The Day Before

The Day Before by Lisa SchroederThe Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Simon & Schuster, 320 pages

Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.

Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.

The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

This is a book
written in verse.
My second one.
And I thought
it would be a nice writing exercise
to write a review the same way.

The Day Before was about a girl named Amber
who seemed to have ran away to the beach
to spend one day for herself.
The circumstances were mysterious,
and I was kept in the dark
for most of the time.
Amber meets Cade.
There was attraction.
But there was something about Cade
that disturbed Amber.
Like he had a dark secret.
Amber didn’t want to destroy their moment,
but she also didn’t want to lose him.

This book reminds me of several things.
A Walk to Remember is one.
It had that kind of vibe,
and I was ready to scoff.
How overused is that story?
But I was pleasantly surprised.
It wasn’t like that.

Amber and Cade had problems of their own.
Fears, really.
Unusual circumstances that
people their age shouldn’t deal with.
But they had to.
The problems and situations were real
and scary.
But there was hope.
And it was beautifully done.

The verse writing made it easier to read.
The pop culture references made it fun.
Like Amber and Cade,
I want to listen to Matt Nathanson on a drive.
Although instant attraction is never my thing,
The Day Before made it seem almost sweet.
Like anything was possible.
And I liked that.

The Day Before left me smiling.
This review doesn’t really do it justice.
I’m not even sure if this attempt
is the least bit poetic.
Lisa Schroeder does it so much better,
and I look forward
to getting lost
in her other worlds of verse. :)

Rating:

My copy: e-galley from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab

Cover and blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger

 

The Lover’s Dictionary

The Lover's Dictionary by David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Number of pages: 211
My copy: hardbound, ordered from Book Depository

A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

* * *

When I first heard about David Levithan’s latest book, The Lover’s Dictionary, I wanted to read it only because of the clever idea behind the book. I love anything that involves wordplay. I loved the idea that this book is told using dictionary words, and for some reason, this gives me the feeling that this book has a universal feel to it, like anyone could relate to an entry here at one point. I ordered a copy off Book Depository a few weeks ago after I realized that it’s cheaper there, and when it finally arrived, I actually dropped the books I was reading to devour this one.

The Lover’s Dictionary is quite easy to devour given its short, dictionary-like format. This book, as mentioned in the blurb, tells the story of an unnamed couple, written using different words from a dictionary. The narrator, who is a guy based on the entries, is a writer while the girl seemed like a wild, whimsical character who seems to have enchanted our narrator. But as their relationship goes on, it gets harder for the both of them, and we readers are left wondering if the they decide to stay together or part.

The entries weren’t written in chronological order so the timeline tends to jump from one anecdote to another, while others just seem like a sharing, or a comment on how the relationship is or how each has changed because of the relationship. It’s equal parts sad and happy, a lot mushy and it tends to leave the readers pondering on what makes a relationship tick. There’s something about finding common ground, which I really liked:

akin, adj.

I noticed on your profile that you said you said you loved Charlotte’s Web. So it was something we talked about on that first date, about how much the world radiant sealed it for ach of us, and how the most heartbreaking moment isn’t when Charlotte dies, but when it looks like all of her children will leave Wilbur, too.

In the long view, did it matter that we shared this? Did it matter that we both drank coffee at night and both happened to go to Barcelona the summer after our senior year? In the long view, was it such a revelation that we were both ticklish and that we both liked dogs more than cats? Really, weren’t these facts just placeholders until the long view could truly assert itself?

We were paining by numbers, starting with the greens. Because that happened to be our favorite color. And this, we figured, had to mean something.

Or this, about being intimidated by one another:

daunting, adj.

Really, we should use this more as a verb. You daunted me, and I daunted you. Or would it be that I was daunted by you and you were daunted by me? That sounds better. it daunted me that you were so beautiful, that you were so ate ease in social situations, as if every room was heliotropic, with you at the center. And I guess it daunted you that I had so many more friends than you, that I could put words together like this, on paper, and could sometimes conjure a certain sense out of things.

The key is to never recognize these imbalances. To not let the dauntingness daunt us.

I’m pretty sure the story the authors intended for the characters here is not the same for everyone, but I think everyone who’s ever loved will find that they are able to relate to one or two or more entries in The Lover’s Dictionary. This makes the book very rereadable, especially in random — just pick it up, open to a page and read. This book also makes me wonder: if I were to make a dictionary of my own love life, what words would I use?

But alas, my own love life is still nonexistent. That fact made me a bit distant to the novel, because I can’t relate. Not yet, anyway. However, The Lover’s Dictionary affirms things that I know, based from stories, reading and yes, even experiences (the proper place to elaborate on this is on my personal blog :P): relationships are messy, it takes a lot of work and it would hurt both parties a lot…but allow me to believe that even so, relationships can be beautiful at the same time. :)

Whether you’re a romantic or not, I recommend The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. I’m sure you’ll find a bit of yourself in one of the entries in this dictionary.

Rating:

Other notes:
For some reason, this book reminded me of this short YouTube movie by WongFu Productions, Strangers again:

YouTube Preview Image

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger

30 Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction Must Reads at Female Network

Ahoy there! I like using that term because the rains last week made me feel like I was living in an island. I did experience a lot of floods, but not as bad as the one we had 2 years ago. It’s still a hassle, though. Not to mention that our internet connection is wonky ever since the rains hit us, so yeah, I even felt more like an island last weekend. :/

So what’s a girl to do when there’s no internet? Read, of course. I managed to do a lot of reading last Friday night and yesterday. I loved it, because it’s been a while since I was able to lose myself in a pages of a book without getting distracted by the online world. So yeah, there was something good about that.

Then I remembered that I wasn’t able to post that I have a new book list up at Female Network! Eeps. So, in case you’re like me and you happened to end up with a rainy weekend with no Internet, stock up on these 30 fantasy and paranormal reads! Nothing like a little escapism to forget the rainy day worries, yes?

Love, Magic, and Monsters: 30 Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction Must-Reads

Click the link to go to the list!

This list wasn’t a hard list to write at all, mostly because I’ve read a lot more fantasy than I used to, and because of so many book bloggers who helped directly (by giving suggestions) and indirectly (from their book blogs): Chachic, Janice, The Book Smugglers, Kai, Ariel, Aaron, Jason, Monique and Tricia. :) Book bloggers help make writing about books so much easier — thank you friends!

So, hop on over to the list, talk about what books you have read from the list and share your own suggestions! :)

Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet by R.J. AndersonUltraviolet by RJ Anderson
Ultraviolet # 1
Publisher: Orchard
Number of pages: 416
My copy: ebook ARC from Netgalley

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori — the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

* * *

Ultraviolet is far from my radar and from any of my reading plans. I’ve never read any of R.J. Anderson’s work, and I wasn’t just really that interested even if I’ve read some good reviews for them. I saw the ebook on Netgalley but just looked over it, thinking that it’s not something I would be interested in.

And then.

This book started popping up everywhere on my Goodreads feeds. One friend read it and liked it, then a few more did. All reviews refused to talk too much about what this book was about, and they were all just saying what a surprise/shocker/gender-bender this particular book was. I got curious, and thought, “Fine. If it’s still in Netgalley, I will get it and read it.

So Ultraviolet was still there, and I got it and read it. This book starts with a very curious introduction:

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

I wasn’t sure what to place this in from there. We find our heroine, Alison Jeffries, waking up in a rehabilitation facility, surrounded by people in nurses uniform, with no memory of why and how she got there. Alison is sixteen, confused and worried about her current situation. As her memories start trickling in, she is moved to Pine Hills Psychiatric Treatment Center, where she grapples with the possibility that (1) she’s crazy and (2) she may have just killed her school mate and rival, Tori Beaugrand with her mind, as she can see what color a number is and taste things like lies, things that normal people could not do. Alone and treading the thin line between sanity and not, Alison finds a friend in neuropsychologist, Sebastian Faraday, giving a name for her condition and convincing Alison that she is a normal girl.

And then.

To reveal more would be spoilery, so I’ll let you find out for yourself. I was aware of a coming twist that would turn Ultraviolet around and I resisted the urge to read ahead just to find out when, where and what it was. It was easy to stick to the story though, because the author’s writing is just so good that I wouldn’t think of skipping any page. The story was tight, and I felt genuine sympathy for Alison as she struggles with her ordeal. I just really wanted to give Alison a hug and believe that she isn’t crazy, you now? At the same time, I was very interested in Alison’s condition — which apparently, is real.

And then…things changed. I was expecting it because of the reviews I read, but I wasn’t sure when it would happen. Like what other readers have said, it was done quite seamlessly that I couldn’t question how untrue it was. I’m usually skeptical about how things turned out here, this one worked. I had a hunch about what it was, and it turned out correct, but it wasn’t also 100% right. The author managed to keep the balance between what’s real and not real and make it work, while also giving us readers a way to describe something infinite. Forgive the flowery word, but that was just the only way I could describe it. Infinite.

Ah, I’m sorry I can’t reveal that much more because it would destroy the reading experience of anyone who reads this and decides to read Ultraviolet. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and I’m glad that I gave in to the good review pressure and read it. This is definitely one of those books that will have readers discuss and laugh and share a secret smile about.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
The Midnight Garden

Looking for Alibrandi

Looking for AlibrandiLooking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 320
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the no nonsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.

* * *

After falling in love with Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road, I was determined to read the rest of what Melina Marchetta has to offer. So the moment Easter rolled around, I bought myself a copy of her first novel, Looking for Alibrandi. I wasn’t sure what to expect, except maybe the same Australian contemporary YA charm?

Josephine Alibrandi, or Josie, is the daughter of Christina Alibrandi, a single mother whose conception of her daughter got her embarrassed among the Italian community in Sydney. Josie is a headstrong young girl with a smart mouth who loves her mother and lives to annoy her grandmother, Katia Alibrandi. Josie is 17, a few months away from turning 18 and her “emancipation”. On her final year in St. Martha’s, she finds herself suddenly surrounded by men. First is the charming John Barton, wealthy, straight-A debater, who Josie has had a crush on for the longest time, but is also pursued by her nemesis, “Poison” Ivy. And then there’s Jacob Coote, Cook High school captain — he’s rough and wild, the typical bad boy, but he knows how to charm Josie in his own way. And finally, there’s Michael Andretti — Josie doesn’t like him the same way as she does John and Jacob, but his role as her biological father is something she cannot ignore.

Looking for Alibrandi is slightly lighter than Marchetta’s other works, and truth be told, I was waiting for a big punch in the gut while reading this one, just like what the two other books I read from her had. Josie’s personality is strong and loud, sometimes too strong that it makes me wonder if that’s how a 17 year old should act. And then I remember: wasn’t I also like that when I was 17? As always, Marchetta’s characters are all fleshed out, and I really liked the stories that Nonna Katia tells Josie. I had the same relationship with my grandmother, too, and like Josie, I’ve also answered back at her a little too many times when she was still alive. :( But I learned to appreciate her and see her as a strong woman and mother who only wants the best for her children and grandchildren, too. And speaking of family, I liked the development of Josie and her relationship with Michael. The progression felt natural even if it wasn’t in the most normal circumstances. I liked that the author banked on Josie’s father’s youth for doing the things he did, and not make him as a character with a bad rep (like someone who has a gambling addiction).

Josie may come off as annoying at first, but she grows on you as the story goes on. I also find the cultural aspect very interesting, especially with how the author wrote about the friction between Australians and Italians. I honestly had a hard time believing that Italians would be a victim of racism, because their being European by default makes me look up to them. But maybe that’s really what happens when you’re immigrants or came from immigrants where you live — it’s hard to feel at home especially when other people insist otherwise.

I didn’t really like Jacob Coote, but that’s just me because I never really liked bad boys. I found Josie and Jacob’s fighting and arguing a bit over the top, but I rooted for Josie even in the midst of her confusion. I honestly preferred John for Josie, but that boy had his own problems that he deserves to many hugs! John was the “Marchetta punch” in this novel, and like the other readers, it kind of left me gasping in disbelief. Trust Marchetta to do this to her reader.

It’s no Saving Francesca or Jellicoe Road, and it’s not my favorite Marchetta, but Looking for Alibrandi is a very good read. :) It’s an entertaining contemporary YA novel about family and being true to one self. I really wouldn’t expect less from Melina Marchetta, really.

Now to hunt for the movie adaptation.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes