Review: Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

4/5 Stars

Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

Smart-Girls-by-Sarah-Strohmeyer_cover

Maybe we were being a bit unrealistic, but we had this hope that if we could just get into the Ivy League, everything would be set. We dreamed of Gothic libraries and leafy green quads and romantic dorms with fireplaces and guys who were not only cute but also smart and charming, and quite possibly, British. In college, we believed, we’d finally find our people. 

Smart Girls Get What They Want is a feel good book for the nerdy, hopeless romantic in all of us. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll get embarrassed, but you’ll have fun and quite possibly discover a little something about yourself.

Plot: Best friends Gigi, Bea, and Neerja thought they had it all figured out, they’d slave over their grades, spend all breathing hours prepping for the SATs and get into their Ivy League of choice. There they would find their people, and finally have time to find boys worth dating (see quote). But one day, while helping their role model, Neerja’s sister, who just got into Princeton, pack for school, they found her high school yearbook buried under her bed. Beyond curious, they decide to see what her peers thought of her and are completely shocked to find all of the pages nearly blank, someone even asked who she was. For the first time, the girls start to question their plan, they didn’t want to be friendless, invisibles that people wrote generic yearbook goodbyes about, they wanted real, loving entries. The girls make a pact, that this year, would be about doing something crazy, something that would catch people’s attention and get them noticed, and save them from social suicide. Their goal had to be challenging, out of their comfort zones, and even borderline risky. Gigi is coerced into running for student rep after her academic honesty is questioned. When Gigi and resident funny guy Mike are accused of cheating and she finds out that there will be a note in her file that admissions officers will see, Gigi is infuriated by the unfairness and runs for student rep to try and change the system. Bea has always loved theatre but she’s never been the lead, always the girl in the background, helping people with lines, directing, etc., but this year she wants the lead in Romeo and Juliet. Neerja was en route to Olympic level skiing when her brother had an accident that nearly killed him, from that point on she was banned from skiing. This year, she wants to join the team, and doesn’t mind secretly going behind her parents back to do it. Meanwhile, there’s a new guy at school, Will from California, who can’t seem to leave Gigi alone. Pact made, plans solidified, these smart girls embark on a hysterical, endearing exploration into friendship, life, love, and growing up to realize that you really can get what you want if you put your mind to it.

PROS:

  • There’s so much going on here character-wise. Each girl, and even the lesser characters have fully developed, unique storylines that flow seamlessly together. The high school is not an overly clichéd cesspool of stereotypes but shows that each person, no matter their spot in the social hierarchy is multidimensional, they all have dreams, and goals, and their own set of issues.
  • Gigi is the kind of girlfriend that loves and cares for her friends so much that she’s willing to make personal sacrifices to help them towards their goals. She joins the ski team, even though she’s only been on the bunny trails, she offers to audition for R+J, even though she has extreme stage fright, and goes out of her way to help anyone in need. She’s a sweetheart with a wacky French grandmother, and scientist mother who lives in Iceland. She’s bold, she’s bubbly, and she’ll have you rooting for her through all her silly assumptions, fails, and all out presumptuous comments that will have you shaking your head in wonder at just how wrong she can be.
  • Bea is that quintessential loud, opinionated, controlling friend who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and push you to go beyond the goals you’ve set for yourself. From a family of lawyers, she always has something to say and notices everything. She also has some of the funniest, sarcastic, yet surprisingly witty lines in the book.
  • Neerja is an Indian girl (let me just glow for a minute; I absolutely love when there are characters from such colorful, different backgrounds rich in tradition and their own quirks. Every time this happens, I fall a little more in love with the book) who is a teensy bit shy but wickedly smart, and a blushing mess when it comes to boys. She’s probably the nerdiest of all the smart girls but is the sweetest, most insecure, and has the biggest transformation at the end of the book.
  • Mike and Will. Both hot, both adorably dreamy, thoughtful, and playful enough to sympathize with Gigi’s boy troubles.

CONS:

  • Slow at times but definitely worth mucking through.

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Pleasant reading,

-BB

 

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Review: Breathless-Scott Prussing

3/5 Stars

Breathless (Blue Fire Saga, #1)-Scott Prussing

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How long it lasted, she had no idea-minutes, hours, days perhaps-but when Rave finally pulled his mouth away she felt drained yet energized, lost but found, sated but wanting. And desperately, irrevocably, and joyously in love.

Plot: After her brother mysteriously disappears, Leesa applies to the same college, joins the same classes, and hunts down all of his former dorm mates to try to discover what happened to him. Despite the search for her brother, Leesa is still trying to succeed at her first semester of university life. She’s desperate to make friends, fit in, and have the greatest four years of her life. Leesa has a limp, she was born with a leg missing a fragment of bone. She’s self-conscious about her disability but always felt loved and accepted, thanks to her brother. As a child, her brother was her only comfort, he protected her from bullies, made her feel special, and gave her the love her mother was incapable of. For as long as she can remember, Leesa’s mother has ranted and raved about the one-fanged vampire that attacked her while she was pregnant with Leesa. Because of this, Leesa and her brother never had a normal childhood, their father left, and their mother was a regular recluse. She claimed the sun burned her skin, she only drank tomato juice, even pouring it on her cereal. Leesa wants nothing more than to get her brother back, but she never imagined that on her quest to save her brother she’d meet two handsome guys, learn that supernatural beings exist, and that they’re more common that she ever thought. Leesa learns about the Volkaanes, a group of vampire hunters that possess a blue fire capable of destroying vampires from the inside out, about the Mastens (the cult-like community of Volkaanes), a giant vampire coven on the outskirts of town, and of a one-fanged vampire haunting the camping trails. When girls start getting abducted from campus, and are found completely drained of blood, Leesa enlists the help of her two love interests, Rave (a Volkaane) and a vampire named Stefan, to help find her brother and stop the campus killings.

PROS:

  • A one-fanged vampire. This is genius. Vampires are usually placed in one of two categories, absolute perfection or disgustingly violent monsters. The vampires of YA are the Stephanie Meyer versions or the Julie Kagawa/Holly Black, the beautiful, statuesque, glittering, objects of carnal desire or the decaying, angry, blood thirsty sadists who love to toy with their victims. An imperfect vampire, one who is deformed in a sense is pretty awesome. Mutated vampires are not really a new thing but I’ve never heard of one with only one fang until this series. Somehow, the fact that there is only one puncture mark is even more disturbing than usual. These vampires are the mistakes of the vampire world, they have barely any powers and though they thirst for blood, have very little ability to create other vampires. A vampire without the power to grant immortality is a being without purpose, a lonely, pitiful creature but still has the ability to kill and destroy lives.
  • Volkaanes. This takes the traditional vampire adversary to a whole new level. Usually, the immortal enemies of vampires are werewolves or vampire hunters but Volkaanes are vampire hunters with a blue fire that not only heats their bodies but is used to fill vampires and suck their life-force out of them, causing them to collapse into a pile of dust. Like the one-fanged vampire this is creative and just different enough to make it exciting and draw the reader in, wanting to know more about these anomalies.
  • Rave is a member of the elusive yet infamous Mastens. The Mastens are a group of red-skinned people whom many speculate about with wild tales of human sacrifice, cults, and haunting noises that seem to shake the foundation of the earth. They abhor technology and it is said that their kisses kill. The Mastens are a cover for the Volkaanes and yes, their kisses do kill. Rave is sexy, loving, devoted, and funny. Although he’s stalkerish in an Edward Cullen way, his willingness to help Leesa and to research all options for them to be together, is enough for you to fall in love with his character.

CONS:

  • Mild rant coming, if you’d rather not hear the rage skip this. On the subject of virginity; there’s a point in a book, this may happen often or rarely really it depends on the person, when you read something, could be a single sentence, could be a theme, or scene, whatever, when you are tempted to put down the book and move on with your life. My moment has everything to do with how virginity is dealt with by the main character. She talks about being a virgin like it’s no big deal, which is a little odd, but what she says is so callous that it is completely at odds with her character. She says something along the lines of, I’m a virgin, I have a limp, but I’m sure I could find someone to do me. Whaaaaa…someone to “do” me?! I was shocked by this blatant, vulgar attitude towards her future sexual experience. Literally mouth agape, reread the sentence, face palm. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, I understand that some girls don’t attach significance to their virginity but her character is the epitome of the girl who is an in-between person, she’s not quite nerdy, not quite hot, not quite popular, she wants to fall in love but rejects all peer pressure from her friends to dress like a slut and yet, having sex is NBD? It just doesn’t make sense.
  • The ending. One of the greatest disappointments when reading a book, is when you get to the end and suddenly, a random magical element is thrown in and everything is miraculously fixed. There’s a technical name for this but I’m blanking right now. While a happy ending is always nice, it doesn’t have to be easy. The struggle is half the battle to perfect happiness.
  • Weird word choice. It almost feels like the author meant another word that would fit better and that is close to the word chosen but simply used the incorrect one. Like ignition instead of initiative.
  • The vampire coven wasn’t scary.
  • Leesa is a wishy-washy character. Her exhilaration at her first kiss, at holding hands, is adorable. Her devotion to her brother is admirable and that she is willing to sacrifice herself for her brother is wonderfully brave. However, she is often outshined by her best friends, whose characters are far more vibrant, and have many interesting qualities, where it seems like the only thing Leesa likes is walking and Rave.

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Darkness Falls-2katana copy (2)Pleasant reading,

-BB

Review: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles

2/5 Stars

Leaving Paradise (Leaving Paradise, #1)-Simone Elkeles

leaving-paradise

I want to scream at him for leaving me. I want to run up to him and forget being sane. Let us live in the streets together. As long as we’re a team, nothing can bring us lower than we were apart.

Plot: Maggie and Caleb use to be friends, but that was before he drunkenly smashed into her with his car and left her for dead. After her hit and run, Maggie suffered through over a year of surgeries that left her with a permanent limp and hideous red scars. Maggie’s life will never be what it was before the accident, she’s a freak and a cripple to her peers and she’ll never be able to wear shorts or a dress again. Caleb’s poor decision landed him in jail. He’ll never get the last year of his life back and all because of an accident. He knows he shouldn’t blame Maggie for his lost year but he does. When Caleb and Maggie see each other again, fury escalates into tears and promises of eternal hatred. Maggie will never forgive him for what he’s done and he can’t help but give into the urge to verbally hurt Maggie because of his stint in jail. Caleb is welcomed back into their high school with open arms by the popular crowd that Maggie use to be part of and now Maggie is just someone to laugh at. Maggie feels incredibly alone and she wants her old life back more than ever. She resents Caleb for his easy return to his past, a past that she can’t get back. When Maggie gets a job helping old Mrs. Reynolds in order to get money for a trip to Spain, she is surprised to come face to face with Caleb, who is hired by Mrs. Reynolds to work off his community service. At first Maggie and Caleb ignore each other but after getting trapped in the attic, things start to change. Maggie doesn’t know why she’s drawn to Caleb after all he’s done and Caleb, even though he’s got his beautiful ex to hook up with, can’t stop thinking about Maggie. This is a story of forgiveness, of starting over, and giving in to love.

PROS:

  • Maggie is a strong character, although she doesn’t really seem like one at first. In the beginning she doesn’t try as hard as she should, she lets her anger over the accident consume her and many people would think that this is just something she needs to get over and move on with her life. It’s Maggie’s anger that makes her powerful. When she’s mad she let’s out her most truthful, heartfelt, and deeply desperate thoughts about her self-image, her insecurities, and her unhappiness with the hand she’d been dealt after the accident. She deserves to be angry and to yell, to not forgive. In seconds her entire future was altered by someone else’s idiotic choice. It’s completely unfair and she should scream about it. She can’t play tennis anymore, she can’t even wear girl clothes. It’s tragic when she goes dress shopping and can’t wear cute cocktail dresses because of her scars. While Maggie does forgive too quickly, it is through her anger that she learns to love and gains the ability to make the most of her life, to try harder, and to not give up on her dreams despite her disability.
  • Mrs. Reynolds is a brutally honest, funny, kind woman with a lovely past. She’s not afraid to insert her opinion and force people to face their problems.

CONS:

  • There was no build up towards their love, at least on the part of Caleb. Maggie had a childhood crush on Caleb that only simmered because of her conflicted emotions over the fact that he left her to die after the hit and run. It makes sense that Maggie, once she started being okay with herself would let Caleb back into her heart because it was an accident and her love helps her forgive him. Caleb is racked with guilt over Maggie’s torment but he says harsh, hurtful things to her that earn him a spot as the biggest jerk in the book and suddenly he’s head over heels for her? It makes zero sense. There should have been more interactions, more time, and more signs of Caleb’s attraction. It was lacking in the foundational gradual heightened sexual attraction and spiritual connection that blossoms into love.
  • The insults to Maggie were beyond mean, they were scathing, heartbreaking taunts that were so painful that I cringed, each and every time shocked at the cruelty.
  • The change in Maggie’s peers was startlingly quick. One moment they’re concerned, pitying her for her broken body and the next they have their claws out ready to attack. Because Caleb is out of jail her injuries are forgotten and she’s belittled for playing the victim when she was victimized and poor Caleb’s life was ruined because Maggie was being selfish? WHAT?! This was all sorts of messed up and isolating,making nearly every character unlikable.
  • Caleb is an ass. Besides some fleeting compassion for Maggie, he spent most of the book trying to forget she exists, hooking up with his ex on the side who is now dating his best friend when he knows Maggie can see him from her window. He completely disregards other people’s pain and thinks (for the most part) only about himself and if he does think about the wellness of other people it’s only to benefit himself. He’s absolutely selfish and definitely not the heroic, sexy male protagonist that he is played up to be.
  • It’s unrealistic and unimaginable that Maggie would forgive Caleb so quickly. Her life was destroyed by his stupid decision to get wasted and drive and she forgets that almost instantly because they’re both suffering?!
  • Leah has got to be the most pathetic, sorry excuse for a best friend ever.
  • The ending was predictable.

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Keep reading,

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 7

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Saturday 8/24

Books Read: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles; Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

Number of Pages Read:

Leaving Paradise (303) + Smart Girls Get What They Want (348) = 651 pages total

Sunday 8/25

Books Read: Cities of the Dead-Jason Phillip Reeser; Kiss of Fire-Rebecca Ethington

Number of Pages Read:

Cities of the Dead (220) + first half of Kiss of Fire (176) = 396 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

10/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)+ S(651)+ S(396)=  2,998 pages read

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Fracture Review

Ink Review

Smart Girls Get What They Want

Breathless Review

Leaving Paradise Review

Other reviews pending. If you’re interested, check back or subscribe 🙂

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners! I had a wonderful time participating, and checking out everyone’s progress. Not to mention the creative posts to the challenges. Until January.

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 6

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Saturday 8/24

Books Read: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles; Smart Girls Get What They Want-Sarah Strohmeyer

Number of Pages Read:

Leaving Paradise (303) + Smart Girls Get What They Want (348) = 651 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

9/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)+ S(651) = 2,602 pages read

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Fracture Review

Other reviews pending.

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners!

-BB

Bout of Books Read-A-Thon 8.0: Day 5

Monday 8/19:

Books Read: The Poison Eaters and Other Stories-Holly Black; The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron

Number of Pages Read:

The Poison Eaters (212) + the first half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) =368 pages total

Tuesday 8/20:

Books Read: The Girl with the Mermaid Hair-Delia Ephron; Crash-Nicole Williams

Number of Pages Read:

The last half of The Girl with the Mermaid Hair (156) + Crash (215)= 371 pages total

Wednesday 8/21

Books Read: The Name of the Star-Maureen Johnson

Number of Pages Read:

The Name of the Star= 370 pages total

Thursday 8/22

Books Read: Fracture-Megan Miranda; Ink-Amanda Sun

Number of Pages Read:

Fracture (262) + the first half of Ink (163) = 425 pages total

Friday 8/23

Books Read: Ink-Amanda Sun; Breathless-Scott Prussing

Number of Pages Read:

The second half of Ink (163) + Breathless (254) = 417 pages total

Number of Books Completed:

7/10

Number of Pages Read So Far:

M(368)+ T(371)+ W(370)+ R(425)+ F(417)= 1951 pages total

Reviews:

Poison Eaters Review

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair Review

Crash Review

The Name of the Star Review

Other reviews pending.

Keep reading fellow book-a-thoners!

-BB

Review: Fracture-Megan Miranda

3/5 Stars

Fracture (Fracture, #1)-Megan Miranda 

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And as I drove, I felt random pulls. Faintly left. Faintly right. Behind. Ahead. I couldn’t escape it. Death was everywhere. It was creeping around the outskirts of my world, like it was searching for me. Like it knew I had escaped and was trying to reclaim me. 

Plot: Delaney Maxwell shouldn’t be alive. After spending 11 minutes beneath the ice, in a freezing Maine lake, not only did her heart completely stop but her brain ceased all ability to function. After several days in a coma, it’s a miracle that Delaney was able to be resuscitated at all, and everyone is shocked when she wakes from her coma with seemingly no permanent damage. Delaney’s brain scans come back abnormal, with large blots and squiggly lines. The doctor is astounded that Delaney doesn’t show signs of the permanent brain damage on the cat scans.  All Delaney wants is for her life to go back to normal, to not be looked at like she’s the headliner at a freak show, the girl who died and came back. People treat her differently, like she’s a trophy and she owes them for saving her life, they want to be worshiped as heroes. All Delaney wants is to forget it ever happened but no one will let her. As if this isn’t bad enough, Delaney’s best friend Decker, who pulled her from the lake and performed the CPR that may have saved her life, is pulling away from her. Things are awkward and she feels more alone than ever. Then something happens that causes Delaney to question her sanity and her health. She begins feeling puling sensations that refuse to quit, making her hands spasm as she’s pulled to wherever the feelings are leading her. Turns out Delaney is able to sense death and the pull leads her to those whose time is very close. Delaney is terrified and conflicted, she wants to be able to warn these people without sounding crazy but recognizes that that’s impossible. One day, while catching up on her studies at the library, Delaney is approached by a very attractive guy (Troy) who she later comes to find out has the same creepy ability. This is a story of learning how to live after dying, of reclaiming yourself, discovering new elements of your personality, overcoming hard choices to strengthen yourself as person, and about finding love.

***Megan Miranda books are kind of like Tolstoy. Now before you guys go crazy or get confused, I’ve always been of the opinion that which Tolstoy masterpiece you like best will always be the one you read first. I know this is practically sacrilegious for a Russian major but it’s true. I read Anna Karenina before I read War and Peace, of course I like Anna better. Not because of the romance or the tragedy but because the books are so similar that it’s usually the story that you heard first. So far, I’ve read two Megan Miranda books and many people prefer Fracture to Hysteria but because I read Hysteria first I’m more partial to that story no matter how similar the style and semi-supernatural elements. 

PROS:

  • The concept of people forming special abilities after suffering from near death experiences is really interesting and something that should be explored further in YA. Seeing ghosts, being able to channel the dead, or even sensing when death is coming is fascinating and something really cool to think about, how a brush with death leaves its mark on those who survive.
  • Troy is sexy, dark, mysterious, and supremely angry to the point of being scary. He’s the kind of twisted, jaded guy with a tragic past that will consume your thoughts and have you questioning his motives.
  • Decker is compassionate, loving, and heroic. He’s the kind of warm, caring, sweetheart of a guy who wants to protect you and hold your hand. He’s adorably dorky without being weird and introverted. ❤
  • The end of the story was a twist that was so unexpected I was caught off guard.

CONS:

  • Delaney is jealous, she’s awkward, she over thinks things and comes to conclusions about people that blow up in her face. As a protagonist she’s fragile and insecure. She doesn’t know how to interact in social situations and has major mood swings. The only semi-redeeming element of her character is that by the end of the story she grows into a stronger, my confident person, who is able to take action, and make choices that she would have avoided earlier in the plot.
  • The plot is shaky, has a scattered, fragmented feeling that isn’t really well put together.

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Happy reading,

-BB