Sunday, January 26, 2014

Book Review: The Boyfriend App

The Boyfriend App
Title: The Boyfriend App
Author: Katie Sise
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 312
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 12
My Opinion: 7/10

Hi, Readers!

       Who doesn't love a good app?  My favorite apps would have to be Words With Friends and Bejeweled, and I play them almost every day.  Now that almost everybody has smartphones and tablets, the app industry is booming.  Imagine if apps could actually begin to influence social relationships!  Katie Sise explores the moral predicaments that Audrey, an app-creator, faces in a high school environment in The Boyfriend App

       Audrey McCarthy loves to hide out in the computer lab at school and code with her tech-savvy friends.  She does almost anything to stay out of the public eye because she suffered a fall from popularity after her father's death a few years ago.  However, when a global tech company, Public, offers an app-creating competition for high school students, Audrey decides to enter in order to win the full college scholarship prize.  She comes up with the idea of a Boyfriend App to help girls like herself find their perfect matches.  At first, the app is a huge success, but when matched relationships start to fail, Audrey has to scramble in order to keep her app on top.  Audrey struggles with a number of social and moral dilemmas while advocating for the Boyfriend App, but in the end, it is up to Public Tech Company to decide who has created the best app.
Public users from around the country could download
Audrey's Boyfriend App onto their mobile devices
       My favorite part about the book is how realistic Audrey is as a character.  She's the perfect mix between geeky and popular, and her close-knit group of friends sticks with her through thick and thin.  Plus, Audrey puts her friends and family before herself most of the time, unlike many YA novel characters.  On a different note, The Boyfriend App has many interesting settings, from the rural campus of Notre Dame to the urban center of California.  Katie Sise did a good job showing instead of telling when describing settings.  The last, and best, part about The Boyfriend App is its ingenious plot line.  As soon as I thought the story was over, Sise threw in a major plot twist that made the novel much more interesting.  

       On the other hand, The Boyfriend App seems drawn out at the end.  It probably could have been fifty pages shorter if all of the unnecessary fluff was cut out.  Also, the ending of the book did not completely satisfy me because the evil Public Corporation CEO was never exposed for his dangerous business tactics.  Finally, Audrey's moral compass seemed a bit off when she used her app to force boys to fall in love.

       Overall, the novel was a fun read and was filled with plot twists and tech-y ideas.  Who wouldn't love an app that would instantly find your perfect match, like Audrey's Boyfriend App?  The book is a great read for high school girls who are interested in technology, but boys definitely would not enjoy The Boyfriend App.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

Top Ten TuesdayHi, Readers!

     Have you ever started reading a book and found out that it was nothing like you'd expected it to be?  Well, this actually just happened to me with the last book that I read, Crap Kingdom, by D.C. Pierson.  I was utterly disappointed at how, well, "crappy" it was. After this horrible reading experience,The Broke and The Bookish Blog's Top Ten Tuesday meme was perfect for me: the Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist.  Here is a list of ten things that I would like to see in the future books that I read, complete with a number of pictures and gifs.

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist:

1. Dystopian setting
The post-apocalyptic and the utopian-gone-wrong settings are my absolute favorites because they make me consider the impossible.  These settings can be found in some of my favorite books, from Rot and Ruin to The Testing to the cliche favorites, The Hunger Games and Divergent.  I especially enjoyed the dystopian setting in Shatter Me, although Juliette is locked up in a cell for most of the book.

The Capitol
The Capitol from The Hunger Games
2. Strong female lead
Give me more characters like Katniss (pre-Mockingjay-breakdown, of course) and Tris Prior.  These awesome girls have empowered millions of teen readers around the country and have proven that females are just as strong as males.  They don't need any help from men to defeat the bad guys.  Keep it up, ladies.

3. Realistic romance
Let's get one thing clear - I am not Team Jacob, nor am I Team Edward.  They are both dumb.  Why are more literary characters (*cough* Bella Swan) spending their time daydreaming about romance when they can actually make a difference in their literary worlds? Ugh.

Disappointment gif

4. Fantasy and magic
Throwing in some magical spells and dragons into a novel can never hurt.
Well, unless it's realistic fiction.

Harry Potter

5. Futuristic technology
I absolutely fell in love with the duel-worlds of real life versus RPG life in Conor Kostick's Epic.  When authors consider how modern day technology will evolve in the future, the novel usually turns out to be good.  However, please note that I cannot stand references to current technology, such as iPhones.  Apple already gets enough advertisement.

Technology in Epic
6. An average athlete
Sure, coming-of-age novels involving athletes usually have the star player learning a life lesson.  However, I wish there were more novels about realistic, middle-of-the-road athletes navigating the confusing worlds of recruiting and high school sports.

Sheldon playing basketball

7. Humor and wit
Characters with a bit of sass and spunk are instantly more entertaining.  There's nothing wrong with cracking a few jokes along a difficult and life-changing journey.  A.K.A. We need more people like Percy Jackson and Mia Thermopolis.

Percy Jackson

8. Normal character names
Katniss?  Four?  What ever happened to Bob and Sally and other all-American names?  Well, that may be taking it a little too far.  But when every single character name is incomprehensible, I sometimes wish that they were a smidge more ordinary.

That's not my name gif

9. Book to movie potential
A lot of people say that the book is always better than the movie, and I completely agree with that statement.  However, I still enjoy watching my favorite novels come to life on screen, even if the producers' interpretations of novels are different than my own.

Princess Diaries gif

10. Serious controversy
When I read a book, I want to be able to take a side on the book's issue.  No more petty high school drama for me (Yes, I'm talkin' to you, A Match Made in High School), I want serious business.  Bring on the adventure and the excitement, because I don't think I can stand to read one more silly high school romance novel.

Surprised gif

Here's to hoping that you, my reader, are an author who will craft a book especially for me with all ten of these ideas on my wishlist.  However, if you're not an author, please comment with any book suggestions that you may have and make sure to link up your TTT lists as well.

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Book Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me
Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fantasy, dystopian
Pages: 338
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 13
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers!

      Calling all Hunger Games and Divergent fans!  This week, I am reviewing a dystopian novel that has all of the potential necessary to become a hit film and YA phenomenon.  Make sure you read this book before it makes it big-time!  I had noticed that Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi, was reviewed on a couple of other YA blogs and it was highly praised due to its intense plot line.  Shatter Me turned out to be an awesome novel that I would consider comparable to top dystopian novels.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel as soon as possible.

       Here's a quick summary: Juliette is imprisoned in a mental institution controlled by The Reestablishment, a powerful organization that has taken over a basically post-apocalyptic Earth.  She found out over a year ago that her touch is fatal to humans, and she was abandoned by her parents.  Now, Juliette is faced with a strange roommate in her cell, named Adam, who turns out to be her former classmate.  Juliette discovers that Adam is a soldier of The Reestablishment, and he is required to make her fatal touch a weapon to be imposed on society.  However, the two fall for one another and must hide their romance while attempting to escape from The Reestablishment, and Juliette always has to remember her cursed touch.
Shatter Me
Another popular cover
of Shatter Me

       Although I am not a big fan of romance novels, the connection between Juliette and Adam is well-written and made me feel attached to their adventure.  Their romance is fairly predictable, but the added element of suspense pertaining to Juliette's inability to touch Adam throughout the novel adds unexpected new depth.  Juliette is clearly scarred from her rough past, from her parent's abandonment to her accidental murder of a young boy, as shown through Mafi's writing style.  The author shows Juliette's innermost thoughts as text that is crossed out by a "pen" (a thin black line), as if Juliette is trying to hide her true feelings.

       Juliette is a strong female heroine due to the fact that she has so much power over those around her.  She does not wallow in her outer beauty, which is a refreshing change in YA novels.  Also, Juliette inspires fear even in The Reestablishment soldiers, who are used to being in control, and she is able to use trickery and intelligence to her advantage throughout the novel.  I would definitely suggest Shatter Me to any female high school YA readers, and it is action-packed for the male audience.  Although this novel is from 2011, it's popularity is still growing due to sequels that readers are looking forward to.  There have been rumors that it will become a movie.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Review: A Match Made in High School

A Match Made in High School
Title: A Match Made in High School
Author: Kristin Walker
Publication Date: February 4, 2010
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 278
Age Rating: Readers above the age of 12
My Opinion: 6/10

Hi, Readers!

       If you are a young adult reader looking for the perfect way to pass the time on a snow day, then A Match Made in High School is the book for you - a quick, easy, and entertaining read.  It certaintly lacks depth of characters and ideas, but it has a fun plot line.

       Fiona Sheehan is a senior when she discovers the horrifying news that her high school is adapting a Marriage Education program, all because the principal had a messy divorce over the summer.  Fiona and her classmates are all partnered up as "husband" and "wife" for an entire year. and they must complete a monthly budget and participate in activities together.  Of course, Fiona gets paired up with the biggest jerk in her grade, Todd, whom everyone else seems to think is the coolest kid ever.  Todd's girlfriend, Amanda, gets paired up with Fiona's crush, Gabe, and Fiona's best friend, Marcie, is paired up with a random boy named Johnny who keeps to himself.  Countless bouts of drama unfold throughout the year as Fiona and Todd begin pranking one another.  At the same time, the school staff begins to crumble under countless complaints and attacks on the Marriage Education program.  Fiona has to come to terms with her "husband" as well as herself if she wants to have a senior year worth remembering.

Fiona does not like her forced "marriage" with Todd.
Fiona does not like her
forced "marriage" with Todd.
       Even judging from the plot line I outlined above, it is easy to tell that A Match Made in High School is not exactly deep.  It is filled with high school drama, romances, and conflicts that are all simplified down so that younger readers can understand them.  Walker attempts to include different social issues in the book, such as cheating, but they failed to capture my attention while reading.

       What I enjoyed most was the personality of Fiona.  Although she is self-involved at times, she is extremely individualistic and does not care what others think of her.  Fiona is a very strong female lead who carries the novel because of her funny viewpoint and narration.

       A Match Made in High School kind of reminds me of a cheesy-but-good television show - it is entertaining and will keep you watching (or reading, in this instance!), but it won't change your life in any way.  The novel is cute and fun to read, so I would recommend it to teens who are looking for a quick book to read in an afternoon or a weekend.

Happy reading!