Review: Between by Jessica Warman

 

Title: Between

Author: Jessica Warman

Publisher: Walker Books

ISBN: 978-0802721822

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Elizabeth Valchar-pretty, popular, and perfect-wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday party on her family’s yacht, where she’d been celebrating with her six closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, what she finds will change everything she thought she knew about her life, her friends, and everything in between. As Liz begins to unravel the circumstances surrounding her birthday night, she will find that no one around her, least of all Liz herself, was perfect-or innocent. Critically acclaimed author Jessica Warman brings readers along on a roller-coaster ride of a mystery, one that is also a heartbreaking character study, a touching romance, and ultimately a hopeful tale of redemption, love, and letting go.

Review:

I am a bit confused about my feelings for this book.  There were many elements that I loved and that is what kept me reading.  There were also bits and pieces that I wasn’t so fond of, that detracted from my enjoyment of Between.  I love the concept, too, but felt that the execution was just a little weak in spots.

My biggest dissatisfaction stems from the pacing.  This is a leisurely look at the life and death of one very spoiled young woman.  Starting with Liz’s death, the book jumps between the present and flashbacks to the past to unravel the mystery of her death.  How did she end up in a cold, watery grave on her birthday? Why didn’t anyone hear her fall off of her parents’ boat, or her struggles to save herself from drowning?  Liz has very few memories left, so with the help of another ghost, she begins to fill in the pieces of her life that she has forgotten.  As she slowly adds one fragment of her past after another, she starts to see that she wasn’t a very nice person, and that despite all appearances to the contrary, she wasn’t a very happy one, either.

This is a character driven book, which brings me to the other reason why I didn’t totally love this read.  I wasn’t head over heels with any of the characters, except maybe Alex.  Alex has been dead for a year, killed by a hit and run driver.  He has been stuck somewhere between life and death, restlessly seeking a way to move beyond where he’s stuck now.  He was never a popular kid at school, and unlike Liz, he had to work for everything that he had.  His parents weren’t wealthy, and he had to work at the local market, riding his bike back and forth to his job.  It’s obvious from the start that he can’t stand Liz, he can’t stand her friends, and he isn’t happy that he’s with her in death.  She is about the last person he would want to spend time with, and now it looks like he’s going to be spending eternity with her.   Life, and death, just aren’t fair!

Since Liz can’t remember much about herself, she has a hard time believing that she was as big a witch as Alex claims.  Through flashbacks, she begins to see what a mess she was.  Having witnessed her mother’s untimely death, Liz has had many issues to deal with, and they have left her with a skewed outlook on life.  Her father denies her nothing, and her step-mother and step-sister are also accustomed to getting every material thing that they want.  This leaves Liz a shallow, materialistic girl, and I never connected with her.  Even in her death, she’s hard to like.  She’s catty and judgmental, and she’s always critical of the people around her and how they look or what they have.  It’s like she still can’t see beyond outward appearances, even when she is seeking redemption for herself.  This frustrated me about her.  She is petty and shallow, from the beginning of the book to the end.   This is a passage near the end of the novel:

Nicole saunters out the back door of our house. She’s wearing a flowing white skirt that grazes her ankles, a yellow halter top that exposes her belly – which is just a tad pudgy – and a light jacket.

If I had ever met her in real life, we would have hated each other.

Having said that, Liz does possess one character trait that I admired, and kept me from totally disliking her.  She is so intensely loyal and in love with Richie, her boyfriend.  Though he is a flawed character as well, their relationship was convincing.  They have known each other since they were both babies, and they have developed an intense and unwavering love between them.  They have always been together, and they believe, firmly and unflinchingly, that they will always be together.

While Between didn’t always work for me, I never wanted to put it down and stop reading it.  I did want Liz and Alex to find some kind of meaning in their deaths, and I wanted Liz to find the happiness in death that she never found in her troubled life.  I just wish I had liked her better during her journey to find inner peace.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

 

Title: Haunting Violet

Author: Alyxandra Harvey

Publisher: Walker Books

ISBN: 978-0802798398

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Review:

I was a teeny bit apprehensive when I picked up Haunting Violet.  Why? Because I love Alyxandra Harvey’s Drake Chronicles, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be as charmed by a story without them.  I was wrong, and I enjoyed this book very much.  It reads like an old skool Gothic romance, and even reminded me of Barbara Michaels’/Elizabeth Peters’ older works. 

I loved the setting, which is a house party in Victorian England.  There is nothing I would like better than to attend a house party at a country estate with a ginormous wall-to-ceiling library, gardens, and sumptuous meals. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a life of leisure, reading, strolling, and stuffing their faces for a few weeks.  The murder and ghosts I could cheerfully do without, but the rest would be the ideal vacation!

Violet is a great character who is caught up in a web of lies spun by her mother, and she has no way of gracefully freeing herself from a life of deceit.  Worse, she is forced to help her mother fool wealthy patrons into believing that her mother is a spiritual medium.  Violet hates this, and she hates taking advantage of grieving people.  Her mother has no such reservations, and she tricks and lies her way from one benefactor to the next.  Violet despairs at ever freeing herself from her mother’s harsh control, and resignedly does as she is ordered.  Though fleecing rich people of their money doesn’t sit well with her, it does put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

Violet doesn’t believe in ghosts, so it comes as a huge shock when she actually finds herself seeing them.  Everywhere!  Once she and her mother arrive at Lord Jasper’s enormous estate, Violet’s life will never be the same again.  A disgruntled spirit keeps haunting her, and the young woman just won’t leave her alone.  As Violet begins to piece together the mystery behind Rowena’s death, she unwittingly puts her own life in danger.  Rowena didn’t drown as everyone believes; instead, she was murdered, and Rowena wants her murderer unmasked.

Creepy and suspenseful, I couldn’t put the book down.  I loved Violet and felt so sorry for her.  Her mother will never win the Mother of Year award, and would probably be reported to social services if this book took place in modern times.  The stress of having to deal with her demanding mother added so much tension to the story.  Violet still doesn’t really believe in ghosts, even though she can see them, and she certainly doesn’t want her mother to know  that she’s suffering from these unsettling visions.  Ever eager to find news ways to exploit her patrons, Violet’s mother would only continue to take advantage of her and make her life even more miserable.  It’s a hard secret to keep, because Rowena is a very persistent ghost, and she just won’t leave Violet alone.

The romance is sweet and convincing, the murder mystery is compelling, and Violet is a wonderful protagonist.  Though the ending ties up all of the loose ends, I could easily see more adventures in store for Violet.  

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Picture Book Review: Saving Audie by Patent and Munoz

 

Title: Saving Audie

Author: Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Photographs: William Munoz

Publisher: Walker Books

ISBN: 978-0802722720

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring was discovered, more than forty dogs were rescued. But their struggle was far from over. Most animal advocates believed the former fighting dogs were too damaged to save, but Audie and his kennel mates would prove them wrong when public outcry and the publicity surrounding Michael Vick’s punishment won them a chance at a happy life. Teaming up once again with William Muñoz, photo-essay veteran Dorothy Hinshaw Patent gives an emotional account of one dog’s heartwarming story, showing how Audie, who was only a puppy when he was rescued, was rehabilitated, adopted, and now enjoys the love he deserves.

Review:

This was a hard book for me to read, but not because of the writing.  The subject matter is very close to my heart, and I still remember the day that the news broke about Michael Vicks’ Bad Newz Kennels.  It horrified me, and it made me angry.  Why would such a successful and wealthy athlete, a sports ambassador, if you will, do something so cruel?  How could anyone do something like this to a bunch of helpless dogs?  Dogs are the one animal that will love you conditionally, and accept you for who you are.  If you can’t be nice to something as simple as a dog, how can you possible be nice to a fellow human being?  I don’t buy the argument that Vick’s upbringing makes killing defenseless animals acceptable, especially not when millions of kids look up to him and try to emulate him.  Ugh.

Audie is one lucky pit bull puppy.  Most of the Vick dogs are, really.  Due to Vick’s notoriety, these dogs were given a second chance at life, one that didn’t involve fighting.  Contrary to common practice, these dogs were spared, and after intensive behavioral research, most of them were given the go ahead to be fostered and adopted out instead of being euthanized.  Audie is one of those dogs that won the forever home lottery, and this picture book chronicles his new life as a pet.

Audie’s road to happiness wasn’t easy.  After being sheltered in a small cage months as the Vick investigation dragged out, he was considered evidence by the government.  After Vick’s trial and conviction, all of the Bad Newz dogs were supposed to be put down.  A few animal loving organizations stepped in and asked that they be spared, and because of the media coverage, the dogs were allowed to live.  They were finally seen as what they were – victims of a violent crime.  Audie was placed in a foster home, which turned out to be his forever home.  Now Audie is what Michael Vick should have been; an ambassador for other dogs like him, who deserve another chance at happiness.

I loved this book and the photographs, as well as all of the facts about the Michael Vick case.  Audie and his fellow canines from Bad Newz Kennels are very lucky dogs.  Many of them have found loving homes, and the ones that haven’t are being cared for with money Vick was ordered to pay to care for his former dogs.

Here is my second chance dog – he isn’t a Pit Bull, but his breed gets a bad rap, too.  He almost died in the shelter before he was rescued and placed into a foster home.  When we adopted him, he was 70 lbs, about 50 lbs underweight.  It took him a while to trust us, but now he is a big cuddle bug.  I love him dearly, and I’m not so sure if we rescued him or he rescued us.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

 

Title: OyMG

Author: Amy Fellner Dominy

Publisher: Walker & Company

ISBN: 978-0802721778

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ellie Taylor loves nothing better than a good argument. So when she gets accepted to the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts summer camp, she’s sure that if she wins the final tournament, it’ll be her ticket to a scholarship to the best speech school in the country. Unfortunately, the competition at CSSPA is hot-literally. His name is Devon and, whether she likes it or not, being near him makes her sizzle. Luckily she’s confident enough to take on the challenge-until she begins to suspect that the private scholarship’s benefactor has negative feelings toward Jews. Will hiding her true identity and heritage be worth a shot at her dream?

Debut author Amy Fellner Dominy mixes sweet romance, surprising secrets, and even some matzo ball soup to cook up a funny yet heartfelt story about an outspoken girl who must learn to speak out for herself.

Review:

When I read the description for OyMG, I have to admit that it left me a little ambivalent.  I wasn’t sure about the tone of the book, and since I am about the least religious person you will ever meet, it’s hard for me to relate to a character who does have strong religious identity.  So it was with a bit of trepidation that I started reading this, and I have to say now that I couldn’t put it down.  I read it through in two sittings, and enjoyed it very much.  Despite the serious subject of discrimination, it is presented with humor, and it manages to make a statement without feeling preachy.  And there is a very sweet romance stirred in to make the protagonist’s decisions that much harder to make.

Ellie Taylor has one dream; to attend CSSPA summer camp and win a scholarship to elite Benedict’s Conservatory of Arts and Academics.  Problem? CSSPA is the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts, and she’s Jewish.  Her grandfather thinks it’s a bad idea for her to attend, and when Ellie discovers that one of the school’s benefactors and board members might be prejudiced against Jews, she starts to think that maybe he’s right.  Ellie wants that scholarship so badly, though, and she can only see one path for her life; graduate from Benedict’s, move on to college, and make a difference with her oratory skills.  She has a gift of gab, and she wants to put it to good use.  When she has to lie about who she is, she starts to wonder if she’s doing really what’s best for herself after all.

There are so many aspects of OyMG that I liked that I don’t even know where to begin.  Probably first and foremost is Ellie’s relationship with her grandfather.  He is appalled when he discovers that she’s lying about who she is.  Hurt and angry, he doesn’t hesitate to call her out on her rejection of her heritage.  While they have always had a strong, though occasionally argumentative relationship, Ellie’s desire to get what she wants, no matter the cost, puts a serious strain on their interactions.  Her grandfather wants Ellie to understand that there is a price to be paid for denying yourself, and that allowing decimation when it’s convenient for you is inexcusable.  So many people made so many staggering sacrifices to keep their heritage, and for Ellie to brush that aside is wrong.  There’s a lot of raw emotion here as Ellie keeps making excuses for Mrs. Yeats; confusion, anger, fear.  She has never experienced such blind hatred, and she doesn’t know what to do about it.  More than anything, Ellie wants to be accepted and liked, and she doesn’t understand how Mrs. Yeats can hate her because of her religion.  Her inner struggle was so compelling that I couldn’t put the book down.  I wanted Ellie to make the right decision, but even I didn’t know what it was!

Ellie’s romance with Devon was my second favorite story thread.  Devon is the grandson of Mrs. Yeats, and he’s the one to tip her off to his grandmother’s dislike of Jews.  Devon confuses her, because Ellie starts to wonder if, deep down, maybe Devon shares his grandmother’s views.  Devon, it turns out, has a few personal issues with his grandmother, as well.  The successful businesswoman is used to getting her own way, and that includes with her family.  She has goals and plans for Devon, even though she knows that he doesn’t want the same things she does. 

OyMG was a surprise discovery for me, and I am looking forward to reading Amy Fellner Dominy’s next book.  Her characters are deep and complicated, but able to laugh about their own short-comings.  The final resolution is a bit too convenient, but I found it satisfying none-the-less.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

 

Title: Tempest Rising

Author: Tracy Deebs

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0802722317

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water’s temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean’s future hangs in the balance.

Review:

I love the cover of this book, and I wanted to read it from the moment that I first saw it.  I have a great affection for mermaid stories, and I try to read as many of them as I can.  The ocean is like the last frontier; who knows what lurks down there, in the dark depths of the sea?  I mean, have you seen pictures of some of the crazy looking fish that live down there? Who is to say that mermaids can’t be hiding under the waves as well?

Tempest is just days shy of her seventeenth birthday, which is something she has come to dread.  On her birthday, she will have to choose what she will be – a human or a mermaid.  Her mother abandoned her family years before, returning to her home in the Pacific Ocean.  A half-mermaid, the sea has always called to her and made her feel at home.  She is a killer surfer, and loves the time she spends with her on again, off again boyfriend riding the waves.  When weird things start happening to her, and after she almost drowns, Tempest begins to realize that maybe she doesn’t have much of a choice about whether she stays a human or fulfills her destiny and follows her mother into the ocean’s watery depths.

I loved Tempest’s inner struggle here.  It is obvious that she loves her family, and she will do anything for them.  Her younger brother is especially dear to her, and she has tried to make up for their mother’s absence.  Despite their occasional bickering, there is a strong unity between the siblings, and you get a great sense of how much they care for each other.  Tempest’s father is a wonderful character as well.  He is still reeling from the loss of his wife, but he strives to provide a stable, supportive home for his kids.

When the water keeps calling to her, and her body starts to change in unsettling ways, she begins to wonder if she really has a choice at all.  Those gills are kind of disturbing, and she is terrified of growing a tail while surfing with her friends.  When the mysterious and totally hot Kai shows up on the beach, Tempest’s life is thrown into chaos.  She feels a strong and undeniable attraction to Kai, and even her boyfriend Mark feels threatened when he sees them together.  The tension between Tempest and Kai sizzles, and while I enjoyed the romance aspects of this story, I felt that they overshadowed the rest of the plot. 

This brings me to my only complaint about the book.  Tempest’s voice did not ring true for me, and I didn’t get the feeling that she was a 17 year-old.  She sounded much older to me, and that occasionally jarred me out of the narrative.  Tracy Deebs also writes under several pen names, including adult paranormal romances as Tessa Adams (Dark Embers looks awesome, by the way!).  While the physical displays of affection are obviously toned way down, there was still too much emphasis on this.  Call me silly, but I would have preferred to learn more about the mermaids and their world than reading about Kai and Tempest making out or swimming together, for that matter!  I enjoyed the world-building we were given, but was disappointed that there wasn’t more.

Overall, Tempest Rising is an enjoyable read.  I liked the characters, and found the underwater world of the story fascinating.  I am just disappointed that we didn’t get learn more about the mermaids, but hopefully this will be addressed in the sequel.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Grave Robber’s Secret by Anna Myers

 

Title:

Author:

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0802721839

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The night his father forces him to help empty a grave to sell its contents to the medical college, Robby Hare swears he will never rob another grave. Yet he can’t resist his fascination with the discoveries he knows the doctors will make as a result of their gruesome nighttime mission. Robby’s wish for another way for his family to make ends meet is answered when William Burke and his daughter, Martha, come to live at their boarding house. Although he is grateful to avoid the graveyard, Robby senses something dangerous about Burke, and suspects him of involving his father in a broader web of evil-and possibly murder. Can Robby expose their scheme before innocent lives are lost?

In an exciting journey through the back alleys and graveyards of Philadelphia in the 1800s, to the halls of the nation’s first hospital and the frontiers of medical research, Anna Myers will capture readers with the darker days of history.

Review:

I enjoyed The Grave Robber’s Secret!  It’s another book that made me stop and think about something that I hadn’t ever pondered before.  How did medical schools get cadavers for their research in a time before those little checkboxes on the back of our driver’s licenses?  Twelve year old Robby finds out the hard way; his father forces him to help rob graves, so they can sell the bodies to the medical school at the Philadelphia hospital.  Ugh!!  I could relate to Robby from the first page! The poor kid doesn’t want to do this grizzly work, but his father won’t hesitate to give him a beating if he refuses.

When Mr. Burke and his young daughter rent out two rooms at their boarding house, Robby prays that his grave robbing days are over with the steady income they will provide.  As he and Martha become friends, however, Robby becomes more and more suspicious of her father.  What does Burke do during the day, and why is he so secretive?  When Robby tries to find out, Burke threatens him and tells him under no uncertain terms to mind his own business.  This only fuels Robby’s curiosity, and he is determined to discover Burke’s secrets.

I couldn’t put the book down!  It is very suspenseful, and I loved the historical details as well.  When Robby and his dad deliver their first body to the medical school, he is fascinated by the chart of the human body that is tacked to the wall.  When he witnesses an operation, he is amazed.  While he hates grave robbing, he sees the need for the school to have cadavers for research.  How else will the doctors know how to save the lives of the sick and those injured in accidents?

Both Robby and Martha are wonderful characters, full of courage, curiosity, and compassion.  I liked them both! Their interactions were very convincing, and as they got to know each other and became friends, their bickering and subsequent reconciliations rang true.  Robby is critical and suspicious of Burke, while Martha only knows him as a doting father.  They clash on this point, and it threatens their friendship.  There are times that Robby does come on strong, and he doesn’t have the tact yet to discuss his concerns with Martha without sounding accusatory.

The Grave Robber’s Secret is a suspenseful middle-grade read, with lots of danger and great characters.  The historical details are fascinating, and provide an insightful background into the field of medical research.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

 

Title: Mad Love

Author: Suzanne Selfors

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0802784506

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When you’re the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can’t write it. Alice needs a story for her mother-and she needs one fast.

That’s when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol’s voice in her head and see things she can’t explain, she must face the truth-that she’s either inherited her mother’s madness, or Errol is for real.

Review:

I liked Mad Love a lot!  The book wasn’t what I was expecting, but in a good way.  I was drawn into Alice’s insecurities and anxieties from the first page, and I was able to empathize with her right away.  She’s under so much pressure to keep her mother’s secret, and the burden of living a lie is almost too much for her.  Her torn emotions rang true for me.  She is both ashamed and embarrassed by her mother’s mental illness, and she is also consumed with the fear that she might be exhibiting signs of mental illness herself, especially after Errol intrudes on her life.  Either he is a total nutcase, or she is, by believing that he really is Cupid.

The story deals mainly with Alice trying to keep it together while her mother is undergoing treatment in a psychiatric hospital.  There is a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure, but the main focus is on Alice and her struggle to keep going, and to protect her mother, until she’s well again.  With her mother’s publisher hounding their Queen of Romance for her next book, and threatening to withhold royalty payments if she doesn’t deliver soon, Alice also receives a hard lesson in economics, and it’s not a pleasant one.  I know how difficult it is to juggle financial obligations; I can’t imagine having to do it as a high school student.

The supporting cast, tenants in her mother’s apartment complex, offer Alice much needed moral support.  I enjoyed the comradery between them, and even when they have their disagreements, it’s still obvious that they are a tight bunch and that the bickering upsets them. Their good intentions often drove her nuts, but when push came to shove, Alice was obviously grateful to have them to lean on.  I think I liked them so much because they supported Alice, even when she wasn’t being completely upfront with them.

Errol isn’t exactly my idea of Cupid, but by the end of the book, I was convinced just like Alice was. He just wants someone to listen to him, to believe him, to be there for him.  He is deserving of even more sympathy than Alice, because he has been toyed with by the gods and goddesses since he unwisely agreed to be their puppet.  He was made to bestow love on others for the amusement of the gods; passionate, destructive love meant to cause strife and mischief.  True love seemed forever out of his grasp, both for his victims and for himself.  Even when it’s right there, staring you in the face, if you aren’t willing to see it, to really open your eyes and look, true love will always slip through your fingers.  I never stopped to think that Cupid’s arrows could bring so much unhappiness before, and I found it an interesting premise.

The main strength of Mad Love is protagonist Alice.  She is relatable and I connected with her right away.  It was heartbreaking to think about what she was going through, and how brave she forced herself to be.  She has so many secrets to keep, and she is so desperate to protect her mother.  She is also suffering because she blames herself and she wonders if she could have done something differently to help her mom.  Even worse, she feels abandoned and unloved by the one person she loves the most.

I don’t want to give the impression that the book is all gloomy and angsty, because it’s not.  There are these wonderful flashes of humor that had me smiling, and Alice’s awkwardness around Tony was endearing.  Alice learns, with the help of the somewhat grumpy Cupid, to believe in herself and more importantly, learns to believe in love again.  The ending is a bit too neat and tidy, but that is a very small quibble for a very enjoyable read.

Check back later today for your chance to win a copy of Mad Love!

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

 

Title: Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance

Author: Emily Franklin &

Brendan Halpin

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0802721624

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Charlie and Aaron are America’s sweetheart couple.   Stars of a top rated TV show, they are riding a wave of popularity.  There’s just one problem. They can’t stand each other!  That makes it hard for them to pretend to be in love, on screen and off.  When a misstep ruins their careers and gets their show canceled, can they find a purpose for their lives and redeem themselves, too?

Told in alternating POV, I thought Jenna & Jonah’s Fauxmance was a fun read, but I was disappointed with the uneven pacing.  After their careers blow up in their faces, the young stars are forced to work through their issues, whether they want to or not.  They would prefer to go their separate ways, but after spending so much time together, they aren’t quite sure how to sever the umbilical cord holding them together.  Their entire lives revolved around each other for so long, and now that it’s over, moving on is more difficult than they had anticipated.

The sparks fly between Charlie and Aaron, and they do have so many issues to work through.  Charlie  has the most to lose now, because she can’t comprehend a life without acting.  She doesn’t want one.   Aaron just wants the sideshow to end, so he can head off to college and be free to do want he wants, without a camera there to record every move.  When their agents conspire to keep them together by exiling them in Oregon at a Shakespearean festival, they discover even more conflict between themselves.  They have different goals in life, and neither is willing to compromise with the other.

I loved Aaron, and was convinced by his desire to change himself.  His life, once inspected under a microscope, is so fake, and he just wants to be real again.  And then there’s that girl, who keeps making his life miserable!  When he’s honest with himself she’s not all that bad, but gosh, sometimes it’s just easier to keep lying about things.  Charlie drives him crazy, and Aaron has to decide whether it’s a good crazy, or one he’s better off not dealing with.

Charlie got on my nerves until almost the end of the book.  She is so caught up in herself, in her career, in what she wants, that it is at times difficult to like her.  To be fair, it’s not her fault. It’s all she knows, and making the adjustment to “normal” teenager just isn’t easy.  She’s pissed at Aaron for making her go through all of this, and yet…she can’t imagine life without him.  I liked the constant push and pull of their relationship, even though it was driving me crazy, too!

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by publisher