Bunheads – Sophie Flack

Bunheads
Bunheads – Sophie Flack
Published: 10-10-2011 by Poppy
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah’s universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other “bunheads” in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

covergreen

Design – Tracy Shaw       Photo – Karl Taylor  

I really like this cover. The kaleidoscope pattern of ballerinas is visually interesting, and representative of how hard it is for Hannah to stand out among the other dancers. It also reminds me of how easily she gets lost in the insular world of the ballet company.

thought green

Bunheads is a New Adult that feels like a YA because it’s more focused on plot and personal development than romance. Hannah, at 19, is finding that she feels overlooked in the ballet company she’s devoted her every waking moment to. So, when the pressure starts weighing her down and she meets a guy who sees her as more than a ballerina, she finds herself questioning the future she’s always planned.

loved green

  • Jacob – What I really appreciated about this story is that the love interest has his own life going on. Jacob really likes Hannah and doesn’t want to give up on her. He’s extremely patient and willing to try again and again to break Hannah out of her ballet bubble. But his life doesn’t revolve around her – he’s got his own music career to start and doesn’t like being ignored.
  • plot – Hannah’s only nineteen, but she’s spent her whole life only concentrating on ballet and doesn’t know anything else. She almost literally has no time to do anything besides dance. Despite her dedication to ballet, Hannah feels overlooked when she can’t seem to get promoted to better parts. The amount of pressure on the girls is insane and every little thing about them is scrutinized constantly. Hannah’s a young woman living in NYC and seeing nothing but the inside of the ballet studio. But pressure and the feeling of being ignored are universal.
  • new start – Just when everything seems to be crumbling around Hannah, she realizes that ballet doesn’t have to be her life anymore. There’s so much going on in Hannah’s life and all of it seems to be pointing to the end of her ballet career. It’s hard to give up something she’s put so much into, but it doesn’t mean that she can’t start doing something new that will be even more fulfilling.
  • dancers’ bodies – The author was a ballet dancer for many years and writes about the toll on Hannah’s body realistically. Hannah is so devoted to dancing that she’s just beginning to develop breasts, skips meals, and has friends her age that haven’t had their first period yet. One of the star ballerinas is so malnourished that she develops a thyroid disorder. Hannah exercises constantly, and that’s in addition to her endless daily rehearsals.

didn't love green

  • “friendly” competition – Hannah and her friends regularly insult one another, both behind each other’s backs and not so secretly. The competition between these girls always comes before their friendships. They aren’t happy for one another’s accomplishments and they don’t support each other. Everything is about being better than one another at dancing. They are all so self-centered and focused on ballet that they can’t even treat each other nicely.
  • Matt – Hannah feels like no one appreciates her hard work, so when a rich guy who’s familiar with ballet takes an interest in her, she gets the ego boost she needs. Matt, however, is known around the Company for routinely wooing and then dumping young dancers. He’s smooth-talking, constantly complimenting Hannah, and spends money on lavish gifts, but all he sees is a beautiful and thin ballerina – now who Hannah really is or what makes her different than any of the other dancers. Sure, he understands her ridiculous schedule, but having a guy willing to never see you doesn’t sound like a relationship to me.

quotes green

“And now brace yourself because this might just blow your mind…There’s more to the world than just New York City.” His eyes widen, and he mimes an explosion with his hands.

“Wait, what?” I feign shock. “You mean, we won’t fall off the planet if we walk below the financial district?”

Jacob shakes his head slowly, with an expression of utter seriousness. “Crazy, right?”

– Jacob + Hannah  pg. 189

So what if I don’t have time to appreciate the pretty pink buds opening on the trees near the Avery Center? So what if I’ve stopped eating bread, stopped opening mail, stopped answering my phone?

My mother learns to text in desperation. ‘Call me sometimes why don’t u?’ she writes. ‘Daddy sends luv.’

‘So busy,’ I write back. ‘Love u.’

– pg. 232

4robots green

4 Robots

Acquired: bought

Love Story – Jennifer Echols

LoveStory
Love Story – Jennifer Echols
Published: 7-19-2011 by MTV Books
Get the book: Amazon,The Book Depository

She’s writing about him. He’s writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines..

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions–it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter. . . . except this story could come true.

covergreen

Design – Min Choi      

First of all, I wish the photographer was named because this photo is stunning. The girl’s eye contact really draws you in. I like the simplicity of this cover, especially the title. Other than that, this cover could be for any contemporary out there. I do appreciate that it matches two of the author’s other romance covers though.

thought green

Love Story is New Adult done right. Well-developed plot, sexual tension and flirting, but not focused on sex. This story follows Erin and Hunter’s complicated relationship as they toy with each other through the stories they write for a college course. Both Erin and Hunter are trying to make their way through college and are each struggling with their connection to the horse farm where they became friends. Love Story is full of family drama too, but Erin and Hunter’s relationship is the focus and it’s one hell of a ride.

loved green

  • New Adult – Most of the New Adult books I’ve read are way too focused on sex, at the cost of plot. Love Story manages to weave plot and a growing romance together and develop both consistently. There’s the perfect amount of friendship and sexual tension to keep things sweet. Yes, some of the drama is a bit over the top, but most of this book reads like a YA set in college. The characters are impulsive and immature sometimes, but they do grow throughout the story.
  • secondary characters – Summer, Brian, Manohar, and Jordis are all extremely interesting characters. Summer is fiercely loyal in defending Erin’s stories, especially from Manohar who likes to pick on them a bit too much. I love how Jordis has met half the dorm by recruiting people for her art projects. These characters really liven up the story.

didn't love green

  • money – Erin’s grandmother is rich and controlling. Because Erin refuses to major in business to take over the horse farm in Kentucky, she’s paying her own way. This provides much of the major conflict, but is also endlessly irritating. Plenty of people have jobs during college and plenty of people aren’t getting any monetary help from their family. Erin being late to work constantly is her own doing. I was so glad that Hunter got in her face about her playing poor – that she could go back any time she needed to.
  • stories – The initial ‘stable boy’ story is central to the plot, but the rest of the stories are much less interesting. Although Erin uses a few of her stories to open up about tragedies in her past, most of the stories are she and Hunter taunting each other. The stories are quite abrupt, bringing you out of the main story and returning you to it by way of a class critique of the story. Hunter’s first story is funny in a sarcastic way, but I really didn’t care for any of the stories beyond each of their first ones. The class critiques get old very quickly because they’re simply nosy classmates commenting more on Erin and Hunter’s relationship than on their writing. I wish at least one of the other students had spoken up about how much they didn’t care about the couple or how obviously transparent the two’s stories were. I also fail to see how it’s a big deal for the teacher to find out that Erin’s stable boy is Hunter.

quotes green

“I’m almost out of face cream and I can’t afford another tube. If I cut it open and put it in a plastic bag, I think I can get another month out of it, maybe six weeks.”

Hunter turned suddenly on the stair below us. Brian and I both jumped backward, but Hunter knew better than to turn with a knife point out. The knife was down by his side. “That’s what this is about? You don’t need face cream. You look fine.”

“That’s because I’ve been using it,” I said at the same time Brian said, “That’s because she’s been using it,” and rolled his eyes.

– Erin, Hunter, Brian  pg. 79

“You wanted to know where I was going so late at night,” he said. “I’ve seen you watching me through your window.”

Not to self: when boys look back at you watching them in the darkness outside your well-lit window, but their expressions do not change, you relax, assuming they can’t really see you watching them, when they can totally see you.

– Hunter + Erin  pg. 154

3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: bought

Dearest Clementine

Dearest Clementine by Lex Martin
Published: 4-17-14 by Lex Martin
Get the book: Amazon

Twenty-year-old Clementine Avery doesn’t mind being called bitchy and closed off. It’s safe, and after being burned by her high school sweetheart and stalked by a professor her freshman year of college, safe sounds pretty damn good.

Her number one rule for survival? No dating. That is until she accidentally signs up for a romance writing class and needs material for her latest assignment. Sexy RA Gavin Murphy is more than happy to play the part of book boyfriend to help Clem find some inspiration, even if that means making out…in the name of research, of course.

As Gavin and Clem grow closer, they get entangled in the mystery surrounding a missing Boston University student, and Clem unwittingly becomes a possible target. Gavin tries to show Clem she can handle falling in love again, but she knows she has to be careful because her heart’s at stake…and maybe even her life.

covergreen

Design – Twin Cove Design      Rating – 3/5

This is a nice enough cover, but it has no real references to the content of the book. The photo is nice and the intense Instagram-like filter makes the title stand out nicely. I like the fonts used and the way “Clementine” is a different color.

thought green

Dearest Clementine has a lot of problems but the subplot is surprisingly deep. I have a problem with the New Adult genre’s many clichés, especially since so many of them center on romantic relationships. Clementine and Gavin are sweet together, but still oh-so-cliche. Overall, this is a decent story that gets weighed down by details.

loved green

  • subplot – The subplot / everything that isn’t Clem and Gavin’s relationship is deeper than I was expecting. Clem is dealing with the popularity of a book she wrote under a pseudonym and a creepy former professor who may or may not be a stalker. Everything aside from Clem’s relationship with Gavin is much more complex. Clementine strikes me as a strong, self-possessed person who’s balancing a lot of things in her life.
  • secondary characters – I love that Clem’s roomies, friends, and family are more than just background characters in this story. There is no stereotypical boy-crazed friend. Each person seems to have their own life that doesn’t revolve around Clem. They are presented as people with their own problems. 

didn't love green

  • sex – Firstly, why is the romantic plot of every New Adult book the more-experienced guy teaching the innocent girl about sex? Why can’t anyone just have a normal relationship? I do like that Clem and Gavin didn’t have sex right away, but I had two issues with that. One, they did so many sexual things throughout the book that I was surprised when it was said that it was their first time. Two, this is a New Adult books so the readers do not want your silly euphemisms. His never-never-land? Really?!
  • author problems – Here we have someone writing a book about a main character who is writing a book but has been published before. The problem with this is that every time Clem says something about writing, or fame, or book publicity, it doesn’t sound like it’s Clem saying it. It comes off like Clem’s a robot spouting the author’s own thoughts and opinions about things like money and the publishing business. It’s something that took me out of the story and felt unnecessary.

quotes green

I want to wallow in self-pity all morning, but I have to drag myself to math at the ass-crack of dawn. I sit in class, taking notes, copying down formulas, but my head doesn’t process anything except that my mechanical pencil is running out of lead.      – Loc. 2354 / 5127

I can hear the disgust in her voice for Wheeler, and thank Jesus, Joseph and the Easter bunny that Daren got me an attorney who sounds like she might tear off my former professor’s man parts personally and enjoy it.      – Loc. 3868

  3 robots green

3 Robots

Acquired: Free ebook

Perfect Fifths

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
(Jessica Darling #5)
Published: 4-14-09 by Crown
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding. As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It’s the first time she’s seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier–and emotions run high.

Marcus and Jessica have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again?

Told partly from Marcus’s point of view, Perfect Fifths finally lets readers inside the mind of the one person who’s both troubled and titillated Jessica Darling for years.

covergreen

Design – Jennifer O’Connor       Photo – John-Francis Bourke       Rating – 3/5

This cover is ok. I don’t really feel that it’s true to Jessica’s personality, but it does show that she’s a young professional in a big city. The wing patch is much more indicative of the book’s contents and setting. Overall, the cover fits well with the rest in the series but is a bit dull for my liking.

 

thought green

Perfect Fifths is, in every way, a completely lackluster conclusion to the relationship between Jessica and Marcus. This series finale throws out most if not all, of the series’ characters who are not Jessica and Marcus out the window, leaving the two of them in a sort of strange limbo. This story is the shortest time span of all – a single day to sum up everything that has happened between Marcus and Jessica. Although the big draws of this book are the peek into Marcus’ head and the conclusion of the story, I found both of these things lacking and disappointing.

loved green

 

  • Marcus – Marcus is a much more interesting character than Jessica sometimes. While Jessica remains confused about her life and Marcus, Marcus is sure of what he wants – and that’s Jessica. He seems to have grown as a person a bit more than Jessica. He’s gone from a druggie who just liked to tease Jess to a college grad who’s focused on getting her back.
  • uncertainty – I really like that Jessica and Marcus are shown as confused and unsure rather than having everything put together. They’re young and still trying to measure how well they’re doing based on what they’re friends have accomplished. Jessica still doesn’t really know what she wants from Marcus, and she feels like a fraud because her friend got her a job. 

didn't love green

 

  • Marcus’ head – The small window into Marcus’ mind after all this time is underwhelming to say the least. The constantly enigmatic Marcus Flutie comes off completely different from the character that has been established. Marcus is, in this book, shown as little more than, for lack of a better word, a whipped young man. The mysteries surrounding Marcus seem completely swept aside. He thinks just like Jessica does. The only satisfying thing about Marcus’ point of view is his unwavering devotion to Jessica.
  • sex – Alright, look. I know this is far from the 1st time Marcus and Jessica have slept together. I have been waiting for four books for them to both finally decide to be together permanently. I know that they are both consenting adults in their early/mid twenties. I have entered this story knowing all of these things. I do not want some pages littered with nonsensical sentence fragments instead of actual description. I’m not asking for smut here, just some sort of actual scene. It’s like the whole book was building up to something and then we got left out of that something. Why?! Anyone picking up this book will know and expect that there will be some adult content in a book about adults.
  • secondary characters – Marcus and Jessica are the only characters physically and emotionally present in this book. Fitting, I suppose, since they are both quite self-centered. Anyone else in their lives is an afterthought here – a story of something far away that’s already happened and is only addressed so Marcus and Jessica can put off feeling any actual emotions that linger between them. The long-awaited conversation between these two is reduced to little more than Marcus asking about the people in Jess’ life and Jess telling him anything about anyone else to avoid saying something about herself.
  • plot – I’m not sure if I can call it a plot. Marcus and Jessica run into each other, Jess hides among Barry Manilow fans, Jess and Marcus talk about anything besides their relationship, sexual tension, corny Barry Manilow ending. The entire book is one ridiculously drawn out conversation – a series reduced to a 200 page will they/won’t they dance. After all Jess and Marcus have gone through, I wanted them to have a better ending than Barry Manilow karaoke. 

quotes green

 

“No, this is not a security issue.” Jessica clutches a hand to her throat, clears it. “Yes, I know him,” she says more firmly. “His name is Marcus Armstrong Flutie.” She then turns to the first officer, switches on a smile. “And he’s with me.” She pivots toward Marcus, puts her hands on her hips, and says in perfect exasperation, “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you forever.”
“I was waiting for you,” Marcus says. “The whole time.”      – pg. 69-70  Jessica + Marcus

  2robots green

2 Robots

Acquired: Bought