Book Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen


Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Short reaction: Great lesson about family, acceptance and opening doors to others
Rating: 4 out of 5
Buy book on Amazon: Paperback / Kindle

Synopsis

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

My Review

Also seen on Goodreads.

I never felt so bored at majority of the chapters; good thing it got better at 80%. This is the second book that I read from Ms. Dessen’s work and despite the boredom, I liked how she created realistic stories and life lessons:

Lock and Key‘s pacing was slow especially on the parts where it revolved around Ruby Cooper (the daughter Ruby) and coping with her new life. Chapters felt so long and wordy. I might have given it 2 stars at worst if I didn’t pursue it. My conscience however told me I should continue because there’s something Ms. Dessen is going to show me. And it did show me something. A beautiful lesson.

What made me give it 4 stars?

It’s realistic. Ruby, our protagonist faces the biggest struggle of surviving alone since her mom left her in her junior year along with her sister’s disappearance years prior to that. No sane seventeen year old and yet attractive girl can stay like that forever while dealing with school, work, making up with bills, maintaining the household, keeping the relationship with boyfriend, etc. Ruby thought she can make it but even drugs and alcohol won’t fix a thing especially her emotions. Having a boyfriend didn’t make it better otherwise. But as she was sent under the custody of her sister Cora whom she didn’t see in years and now married, she’s gone through a lot of changes – living a wealthy lifestyle, changing herself for the better and trying to understand people around her especially her sister. Her learning to forgive herself, her mother and her sister made her somehow whole again to open her doors and trust again.

It’s about family. I have a weakness when it comes to reading about family e.g. keeping it whole and strong, treasuring every moment of it. Ruby’s family is already broken yet as the story develops, Ms. Dessen showed us how to appreciate life and family with others – new friends, a pet, a brother-in-law or a neighbor. I liked Jamie’s character (Cora’s husband) – how he makes people appreciate life by teaching them how to be happy and special to someone else, how to go through life with learning and acceptance, how to hope and make someone hopeful. He portrayed the best character! He touched my heart by how he cared for Ruby despite her attitude. He understood where Ruby and Cora came from and he’s willing to give them the life they wanted to have not only with his wealth but with his love and value for family. Another characters I loved were Nate’s and his little prodigy brother Gervais’. They’ve been a big help to make Ruby whole again by accompanying her to school, helping her and letting her feel appreciated even if they also have their own struggles. In fact, the unexpected romance was a nice breather!

I’m so glad I finished it. 🙂 I know I got bored a couple of times but the ending was worth it.

Really, we should let our locks be opened by giving those people who care our keys to our happiness then in the end, it’s all win-win because we might also make them whole and happy.

Advertisements

Book Review: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Short reaction: Has a lot of words of wisdom about life and accepting real beauty
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis

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.

My Review

Also seen on Goodreads.

Beauty and being beautiful is such a big deal to most women especially since the adolescent period where there’s the peak of peer pressure, bullying, etc. and what made me read this is because since I can’t deny my interest in beauty and beauty products, sometimes I neglect the real beauty within myself which is what I should focus more and not only on the outside. This novel is a breath of fresh air with its unique concept of acceptance and discovering new kind of love that will conquer all:


Genetics might be our first map, imprinted within us from the moment the right sperm meets the right egg. But who knew that all those DNA particles are merely reference points in our future?

As simple as the lesson in this book was how Terra Cooper realized her real beauty beneath her cheek’s port-wine stain in the shape of Bhutan. It’s how she managed to cope her Dad’s impulsive and judgmental behavior and stood for herself, her helpless mother and her brothers. It’s how she finally accepted how beautiful her collages were in its own imperfect details from scratch and hidden treasures. It’s how she finally loved a guy she really was meant to love – a guy who saw beauty in her imperfections and not having to fix it.

This story also reminded me of Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant To Live where it’s when you finally found your happiness by following the right path of life, just as the North Star sitting in its spot waiting to be discovered. That if we just try to accept our impurities and in return see what our potentials are, then that’s where we will see the real beauty inside us that will burst on the outside, giving us the happiness we’ll not find in any shiny material or rocket science.

I liked that Terra might have started wondering how to fix her face but she then learned through stages to accept the fact that she should just let people stare, get used to it through the help of her mom, Lydia and Jacob. Terra’s indeed beautiful – she just thought over the years of trying to erase her birthmark it was her flaw but she’s wrong.

This also made me love Jacob. The fact that he didn’t even notice Terra’s birthmark right from the start and got attracted to her was what caught me. It’s not even his age that bothered him nor his cleft palate scar to adore Terra, her being control-freak and all but he accepted her and supported her to keep going despite her dad always pushing her down.

The ending was so brilliant I could even try geocaching for myself to find hidden treasures. Who knows? 🙂

I’m glad Terra finally found her north star and it’s finding happiness with Jacob – one she loves and loves her back for real.

Being lost was just another way of saying you were exploring

Heck let’s go to China! 😀

Support the Author by buying the book

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1) by Stephanie Perkins
Genres: Young Adult, Chick-Lit, Realistic Fiction
Short reaction: Etienne St. Clair can drive you crazy!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

My Review

Also seen on Goodreads.

OK, forgive me if this is another rant for a lovely novel but like I said before, sometimes it’s just what happens after a sweet read and leaving my mouth open. Here, we meet the first in the Anna and the French Kiss series with protagonists Anna and Etienne St. Clair:

I smiled A LOT – reading this!!! While I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door, Anna and the French Kiss is totally a fun, sweet (tad sexy) read for me – not to mention because the setting is in Paris.

I will never ever forget how I’ve drawn St. Clair on my head. He’s such an adorable guy! 🙂

Anna and St. Clair gave this twist in fiction that happens in real life where you will be caught in between friendship and feeling of more than friendship during these things-get-tough-on-both sides’-relationships-and-you-want-his-or-her-company-more-than-your-bf-gf dilemmas. Well, life is totally complicated and that’s how you also find satisfaction when after all these tragedies, you still get a happy ending because you “learned” how life should be treated instead. And, you don’t have to face life all alone. You’ll find friends like Meredith, Rashmi and Josh in various situations who will make life even easier. 🙂

Looking forward to Isla And The Happily Ever After! 🙂

Support the Author by buying the book

Book Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Genres: Young Adult, Chick-Lit, Realistic Fiction
Short reaction: Taught me a different side of forever that’s sweet and memorable
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the first Sarah Dessen book that I read and the reason I became immediately turned a fan. Thanks Vanessa for introducing this author to me! 🙂

Synopsis

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

My Review

Also seen on Goodreads.

LOL, I hated myself for not reviewing books seriously this year but honestly I was speechless after reading it and I just wanted everything to dig in. So here’s my say:

Forever – this book tells us that forever is not only the perfect word for long time..it is how you make things perfect in its own imperfect ways that will help make it last even in a second, hour, days, weeks, years. Like being in love – you just have to love and forget the world sometimes and just do whatever it takes to be happy as we only have a life to live that will end whenever. If we truely love a person, we do not need to please because we will see ‘treasure’ even in the junkiest junk and thats what Wes taught Macy. 🙂

Love of Characters

Macy – This character is so realistic. Not too strong yet not too lame. When her father died, she made a decision not to run again even if that’s what he trained her but since it just tortures her because she wasn’t able to save him, she just let go of her passion in running. I also couldn’t blame her for hating people who always feel sorry for her for what happened because if I were her, I would also get tired of those sad faces and instead, I would find someone who can just joke around and forget the reality once in a while. Her being clingy with Jason when he left for brain camp – while it sounds wrong, I admit it’s normal to feel that way even that pissed the relationship off.

Jason – I hate him for being so selfish. He’s so focused on his career and reputation and didn’t see Macy’s value at all!

Wes – who wouldn’t love him? His unique sculptures, his “angels”, his care for Macy. Compared with Cricket, sadly I don’t think Cricket is better than Wes. Wes got me because he acted way more mature (because of his parents’ loss too) and for being the eldest child. I’m a sucker for guys who love exquisite to strangest art plus putting love to it. I can’t forget how he’s such a sweetheart for giving one of his creations to Macy which is a sign of his forever love to her. 🙂

Support the Author by buying the book

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2) by Stephanie Perkins
Genres: Young Adult, Chick-Lit, Realistic Fiction
Short reaction: Cute and colorful love story that will make you smile!
Rating: 4 out of 5

Heya Stephanie Perkins fans! Here’s her second book from Anna and the French Kiss series (I actually read this first because I thought it was a standalone previously LOL). But moving on, this is another cute story of teenagers who happen to be neighbors. Then there starts an unexpected love story between Lola and Cricket.

Synopsis

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Review

Also seen on Goodreads.

Note: This actually isn’t a book review but just a reaction of what I felt after reading this book and also what I learned from it:

A cute, fun, emotion-packed teen flick. Honestly I would like to share my opinion on how I felt and got my shoes into the story and not how I analyzed it..well at first I thought this was not for me during the first few pages but as I continued, this has opened the memories of first love, kiss and the feeling of loving a friend more than friend I never thought I could ever get teary eyes from as I reminisced. Lola and Cricket made me feel deeper about these things that happened before college life of having crush with someone almost your age that brought me back to how I fell in love for the first time that was awfully wonderful. This book felt ‘young’ but the way it touched me is magical like the moon and stars. Loved it.

Love of Characters

Lola – such a creative chic! I idolize her for having a different sense of fashion. Bringing color, glitter, shine to any object, fabric, etc is a unique talent especially because she can make any clothing look dazzling and expensive even if it’s only made of a ton of trinkets and slices of fabric. While some may find it funny that she always wears colorful wigs, I don’t find it weird because she’s just showing what her real personality is and with that, she’s a girl of color!

Cricket – loved the way he accepted and supported Lola all along despite his twin hating Lola. Like Lola, Cricket has got a talent he on the other hand inherited from his great grandfather Alexander Grahambell. At first I caught myself laughing over this – such a genius to think of it Ms. Perkins! Loved the way Cricket showed Lola how beautiful she is as the moon and stars. So cute yet so lovely.

Support the Author by buying the book