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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Unplugged – Donna Freitas

Unplugged
By: Donna Frietas
The Wired – Book 1
Available June 2016

Description:
The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.

Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.

Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.

But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.

This Blonde’s Review:
Skye lives in a virtual world where purchasing apps will allow you to do almost anything. You can change your looks, your abilities, and have full immersion into games. You live the apps you buy and everyone wants an upgrade. Skye isn’t interested in obtaining more in the App World, she counts down until she can have her turn to unplug and experience life in the real world with her family again. When borders close and all plugging in and unplugging is blocked she is devastated. She doesn’t feel as though she belongs with her best friend’s family, who adopted her as almost family. Almost family isn’t enough for Skye. When given the opportunity to unplugged anyway she agrees, even if it seems shady and means lying to her best friend.

The real world is nothing like what Skye was told it would be. There are secrets regarding her family and secrets with the leaders of the App World. When she learns she’s become a pivotal figure when she’s used to being a nobody she struggles to adjust, but thanks to her abilities to treat anything as a game she excels in ways no one imagined were possible. Throw in some family drama, a guy she never expected to have notice her, and Skye’s life in the real world is a lot more complicated than she could have anticipated.

I enjoyed getting to know Skye and am curious to know what will happen in the next book. Some of the unanswered questions make me wonder if we’re going to get a book from another character’s point of view, or if we’ll stay with Skye and learn everything through her eyes. While I feel we’d learn a lot more and understand more through another character I’m hoping we keep Skye as our main character. I have a feel that regardless of how the author approaches it I’ll be looking forward to the next book.

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We Were Never Here – Jennifer Gilmore

We Were Never Here
By: Jennifer Gilmore
Available June 2016

Description:
Did you know your entire life can change in an instant?

For sixteen-year-old Lizzie Stoller that moment is when she collapses, out of the blue. The next thing she knows she’s in a hospital with an illness she’s never heard of.

But that isn’t the only life-changing moment for Lizzie. The other is when Connor and his dog, Verlaine, walk into her hospital room. Lizzie has never connected with anyone the way she does with the handsome, teenage volunteer. However, the more time she spends with him, and the deeper in love she falls, the more she realizes that Connor has secrets and a deep pain of his own . . . and that while being with him has the power to make Lizzie forget about her illness, being with her might tear Connor apart.

This Blonde’s Review:
Lizzie had everything going for her when she suddenly collapses. While spending months in the hospital waiting to find out what’s wrong with her she wants to give up. She’s miserable and doesn’t want to shower or walk or do any of the things she should. Until Connor and his dog Verlaine, come into her room. She loves Verlaine from the start, but she soon finds herself wanting Connor around as well. He seems to understand and accept her in ways her friends and family can’t.

Part of the attraction to Connor was his mystery. He had secrets and pain of his own, leading to unfortunate choices and being infrequent in his attention to Lizzie. I couldn’t understand her feelings for him when he disappeared on her so often. Luckily there were others in her life willing to step in and be there for her if she could accept who they were and what they had to offer. Not everyone is who she might wish they were, but she had to learn who to accept as they are and who to let go.

I was torn on how I felt about this book. I could understand how she might not care for her appearance or talking with her friends who seemed so far from her new life. But as the book continued and she got caught up in her feelings for Connor I had a harder time connecting. Thankfully the author did not make this story entirely about Lizzie’s feelings for a boy and gave her new ways to cope with the changes in her life. Not everyone deals with the grief tremendous life changes can cause the same way. For Lizzie, her healing started with a boy and his dog. I may not have cared for everything Connor did and the things Lizzie accepted, but her healing had begun and she opened herself up to more ways to heal and move on with her life thanks to him. So while I was torn, I still needed to find out what would happen and that’s an important element in any story, keeping the reader reading and wanting to know what happens in the end.

 
 

Red Velvet Crush – Christina Meredith

Red Velvet Crush
By: Christina Meredith
Available June 2016

Description:
Teddy Lee’s mother ran off when she was in second grade. And ever since, Teddy Lee, the often-overshadowed middle kid, has tried to keep her family together. But her older brother Winston usually keeps himself busy with smoking, drinking, and girls, and who knows what else. Her younger sister Billie is occupied with her shoplifting habit and boys . . . and who knows what else. So when Teddy Lee finally takes the songs she’s always written and forms a band, maybe it’ll bring everyone closer together, maybe it’ll be her time to shine. Unless Billie steals the spotlight—and the boy—just like she always does. Christina Meredith explores the complicated relationship of sisters—both the unconditional love and the unavoidable resentments—in a novel full of music, urgency, the first blushes of love, and the undeniable excitement of hitting the road.

This Blonde’s Review:
Teddy Lee is a middle child who is often overshadowed by her troublesome siblings. Her older brother Winston seems to finally be interested in something that isn’t trouble, but he’s pushing her to be in a band. When she decides to give it a try she thinks it’ll finally be something about her until her sister Billie steps in. Their relationship is toxic, anything Teddy Lee has Billie feels entitled to take as well. Teddy Lee won’t stand her ground and their father, who seems to tired to be a parent, wants everything to go easy.

Admittedly this book was disappointing to me. There was so much potential that wasn’t met. Teddy Lee’s life happens to her without much effort on her part. She falls into a band because her brother sets it up. Her sister is wild and irresponsible so Teddy Lee falls into picking up after her and shrugs off the things she does. Of course there’s also a guy, but he seems like an afterthought. He’s there but there really wasn’t much going on with it, he was more of a prop. They fall into a relationship, they fall into sharing a room, and the rest of what happens to them. There wasn’t much character building or connection.

I spent much of the book waiting for the big moment. I expected it to be something with family and for her to make some important decisions and take action. What could have been the big moment seems to have been dealt with using the same avoidance and acceptance techniques that Teddy Lee has used her whole life. It was disappointing to see the other characters make more decisions than Teddy Lee, leading this story to be about the way life happens to a girl and her desire to stay home.

There were baby steps for her growth, when she didn’t immediately forgive her sister for something big. Her sister went on her way without much consequence for her actions, but silence is still a bigger step than Teddy Lee had taken in the past. Taking steps to pursue her own interests and learn more about the things that matter to her at the end could have almost been enough to save the book. It followed Teddy Lee’s personality of doing things under the radar, so it still fit the story, but after so much had happened to her without her involvement in her own life, a whisper wasn’t enough to recover my interest.