Friday, April 18, 2014

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Publishing Company: Walker
Genre: Young Adult—Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 342
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Goodreads

Summary
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

“A fabulously entertaining story of friendship, healing, and love. Filled with laughter, heart, and a side of sass, this rock star debut will have you cheering for an encore!”—Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
—Goodreads
A copy was provided for review purposes

Review
At first, I absolutely loved this book. And then right after I made my "I'm stopping my blog" hoorah post, I decided to reread Open Road Summer to make me happy and to hopefully break the pit feeling in my stomach I've had that I'm outgrowing young adult books. However, after rereading this book, I felt absolutely nothing reading it again compared to the first time.

The rating for this one went down from a four and a half star rating to a two star rating. And while it may seem harsh, as I was rereading it, I noticed a particularly disgusting thing: the slut-shaming. Reagan didn’t feel any remorse calling a girl a “slut” or a “skank” or “trashy” if they were wearing tight clothes. Like, if she saw girls hanging around Matt, she’d call them a slut, mainly because she felt threatened by them. Okay, so if you think you’re better than them, then you have nothing to gain by calling them a slut. In reality, she acted the same way that they did. She would adjust her bra for “maximum cleavage” when she saw Max coming towards her, and while there’s nothing WRONG with that, she’s a hypocrite for putting other girls down for doing the same thing. It was absolutely ridiculous how she didn’t even reflect on herself when unfairly labeling other girls for their appearances. She’s expressing herself through her clothes, and that’s completely okay, but if she condemns others for doing the same thing, then we have an issue.

And there was this one time where she described Matt's best friend as "wholesome." Like if you're gonna poorly judge someone as fat from a picture to make yourself feel better, just don't! At least try not to make it sound like you're a sarcastic bitch who's trying to boost your own self esteem by comparing you to others.

Another thing I didn’t particularly like the second time around was how stupid the “drama” was. Most of it involved Dee finding out about some rumor someone was spreading about her (she’s a celebrity, that’s obviously going to happen!) and then freaking out about it. One time, someone got a picture of her while she looked bloated and was like, “IS SHE PREGNANT!?!?!?!?” and Dee had a huge meltdown over the rumor. The only person who even remotely reasonable about this was Reagan, and all she said was that it would blow over. Literally, if Dee just let the rumor sit for a month or even a few weeks, the rumor would die down. Stars rarely ever do something about one little rumor, like if she were to lay low for a few months it'd be obvious she wasn't pregnant like one magazine said. Especially with something like pregnancy. Your stomach grows a lot when you're pregnant, so the rest of Dee's mere existence would directly contradict the one picture.

However, there was something that remained constant throughout both read-throughs—I loved the friendship between Dee and Reagan, especially how Reagan was always there for Dee’s career. Dee, an up-and-coming country singer, was currently on tour, so Reagan had been tagging along for the summer until she entered senior year. This ensued a series of laughs, heart-to-hearts, and all of the things you’d expect in a friendship as close as theirs. I envied how close they were at times, because I want someone that I’m so close with that I would ask them to come on tour with me if I became a famous singer (or vice-versa.)

Playlist
Since Open Road Summer is about singers and music, also because I rediscovered Spotify at the time of this post, I also made up a playlist to go along with the book! (Even though I didn't like it the second time around)

Most of these mainly refer to the feelings of our characters but I did a semi-breakdown of which songs below to who. The playlist's short, mainly because I did it in an hour, but if I like them, then I'll probably end up doing more in the future!

Reagan

  • "For Reasons Unknown" by The Killers—this song is more about a break up, but for me it translated into Reagan's whole journey, packing up her bags to join her best friend, and then changing her entire perspective when she meets Matt
  • "Misguided Ghosts" by Paramore—it refers to Reagan's personality and commitment issues, how she doesn't want to commit to someone because she's afraid of what will happen
  • "Touch" by Daughter—because Reagan hides behind her flirty image to protect herself from getting hurt again
  • "Cold Night" by You Me At Six—I don't know, it just really reminds me of when Reagan and Matt first meet and their attraction with each other.

Matt

  • "Poet" by Bastille—this fits him so well! Bastille is singing about how he's writing about a girl in his songs, just like Matt does to deal with relationships
  • "Don't Lie" by Vampire Weekend—it's like a message to Reagan to stop joking around because they both know that she wants to be with him
  • "I Remember" by A Day to Remember—it refers to his past, how he's known for his child image and how fame can really affect you
  • "(One of Those) Crazy Girls" by Paramore—kind of captures the feeling of the last half, only instead of being a crazy girl, he's a crazy guy. Not to the extremity of the song, but it definitely reminded me of that last part.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Random Talk Time (6): Reading Tastes

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve noticed that my reading tastes have seriously changed.
Things I liked:
It was seriously depressing. I enjoyed contemporary, paranormal, dystopian, fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalytpic, pretty much everything. Clichés were an unknown subject to me and neither was insta-love or a love triangle. I was unaware of all the things that could go wrong in a book and read because I loved reading and severely uneducated in the ways of blogging.
Now I’m so picky on the books I read. I hate most historical or science fiction novels, and love triangles and insta-love can drive me up a freaking wall. I feel like as I read more and more book reviews and expose myself to a greater variety of books and styles, my standards have increased. And there’s another fact that I’m growing more and more educated about books and the different errors they can have, like issues with character development and world-building, which I never thought of before.

So how about you? Have your reading tastes changed?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
Publishing Company: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult—Contemporary
Pages: 304
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Goodreads

Summary
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.
—Goodreads
A copy was provided for review purposes

Review
While Gwendolyn Heasley’s new novel can at first be dismissed as a lighthearted read about the inevitable struggle between one’s parent and themselves, it quickly morphs into something less simplistic. It endeavors to reach a new type of depth and create a coming-of-age story, when it is very obviously not.

Imogene suffers from a lifestyle under the scrutiny of the majority of the population. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that her classmates teased her about what happened on her blog. While I find it highly unlikely that a mom blog is so popular that Imogene herself gets recognized while shopping in a mall, I understood the sour feelings towards her mom’s blog because it was obvious from very early on that Imogene’s mother treated her like a baby. When her English teacher gives Imogene’s class a project to write a blog themselves, Imogene launches a campaign to escape the ridicule of both her mother and classmates before she formally enters high school. I would label Don’t Call Me Baby as a mix between a middle grade and young adult novel, because of the young age Imogene is portrayed at (15, entering ninth grade) and the superficiality of her problems. The innocence of Imogene and her peers wasn’t quite believable, given the amount of interconnection seen in the novel, when the “popular girl” of the grade attempts to ally with Imogene and takes an assignment seriously, when it was established that she was the stereotypical “popular mean girl.”

Don’t Call Me Baby’s biggest flaw is how abruptly the character development takes place. As soon as she decides to fight back against her mom, the conflict persists for maybe three or four chapters before the book abruptly changes tone and all of a sudden we’re *SPOILER, highlight to read* focusing on the fact that Sage and Imogene are fighting because Imogene is questioning whether or not she really wants to fight her mom. We’re given NO previous development whatsoever on why Imogene is changing her mind, but after one blog post where Imogene is reflecting on the pros of getting away from the computer and “unplugging,” Sage is accusing her of all these ridiculous things. She’s saying, “Imogene you don’t care about this as much as me, you’re giving up on our goal, you’re such a fake and hypocrite!” Chill out, it’s only one blog post. It really doesn’t matter. But then they’re fighting and ignoring each other without any real explanation. Imogene continuously thinks of new ideas, but they come at spontaneous and awkward intervals, without any previous development or foreshadowing.

My last few complaints were slightly nitpicky, like how unrealistic and unprofessional the Mommylicious blog sounds, and the ignorance of the main character. She jokingly asks what a CD is, because just because you’re fifteen means that you’re too young to understand what a CD is. CDs still exist, I have dozens of CDs, and I’m the same age. It’s absolutely ridiculous how much the younger generation is dismissed as an ignorant generation in Don’t Call Me Baby. Furthermore, with the number of allusions made, all of them are thoroughly explained upon delivery. As soon as a cougar is mentioned, Imogene takes it upon herself to explain it to her audience, which in reality is only herself since it’s her inner dialogue. The word “swag” is explained as party favors for bloggers, and while it may be a term that needs explaining, it shouldn’t need an outright definition compared to maybe an inference.

While this could have been a lighthearted book, another issue is how Gwendolyn attempts to give it an added depth by reflecting on the simple nature of teenagers and growing up. If it were not for the absurdity of the story beforehand, I would’ve bought it. But it remains that the lack of development and naïveté behind our leading and supporting characters produced an inability to even entertain the idea of this book being more than a “cute” book. I was originally holding this at a three-star rating, because it was decent, however I lowered it because of the anticlimactic ending and the overall rushed pacing, topped with an unfortunately failed attempt to provide depth.