective. I also liked Layla; her daughter who was incredibly different than other teens I’m come across in books. She felt like someone whom I could have known back in high school as she was impulsive, and made stupid decisions despite being quite smart. On the other hand, I was not as interested in Clayton’s story or the journalist, Jonno’s chapters as I felt they were uninteresting and dragged out at times.

Broken Monsters took me by surprise as I initially thought I would be disappointed since the story felt extremely long and slow at the start. Fortunately, over time the chapters started getting shorter, which helped move the story along, though the downside was that it meant I got less time with the characters that I cared about. Overall, Broken Monsters was a vivid, thrilling though slightly disturbing and bizarre read set.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Blog Tour | Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen Book Review & Giveaway

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Authour:20578768
Suri Rosen
Format:
Trade Paperback, 255 pages
Publication date:
September 9th 2014
Publisher:
ECW Press
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“Me making a match? Pretty crazy, huh? I’m sixteen years old and have never been on a date. So what do I know about fixing anybody up. But you want to know what’s nuttier? I did it.” (p. 37)

Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen is another excellent book if you are looking for a different type of voice and some diversity in YA fiction. Raina, the protagonist in Playing with Matches is Jewish and this adds an interesting twist on a story that shares a few similarities with a certain Jane Austen character who likes to bring couples together. However unlike Emma, Raina is not as self absorbed and she does her research and puts much thought into the matches she makes.

This leads me to my other thought about this book, which is that I found Raina to be justified in the majority of her actions. To me she did not need to redeem herself as much as she thought since she was usually quite selfless and putting the happiness of others’ before her, even taking a great number of risks to lend them a hand when they needed her. This often landed her in trouble with the adults in her life, and I felt that with exceptionally few exceptions, the adults in her life were always working against her and never gave her a chance. Which I think was unfair for the reason that while it is true, they were clueless to the fact that she was Matchmaker Maven, they never gave her the opportunity to explain herself either. Raina is a good person deep down with good intentions and I felt sad that she’s always being blamed for things that aren’t her fault and when she’s just trying to assist those who need her. In spite of that though the few adults that supported her such as her Aunt Mira’s mother in law, whom she calls “Bubby” and Professor K were extremely supportive and patient with her, and it was touching to witness her relationship with those two evolve over the course of the novel as she undergoes much growth as a person as of her interactions with them.

Playing with Matches is an extremely refreshing read as it’s a contemporary fiction that is not focused on the protagonist’s love life. Instead it is about the love lives of those she helps to bring together. As well it is about the tight community she becomes a part of and the love she has for not just her sister and family but for the strangers that she slowly befriends in her new environment. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance in my YA contemporary novels, if it’s done well, although occasionally it’s a pleasant change to read contemporary novels that don’t focus on two teens falling for each other after all there’s so much more to life at age sixteen then just falling in love and dating.

If you would like to win a copy of this book, please click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway
for the giveaway link as the publisher has generously provided me with an extra copy to give away on my blog.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | 10:04 by Ben Lerner

Authour:1004
Ben Lerner
Format:
Hardcover, 244pages
Publication date:
September 2nd 2014
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:

“If there had been a way to say it without it sounding like presumptuous co-op nonsense, I would have wanted to tell her that discovering you are not identical with yourself  even in the most disturbing and painful way still contains the glimmer, however refracted, of the world to come, where everything is the same but a little different because the past will be citable in all of its moments, including those from our present present happened but never occurred.” (p. 109)

I was first introduced to Ben Lerner’s writing from his debut novel, Leaving the Atocha Station which came out in November 2011. Leaving the Atocha Station was about an American poet on a fellowship in Madrid. His second novel, 10:04 Learner blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction to tell a story of a writer living in New York who has achieved unexpected success who finds out he has a potentially fatal medical condition. To complicate matters even further, his best friend wants him to have a baby with her through artificial insemination.

As always Lerner’s writing style is fascinating and thought provoking. And while there is not much, other than a basic plot, he builds upon the story by making it more interesting through the difficult questions his characters ask which provide the readers much to think about. I often found myself pausing after every few sentences to take in everything that has been mentioned and to reflect on what it means to me. And while I definitely could not relate to his characters in the book, I admired how they were written to be imperfect people. Another element that I felt added to the reading experience was the employment and references to works of modern art in the novel. Lovers of modern art would probably take pleasure in the numerous references to and photos of modern art pieces incorporated throughout this novel.

On the other hand, the one element of the book that I was not the biggest fan of when it came to this book was the storytelling method employed in this book. There was a bunch of jumping around from the protagonist’s story and to the short stories that he writes, and there is even a time skip that occurs near the end without much warning. However it works for this book, and I suppose I understand why it was done the in the manner that it was.

Overall 10:04 was an extremely intriguing read, and not at all what I had initially expected it to be. In fact the ending, while meant to be satisfying left me realizing that I had grown attached to these characters. Thus while 10:04 is not something every person may enjoy, I would suggest that if you are a fan of contemporary literature and/or of introspective novels that you give 10:04 a go. 10:04 is definitely not a book that should be rushed, be rather it is one that should be taken in gradually so that you don’t miss a thing.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu 

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Frenzy Presents 2014 | Four Titles I Can’t Wait For!

Last Sunday, I got the great privilege of attending my first publisher event for bloggers. Hosted by the HarperCollins team at their offices, “Frenzy Presents” is sort of like a fall preview but just for upcoming YA titles from Harper. Anyways instead of doing an event recap, I’d thought I’d just highlight four of the upcoming titles (four because that was my team number for the trivia game, shot out to my teammates, Tiff and Melissa, sorry I wasn’t more useful with the questions) from the presentation that I am extremely excited for. And if you guys want recaps, I provide some links below to bloggers who are doing event recaps. So without further delay, here are the four YA books (in no particular order) that I’m anticipating from Harper:

fallingintoplaceFalling into Place by Amy Zhang

Interesting fact, the authour of this book is only eighteen years old! Pretty awesome no? This contemporary YA title was actually one that I was on the fence about, however after hearing more about it at the Frenzy Presents event, I am definitely going to pick this one up, Falling into Place follows the story of Liz Emerson a girl who one day tries to kill herself by running her car into a tree. She ends up in the hospital and the story,told by an apparently unexpected narrator consists of nonlinear “flashbacks” which will give readers more insight into who Liz was and why she did what she did. Falling into Place seems like it will be a very moving story and I am very intrigued as to who the narrator is. This book releases on September 9th 2014.

 

blackholesMy Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Mental illness and suicide is a topic that remains very important to me, as I personally know many people who are suffering from mental illness and have tried to do it at some point and even more than once. The story in this book is about a girl named Ayse, who because of all the stressors in her life both from her family and her classmates, decides to take her own life. She ends up going online to find a suicide partner (someone to help her take her life), and instead she finds someone who makes her question her decision to take her own life even though he is still determined to take his own life. Sounds like it will be an important and emotional read. Cannot wait for this book which comes out, February 10th 2014!

 

jewelThe Jewel (The Lone City #1) by Amy Ewing

Proclaimed as The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale, this is one title that I have been excited for since the start. I love that even that it’s a YA novel that tackles a lot of very serious topics like human trafficking and surrogacy as the protagonist, Violet is a surrogate whose job is to carry the children of others. There is also romance in this book which is always nice though I hope there won’t be a love triangle. If this book sounds like something right up your alley, be sure to check out The Jewel by Amy Ewing is coming out in stores September 2nd 2014!

 

redqueen2Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Okay before this event, I had heard ALOT of things about this Red Queen. However being someone who almost always reads just contemporary fiction in the YA genre I chose to enjoy all the hype around this book as I figured it wouldn’t be the kind of book I’d like. I was proven wrong when Suman started to talk about it at “Frenzy Presents”! People with special powers, a rebel movement and awesome, kick butt characters? I am for sure intrigued, and will be definitely checking out this book when it comes out February 10th 2015.

 

Anyways those are the four teen titles, I’m looking forward to from HarperCollins. I’d like to thank Suman for the invitation as well as give a shout out to Kaitlyn (thanks for the books!) and Shannon, it was lovely to meet and talk with you again. Oh and as promised, here are some links to recaps done by other bloggers:

Video Recap from Maji Bookshelf – http://youtu.be/H4W3NNyowHA
Blog Event Recap from Maji Bookshelf – http://majibookshelf.blogspot.ca/2014/08/hcc-frenzy-presets-recap.html
Book Nerd Canada’s Event Recap – http://booknerd.ca/recap-2014-hcc-frenzy-ya-book-blogger-event/
Booking it With Haley G’s Event Recap – http://booknerd.ca/recap-2014-hcc-frenzy-ya-book-blogger-event/