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: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

11389398Publisher: First Second
Published Date: February 2012
Genre: YA, Graphic Novel, Contemporary, Paranormal, Fantasy
Series: N/A
My Source: Own Copy
Links: Goodreads
Review Also On: Goodreads and Amazon

Goodreads Summary:

After years of homeschooling, Maggie is starting high school. It’s pretty terrifying.

Maggie’s big brothers are there to watch her back, but ever since Mom left it just hasn’t been the same.

Besides her brothers, Maggie’s never had any real friends before. Lucy and Alistair don’t have lots of friends either. But they eat lunch with her at school and bring her along on their small-town adventures.

Missing mothers…distant brothers…high school…new friends… It’s a lot to deal with. But there’s just one more thing.

MAGGIE IS HAUNTED.

Friends with Boys did not turn out the way I thought it would. With the title, I thought it would have a lot of focus on how Maggie’s only friends until going to high school were her brothers and we’d look more into their relationships with her. I also feel like a lot of things are left in the air, so readers don’t get much closure (although going by the Goodreads’ reviews, I may be in the minority with my thinking).

I liked Maggie. I thought she was a nice character, and I wanted to see her get through her first days of high school, make new friends, and hopefully start dealing with her feelings about her mom leaving. She’s nervous about starting high school since she’s been home-schooled, and she feels alone since her brothers have already made themselves at home in the scary place of Sandford High. She meets Lucy and her brother Alistair, and she feels less alone. However, she is also being stalked by a female ghost.

Maggie’s got cool brothers. There is Daniel, the oldest and loves to act, and the twins Lloyd and Zander. In this short story, we get to see that everyone is struggling with something, and while I appreciate learning these things about each of the characters, I don’t feel like we got enough time to explore everything. I feel like the twins, Lucy, Alistair, and Maggie’s issues are all a bit unsolved. And as far as I can see, we won’t be getting a sequel for this graphic novel.

With Maggie, I’m not sure if she’s starting to deal with her mother leaving. I also don’t like how we’re left within a rocky place between Maggie and her father.

And the ghost. The ghost!! Nothing is truly explained about the ghost. We have a potential story about her, but it’s never confirmed if that haunted story is about THIS ghost. Why does she follow Maggie around? Will she continue? She still seems so sad. What’s her story? How come Maggie and certain people can see her and others cannot (or possibly cannot. Again, many things left unanswered)?

I enjoyed the art and I liked the premise of this book, but I just feel so…underwhelmed? Is that the word I’m looking for? I just feel like I have so many questions about the characters and whether they’ve learned/grown that it leaves me feeling like “Eh…This was okay, I guess?”

Rating: 2.5 STARS ~ More okay moments than struggle moments.

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.