Publisher: Simon & Schuster BfYR

Friday, August 01, 2014

Review: Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

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Review: Girl Defective by Simmone Howell
Girl Defective
Simmone Howell
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: September 2nd 2014
by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

In the tradition of High Fidelity and Empire Records, this is the literary soundtrack to Skylark Martin’s strange, mysterious, and extraordinary summer.

This is the story of a wild girl and a ghost girl; a boy who knew nothing and a boy who thought he knew everything.

It’s a story about Skylark Martin, who lives with her father and brother in a vintage record shop and is trying to find her place in the world. It’s about ten-year-old Super Agent Gully and his case of a lifetime. And about beautiful, reckless, sharp-as-knives Nancy. It’s about tragi-hot Luke, and just-plain-tragic Mia Casey. It’s about the dark underbelly of a curious neighborhood. It’s about summer, and weirdness, and mystery, and music.

And it's about life and death and grief and romance. All the good stuff.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada for review-

Upon seeing the references to both Empire Records and High Fidelity in the blurb for Girl Defective I was quick to read this one as soon as it showed up on my doorstep.  Empire will forever be in my top 5 favourite movies of all time list because I am a huge music junkie.  I love the feelings that music captures and how it can evoke so much emotion from me as a listener.  I was a big fan of how Howell conveyed the importance of music in the lives of the Martin family but since a lot of the references to bands and such weren’t ones I had ever heard of I didn’t fall as in love with that aspect of the story as I had hoped to.

Girl Defective is not what I would call a plot driven story.  We are basically shown the life of the Martin family for a period of time and we just go along with their lives.  There is no big event driving the story it’s simply character driven.  This worked for me here because I did come to care about Skylark, Gully and Bill.  The Martin family is not perfect by any means and that’s what made me care about them the most.  We’re told the story through the eyes of Skylark, a 15 year old girl who is simply trying to find her way in life.  She’s having romantic emotions for the first time and really just trying to figure shit out.  I loved her infatuation with Nancy and how she struggled with putting a name on it.  Nancy is a wild child who once worked in her father’s vinyl shop and she evokes so much wonder from young Skylark because she is such a free spirit.  Don’t get me wrong, Nancy is not someone who should be a role model, but I liked how she got Skylark to go outside of her box and she really opened up her eyes at a very impressionable age.

Also driving along this change in Skylark is the super hot Luke Casey who her dad hires on at the shop.  He was a great addition to the story because he also drives along the mystery that underlies the novel.  Popping up around town are posters of a girl who drowned years ago and once Skylark finds out her the name of the new boy at the shop and that the drowned girls name was Mia Casey, she quickly puts two and two together.  As Sky starts to get closer to Luke she realizes that they are really looking for the same answers, they want to know what happened to Mia that led her to her death that night.  Through their sleuthing for the full story they start to fall for one another slowly and it’s really sweet.  I liked that it was by no means insta-love, it buds slowly and at times you aren’t even sure if that is really the direction they are heading.  Luke became close with the whole family which had me really rooting for their love story to grow.

Aside from the romance and the friendships in Girl Defective, there is such a fantastic family dynamic.  We are quick to learn that Sky and Gully’s mother took off when they were much younger and there is a lot of resentment from Sky about it (rightfully so, in my eyes.) She’s really had to step up in her mother’s absence, not only due to it but also due to the fact that her father has a drinking problem.  It was frustrating to see Bill constantly check out and crack open a beer when the kids really did need him.  Gully wasn’t an easy child to handle at all, I can’t exactly pin point what was up with him but he had an obsessive personality and was prone to pretty extensive outbursts.

Everything I have said here probably comes across as a pretty glowing review and I do admit that I did like the book overall, but I can’t say that I fell in love with it.  It was quite slow moving and at times I was frustrated with that.  I am usually a pretty big fan of character driven stories so I can’t blame my subtle indifference to it on that, I did come to care for the characters, but I just wanted more I guess.  Some of my disappointment is also because a lot of the musical references went over my head and I consider myself a pretty big music buff.  Whatever the reason this one just felt like a 3 star for me so that’s what I am going to slap on it.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Review: Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke

Review: Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke

Posted by on 07/18/2014 • 19 Comments

Incredibly well thought-out with fascinating world building, Dissonance is a really good sci-fi with a heavy dose of romance.

Delancy is a Walker, she has a genetic ability to manipulate matter and visit alternate worlds created by the choices people make. Walkers monitor and fix anomalies that affect the key world. I was wary of this premise at first, it’s something that could have been a huge flop if the world building was lacking, fortunately it’s anything but. It’s clear that a ton of research – not to mention creativity – went into crafting the world inside Dissonance. It has an impressive amount of detail, it’s ambitious, and, more as a warning: it’s also hard to grasp. Kinda like the Tempest series by Julie Cross; it’s a series I…

Review: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Review: If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Posted by on 06/02/2014 • 11 Comments

I’ve had this book on my shelf for well over a year now but for some reason I never did get around to picking it up. When I saw Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner raving about it recently I decided it was time for me to bite the bullet and give If I Lie a read. Am I ever happy that I did. This story was just the kind of emotionally touching tale that I love to read and get lost in.

Sophie Topper Quinn has grown up with two very best friends, Carey and Blake. As they got older Sophie and Carey became known in their town as “Military Barbie & Ken.” People saw their future together and it was well known that they were an item. Once Carey…

Review: To All The Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han

Review: To All The Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han

Posted by on 05/23/2014 • 19 Comments

Around the time that To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before came out I saw nothing but love for it on my GR feed. This made me pretty excited to get around to reading it myself. I’d never read anything by Jenny Han before and this seemed like the perfect book for me to get started with. I think all of those expectations came back to bite me in the butt because I was pretty bored and annoyed through the entirety of this novel.

Lara Jean is the middle Song sister. She has her older sister Margo who is just setting off to college in Scotland and her younger sister Kitty who she is in charge of in Margo’s absence. Their mother died long ago and the girls have learned…

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Posted by on 05/16/2014 • 18 Comments

This is a book that has gone seriously under-noticed and that’s a shame because it’s brilliant! And even though it’s a tad predictable, I would have disappointed if it would have ended differently. It was a daring and manipulative story – and I’m a sucker for those!

This is the story of Elise’s murder, told in the perspective of the prime suspect – her best friend. In a way, this reminded me of a YA Jodi Picoult novel. You have the murder, followed by the trial – which lasts for most of the book, and this is where you learn the details of what happened filled with secrets and lies that give just enough clues to make you crazy – then at the end all is revealed with the help…

Review: Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Review: Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Posted by on 04/28/2014 • 21 Comments

Well poo! Where do I even start?

I guess at Lane. Her characterization felt as if it was based on a bullet point list. Let’s build a serial killer, shall we? -She has to be quiet. Check. -She should show a lack of emotion, especially uncaring of romance and sex. Check. -She should have a dark passenger an internal “kill” itch. Check. -She should be awkward, blunt, and kind of an outsider. Check. -She should have a hidden dark past. Check.

So ok, that’s all things we “know” about her, but only because she tells us. Several times. In reality, she comes off as a flat, one dimensional character with a lot of inconsistencies in her personality. For instance she keeps saying how much she dislikes her sister…

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

Review: The Treatment by Suzanne Young

Posted by on 04/21/2014 • 20 Comments

There’s always something nerve wracking about going into the sequel to a book that you loved. I was a huge fan of The Program so my hopes were high that The Treatment would follow in it’s awesome footsteps. I am saddened to report that it really didn’t. This novel fell so flat with me that I almost DNFed it about 3 times. But then I would think about how much I loved The Program and how since this is a duology this was the last book in the series and I just had to see how everything played out.

I’ll start this out by talking about what didn’t work for me because the beginning was just a train wreck in my eyes and then the novel started to get better…

Review: The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

Review: The Last Forever by Deb Caletti

Posted by on 04/01/2014 • 16 Comments

I really don’t even feel like I can effectively review this book because all I want to do is flail all over the place and shove it in people’s faces so they read it too.  This book was absolutely perfect for me, I picked it up on a Saturday morning and before I knew it I was halfway through and dreading the book ending.  This book is emotional, this book is funny and this book is engrossing.

We meet our MC Tess as she is grieving the recent loss of her mother to cancer.  She is living with her father and just going through the motions of day to day life.  One afternoon the two of them pack up her father’s truck and head out to finally see the Grand…