Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

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It took me some time to finish the book and by some time I mean around two weeks. Not because the book is not good, it’s actually the opposite, but because I have other things to attend to.

Falling into Place is a really good book. Somehow it really pulled me in. I find my heart aching for Liz Emerson. There’s this rawness and pureness that I felt which I couldn’t really explain. I’m not fond of stories told in a 3rd person point of view but the way the novel was told; it seems that the 3rd person fit it well.

The story’s about the struggles in life of Liz Emerson, a popular and bitchy student of Meridian High. Well, maybe not really bitchy bitchy. She’s just apathetic and indifferent that she’s being a bitch even if she doesn’t intend to. It’s the story of how she struggles to find meaning in her life and a reason to go on. It’s a story of how she lost hope in anything and everything, blaming everything on herself, thus deciding that the world would be a better place without her. It’s a story of her accident-disguised suicide and how it affected the people around her and her relationships.

If we’re gonna take a look at it, on the surface, Liz Emerson is the typical popular bitch in a high school setting. You’re either gonna love her or hate her. You can’t help but to notice her even if you don’t want to. You can’t help but admire her and wish to be her even if you despise her. However, the book shows us that even with all the reputation surrounding her, even with all the admiration and looks, she’s broken just like everybody else. She unknowingly is the way she is because she just is.

The book also took the story telling in analogy with Newton’s laws of motion. And even though I really didn’t grasp fully how the laws connect to the story, I find them endearing and essential. Newton’s first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. In relation to the book, this may have applied to Meridian wherein Liz Emerson is the force. Life at Meridian might have stayed the same for its residents if not for Liz Emerson’s coming. It may also apply to the strained relationship between Liz and her mother as well as Julia’s and Kennie’s. It may have applied to Liam’s secret affection for Liz Emerson wherein nothing’s changing since he’s not acting on it. Basically, this first law can be applied to each and everyone’s lives.

“NOTHING WILL CHANGE UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.”

Whether it’s for the worse or the best is a different matter.

Newton’s second law of motion states that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration (F=ma).  Gossip is what first comes to mind relating to the story. The force or the impact of gossip or rumor depends on the importance (mass) and how fast it travels. When the news of Liz’s car crashed spread, the impact was huge. She was after all Liz Emerson.

The third law of motion of Newton is the most famous in my opinion. It states that there is for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Being the bitch that she is, Liz Emerson has done a lot of stupid things in her life that affected the people around her – from the side girl of his on-and-off boyfriend, to the ‘unpopular’ kids of the school, to people who hurt her friends, to Liam. And she was wondering why no one got back to her given Newton’s third law. Why did no one take revenge? But she thought wrong. She maybe expecting the ‘same’ thing to get back at her – the rumor that she spread, the vandalism she did. Little did she know that life has a funny way of getting back at all for all her wrong doings. The silence that she’s experiencing, the distant mother, the guilt, all these are the repercussions of her actions.

I really appreciate the 3rd person POV of the story and when it was revealed that the story teller is Liz’s old self, the childhood one she has lost, the one she has forgotten, the one she doesn’t remember, it made me love the novel all the more.

Suicide is not a laughing matter and it can affect ANYONE. There’s a lot going on in a person’s mind even if it doesn’t show on the outside. People are always trying to find at least just one thing, one thing to hold onto. To make living bearable, to make living this hell of a life worth it. But when’s all hope is lost, and you give up trying to hold onto anything, that’s when everything sinks in. And maybe, just maybe, we only need a few words, a few gestures, maybe just one person for us to get our acts together and for everything to fall into place.

The book shows us that maybe, just maybe, it is when we thought everything’s over and we gave up all hope that everything will finally fall into place.

Falling into Place is a novel I’d recommend and I’ll be looking forward to more of Amy Zhang’s stories.

FLAT OUT LOVE by Jessica Park

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I’ve been eyeing this book for a while now and finally decided to read it. I actually finished the book before 2017 ended but just posting my review now.

I actually spoiled myself when I was halfway reading. I scanned the last half of the book and then boom. LOL. Even with the spoiler though, I actually enjoyed the book. It adds freshness to the typical romance. It touches on pain, acceptance, growth, family, and of course love.

Flat Out Love is about Julie Seagle, a newbie Boston resident who was saved by her mother’s best friend’s family from living out in the streets after being scammed in Craiglist for the supposed to be ‘apartment’ that she will be living in throughout college and about her experience living with the Watkins. The busy and absent parents, the mysterious and away oldest brother Finn, the geek and kinda over protective Matt, the closed off Celeste, and of course Flat Finn which is a cardboard cutout of Finn, the older brother.

The story got me hooked from the start and I know that there’ll be more to the story than what’s already been laid down, especially regarding the elusive and mysterious FINN.

More so than the romantic aspect of the story, I was moved by it’s touch on pain, trauma, and family. Coz my guess was right. There was more to Finn. When “Finn” supposedly told Julie in their email what’s up with Flat Finn, I had a feeling that it was not all and that there was a deeper reason behind. And when I spoiled myself, I realized I was right. haha. The story touches on how losing one’s family member and witnessing the scene itself can cause problems which even when covered by ‘normalcy’ cannot be unseen.

Everyone deals with grief differently.

In the story, Finn died in a car accident which is primarily caused by the icy road but the mother couldn’t help but blame herself as the reason instead. I can only imagine what losing one’s child feels, especially if you’re blaming yourself for the loss. It might have been difficult and a long way to recovery, especially if you are already depressed to begin with. I can kinda somehow relate to this because I lost my father when I was 19. Although, in my case, I think I’m kinda apathetic and such a bad child. I cried, of course, but it was like I readily accepted it. I did not go through much grief like the Watkins family. Maybe because, my father and I are not really close. He has been working in the city when I was a child and I only see him on weekends. Maybe because, he has been battling Diabetes and his kidney failure for months before he passed. Maybe because, I was just really trying to suppress the pain and chose to feel numb instead. I don’t really know but for whatever reason, I did not go through much depression and grief. Life went on.

Let’s talk about Flat Finn which is one of the most important characters of the story. The cut out cardboard of Finn symbolizes a lot of things. It shows that the Watkins are not ready yet to accept the reality that Finn already passed. It symbolizes that the mother doesn’t want to accept her guilt or maybe she wants to be reminded of it instead. It symbolizes the pain of being number 2 which is the case for Matt who has always been second best, next to his brother. Slowly Flat Finn changed. He had “joints”attached to him. This change symbolizes that something is changing for the Watkins family. The wall that they have put tall is now cracked, even if it’s a little. Maybe, it just needs an outside force, a persistent one, to take down the walls that we have build for ourselves. Maybe, we are just waiting for somebody to intrude into our lives, so unexpectedly, and hope that he or she will be able to save us from misery. In the end, Celeste was able to tuck away Flat Finn to the attic. Basically, concluding the story that the pain and reality was now accepted and although, the Watkins is still in the process of healing, at least there’s hope, there’s change.

I also fell in love with Julie and Matt’s love story. It’s not really a new concept where somebody is pretending to be somebody else when chatting and the other person will fell in love with that person only to find out that the person is not the person she thought she was chatting with. Julie is a very straight forward person and Matt is her opposite. They met in an unexpected way, fell in love in an even more unexpected way, then reality stopped the momentum. Matt was pretending to be Finn. Julie started chatting Finn when she doesn’t know yet a thing about what really happened, and she fell in love. She fell in love with the Finn that she was chatting with. Only to find out that it was Matt in the end. It is definitely hard to accept that the person you fell in love with isn’t the person you think he is. But I guess, in the end, genuine gestures will make you get past the pretending act. And in the end, YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH THE CHARACTER and NOT JUST THE FACE.

Flat Out Love is a gem. I can’t say that it’s the best but it’s definitely one for keeps.

 

Saving It by Monica Murphy

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You can immediately guess from the title that it’s talking about virginity (or am I just green minded? lol).

Saving It is one of your quick, easy read type of novels. Not much depth. Just cuteness. Well, cuteness and youth-oriented romance are what you’ll expect from Crush book. The premise is your typical best friend/childhood friends turned lovers (which i’m a sucker of, to be honest, no matter how much cliche it is, haha).

The story is about Josh’s search in losing his virginity. He then tapped his best friend Eden for help. Eden, taken aback at first, eventually decided to help Josh find the ‘right’match to achieve his goal. While at first, she did not think anything of Josh, aside from being her best buddy, feelings started to grow until it overflowed. Josh, also, started noticing his own feelings for Eden. There was hiccup, of course, but they got together in the end.

Virginity. Big word. Although, it might not hold much importance in today’s society. It’s a nice kinda twist that the virginity of the guy was the one with focus on the story, although, in my opinion, there should never be a time limit or time frame of when you should have lost it already, whether you’re a girl or a boy. On a serious note though, the story reflects much of what society’s perception is right now. Society builds and hypes it up wherein if you reach college and you’re still a virgin, you’ll be such a loser, especially if you’re an alpha male or the varsity type like Josh in the story. This is such a sad thought. I am 25 and a virgin and I have no problem with it. Sure, they’ll say i’m missing out on the fun and I’ll be lying if I say I don’t think about sex most of the time, what it feels like, etc. but still, I don’t think that one’s sexual status should define a person. And honestly, call me a prude and all, but I am a firm believer that you should still be a white bride when you walk the aisle.

The story is just fluffy romance, of young ones realizing that the one has been right beside them all along. Of fighting feelings you thought you should not have. Of accepting the said feelings eventually. Of misunderstandings. It’s a story about youth, of the current society, of how society characterizes the youth. It’s a story of love, of friendship, of sex.

Over all, it’s a cute summer afternoon read. Best in the breezy, idle, afternoon break. 🙂

A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor

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I have parked this book for too long. I first downloaded the e-book a month or so ago. I tried to read it back then but then I couldn’t connect with the story so I stopped. Just recently, because of my lack of books to read, I decided to try to read the book again. Surprisingly, I finished and enjoyed it this time.

A Map of Wrecked Girls is a story of survival, sisterhood, love amidst chaos, acceptance, youth, and new beginnings. It’s a story of Henri and Emma, and Alex. After a night of unplanned adventure, they found themselves stranded on an island of who knows where, one companion dead, with no one knowing where they went.

Let’s talk about survival. I think everyone can agree that the question “What will you do if you’re trapped in an island?” question has come up in discussion, with friends, family, lovers, etc. at least once. But I think no one has ever really thought that it will happen to them. Honestly, if I will ever be stranded in an island, I think I’ll not last for a week. I don’t know the realistic possibilities of what the story had shown for them to survive, but the story was not really focused on that although that is the whole premise of it.

More than romance, the story focused more on sisterhood between Emma and Henri. Henri, being the older sister, is the more outgoing one. The party girl. The wild one. Emma, on the other hand, is the Yes sister. The non-vocal one. The goody-two-shoes type. The book goes back and forth from the present and the past, detailing the events that led Henri to hold a grudge against Emma.

Stranded in the islands for a little over than three months, we see how sisters, at the end of the day, will still have your back. Blood is thicker than water. No matter what argument you have or if you’re not in speaking terms. Although it came close to the ending already, we see that the sisters opened up to each other. They fought, argued, but later on resolved the misunderstanding and miscommunication, and their bond became stronger than ever. You see, I believe that open communication is one of the keys to have a long lasting relationship. People are not psychics to know what the other person is thinking or the reason behind their actions, even if you are the person who supposedly know the other person best.

Love amidst chaos and survival. The romance aspect comes between the budding romance between Alex and Emma. They have known each other for less than 24 hours before they were caught up in survival. But love knows no time. They grew close as Emma became the mediator between Alex and Henri since they couldn’t stand each other. Eventually, they confessed their feelings to each other and despite their main priority which is to survive, they found time to enjoy each other’s company.

A Map for Wrecked Girls also gives a glimpse of the youth today. More than before, I think the youth that we have now are more adventurous to the point of being reckless at times. They are more into survival than doing what is upright and lawful. They’re into popularity, convenience, sex, etc. They are more wild and unrestrained. This needs to be addressed, either thru proper parenting, or proper guidance.

New beginnings. Lastly, the story also shows hope for new beginnings. New beginnings for the wrecked relationship between sisters. New beginnings for Alex, who, at the later part of the book, was disclosed as a small time drug-dealer. There is always hope. This is what the book’s trying to tell I think.

A Map for Wrecked Girls is kinda semi-heavy and even if I did not like it at first. I am glad I took the second chance with it. ahaha. Now I’m recommending it to be read especially those who have sisters. 🙂

 

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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Hi! I’m back! 🙂

Without Merit is the latest book by Colleen Hoover which was just recently released. I was excited and had been waiting for this book ever since I got to binge read Colleen Hoover’s books a couple of months back since I really liked most of what I have read. However, maybe the excitement and build up was too much as I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong, the book is still good. I prolly just expected more. Plus it’s short. Without Merit is kinda like a deviation from the usual build up that is seen in Colleen Hoover’s previous books. Everything was laid out in the first few chapters of the story. Each character introduced.

Without Merit is about the crazy, weird Voss family who lives in a refurbished church which they call Dollar Voss. The story centers on Merit Voss who collects trophies she did not earn to relieve stress, and to keep up with all the secret of her family that she is keeping. And when her failed attempt to end it all, to leave everything WITHOUT MERIT, leaving a note with all the secrets, she now have to face the consequences of her action and try to keep the one boy that she loves.

The Voss family is one of the craziest, weirdest family I have read so far in my entire YA reading career. From the head of the house, his ex-wife, current wife, to the eldest child, twins (Honor and Merit), and the youngest, coupled with the current wife’s younger brother, and the unrelated boy who’s love interest of Merit, they all are weird and are full of secrets. The fact that they live in a refurbished church with the image of Jesus still in tact is weird enough. But knowing that the father, ex-wife, wife, and all the kids are living together makes it even weirder.

Without Merit is a short read, jam-packed with crazy characters, each with a lot of baggage to deal with. Like her other novels, Without Merit makes you ponder and think about the greater issue that is incorporated in the novel. The underlying themes this time is depression.

The characters are each given just enough time to know what’s their secret and the reason behind. The father’s reason for buying the church and living with his ex- and current wife. Utah, the oldest brother’s reason why he kissed Merit when they were younger which had been the start of the discord in their relationship. Honor, Merit’s identical twin sister, and why she only kinda goes for guys who are almost at the end of their lives. Luke, the current wife’s younger brother, and why he suddenly turn up into their doorsteps and why he had sex with Utah. Sagan, the love interest of Merit, and why he always drops everything when somebody calls him.

Maybe I expected for Merit’s story to be more fleshed out. Maybe I expected to understand why she was depressed, although she fails to recognize it. I know that being the talk of the town for having a crazy family can be overwhelming and having to bottle up a lot of things, especially heavy secrets, since young, can take a toll on one’s mental health. However, I could not relate to Merit and her struggle with all the secrets she keep. It’s like I want to scream at her “Why not just open up? Why not talk to someone?” But maybe this is where the problem with depression, from an outside perspective, the solution might be so easy but for someone experiencing it, easy things might be a luxury. It’s like I want to know more, understand more, but the book is already ending.

On the other side, the book shows how each one of us is struggling in one way or the other. We can never really judge the actions of another person unless we know the full story behind it. Even the most ridiculous action might have a sensible reason behind. So don’t judge things and don’t hold prejudice before knowing everything. And maybe, just maybe, open communication is just what we need to overcome our baggage. When all the Voss’ secrets were laid out in the open, it started the healing process. Readers will be able to make sense of the actions of the characters and Merit’s relationship with her unconventional family also got better. The reason? They were able to talk.

Still, Without Merit shows Colleen Hoover’s prowess in delivering a story that will tug at your heartstrings. The underlying theme might be heavier than her previous ones but it was told in a manner that’s enough for me to stop and think about but not really pierce deeper unlike the others. Nevertheless, it’s still a book to be recommended.

Breaking the Rules of Revenge by Samantha Bohrman

breaking rules.jpgThis is like Parent’s Trap gone wrong.

This is the book I read after Warcross, I was trying to find a light read after the awesome Warcross. I was okay with cliche at that point. I just want to feel swoony. But this might not be the best book for that.

Breaking the Rules of Revenge is your typical, teen read. Even though I’m okay with cliche, this is such a messy one for me. The plot is a typical one. Twin sisters – Blake – the popular one – and Mallory – the shadow wishing to be her sister. So when the opportunity came along to switch their roles one summer, she didn’t hesitate to do it. Mallory attended the summer camp punishment disguising as Blake. She met Ben, one of the hottest guys in school, who happens to hate Blake to the core. Ben decides to take advantage of the summer camp to get revenge on Blake. But the more he sees Blake (Mallory), the more he wants to stop his revenge. And you know the rest, enemies to lovers, and they live happily ever after. The end.

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This is the first book in a while that I finished for the sake of finishing. I’m not really against cliches but somehow the writing just didn’t appeal to me. There was some swoony moments but those weren’t able to keep me entertained for long.

I find the characterization of Mallory kinda irritating. If I ever meet her, I’ll scream straight to her face, “Girl, make up your mind!” She’s insecure that she’s not getting the attention of people, especially of boys, but she’s not really doing anything about it except pinning to be like her sister. There is a part in the book as well wherein Mallory was called as Mallory by her camp friends when they should not even know that Mallory exists!

Stereotype, ugh, I uber hate it. One thing I hate in most cliche books is the stereotyping going on. You need to be a girly girl, a cheerleader, to be noticed by boys. If you’re stuck in a band or is a nerd, you’ll never be noticed unless fate pull some strings. Stereotype thinking is clearly seen in this book.

There are some cute moments in the book between Mallory and Ben. However, in my mind, those were overshadowed by thinking, like how is she comfortable falling in love with Ben knowing she’s supposed to be Blake (the worry came later than I expected).

We crave for love. We crave for attention. But in the end, we won’t be happy unless we do something about it ourselves. We cannot always just be jealous of somebody else. Somebody will always, always, be better than us. But it is when you accept yourself, flaws and all, that you’ll start to shine. It’s definitely not easy but this is life.

Overall, this book has potential but has room for improvement. I suggest reading this if you really have nothing to read at all.

Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel by Mira Tudor

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One thing, it’s a very complex book for me. I find it hard to digest but at the same time I do find some parts enjoyable. Just like what art is to me.

Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel is certainly not a beach read. It is not something that you can pick up and read to pass time by. When Mira first approached me and asked if I could review her book, I was honestly shocked and happy at the same time. I have never professionally reviewed a book (not that this is a professional one) and certainly not one approached to review a published work so I wanted to be honest in my review as this is what I can offer.

I have a thing for art and poetry. I like poetry but I love novels. I have an inclination to art even though I don’t understand it most of the time. That’s why when I read the synopsis of the book, it intrigued me.

First impressions. Let’s talk about first impressions. I think, honestly, that if I was not approached, I might not have discovered this book And even if I saw it in passing, I might not have picked it up. When I read the title, my first impression was like “Who puts novel in a novel title these days?” When I read the synopsis (even though I was curious), it took me a long time to accept the character names (told you I have a thing for character names). Henrietta, Pamfil…. These are definitely not names that you’ll encounter in most contemporary novels. It took me a while to get used to the names but I got over it and continued with the novel.

Characters. Reading the novel, I find it hard to focus on who is or are really the main character’s. There’s a lot of characters in the novel. You thought you’ve been introduced to them all already then suddenly another character comes along then another one. This made it harder for me to grasp everything at first. The POVs often change but more than Henriette and Ela, I think the book really revolves with Pamfil. I don’t know who’re the poets, the artists, the lovers anymore.

Pamfil, for some sort of reason, is a girl/woman magnet and is such a frivolous guy. Like every girl/woman described in the book seemed to fall for him in one way or another. Henriette, Ela, Anca, Marie… Like this Pamfil guy is really a charmer isn’t he? For all these girls, no matter what the age gap and relationship status is, they seem to just for fall for him in an instant. But my main question is, why does Pamfil act this way? Does he really fall in love easily? Is it just lust? Was there anything in his past that made him this way? With all the flashbacks in the story, I was never able to find the reason why.

Themes. Speaking of relationship status, that’s the thing, I also find hard reading in the book. It involves cheating and a lot of it. And in this book, the women are the one having the affair. And all but with one guy, Pamfil. Henriette cheated with Pamfil for years, Anca with Pamfil one summer when she’s clearly with Marcel. Ela fell in love with him while she’s with George and Pamfil is secretly with Henriette who’s having an affair. Can this group of friend’s relationship web get even more complicated? But maybe this is reality and maybe I was uncomfortable, in the sense that, at the back of my mid, I know that this is possible and that this is happening. Just because I don’t have first hand experience at it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Sequence. This is not a linear story. Every so often it will go back to the past. It will bring up new characters. Changing back and forth confused me. There were dates given but I could not keep track of them unless I’ve written them down or go back again.

Ending. When I reached the end, I was like, “That’s it?” Even with all the confusion, I have developed a ship between Pamfil and Henriette. That’s why I would have love to see if the frivolous Pamfil will emerge again when he meets Henriette years after their affair. But nada, there was nothing more. It’s the end.

But more than all this, I appreciate that the book introduced me to a wider concept of the art. It is informative in this regard. I like how various art pieces, artists, creators, poets, poems were included in the novel. It introduced me to places I never thought I’ll encounter much in a novel (since mostly I just read US novels).

I also like that it holds more than the superficial things. Like it is trying to teach you about being an artist, a poet, a lover, and how complicated love and relationship can be. I like that it gives you perspective on how one person can affect and influence so many. I like the growth as well of Ela and Henriette. Of how, in their own pacing and time, cope with the changes.

The novel speaks like how I see art. It’s complicated in it’s own way, sometimes people don’t understand or could not appreciate it. It takes connection, deeper understanding, focus, experience, to see and appreciate what lies underneath.

I think that Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel would speak more to the adult. To the ones who have or had experienced a fair share of relationship experience, to the deep thinkers.

Over all, I was not able to be hundred percent in tune with the novel but I enjoyed my time reading. Thank you for the opportunity.