Tag «bullying»

Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tiny Pretty Things (from Goodreads):

Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.

Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet-star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever.

When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Audiobook Read 2018, Cover Love
Series: Tiny Pretty Things
Author: Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Drama, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2016 – July 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

While the cover captured my attention when it was first released, it was actually a review by Cristina @ Girl in the Pages that convinced me to read this. Like many items on my TBR, I didn’t get to it until two years later but that worked out in my favour because I could binge the entire series as an audio one 😉

The Concept / The World:

When I think about ballet, my mind immediately goes to the movie The Black Swan and to Fame (more so the movie than the show). Fame highlights some of the stresses performing artists highlight but keeps its tone pretty light and basic. The Black Swan shows the grittier side of ballet but more so the psychological side? I’m not sure since I only watched the movie shortly after its theatre release…

Thanks to Cristina’s review, I knew that this series is much darker and not as petty as the YA label would have you fear. Yes, some of their issues are petty (they are in high school after all) but some of the pranks and thought processes aren’t. These girls and guys take it to that darker, intense level I wanted. The sabotage and intrigue in this series had me hooked from the start! It was so addicting!

The Plot:

I really loved the delivery of this series. Part of it is character driven–I’ll explain more about the cast below–as we watch these ballerinas carve their way in the company. But there is also this aura of mystery as well because there are many acts of sabotage. Sometimes we know the culprit; sometimes we don’t find out for a long time. But I’ll just say I had many theories about what was happening and I was proven wrong quite a few times. I loved that suspense and the drive to find out exactly who and what was happening.

The Characters:

This cast of characters is quite diverse and not just because of race or ethnicity (though there is that). Each of our three leads also has their personal struggles–and some that we don’t often see in books. At a glance, I wondered if these characters had too much going on; if they were perhaps too layered given the drama of this novel. You know, the idea that less is sometimes more. But I think all their “issues” really highlighted the setting and tone of the novel. What happens when characters are pushed to their breaking points? What happens to characters who’ve been kept inside this one bubble their whole lives and the real world comes crashing in? It was fascinating to watch.

The Romance:

There is a little dash of romance thrown in but I’d classify it as a small factor that contributes to the overall story. You aren’t getting chapters dedicated to romance unless it relates back to the characters.

Series Rating: 5/5

Tiny Pretty Things 5/5 | Shiny Broken Pieces 5/5

overall

This series had me hooked from start to end! I loved the diverse cast; I loved the intrigue and I loved the setting! It was every dark, addicting thing I wanted it to be.

Read if You Like: ballet, diverse casts, suspense
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POV, dislike darker YA
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Single Sundays: If I Wake by Nikki Moyes

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for If I Wake (from Goodreads):

Will is sixteen year old Lucy’s best friend. Their lives intersect in dreams, where destiny pulls them together through different times in history. Even though their meetings are more real to Lucy than the present, Lucy is uncertain if Will exists outside her mind.
Lucy’s mum thinks there is something wrong when Lucy sleeps for days at a time.
She is so caught up with finding a cure she doesn’t see the real problem. Lucy is bullied at school and is thinking of ending her life.
When the bullying goes too far and Lucy ends up in a coma, only Will can reach her. But how do you live when the only person who can save you doesn’t exist?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA Standalone 2017
Author: Nikki Moyes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism, Mental Health
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 10, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This story appealed to me for two reasons:

  1. The dream aspect
  2. Bullying & Lucy’s contemplating suicide

I’m a firm believer that mental health is something we should always be talking about and I love when books explore that. So I was curious to see how the dreams would interweave with Nikki’s message about bullying.

The Concept:

While the traveling back in time aspect is great, for me it was all about the bullying. And this is a beautiful story about how your actions impact a person. It was so hard for me to watch Lucy get beaten down in her everyday life. I remember thinking to myself that this can’t happen in real life because there is no way people could be so cruel.

But the scary thing is that it does.

All the things Lucy goes through have more than likely happened to someone at some point. It’s probably happening right now. And I think you can see why those actions can lead someone to feel like they are alone in the world and how that can lead them to contemplate suicide. I think this book does a fabulous job of conveying that. The only other book I can think that shows this so well is 13 Reasons Why.

The Plot:

I absolutely loved trying to figure out what the dream world had to do with the real world. And I’ll admit, I really didn’t figure it out until the last chapter. It was like this big eureka moment for me where I put it all together and my mind was blown a bit because it was a great link. (And I don’t want to say more because I think it’s a great thing for the readers to figure out on their own).

The trips to the past were definitely enjoyable. I liked that the situation was always a little different with what Lucy had to do and how she was received. They’re very detailed scenes and it really makes you feel like you are there living the experience with Lucy.

The Characters:

Lucy’s character evolution is fantastic, even if some of the moments were disheartening. It was so hard for me to watch this girl get beaten down (in the real world) at every turn for no reason at all. (Why are people so cruel?!?) Which is why I liked those moments in the dreams where she literally transforms into a confident person before your eyes. It was great to see her have those moments of joy in her life.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance here which I was happy about. This story is truly about Lucy’s self journey and not so much on what her relationship with Will is romantically (which I’m sure lots of people will assume given the synopsis).

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is just a fabulous story about the multi-layered impact bullying can have on a person. Such a beautiful novel.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, magical realism, bullying stories
Avoid if You: want a romance
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Single Sundays: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Thirteen Reasons Why (from Goodreads):
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

Review:

This book is one of those books that always graces “Must Read Teen” Lists and while I maybe 7 years late to the party, I have to agree whole-heartedly. Everyone should read this book--not just teens– because it has a strong message that everyone needs to know: our actions, even the really small ones, can drastically impact another person’s life and we may not even know it.

I think anyone at any age can relate in some way to this story. It takes place in a high school but the scenarios we read about can really take place at work or in the neighbourhood or basically any place in society. I had tears in my eyes at multiple times and I cringed at some of the scenarios Hannah had to endure. I actually felt like I was Clay, reading about a classmate of mine because I could see how true this story could be and that really upset me. It is a very real story with real, everyday scenarios and that often makes this book hard to read–but that’s the point. This isn’t a subject to joke about and society needs to remove that stigma against mental health illnesses and bullying so that this book doesn’t become an everyday reality.

This book makes you think. It makes you think about how you treat others, how you react to rumours and how you lead your life. But it also made me appreciate all the people I have in my life and how thankful I am for the support system I have. I know a lot of people don’t have that support system and feel alone but I think the other important, often overlooked, message of this story is that you a not alone. There is always someone who loves you. They may not always be prominent, they maybe hidden in the background like Clay, but there is someone who cares for you and wants to be there for you so you are never alone.

This book is beautifully written and the delivery is fantastic. It grabbed my attention and held onto it throughout the entire novel. It was just very well done and it has been a very long time since a book has impressed me as much as this one has.

Conclusion:

This book will draw every emotion from you and really make you think about who you are as a person. This isn’t a novel for just teens, it’s a novel for a human beings.

Rating: 5/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: HELL YES! I would recommend this to everyone!

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health, Mature Subject Mature, Death High School 
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads 2014, Everyone Must Read
Similar Reads: You Against Me by Jenny Downham, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and Stolenby Lucy Christopher

Single Sundays: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Cold Calls (from Goodreads):
In the vein of the teen suspense classics I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Face on the Milk Carton, Cold Calls is a chilling thriller, an unsettling mystery, and a provocative exploration of bullying, culpability, and the cost of keeping secrets.

Three high school students-Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common: “I know your secret.”
Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .

This suspenseful, pitch-perfect mystery-thriller raises timely questions about privacy, bullying, and culpability.

Review:

When this book was first published, it seemed to be everywhere for me. I read the synopsis and it managed to grab my attention. It sounded like a realistic Pretty Little Liars mixed with messages about bullying and social media to teach a lesson and it promised to be a suspenseful thriller so I was looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me in many ways. It wasn’t suspenseful–in fact it was very tame–and while it did raise some questions about social media, bullying and privacy I didn’t feel like it did anything useful with those questions.

This book is slow–it’s only saving grace is that it isn’t super long. I wouldn’t have continued to read it if it had been longer than what it actually was. It wasn’t suspenseful in any way to me; maybe I had the wrong expectations going into it. But to be fair, you can’t claim that it is similar to the movie I Know What You did Last Summer and not expect some stalker killer following the group around. So don’t get your hopes up that it’s going to be that type of thriller. It’s more a mystery than anything with the 3 teens trying to figure out why they are the targets and who is the one targeting them. However, I found most of the novel focused on each teen struggling with their secret and the possible consequences of its unveiling and to me that was boring.

The three characters, Eric, Shelly and Fatima, are your everyday people so I found that this book was very realistic in that respect. Their secrets were secrets any teen could have and I liked that it wasn’t some elaborate, over the top secret. To be honest though, I found them kind of boring so that dampened my reading experience. I like realism in stories like this but I wish there was more development. I also wish that the 3 of them took ownership of their secrets and did something about them instead of just trying to bury them.

One thing that I really disliked about this novel was that nothing felt resumed to me. Sure, the mystery is solved but I felt like the bigger issues, like bullying, social media privacy and “culpability” (who is to blame), where barely touched upon. Perhaps the purpose of the novel was to simply bring them to the reader’s attention but I would have liked more elaboration or some more discussion about them. I just felt like there were no serious consequences for any of the characters actions–but maybe that was the point: to highlight the fact that society thinks nothing of these issues on a regular basis. If that was the mission, it succeeded but I wish there was more to it.

Conclusion:

This read was meh to me. I can appreciate what it was attempting to do, I just wish it did it in a different, more exciting way. It’s a quick, pretty realistic read but I think readers will get bored with it pretty quickly.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No. I think it might make for an interesting read for a school class because I think there is a lot of potential for discussion but for the everyday reader it isn’t that exciting.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Mystery, Thriller, Realistic
Recommended for15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Boring Reads of 2014
Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

Movie Mondays: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Movie Mondays: On Mondays, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky | Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover Movie Poster

The Book:

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Humourous, High School, Bullying

Thoughts:

This is one of my all time favourite books. I read it in a few hours and I laughed so hard during it. Charlie is hilarious and it was one of the first books I can ever remember laughing through.

I also like it because it is relatable and realistic. And even though it was written years ago, it definitely applies to today’s teens as it deals with topics of bullying, coming out and finding yourself.

It should be noted that the book is written as a series of letters from Charlie as he describes his life and daily events to a friend. This format isn’t for everyone but it’s a nice change from other novels.

Conclusion:

This novel definitely isn’t for everyone and if you don’t enjoy books dealing with growing up, I would stay away from this. I think people in high school or in college would enjoy this more than a 30 year old but to each their own. But overall, if you want to try something new definitely read this!

Rating: 5/5
Similar Reads: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

The Movie:

It should be noted that the movie was written, directed and produced by Stephen Chbosky so I went in with high expectations and was not disappointed.

While it didn’t follow the book exactly, you definitely got the main messages and feelings from the book in the movie. I laughed and I cried and I left the movie with that “feel-good” feeling great movies have. The cast was great as well. I especially loved Ezra Miller’s Patrick. He nailed my favourite character perfectly. But I have to give props to the rest of the cast as well.

Overall, fans of the book will not be disappointed and if you liked the movie, you will love the book.

So, which is better: the book or the movie?

In this case, the winner is a TIE . Both are great in their own way and the message and feelings of the novel can be found in the movie. You can’t go wrong here!

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for The Perks of Being a Wallflower (from Goodreads):
Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Trailer: