Publisher: HarperTeen

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

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I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa KantorBetter Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Published by HarperTeen on February 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperTeen
Buy on Amazon

Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either.

I almost stopped reading this book because I didn’t really like the MC very much. I am glad I continued it though because it really was a good book. I still never really liked Juliet much, but I thought that the story itself was well done and loved the subject matter that it covered. You know when you look at someone who is pretty, smart, has a perfect looking life and family? Well, who is to say that their life isn’t completely fucked up? That is what this story is about and that is why I enjoyed it. I don’t agree with some of the things that Juliet did, but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t think this was a really well told story, that holds a lot of important topics and situations. Anyways, before I go on sounding like a PSA about issues and all, I should get on with the review.

Juliet seems to have the perfect life. Her family lives in a nice house, she has been with her perfect boyfriend (who also has a perfect family) for four years, she is most likely going to get into Harvard, I mean the list goes on and on. But, what happens when her dad walks out, she bombs her SAT’s, and her mother falls apart? She still seems like the perfect girl from the outside, but really, she feels like her life is falling apart. Jason leaves to go on vacation with his family, and while he is gone things fall apart more for her. She doesn’t know what to do, and doesn’t know if she is okay. She ends up cheating on Jason in what she calls a moment of insanity. Cheating always bothers me, so that made me really not like her. What was worse though, is she did feel sorry about it, but kept wanting Declan. Yes, she makes some mistakes, but most of all, she starts to learn who she really is. Not what people want her to be or expect her to be. I didn’t like her character so much as I liked the growth that she had.

Of course we have a sort of love triangle in the story if you couldn’t guess by the whole cheating thing. It’s not really a love triangle though. Yes, Juliet does love Jason. They’ve been together for four years. They know each other well. In a moment of weakness and wanting to just forget all her pain and everything going on in her life, she cheats on Jason with Declan, who she has just met. She doesn’t think she will see him again until her ends up going to her school. She is obviously attracted to him, but more than that, she really gets along with the band and his family. He sees the real her even if she doesn’t. I don’t like the whole cheating thing, but I did like that Declan wanted Juliet to be herself, where Jason wanted her to be who she is expected to be and doesn’t understand when she does things different. I didn’t find Jason to be very understanding and he would get mad or say she was doing something that wasn’t “her”. Yes, he was nice and he loves her, but I think he more loved the idea of what they were and what they would be. Some perfect couple who would always be almost perfect in almost anything they did.

It’s been a while since I have been in high school, but I remember that it’s tough. It’s hard to be yourself and not who you are expected to be sometimes. I couldn’t imagine being from the picture perfect family and having that additional pressure along with being expected to get into Harvard. It’s easy to look at someone and judge them, but you may know nothing about them. You don’t know if someone in their family is suffering from a mental illness, or if their family is falling apart. People see what they want to and don’t always want to accept other things. Sometimes even the closest friends don’t understand why you might change something that you’ve always done. I loved seeing the changes that Juliet went through. She was going through such a tough time dealing with all of those issues mentioned above, but she was strong for the most part and she broke out of the perfect everyone thought of her, and found her own type of perfect. I think this was a great book. I am so glad that I didn’t put this book down and decided to keep going because I really ended up liking it and think that it’s a perfect book for teenagers and adults to read.


4 Hot Espressos

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Posted by on 02/10/2015 • 16 Comments

My Heart and Other Black Holes delves into the lives of two suicidal teens who make a pact to be each other’s suicide partner. Yes, this novel is messed up and sad and shocking at times to think that someone would want a sort of motivational coach to make sure they achieve death, but suicide pacts do happen, especially with teens, so no matter how effed up this is, it is real and all too heartbreaking. Still, this book is supposed to be an emotional mess, and it really should be considering the subject matter and everything surrounding it, yet I found myself feeling a bit indifferent towards it all.

Suicide is a tough subject to execute in a novel, and while there are some realistic parts, the whole…

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Posted by on 01/29/2015 • 23 Comments

The Last Time We Say Goodbye is the story of a girl who’s been left behind. Her family is broken, her heart is broken, and her life will now never be the same. After her brother dies, Lex is now defined as this tragic girl with a dead brother; someone to pity, or to avoid completely which is not uncommon in these scenarios – people are simply uncomfortable towards death. If this wasn’t enough for Lex to deal with, there’s these nightmares that make her relive it all nightly…

As you can expect, this novel is full of emotional turmoil. It’s dark and depressing, yet very powerful. Important, even. We’re dealing with death, grief, depression, denial, and everything in between, and these emotions are all very real and unflinching. Lex…

Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker

Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie Parker

Posted by on 01/09/2015 • 9 Comments

Objectively, Beware the Wild is really good. Subjectively, while I found it decent, I couldn’t really connect to it very much.

Don’t get me wrong, the writing is gorgeous. It’s very showing than telling, moving the plot along in a great pace while portraying the heroine’s personality and flaws exceptionally well. There were a lot of inner thoughts and monologues that give you front-row seats of the turmoils being stirred within her as Sterling finds herself in a situation where nobody suddenly remembers who her brother is, except, perhaps, the Swamp where magic and danger lie within. There is flow, and you could even say things happen “naturally” and nothing feels forced, but… 

I don’t know. It just… fell flat, for me, characterisation-wise. Is it normal to recognize the beauty…

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Review: Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Posted by on 12/25/2014 • 19 Comments

You know a book is really special when you’ve only just begun and you’re already overwhelming with emotions. Imagine, I’ve only read a few pages of this novel and my eyes were starting to water already. My little brother was even giving me a bewildered look as he saw me wipe my tears away with the back of my hand.

Le brother: What’s up with you? Me: This book… this book is… it’s just so sad…! Le brother: You’re crying over a book? Me: I’m not crying over a book. I’m crying over the characters in this book! Le brother: … you’re crying over a book. Me: Fuck you, you heartless bastard. You wouldn’t understand.

Pffft, brothers. Who needs them?

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Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Posted by on 12/19/2014 • 23 Comments

Well, what do you know… I actually found myself enjoying this one, despite my initial reservations.

If I could briefly describe this book, it’s Red Rising by Pierce Brown Set in a Castle-Turned-Into-X-Men-Academy. And trust me, it’s way cooler than it sounds. And it already sounds way cool.

It’s a premise we have seen before – in fiction and in history: the people are divided into two classes, the rulers and the ruled. The first are the Silvers, who enjoy the luxuries of life and have various abilities (reading and controlling minds, manipulating elements, healing); we also have the Reds, who toil and work their lives away for the latter, oppressed and living in extreme poverty. And we have Mare Barrows, a Red who finds herself wielding Silver powers – an anomaly, a mistake,…

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Posted by on 12/10/2014 • 19 Comments

Very readable and incredibly character driven, On the Fence was the perfect pick for a cold Sunday afternoon. I can’t say that I loved it quite as much as I had expected to based on the slew of 5-star reviews I had seen, but it was definitely a sigh-worthy read that left me smiling at the end.

Our protagonist, Charlie, has an easy, relatable voice that instantly pulls you in. She’s a tomboy, she loves sports, and she’s living with her dad and 3 brothers, plus a neighbour who pretty much lives there, too. That gives us a great, hectic family dynamic that I thought was just wonderful. The brotherly banter, the silliness, their overprotective nature towards Charlie – it’s all super sweet and fun to read. It also…

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Review: Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas

Posted by on 12/04/2014 • 13 Comments

Just in time for the holiday season, this book is set on Christmas Eve. It was a fun and fast read with a bit of a mystery element. The characters were interesting, though not thoroughly developed, and the story was a bit mindless. There are random lists that scatter this book quite frequently, but being that it is told by Chloe, it really shows her personality. She loves lists and it is very much a part of her daily life. At first it was a bit distracting, but quickly became a fun part of the story. This is just one of those books that you can sit down and read in one sitting, that you don’t take too seriously, and it’s a few hours worth of entertainment.

Chloe’s family…