Review: The Edge of Falling

Title: The Edge of Falling
Author: Rebecca Serles
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: March 14, 2014
Genre: YA 
Rec. Age Level: 14+
More by author: When You Were Mine

 Picture Me Gone

   
Caggie lives every day haunted by her failure to save her little sister from drowning. Even though no one ever says it, Caggie knows that her parents blame her just as much as she blames herself. Everyone at school thinks she’s a hero after saving a classmate from plummeting to her death at the beginning of summer, but only Caggie – and the girl she saved – knows what really happened on the rooftop ledge. Caggie has formed a wall of secrets and lies to keep everyone at arm’s length, including her best friend, who keeps pushing her to move forward, and her ex-boyfriend, who can’t seem to understand that Caggie isn’t the girl she used to be anymore. Then new boy Astor enters Caggie’s life and he seems to understand the darkness that threatens to overwhelm her every day and, best of all, he doesn’t push her to talk about what happened or to move forward. But Astor has secrets of his own and his demons might be hungry enough to swallow both of them… dead or alive.

Last year I read and very much enjoyed Rebecca Serles’ debut novel, When You were Mine, but I must admit that it pales in comparison to The Edge of Falling. Caggie’s story of grief and guilt is remarkably powerful and painfully captivating. It begins slowly but builds with a steady intensity that leaves the reader completely invested in Caggie and her search for meaning and redemption in the aftermath of her sister’s death. 
  
Notable Quotes:

“If I could go back to that night in May, I’d do things very differently. I’d never end up on that rooftop with Kristen. I’d never save her. I wouldn’t have to.

But even stories with the biggest impact, perhaps particularly these, don’t have the power to be re-written. If if if if… would everything be different? It doesn’t matter though. What’s done is done.”

“I’m trying hard to remain composed. His face slackens, smooths out, and I can’t help but run my eyes over his cheeks, his ears, the freckle on his face. I think about how many times I’ve kissed that exact spot. When someone breaks up with you they should take their memories with them. It shouldn’t be possible to remember someone when they’re no longer there.”

“Sometimes this happens without warning. Like the magnitude of the past – of all that has happened – creeps into the space and inflates. One minute it’s this little thing – contained, pocket-size – the next minute it’s a creature. With legs and arms and scales. That’s how grief works. It’s there even when you forget about it. It doesn’t disappear, but just morphs, changes form.”

Advertisements

Review: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything. 

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance. 

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

___________________________________

I love the premise of this novel. I’ve adored Romeo and Juliet since junior high, but I’ve never thought it was the greatest love story of all time. I mean, it’s horrible and sad, there is no happy ending… but I think that’s partially why I liked it. For anyone who actually paid attention as they read the story, it can serve as a cautionary tale: love isn’t everything. And sometimes wild, crazy love isn’t all that great… sometimes it gets you killed. Sure, this is obviously a worse case scenario, but still. Rebecca Serle’s retelling of this classic, from Rosaline’s point-of-view, the girl left in the dust when Juliet enters Romeo’s life, is entirely too reminiscent of some of the logic that I remember happening in my high school years.

Rosaline and Rob (the Romeo of the story) have been neighbors and best friends for years, but, in the last few years, things have changed. Rosaline and Rob teeter on the edge of something more than friends and Rosaline feels that he might be the one. Rob finally asks Rosaline on a real date, they kiss, and things are progressing just as Rosaline had hoped… better even. That is, until Juliet, Rosaline’s cousin, moves back to town, riding waves of drama. Overnight, Rob and Rosaline, which took years to happen, has been replaced by Rob and Juliet. Rosaline is shocked and heartbroken, but there’s nothing she can do except watch tragedy unfold.

Take away the drama and Juliet’s instability and the basis of When You Were Mine will speak to many readers. High school love is a special kind of love. Many are feeling love, or what they think is love, for the first time. It’s overwhelming and exciting and terrifying… That’s exactly what Rosaline is experiencing. Now take that and add a old family scandal, a cousin bent on revenge, and a very public diss from the boy you truly feel is the one. Poor Rosaline.

It’s obvious from the start that Juliet isn’t exactly stable, but, as the novel progresses, Juliet shows herself to be more than just your average emotional teen. She’s dealing with some sort of deeper issue, perhaps very intense depression or bi-polar disorder, and she’s bent on taking others down with her. This is very different from Shakespeare’s Juliet, but I think readers will recognize her nonetheless. Even with her destructive ways, it’s hard not to feel for Juliet. She needs help – professional help – and nobody is there to notice that.

Another aspect of this book I particularly like, is that I felt that Serle called Romeo (Rob) out. One day he’s completely in love with Rosaline, a girl who’s always been there for him, and the next he’s head over heels for Juliet, a girl he barely knows and is Rosaline’s cousin? He’s obviously not the stand-up guy Rosaline thought he was. Regardless of the other drama and the tragedy that ensues, Rosaline was better off without a fickle guy like Rob. 

I highly recommend When You Were Mine to both fans of retellings and those who are looking for an intense contemporary read. And don’t worry, Rosaline isn’t left all alone. Not only does she find some inner strength she didn’t know she had, she finds a guy who’s much more deserving than her past Romeo.

Simon Pulse, May 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781442433137, 334 pages.

Review: The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fiancés, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise: 

Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war. 

While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her….

___________________________________

My feelings about Deb Caletti’s newest offering, The Story of Us, are divided. 


On one hand, I really enjoyed the story as I read it… and related to it on a very personal level, having done something very similar to Cricket a year or two ago. On the other hand, there are aspects of this novel that are a bit blurry to me after having only read it a couple days ago. 


While some aspects of the novel resonated deeply with me, I didn’t feel a deep connection to any of the characters, including the main character, Cricket. This is a definite issue and I think it’s why the details of the novel failed to stick. The overall story – Cricket’s confusion regarding her relationships and her search for herself – was wonderfully done. I truly enjoyed the themes of the novel. The characters and setting, for whatever reason, didn’t do it for me. There wasn’t an actual event that caused a deeper connection to form between myself and the characters.


Caletti is a must-buy author for me, so I now own a copy of The Story of Us… and I don’t regret buying it. The writing in this novel is fantastic and I don’t feel like reading it was time well spent, but this book isn’t one that I’ll reread, like Caletti’s Stay or The Secret Life of Prince Charming. If you’re a Caletti fan or simply a fan of contemporary YA, give The Story of Us a chance, it’s worth a read and you may end up loving it!

Simon Pulse, April 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781442423466, 389 pages.

Review: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott



Title: Between Here and Forever
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 5.24.2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 256
Description (from Goodreads):
Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it’s nothing compared to living without her.

She’s got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn’t always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could…


I’ve loved Elizabeth Scott’s novels for years… I’ve read ever one of her Simon Pulse titles starting with BLOOM way back in 2007. Each time I see that she has a new one on the way, I find myself excited, but, unfortunately, BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER fell short of my expectations.


Scott’s Simon Pulse novels are relatively light, quick reads, which is nice after reading a dense novel or an especially emotional read. I treat Scott’s novels almost like transitions… They have hints of depth and offer small doses of tough subjects without making them the main focus. Instead, they’re more romance centered with an underlying issue as the obstacle.


BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER fit this familiar formula, but I didn’t love the main character, which was an issue. Instead of being easy to relate to, I found Abby’s constant comparison between herself and her older sister Tess to be repetitive and shallow. I call it the Jane Eyre syndrome: If you keep insisting you’re plain and not good enough, readers will see you as plain and not good enough – or I will at least.


I did, however, like the ‘tough subjects’ Scott explored in this novel, like prejudice based on color in a small town and the difficulty of knowing where one fits in. Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t read very many novels where the love interest isn’t Caucasian. Eli was a refreshing change and he quickly developed into my favorite character.


Overall, BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER was a cute, worthwhile read, especially if you’re a regular reader of Scott’s novels, but there are others I’d recommend before this one. If you’re thinking about picking up a Scott novel for the first time, I’d recommend STEALING HEAVEN, PERFECT YOU, or THE UNWRITTEN RULE.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Cover of the Week (32)



Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Simon Pulse/10.4.2011
Description (from Goodreads):
A summer job is exactly the distraction that Chelsea needs in order to finally get over Ezra, the boy who dumped her on her a** and broke her heart to pieces just a few weeks before. So when Chelsea’s best friend, Fiona, signs them up for roles at Essex Historical Colonial Village, Chelsea doesn’t protest too hard, even though it means spending the summer surrounded by drama geeks and history nerds. Chelsea will do anything to forget Ezra.

But when Chelsea and Fiona show up for their new jobs, they find out Ezra’s working there too. Maybe Chelsea should have known better than to think a historical reenactment village could help her escape her past. …or will this turn out to be exactly the summer that Chelsea needed, after all?


I absolutely adore this cover! Leila Sales debut novel, MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, was hilarious and an unexpected favorite, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the cover. This one is great though and I’m really like the description!

Review: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann



Title: Cryer’s Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 2.8.2011
Genre: YA
Keywords: Mystery, OCD, Relationships, Grief, Secrets, Murder
Pages: 233
Description (from Goodreads): 
The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.


I adored Lisa McMann’s first three novels, WAKE, FADE, and GONE, but had no idea what to expect of CRYER’S CROSS. The verse is absent, but there is still a certain cadence to the writing that identifies it as a McMann novel… It’s entirely different from her first three, but no less impressive. 


Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this novel is the main character’s OCD and the role it plays. To my knowledge, there aren’t very many YA books that deal with OCD and there definitely aren’t any that handle it this particular way. Kendall’s disorder is both a blessing and a curse and McMann sends this message in an entirely new, brilliant way.


CRYER’S CROSS has a sinister feel, but it’s not so scary that it’ll keep you up at night. Instead, it’s more of a slow, steady buildup to the revelations at the end of the novel… When I reached that point, all I could say was ‘Wow.’ For me, the novel reached it’s most intense near the very end, but it wouldn’t have packed the same punch if not for the slow journey to that point.


I’ll admit that I still favor McMann’s trilogy over CRYER’S CROSS, but this novel proves that she’s fully capable of doing something completely different and still blow readers away. I’ll definitely be reading McMann’s next novel, THE UNWANTEDS… I’m curious to see what she’ll show readers next!

Review: Kiss It by Erin Downing



Title: Kiss It
Author: Erin Downing
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub. Date: 6.15.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Sexuality, Sex, Reputation, Love, Friendship, Choices, Fear
Pages: 273
Description (from Goodreads):

A girl’s gotta do who a girl’s gotta do.
Chastity Bryan has never been shy about going after what she wants. And when sexy, mysterious, so-not-from-this-town Sebastian walks into Chaz’s life, she knows in an instant that what she wants next is him. Chaz has no intention of playing for keeps—but she most definitely has intentions. Who needs true love when you’ve got true lust?
Sebastian has no idea what he’s in for—but maybe neither does Chaz….

Sometimes the greatest books come in the most unsuspecting little packages…

Yes, yes, yes! I seriously couldn’t put KISS IT down, even though it would have been in my best interest because I have plenty of homework and whatnot to accomplish. Chastity Bryan is a breath of fresh air.

Chastity, or Chaz, is almost obsessed with the idea of sex and sexuality. To her, sex and love don’t always occur in tandem, in fact, she prefers it that way. She’s the type of girl that says when and she wants it now, especially when a new, hot boy moves to town and tempts her in all kinds of ways.

Okay, but wait! I know some of you out there are thinking this might just be a bit too much for me… This Chaz girl is more sexual than I like my main characters. I like them sweet and innocent and ignorant with their sexuality. Well, I admit, this might not be the book for you, BUT, if you can handle this side of Chaz, I can promise you that there is much more to her character. And, yes, there’s teen sex in this book, but there’s a point to it and I believe it’s well done. This book sends a message to readers that’s definitely worth hearing. 

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the fact that Chaz isn’t perceived as loose or lacking morality. She keeps her sexual endeavors well under wraps… and Chaz is a lot more talk than actual action. She’s smart, funny, sarcastic, and strong – that’s what I appreciate in a main character, regardless of how raunchy some of her comments may be. But, even if her classmates knew of her preoccupation with sex and judged her for it, I had the distinct feeling that Downing wouldn’t be encouraging the reader to do the same. Even though Chaz has a few things backwards and doesn’t always make the wisest decisions, she’s real and she sticks to her guns. Sexuality and a healthy dose of curiosity are normal and they shouldn’t be condemned.

Erin Downing’s KISS IT is a quick read, due to the fact that it’s less than 300 pages and it’s difficult to put down. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she’s got more novels like this up her sleeve! Her previous two novels are part of the Simon Pulse romantic comedies, which are wonderful, but this novel puts Downing on a whole different level.