Nantucket Red by Leila Howland [quick thoughts]

Nantucket Red coverNantucket Red by Leila Howland
Goodreads | @ | www
Release Date: May 13th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Nantucket #2

Goodreads description: Cricket Thompson’s lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she’s headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn’t anticipated. It’s hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn’t just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she’s been trying to ignore-her own heart.

I wanted to read Nantucket Red since I learned about it. I really enjoyed Nantucket Blue and I was interested to see what else might happen.

In this book, Cricket makes more mistakes and I really like that. She isn’t perfect, but that makes her so much more real. I like Cricket so much. She learned more about herself and relationships with friends and guys. She learned about difficult situations. I really like that she learned that changing her mind and not having everything planned out is okay. It felt really fitting for her. I liked watching her brave life, make mistakes, and learn so much about listening to herself. I love that she explored and got to be a little carefree.

I did have some issues: sometimes her mistakes were very easily fixed, even kinda major ones. I would have liked to see her have to work a little bit more to make it work out. And there was one obstacle for her and a guy that felt off for me. It was a pretty serious one, but I think it should have been handled differently. That part kind of seemed easy in the end, too.

“What do you think?” I asked when I stepped out of the dressing room.

“Hot,” Jules said.”

“Red hot,” Jennie echoed.

“It’s actually kind of conservative,” I said, turning around in front of the three-way mirror, noting its full coverage of boobs and butt and the innocent boys at the hips.

“But that’s what makes it hot,” Jules said. “It leaves something to the imagination. It’s asking the world, Good girl or bad girl?” She stood behind me, took out my ponytail, and shook my hair over my shoulders.

“Girls can be both,” I said.

“Of course. We women are very complex.”

“Guys are, too,” I said, thinking of Zack, so sweet one day and so harsh the next.

“Yes, humankind is full of contradictions. We could write a thesis, but I’d rather go to the beach,” Jules said.

I really enjoyed Cricket and Nantucket Red. I think Leila Howland’s writing is so lovely, and I’ll be watching out for anything else she writes. If you like contemporary YA with mistakes and learning and great characters, I think you should check out this series!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks cover
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: March 25th 2008
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Stand Alone

Goodreads description: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

I like E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series and I’m excited about We Were Liars. I’ve wanted to read Frankie for a while but actually happened upon it when I was looking for a book to check out with Not A Drop to Drink.

Frankie goes to a private boarding school and there’s a boys only secret club. After a summer of growing and transformation, she becomes involved with a member of the society, but she can never really be a part of the club. The club seems fun and tightly knit, so she isn’t happy they won’t let girls in. She mischievously becomes a player in the club while still being an observer.

I really liked this book. It was kind of nothing like I expected, and that only made me like it more. Frankie doesn’t hate herself, but she has confidence issues that seem common. She’s pretty but she isn’t exactly a standout, she is kind of in the middle. She’s smart and quirky. She wanted to be a part of something, she wanted more, she refused to sit back and let them tell her she couldn’t. She manipulated the situation and had to face the consequences of it. I liked that the story didn’t really go how I expected it to go, and I felt like Frankie did learn a lesson. I also liked Michael, but I won’t go into a whole thing about him, since it’s Frankie’s story.

There were things about Frankie that were annoying. She had some extreme moments where I wanted to tell her to calm down, and some of them were sort of normalish teen behavior, but some were out there. She might have pushed a few things too far. She wasn’t always fair to everyone, and some of her reasoning behind actions were probably immature. That being said, my annoyances weren’t major and I mainly enjoyed the book.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks isn’t perfect, but I found it enjoyable. Frankie is strong, makes mistakes, and can be selfish. I liked it. I think E. Lockhart is a fun author, and I plan to read whatever she writes (as long as it sounds interesting, anyway). I don’t think this one is for everyone, but maybe if the boarding school and secret group thing sounds interesting to you, you should check it out!

E. Lockhart’s website and twitter!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell [book review]

Fangirl coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: September 10th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Series: none

Goodreads description: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind

I spent a while in a pretty big fandom. I wish it had been Harry Potter, but unfortunately, it was a bit more embarrassing than that! It was after I had dropped out of college and was having a rough time. I met people from all across the country and world. I made really good friends, many of whom I still talk to all the time. I read fanfiction, but I never wrote it. So, Fangirl book seemed like it might be something I could connect with. I wasn’t really a fan of Eleanor & Park (and I’ve seen other reviews that have confirmed I’m not the only one, so please don’t gasp at me) but I still felt optimistic about this one.

Cather is the main character and narrator of the book. She’s a twin, and her sister’s name is Wren. I actually kind of liked the name thing. Like other twins I’ve read about and some I’ve known (I’ve never actually known identical twins. I’ve met some, but I’ve been friends with sets and singles of non-identical twins), the twins are pretty different. The twins are going to college for their freshman year, and they have different plans. Wren plans to party and doesn’t want to room with her sister. Cath doesn’t understand and wants things to stay the same.

Cath is quiet and shy. She’s very anxious about making new friends. She’s too nervous to go to the cafeteria. She feels weird about her roommate, Reagan and her maybe-boyfriend Levi. There were some levels that I could really identify with Cath on, but I never grew to love her. I could relate to a lot of her anxiety issues, and some of it felt painfully close to things I’ve been through.  I loved the family interactions, and how difficult it was, it felt realistic. I really liked Cath’s roommate Reagan. A lot of the college experiences seemed realistic, and some of them were fun to read about.

Cath uses fandom to cope with things that happen in real life. She writes fan fiction, and she’s hugely popular. It’s obvious that Simon Snow = Harry Potter. I can completely understand using fandom or any online community to get away from real life. I didn’t really care enough about any of her fanfic to read it in the book. Cath did have a tendency to hide from her problems, and she definitely made some mistakes. She clung pretty stubbornly to things, and I think she knew she was making a mistake. I liked that she was able to deal with her problems and she had, support, plus she was able to give support to others when it was needed. I do feel like she learned a lot and made a lot of progress.

I’m not sure how I feel about Levi. But something about him just felt weird to me. Maybe it’s the cowboy thing that a lot of people seem to love. I’m from a small town in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived on a farm and knew tons of FFA kids, ropers and other kids that grew up on farms. There isn’t anything inherently better about them. They aren’t always nice. They’re just people. Sometimes they are really nice and charming, but it isn’t a given. In books, sometimes it feels like a given and that feels weird to me. Levi seemed genuinely nice to me. He was sweet to Cath, and there were some swoony moments. I never felt very attached to him, though.

3 star rating

I liked Fangirl. It was entertaining, and there were pieces I really enjoyed. I didn’t think it was groundbreaking. I actually think I might want to read it again at some point, maybe if I read it later and it isn’t uber-hyped anymore I might be able to enjoy it more. Even though I haven’t loved either of the Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read, there’s still something about the books that draws me in, and I want to read more of her writing.

Check out Rainbow Rowell’s website and twitter!

Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Ugly Stepsister CoverThe Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Goodreads | Amazon
Release Date: August 15th 2012
Publisher: Fire & Ice Books
Series: none
Rating: 4 star rating

Goodreads description:Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her

In this retelling with a twist, Matilda “Mattie” Lowe is the ugly stepsister. She lives in a wealthy California community and goes to an exclusive prep school. She lives with her world renowned artist father and her stepsister Ella. Ella is perfect, which is offensive to Mattie. She even has a list of grievances about her: guys like her, she’s really nice, she cleans all the time, she’s a cheerleader and oh, yeah she’s dating the boy Mattie “loves.”

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Review: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

rggp coverRevenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: March 1st 2013
Publisher: Point
Series: none
Rating: 3 star rating

Goodreads description:Don’t mess with a girl with a great personality!

Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She’s sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She’s sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it

First off, I’m not sure what “revenge” the title speaks of, because aside from some tell-offs, there isn’t an act of revenge. Unless living well is the best revenge? Anyway, Lexi is the older sister but she plays second fiddle to pageant girl Mackenzie. Mac is seven, nine years younger than Lexi. Mac is in the spotlight and their mother is obsessed with pageants. I’ve never watched Toddlers & Tiaras, but I have seen enough commercials to relate the book to the show. Her mom likes the attention she gets, not realizing that a lot of it isn’t positive. She spends money they don’t have on things they don’t need and takes advantage of Lexi along the way.

Lexi doesn’t mind helping but is tired of being in the background and feeling second best. She has a job, dreams of being a fashion designer, and works hard. But she’d also like to be known for more than her personality, she’d like to be pretty and special. Not only does she feels like she fades compared to Mac, but her crush Logan’s girlfriend is also a pageant girl. She decides to make a change in her life and with the support and dares/bets/challenges of her friends, starts dressing differently.

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