Book Review: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

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Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Published Date: August 2016
Genre: Contemporary, YA,
Series: Stand Alone
My Source: Own Copy
Links: Goodreads
Review Also On: Goodreads and Amazon

Goodreads Summary:

“Katelyn Ogden was a lot of things, but she wasn’t particularly explosive, in any sense of the word.”

Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons.

Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it with tell-it-like-it-is insight as she tries to make it to graduation in one piece through an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard the President of the United States use over Skype.

***Note: I finished this book in January and wrote some key notes about it, but I didn’t sit down and write my review until February. Days after the Parkland tragedy. I contemplated whether I should post this review for this kind of book so soon after this event. And because I was going back and forth, I didn’t publish the review until now. While it’s not about a shooting, it is a story focusing on high school students dying. This book is a comedic coming-of-age piece, but current events can make this book difficult to read. I will leave my original review below because overall I still feel the same way about it. The book while frustrating at first, I really enjoyed. But I do want to take this moment to say that you may wish to wait to read this book if you need more time to process things that have been happening recently. It does get a bit graphic and I just wanted to give a friendly warning.***

Let me start this review by saying I have the most confused feelings about this book.

Mara was definitely a character that I had to get used to. At first, her sarcastic personality was annoying me because she was sarcastic ALL THE TIME. And when I was getting some pretty important exposition, she would make a sarcastic comment and I just wanted to shush her. There are also times when she jumps from one thing to the next. There is a character Dylan who shows up. On one page, he’s barely mentioned. Thirty pages later, he comes back and he’s important. I wish I got the confrontation/conversation between Mara and Dylan that led to him becoming an important character. I was just sort of forced to accept Dylan in the story. Still, even with these issues, I grew to like Mara more. Do I have major love for her? I wouldn’t say that, but she became a better character for me as the story continued.

There’s so much I want to talk about with this book, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I was frustrated with this book, but I’m okay with that. I didn’t get all the explanations I wanted, but I’m also okay with that. I’m still trying to figure out if this book was showing that friendships don’t last forever, or if it’s saying you have to work harder to make them last. Or both?

So, I’ll give this fair warning. Don’t expect to come out of this book with everything solved, explained, and pretty with a little bow on top. It ends with a lot of uncertainty. Maybe that’s to symbolize how life is uncertain. You’re not sure what will happen, so you have to live the best life you can. The last few pages ends on a heart-wrenching scene though. Alone or left behind…I’m not sure which is worse.

I want to give this four stars, but I feel so much and I don’t know what to think. Would I read this again though? Yes.

3.5 or 4 Stars (I don’t know okay!!) ~ A good book that has a nice YES factor to it. / Oh man, this was a great book. Will be recommending.

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Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

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Publisher: Gallery Books
Published Date: December 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult,
Series: N/A
My Source: Own Copy
Links: Goodreads
Review Also On: Goodreads and Amazon

Goodreads Summary:

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

(I tried my best to keep this major spoiler free.)

A great way to start the new year is with a good book, and I’m glad Roomies was it for me.

There were a lot of things that drew me to this book: New York, main female is a struggling writer, love interest is an Irish musician, a fake marriage, and beautiful Broadway. What more can you ask for in a contemporary romance?

Holland is a 25 year old struggling writer and post-graduate school. She’s currently being supported by her uncles Robert, a famous Broadway director, and his husband Jeff who is an accountant. They pay for a majority of her rent and got her a job at the theater selling merchandise and being the photographer. I do appreciate that Holland recognizes that she lives a pretty privileged life and she doesn’t wish to take everything for granted. So when her uncle Robert’s show is falling apart, well, she makes a drastic decision to help. Marrying a stranger to save the show.

The stranger being the subway musician that Holland has been crushing on who happens to save her one night, AND who happens to be a Julliard-trained musician that would be perfect for the Broadway show.

I enjoyed the romance in this story, but I enjoyed the character growth even more. Holland, as her uncle Jeff describes her later in the book, only sees herself as a secondary character in life. She doesn’t take risks, she’s had writer’s block since graduating, and she has tons of doubts. All that changes when she “gathers the courage” to talk to her musical crush and demands answers when he saves her but leaves when the cops arrive. As you can see from the summary, he leaves because he’s not in the United States legally and doesn’t want any trouble. Throughout the story, Holland hides her crush from Calvin, knowing that it’s only a marriage to keep him in the country and to save the show. But as her feelings grow stronger, she has a hard time fighting her desires and has to decide if it’s worth it to take the risk of loving him. Holland’s relationship with Calvin is pretty rocky since their relationship is based on a lie. I was happy with a lot of Holland’s decisions on her relationship with Calvin.

Her relationship with her best friend Lulu also becomes rocky throughout the relationship, as Lulu starts to show a jealous side to her personality. What I love is that Holland’s relationship with her uncles is strong and consistent throughout the book. I love the love they have for one another.

While I did enjoy this book, I did question a few things like the speed of the immigration process and how they were conveniently able to speed it along with knowing people on the inside. Because I’m not familiar with the immigration process, I can’t say for sure if that doesn’t happen to some, but it seems strange that a process that could take months was able to happen in a matter of a couple weeks in this story. Then again, maybe the it’s who you know thing works in this kind of situation as well. Still, I enjoyed the adventure of Holland and Calvin and the shenanigans they went through.

4.5 STARS ~ Fantastic! Like, you don’t understand how fantastic this was. READ IT.

 

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published Date: May 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Series: N/A
My Source: Library
Links: Goodreads
Review Also On: Goodreads and Amazon

Goodreads Summary:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Review

I had this book on hold from my library the minute I was able to. This book was a sweet and cute romance that I would be happy to recommend to everyone. Dimple was great. I loved that she was focused on her career, on her future, but was also able to open up to other possibilities and people. Rishi was just a sweetheart. I was rooting for him to win Dimple’s heart from the beginning.

The “side-plots” were really good. I liked that Dimple, while not liking her roommate Celia’s new friends, she was willing to try for her sake. When that didn’t work, Dimple and Celia were able to realize they could still be friends without having the same friends. And, without spoiling too much I hope, when the chaos happened near the end of the book, I’m glad that Dimple was there for her.

The romance between Dimple and Rishi was cute. Knowing they were only there for 6 weeks and already were feeling love for one another, I don’t know if that works for me, but I was willing to look past it. This was definitely a hate-to-love type of story, so if you like those, you’ll like this one.

What I enjoyed the most was that we were able to see a few different views on arranged marriages. We got Dimple who was completely against it for a number of reasons, Rishi who liked tradition and wanted to make his parents proud, Dimple’s female family members who saw it as a great opportunity for Dimple, and even Celia who saw it as super romantic.

When Dimple Met Rishi is a great romance and coming-of-age story. Both main characters have their inner conflicts of wanting independence, love, acceptance from their family, and passion for what they wanted and believed in. You’re not going to want to put this book down once you get started.

Rating: 4 STARS ~ Oh man, this was a great book. Will be recommending.