Pink

Pink by Lili WilkinsonPink by Lili Wilkinson
HarperCollins, 304 pages

Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She’s ready to try something new—she’s even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don’t work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Humor, heart, and the joys of drama—on- and offstage—combine in Ava’s delight-fully colorful journey of self-discovery.

Ava is sixteen, and she has a secret. No, her secret is not that she’s gay and that she has a girlfriend. Her secret is this: she wants to be a normal girl. Ava is 16, and she has very liberal parents and she has an ultra-radical, ultra-feminist and ultra-cool girlfriend, Chloe, who she knows she loves. But Ava is tired of being ultra-cool and always wearing black. She wants to care about school. She wants to study. She wants to fit in. She wants to even try dating a guy. And, she wants to wear pink. So Ava works her butt off so she can get a scholarship to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, so she can try to have a normal life without the knowledge of her girlfriend or her parents. She gets in, and she immediately wants to be a part of the popular crowd up until it was time for the audition for the school musical. Ava tried out for a part, but fails miserably, and ends up joining the stage crew, a group of “losers” according to the popular group. However, as Ava spends more time with her new friends — she is not even sure who are the real friends, if it’s with the stage crew or the popular kids — she finds it harder and harder to keep her secrets.

I have this weird compulsion to acquire pink things. Some people I know in real life are often amused at the number of pink things I own. Would you believe that even in acquiring a gadget, the availability of the color pink is a factor in my decision? :p I used to deny that my favorite color is pink because I thought it was too girly, but as I grew older I cannot deny the fact that I kept on gravitating towards that color. But that’s really not the reason why I wanted to read Pink by Lili Wilkinson. I borrowed this from my friend Celina after Chachic was done with it because I was curious with all the positive reviews that this book has been getting from other bloggers I know. That, and it was written by an Australian author, and based on experience, Australian YA books are always good reads. And so here we go.

I have to agree with almost everyone else that Pink was loads of fun. This book had all the ingredients of a typical contemporary novel: somewhat outrageous premise, popular and unpopular kids, parties and secrets, but I liked how the author made these elements more interesting with other details, such as the theater set up! I loved reading about Ava’s experiences as part of the stage crew. Back in high school, we used to produce stage plays for one class and I have always loved that time of the year when we had to do rehearsals, find costume and music and then stay up late in school to set up our stage and props and fix the music. I’ve never been one to want to be onstage — I tend to avoid that as much as possible. I love working backstage more. My favorite scenes in the book would have to be the ones when they were busy setting up the lights and their first run (their dress rehearsal, I think?), where Sam was in the main control room giving orders to everyone through their headsets. Our high school didn’t have that, but we had a main control room for the sounds, and I can remember how cool I felt when I wore a headset for a production for my church community with that scene.

I generally liked all of the characters, although I felt a bit lost with Ava. Ava was definitely confused, and I have to be patient with her at times because I have to remember she’s young and some stupid decisions are made when we do not know better. Some of her mistakes were not just stupid but downright mean, and I felt like sometimes I was just waiting for a car crash to happen. It’s not that I had a hard time connecting with Ava . I just wished she would not keep on swinging everywhere to please people and just try to look at what she wants. I also thought some of the characters felt a little bit cardboard, although they did gain more dimension in the end. And I know I was supposed to be on the Ava-Chloe team but Chloe really annoyed me with all her feminist/liberal/I’m-too-cool-for-these-things talk. Seriously? I had to sympathize with Ava there — it must be exhausting to keep up that kind of image if it does not come to you naturally.

I liked that the author did not go for a 100% happily ever after ending, although I felt like Ava did not really resolve all her own issues there. She seemed less confused in the end, but I’m afraid she ended up as one of those female protagonists that I would remember for that and not for her strength.

I also loved all the geeky Wikipedia talk, and the random facts that Sam blurts out in the conversations. This is a guy who would rather read than play Nintendo DS. I would definitely insert a character like that in my next novel. :P Despite my misgivings with some of the main character, I still thought Pink was still pretty entertaining read. And I’m not just saying that because my favorite color is pink. :)

Rating:

My copy: borrowed from Celina

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Steph Su Reads
Persnickety Snark
The Crooked Shelf


The Boyfriend List

The Boyfriend List by E. LockhartThe Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Ruby Oliver # 1
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 229
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie)
* failed a math test (she’ll make it up)
* hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!)

But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

* * *

I’ve read about the Ruby Oliver series from other bloggers, and while it got me a tiny bit curious, it wasn’t enough for me to get them. When I finally read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, I thought it was such a smart read that I decided to pick up her other books. Ruby Oliver seemed the most popular and they were easily available so I picked one up. I started reading the first book in the series, The Boyfriend List, a few weeks ago when I switched from chick lit to contemporary YA for my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, and it definitely hit just the right spot.

Ruby Oliver used to be popular, used to have a boyfriend and used to have best friends. That was ten days ago. Now, Ruby Oliver has no boyfriend, no friends, is a social outcast, has panic attacks and sees a shrink. And she’s only fifteen. What went wrong? With the help of her shrink, she comes up with The Boyfriend List: 15 guys that she had had a thing with, whether real or imaginary, as it seemed like the thing that started all of these things for Ruby. The question is: did the list help, or did it just make things worse?

The thing I noticed about E. Lockhart’s books is the realness of her protagonist’s voice. Ruby was as real as you can get from page one, and I immediately wanted to know what her story was. The story was as funny as the title and the blurb, and it was creatively written based on the list that was in the book. Plus the book had footnotes, almost like a Thursday Next book! I loved how the book was not told chronologically but still everything made sense and nothing was hard to connect. While the reading experience with Frankie had me laughing with amused disconnectedness (almost like a spectator), The Boyfriend List made me feel that I was a part of the story and that I was one of the few people that listened to Ruby at all. The writing was just as funny and clever as was in Frankie — maybe even funnier — but absolutely real.

This is far from a love story that the title implies, but more about Ruby’s journey with these fifteen boys and her best friends. The meat of the story was how Ruby’s boyfriend, Jackson, dumps her days before the Spring Fling, to date Ruby’s best friend from second grade, Kim. It’s easy to hate Kim and Jackson and her other friends for deserting her, but as the story goes on, we see that Ruby was just at fault, too. The Boyfriend List is a story with flawed characters that one can’t help but wish that things turn out well for all of them, most especially the heroine.

I won’t say much anymore because the book is really so much better read and experienced on your own than through a review. It’s only my second E. Lockhart book, but I am almost fully convinced that she’s a contemporary YA genius. Give me one more book of hers so I can be fully convinced (but I’m pretty sure I will be easily convinced). Someone give me The Boy Book this Christmas? :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
G-Reads!

The Curse of the Wendigo

The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick YanceyThe Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
The Monstrumologist # 2
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Number of pages: 424
My copy: paperback, bought from Bestsellers

While attempting to disprove that Homo vampiris, the vampire, could exist, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancee to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop also considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied? This second book in The Monstrumologist series explores the line between myth and reality, love and hate, genius and madness.

* * *

I only really read The Monstrumologist last month because I got into this agreement with Aaron and Tricia that I will read the second book with them. What is it with me scaring myself silly all of a sudden, yes? I don’t know, either. If it were up to me, I would probably wait another year to read the next book in this series to give me (more than) enough recovery time. But because I can be such a pushover sometimes, I gave in and read The Curse of the Wendigo soon after I finished the first book, even if my nerves were still slightly wracked from all the Halloween scare and I was busy with NaNoWriMo.

So, The Curse of the Wendigo is the second book in The Monstrumologist series, and it features the older Will Henry’s journals, specifically folios 4-6. Here we find another adventure of Will Henry with his mentor, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop receives a letter that his mentor is about to make a statement in the next gathering of all monstrumologists that they were to include “supernatural” creatures in the roster of monsters that they know — creatures such as vampires, werewolves and the like. Warthrop adamantly believes that they do not exist, and was enraged to hear about this. As he was preparing for his rebuttal, a beautiful lady comes knocking at their door — it was Muriel Chanler, Warthrop’s old friend and ex-fiance. She asks for Warthrop’s help: her husband and his old friend John Chanler had gone hunting for the mythical Wendigo and had gone missing. Despite Warthrop’s misgivings about his old friend’s hunt for this creature, he goes out to bring him back, even if only to give him a proper burial if he is really dead. Will Henry, the ever loyal apprentice, tags along, and finds himself in another sort of horrific world that tests his loyalty and his beliefs in things such as love, hate and friendship.

I will come out and say it right now: if I really liked The Monstrumologist, I think I loved The Curse of the Wendigo more. The second book in the series gives us a bigger view the world that Will Henry lived in. The first book was really more on what monstrumology is, and how Will Henry has come to lived in such a world. It focuses more on how humans aren’t really at the top of the food chain and we can just be hunted as any other animal out there. There was a certain distance with the horror that the first book can give: at the end of the book, it never became really personal for Will Henry, much less for the doctor. It was, for them, another day’s work. There were casualties, but it was still work.

The Curse of the Wendigo makes things more personal, especially for the doctor. Rick Yancey excels in making Pellinore Warthrop’s character shine in this book. The first book tells us about his chosen profession, the second book told us all about his life: how he wanted to be a poet (!!!), how he was almost married, how he had a friend, how he lost both the love of his life and his friend when he made a choice. I always thought Warthrop was this old man who was passionate about the odd things, but in the second book, I saw him as an entirely different person. First impressions show Warthrop as a cold and scientific man, but here we see him as a real person capable of caring, loving and loyal even up to the end, to the point of dismissing everything that everyone is telling him.

The horror level in this book is also almost entirely different from its predecessor. I felt that the anthropophagi in the first book were considered as animals, but here, the wendigo is really more of a psycho killer that was out for revenge. The crime scenes were more a notch more brutal, almost downright disgusting. If I did not know that the book was set in the 1880’s, I would have thought it fit a modern murder mystery story. Not that it’s a bad thing — it made getting immersed in the story easier for me (although perhaps it was just because of all the CSI episodes I watched). Yancey writes the entire story of hunting the wendigo (and also, not hunting the wendigo) with excellent pacing that it came to a point that I cannot put the book down.

But the best part of this book for me really is how much we see of Warthrop here. I have to go back to that because that’s really the strength of this book. I don’t think this would count as a fictional crush, but it’s really more of the admiration of how strong and weak and broken a character can be. I also really liked that we see everything through Will Henry’s eyes, and through all that, we see that the doctor is not the cold and purely scientific man from the first impression. The tender moment at the end of the sixth folio was enough to induce tears, and I would have shed them if I did not finish the book while I was commuting. When I finished the book, I had zero doubt that Pellinore Warthrop thought of Will Henry like a son, and it kind of hurts to wonder what will happen to them by the twelfth folio.

I thought The Curse of the Wendigo is even better than The Monstrumologist, and it is one of the best books I’ve read in 2011. Once again I am very glad I allowed myself to be “bullied” into reading this. I promise, though, that I don’t have to be bullied to read the third book. Once the paperback is released (because all my series books must match), I will definitely read it without waiting for someone to push me into starting it. ;)

Rating:

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Good Books and Good Wine

Reviews of other books in The Monstrumologist series:
# 1: The Monstrumologist

All I Want for Christmas 2011 Is… (Book Edition)

Ohai?

November is halfway done, which means that December is just around the corner, which also means that Christmas is just around the corner! And in the spirit of gift-giving and all that (and to help my friends in picking out presents for me, y’know, in case they want to :P) here’s my wish list for 2011! :)

BOOK-RELATED STUFF (also known as possibly expensive book-related gifts):

  • Still waiting for that book seal. My brother was supposed to give me one, but I have to confirm. :P
  • Kindle Touch. I mean, come on, you know you want one too (also, I can dream. haha).

BOOKS:

  1. Pysch Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
  2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  3. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen  Thanks, Monique!
  4. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen Thanks Angus!
  5. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
  6. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
  7. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  8. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  9. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park (I don’t mind the ebook version!)
  10. Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver (UK edition, please?)
  11. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  12. The Boy Book (Ruby Oliver # 2) by E. Lockhart (and the rest of the Ruby Oliver books) Thanks, Tricia! :)
  13. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
  14. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
  15. Nightspell by Leah Cypess
  16. Amplified by Tara Kelly
  17. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  18. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I don’t really have much of a preference between books and ebooks but for books with illustrations (particularly #2, 9 and 10), I would want them in print. Because that’s really one of the things you’d pay for in print. :)

I’m also all for recommendations — if you think I’ll like the book, then I would gladly accept. it. :D

But if you’d rather be different, and decide to give me something non-book related…well:

  • Anything with sunflowers and/or stars
  • Gift certificates — not just bookstores, but other places too: Starbucks, Dashing Diva, CBTL, etc.
  • Pretty pens and notebooks :)

I’m pretty easy to please, so even a Christmas card would do, actually. Snail mail makes me happy too. :D

I’m also posting this because I joined this year’s Book Blogger Holiday Swap again. :) It’s so fun sending and receiving packages during the holiday season that even if I am a little tight on the budget this year, I didn’t mind signing up. Unfortunately, sign ups for this swap is already closed, but there are other book swaps, too, like the Book Geeks Book Exchange. :) Come join the book exchanging holiday fun!

In My Mailbox (21): Sales and Komikon

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. I wasn’t expecting to write an In My Mailbox post this week, but three things happened:

And so, I ended up with these:

  1. The Song of the Quarkbest by Jasper Fforde (Fully Booked) – Aaron told me last week that this book was already available in Fully Booked, just on the same day I wrote a Want Books post about it. I had a copy transferred while making a personal deal with myself to catch up to quota before it arrived. And I just that. I cannot wait to read this. :D
  2. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (Fully Booked) – I borrowed a copy of this book from my friend RE early this year and I loved it. He told me that if I see a copy of this, I should grab it immediately. I saw one and grabbed one. :) I can reread this book anytime I want now, yay!
  3. Filipino Heroes League Book 1: Sticks and Stones by Paolo Fabregas(Komikon) – I already bought a copy of this months before which I lent to my brother and is currently missing. Anyway, yesterday I got to meet the author, Paolo Fabregas, at Komikon, so I bought another copy so he could sign it. And he remembered my review, too, so yay!

    My FHL copy signed by the author :)

  4. High Society by Paolo Chikiamco and Hannah Buena (Komikon) – Of course I had to get a copy of this, after reviewing it just recently. :) Dibs on a pretty special colored cover because of that review too. Thanks Pao! I had it signed by him, but not by Hannah because we don’t know how she looks like and so we weren’t able t “stalk” her during Komikon. :( Maybe next time, then. :)

    Signed High Society

  5. Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo (Komikon) – We were hanging by the Flipside booth talking to Honey when she plugged this comic to us. It was the black and white version, and it seems pretty scary given the illustrations shown in the colored version in the iPad. Eep. Still, it looks interesting (and it was only P30, so why not buy, right?) If you’re more of a colored comic person, you can buy a copy from Flipreads.com :) I hope to read and review this sometime soon.

    Signed!

And being a Trese fan, I cannot pass up something like this:

Signed glossy Trese poster in plastic case :)

It’s so pretty. :) Actually, we call it a placemat because it kinda looks like one. But this is going on my wall, once I’ve organized my room. Gotta love the detail in this one. :)

And there goes my week. Before I reward myself with anything else, I must get to 50,000 words on my NaNoWriMo novel first. Onward!