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Book Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

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Book Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 1st 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Chick Lit, Realistic Fiction, Romance, YA
Age Range: 14-17 years old
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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“Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.”
“Okay.”
“Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?”
“Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?”

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie—she’s already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.


MY THOUGHTS

I was really disappointed by this one.

I thought I was going to like it. I mean, look at that cover, and then read the summary, and then go through all its great ratings on Goodreads. It’s impossible to keep my hopes down.

Let me start by saying that the title is very misleading. Twenty Boy Summer? More like Not-Even-Half-Of-That Summer. (Lame, I know.)

I am a very character-centered reader. I don’t usually care if the plot isn’t amazing—with the exception of, you know, cut-my-eyes-off bad. I believe that the character/s of the book adds a lot more to the experience of a reader. That being said, I felt nothing for the characters in Twenty Boy Smumer. By “characters,” I mean Anna and Frankie. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get to know them as much as I would’ve like. Or maybe I don’t freaking see why they would be best friends in the first place! The only person I liked was Matt… but he dies! Ugh.

I know I said I felt nothing for the two main characters, but scratch that. I felt something for Frankie: pure hatred. Frankie is just as selfish and self-absorbed as I thought she would be. I get it, she’s grieving because her brother died. But for goodness’ sake, Anna loved Matt too—as a brother, best friend and a lover. Frankie keeps on acting like she’s the only person affected, and she doesn’t know how to consider other feelings but her own! I want to kick Anna for putting up with Frankie’s shit.

There was a lot of breaking the rules throughout their duration in Zanzibar Bay, and like the goody two shoes I am, I was really nervous with all of the duo’s rendezvous with the two hotties they meet on their summer holiday. But that’s not even the worse part, it is the fact that Anna and Frankie weren’t even caught and/or punished for sneaking out.

One of the aforementioned hotties is Anna’s “summer romance”, I guess you can say. But I can’t feel the romance. I literally cringe at some point.

I originally wanted to rate this a 1 out of 5, but decided against it. The only thing that earned the extra star was the first few chapters when Matt was still alive. I genuinely thought it would turn out as a great contemporary read, but it was a let down.

Would I recommend it?

Not really. It had potential in the first few chapters but I was unhappy on how it turns out. If you really think you like the plot, I suggest borrowing from a friend or your local library if they have it because I don’t think it’s worth the ten bucks.

All book cover photos and summaries are taken from Goodreads.

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Apology

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Okay, let me just start by saying sorry. Some of you might not have cared, or might not have even noticed I disappeared, but it’s a big deal for me as I have tried so hard to keep this blog going. When I first started, the first thing I told myself is that I should do everything to maintain this blog. I’ve started a blog or two before but ended up deleting them because I always cease uploading/posting content. But this blog would be different.

Why did I disappear? The main reason why I stopped blogging all of a sudden is emotional stress. Stress that’s not necessarily been inflicted on me by this blog but because of problems in my life. I’ve recently been and I currently am going through a lot in terms of family and personal matters which I am not so keen on elaborating further. In addition to that, consider the stress that my academics and my peers has brought me since school started. Basically, due to stress and anxiety, I really didn’t have the time nor the enthusiasm to read books, much less make a review on them. Again, to anything/anyone that I’ve left hanging, I’m really sorry. But I’m back and although I can’t guarantee that I won’t leave again, I’ll make sure that I warn everybody before taking a break again.

I don’t want this post to be too long, I just did wrote a quick post to notify you. So expect [less drama and] more posts from me. Au revoir, À bientôt! (No, I’m not French. But I really love and want to learn their language.)

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Book Review: Valley of the Moon by Bronwyn Archer

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Book Title: Valley of the Moon
Author: Bronwyn Archer
Series: Valley of the Moon #1 (?)
Publication Date: April 13th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Age Range: 13+ years old
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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There’s just one semester left at the Briar School for Girls in Sonoma, CA. But it will take more than straight As for Lana Goodwin to survive . . .

Senior year is not going well for 17-year-old Lana Goodwin. Her father’s vintage car business is about to crash and burn, the nicest (and cutest) teacher at school was fired under a cloud of scandal, and her hot sort-of boyfriend may or may not have something big to hide.

She’s also totally over being the class pauper. It’s bad enough her dad was briefly married to the head of the board—the rich, cruel, impeccably groomed Ramona Crawford. What’s worse is going to school with her vindictive ex-stepsister, who never misses an opportunity to make her life hell. Not ever.

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Before Lana can escape to college, she finds herself in a life-or-death race to uncover her mother’s long-buried secrets.

Can she claim her birthright before her future and her life are snatched away?

Valley of the Moon is a modern-day fairy tale with some intense themes.


I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

MY THOUGHTS

I have mixed feelings about this one. I’m not really sure if I like it or not. But I can definitely say that this has more negatives than positives, for me at least.

When I first read the summary, all I could think was how great it sounds. I mean, come on, read this again:

It also happens to be the tenth anniversary of her mother’s suicide. No one knows why Annie Goodwin jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge the day after Christmas. She didn’t leave a note. She wasn’t sick. Even Lana’s father can’t explain it. Ten years later, someone—or something—starts sending her clues about her mother’s past.

Now tell me that that isn’t the least bit interesting. You can imagine how pumped I was to start this book. Unfortunately though, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. The main thing that pulled me into requesting this book is the whole enigma of the clues about Lana’s mother’s past. Not a cheesy (and crappy) romance. The book didn’t provide much depth about her mother’s death. And it focused on the romance for far too long.

While we’re on that topic, let me say that the romance in this book is absolutely cringe worthy, 100% insta-love and not relevant at all. I’m talking about Lana and Caleb’s relationship, of course. They know next to nothing about each other but claims that it’s love plus, I feel like all they do is kiss. I just don’t get why authors feel the need to put romance in every single book even though it ruins the whole reading experience. Or maybe if the romance will make more sense in the sequel, at least make it a bit more believable. I’m not bashing the author, not at all, but the “love story” in this just ruined it for me.

Because I’m such a sucker for mystery novels, and also because the premise of this book still intrigues me despite the problems I encountered while reading, I still pushed through. It took a while for me to get through this because the writing just feels like it doesn’t flow correctly, I feel like it was all over the place, and that kind of put me off. And I got a bit confused with the family tree but I think it’s my fault, really. I read Me Before You alongside of this and when I read two books at once, especially when I prefer the other one much more, some details get jumbled up.

Towards the end, there came a sudden burst of action and it kind of threw me off—but not really in a bad way. Hey, I love action so I’m not complaining, I was just surprised is all. It just feels like Lana can’t catch a break at that time, so it made me feel anxious a lot.

Then, the ending. It’s a cliffhanger, but it’s also anticlimactic (what with all the action that happens beforehand).

Now let’s get to the (few) positives of the book.

If it isn’t obvious in the summary given above, this is kind of like a Cinderella retelling. I like how Ramona’s and Cressida’s characters were depicted in the story. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like them because they make Lana’s life more complicated than it already is. What I mean is that I like how it looks like they’re not just there for the sake of more drama.

I can’t really say too much but the plot twists were good. Not amazing because they didn’t make me gasp or anything. Nevertheless, they’re good because I didn’t see them coming.

Also, why are most fictional characters named Alexander so goddamn swoon-worthy?! Um, I don’t need a whole page of Alexanders on my fictional-boyfriends list, thank you very much.

Overall, this is a mostly okay read. Has more negatives than positives but it doesn’t feel right if I rate it a 2 out of 5 because I still did enjoy this. It has potential but it didn’t deliver quite well. I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the sequel when it comes out.

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Tag: Burn, Rewrite, Reread Tag

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Welcome to the first ever book tag I’m posting on this blog! Although admittedly, not the first one I’ve done as I sometimes answer book tags in my spare time. They’re just so fun, I wonder why it took me this long to post one. Anyway, no one actually tagged me to do this one, I just saw Melia’s post at The Immortal Readers (do yourself a favor and check it out) and thought I’d do it to.

  • Randomly choose 3 books. (You can use the “random” option on your Goodreads read shelf but I didn’t do that, I let my sister pick randomly instead.)
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread. (Who in their right minds would let me rewrite these books?! But let’s just pretend I’m an amazing writer for the sake of the tag.)
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds. (I’m gonna do five just because I can, plus it’s really fun.)

No books were harmed in the making of this blog post.


ROUND 1

Ooh, this one’s quite easy!

BURN: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga – I pick this one for “burn” simply because I got bored halfway through the book. The 45%-ish of the book is interesting but after that, my attention was completely gone. I was so disappointed.
REWRITE: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – As I said earlier, I am by no means a decent writer, much less an amazing one who would rewrite a Rainbow Rowell book. So let’s just pretend, folks. I enjoyed this book so much, but I would like to give it a bit more plot.
REREAD: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I actually reread this book quite a lot. This is by far my favorite book in the contemporary romance genre. Every time I read this, I instantly brighten up a lot more. This is my go-to book whenever I’m stressed, in a bad mood or just wants to feel loved (even though it’s not directed at me, if that makes sense). I highly recommend this one.

ROUND 2

BURN: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – This I would burn because I’ve encountered multiple problems while reading this. I gave this a rating of 2/5 stars because I only enjoyed the parts wherein Matt was still alive (I promise that’s not a spoiler).
REWRITE: Because I Love You by Tori Rigby – Although I absolutely loved this one, I’ll have to “rewrite” this to lessen the problems that Andrea Hamilton is juggling. As much as I believe that she’s strong enough to handle the dilemmas thrown at her, I’ll feel more comfortable about myself if I do poor Andie a favor.
REREAD: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – This is a favorite of mine. I’ve read this fairly recently but I’ll be no doubt rereading this multiple times in the future. This is such a lovely story and such lovely characters and such lovely writing. If you haven’t yet, I recommend reading this one because this is one of those books that speak to you (well, at least to me it did).

ROUND 3

I think my sister purposely chose these books she knew I love to see me suffer.

BURN: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West – I’m so sorry for this. I seriously never would have thought that I’d put this book in the “burn” category. I love this book to pieces! Caymen! Alexander! NOOOOOO! Okay, I may be getting carried away, but I really do adore this book. The only reason why I’d put this as burn is because I know that I’m not gonna be actually burning it I’d be reading more books by Kasie West. And I’ll buy another copy!
REWRITE: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins  I really want this to be rewritten purely because I wanted more action for bad-ass Harper Price.
REREAD: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken1000000% reread. If that’s not enough zeroes for you to think that this is one, if not the only one, of my favorite dystopian series of all time, here’s some more: 100000000000000000000000%. I can’t express enough how much I love The Darkest Minds trilogy. Maybe I can, but that would take ages so you would have to do with those digits I left you.

ROUND 4

BURN: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik  I gave this 4/5 stars—I can’t remember why because I currently think this deserves only 3 or, 3.5 tops. But I would burn this instead of rewrite it (I don’t want to!) because I see more potential in the other one. Read below.
REWRITE: Reboot by Amy Tintera – This I would rewrite because, as I said, I see potential. I only gave this a 2 out of 5 because I couldn’t bring myself to care for the most part. The first part of the book really got me going, but it fell through for me starting from the middle-ish part.
REREAD: Untethered by Katie Hayoz – This one, although I would’ve like several aspects to be altered, I would still gladly reread this.

 

ROUND 5

BURN: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson  When I saw that this book is included in the group that was randomly picked, I knew right away that I had to burn it (not literally). The book was just too problematic for me. I didn’t like the main character, not one bit. And that’s one of my bookish pet peeves, not liking the main character/the person narrating.
REWRITE: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – I actually really liked this book but I’d like to rewrite it for a couple of reasons. First is to fucking put a reminder of some sort of whose POV I’m reading because I got so confused. And the other is to discard of the cringey romance.
REREAD: Now May You Weep by Deborah Crombie – Another 5 star read for me. I am a huge mystery/crime novel fan. This book really thrilled me, although there were some parts wherein all they talk about is whiskey which I’m not a fan of, but I don’t see that as a problem of the book. Basically, this is just really great. And it takes place in Scotland’s Highlands!


So there we go. This was so much fun to do. Thanks again to Melia @ The Immortal Readers for introducing me to this tag. Do you agree with my choices? Why or why not? Let’s talk, leave a comment below! 😀

Book cover photos are taken from Goodreads.

 

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Teaser Tuesday: Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Books and A Beat.

Teaser

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week’s book:

Love, Lies and Spies

Book Title: Love, Lies and Spies
Author: Cindy Anstey
Publication Date: April 19th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, YA
Age Range: 14+ years old

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Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

Teaser:

“Oh my, this is embarrassing,” Miss Juliana Telford said aloud. There was no reason to keep her thoughts to herself, as she was alone, completely alone. In fact, that was half of the probelm. The other half was, of course, that she was hanging off the side of a cliff with the inability to climb either up or down and in dire need of rescue.


As last week, I’ve broken the rules again. I did not open to a random page as I don’t want to be spoiled because I’m only 33 pages in (I’ve been preoccupied). The teaser I shared is, in fact, the first paragraph of the first page. And it isn’t only 2 sentences, so that’s another rule broken. Surprisingly, I’ve been enjoying this book so far. I haven’t read much historical fiction so this is like a breath of fresh air for me. Hopefully this book won’t disappoint.

Have a teaser of your own? Leave a link to your post in the comments section, or if you don’t have a blog, you can just comment a teaser below too. Thanks for stopping by!

All book cover photos and book info (such as summary, publication, etc.) are taken from Goodreads.