Book Review: What Goes Around Part 1: Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

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I haven’t read enough of Courtney Summers. I love her voice, I love her raw perception of reality, but so many of her books are sitting on my to-read shelf. One of those books was What Goes Around, a combination of both Cracked Up To Be and Some Girls Are, I figured that was pretty much like killing two birds with one stone, right? I could knock off two more of Summers’ books in one sitting. One of the best ideas I’ve had all summer.


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ashley | This is part 1 of the review, featuring Cracked Up To Be, the first book in this combination. This introduced me to unlikeable Parker. She was not a great person, the stereotypical bitch who disowned her popularity, distanced herself from everyone and thought she was better than everyone. But that’s what I love about Summers’ writing, she takes these stereotype characters and gives a voice to the stereotype, expanding and explaining and kind of bringing some reasoning to it all.

From Parker’s point of view, you see the inner struggle, you see the driving points behind why she keeps herself at a distance, why she lashes out at people who just want to help her. You learn to understand it’s kind of self-punishment and guilt stirring a lot of other complicated emotions. It was really interesting to get into Parker’s head like this, as I’m sure we’ve all encountered someone of a similar character growing up and likely just written them off. But Summers reminds us that often there’s a lot more going on under the surface than it seems.

The other characters in the book were just as strong. I loved the complicated friendship/relationship she had with her ex-boyfriend Chris and her new sort of boyfriend Jake, and how Chris and Jake were friends and it was this really weird mix of dynamics between them all, but it somehow worked because they all cared about Parker’s wellbeing.

I even liked Becky, who was super annoying and Chris’s new girlfriend and Parker’s replacement on the popularity totem pole, but despite all the crap Parker gives her, Becky still sort of comes through for her when she needs to. Sometimes. It was a motley crew of supporting characters, but they all wanted to see Parker for the best that she can be and I liked how it kind of brought them all together.

 I enjoyed this read, perhaps not as much as Fall For Anything, my first introduction to Summers, but the raw and real voice I fell in love with is definitely just as strong and just as inspiring. Check back for the second part of the review on Some Girls Are.

4CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads website

published
december 23, 2008

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Book Re-Read Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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veronica | I know these books were written for kids much, much younger than myself but I truly believe this entire Harry Potter series appeals to kids of all ages. I first read this second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, many years ago for the first time and have since read it too many times to count and yet every time I read it again, it’s just like the first time. And no, it’s not because I’m old and losing my marbles! Picking up JK Rowling’s works is exactly how a well written novel should be; familiar, comforting but still exciting.

We are again thrust into the Wizarding world full of magic, mystery and learn that evil can exist in many forms. Harry, Ron and Hermione are tested again as they try to navigate Hogwarts, attending classes and researching the validity of the Chamber of Secrets.

From beginning to end I am completed entranced by each page, well written and rich character and the ongoing story itself. Despite knowing the outcome, I’m still as anxious to see where this goes as Harry discovers who he is and who he is as a wizard.

5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads website

published
july 2, 1998

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ARC Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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ashley | Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we didn’t need to eat to survive? How much time and money we could save by skipping three meals a day? The Wonder by Emma Donoghue introduces us to a miraculous little girl who claims she needs no food to survive. Imagine. It has to be a hoax, right?

 I’ve only read Donoghue’s Room and I quite enjoyed it. I found she has a pretty unique view on things, so I was expecting the same from this and wasn’t disappointed. This concept was a really great premise and was very convincing in both directions – a miracle from God or a giant hoax. Donoghue kept readers guessing throughout, weaving an incredible story that, like Room, ended up showing some real depths of humanity.

I loved that this took place in Ireland; I loved the character of Lib. She was dedicated and loyal and provided a skeptical non-religious standpoint in a book that otherwise was very highly religious. Without giving anything away, this book dealt plenty with religious loyalties, guilt, the oaths you take as a nurse or caregiver, and how far one will go to save a child or to keep a promise.

The book builds over a slow climb; there were some slower moments where nothing too climactic occurred. The overall cause for the miracle, when it was revealed, wasn’t really a surprise for me, as I doubt it will be for many readers, but despite having a feeling about that early on, I still really liked where the ending went, that was unexpected for me and a great turn of events.

I enjoyed the read, though I’m left with a rather lukewarm feeling about it as a whole. The prose was beautiful, it was a very unique and interesting concept which I really enjoyed and I liked how it all wrapped up, and yet I still just feel pretty ordinary after closing it. I would recommend it, however, to anyone who is looking for something a bit different, with strong characters and strong minds, but to anyone who isn’t too put off by subtle forms of self harm, as witnessing the deterioration of the child through the eyes of her nurse did end up being quite overwhelming sometimes.

4CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazongoodreads website Harper Collins

available
today! september 20, 2016

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Blog Tour + Book Review + Giveaway: Boy, 9, Missing by Nic Joseph

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ashley | I’m always skeptical of thrillers. I’m even more skeptical of thrillers by authors I haven’t read before. I’m so judgmental and have such high expectations; I almost set books up for failure before I even open the cover. So I went into Boy, 9, Missing by Nic Joseph with somber expectations and from the very start, Joseph blew them right out of the water. I read this in nearly one continuous sitting.

There were so many clever things about this book that kept me on my toes, which is huge for me. I was immediately pulled into the heartbreaking story about the dead 9 year old. I was immediately suspicious and curious when ten years later, another 9 year old with ties to the first case goes missing. There are very obvious suspects, but are they really that obvious? There’s definitely more to the story, Joseph makes that clear, but he dangles the carrot in the perfect way to string you along complacently.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away, but I really enjoyed this.  There were a lot of characters, but it didn’t feel overwhelming, you learn about the past while you’re investigating the present, but it doesn’t get overly complicated, all the while not making it very obvious what is going on.

This was more than just a who done it story, it looks at the consequences of choices, of guilt, of revenge and justice and really shows the depths of a tragedy like this and how it can tear apart a family. Usually when I read books like this, it ends up being full of triggers about child abuse and really uncomfortable content. It was refreshing to read a book that goes just as deep and is just as tragic, but doesn’t necessarily rely on those vivid details to make that impact.  Definitely a worthwhile read.

4CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazon goodreads website sourcebooks

published
september 20, 2016

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Rafflecopter giveaway for an autographed copy of Boy, 9, Missing

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Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

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ashley | I requested an ARC of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova based solely on that beautiful cover, so the fact that I found this book had such a vibrantly imagined world was pure luck. This book cast a spell on me immediately. The story is simple enough: girl makes a huge mistake and loses her family, then enlists a boy she can’t stand to help her find and save them. It’s a well known concept formula, so for this book to really stand out, you need the details to shine, and boy do they ever. Córdova takes us to the underworld of Los Lagos, a dark and desperate place full of creature and unknowns.

The world-building game is strong here, our adventurers Alex and Nova encounter many frightening and interesting things on their journey, things I want so badly to share right now but know you should read for yourself. Los Lagos is described as kind of a dark Wonderland, which is very apt; you get that similar sense of awe and amazement, while being sort of confused and frightened for their lives.

This was by far the strongest part of this book and it kind of overshadows the rest of the story. It’s not a bad story by any means, it certainly kept me reading through in nearly one sitting, but I felt that the rest of the story felt a little dull in comparison to the incredible world it took place in. I didn’t really find anything that great about Alex, Nova or Rishi. They were good characters but nothing really stood out about them for me and I really didn’t feel like I connected to any of them very strongly. I loved the adventure they were on, but I didn’t really care what the outcome was. Alex’s sisters Lula and Rose seemed like the most lively characters of the bunch, but they were kept at an arms distance through most of the book after they were banished to Los Lagos.

As is expected, some love blossomed between some of the characters, but even that didn’t seem fully developed and sort of came out of nowhere. I do applaud the F/F affections, I really don’t see that much in books unless looking in a very specific direction and I did actually like Rishi, but the reciprocated affection from Alex was a surprise for me, which means that it came out of nowhere and don’t think it was explored enough outside of the moment it actually happened. Same with Nova’s affections, you can guess that is where things are going to end up, but there was really no growth or development or moments for the characters to bond, other than the fact that they survived a dangerous adventure, so it just seemed a little underdeveloped for me.

In a way, this reminds me of a slight take on the Wizard of Oz; a somewhat naïve girl has to battle her way through a labyrinth of obstacles with a band of misfit friends and a haunting godmother’s spirit to defeat an evil witch and get back to her family. It has a very strong family message, which I really stood behind, and the whole lore of Brujas and Brujos was a great concept and what drew me to this book in the first place. Córdova does a great job of weaving this background into the story and I found it all very interesting, though I’m not sure it’s a story I will make a point of continuing, I didn’t feel attached enough to the characters to want to see what waits for them next.

3.5CityGirlScapesRating

more information
amazon goodreads website  sourcebooks

published
september 6, 2016

copy provided for honest review by
Net Galley

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Rafflecopter Giveaway for 2 Copies of Labyrinth Lost with Signed Labyrinth Lost Bookmarks. Runs September 6-September 19 (US & Canada only)

Download a beautiful Labyrinth Lost Coloring Page from Sourcebooks!

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