31 May 2012

Book Review: While He Was Away

Book Details
Author: Karen Schrek
File Size: 905 KB
Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (May 1, 2012)


One year—he'll be gone for one year and then we'll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long–distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war—to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We'll talk, we'll email, we won't let anything come between us.

I can be on army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn't come home at all...?

Rating: 4/5

While He Was Away had me at its blurb. I wanted to see how the author will make out of this supposedly long-distance relationship between two young people who shared an intense love and are about to part ways because of the war.

David and Penna were so much in love with each other. It all started when the both of them knew they share the same passion for art. Penna is a quiet 18-year old and the only child of a single-parent mom whom she shared a somewhat edgy and strained relationship with. But their all-consuming love and devotion to one another is put to test when David is called to Iraq for a year of military service.   

There are a lot of things I like about this book, despite the fact that I thought this was a cover-to-cover love story. First, is the change in the character – especially with Penna. How readers see her maturity grows everyday and how she tries and finally learn to live her life with David away from her. While He Was Away also depicts reality – that lovers really don’t live inside a fairytale. The real world is tough and heavy with problems. A lot of couples, especially military girlfriends and wives have gone through and survived it. But you can’t help to root for them, I wanted them to be together badly, I feel that they long for each other every time they have the chance to talk. That’s why the ending surprised me.

Another thing I like about this book, is that this is more than just Penna and David’s love story. It is covered with a lot of twists and turns in its subplot that will make you read it until the every last page.

While He Was Away perfectly depicts the strain of the wait, as well as the changes and shifts in the relationships in complex way. There is no fairytale happily-ever-after to finish up the open-ended conclusion of While He Was Away. But the main character Penna, showed an amazing growth of character which is truly inspirational.

I sincerely hope that Penna and David will have their happy ending (either together or with another person). Yes, I’d love to read a sequel!

Favorite Quotes

We shouldn’t wait too long for anything or anyone that we really care about.

David and I were big. Are big. But the broken, beat-up, warring, loving, beautiful, truthful world is bigger than us by far.

27 May 2012

Book Review: Second Chance Summer

Book Details
Author: Morgan Matson
File Size: 1744 KB
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 8, 2012)

From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.
     Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
     As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

Rating: 4.5/5

Second Chance Summer is just the right book to end my summer book read. It was like saying goodbye to the usual summer and looking forward to a new and somehow different one.

Taylor and the rest of her family spent one last summer together back in their beach house when her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her father wanted them to spend this summer together like they used to do when they were younger. Only to realize that, the time Taylor spent her last summer here, things didn’t went well with her best friend and boyfriend.

Taylor tries to deal with both her family’s dilemma as well as the past problem she left at the beach back when she was 12. She is known to simply run away from anything that she doesn’t feel comfortable with. She uses escape to protect her from hurt and pain. I was glad that change happened to her character in this novel. She learned to face reality rather than running away.

I love the characters. I adore Warren and his nerdy dialogues – he’s like a walking Wiki. And when he fell in love with Wendy, it was the most hilarious part of the novel. Catching her attention was really epic. The strong fa├žade her mother shown was admirable. She didn’t break down in front of her children. It is hard to show a strong front for the one you love especially when your heart is breaking every day.

The plot surrounding the characters of Henry and Lucy were also pretty amazing – because it allowed the book to be a little lighter and somewhat easier to read.

But what touched me most in Second Chance Summer was Taylor’s relationship with her father. Among her siblings, she was a mediocre. Warren is intelligent and winning every competition he enters and Gesley excels in dancing. But the bonding that she and her father shared was priceless and incomparable. You can say that she was special and her father made sure that she knew it. In the last pages where Taylor said I love you to her dad made me cry, especially his letter. It was really touching and heartbreaking at the same time.

I have enjoyed reading Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer. It is a poignant tale of saying goodbye and second chances with the right amount of drama that will surely make your summer more memorable. Hurray for Morgan Matson – will surely grab another one of her books soon.  

Favorite Quotes

In all the medical dramas I’d ever seen, there was always some solution, some last-minute, miraculously undiscovered remedy. Nobody ever just gave up on a patient. But it seemed like in real life, they did.

Looking at it, I got, for the first time, why people would bring flowers to sick people, stuck inside the hospital with no way to get outside. It was like bringing them a little bit of the world that was going on without them.

“You said you didn’t want to waste your time on people who aren’t going to matter,” I said, and he nodded. “But how do you know they’re not going to matter? Unless you give it a shot?”

The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.

And I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need—love is all there is.

But one thing that I was learning about what happened when you stuck around—it usually seemed that other people were willing to stick by you as well.

06 May 2012

Book Review: Barely Breathing

Book Details
Author: Rebecca Donovan
File Size: 740 KB
Print Length: 420 pages

Emma’s struggle with an abusive home life came to heart pounding conclusion in the final chapters of "Reason to Breathe". Now everyone in Weslyn knows Emma’s secret, but Carol can’t hurt Emma anymore. Some are still haunted by the horror of that night, and some must face the repercussions of their choices. Fans of Rebecca Donovan’s debut novel will discover there’s still much to learn about Emma’s life.

Rating: 4/5

If the first book had me breathless at the end of the novel: The whole book is a torture. It had me on a roller coaster ride.

Emma is almost still the same, she would prefer to keep everything to herself, denying to have problems and loves to make herself an emotional punching bag of people she loved (or more likely wouldn't like to hurt). She has a real friend (Sara)

Evan - he's a wonderful boyfriend. A kind of boy you would want to take home to mommy. He's understanding, sweet, a knight in shining armor and he would do everything for Emma. She probably doesn't deserve him for the things she did - but it doesn't matter, Emma deserves her happy ending for everything she have been through. I just wished she knew what she's throwing away.

There's Sara who's always been her friend, and is always there for her. She was a bit bitchy in one part of this novel, nevertheless - she too had her happy ending.

Rachel - I couldn't imagine what kind of mother would do something like that to a child. She was unstable and has problems dealing with her issues and grief. The surprise visitor in the middle of the book will give readers an inkling on what she really is and what she has been through. What happened the day Emma was left with George and suffer for five years.

Plus, Donovan also had her readers FINALLY know what happened that night at the end of book 1. How Emma survived the ordeal and how Evan came into the rescue.

There's Jonathan. At first I couldn't place him - does he belong to the villains or to the heroes? But in the end, one single scene finally made up my mind and I have placed him in the group which he clearly belongs.

Barely Breathing tells readers about the aftermath of surviving abuse. It shows that it just doesn't end when the abuser is locked up behind bars. There are aftermaths to consider and to be carefully take into consideration. It also tells its readers that it is okay to ask for help if you need it - to be careful whom to trust, to see and decipher who are your real friends and the people you need to be careful with. Pain often makes people blind and push people away. It may make them feel they're saving the people they love from the pain they feel - but they just shove them away. Breaking relationships rather than making them stronger.

The ending was a major cliff-hanger. For people who are lovers of happily-ever-after, then you just have to wait for the last book to be published. Rebecca Donovan is the single author who made my stomach quench while reading a book. It was uncomfortable, but I didn't stop until I finished it. I wanted to know what will happened next, by the time I was on the last page, I groaned in frustration. (The cliffhanger is that baaad!!!)

I wish Emma would change in the next book and realize she's blessed compared to other people who have experienced the same thing she did. I would expect a happy ending for everyone.