25.11.15

Book Blurb Breakdown: This is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang (aka a #morallycomplexYA)

book blurb breakdown


Book Blurb Breakdown is a Sarcasm & Lemons feature where your anal English degree-holding author (gently) rips apart jacket blurbs to pin down what makes her want to pick up the book instantly--and what makes her want to throw it at the wall.  See the original post for more detail.  

If you'd like to do a breakdown, here's a snazzy little button!  Post your link in the comments. 








today's blurb




Status:  Unread


the blurb: as is 

from Goodreads


The heart-wrenching new novel about best friends on a collision course with the real world, from the author of Falling into Place.

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship, as long as no one finds out about it.

But when Janie is date-raped by the most popular guy in school—a guy she’s had a crush on for years—she finds herself ostracized by all the people she thought were her friends. Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubt about whether or not she was “asking for it,” it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang’s astonishing second novel masterfully reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance.


the blurb:  shredded 



The heart-wrenching new novel about best friends on a collision course with the real world, from the author of Falling into Place. (So I freaking loved Zhang's debut. Obviously I'm going to check this one out.) 

Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivian moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art.  (Yeah, those two things are totally opposites...) It’s the perfect friendship, as long as no one finds out about it. (Wait, why? You've introduced this huge plot point with no explanation!!!) 

But when Janie is date-raped by the most popular guy in school—a guy she’s had a crush on for years—she finds herself ostracized by all the people she thought were her friends. (You have me back again because RAGE.)  Now only Micah seems to believe she’s telling the truth. But when even Micah expresses doubt about whether or not she was “asking for it,” (All too real. :( ) it leads to disastrous consequences, and Janie Vivian goes missing.

Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, (Love. She killed this style in her debut. I love when people play around with form.) Amy Zhang’s astonishing second novel masterfully reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance. (This sentence could be more climactic. You know, bring it back to the big picture, not just the little picture of the mystery. The real world stuff.) 


the verdict 

4/5 stars
would i read it?:  yes 


There are some issues with this one.  Namely, there's this whole secret friendship thing that isn't even slightly expounded upon.  Like, do their parents hate each other?  Is one popular and one a total outcast?  I really need to know what's going on so I understand the gravity of the situation.  The ending could be punched up too.  However, this is such a succinct, punchy blurb in other ways.  It hits right at the heart of the story--the rape, the social ostracism, the disappearance--and promises some pretty cool narrative tricks.  Also, I'll admit, the description of Janie and Micah as complementary opposites reminds me of me and my best friend, so I'm hooked.  

In case you're looking for #morallycomplexYA that doesn't focus on girls (slightly) losing weight.  Cause, ya know.  That whole thing.  


your thoughts

Does this blurb grab you?  
Do you agree with my thoughts?  If not, how so?  
Have you read it?  Does the blurb match the pages? 
Do you have any recommendations for blurbs I should shred?  

 



24.11.15

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books that make me thankful I'm me and live on Earth in 2015


top ten tuesday
                thankful



Hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  



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Being the chosen one isn't all it's cracked up to be.




c.j.'s selections
                         ten ten ten

one Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas 

If I were Celaena, I'd either wither away in Endovier, get eaten by a Valg, or perish to death from staring too longingly into Dorian Havilliard's eyes.  
two   Illuminae - Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 

You know the badass main characters who run around hacking things and foiling the AI?  

I would be one of the dumbass soldiers getting vented iEfnto space.  
three The Cure for Dreaming - Cat Winters 

Being hypnotized so I can't talk about scandalous stuff because I'm a woman?  Screw that.  (Also I'd totally be one of those well-educated spinsters who writes poetry and only talks to her cats.) 

four Denton Little's Death Date - Lance Rubin 

I think about death enough as it is.  Can you imagine if I knew when I was going to die?  I'd probably end up killing myself early from obsessing over my deathdate, thus mystifying scientists all over.  
five   A Madness So Discreet - Mindy McGinnis 

If you can get committed just for disagreeing with your husband or getting knocked up, my crazy-pants self would get committed ten times over.  Also being locked in a cellar and wallowing in my own waste would kill me of gagging.  
six The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness 

Not only would I probably be dead (ya know, the whole lack of women thing) but if I weren't, my social anxiety plus being able to hear everyone's thoughts about me would make my head explode into a zillion pieces.  Or I'd just starve because wtf is survival!? 

seven Insomnia - J.R. Johannson 

If anyone is going to have incurable insomnia, it'd be me.  Except I probably wouldn't find an awesomely mindful person whose dreams let me get some sleep, and instead would be dead by the age of 19.  Or I'd go on a sleep deprived psychotic murder spree. 

eight Everneath - Brodi Ashton 

There's Nikki, so captivating that the fiendish Cole spares her life and develops an obsessive passion for her.  Then there would be me, that dumb girl who freaks out because a guy likes her and then gets sucked into a soulless husk for all eternity.  

nine After the Red Rain - Barry Lyga, Peter Facinelli, Robert DeFranco 

If I have to work in a killing factory and my only available romantic interest is a human-shaped plant, I'd rather get run through the meat grinder.  
ten A Series of Unfortunate Events - Lemony Snicket 

I refuse to live in a world where adults are that effing incompetent.  Like, does no one have a basic grasp of how humaning works!? 














20.11.15

ARC Review: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

review         book



I'll Meet You Theretitle: Dumplin'
author: Julie Murphy
pages: 375
format: Paperback
isbn/asin: 978-0062327185
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 3.5/5 (from hated to loved) or 6.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, 90s rom coms, and fun, frivolous contemporaries.
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.


in depth


Here's another book that I wasn't totally hyped about until my good friend Christina Reads YA convinced me to want it.  I think it was the whole pageant thing.  Gag me.  But, as you might guess from my track record here, I ended up finding Dumplin' charming, empowering, and wickedly smart.  I also learned so many factoids about Texas, pageant culture, and Dolly Parton.  Who the heck ever heard of a mum?  The end result is a body-positive high school rom com that preaches confidence without sacrificing reality.  

Meet Willowdean, self-proclaimed fat girl.  She's always been big, and she doesn't give a damn--until she meets Bo, a dreamy coworker who could woo any cheerleader, but wants her.  Suddenly, Willowdean is acutely aware of her rolls and curves.  What Bo thinks when he touches her.  What others would think if they saw them together.  Whether others see her like her late aunt, who was very overweight and disparaged by others.  It's such a poignant proof of what I've come to realize over many years--that a boy (or girl) liking you can't erase your own insecurities about your body.  

Willowdean's story is one of self-discovery and just being a teenager.  She crushes on one boy and rebounds to another, using him rather poorly.  She worries that she's losing her best friend; they fight, they say cruel things, they make up.  She grapples with the death of her aunt.  She makes new friends among the weirdos.  She meets a group of supportive drag queens.  She decides to enter the local pageant to prove to the world--and herself--that beauty isn't bounded.  

But really, her decision to rock the pageant world with her unconventional body is more of a scaffold.  The real story is about Willowdean navigating teenage-ness: being selfish, being insecure, being compassionate.  Dreaming, learning, and growing.  Doing stupid stuff and being unreasonable and being brave enough to admit that and make up for it.  Even skinny-shaming, which feels uncomfortable to read.  But I didn't even mind that she sometimes behaves very badly--because she's a freaking adolescent.  

What really elevated this story from cute to inspiring, for me, was Murphy's writing.  She gives Willowdean a dry, self-deprecating humor and a grandiose, whimsical, but also brutally pragmatic way of looking at the world.  Unlike many books, it doesn't read as too precocious for a teenager.  I could easily imagine that Willowdean herself had penned this book; slipping into her head was so easy.  So even though some of the situations are ridiculous, certainly not normal for the high school experience, the story as a whole feels absolutely authentic.  I laughed, frequently, I awwed, and I felt a little bit like I was sixteen again.  And though it didn't consume me the way other books have, and though I may not remember it in a few years, it was a welcome respite from the real world.  




in a sentence


Dumplin' is a fun, heartfelt contemporary that reminds you how beauty can occupy many shapes--and how it's only one small part of who we are.  


rating         



will i read this author again?  Yes.  I really want to read Side Effects May Vary.  
will i continue the series?  N/A 




Note: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected by stated opinions.



18.11.15

ARC Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

review         book



I'll Meet You Theretitle: Everything, Everything
author: Nicola Yoon
pages: 320
format: Paperback
isbn/asin: 978-0553496642
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 5/5 (from hated to loved) or 8.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, and Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.


in depth


For some reason, I thought I wasn't going to like this book.  I think I heard about it just after finishing Into the Fire by Josephine Angelini, which I found disappointing, and I thought, "Ugh, another allergy book!"  The sweeping power of the internet convinced me to try it out--and then I realized that I am dumb.  Everything, Everything is a quirky triumph, a  heartfelt love story packaged in sarcasm, wit, and dictionary definitions.   

Madeline, Maddy, is sick.  She has an illness rare and incurable, one that renders virtually every foreign substance a deadly pathogen.  As a consequence, she lives in an impenetrable home with constantly filtered air.  Even visitors must be decontaminated on arrival.  So at seventeen, this has meant no school.  No friends.  Her closest others are her mother, her nurse Carla, and her books.  When adorable Olly arrives next door and brings over a cake, and seems to want to know her--for the first time, she imagines a life outside of her bubble.  It's the one case in which I will endorse Maddy tracking all of Olly's movements like a spy--because what the hell else do you do when you're trapped in your room all day?  

The growth of their friendship is sweet, absolutely aww inducing, but tempered with a dark pragmatism that prevents the inducement of any fluff-related nausea.  They first communicate with messages on their windows, then messages on their Windows (couldn't help myself; anyway, I think Maddy has a Mac), and then Olly is finally allowed to visit--against Maddy's mother's fiercely protective instincts.  The romantic attraction sparks early, but is allowed to grow at its own pace, thank freaking God.  Moreover, this is no sappy blissfully unaware Twilight romance.  Maddy and Olly challenge each other, poke at each other's vulnerabilities, question each other's assumptions.  Maddy is even tentative, at first, fearing what it means to have a friend on the Outside.  It makes their relationship that much more satisfying and real, though perhaps a bit more clever and bantery than your average teenage lovebirds.  

It's also not just about them.  Maddy's relationships with Carla and her mother are fully fleshed-out and incredibly important.  Carla is Maddy's friend, her benevolent fairy godmother, who doesn't coddle her and who encourages her to dream beyond her cage.  Maddy's mother is especially interesting.  She's a doctor, and thus extra hyperaware of anything that might injure her daughter.  And she lost her husband and son to a car crash when Maddy was very young, so in her mind, tragedy is part of her life, and always impending.  As reader, you can feel a mix of admiration for a woman who has altered her entire life to care for her child, and apprehension about just how enmeshed she and Maddy have become.  

The plot unfolds at multiple levels, occupying the space of a bildungsroman without the journey--all that's internal.  As Maddy becomes closer to Olly, she becomes more distant from her mother, and begins to regret a lack of the normative autonomy one usually develops at seventeen.  Something she never knew she missed.  She also grapples with a choice, safety or love, with truly deadly consequences.  And she begins to see her mother in a new, perhaps earth-shattering light.  I won't spoil what happens.  I'll say that I'm torn, because I liked how dramatic it was, but I also think it was a bit of a cop-out.  You can decide.  

Regardless where the story goes, it's told in Yoon's razor-sharp style.  For her writing alone, I can forgive many faults (not that there are many).  She gives Maddy's voice a realistic precociousness, given her solitary, accelerated maturation, and she hones it with an edge of cynicism tempered with dreaminess that I found very personally relatable.  The result has a similar dry hysterical-ness to John Green, but feels less try-hard.  This is a book that made me snigger, out loud, multiple times.  Peppered in between with instant message conversations, Maddy's personal dictionary entries and book reviews, drawings, and diagrams, it's the perfect marriage of form and function for a window into our caged bird's mind.  I'm ecstatic to see what Yoon does next.  



in a sentence


Everything, Everything is a sparkling, witty tale of an unlikely romance, a girl finding herself, and the indestructible nature of bundt cake--and love.   


rating         




will i read this author again?  Yes!
will i continue the series?  N/A 




Note: I received this copy in exchange for an honest review. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected by stated opinions.



17.11.15

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes I've loved from books I've read this year . . . ish


top ten tuesday
                characters



Hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  



Want to help support your broke blogger so she can host more giveaways and give swankier prizes?  Click the book covers.  If you like the book and choose to purchase it from Amazon, a little bit of the proceeds goes to Sarcasm & Lemons!  


Words can save your life. 



c.j.'s selections
                         ten ten ten

one There are entire worlds that exist just beneath our notice of them. 
two   Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.  
three
 
I learned that there is good in this world, if you look hard enough for it.  I learned that not everyone is disappointing, including me, and that a 1,257 bump in the ground can feel higher than a bell tower if you're standing next to the right person.
four  Love does as it undoes. It goes after, with equal tenacity: joy and heartbreak. 
five   Oh darling, do you know all the rage that is inside of you? 
six   She's attracted to trouble. Because at least she knows it's right there in front of her and not hidden away. 
seven   When everyone knows you’re a monster, you needn’t waste time doing every monstrous thing.
eight   And what's also important is that I know a big part of that worry is that, no matter what group of friends you're in, no matter how long you've known them, you always assume you're the least-wanted person there. The one everyone else could do without. 
nine   I am a human being, but nobody seems to recognize this. 
ten   Their radiance dissolves me; my being becomes mist. Unmoored, my heart comes unanchored and slides toward the ocean of eternity.