Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: Waiting on the Sidelines

Title: Waiting on the Sidelines
Author: Ginger Scott
Publisher: Self-Published
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Nolan Lennox had things figured out. Named after a baseball legend, she enjoyed being the Tomboy, her closet filled with her brother’s hand-me-downs, cut-off jeans and soccer shorts. But when her first trip to high school results in a broken heart from the first boy to ever make her heart flutter and cruel words from an older girl she once thought a family friend, Nolan starts to question the very person she thought she was and wonders if her humble upbringing can compete with the afforded luxuries of her privileged peers. Throughout the next four years, Nolan struggles to maintain herself throughout her path of discovery, learning just how cruel teenagers can be through the pressures of underage drinking, sexuality and class. And despite how life seems to continue to work against her, she still manages to listen to her heart, falling deeper and deeper for the guy the entire town adores, even if he only sees her as a friend. Can Nolan strike a compromise between her own integrity and the boy she loves? And can she make him notice her before it’s too late? Reed Johnson came to Coolidge High School with a lot of fanfare. The son of a hometown football legend and the brother of a local football hero, Reed wore all the pressures of carrying a town without hope into the spotlight. Thankfully, he had the talent to back it up. But when he meets a girl who makes him think twice about exactly what being a hero means, he starts to wonder if following in his brother’s footsteps might be all wrong. Nolan Lennox was everything that was opposite of expected. She didn’t flirt, she didn’t drink and she didn’t sleep around. Nothing about her was easy, but something about her made Reed want to try harder. Though she didn’t look the part, she seemed to be spending a lot of time in Reed’s thoughts, and he wondered if she could be the one who made it all worthwhile. But could Reed handle letting her down? And would breaking her heart break him beyond repair? Waiting on the Sidelines explores young love to its fullest, exposing how real young heartbreak and passion is and how important it is to discover yourself and hold onto your own identity. The story follows two young characters as they deal with mature situations, including the prevalence of bullying and promiscuity in today’s high school setting. Ultimately, Waiting on the Sidelines is a story of hope, honesty and those powerful, first true loves—the ones worth holding onto at any cost.

Review: I have no clue why I fall in love with stories involving high school football so much when my school's football team is nothing to brag about (we lose... a lot). Maybe it's because those Friday nights with my friends, family, and community help me get through those first few months of school since they are packed with fun; maybe it's because I'm a marching band geek. Who knows? Either way, the football background is what attracted me to Waiting on the Sidelines. 

Nolan and Reed's story reminded me of Macallan and Levi's from Elizabeth Eulberg's Better Off Friends. It was a cute, fun teenager relationship that experienced typical highs and lows minus all the sugar coating. Ginger Scott really got into writing controversial topics such as underage drinking, bullying, and partying almost every other chapter. This writing pattern quickly got old, but also sped up the reading pace. I seriously could not put this book down. 

It was cool watching Nolan and Reed grow up (since the book scans all four years of high school), but I found it hard to remember that tiny detail. I think if there was a page break between chapters that read FRESHMEN, SOPHOMORE and so on, I wouldn't have been so easily confused. Minor changes like so could make the average rating go from a 4.15 to a potential 4.89 or whatever. 

Becky was my favorite out of Nolan's friends, hands-down. When Nolan calls her to pick her up from some party out of the city, Becky doesn't ask questions. She just does what's asked of her. She's the kind of friend every girl would want. Nolan was... a perfect representation of an average teenage girl. She feared judgement, she experienced being bullied by the school queen bees, she second-guessed herself frequently. Like I said, the perfect representation of an average teenage girl. As for Reed, boy did he make me love him one chapter and hate him the next. 

One minute I was like this: 
And the next: 
You get the point... 

Despite not being able to remember what year in high school Nolan and Reed were in, and the dragged out story, Waiting on the Sidelines was a fast read and one I easily enjoyed. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: The Notebook

Title: The Notebook
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Publisher: Bantam
Rating: 3

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories...until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments and the fundamental changes that affect us all. It is a story of miracles and emotions that will stay with you forever.

Review: I've never been much of a romantic person, but I thought I would try reading something new. Nicholas Sparks was something new, and it was ok but not wow worthy either. 

I'd seen parts of the movie with Rachel McAdams in that cute little Rosie the Riveter get-up and Ryan Gosling (*swoon*) looking like a hot mechanic. You know, the whole "if you're a bird, I'm a bird" scene. While I was reading, I kept waiting for that scene to happen. And waiting. And waiting. That's the problem with book to movie translations. There's a 20% chance that the movie will follow the book perfectly, like TFiOS. The other 80% barely does the author justice because the script is totally rewritten. This is the #1 reason I read the book before seeing the movie. Oh, and I also knew how Noah and Allie's story ended. That tends to be a mood-killer. 

Perhaps this is the reason I didn't enjoy the book as much. I already knew what was going to happen. It could've also been Sparks' writing style. Like I said before, I wanted to read something new and every author has their own technique on how they bring the story to life. In Nicholas Sparks' case, he was very descriptive. Very, very descriptive. I'm pretty sure there was more explanation of what the characters were doing then dialog itself. It threw me off guard and I didn't really enjoy it. 

I blame authors for my unrealistic expectations in boyfriends. Who wouldn't want their own Noah? The love story of Allie and Noah was kinda cute. It was the typical summer teenager relationship with one of them moving away and the next time they see each other, one of them happens to be engaged. *cue love triangle* Throw a workaholic lawyer in the mix and you want to defend Noah and Allie by hitting someone in the face with a guitar.
I have another Nicholas Sparks' novel on my shelf, but after reading The Notebook, I think I'm going to take a break from romance and get back to the action. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Book Review: Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: Speak
Rating: 2

Synopsis (via Goodreads):
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same.

Review: This book should really be titled Sex & Booze because a majority of what I read revolved around those two subjects. I'd rather not read about some teenage kid watching porn and experiencing his first blowjob, thank you very much. 

After reading TFiOS I had such high expectations with John Green, but he really can't write a book without killing a main character, can he? I never had the chance to connect with any of the characters in Looking for Alaska; just one of the major disappointments in this novel for me. Miles was a scrawny teenage boy who was addicted to famous last words (the one thing I thought was quite cool in this story), but didn't have many friends, if any, before attending boarding school. His roommate, Colonel, basically introduces him to the world whether it involved smoking, drinking, or pulling pranks. Okay, the pranks in the story were pretty awesome too since they were done spy-style. But Alaska? She had problems (which I suppose is the whole premise of the book). Instead of coming off as a girl with a troubled past, to me she was a spaz. Happy one minute, sad the next. Flirting with her actual boyfriend, making out with Miles. She was the definition of a hot mess, and an annoying one at that. 

I'm at a loss for words and if you can't tell, Looking for Alaska wasn't my cup of tea.