The Sixth Form – Tom Dolby

December 28, 2009

When Ethan Whitley’s mom gets cancer, his parents believe it’s best he goes somewhere far for his senior year of high school. Thus, Ethan leaves California for the prestigious Berkley Academy. Before long, Ethan realizes he does not fit in. Then he meets Todd Eldon, a fellow classmate and Hannah McLellan, a seductive teacher.

When Todd Eldon and his girlfriend break up, Todd befriends Ethan. The school knows Ethan as the strange kid from California. Soon, the two become friends. Todd, however, realizes that he starts developing feelings for Ethan, but how could Todd ever compete with Hannah. Not too mention, Ethan is not gay.

Together, Ethan and Todd go through their senior year of high school, a time of change and discovery.

The Sixth Form is difficult novel to review. I enjoyed reading it, but looking back Tom Dolby could have delved so much into the characters, plot, etc. Dolby had a great start to all of his characters, but unfortunately it was only a start. I really would have liked to know more development from Ethan and Todd. Todd’s homosexuality never seemed like a main focus, even though Todd was definitely struggling with it. Ethan’s relationship with Hannah was interesting at first, but then I kind of pitied him. Hannah, who is in her 30s, more than took advantage of Ethan. Eventually, Ethan does end things (I’d call this a spoiler, but come on, you had to see that one coming!), but this was not near as satisfying as I  thought it would be. Throughout the novel, Dolby hints about Hannah’s past. By the end of the novel, readers know about most of her past, but certainly not all of it. I found myself craving to learn more, but I just did not get that.

Having said all that, The Sixth Form was not really that bad of a novel. The book was pretty easy to get into, and the content itself was not the problem. The lack of content was the problem. Dolby set out to create a heartfelt coming-of-age story, but it feels like he got tired halfway through, so his greatness never truly materialized. Overall, however, I can certainly see myself reading more from him. I actually have The Secret Society, and I look forward to reading it, so there you go. 😛

I recommend this novel if you are looking for a coming-of-age story.

Related Links
Tom Dolby’s Site


The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

December 26, 2009

Esther Greenwood is a young woman growing up in the 1950s. She is beautiful and talented, but unfortunately she only realizes her flaws. Eventually, these flaws add up, from not getting chosen for a writing workshop to not wanting to marry the man who loves her. Esther feels that she will never be able to live up to people’s expectations which causes her to be depressed. When Esther’s suicide attempt fails, she is admitted into a mental asylum. Will Esther be able to once and for all move on by finally lifting the bell jar or will the bell jar ultimately trap her, causing infinite misery?

The Bell Jar follows Esther’s descend into a mental  collapse, which reflects Sylvia Plath’s own life. As you have probably guessed by now, this is not a book that will put you in a cheerful mood. Instead, readers will find themselves in a rather bleak mood. One of the most harrowing parts of the novel is knowing that Plath used Esther to reflect her own life. Reading a story about a depressed woman is sad enough, but reading a true story about a depressed woman who later committed suicide is beyond sad.

Throughout the novel, Plath’s writing is sporadic. Esther frequently changes topics, and this gives readers an insight look at Esther’s insanity. Plath also did not hold back anything to readers. For me, the most revealing part of the novel was after Esther’s “meeting” with the math professor. Even right now, I am not quite sure why Plath felt it necessary to go into details about Esther’s after-experience. Anyway, overall I enjoyed The Bell Jar, but I do not think I will ever read it again.

If you have been looking for female version of Holden Caulfied, then Esther Greenwood is your match.

Related Links
Sylvia Plath Legacy Library

Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

December 16, 2009

Green-haired Meg goes a step too far when she and her friends go on the forbidden bridge that is rumored to have been the death site of a girl and her boyfriend many years ago. As a result, instead of going to Miami for spring break, Meg must spend a week with Officer After. Officer After plans to teach Meg the consequences her actions will have and learn why Meg must rebel. All Meg wants to know, however, is why a nineteen-year-old decided to be a police officer in their small Alabama town, rather than getting out. Both John After and Meg will push each others limits to find out the answers they are searching for.

Going Too Far is a provocative novel that will leave readers wanting more from Jennifer Echols. Told in Meg’s perspective, Going Too Far gives readers an inside look into Meg. Readers learn that, far from Meg’s rebellious exterior, the real Meg is just an ordinary insecure teen trying to come to grips with life. John After will immediately be loved by readers. He is definitely swoon-worthy. 😛 Like Meg, readers will also want to know why John decided not to leave the small town. Meg and John may seem like an unlikely pairing at first, but after reading Going Too Far readers will believe that they are a perfect match.

One of the things I liked most about Going Too Far was the amount of depth Echols put into a novel that is mostly romantic. I seriously do not think I have read another romantic story with such depth. Readers will feel their heartstrings pulling while reading this novel. It’s that good! While Going Too Far did have some non-bothersome predictable parts, the parts I did not guess were simply amazing.

If you are looking for a romantic coming-of-age novel or just a good book in general, then I recommend Going Too Far.

Related Links
Jennifer Echols’s Site
Jennifer Echols’s Blog

The Boyfriend Game – Stephie Davis

December 13, 2009

Freshman Trisha Perkins loves playing soccer on her JV team with her friends Sara and Beth. Then, the soccer coach gives her the opportunity to try out for the varsity team. For the next few weeks, Trisha plans to devote her time improving her skills. Her friends, on the other hand, would much rather flirt with boys at Pop’s. While practicing, Trisha meets Graham, a recently transferred sophomore who is on the varsity team. Together, they declare their passion for playing soccer and their dislike for the dating scene. Things become complicated though when Trisha develops a crush on Graham.

Have you ever had one of those days where all you wanted to do is stay inside, eat cookie dough ice cream (or whatever flavor),  and read a book? If so, The Boyfriend Game is the type of book you would want to read. The novel potrays a first love that could only happen when one is in their beginning years of high school. By the end of the novel, readers will have a small smile on their faces. Everything turns out happily-ever-after, just what they expected.

The Boyfriend Game is not a novel that is going to wow readers. Everything was pretty much average. The plot, the storyline, the writing, etc. This means that readers will unlikely read the book over and over again. One thing I disliked about The Boyfriend Game was how complicated Davis made some of the situations, that in reality, were quite simple. I believe some of this was meant to reflect the awkwardness of first love, but personally I was just annoyed the entire time. Trisha and her friends remind me of some of the annoying freshman at my high school. Maybe I would be able to relate more if I had a first love in freshman or sophomore year.

I would recommend The Boyfriend Game if you are looking for a sugary sweet love story.

Related Links
Stephie Davis’s Site

Little Black Lies – Tish Cohen

December 6, 2009

When Sara Black’s OCD father lands a job as a janitor at the elite Anton High, Sara, a junior, is given the opportunity to enroll in the school. Most students have to enroll freshman year. Anton High School is a change from the public high school life she was accustomed to. Most of Anton’s students come from privileged lifestyles, so when Sara’s classmates mistakenly believe she comes from London, England, instead of Lundon, Massachusetts, she goes along with it. She also does not tell her classmates that the janitor is her father or that her mother ran off with her old science teacher. Soon, however, some of Sara’s classmates feel their popularity is threathened by Sara, and her black lies soon catch up to her…

The best thing about Little Black Lies was Cohen’s ability to slowly reveal details about Sara’s family life, which added up to the bigger picture. These details were scattered around the book, but each time they perfectly flowed with whatever was happening at the moment. I loved reading about how Sara’s mother’s affair affected her father. Cohen’s portrayal of her father’s OCD was realistic. I also enjoyed reading about Sara’s relationship with her mother.

Sara’s classmates were reminiscent of Mean Girls, with Carling being the Queen Bee. Nothing too original, but entertaining nonetheless. I also really liked Leo, Carling’s boyfriend, who eventually became the love interest of Sara. Leo’s past with Sara’s lies were an interesting combination. I only had one major dislike about Little Black Lies. From the beginning, Sara realized her lies were wrong, yet she continued to consciously dig herself into a deeper hole, which completely frustrated me. Despite this, however, I still enjoyed the novel and wanted a sequel. This says a lot considering I am horrible when it comes to finishing series.

Fans of Mean Girls should be sure to look into Little Black Lies.

Related Links
Tish Cohen’s site

The Espressologist – Kristina Springer

November 28, 2009

High senior Jane Turner works as a barista at a local Wired Joe’s along with her best friend Em. By recording the drink a person orders in her notebook, Jane learns that a person’s favorite drink reflects his or her personality. Soon, she realizes that this can be used to successfully match make people. When Jane’s boss learns of her skills, he does what any competitive boss would do: he markets them. However, Jane’s matchmaking skills soon bring trouble to her personal life…

The Espressologist is not novel that sets out to be an extravagant piece of literature. Instead, it sets out to be a fun, light-hearted book that will warm a reader’s heart, and the novel did just that. Sometimes, I read a novel and wish the novel had more substance. With a poorer writer, the same could have easily happened with The Espressologist. However, Springer wrote the novel with the perfect amount of fluff. Kind of like when baristas find the perfect amount of whipped cream to put on a drink. (Okay, I’ll stop with the coffee analogies.)

With this novel, Kristina Springer takes a clever idea and uses it as the basis for an adorable novel, perfect for lazy days. As I read this book, all I wanted to was curl up in a blanket and drink a cup of coffee. A book has never made me crave coffee as much as this one. The aroma of coffee seemed to waft from the its pages. While most of the characters were predictable, they were also likeable. Some of my favorite characters of The Espressologist were the minor characters who were regulars at Wired Joe’s. The minor characters gave the store and novel an authentic feel. This authenticity will help readers want more of Wired Joe’s and the story.

Overall, The Espressologist is a cute novel, perfect for anyone looking for a light-hearted read.

Related Links
The Espressologist Web Page
Kristina Springer’s Site

Anatomy of a Boyfriend – Daria Snadowsky

November 14, 2009

Dominique Baylor, a high school senior and an aspiring doctor, has never had a boyfriend. She attends a small private school in Florida, so even the prospects are low. Her best friend, Amy, attends a huge public high school. One day, both friends attend the school’s annual Seniors vs. Faculty football game. At the game, Dominique meets a cute boy, while she is “sprawled facedown.” Through Amy, Dom learns that the boy is Wesley, a cute track star. She then e-mails him, and they immediately have a connection. Before long, Dom experiences many firsts. However, with college decisions, Dom and Wes realize they are headed for two completely different paths. Will their relationship survive?

The Anatomy of a Boyfriend takes mature readers on the journey of Dominique’s first love. Dominique’s authentic voice was easy to relate to. She sounded like somebody I would like to be friends with. Her voice also made the novel a quick read. I finished this book within two days. Mature readers will also appreciate how Snadowsky incorporates sex into the novel, without idealizing it. Parts of the novel made me never want to do certain things. 😛 I also think Snadowsky realistically describes a long distance relationship after high school.

I did not have any major complaints with Anatomy of a Boyfriend, but a few things could have been better. I wish Dominique had more of a basis for falling head-over-heels for Wes. Part of me thinks Snadowsky intentionally wrote the novel so Dom lacked a logical reason, but I’m not really sure. I mean so many girls’ first loves are douches (from my observations at least). The lack of a basis hurt the resolution. Instead of the resolution seeming like the natural flow of things, it made Wes seem like a complete douche, when he was only partially a douche. Ok, I think I’m starting to ramble.

Overall, Anatomy of a Boyfriend is an accurate potrayal of first love that older teens will enjoy.

Related Links
Daria Snadowsky’s Website
Build Your Own Boyfriend
(This is fun!)