Speechless

Speechless by Hannah HarringtonSpeechless by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Number of pages: 288
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

* * *

Chelsea Knot cannot keep a secret, and she just stumbled on the juiciest piece of gossip she has ever ran into during her best friend and resident queen bee’s party. She spills the secret, thinking that it would elevate her popularity but instead there were surprising and violent results — one that almost ended up killing someone. Guilt-ridden, Chelsea confesses what she knows and instantly became a social outcast. She takes on a vow of silence, thinking she wouldn’t cause anyone harm if she just won’t speak up, even if she gets bullied in school. Despite this silence, Chelsea meets new friends in school who accept her, and for the first time since everything happened, she wonders if she can finally move on.

I liked Hannah Harrington’s debut, Saving June, which I read earlier this year, so when I heard that her next book, Speechless, is available for request in Netgalley, I was one of the many people who requested it. I was curious with the idea of going silent on purpose — I am a very talkative person, so I’m not sure if taking on a vow of silence is something I can really do. I doubt it, actually, and that is why there is fiction! :P

I didn’t like Chelsea at first, and it was so bad that I almost gave up on the book. While I enjoyed mean girl novels such as Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are or Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall and Shirley Marr’s Fury, I am almost always annoyed at their sidekicks, because they’re usually the type of people who are mean on purpose because they want to be popular. Not that the popular girls aren’t mean on purpose sometimes, but in movies and books, the sidekicks are usually twice as annoying. Chelsea is exactly like that, and I really didn’t like her from the prologue and even early into the first chapters.

And then…somehow, she just grew on me. I find it really cool how Hannah Harrington made Chelsea a character who can say so much despite not having much of a dialogue in the book. The transition from an annoying mean girl sidekick to someone who’s pretty likeable is very good, and I find myself siding with Chelsea up to the end.

There were just several things that kind of niggled at me in the book: the span of time where Chelsea changed from being a selfish mean girl to someone who thinks outside of herself didn’t seem too believable, although I admit that silence can really make people think (I have tried that…several times, but not as long as Chelsea did in the book). I also wished that Chelsea chose to speak again for the first time in a different situation. I don’t know, somewhere more…monumental? I wasn’t that impressed with the scene where she finally broke her silence. Also, the supporting cast seemed a bit too traditional of the YA characters — the quirky crowd that people don’t often notice in school who just always seems cooler and would always save the day. Not that I minded them — I loved Asha and Sam and the rest of Chelsea’s new friends, and I love the diner set-up, but a part of me thinks the diner set-up has been done one too many times (that, or the diner crew in Bittersweet is still my favorite). On the upside, I think there’s a cameo of Jake and Harper in one of the scenes, so fans of Saving June would really like that. :)

But I think my favorite aspect of this book is really the romantic lead, Sam. I liked him way more than I liked Jake, but it may be because of my tendency to go for the good guys. And by “good”, I mean the guys who don’t really have too many issues in life. I liked how Chelsea started to get to know him and how she started liking him and how it didn’t really take much “speech” for the two of them to like each other. I especially liked how Chelsea said that she knew she didn’t have to say anything to keep him because she knows he understands…and it’s just…sweet. New fictional YA crush!

On a more personal note, I found that Speechless hit a few uncomfortable spots for me, mostly because I can really relate to the talkative, gossipy Chelsea. Sometimes, it just feels so fun to talk and gossip, and more often than not, I never really thought of the repercussions of it until later. So in a way, Speechless reminded me to watch what I say, and if unsure, just enter the silence and zip it.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is definitely different from the author’s debut, but not in a bad way. It’s more of…this book is a less angsty, happier sibling of the previous novel. While I really liked Saving June, I think I liked Speechless just a tiny bit more. :) And yes, it may be just because of Sam. :P Overall, I know I will be looking forward to whatever Hannah Harrington comes up with next.

Rating:

Other reviews:
Janina Reads
The Nocturnal Library

Saving June

Saving June by Hannah HarringtonSaving June by Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin
Number of pages: 336

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

* * *

I’m late to this party, I know. I’ve had Saving June for a while now, but I put off reading it for no reason other than I didn’t feel like reading it yet. Even in the midst of all the other people singing praises to this book, I just didn’t feel like it yet. It occurred to me as I was making my reading list for this year that I may end up not reading this for a long time if I don’t bump it up my TBR.

‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’ June was the perfect daughter, and Harper was kind of okay being in her shadow. As with all siblings, they don’t really get along 100% of the time, but being related to each other, they still connect somehow. Until June kills herself, and it left Harper and her family’s lives in a wreck. There were no signs leading up to June’s suicide, and Harper felt that maybe, maybe if she paid more attention, she would’ve caught it. But she didn’t. Reeling from this, Harper finds some California postcards and a mysterious CD in June’s room, and decides to bring her sister’s ashes to California, where she had always dreamed of going. Then comes Jake Tolan, another equally mysterious guy who works in a music store (and probably owns a gibson at Guitar Center) who shows up at June’s wake. When he hears of Harper’s plans to go to California with her best friend Laney, he offers them a ride for the road trip without really disclosing why he wanted to do it. The three of them head to California, unsure of what exactly to do except that Harper figured that if she couldn’t get there when she was alive, the least she could do for her sister was to bring “her” there.

My initial reaction to Saving June? “Poor Harper.” I don’t know how it feels to lose someone in my immediate family, much less to suicide, but I’m pretty sure it must really suck bad. Harper’s difficulty to grieve on top of her mother’s breakdown just makes it harder, and I don’t know what to make of her. Interestingly, it was kind of easy to forget that Harper’s sister was dead at the start of the story, almost like that was written on purpose. Perhaps it was, too, because every time Harper remembers that June is gone, it’s a reminder for me too, and it makes me wonder how she can deal with all of it.

Hannah Harrington’s characters are really fleshed out in this book — Harper, Jake, Laney, even June. I really like that Laney was with them in the road trip, too, because I think she provided a good balance between Harper and Jake’s chemistry and it made the book not just about the simmering romance but how different people grieve for a friend’s loss.

I also like how the author managed to weave the faith aspect in the story, and I think it captures how a grieving person would think about faith and religion. Harper’s doubts felt authentic but never really disrespectful, and while her Aunt Helen was presented as almost a villain, it wasn’t really exaggerated that it would show people who cling to their beliefs at times of loss as silly. I really liked some of Harper’s musings about it, too:

It must be comforting, to have a faith like that. To believe so concretely that there’s someone — something — out there watching guard, keeping us safe, testing us only with what we can handle. (Kindle location: 331-332)

 

I get why people have faith in a higher power. Some people need it. They need to believe they’re not alone. (Kindle location: 1983)

I liked how the story was built up — from the various places they stopped at for the road trip, the romance and all the way to the end, when the twist came. The road trip kind of made me laugh — I can’t help but feel that something bad should happen to them brought about by people who just show up in the middle of nowhere. It kind of reminds me of the sort-of road trip part in Mira Grant’s Deadline, where they drove through deserted towns. The scene in New Mexico (I think?) where they stopped at a deserted road kind of made me expect zombies to come shuffling and get them. The romance had that slow burn again, reminiscent to the way the romances in Flat-Out Love and The Truth About Forever were built up. Jake and Harper’s push-and-pull chemistry was entertaining to read, with the potential to leave readers holding their breaths while they wait to see who gives in first.

The twist at the end didn’t really feel like such a big of a shock — I was expecting for a catch to come in after they had finally done what they said they would do. However, the build up and the resolution to it was very good, so it didn’t really bother me that much anymore. I liked how everything wrapped up in the end, and I think Saving June‘s ending was close to perfect for me.

(Caution: This may be a bit spoilery since this part comes somewhere at the end of the book, but I can’t not share it)

Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe I’ll get hurt in the end. But maybe not. I loved June. I still love her, and that will never change, but for the first time in my life, I truly, truly don’t want to be her. I don’t want to be so scared all the time. So alone. I want to believe something can be worth it. Worth the pain. Worth the risk.

Ah. Saving June, you remind me why we all need saving sometimes. Now I understand why this book made it into so many Best Of lists last year.

Rating:

Required Reading 2012: JanuaryOther reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
inkcrush

Required Reading: January

So yay, it’s the new year! January is one of my favorite months of the year, mostly because of the newness and all the possibilities of a new year. Especially in reading — don’t you like it when you see your read shelf for the year still zero and you wonder up to what number you can get to by December 31 this year? :) I know I do.

And because I had so much fun with this last year (and it really helped me knock off books from my TBR), I am going to have a go at this again. Hello Required Reading 2012! :)

Required Reading is a reading challenge that is really about getting some books off the Mt. TBR. Just as the name of the challenge meant, Required Reading is about choosing some books that must be read within the month. It doesn’t have to be the only books you read in a month, but they should be read (or at least, started) before the said month ends.

I had some rules on this last year that really applied to me, but in case other people want to join me, here are the rules:

  • Books chosen for the challenge should be in the current TBR pile as of the month of the Required Reading post. So if you decided to join at March, the books you choose for the month should be in your TBR pile as of February.
  • Galleys and ARCs can be included.
  • Posting reviews aren’t necessary (but don’t you want that out of the way, too?).
  • I’ll be posting a theme every month but you don’t have to follow that. You can choose a theme for yourself if you want to — what’s important is the books that you put there are books that you want to get to reading.
  • And since this is a TBR reducing challenge, it would be very ideal if the books you choose aren’t a part of any other challenge. Just so you can read more. But seeing as I bent this rule so many times last year, you can bend it too. :)
  • Lastly: have fun. If you don’t finish a book, it’s okay! If you finish it, then…feel free to reward yourself with something. :)

I’ll be posting a linky every month of a Required Reading post so you can leave a link to your Required Reading post there. (Not that there’s a lot of people who joined this last year…but you never know :D)

Now we are on for January. :)

Required Reading 2012: January

I love the end and the start of the year because there are so many books that I end up putting on my wish list after everyone starts making their best-of lists. Of course, that doesn’t really bode well for my book budget. :P It also makes me feel like I should READ. ALL. BOOKS., at least the ones they listed as very good that are in my TBR.

So for January, my required reading list will contain the books that I noticed were in a lot of best-of-2011 book lists among my blogger friends. Let’s call this Best-Of Catch Up. :)

  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington – “Saving June has everything that I look for in my contemporary reads…” (Chachic’s Book Nook)
  • Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park – “Loved it. You know those books where you’re excited to tell the world about? I think this is one of them.  The more I think about Flat-Out Love the more I feel this “I need to pimp this book” feeling.” (Janicu’s Book Blog)
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr – “From the assured writing to the authentic characters, How To Save A Life is a book that will both pluck at your heart strings and make you grin to lasting effect.” (Book Harbinger)

Oh look, all of them are contemporary books! Since I know I will probably end up going through these in a flash, I am adding two more books to the list:

So…that’s a sizable book list, don’t you think? I’ve started on one and already more than halfway on another, so at least I’ve started. :)


In My Mailbox (17): Goodreads Meet-Up

A day and a year ago, I met some of my now favorite people, the Filipino Group from Goodreads. Back then, we were just 12 in the meet-up:

gr-filipinosYesterday was the 5th meet-up of the group, and it was…well, monumental. I mean, compare the number last year to this year (thanks to Book Elf for the photo):

Class picture? :P

It was loads of fun, as usual, and like all other meet-ups, we were all crazy talking to each other and grabbing books everywhere. I was a zombie that day because I just came from night shift, but that didn’t mean it was less fun. I was just a bit lot loopy while it was all happening. :P We ended up staying until closing time in SM Megamall, and then some more walking after that before I finally crashed at my brother’s place to sleep and prepare for the 10k race the next day. See why I’m so sleepy now? :D

But I digress. As with all Goodreads meet-ups I’ve been to, there is always a rainshower of books. I don’t have a picture of the stash, but it was huge, to the point that some people don’t want to take the remaining ones anymore. And to those who got so many were all complaining of heavy baggage. :P

Anyway, I really liked my book stash yesterday. All of them were books that I really wanted to read:

  • What is Goodbye by Nikki Grimes – thanks Kuya Doni!
  • Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell – I don’t know who put this in the book pile, but thank you! I was already eying this one during the interview with the guests, and when our team won in the literary quiz, this was the first book I grabbed. :D
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – I don’t know who put this in the pile either, but I didn’t see it. Monique saw it, though, and she was kind enough to grab it for me. :)
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – thanks again to Monique! :) She saw this in Book Sale just as I put it on my wish list and got it for me.
  • The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty – from Aaron. He was putting this up for swap, I think? I used my “charms” to get it from him instead. LOL.
  • Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley – borrowed from Chachic. I cannot wait to read this. :)
  • Pink by Lili Wilkinson – borrowed from Celina. Yay Aussie YA. :)

I also finally got to meet Mina V. Esguerra in person, as well as Samantha Sotto, who will launch her debut, Before Ever After, this week. I got my copy of My Imaginary Ex signed by Mina (someone has a picture of us somewhere, so I’ll get that when they post it :D), and while I wasn’t able to get a book signed by Samantha, I’m definitely picking it up soon. :)

Oh, I also got some ebooks this week, and again, they’re books I am really excited about:

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca LeeSaving June by Hannah Harrington

  • Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee
  • Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I still badly need sleep now, but this weekend is definitely one for the books — literally, and figuratively. ;)

I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Have a great week everybody! :)