What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya SonesWhat My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Simon & Schuster, 304 pages

My name is Robin.

This book is about me.
It tells the story of what happens
when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be
a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be
a lot more complicated than that
Because I’m not gonna lie to you —
there are naked women involved.
Four of them, to be exact.
Though not in the way you might think.

Don’t get me wrong — my girlfriend’s amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I’m starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,
is getting it.

I like reading novels in verse when I feel like I’m reading too slow, like how I have been doing lately. I figured reading this book right after I finish the chunkster that is Jane Eyre would help me cleanse the palate a bit and make me feel better because I read a book a bit faster than how I am currently doing. That’s probably just me, though, so don’t mind me with that quirk.

What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones is the sequel to What My Mother Doesn’t Know, another novel in verse that I read and liked last year. Spoiler warning for the first novel starts here. This book is Robin’s story — Robin, the art geek who Sophie falls for at the end of the first book. Robin has always had a crush on Sophie, but he never thought she’d fall for him, until she does. He was ecstatic, of course, until he realizes that Sophie being his girlfriend wouldn’t change his life as much as him being Sophie’s boyfriend rocked her world — in a not so good way. Here the book tries to answer a question that fairy tales with their happily-ever-after’s don’t really get to answer: what happens next?

What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is both cute and painful. I know that’s a strange combination, but really, those are the two things I thought of while reading it. Robin is a cute narrator, sounding exactly like how I imagined a teenage guy would sound, with all the hormones and insecurities and girls and all that. He’s a good guy, really, but again, he’s also a guy, and the reactions and comments he had here with Sophie and their relationship, and yes, the naked women (with no scrub tops) were very…well, boyish. Robin is not just the art geek who fits the mythological perfect guy who never makes mistakes or never looks at other girls or women — he’s human, but he’s trying his best to be the best person he can be for his girlfriend, even if she doesn’t know so many things about what he’s going through.

And that’s the painful part. Robin and Sophie’s relationship isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Sophie’s reputation suffered because of Robin, and it was painful for Robin to see and hear the things people say about her because of him. I felt their pain, too, and it was just…sad because it wasn’t supposed to be that way. And it was messy, too, because Robin felt that it was all his fault, when really, it’s not. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know showed that life goes on after the fairy tales end, and it’s not always “happily” ever after.

A favorite passage that pretty much summarizes the happiness and paint that I felt while reading this:

Maybe,
if we can just laugh
instead of shattering,

we can somehow
keep all of it
from mattering.

What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is cute and fun and sometimes painful, but it’s a very quick and readable novel in verse. I’d recommend reading What My Mother Doesn’t Know first before getting into this so you’d appreciate this more. This is a very teenage novel, though, so don’t expect deep, life changing, earth-shattering revelations to come to you while reading it. If anything, this book gave me a reason to look back at my own high school years with a smile, and then sigh with relief and say, “Thank goodness I’m over that already.”

Rating:

My copy: paperback, birthday gift from Grace

Reviews of other Sonya Sones’ books:
What My Mother Doesn’t Know

Other reviews:
Kirkus

Song of the Sparrow

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann SandellSong of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 394
My copy: hardbound, from Goodreads TFG book swap

Beautiful sixteen-year old Elaine has a temperament as fiery as her long red hair. The daughter of a soldier in a young Arthur’s army, Elaine is the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Often slipping into daydreams, she wishes that the handsome Lancelot would see her more than a tomboy.

Then a new girl arrives, and Elaine is thrilled — until Gwynivere proves to be cold and cruel. But when Elaine and Gwynivere are thrown into a situation of gravest danger, the girls must band together in order to survive. Can Elaine find the strength to fight for the kingdom she has always believed in?

* * *

This year is the year of novels in verse for me, and I have been trying to keep one on my TBR in case of a need for a quick read. Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell is one of those books that hovered by my radar but I never really got because…well I’m not sure anymore. But anyway, when I saw a copy of this for swap in one of our Goodreads meet-ups, I got it immediately (with cackles of delight because I got it first — then again I’m not sure if anyone else wanted this more than I did).

Anyway, I haven’t read any book about Arthur or anything related to this legend, but I am a bit familiar because of all those Camelot-related cartoons and of course, Merlin. I wasn’t familiar with any other characters there, though, so this book came as a surprise and a bit of a crash course with the legend. Elaine of Ascolat is one of the two girls in the military camp where Arthur and his men stay to fight for Britain. Elaine’s only other companion is Arthur’s sister, who she loves but can’t talk to about her secret: that she is secretly in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s right hand man. Then another girl joins them in the camp, Gwynivere, and Elaine suddenly felt some competition for Lancelot’s affection.

I wasn’t really afraid that I won’t like this book, but I also wasn’t expecting to really like it so much. Despite its historical/mythical nature, the passages in this book were very easy to read. It was easy to slip into Elaine’s world and imagine how it is to be the only girl in a camp of men, and treat the guys as old friends and brothers who you know will also watch out for you. I could also easily feel her frustration of not having a girl friend in the camp and even more so Elaine’s jealousy and anger when attention goes from her to Gwynivere. It may be the book’s format that somehow made the book a little more romantic than I expected it to be — poetry does have its merits in that department. Plus, I wasn’t expecting the romantic twist in the story, and how it was resolved really made me smile. Then again, I don’t know if the twist here is really a part of the Arthur legend, so maybe I’m the only one who’s surprised.

A favorite passage:

But I believe, I continue, I know what true love is — or what it should be.

What should it be? Tristan asks, his voice soft now.

It should begin with friendship, I think.

Suddenly I cannot look at him.

It should begin with friendship and truly knowing
who a person is, knowing his flaws and hopes
and strengths and fears, knowing all of it.
And admiring and caring for — loving
the person because of all those things.

(p. 366)

Song of the Sparrow is a lovely book, and this has made me more curious about more Arthur stories. If you’re looking for a quick and yes, a little bit romantic read, then pick up a copy of this book. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook
Book Harbinger
Angieville

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! :)

What My Mother Doesn’t Know

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya SonesWhat My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Simon Pulse, 259 pages

My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.

It’s not that I’m boy crazy.
It’s just that even though I’m almost fifteen
it’s like my mind and my body and my heart
just don’t seem to be able to agree on anything.

I heard about What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones from Angie, but since she wrote about it for Retro Friday, I didn’t think it would be easily available here. Imagine my surprise when I spotted this during one of my book hunts. I shouldn’t have bought much then, but I’m easily swayed.

What does Sophie’s mother doesn’t know? A lot, actually, especially the ones about her love life. Sophie is in high school and while she says she’s not boy-crazy, she can’t stop thinking about kissable lips or obsessing about her boyfriend Dylan. She also can’t stop thinking about her online guy friend Chaz. And while we’re at it, she also can’t stop wondering about awkward, unpopular boy Murphy. There’s a lot that Sophie’s mother doesn’t know, and Sonya Sones regales these things to us in this wonderful, easy-to-read novel in verse.

I’m really starting to like reading novels in verse. This is my third verse novel for the year, and they make for excellent in-between book. I read this in less than two hours, and it gave my mind an easy break after all the serious books I’ve been reading. Sophie is a good narrator, and I immediately warmed up to her. She’s popular but she’s nice, and not completely selfish. I liked her relationships with her friends and her family, especially her relationship with her mom, which I could kind of relate with. It wouldn’t be entitled this without the mother aspect, right? While it’s not as strong and dramatic as the mother aspect in A Girl Named Mister, I think it still packs a punch. I especially like this passage:

ELEVEN P.M.

There’s this
real corny thing
that Channel 5 does every night
after the late movie,
just before the news comes on.

They flash this sign on the screen
that says:
“It’s eleven p.m.
Do you know where
your children are?”

And just now,
when it came on,
I heard this little tap tap tap on the wall
coming from my mother’s bedroom
and I tapped right back.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know is sweet and charming. Despite the less words, it was still very eloquent. Don’t be fooled by how the blurb makes the books so simple or shallow. Sonya Sones hit the nail on the head in portraying a teenage girl’s preoccupations and experiences in first (second and third) loves. This is one of comfort reads that’s quick, easy and just right. If Sonya Sones’ work are all as comforting as this, then I’m definitely getting her other books. :)

Rating:

2011 Challenge Status:
Required Reading – July

My copy: paperback from Fully Booked

Cover and blurb: Goodreads

Other reviews:
Angieville
Book Harbinger

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