Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.
Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.
Sarah Dessen, for all of her grand reputation in the realm of YA fiction, has never been an author I’ve felt particularly inclined to read. Say what you will about my approach to contemporary novels, but as of yet my expectations have been completely and utterly satisfied with the assorted works John Green, as well as the occasional indulgence in a romance à la Jennifer E. Smith. And in this topsy turvy world where even Veronica Roth, acclaimed author of my current least favourite book, Allegiant, disappoints, why mess with a perfectly good thing?
All of this changed, however, during a distinctively pivotal moment of my life at Target last weekend. To my growing exhilaration, I discovered that What Happened to Goodbye was a whopping 20% off the cover price. Needless to say, I purchased it immediately. And never looked back.
What Happened to Goodbye follows the story of Mclean Sweet through her most recent move to Lakeview, home of the latest restaurant her father has been tasked with taking over, Restaurant Impossible style. This town, however, differs from the other three she and her father have lived in since her parents’ epic divorce: it is the first wherein she opts not to assume a predetermined, clean-cut, totally artificial personality, complete with a new name. Because sometimes you just need a fresh start. (Or three, or four.)
I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the (negligible) role the romance played in this novel. Although What Happened to Goodbye‘s synopsis heralds Dave as love interest extraordinaire, he spent the majority of the book squarely in the friend zone. Which was, to be honest, a breath of much-needed fresh air. As much as I enjoy a swoon-worthy romance– and from what I’ve heard, Sarah Dessen is queen of swoon-worthy romances– I appreciated this realistic break from YA fiction’s rampant hormones.
Really, What Happened to Goodbye‘s plot as a whole is really rather low-key. There’s no nail-biting suspense, no larger than life conflict, no epic cat fights between sworn frenemies. Even the climax is more of an anti-climax than anything else. And although this made for a very serene sort of read, and although What Happened to Goodbye is far from being Dessen’s most hailed book, I expected more. Because plot-wise, it wasn’t that far a cry from dull.
That being said, the plot– or lack thereof– left ample room for expertly crafted relationships between characters as well as skillful scenes of introspection. Kudos, Dessen. Kudos.
All in all, saying goodbye to this novel wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Oh, well. I’m sure we’ll meet again, Sarah Dessen. 3.2/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
I’m Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn’t want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee’s parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of “The Unbearable Book Club,” CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren’t friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I’ll turn in when I go back to school.
It’s official: summer is here. If the blazing red sunburn currently ensconcing my shoulders isn’t proof enough, surely my latest binge-reading of brightly-coloured beach reads must be. I’ll warn you straightaway: many, many Sarah Dessen reviews are to come. Be prepared.
Fortunately, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls was a superlative way to kick-start this summer. The plot dragged to such an extent that it effortlessly paralleled my heat-induced lethargy; the characters liked themselves with such narcissistic passion that I as reader never even had to waste any energy liking them myself; and the incredibly informative vocabulary words preceding each chapter abolished any apprehension I could possibly have felt in relation to the proper identification and classification of various plot happenings. As a final bonus, the novel’s protagonist, Adrienne Haus, is undergoing a brilliantly developped identity crisis to which I really feel teenagedom as a whole will be able to relate. Thank God for truly edifying main characters such as herself, yes?
The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls has the premise of really good, really cheesy TV movie, Disney kids et al. Four girls. Three mothers. One book club. One remarkable summer during which unlikely friendships will be forged, rules broken, and lives lost. It’s too bad, really, that it didn’t pan out, but at least the producers will have nothing left to lose, right?
I think my foremost problem with The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls was the style in which it was written. A purported AP English creative essay written by Adrienne, the novel came across as juvenile and strained rather than candid. Of course, it didn’t help that our narrator was completely and utterly insufferable as a person. Honestly I felt exceedingly sorry for Adrienne’s mother, a single working mom who frankly didn’t need to waste any time or energy on her daughter’s snide remarks, as well as every other character who had the misfortunate to come in direct contact with her living soul. I await with great impatience the day Adrienne comes to the startling realization that the world does not, in fact, revolve around her. One of these days, my friends. One of these days.
High points include, and are limited to, an assortment of literary references littered throughout the novel, each one instantly appeasing any big-time reader, as well as a dramatic, if somewhat out of place, ending.
Recommended for middle-graders, book club enthusiasts, and people whose options are limited to this and bad TV. 2/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
Happy Tuesday! (Almost) every Tuesday at around this time, I participate in The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme. This week’s theme is Top 1o books on my summer To Be Read List, and although I am loving my Kindle lately, I may have to hold out for a hard copy of some of these (see: slide 1). Oh, well. The longer the wait, the sweeter the kiss?
Again, these are:
- Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (release date: April 18th, 2014)
- The One by Kiera Cass (release date: May 6th, 2014) — please note that although I absolutely and enthusiastically claim to dislike this series on an analytical level, some fluffier part of me just cannot get enough of it. It’s just so entertaining! So easy! So light!
- To All the Boy’s I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (release date: April 15th, 2014)
- Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (release date: May 6th, 2014)
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (release date: May 13th, 2014)
- #Scandal by Sarah Ockler (release date: June 17th, 2014)
- Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (release date: April 15th, 2014)
- The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (release date: April 15th, 2014)
- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (release date: August 14th, 2014)
- Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead (release date: July 29th, 2014)
I’ll keep you posted,
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming,beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.
But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?
My friends forced this book on me the second I found out about my exchange program-concerning future. Their argument was simple: my name was Ana (albeit the one ‘n’ difference), I was going to Paris, and I needed to read this book stat, dammit. Can I take this time to say thank you? I did read it. In fact, that day I stayed up all night reading it. And let me tell you, it was so worth it. Anna and the French Kiss is quite possibly the most delicious, fluffy, cheering romance I’ve yet had the joy to read.
Above all, Anna and the French Kiss is a love story, no more and no less. I cannot stress this point enough. This is not a coming of age tale of a struggling young woman, or a novel providing powerful insight in regards to a controversial topic, or a daunting intellectual challenge or the next The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is not a book read for its literary value. This is a marshmallow of a novel, airy and sweet, and its sugar is delivered straight up– for which I am incredibly grateful. Sometimes you just need to stop thinking and be swept off your feet.
Because Étienne St. Clair is, in three words, downright swoon-worthy. There’s no way around it. He’s thoughtful, he’s charming, he’s charismatic, and he’s one helluva mama’s boy. Need I say more? Sure, he also has some serious unresolved issues regarding change, commitment, and loyalty, but that’s another matter altogether, oui?
Beyond any doubt, Anna is a protagonist riddled with flaws. She’s insecure, hypocritical, selfish, ingrate, and moreover perhaps not the world’s most knowledgeable aspiring film critic. Be that as it may, she is definitely relatable as a character and narrates effortlessly. Her voice is engaging, easily readable, and all-around fun.
The only thing even remotely as delectable as the novel’s romance is its gorgeous setting. The postcards don’t say that Paris is three letters short of paradise for nothing, nest-ce pas? From the characters’ residentiary Latin Quarter to their various escapades across the remainder of the capital, I was thoroughly infatuated with Perkins’s world. City of Love, City of Lights, City of Facetious Relationship Melodrama– whatever you want to call it, it’s an absolute delight.
Some of my fave spots from Anna and the French Kiss (because unlike Anna, I’ve been shamelessly taking photos everywhere):
The top of Notre-Dame’s towers (I had to ascend 387 stairs to get there! It really is a place of miracles.):
The point zéro from which all distances in France are measured:
The Panthéon (currently under restoration, but luckily this in no way interferes with your opportunity to see dead people):
A word of warning: as to be expected given its properly scandalous synopsis, Anna and the French Kiss contains instances of (almost) cheating. Therefore if you happen to be sensitive to this topic, do avoid this novel at all costs.
Stephanie Perkins will definitely be going onto my insta-buy list. I cannot wait to get my hands on the book’s companions, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, the latter of which is out mid-August. Just in time for a last summer beach read!
Recommended for all of those dying to indulge in something that’ll satisfy their literary sweet tooth, in need of a break from day-to-day drama, and cotton to a much-deserved few hours of giddiness, giggling, and just a general, unchecked romantic high. 4.8/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
Fellow book lovers,
I write to you– in rather giddy frame of mind, admittedly– to inform you of the latest bookish developments in my Paris sojourn. Because yesterday afternoon, drizzly, dreary day that it was, also happened to be class-free for lucky moi! Needless to say, I used my spare time to hit the books– the good ones, that is– and visited two bookstores in Left Bank Paris, both within (relative) walking distance of the Luxembourg Gardens: reading spot extraordinaire. In other words, I completed my ultimate rainy day fantasy, and it rocked.
Just on the other side of the Seine, Shakespeare & Co., which I’m sure you’ve heard of, is the Parisian bibliophile’s true Champs Élysées. It has history, too; it was formerly the stomping grounds of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, and other Lost literary expatriates. It’s not the original Shakespeare & Co., of course, as the Sylvia Beach-owned shop was shut down during World War II; however it remains true to its namesake, still accommodating starving authors and hosting various events. There’s books everywhere– floor to ceiling on both floors, wedged into various nooks and crannies, lining the doorways and piled on the stairs– and whatever novel you purchase is stamped with the shop’s logo on the way out (I bought The Last Tycoon by Fitzgerald, pictured above). There’s even a resident cat, who lounged in the reading room while I was there. Furthermore– and this is the best part– everything and everyone is english!
‘Tis the stuff of dreams.
It even has charm!
If you’re feeling slightly more Parisian, however, you may want to visit L’Écume des pages (The Pages’ Sea Foam) instead. (I discovered this one while leafing through an article about designer Sonia Rykiel’s daily schedule.) This shop is undeniably French, but as it turns out the atmosphere of a bookstore is international. You can walk right in, close your eyes, take in the familiar bookstore smell, and be completely at home.
What do you think? Am I missing anything? I’m dying for suggestions. Leave a comment and let me know!
I’ll keep you posted,
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
All good things must come to an end. Fortunately, not-so-good things must also come to an end. And if it’s a slow, protracted, long-winded, dragged-out sort of end, at least it’s a comforting one. Because frankly, this isn’t the kind of book that has you flipping back to the first page after finishing the last one. A suitable reaction is something more along the lines of weeping tears of relief with flourish and grandeur rivalling that of the multitudes blubbering at The Fault in our Stars (which when you think about it is really a feat deserving credit in and of itself. Kudos, Kagawa. Kudos.)
The Iron Fey series has, of course, been all the rage in the YA world since its 2010 publication. Why, you ask? Regrettably, I cannot tell you. It is simply a concept that I can in no measure fathom.
I give Kagawa credit for her world building. What with the various courts, creatures, and Shakespearean derivatives, The Iron King‘s fantastical world adheres to the assorted folklore and mythology surrounding fairies. Say what you will about this novel’s faults– and indeed I shall– but the author incontestably did her research. She even threw her own original twist into the medley, which, if a wee bit forced, at least surprised me. And if the descriptions were excessively lengthy and extensively verbose, at least they were somewhat interesting.
Unfortunately, the praise ends here.
Our protagonist, Meghan Chase, is a remarkably unpleasant kind of person. Agonizingly self-centred, mind-numbingly irritating, and doggedly impulsive, she is essentially an all-around unlikeable individual. As she’s a misfit at the dreaded high school and misunderstood by her parents, I feel as though Kagawa really did her level best to make her main character relatable to readers. Unfortunately, I cannot say that she succeeded. I’m not sure what the problem was. Perhaps that I spent the entirety of the novel hurrahing enthusiastically for Meghan’s enemies.
The secondary characters are no better. Both love interests are miserably one-dimensional and follow the suit of your typical love triangle’s stereotypes: Robbie is Meghan’s Pining Best Friend, whereas Ash is the Aloof Hottie. Toss Kagawa’s vain attempts at A Girl just like You into the mix, and folks, I believe we have reached the bottom of the very shallow, very cliché barrel.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the story per se; instead the problem lies within the way the story was told. Which is to say, clumsily. This novel is laced with the forced, the feigned, and the fabricated. Both in regard to the plot and the writing, The Iron King strikes me as a work of rather dubious fan fiction, or an amateur middle grade online novella. Essentially, it is juvenile. Ergo, it is irritating.
Did I finish it? Yes. Is this solely due to the fact that I was trapped on a 2 hour flight with reading material limited to this and Sky Mall? One can only assume.
I’ll keep you posted,
Happy Tuesday! (Almost) every Tuesday at around this time, I participate in The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme. This week’s theme is Top 1o beach reads. You know the type: light, fluffy, and requiring a total of zero brainpower– in other words, the perfect escape from the real world. So without further ado, here are 10 books (let’s count the series as one, yes?) without which your beach bag would not be complete.
Again, these are:
- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
- The Selection by Kiera Cass
- Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
- Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
- Belles by Jen Calonita
- The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Heist Society by Ally Carter
- Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
I’ll keep you posted,
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.
Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.
For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
The game, they say, is life. But what’s a game without a prize? Listless teenagers in small-town Carp have solved that problem. The stakes have been laid out, one by one, the contestants are familiar faces, and the challenges deadly. The blue ribbon? 67, 000$. No one said it would be easy, but they promised it would be worth it. If you come out in one piece, that is.
So many reviewers have argued that the game of Panic is not plausible enough to have burgeoned into being and to have existed, in all of its perilous gravity, for so long. I tend to disagree on sheer principle. Because is it likely that a bunch of teenagers’ boredom yielded such life-threatening backwash? No. But is it conceivable? Unquestionably. The proof is in la bête humaine‘s rather primeval pudding. Especially given the fact that this a work of what is commonly known as fiction. Besides, I don’t think anyone argued with William Golding about the likelihood of the developments in Lord of the Flies, and look at how well that turned out!
These characters are definitely a new angle for Oliver, and I have to say that she managed well. Our protagonists aren’t necessarily very likeable people, but then again Dodge is, arguably, within the bounds of the ‘raging psychopath’ ballpark. It turns out that HarperCollins wasn’t kidding when they pronounced Panic to be somewhat of a psychological thriller. And I may not have experienced any especially fuzzy feelings towards Heather or Dodge– honestly, Heather is really rather whiny when she wants to be– and I may not have been able to connect with them in full, and they may not have been as fleshed out as they could have been, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. The characters’ motives for participating in Panic, whether mind-numbingly witless or deliciously spiteful, were a delight to encounter.
The writing is good. Honestly, Lauren Oliver’s writing is always good. Pigs will fly and blue moons will wane before Lauren Oliver’s writing is anything but good. If you are broke and living on nothing but stale granola bars and crappy instant coffee, and no, Mom, you don’t need meditative yoga or a new life goal or a caffeine detox, all you need is a constant in your life, the only thing I can suggest to you at this time is the unfailing goodness of Lauren Oliver’s writing. Was I disappointed that she deigned to use words such as “pimply” and “butt”? Yes. I cannot lie. However my faith remains unwavering. We love you, Lauren Oliver. Never change.
Panic‘s tragic flaw, really, is its lack of tragedy. Its epilogue is just so… predictable. Agreeable. Bland. Is it awful to say that I’m loathing this happy ending? But after this book’s disillusionments and unveilings, plot twists and turns, and flurries of action and hoopla– well. It’s a bit of an anticlimax, isn’t it? I couldn’t help but be dismayed at the measly lasting impression that Panic proffered.
Another little hitch in this novel’s otherwise flawless figure is the inordinate disparity of its pacing. Fundamentally, Panic‘s plot revolves around the game’s challenges. Everything in between is lamentably slow-paced. This put me quite on edge, actually, because I went from bouts of heart-stopping, breath-catching, seat-edging, page-turning, absolute suspense, to really rather drab bits of lethargy. The book’s cover model, as it turns out, is not the only one suffering from whiplash.
Admittedly, Panic will not go down in history as my favourite Lauren Oliver novel. It had its moments, for sure, but failed to live up to its full potential. That being said, I personally can’t wait to see what Oliver tackles next– she’s done dystopia, she’s done tear-jerker, and she’s done outrageous-adolescent-escapades. Who knows what the future holds? Recommended for adrenaline junkies, vicarious adrenaline junkies, and invincible teenage die hards. 3.8/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.
One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.
Self-professedly, I am not a big fan of Holly Black. Aside from The Spiderwick Chronicles, and also the first chapter or so of White Cat, which needless to say did not send me any particularly good vibrations, this is the first real, live Holly Black book that I’ve read. And in all honesty, I am not impressed.
First of all let’s get one thing straight: this book isn’t scary. If you are looking for horror, look elsewhere. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is really more of a paranormal type with a dash of trepidation than anything else. Sure, there are buckets of gore–quite literally– but truthfully the only thing that really gave me the jimjams was the Coldtowns’ questionable food-related hygiene practices. I don’t even want to think about the diseases carried by the rodents eaten at mealtimes.
This isn’t to say that Black didn’t try. Au contraire, my friends. I’m happy to report that every chapter is preceded by a nice, cheery quotation about death. Although originally promising, this concept quickly began to grate on my nerves. It’s a drop superfluous, a tad redundant, and a wee bit ostentatious for my tastes. Also, for some strange reason, not at all relevant.
Moreover this novel is somewhat lacking in the plot department. It’s paced rather slowly, and most definitely reads more like a series debut than the standalone it’s claimed to be. Although I did appreciate the climax’s plot twist, in essence The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is just another big book with a small storyline.
On the more positive side of the plotless coin, the lack of transpiration of any real events leaves ample room for top-drawer world building. Really, my kudos go to Black for her sterling setting. It’s well done, all of it: the one-way tickets to quarantined vamp towns, the reality TV fan base hysteria, the subtle nuances between celebrity vampires and the monsters under your bed. The caricature of the vampires’ human cult following is pulled off to a T, actually; the Coldtowns’ romanticism of them is deftly detailed and addressed. And furthermore the characters’ flashbacks allow the world’s full backstory to take shape, which wholly satiated my curiosity’s appetite.
The assorted blog posts and articles littered throughout the novel are equally entertaining. There might not be much story to tell here, but it is undoubtedly well told.
I want to take a moment to complain about Tana’s and Gavriel’s romance. Because frankly, the very bottom of my very romantic heart simply cannot comprehend why these two people like each other. (Aside from mutual physical attraction, but honestly, YA, I’d thought we’d moved past this.) So Tana saved Gavriel from an indubitably gruesome fate, so what? Surely that’s enough to inspire a helluva lot of gratitude, but nothing more. Nothing ardent. Nothing even remotely resembling love. Right? Because, really, if stashing a hog-tied guy in your trunk is all it takes to instill his undying affection, I don’t see why more of us aren’t putting this technique to good use.
A final warning: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown‘s relationships are very modernist. The characters range the full spectrum of sexuality, which is indeed a wonderful message on Black’s part. However if your opinions are more conservative, this is in all likelihood not the novel for you.
Will I be reading any more of Black’s books in the near future? I can’t say. I may be giving them the cold shoulder for a while. Recommended for fans of fanged and delusional love interests, admirably extensive settings, and death: liberally applied. 3/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
Happy Tuesday! (Almost) every Tuesday at around this time, I participate in The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme. This week’s theme is Top 1o books I almost didn’t finish– or didn’t I?– and I am listing in no particular order:
Again, these are:
-Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
-Gone by Michael Grant
-The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten
-Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
-Before I Die by Jenny Downham
-Allegiant by Veronica Roth
-I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
-The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
-Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
-The Program by Suzanne Young
I’ll keep you posted,