The Year of Secret Assignments

secretassignmentsThe Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
Ashbury/Brookfield # 2
Publisher: Scholastic
Number of pages: 340
My copy: paperback, from Aaron

Three girls. Three boys. One of them’s a total psycho.
It’s teenage life as it really feels. Only funnier.

The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program was designed to bring together the “lowlife Brooker kids” (as they’re known to the Ashburyites) and the “rich Ashbury snobs” (as they’re called by the Brookfielders) in a spirit of harmony and the Joy of the Envelope. But things don’t go quite as planned. Lydia and Sebastian trade challenges, like setting off the fire alarm at Brookfield. Emily tutors Charlie in How to Go On a Date with a Girl. But it’s Cassie and Matthew who both reveal and conceal the most about themselves — and it’s their secrets and lies that set off a war between the two schools.

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I’ve been meaning to read more Jaclyn Moriarty books ever since reviews about her Ashbury/Brookfield series popped up in other blogs I follow. I’ve been meaning to, but I never got around to buying one because I wanted to start with book # 1 but it was kind of hard to find. I ended up getting the second book from one of the book swaps we had in the book club, put it on my TBR pile and forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when I was looking for something light and quick to read.

I was probably halfway into it when I checked Goodreads and realized that I was reading the second book, but then it didn’t matter anymore because I’ve gotten over my being nitpicky with the series I read. That, and I didn’t even notice that it’s the second book already, because I didn’t feel lost at all while I was reading this.

Best friends Lydia, Emily and Cassie are students from Ashbury and are all in the same English class. One of their assignments for the semester is to send letters to their penpals from Brookfield, their rival school. They didn’t want to, but they ended up doing so for the grade. Lydia meets Seb, and they spend most of their letter writing times exchanging challenges to get one out of class or to recognize the other. Emily teaches Charlie how to be good with girls. Cassie gets Matthew, who threatens her at first, and then turns nice after Cassie talks about herself more. Told in letters, emails, transcripts and diary entries, The Year of Secret Assignments is a fun and touching story of rivalry and friendship with a good dose of pranking fun.

I really enjoyed reading The Year of Secret Assignments. I enjoy reading books in letter format, but only if they’re done right. I liked how the letters in this book gave me different perspectives of a certain event, and it wasn’t that hard to follow even if I had to go back again and again on the same scenes. The voices of the characters were all distinct, and their stories were all different but interesting enough for me to latch on and watch them unfold. I really liked Emily and Charlie because they’re so likable, but Lydia and Seb seem more fun with all their pranks.
But the best part of the book has to be how their friendships were written. There was no doubt that Lydia, Emily and Cassie were good friends, and it was shown from how they cared for each other and how they mention each other in their letters. I liked how they all come to defend each other, and how they all come through for each other at all times. Their friendship reminded me of some of my favorite ones in YA fiction, such as the ones in Jellicoe Road, or Saving Francesca. I guess that’s also another similarity in Australian YA?

Even if this was the second book in the series, I didn’t have a hard time following the story. I think the books are based on different characters, anyway, and the characters in the other books are just part of the secondary cast. I liked how real the Ashbury/Brookfield world is, and I look forward to reading more of them when I get my hands on the other books. :)

I think the amazing thing is this: that you are just as lovely as you ever were, except stronger and braver than before.

Rating: [rating=4]

Other reviews:
Chachic’s Book Nook

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! :)

In My Mailbox (14): Mother’s Day and a Long Hiatus

Before anything else!

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there! :)

Especially to mine:

<3Thank you for getting me all those books when I was a kid even if you’re not too fond of reading, and I know sometimes you think I read too much. :D  Thank you for reading all the things I wrote despite that fact. :) I love you!

* * *

It’s been a long time since I last did an In My Mailbox post. Other than laziness and trying to resist buying books, I went on a book-buying fast during the Lenten season. I could not buy books for myself, but I can buy them as gifts, or receive them as gifts since my birthday falls within Lent. It’s all good, and I ended up using the usual book money for other equally important things, like clothes.

But as soon as Easter morning came, I went to Book Depository and ordered books. :) It felt nice, to celebrate victory in that way. The books aren’t here yet, though, so that will be for another posts.

The books I bought in recent bookstore trips are a different matter. And so after a long hiatus, here’s my 14th In My Mailbox. 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.

In My Mailbox (14)

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