4/18/17

Fireworks - Katie Cotugno

I
I loved Katie Cotugno's debut novel, How to Love, and really enjoyed her second novel, 99 Days.  While I enjoyed Fireworks, there were a few things that fell flat for me.

The story follows Dana and Olivia, two best friends.  Olivia has her sights set on being a singing star, while Dana is waiting tables in their hometown.  When Olivia heads to an audition, Dana decides to tag along and ends up getting cast in a girl group alongside her best friend.

First, the things that I liked.  The book is set in the 1990s, so there were a lot of elements of my own teen years that I could identify with.  Dana's character development was also incredibly strong, as she struggled with her alcoholic mother and her feeling of entrapment in her hometown.

Unfortunately, the friendship between Dana and Olivia fell flat for me, and I found Olivia to be quite annoying and immature.  The whole idea of one friend being famous and another being along for the ride was very reminiscent of Emery Lord's Open Road Summer, but ORS handled the friendship better than this book did.  The book also addressed eating disorders, but it felt like the issue was overshadowed and not properly handled.  It also seemed quite unrealistic that Dana would be given the opportunity to be part of a singing quartet with no formal training, other than dancing and singing in her friend's living room.

I did enjoy Katie's writing, as I did with the previous books, and am already looking forward to picking up her next book.  I still liked this one, even though it didn't wow me like her previous books.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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4/11/17

Literally - Lucy Keating

I first heard about Lucy Keating last year, when I saw the beautiful cover of Dreamology all over Bookstagram.  Although I haven't picked up that book, the premise of Literally drew me in and I knew that I wanted to give Lucy's books a shot.

As a former English student, I loved the metafiction aspect of this book.  Annabelle, our main character, discovers that she's actually a character in a story, and the author makes an appearance in the book when Annabelle finds out that Lucy is controlling her life in order to create a Happy Ending.  There's so much excellent commentary on what makes a good story -- from happy endings to love triangles and everything in between.

If you haven't guessed from the amount of reading nerdiness on this blog, I am a massive book nerd and this book warmed my nerdy heart.  Annabelle's character irked me a little at the beginning of the book, but quickly grew on me and I found myself tearing through this short, sweet little book.

For those of you who like your contemporaries short and sweet, this book is perfect.  And if you're a literary connoisseur, you'll enjoy this book even more =)

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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4/5/17

Tome Topple TBR -- Round 3

Crazy that this is the third round of Tome Topple!  I participated in both rounds last year, and really enjoyed taking the time to enjoy a chunkier read.  Too often we overlook these chunky books on our shelves in favour of quicker reads so that we can meet our Goodreads challenge or other reading challenges.  Having just finished the All the Short Ones Readathon, I'm really looking forward to savouring a lengthier read.  I have a lengthy list of books because I just frankly can't choose what I'd like to read at this exact moment.  I had added a poll on Goodreads to ask for help, and A Gathering of Shadows was picked for me; however, A Conjuring of Light then showed up at my library, so I had to start AGoS before Tome Topple so that I can read ACoL.  Book nerd problems, I tell ya.

This challenge is hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes.  It starts on April 7th at midnight in your time zone, and runs until April 20th, again at midnight in your time zone.

CHALLENGES: 
1. Read more than 1 tome
2. Read a graphic novel 
3. Read a tome that's part of a series
4. Buddy read a tome 
5. Read an adult novel

Books that I'm considering:
1. A Conjuring of Light (because it's a library book)
2. The Bane Chronicles (because it's ridiculous how long this has sat on my shelves)
3. Strange the Dreamer (because it's pretty and just showed up in my mailbox)
4. Lady Midnight (because I think I'm the only person in the world who hasn't read this yet)
5. Shantaram (because it's intimidating as hell and I said I'd read it this year)
6. The Name of the Wind (see above)
7. The Way of Kings (see above, yet again -- is there an intimidating books readathon?  because I think I should join that one too)

Clearly I'm not going to complete all the challenges (especially because there's no graphic novels on this list!) and I definitely won't read all of the books on the list, but there's some good (and intimidating!) books to choose from.  Anything that you've read that I should bump to the top of my pile?  Let me know in the comments below.  If you're participating in this readathon, hope your enjoy your tome(s)!

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4/4/17

Gem & Dixie - Sara Zarr

I've read, and thoroughly enjoyed, two of Sara Zarr's previous novels (Sweethearts and How to Save a Life), so I went into Gem & Dixie hopeful that it would be another heartwarming contemporary.  I liked it, I did, but I think it was missing a little bit of the "wow factor" that I felt in her other two books.

The story follows two sisters, Gem and Dixie, who live with their mother who is often absent from their lives, due to working evenings and her on and off again struggle with drugs.  The story is told from Gem's perspective, the older sister who is struggling to shelter and take care of her younger sister who, in turn, is trying to pull away from his sister's shadow.  When the girls' father comes back into their lives suddenly, a series of events spinball from there that tests the strength of their relationship and their sense of identity.

I think my main struggle with this book is that I found it hard to identify with either of the girls.  At first, it seemed like I would identify with Gem, since she's an older sister, but I found it hard to for most of the book.  I've been thinking and reflecting about the characters and the story for a couple of days now, and I still can't quite put my finger on what it is that caused Gem to rub me the wrong way.  There were definitely some moments where I just couldn't understand her rationalization for doing the things that she was doing, and it made it hard to connect to the story.

With that being said, I do think that this is an excellent story of sisterly bonding and touches on the imperfect family bond in a thoughtful way.  Although it's not a new favourite, it's still a solid contemporary with serious heart.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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