Three Wishes

As You Wish by Jackson PearceAs You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Ever since Viola’s boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can’t deny that he’s falling for Viola. But it’s only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she’s in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.

I was one of those kids who believed in wishing on stars. My earliest memory of making a wish was when my brother told me about the North Star, and I wished that I’d dream about Cinderella that night (I was pretty young then). Years later, my friends and I would wait for the first star to appear so we could make a wish before going home, but as time went by, I found it harder and harder to make a simple wish. I’d end up using my wishes (even birthday wishes) for some beauty pageant greater good, you know, like world peace. It’s a part of growing up I guess, or a fear that I’d wish for the wrong thing and then it would come true. I needed to be sure that if my wish did come true, it would be one I wouldn’t regret.

Sixteen-year-old Viola faces the same problem in Jackson Pearce’s novel, As You Wish. Viola has been feeling invisible ever since her best friend and boyfriend, Lawrence, broke up with her after confessing he was gay. His coming out of the closet catapulted him to popularity, and Viola’s heartbreak pushed her to the sidelines. For the next seven months, she spends most of her days observing the people around her, trying to figure out how they belong to their own groups and wishing that she could simply belong, like they did. Viola’s desperate wish summons a young and handsome genie with no name, bearing (what else?) three wishes. The genie is anxious to return to his home world (he ages in the human world) but the only way for him to go back is for his master to use up her wishes. However, Viola is terrified of making the wrong wish, so she asks for time, much to the genie’s chagrin. Refusing to treat the genie as a slave, Viola gives him a name, Jinn, and forces him to call her by her name instead of Master. And that’s when things get complicated…Click here to read the rest of the review.

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My copy: Kindle edition

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 42 out of 100 for 2010

→ Jackson Pearce’s website

When will you rise?

Feed by Mira GrantFeed by Mira Grant

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them.

Note: Will you just look at that awesome cover???

It was a normal afternoon at work. My colleagues and I were preparing to attend a required meeting when the boys started discussing their last Left 4 Dead 2 gaming session. I listened to them talk about how hard it was to get through whatever level they were in and how they blasted the zombies in the game, then I interrupted them with a question: “What if a zombie apocalypse actually happens?”

That simple question started a string of discussions about what could happen if zombies actually walk among us, hungry for our brains. We talked about the zombie apocalypse at length and what we would do: where to hide, how to kill zombies effectively, what weapons to use given our location, how to survive, even what to do if one of us were to get infected. Answers drew from sources of zombie wisdom ranging from movies like Zombieland to games like Resident Evil and even Plants vs. Zombies, all discussed with absolute seriousness, as if a zombie invasion was a real possibility.

In Mira Grant’s Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy, zombies have become a part of the normal everyday existence…click here to read the rest of the review.

Rating:

2010 Challenge Status:
* Book # 28 out of 100 for 2010
* Book # 12 out of 20 Fantasy books for 2010

→ Get Feed by Mira Grant on Amazon.com
→ Mira Grant’s website
→ Newsflesh Trilogy website

Terra Firma

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 373
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You’re the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?

It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

* * *

I’m a big reader (obviously), but there are certain books that I can say are my absolute favorites, ones that I would willingly read over and over again and bring with me to a deserted island, if given a choice. Some of them are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

I’m happy to say that North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley just joined their ranks. :)

In this day and age, media plays a heavy influence in how one views beauty: one must be tall, thin, have straight hair, blemish-free and white skin. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, then sorry, you can’t be beautiful. A lot of girls suffer from low self-esteem back then, including me. I never really talked about it and I covered everything with laughter, but deep inside, I didn’t feel beautiful at all. Every other girl I know seems to be more beautiful than I am. I wasn’t thin enough, tall enough (human growth hormone, anyone?), fair skinned enough, pretty enough. I feel like being beautiful is a long shot.

That was how Terra felt, even if she possessed great body and great hair and the smarts to finish high school a year early. Despite all of these, Terra never thought of herself as beautiful because of one flaw: the port-wine birthmark the shape of Bhutan on her face. All she wanted to do was get out of the small town and make her own map at a faraway college — far away from the people who know her, especially far away from the control of her father, a disgraced cartographer.

Now if you’ll think about it, the search for true beauty is not a new story line. Other books might have mentioned it, had a story about it, but I think the beauty of North of Beautiful is that it really tackled the issue head on. Although Terra never called herself ugly outright, she admits to hiding behind a mask and falling under everyone’s expectations of her. She craved control, so she set out on a plan to follow her older brother’s footsteps and to be finally free of everything in her life. Of course, all her plans change when life throws her all kinds of things — like getting into a car crash, for instance — but that is really where her journey started.

This is another book with very strong characters, all of them somehow making a mark in me as I read it. Strong characters are easier to identify with, and could make even the most cliched story somehow work. They all had unique voices, and I can actually imagine them in the small town of Colville: from Terra’s dad and his condescending comments to Terra’s mom’s timidity to Jacob’s easy smile and funny quips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more effective antagonist who uses words to abuse other people — I mean seriously, Terra’s dad definitely takes the cake. I can’t remember how many times I willed for Terra and her family to stand up to their dad on the first parts of the book! The attraction between Terra and Jacob felt real, too, and not rushed. The author certainly took her time in building their relationship, which I really appreciated, and when the fallout came? Oh dear, my heart went out to both and I almost wished that the little complication didn’t happen at all. Even Susannah, Terra’s aunt, who passed away before the story started, made her presence felt in the story.

A lot of other interesting concepts were discussed too, especially the ones related to cartography, since it was Terra’s dad’s occupation. Other than Colville and a bit of Seattle, I was also brought to China, making me want to see the sites that they visited there. The concept of geocaching was also explored, which is kind of like a more high-tech type of treasure hunt. Definitely something a geek would like. ;)

And the book’s ending? Totally satisfying. :)

North of Beautiful is a wonderful book, and I’m really glad I had the impulse to buy it. :) It’s definitely something I recommend, especially for girls, to remind us all of what true beauty is really all about.

I leave you with this quote from the book:

Let the glossy spreads have their heart-stopping, head-turning kind of beauty. Give me the heart-filling beauty instead. Jolie laide, that’s what I would choose. Flawed, we’re truly interesting, truly memorable, and yes, truly beautiful.

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