Guy In Real Life – Steve Brezenoff

Guy In Real LIfeTitle: Guy In Real Life
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Published: Balzer + Bray, May 2014
Source: received a copy from publisher
Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository]

From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning  comes Guy in Real Life, an achingly real and profoundly moving love story in the vein of Rainbow Rowell and John Green, about two Minnesota teens whose lives become intertwined through school, role-playing games, and a chance two-a.m. bike accident.

It is Labor Day weekend in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and boy and girl collide on a dark street at two thirty in the morning: Lesh, who wears black, listens to metal, and plays MMOs; Svetlana, who embroiders her skirts, listens to Björk and Berlioz, and dungeon masters her own RPG. They should pick themselves up, continue on their way, and never talk to each other again.

But they don’t.

This is a story of two people who do not belong in each other’s lives, who find each other at a time when they desperately need someone who doesn’t belong in their lives. A story of those moments when we act like people we aren’t in order to figure out who we are. A story of the roles we all play-at school, at home, with our friends, and without our friends-and the one person who might show us what lies underneath it all.

I am not a gamer.  I don’t play MMO.  I don’t do RPG.  I don’t listen to metal music.  I don’t sew.  But this book grabbed my attention.  Even when I had a gazillion things to do during the day, I managed to squeeze in a few minutes here and there, just to open the book and escape into the worlds of Lesh and Svetlana.  Their lives were very different from mine and yet I felt a deep connection with these characters.

It’s kind of hard to describe why I liked the story.  I guess part of it was because I didn’t exactly know where the story was taking me.  Two strangers collided.  Until the first day of school, they didn’t even know if they would ever meet again.  Lesh, a sixteen-year-old, was a sophomore.  He hadn’t tried many things in his life and was reluctant to be an obedient teen.  Svetlana, a senior, was a talented artist.  She knew what she didn’t want but felt somewhat trapped by the mundane transition to become a responsible adult.  They might seem to be from two different worlds but as the story progressed, I found that they weren’t that  different.  It was interesting to see their perspectives, their views towards their family members, their wants to be in their comfort zones, and their needs to get out of their disorderly ruts.

It might seem as though nothing much had happened in the story.  The ending didn’t offer a usual tone of finitude but as I closed the book and reflected on what I read, I actually liked the ending.  It gave off a nice contrast to all the elements that were given in the very beginning.  The characters had changed and I appreciated both the subtle and not-so-subtle thought-provoking moments.

What intrigued me the most was that I felt I had somehow changed just by reading the story.  I think Guy In Real Life  is a wonderful coming-of-age novel.  It’s not preachy.  The character dynamics are very well-developed, and I like that something unpredicted happened and ‘shocked me to my senses’.  I think I’ll remember this story for a very long time.

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A World Without Princes – Soman Chainani

A World Without PrincesTitle: A World Without Princes
Series: The School For Good And Evil, #2
Author: Soman Chainani
Published: HarperCollins, April 2014
Source: received a copy from publisher
Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository]

In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected.

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.

Soman Chainani has created a spectacular world that Newbery Medal-winning author Ann M. Martin calls, “a fairy tale like no other, complete with romance, magic, and humor that will keep you turning pages until the end.”

After the defeat of the School Master, Sophie and Agatha thought their lives would be back to normal. But everything changed when they each made a wish.  Could they still remain good friends and live their happily ever after?

I loved book one, The School for Good and Evil,  and so I was eager to find out what might be going on in this installment.  It was still a lot of fun reading about Sophie, Agatha and their friends but because things were grimmer in this book, I felt a bit uneasy as the girls struggled to stay true to their heartfelt desires.  The bond of friendship was not as strong as they once believed and it was sad but indisputably engrossing to see what the girls picked this time around to make up for the emptiness that they each felt after the victory they had in book one.

Both Sophie and Agatha learned a different side about themselves in this installment.  What I loved about this series was that the characters didn’t immediately become a better or worse version of themselves whenever they faced a new challenge.  They didn’t just overcome obstacles on the outside.  They had inner demons that they must fight and their characters gradually grew and changed through some quiet, self-reflective moments.  They might not learn from their mistakes right away but I guess this just made them more real and human to me.  And while the story structure was very similar to that of book one, I enjoyed the new spin on trial and adversity – there were quite a few tough moments and I liked that a new villain was introduced to make things even more complicated for the girls.

The story wasn’t purely plot-driven.  There were moments where human vices were mocked through humor and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the raw, witty sentiments expressed by the characters.  The ending felt a bit rushed and I was left frustrated as I still had a bunch of questions in my mind unanswered.  Bet I’ll just have to wait till the next installment comes out. *sigh*

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The Castle Behind Thorns – Merrie Haskell

The Castle Behind Thorns

Title: The Castle Behind Thorns Author: Merrie Haskell Published: Katherine Tegen Books, May 2014 Source: received a copy from publisher Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository] A magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that is … [Continue reading]

House Of Ivy & Sorrow – Natalie Whipple

House of Ivy & Sorrow

Title: House Of Ivy & Sorrow Author: Natalie Whipple Published: HarperTeen, April 2014 Source: received a copy from publisher Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository] Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the … [Continue reading]

Fly Away – Kristin Hannah

fly-away

Today, I'm going to share an audio sample of the book, Fly Away,  as well as a Q & A with author Kristin Hannah. The paperback of  Fly Away  was just released on March 25, 2014. Title: Fly Away Series: Firefly Lane, #2 Author: Kristin … [Continue reading]

Sweet Reckoning – Wendy Higgins

Sweet Reckoning

Title: Sweet Reckoning Series: The Sweet Trilogy, #3 Author: Wendy Higgins Published: HarperTeen, April 2014 Source: received a copy from publisher Links: [goodreads][amazon.com][the book depository] It’s time. Evil is running rampant and sweet Anna … [Continue reading]