Monday, 1 September 2014

Review: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Get Even (Don't Get Mad, #1)
Title: Get Even (Don't Get Mad #1)
Author: Gretchen McNeil
 Balzer & Bray
Publication date: September, 16, 2014

Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary/Mystery)
Source: Edelweiss 
Format: ePub
Pages: 320
Follows the secretive exploits of four high school juniors - Kitty, Olivia, Margot and Bree - at an exclusive Catholic prep school.

To all outward appearances, the girls barely know each other. At best, they don't move in the same social circles; at worst, they're overtly hostile.

Margot Mejia – academically ranked number two in her class, Margot is a focused overachiever bound for the Ivy League.

Kitty Wei – captain of the California state and national champion varsity girls' volleyball team, she's been recruited by a dozen colleges and has dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Olivia Hayes – popular star of the drama program, she's been voted "most eligible bachelorette" two years running in the high school yearbook and has an almost lethal combination of beauty and charm.

Bree Deringer – outcast, misfit and the kind of girl you don't want to meet in a dark alley, the stop sign red-haired punk is a constant thorn in the side of teachers and school administrators alike.

Different goals, different friends, different lives, but the girls share a secret no one would ever guess. They are members of Don't Get Mad, a society specializing in seeking revenge for fellow students who have been silently victimized by their peers. Each girl has her own reason for joining the group, her own set of demons to assuage by evening the score for someone else. And though school administration is desperate to find out who is behind the DGM "events", the girls have managed to keep their secret well hidden.

That is until one of their targets – a douchebag senior who took advantage of a drunk underclassman during a house party, videotaped it on his phone, and posted it on YouTube – turns up dead, and DGM is implicated in the murder.

Now the girls don't know who to trust, and as their tenuous alliance begins to crumble, the secrets they've hidden for so long might be their ultimate undoing.
This book. Just. Oh my god. To recap the ninja long synopsis, Olivia Hayes, Kitty Wei, Margot Mejia and Bree Deringer are completely different people. Olivia: The Socialite. Kitty: The Sporty Chick. Bree: The Punk Rock Loner. Margot: The Super Smart Nobody. Not similar in any way, right? Wrong. These girls are part of a secret group called Don't Get Mad, or DGM to everybody else. DGM right wrongs. They get revenge on the bullies who pick on defenseless kids. But when one of DGM's targets is murdered with a DGM card in his hand, Don't Get Mad is on high alert. Tension begins to tear the girls apart, but the real question hangs in the air. Who killed Ronny DeStefano?
I was perpetually hooked on this book since page one. I loved every single minute spent reading. I was actually so engrossed in this book that I didn't realize I finished it until I saw the acknowledgements. I loved how the book flowed from character to character, with all four girls stating their opinions and even the stupid love interests. There were parts in the book where I was going "Awwww..." and other times I was like "(S)He likes you, don't be so ignorant, like, seriously, are you blind, character?" Which was aggravating in it's own amazing way. But you know what irked me? The ending. A terrible cliff hanger. And I mean terrible as in "Wait. It's over? No, no, nonononononooooooo." I was in shock. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, and I recommend this book for people who like Pretty Little Liars (♥) and Burn for Burn. Hopefully you'll enjoy this book as much as I did.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson - glaringly real and emotional

Don't Touch
Title: Don't Touch 
Author: Rachel M. Wilson
 HarperCollins Canada
Publication date: September 2, 2014
Genre(s): Ya
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 432
Step on a crack, break your mother's back,
Touch another person's skin, and Dad's gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it's never been this bad before.

When her parents split up, Don't touch becomes Caddie's mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person's skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn't make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama's humidity, she's covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that's where things get tricky. Even though Caddie's the new girl, it's hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who's auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she'll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.
Don't Touch deals with mental illnesses in such a real and uncomfortable way. I really felt for Caddie. Throughout the book it was difficult for me to not tear up, feel heartbroken for Caddie, and frustrated at her family for turning a blind eye to what she’s going through. Caddie has suffered from OCD tendencies ever since she was young, but tried to hide it because when her mom found out she pretty much broke down and cried her eyes out. Way to make it about yourself mom! I am well aware of how hard it is to know someone close to you with a mental illness but the way her family swept it under the surface is really bad. It took a lot of in your face moments and confessions for them to finally acknowledge it. However, this is the reality of many families and people. I like that Wilson portrayed that. 
So Caddie’s parents split up, her dad moved out of state, and now Caddie and her brother are angry, sad, and frustrated. Caddie’s OCD came back full force and now it developed into a full-fledged monster. She believes that if no one touches her skin, and vice versa, then her parents will get back together. This becomes very stressful when Caddie moves to an art school to pursue her acting and she gets cast in a play and touching is necessary. However this book has a great friendship storyline: Caddie and Mandy, as well as all of Mandy’s friends that welcomed Caddie. I automatically fell in love when she sat with them for the first time during lunch period. They were a hilarious, outspoken, non-confirmative bunch: Mandy, Drew, Livia, Oscar, Hank, and of course Peter, the ever-lovable love interest. I loved his personality, how his friendship with Caddie developed and how he dealt with everything going on with her. 
Don’t Touch might not be heavy on the plot, but the simplicity of the plotline is its strength. You don’t need an elaborate plot to tackle mental illnesses so I’m grateful for Wilson for stripping down any add ons and telling the story that really matters. I would recommend it to all contemporary fans, and something to add is that this infuses acting and Shakespeare's play, Hamlet a lot. That was something that made it more unique as well as more likable and a great background plot. I can't wait to read more books by Rachel M. Wilson as well as for everyone to pick this one up!  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Review: Positive by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

Title: Positive: A Memoir 
Author: Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Genre(s): Non-fiction (Autobiography)
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC
Pages: 288
In this compelling and compulsively readable memoir, nineteen-year-old Paige Rawl tells the story of how she was mercilessly bullied in middle school...and how she overcame the ordeal to change her world for the better.

In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply with the thousands of children and adults whose lives have been touched by bullying.

Paige Rawl has been HIV positive since birth…but growing up, she never felt like her illness defined her. It never prevented her from entering beauty pageants or playing soccer or making the honor role.
After coming back from the HCC FrenzyPresents event with a copy of Positive, I was so excited to pick it up. At the event, the publicists spoke about Positive and what it was about, and I just immediately wanted to get my hands on it and start reading it the first chance I get. Unlike all the other books I read in my life, Positive is non-fiction, a memoir. My first memoir ever, and it was such a great experience. Before anything, I want to thank Paige for bravely sharing her story with the world. I have learnt a  lot from it, and I'm sure many others have learnt as well. 
Since this is an autobiography, it is surely obvious that the whole book revolves around Paige and her struggles she faced throughout her life. Ever since she was born, Paige has been HIV positive. Please do not confuse HIV with AIDS! (That's one of the major things you'll learn from this book). Being HIV positive does not affect the way you walk or talk or in any recognizable way. Being HIV positive means that the infected person is more likely to get risks against viruses out there. Despite Paige looking and acting like any normal teen, the fact that she is HIV positive has really put her through a lot. (Oh, and it's not contagious either!). Reading this book, I went on a roller coaster of emotions. To be honest, I always thought autobiographies are boring to read, but I enjoyed this as much as I might have enjoyed any YA realistic fiction out there, although this one even more because it's ACTUALLY REAL!
I think that being through a lot myself has made me love and connect to this book even more. Anyone who's ever felt alone, bullied, been through depression or any other mental disorder, or any of that stuff will definitely feel hope through this book. Paige acts as a voice for all those children and teenagers out there, who are still not brave enough to say something themselves. Paige has really turned her life into the better, and I feel so immensely proud of what she has done with all the experiences. I someday wish to inspire someone just as how she has truly inspired me. 
Also, one of my favourite passages from the book. (This passage was taken from an early uncorrected proof)
"I'm telling you: it was the most visibly broken assortment of human beings I'd ever been around. But I don't know. Maybe being broken helps you understand others' brokenness. Maybe being broken helps you become a better person." 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Bookish Photos Anyone? (2)

Hey guys again! Another bookish photos anyone? post is here! I want to make this a monthly post, mainly because Farah and I now both have book-instagrams and we take a ton of bookish photos we want to share with you. My instagram is Mcjaybooks while Farah's is Froggyfaybooks. So, here are the photos!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

HCC Frenzy Presets RECAP

LUCKY US, Juhina and I were able to attend the HCC Frenzy Presents event this year! HarperCollins Canada hosts this yearly event where they talk about upcoming (and delicious) fall/winter releases, give some book swag, and just TALK BOOKS! This year was so much fun! A guest author also appeared (YOU'LL FIND OUT WHO DOWN BELOW *oooh mysterious*) 

Kaitie here talking about Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver!! Who isn't excited for this book?? The cover is one of my all time favourites, and it just sounds SO GOOD!


Comes out on March 3rd! My B-day month!

Jessica here is talking about The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard! A new series, and guess what, IT'S A MURDER MYSTERY! (lol). This time though, it's "five girls, not four" quoting Jessica. It actually sounds really interesting though, so fans of PLL better check this one out!

Comes out on October 7th.

Suman here talks about Red Queen, which is a young adult fantasy book! It sounds REALLY interesting, and Suman says that it reminded her somewhat of Game of Thrones! So fans of GoT, you better check this one out!

Comes out February 10th
Add to Goodreads

Below are some of the new releases that caught me and Juhina's eye!

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Juhina, Farah, and Theo just chillin'

Shannon getting ready for some trivia games! yay!

Left to Right: Shelly @Shellysrambles, Giselle @BookNerdCanada, Juhina @juhina_, Farah @farahelmajdoub, Lynne @WordsofMystery, Hayley @hayleyAG

The beautiful ladies of HCC with their most anticipated titles! Left to Right: Suman, Kate, Kaitie, and Jessica
Author Eve Silver and I. Theo and Shailene just HAD to photobomb us sheesh. 

Author Eve Silver with Juhina holding her book! Theo is STILL photobombing and is STILL angry. Why Theo James, Why?
There was some delicious snacks! Thank HCC Frenzy!