Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope. Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope. Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

slammed

I’ve been following this trend with ‘new adult’ fiction, and one of the most mentioned books is Slammed. ‘New adult’ often refers to books with content in between teen and adult. My curiosity peaked, I checked out the book.

While I’d really like to write my review as a slam, it’s been way too long of a day for me to even attempt that. Instead, I will give you a one word review – AMAZING. This captivating book has plenty of powerful messages on life, love, and family. It evoked so many emotions, especially the twists I didn’t see coming! I completely devoured the book in less than a day.

I really love words and poetry so this book was a perfect fit. In high school, my teacher actually encouraged me to submit my poems in contests, and two of them ended up getting published in the Canadian Anthology of Verse. Poems are often very private and personal, so I was proud of Lake when she ‘pushed her boundaries’ and performed her slam at the club. Once you read the book, you’ll understand just how clever all the slams are. For a taste, here is a sample of one of Layken’s slams:

I got schooled this year
by
a
Boy.

a boy that I’m seriously,
deeply, madly, incredibly,
and undeniably
in love
with.
And he taught me the most
important thing of all
To put the emphasis
On life.

Regardless of the reader’s age, this book is suitable for anyone with a love of words.  If you enjoyed Slammed, you’ll be happy to know that it is the first in the series. Point of Retreat continues Layken and Will’s relationship.  I haven’t decided if I’ll read it yet because I was really satisfied and happy with the ending of Slammed. Layken and Will both experienced so much hardship and grief that I want to continue imagining them living on as it ended in book one. Most of all, I hope and imagine Layken takes into consideration her mom’s long list of advice. The advice served as a great reminder to us all, especially: “Don’t take life too seriously. Punch it in the face when it needs a good hit. Laugh at it”.

Now go borrow or buy a copy of this fabulous book right now. I’m not kidding– GO! You won’t regret it!

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Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.” When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

diviners

If you’re looking for a completely original young adult book, look no further- The Diviners delivers.  At first, I was reluctant to pick up the book because of its intimidating length (578 pages!), but I’m glad I did. Despite sore wrists, I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of mystery, suspense and horror! The 20’s setting and inclusion of real events in history (eugenics movement, Chinese exclusion act, etc.) were a welcome bonus as well.

Over the course of the novel, tons of characters were introduced. I don’t have the best memory, so I found it sometimes hard to keep track of who was who.  One shining individual that proved impossible to forget was the main character, Evie. When trying to describe her, so many words come to mind: young, witty, humorous, sassy, brave and at times, self-centred.  You can bet-ski her actions and dialogue are always entertaining to read.  However, I think that Bray came on really strong with the 20’s lingo in the beginning (cat’s pajamas, bee’s knees) yet it kind of sauntered off in the end. Or maybe I just became accustomed to it?

In the end, it became clear that the well-researched, creepy, yet intriguing story of The Diviners would be continued. There were plenty of unanswered questions left for Evie and readers alike.  I would really like to have Evie’s (and others) diviner powers further explored. Although I’m not a fan of series, I will likely pick the next instalment up.  By the time the next one is released, I’m hoping I’ll have the gruesome ritual killings and Naughty John song out of my head. Pos-i-toot-ly terrifying!

 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl By Jesse Andrews

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

me earl

This book completed my Goodreads challenge for the year! I met my goal (just barely) with 35 books! Yay! Despite two moves, new job, new city, buying our first house, and getting engaged, I still think next year will be busier as the wedding date approaches. I hope to keep up with my blog in 2013, but if posts aren’t as frequent—you know why.

Ok, back to the review. For my last book of 2012, I was looking for a funny, quick read and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl sure delivered. By the title, you may assume the book is a serious, thought provoking read, but it was actually one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. There was a message about death and dying, but not the typical takeaway message. It was more along the lines of death sucks, and sometimes you don’t learn anything from it. Actually, in Greg’s note at the beginning, he warns readers, ‘this book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts about Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever’.

I must admit, it took me a bit warm to Greg’s voice and the writing style. His teenage frame of mind is quite edgy and in no way G rated. However, I think it’s very realistic of how teenage boys think. Here is a sample of what I mean:

The Greg S.Gaines three step method of seduction

1. lurch into girl’s bedroom pretending to be a zombie

2. go for a fist pound

3. suggest that you habitually masturbate all over pillows

He’s totally awkward and makes sexual references all the time (especially with his friend Earl.) Speaking of Earl, one of favourite parts is when Greg and Earl accidentally ingest marijuana and think it was from their teacher’s soup. It had me laughing out loud!

I can see how the stylistic choices would appeal to reluctant readers. First off, the bright cover art, immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Next, the inclusion of screenplay style, bullet points, and newspaper headlines throughout the book all visually help to break up the text. Also the interesting chapter titles like ‘Earl Betrays Our Entire Creative Partnership While I am Distracted by the Munchies’ are just so much fun! Who wouldn’t want to read that chapter?

Overall, the book was a strange but wonderful contemporary read.  Although nothing really happens, it’s the quirky characters that make the book stand out. This book may not be for everyone but I sure loved it.

–FIN–

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