Book Review (ARC) || Genuine Fraud

Author: E. Lockhart

Publishing Company: Delacorte Press

Release Year: (ARC) To be published September 5, 2017

Genre(s): YA, realistic fiction, thriller

(Shout out to Penguin Random House, where I received this ARC from!)


Synopsis

From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel—the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

(source)

My Thoughts

Okay, wow! There’s a lot going on in this novel, and I whizzed through it because it was so intriguing. I love psychological thrillers (although I don’t get to read them very much) and this was certainly a good one!

Genuine Fraud begins with our main character, Jule, who we soon learn is extraordinarily good at makeup and accents and just, well, shape-shifting in general. She is definitely the heroine of her own story and she lets us know it straight off the bat. From there the story progresses not chronologically forward but backward. It makes things a little hard to follow at first but after the first few chapters you definitely do grow into it and at the end you realize why that sort of format works.

Jule is an interesting character, to say the least. She’s clever and strong, too emotional while somehow also simultaneously emotionally detached. She’s running away, but we don’t find out until the end–or rather, the beginning–exactly what she’s running from. Her relationship with Imogen, a jasmine-perfumed it girl, is also interesting. The pair are close friends, two girls who are both seemingly perfect but broken in ways only the other can understand. How exactly Imogen fits into Jule’s story…well, you’ll see.

The odd combinations of elements–an affinity for Victorian novels, several unexpected murders, locations like Mexico, Martha’s Vineyard, and London, various characters that pop up, and Jule’s obsession with being a modern day James Bond-like femme fatale superhero lady (what a mouthful)–all somehow work together. That being said, the real driving forces of this novel are the characters, of which there are many, all of whom are complex in ways you won’t see until the novel digs deeper.

The social commentary embedded in this novel’s sharp prose is also smart, providing a peek into the lives of Martha’s Vineyard-dwelling rich kids as well as themes like feminism, friendship, poverty, relationships and love, and coping with familial and mental issues.

Anyway, that’s all I’ll say so as to avoid the ending for you. 😉

All in all: If you’re look for an exciting, suspenseful, and more than slightly creepy read complete with an interesting antihero(ine), this one’s the book for you! Find it at your nearest bookshelf this September!

❤ Yasimone

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Book Review || Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Publishing Company: Viking (Penguin Group)

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Contemporary Fiction

Series: N/A

My Summary

Mary Iris Malone—or Mim—is living in Mosquitoland. (Also known as the lovely state of Mississippi.) She’s going through a difficult adjustment period, living with her recently-married dad and stepmother Kathy, while her mum, Eve, is back in Ohio where Mim believes she belongs.

And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!
And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!

When her dad and Kathy are at a principal conference discussing her erratic behaviour, she happens to over hear a little something—a little something about her poor, dear mother in Cleveland battling a disease. That’s it. That’s her breaking point. She runs to her house-not-home, grabs Kathy’s “secret” coffee can of cash, and catches a Greyhound, vowing to not turn back until she reaches her mother. And so begins the journey of a lifetime. As she makes her way from Mississippi back to Ohio, she encounters so many different people: a lovely, elderly lady who she immediately befriends, a dashing young lad with whom she teams up with, a Carl, who is just as good as any Carl she’s ever met (maybe even better), and a homeless teen with Down Syndrome who she takes under her wings, to name a few. And when this winding journey is finally over, nothing is as expected, but everything is just right.

My Thoughts

Wow. Where do I even start?

Mosquitoland, told in two voices, Mim’s own point of view and letters that she writes to a relative named Iz—you’ll find out exactly who Iz is at the end of the book—is such a heartfelt, quirky, strange, laugh-out-loud-funny, un-put-down-able novel. (Notice my last adjective. XD It wasn’t a word five minutes ago, but it is now!) David Arnold brings to life so many characters, each more eccentric than the other, and somehow, he makes it work. Everything about Mosquitoland is over-the-top, and yet, everything seems so lifelike, so possible, so real. It’s a book about determination, loss, anger, friendship, fear, grief, and facing one’s self in trying to find someone else. Mim is such a great narrator—she’s witty and believable. She can be so rational sometimes, and then all of a sudden, she’s just another teen, acting on her heart and trying to navigate the crazy journey we call life. Another thing I absolutely loved was David Arnold’s style of writing. It’s so lyrical and it just captivates you so that you can’t put the book down. Can’t wait to see what’s next from him, and I couldn’t believe it was only his first book! I think that using two forms of narration was a great idea for this book; in some novels, it seems unneccesary but in Mosquitoland, it just made everything more three-dimensional. The one thing that gave me a tiny nagging feeling throughout the book was Mim’s use of “warpaint.” She draws tribal patterns on her face with her mother’s lipstick as a way of coping and giving herself strength. While her mother is part Cherokee, what Mim does isn’t exactly justified. At least Mim notes throughout the book that she know what she does may not be completely politically correct; please don’t let this discourage you from reading the novel, it’s a very minor thing. 🙂

I’ve always loved books about life-changing roadtrip, and Mosquitoland was no exception.  All in all, I found it to be a vibrant, tongue-in-cheek journey about, simply, a small girl and the big journey she takes to find home, her mother, friends, and ultimately, herself. ❤

Signing off,

Yasimone

Book blogger and Mosquitoland fan

(Oh, and happy October, you guys! Hopefully more fall-themed posts to come!)

Book Review || Bruiser

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publishing Company: Harper Teen

Release Year: 2010

My Summary

Brontë and Tennyson are average teenagers. Tennyson is athletic, popular, and maybe a tad over-confident. Brontë, his twin, is kind-hearted, self-assured, and happy with being herself. Bruiser, a boy who attends their high school, is… different. He doesn’t have friends, doesn’t have parents, and doesn’t talk much. Rumors about him are abundant around the high school he attends. Brontë and Tennyson, like the rest of their classmates, don’t pay much attention to Bruiser. That is, until one day, when Brontë announces that she’s decided to give Bruiser, whose real name is Brewster, a chance and go on a date with him. From the start, Tennyson despises Brewster and is overprotective of his sister. As the two get to know each other, however, they befriend each other. But then, strange things start happening. bruiser.jpgCuts on Tennyson’s knuckles from playing lacrosse disappear. Brontë sprains her foot, and it immediately heals. They notice that Bruiser suddenly has scrapes on his knuckles, that he begins walking with a limp on the same foot Brontë hurt. Before long, the twins put two and two together and realize that Brewster has a gift— a gift, yet also a curse. Brewster must guard his heart, for whoever he feels compassion towards, he can take away all their pain: his little brother Cody, Brontë and Tennyson, and even his abusive uncle Hoyt. Brewster can’t afford to befriend everyone, because healing comes with a price. As Brontë and Tennyson unwittingly draw Brewster into their family and social circles, life becomes more dangerous for Brewster. Will Brewster be able to withstand all that emotional and physical pain?

My Thoughts

I really, really enjoyed this book. It was all very well-thought out— the characters, the plot, the idea behind the words.

Bruiser is actually narrated by four characters with four distinct voices: Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster (who narrates in free-verse poetry), and Brewster’s brother Cody. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of multiple points-of-view in some books, but not so in Bruiser. All four narrators read as different people. Each of them have their own opinions, their own troubles, and their own flaws. Though the book is a mix of everything— a little bit of romance here, a pinchful of action there, and just a smidgen of supernatural as well— none of it comes off as unrealistic or overdramatic. It’s an intense book, and you won’t be able to put it down until the last page.

I’m not really sure what else to say. Bruiser is a book that to fully understand, you must read it. What I do know, however, is that this is a book that addresses love, death, health, familial troubles, bullying, abuse, friendship, pain, and the power of an average person all in one in a sincere, straightforward way without being too overwhelming. I definitely recommend to everyone. 🙂

❤ Yasimone

Book Review || Umbrella Summer

Author: Lisa Graff

Meet Annie Richards. She’s just a regular girl… although she’s much, much more cautious than other kids. Everyone tells her not to worry so much, that she is fine— but that’s what they told Jared, her brother, and Jared died. 😥 Annie has become obsessed with being safe: she wears a bike helmet during car rides, covers her mosquito bites with Band-Aids (wondering if they might be chicken pox), and steals a medical dictionary so she can study every possible disease (and self-diagnose herself to avoid the same fate as Jared, who died of something so incredibly rare that even the doctors didn’t discover it until he after died). Annie is still fun— just the careful type of fun. When Annie’s best friend Rebecca’s hamster dies, Rebecca is distraught, but Annie is numb. Annie runs away, not being able to face another death, another funeral, and Rebecca is hurt and angry. So Annie turns to the new neighbour, Mrs. Finch, who is good-humoured, patient, and wise. And little does Annie know that Mrs. Finch is grieving too. Through weeding Mrs. Finch’s garden, playing cards, and drinking tea over a good conversation, the two bond. Not only does Mrs. Finch bring Annie and Rebecca back together, she and Annie close their “umbrellas” of grief (which block out not only the “rain” of life, but also the “sunshine”) and teach others, including Annie’s parents, to do so as well.

This is a radiant, beautiful book. It’s a heartwarming story of one girl’s grief, and what I liked about that was the fact Annie didn’t act the way you would think after someone would after their brother had died. Her way of coping with that immense amount of grief is to push it away by putting all her focus on ways to keep herself safe, so much that there’s no time left to think about Jared. And that’s the part that really makes your heart ache for her. Her friend Rebecca, though a nice girl, has a hard time understanding Annie until her own hamster dies, and her parents are too caught up in their own sadness to realize that Annie needs to learn to step out into the sunshine again. Mrs. Finch is the ultimate wise, elderly woman who’s been through everything and is happy to share ways to help others. I really enjoyed the symbolic reference of the umbrella, because I think that all of us, at some points of our lives, like Annie, get too caught up in this protection to realize we no longer need to use those “umbrellas” to block out our problems, and this book gives us that touching concept to us as a lesson from Mrs. Finch. This is a sincere, memorable story perfect for bringing sunshine into everyone’s hearts.

-Yasimone

Book Review || 11 Birthdays

Author: Wendy Mass

Amanda Ellerby is about to turn eleven. She’s stuck having a costume party she doesn’t really want, and wearing a very uncomfortable costume. But most of all, it’s the first year she isn’t having her birthday with Leo. Leo is her best friend ex-best friend. They were even born on the same day. But one year ago, on their 10th birthday, Leo said something terrible, and Amanda hasn’t talked to him since. After an okay-ish day at school (she has a pop-quiz!), her birthday celebrations are not going well: half the guests haven’t even shown up, and the other half are slowly leaving her party to go to Leo’s huge birthday bash. 😐 *sheds tear* Amanda is extremely relieved when, finally, the day is over. Blissfully, she goes to sleep. But the next morning, everything happens exactly the way they do yesterday! At first Amanda thinks it’s a twisted trick. But when the same thing happens the next day, Amanda understands that something else is at work. But what? Before long, Leo and Amanda realize that, for some strange reason, they are in it together: they need to forgive each other and find out what exactly is causing their 11th birthday repeat over and over. Along the way, they meet a mysterious kind elderly woman with a duck-shaped birthmark who knows quite a bit about their ancestors and in the end, see that friendship is important in ways they never imagined.

Wendy Mass is, I must say, also one of my absolute favourite writers. She combines the real world and magic one seamlessly. Amanda and Leo are ordinary kids who act just their age and are true-to-life. The writing keeps you interested and turning pages eagerly. This is a heartwarming book that shows that friendship can be broken, but much more easily fixed.

-Yasimone