Review: Withering Tights by Louise Rennison

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison Published by HarperTeen on June 28, 2011. Hardcover, 274 pages $16.99 US

 

From Goodreads:

Wow. This is it. This is me growing up. On my own, going to Performing Arts College. This is good-bye, Tallulah, you long, gangly thing, and hellooooo, Lullah, star of stage.

Tallulah Casey is ready to find her inner artist. And some new mates. And maybe a boy or two or three.

The ticket to achieving these lofty goals? Enrolling in a summer performing arts program, of course. She’s bound for the wilds of Yorkshire Dales–eerily similar to the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights. Tallulah expects new friends, less parental interference, and lots of drama. Acting? Tights? Moors? Check, check, check.

What she doesn’t expect is feeling like a tiny bat’s barging around in her mouth when she has her first snog.

Bestselling author Louise Rennison returns with her trademark wit, a hilarious new cast, and a brand-new cheeky heroine who is poised to discover plenty of opportunities for (mis)adventure!

Dear Book Reader,

So, Tallulah Casey is off to some performing arts program for the summer.  Crazy friends await, bodily changes aren’t coming as quickly as Tallulah hopes (and honestly are just over-focused throughout the book), and boys – can’t forget about the boys.  Or the owl and the little owlettes.  Yes, there is a reason for the owl on the cover.  The random little owl.

Tallulah goes through the summer, doing the best that she can with the work that’s been given to her and her friends.  The work involves different acting skill, dancing, and putting together an adaptation of Wuthering Heights for the end of summer performance.  Tallulah has multiple problems, often related to her gangly pre-teen/teenage body.  This point it made more times than it ought to be.  There are first with boys from another nearby school (just for boys…Tallulah’s school is just for girls).  First dates, first kisses, first…ackward conversations.  On top of all the firsts and acting, there’s an owl, whose’s just had owlettes.  This owl tends to dive bomb anyone who walks into the barn and is just not a friendly creature.  Apparently the owlettes are nice enough to be picked up, out of the nest and touched, though.  Isn’t that something we’re always told not to do because then the parents won’t come back?  I don’t know much about birds here.

Does Tallulah make it through the summer program?

How do the boys make or break Tallulah?

Does Tallulah’s body ever catch up to the thoughts she has about it?

This book was really just okay.  It’s on the juvenile side of the YA genre, which is not the side I typically read from.  It had it’s humorous storytelling parts that had me laughing, but there were also major distractions.  Constant “so-and-so said”, “he said”, “she said” before whatever was said by whoever in a conversation really annoyed me.  I don’t know if that’s something that has stuck out to me in other reads before or if it was just this book.  It seriously made me want to just skim the conversations happening.

Although I didn’t totally enjoy this book, it was a good break from some of the heavier books I’ve read lately.  “Withering Tights” is a quick read as well.  Which might be a good thing considering how back and forth it was.  There were a lot of British words and phrases throughout the book as well, so be ready for that if you choose to read this.  Honestly, I hope this review helps you make a choice because it was a pain to write.  I guess I still can’t find all the words to describe how much I disliked this book.  It takes a lot for me to truly dislike a book.  I’m giving the second book in this series a shot before totally throwing it off as a series I won’t continue reading.

Series: Misadventures of Tallulah Casey, #1

Stars: **

Recommendation: No…I honestly can’t recommend this book.

Read On,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library!

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Review: A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

A Girl Named Digit

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan Published By HMH Books for Young Readers on January 1, 2012. Hardcover, 187 pages. $16.99, US.

From Goodreads:

Farrah “Digit” Higgins may be going to MIT in the fall, but this L.A. high school genius has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year. But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group’s number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping– all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously. So much for blending in . . .

Dear Book Reader,

Digit is nothing short of a math genius.  Now a senior in high school, she tries her best to hide her gift of working with numbers from everyone and just does her best to blend in.  One night she catches some numbers along the bottom of the screen during a television show she’s watching with friends – and realizes this isn’t the first time she’s seen random numbers there.

Then a terrorist attack happens, and as Digit puts the pieces together, she finds herself in real danger.  Suddenly she’s in FBI custody because the terrorists are out to end her life.  Everything is about to change.  Along with her bodyguard/boyfriend, Digit finds herself being “kidnapped”, tossed into hiding, and on the run to solve this crime before it’s too late for another one to take place.

What other problems does Digit find herself in along the way?

What happens with the boy she’s falling for?

Does another attack happen, or is Digit quick enough to stop another one?

I wasn’t sure if, going into this book, I’d really like it.  Once I go into it though, I wanted to keep going!  This book is fast paced, full of action and excitement, and many adventures.  Oh, and there’s a little romance thrown in as well.

The only thing I couldn’t love about this book, although at points it did make sense, is how quickly the romance and relationship bloomed.  The only thing keeping it from going too far was Digit’s age, being only seventeen.  I guess I’m just getting tired of all the quickie I’m-so-in-love relationships that pop up in books and have it all work out.  Okay, so there might be some relationship problems, but it always seems to end just perfectly.  Of course, this is coming from someone that’s seen too many quickie relationships end.  They’re just difficult to belive in.

Digit was a quick read, which was nice, considering the length of most books these days.  It’s that combination of a fluffy ready with a bit of “gotta pay attention to what’s going on”.  The plot moves along smoothly without missing a beat.  The characters each have their own voice and personality.  I loved how easily the writing flowed and transitioned.  There was always something there than kept me hanging on for one more page, one more chapter until the book had ended.

Stars: *****

Read On,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library!

Review: Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi Published by HaperCollins on February 5, 2013. Hardcover, 461 pages. $17.99, US

From Goodreads:

tick
tick
tick
tick
tick
it’s almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

Dear Book Reader,

Unravel me was pretty much one of those “building the love triangle”, second-book-in-a-trilogy books.  You’ve got Adam and Warner (later you find out that he wants to be called Aaron, his first name, and only by Juliette), the two guys.  Then there’s Juliette, who can’t make up her mind about which guy she wants.  One can touch her and might get hurt if he can’t control his special power and the other can touch her and won’t be hurt because of his special power.  Yes, that’s how a guy should be chosen, by who can or can’t touch you and the reason.  Both of these guys have done plenty emotionally and mentally to Juliette, but that doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration by her all that much.

Between all the back and forth of the love triangle, there’s a war brewing, with Juliette becoming a key figure.  Except she has to get out of her thick head and stop throwing a pity party for herself.  At one point the lightbulb does kick on and Juliette starts seeing that everything isn’t just about her.  There are other people involved in this war and she can help them.  If Juliette actually starts the training she can receive at Omega Point, she could use her power for good.

What are Juliette’s feelings towards Adam and Warner?

How does her training go, once she starts?

Does she ever learn to stand up for herself?

I’m honestly struggling with the review of this book.  I really wanted to like this book, but I just can’t.  I struggled to stick with it to the end, as I did with the first book in this trilogy.  At times I just wanted to ask Juliette what she was thinking.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  Ignoring the advice of others doesn’t do any good if they are legit trying to help you, and doing things alone aren’t going to get you anywhere.  Boundaries are okay to set as well.

The main point of this is that I just can’t stand the main character of this book.  She’s not relatable, at least to me.  Juliette is indecisive, has no sense of the word “no”, thinks everything is her fault and won’t listen to reason.  I can’t come up with the right phrase to describe this girl.  I know the reason I don’t like this book is because of the way the main character has been written.  I had no problem reading the two novellas that go along with this trilogy.

I’m not even going to get started on the love scenes in this book.  Over dramatic and almost a focal point.  I could do without them, or at least not having them as graphic.

If you’re someone who’s a stickler for grammar, get ready if you choose to read this book.  All I feel like I need to say with that point.

Stars: *** (generously)

Read On,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library.

Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Faking Normal by
Courtney C. Stevens
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books
on February 25, 2014.
Hardcover, 336 pages. $17.99 US

  From Goodreads:

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author-Courtney C. Stevens.

Dear Book Reader,

Since finishing this book, I’ve been trying to find the words to describe just how I feel about it.  Honestly, it’s not that easy because bits of this story really hit home for me.  I get Alexi, the need to escape from the emotional pain by causing physical pain to self and the need to pretend everything is okay.  I get the lack of trust and then having that one person I can spill everything to come into my life.  I just get Alexi on so many levels.

Alexi is dealing with two very big secrets that no one can find out.  She’s dealing with her form of self-injury to numb the pain someone else has caused.  The pain caused by this someone else happened at a summer event.  Een worse, it was someone Alexi knew and was around – a lot.  Someone who was close enough to be considered family.  Alexi was keeping the secret as a way of protection.  She was simply just trying to survive the best way she knew how.

Then there’s Bodee, aka Kool-Aid Kid.  Bodee is going through his own struggles after losing his mother very suddenly – by his father’s hand no less.  Bodee’s home life, which was already falling apart, has now shattered.  Alexi’s parents reach out and Bodee comes to live with them.  Thanks to the generosity of Alexi’s parents, life is about to change for her and Bodee.

As Alexi and Bodee move through this new living arrangement, secrets that were so carefully tucked away start to see light.  The way they both cope with the events in their life are shared.  With each other they start to find some healing.  All of this happens while navigating high school classes, friendships and relationships.  Together, they help and encourage each other to find the voice they never had, and step out of the darkness and into the light.

What happened after Bodee and Alexi found their voices to speak up?

Why was “no” so difficult for Alexi to say?

Why was Bodee called Kool-Aid Kid?

I hated when I had to put this book down because the need to sleep took over.  I’ve had books I couldn’t put down until I had to sleep, but this book was just so different.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next, what choice Alexi was going to make, and how those choices would further impact her life.

The writing of this book was superb!  Each character had their own personality, style, and voice.  None of which seemed forced.  Courtney approached some very serious topics in this book in a very real, well versed way.  Faking Normal had emotion from start to finish.  Despite the seriousness of the topics, I found it to be refreshing, a new side of life.  I still don’t find all of these words to be adequate enough to tell of this impact this book has made in my own life.

This book could help those that are facing the same secrets and struggles that Alexi is facing.  Self-injury is not the way to cope with the emotional pain/abuse you’re feeling.  This is coming from someone who is in recovery for self-injury.  If you’ve been abused in any way, speak up.  Courtney includes resources in the back of the book for those that need encouragement to seek help.  There is help out there and there is no shame in asking for it.

Someone may need you to be their Bodee (and I’m grateful for my Bodee!).

There is freedom for whatever you or the person you know is going through.

Stars: *****+ (really, there aren’t enough in the universe)

Recommend: This is a must read!

Read On,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library.

Review: Alienated by Melissa Landers

Alienated by Melissa Landers
Published by Disney Hyperion on February 4, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
$16.99 US

From Goodreads: 

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Dear Book Readers,

As the title suggests, this book has to do with aliens, and well, being alienated.  Gotta love a double-meaning title, right?  Really, who doesn’t?

Starting with the aliens, visiting earth from a planet called L’eihr.  These aliens, who are very much human looking, are part of an exchange program.  They spend some time down here with their high school human hosts and family, and their high school human hosts will eventually spend time in L’eihr.  Enter in the main characters, Cara and Aelyx.

Cara is smart, the class valedictorian, and ready to plan her future.  Aelyx is simple, competitive, and not all that excited of visiting earth.  Things are awkward between these two characters at first, but boy, do things eventually heat up.  Happy ending – not so much!  Life is about to get much more complicated than some calculus problem.

It’s not long before people turn their backs on Cara and Aelyx, thus the second meaning of the title.  They become alienated from their peers!  Friends are lost, Cara’s parents are affected, and the town turns into a mass protest site.  All of this happening while Cara and Aelyx are falling madly in love with each other.  The only problem is that one of them is keeping a major secret from the other that affects everything and everyone around them.  The only sound thing to do is for Aelyx and the other exchange aliens to head back home.

What secret is being kept and by who?

What happens as they face being separated?

Why was this exchange program so important?

I greatly enjoyed this book.  Yeah, it might be a little “high schoolish” in language, but that’s the type of characters Melissa has written.  I honestly don’t expect high schoolers to speak like adults.  I loved this exchange program concept between humans and aliens.  I think the sensual, borderline sexual, content was a little too much.  It’s just not my thing.  I know these two species are trying to figure out each other on that level, but it’s hard to believe with how quickly it came about.  At least a little self-control was shown by the characters.

The flow and writing of the book made it a quick, yet captivating read.  And the cover.  I absolutely love the cover and how it depicts what is waiting inside.  This book is written in dual narrative form, but flows within the same chapter.

Stars: *****

Recommendation: Yes!

Read on,

Liz

This book was checked out at my awesome public library!