Malin’s #CBR5 Review #108: Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Green-haired alterna-girl Max MacCormack only goes to Colby Randall, a posh Hollywood prep school, because her mother is the principal. She’s full of scorn for the rich and spoiled around her, and especially loathes that her mother forces her to take part in extra curricular events like planning the spring carnival. Max needs to earn money, and her current after school job is not working out as well as she expected. When she is offered insane amounts of money to ghost write Brooke Berlin’s blog, she can’t afford to refuse. Now she just has to spend most of her free time with a girl she can’t stand, and convincingly channel her on the internet.

Brooke Berlin, Hollywood starlet and daughter of mega superstar Brick Berlin (think Arnie, Bruce Willis and Tom Cruise rolled into one) is convinced that she’s one step away from the stardom she deserves. A popular blog showing the world what an “It Girl” she is, will help launch her rising star, she just doesn’t have time to write it herself. So why not hire some creative writing nerd who will be grateful for any time she gets to spend with Brooke? Unfortunately, the only serious applicant to her ad is the spiky malcontent Max, Brooke’s half sister’s best friend. Can this girl be trusted to help jump start Brooke’s career?

To read the rest of my review of the second novel from the awesomely funny Go Fug Yourself writers, go to my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #61: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Expected publication: September 10th, 2013

Cather and Wren are twins (their mother hadn’t planned on twins but always wanted to name a girl Catherine – so just split the name). Their whole life has been spent together, sharing a room, sharing interests, especially their love of Simon Snow (think basically Harry Potter, if Draco was his room mate, and also a vampire). Cath and Wren write fan fic read by tens of thousands of fans, while everyone awaits the release of the eight and final Simon Snow book. Cath doesn’t really think much will change when they go off to college, but then  Wren declares that she wants to live in a different dorm from Cath, and spends most of her time having the crazy party girl freshman experience, leaving Cath anxious and adrift in a new and confusing place.

Cath isn’t even sure she wants to be at college. She’s worried about their father, who manages fine most of the time, when his girls remind him to eat, and do the dishes, and the laundry. His mental health really isn’t as stable as it ought to be, and Cath doesn’t think he should be by himself. For the first couple of weeks, she barely even leaves her dorm room, just holes up and eats energy bars, goes to lectures and continues her fan fiction grand opus.

More on my blog. 

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 30: Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

faintingviolet’s #CBR5 review #7: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleGoodreads summary: “Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.”

This book has been reviewed about a million times during the Cannonball, and it was, in fact, the numerous glowing reviews that encouraged me to pick it up. Several months on the library’s wait-list later, I was finally able to read the book and I was NOT disappointed!

Bernadette is full of characters, each uniquely realized, that leap off the page. For the most part, even the most flawed characters are amusing and likeable. I loved Bee, who is smart and challenging without being obnoxious or bratty; similarly, Bernadette herself is eccentric, naive to a fault, and occasionally petty, but never to the extent that you don’t sympathize with her.

The well-paced plot unfolded unpredictably, yet believably — though at first someone vanishing into thin air seems far-fetched, Semple keeps her finger well enough on the pulse of reality to offer plausible explanations for every twist and missed connection. The book was also, frankly, hilarious. Full of lighthearted satire that doesn’t veer into mean-spirited jibes, the narrative included laugh-out-loud takedowns of Pacific northwest intellectual bourgeoisie types. I don’t want to go on more than is necessary, since if you’ve been reading Cannonball at all you’ll have read this exact review more times than you need for your health. So I’ll just add my voice to the “highly recommend this” pile and call it a day!

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #60: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

4.5 stars

Dare You To is the sequel to Pushing the Limits, which I reviewed last year, but works fine on its own, and may even be better if you don’t have any preconceived impressions of Beth from that book.

To say that Elizabeth “Beth” Risk has a sucky home life, would be an understatement. Beth’s mum is an alcoholic and recreational drug user, with an abusive boyfriend. Yet Beth feels responsible for her father leaving them, years ago, and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her mother out of jail, even if it means taking a beating now and again. Thanks to the help of her two best friends, Noah and Isaiah, she manages to stay mostly safe. Neither of the two boys think she should be protecting her mother the way she does. When Beth’s mum smashes up her boyfriend’s car, and Beth takes the blame for it, getting arrested so her mother doesn’t violate her parole, the two foster care boys are relieved when Beth’s uncle, Scott, arrives to bail her out of jail, and demands that she stay with him until she turns eighteen, even if it means they won’t get to see her much anymore.

Scott is her father’s younger brother, who knows exactly what sort of a dead beat Beth’s father was. He left to become a baseball pro while Beth was still a little girl, and has just moved back into town with his wife. Unless Beth agrees to stay with him until she turns eighteen, and follow his rules, he’ll make sure the police know all about Beth’s mother and the things he found in her flat when he came looking for Beth. Defeated, Beth agrees, even though Scott’s new wife is less than thrilled to have what she considers a severely messed up juvenile delinquent staying under her roof. More on my blog

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #56: Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

4.5 stars

Quicksilver is the sequel to Ultraviolet, and while you might be able to read it as a stand-alone, I wouldn’t recommend it, as I doubt it would be as satisfying a read.

Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenage girl could want. Beauty, popularity, money. Then she disappeared, without a trace, for several months, only to be returned, bruised and with a broken nose, with no apparent memory of where she’d been or who’d taken her there. With her is Alison, the girl who was suspected of murdering her, and who spent much of the time of Tori’s disappearance in a mental institution. During the investigation of her disappearance, certain strange medical results turned up as a result of DNA testing. Tori and her parents are getting calls from a genetics lab, and one police investigator in particular, refuses to believe that Tori has no recollection of what happened to her.

Tori and her parents relocate, and change their names, all to protect her secret. Being the centre of attention is no longer an option. She needs to stay as anonymous as possible, which seems to be going well, until Sebastian Faraday, a man she thought she’d never see again, suddenly appears in her bedroom, warning her of danger to come. Her new friend Milo, who already suspects that everything is not entirely is what it seems with Nikki (which is what Tori calls herself in her new life) and is dragged along on an adventure beyond his wildest dreams. More on my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #55: Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Alison is sixteen, and currently residing in a mental institution. Ever since she was little, she’s know she’s not quite like everyone else. To her, words have distinct tastes and colours. Certain sounds can make her see things. She feels physically sick if she herself tries to lie, and can taste it in the back of her mouth if people are lying or not. Loud noises give her fits. She’s suspected of the murder of the most popular and perfect girl in her school, Tori Beaugrand, and only Alison knows why the authorities haven’t been able to find a body. Tori Beaugrand disintegrated in front of Alison’s eyes, after they had a terrible fight. How insane is that?

Alison doesn’t want to stay sectioned, and tries to appeal to be released. Yet her mother is afraid to keep her at home with her younger brother, and the doctors at the institution want her to take her anti-psychotic drugs so she can get better. The police want to know where Tori Beaugrand is, and why Alison came home, distraught, with bloody hands. As the weeks pass, Alison no longer knows what the truth is. Only the enigmatic young scientist Sebastian Faraday seems to believe that Alison is innocent.

More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #53: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

3.5 stars

Amal is sixteen, and about to start her second year as the only Muslim at a posh private high school, when she has an epiphany while watching Friends.She decides to start wearing the hibab full time, fully aware that this will attract all sorts of attention, and that it may be the most popular of decisions. Her parents, worried that it will give her too much negative attention, try to make her change her mind, but the more she thinks about it, the more resolved she is. Of course, when she shows up in school, the principal and a lot of the teachers think she’s been coerced into it by her parents, or religious leaders, and she has to be very firm about the fact that it’s her own choice, her own decision, and that they can’t prohibit her from her personal expression of her faith, no matter what the school regulations about uniforms state.

Most of her friends, while a bit puzzled at first, are extremely supportive. Only the mean girl clique try to bully her about it, but as Amal points out to herself and her friends, now they have something specific to tease her about. Amal is more concerned about the opinions of Adam, her lab partner, and one of the cutest and most popular boys in school. She has a massive crush on him, and would hate for him to see her as some sort of religious fanatic just because she chooses to wear a head scarf. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #50: Sandor slash Ida by Sara Kaderfors

From the blurb, as it sums up the first impression of the characters quite well: She’s pretty and popular. He’s a nobody. She lives in the middle of Stockholm. He lives in a hole outside Gothenburg. She spends hours in cafes with her friends, he devotes all his time to dance. She’s fed up with sex, he’s a virgin. She gets called bimbo, he gets called fag. She hates her life. He hates his life. Her name is Ida. His is Sandor.

Read my review on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #39: Ett öga rött (One Eye Red) by Jonas Hassen Khemiri

Halim is a teenager in Stockholm, who feels as if he’s in opposition to everything and everyone. When he’s told the Arabic lessons in school have to stop because of funding cuts, he shows his displeasure by covering the school toilets in graffiti. His father, who runs shop selling a little bit of everything,  worries about his academic progress and stresses the importance of speaking good Swedish if he wants to make something of himself. Both feel the loss of Halim’s mother, who died a few years back, greatly. They both try to be supportive of their friend, Nourdine, a washed up actor who’s convinced he’s just the right interview away from a big break.

Read what I thought about it on my blog. 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #34: Få meg på, for faen (Turn me on, damn it) by Olaug Nilssen

Maria is a disgruntled sociology student and part time cleaner, who dreams of the fame and media attention she will get after presenting her ground-breaking expose on the oppression of cleaning staff. Alma is fifteen and completely obsessed with sex. She can’t stop thinking about it, day or night. Maria’s mother, wife of the local shopkeeper and mother to eight daughters feels unnoticed and unappreciated by her husband and children, and dreams of getting a job and making a difference. Maybe she should go to Oslo and protest against the possible shut down of the local turnip factory?

More on my blog.