Crossing the Line

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Novellas are defined as longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. This particular novella is called Crossing the Line by Katie McGarry. Just a forewarning, this will probably be one of my most critical reviews yet.

Lila and Lincoln first met two years ago at the funeral of a mutual friend, where they bonded over their grief. Since then, they have secretly exchanged letters back in forth and have maintained an online relationship as well. Living several hours away from each other, they each have home lives that aren’t the best. When Lincoln accidentally alienates Lila by admitting his feelings, he travels to meet her in person and reconcile with her.

I admit that I haven’t read many novellas before, but this one’s length just didn’t suit the story at all. In the beginning, we are briefly introduced to Lincoln’s family members and his home’s difficult atmosphere. Then Lila talks about her on-again off-again boyfriend Steven and their strained relationship. This is the only time we are introduced to characters other than the two of them.

After that, the majority of the novel is filled with them admiring each other’s physique and admitting their attraction to each other. I found myself skipping pages just to find out what was going to happen, before it just… stopped. I almost wondered if my Kindle hadn’t downloaded the entire book.

While I appreciate McGarry’s effort, Lila and Lincoln’s story needed more than a novella. I just didn’t find the story realistic at all and the plot very typical and cliche.

 

Geek Girl: Picture Perfect

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The third of the series in the Geek Girl series by English author Holly Smale follows geek/model Harriet Manners on a journey to America.

Since the birth of her younger sister, Harriet has been enjoying life as a big sister, the company of her best friend Natalie and relationship with boyfriend Nick. This all changes when her father announces that he has accepted a job in New York City and that they will be moving there. Initially excited about life in the big city, Harriet is horrified to discover that their new home is living in the suburbs. She soon finds herself back in the modeling world, this time in New York City and along the way, meets some unusual people.

Although I enjoyed Harriet’s intelligent and observant character, I just didn’t enjoy this installment as much, as I found it very predictable. Harriet’s constant anger toward her parents became a little annoying, though that could be that I’m 23 and don’t exactly remember the resentment of being a teenager. Harriet’s new “friend” Kenderall (name?) who attempts to make Harriet stylish, was a flat and useless character. And of course, “the other boy,” Cal, whose actions I could predict from the very beginning. I found myself skipping pages just to pick up the pace.

Smale did describe an accurate representation of the modeling world in America, how competitive it is with hundreds of thousands of people trying to get their break in the big cities.

Overall, though I like Smale’s writing, I’m glad I borrowed this one from the library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geek Girl: Model Misfit

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The second book in the Geek Girl series, by English author Holly Smale, follows Harriet Manners, an intelligent yet socially awkward girl who is also a model.

Six months after beginning in the model world, Harriet finds herself looking forward to a dull summer when she finds out her best friend Natalie will be away. A call from Harriet’s agent Wilbur changes that when he informs her that she’s been chosen to travel to Tokyo to help in the launch of a fashion line. Excited about experiencing a different culture, a series of modeling misadventures soon makes Harriet doubt that the Tokyo trip is going to result well.

Harriet often has random facts scattered throughout her narrative about the human body, Japan and other topics. I found this very relatable, because my mind often thinks of random facts when I’m reminded of something. I didn’t feel like the inclusion of the facts was filler at all, as they helped in the flow of the story and illustrated Harriet’s intellectual personality. The juxtaposition of awkwardness and modeling is interesting, since modeling emphasizes poise and perfection and Harriet’s qualities are not exactly those. I do like that Smale chose to imply that not all models need to have flawless posture and perfect features.

There were some elements of the story that I found predictable. The romantic cliche of the girl getting the boy made an appearance, and my prediction as to who the culprit was for Harriet’s problems turned out to be correct. Still, I felt like Smale did a good job at continuing Harriet’s story, and I look forward to reading the next novel in the series.

Mosquitoland

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Road trip novels fascinate me. There’s something about a story that moves from place to place that makes it fun to read. Mosquitoland, the debut novel of David Arnold, is one such book.

Mary Iris Malone, or Mim, is the sixteen-year-old narrator. After learning her biological mother is ill, she steals money from her dad and stepmom, packs a bag and heads to Cleveland, Ohio from Mississippi. During her journey, she meets unique people and has experiences that make her flash back to several incidents from her dysfunctional childhood. It’s these experiences that force her to face her inner demons.

Several times throughout the book, Mim says “My name is Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.” I really liked that Arnold chose to contradict the all too common responses, “I’m okay,” and “I’m fine,” that people say when asked how they are. Mim openly admits that she is not okay when something reminds her of her past. It’s safe to assume that she has a mental illness, which I really liked, because it made her character much more realistic and relatable. Arnold’s choice to integrate mental illness into the plot is an example of breaking the stigma associated with this issue.

I did enjoy the themes of this book, but I felt like there were some scenes that went on for a bit too long. I found myself wanting to skip pages every now and then just to see what happened next to Mim. I do look forward to reading more of David Arnold’s material.

 

We’re All Made of Molecules

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Here’s a review in honor of International Book Lover’s Day!

Growing up with a mom who was a science teacher, I’ve known what molecules are since at least fifth grade. Defined as the smallest part of a chemical compound made up of atoms. However,  Canadian author Susin Nielsen uses molecules as a metaphor in her novel, We’re All Made of Molecules. 

Nielsen’s novel tells the story of teenagers Stewart Inkster and Ashley Anderson, who become stepsiblings when Stewart’s widowed father marries Ashley’s divorced mother. Stewart is excited about the prospect of having a sister, having wanted one since he was little. Ashley, on the other hand, is resentful of her mother’s remarriage, and feels betrayed by her father, who recently came out as gay. The two of them must adjust to their new family and going to the same school.

This set up may sound like a cliche, but Nielsen’s writing is what made this novel fun to read. The chapters alternate in the perspective of Stewart and Ashley, so we get both sides of the story. Stewart is an intelligent boy who is trying his best to cope with a new school and honor his late mother, who died of cancer. Ashley is a stylish girl who is pursuing Jared, the new handsome jock, but soon finds out that he is not who he seems to be. Nielsen is able to write both characters realistically and believable. I found her portrayal of a blended family trying to adjust to living together realistic, with the disagreements over decorating and arguments about different lifestyles. Merging two families does not go smoothly.

Nielsen’s use of molecules refers to Stewart saying that everyone is made up of molecules, indicating the connection of all human beings. No matter who someone is, they are made up of molecules.

The fact that this novel is set in Canada and deals with blended families reminded me of the Disney Channel TV series Life with Derek, which was also set in Canada and dealt with a teenage girl suddenly having a brother the same age as her. Turns out, Susin Nielsen has written episodes for the TV series Degrassi Junior High, produced by the same company. I always admire writers who write different types of media.

I definitely recommend this funny, insightful book.

20 Day Writing Challenge: Day One: I Write Because…

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I write because I knew I was meant to at an early age. From the time I was in second grade, I knew words were for me. I was never a math person. The mathematics of time and money got mixed up. Time…

Source: 20 Day Writing Challenge: Day One: I Write Because…