Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mini-Rambles: Short and Sweet Contemporaries (Rachel)

Ex-mas by Kate Brian
From Goodreads:
Two Exes. One holiday adventure. Merry Ex-Mas? 
Seventeen-year-old Lila Beckwith's parents just left for vacation, and Lila's all set to throw the holiday party of the season. But when her Christmas-obsessed little brother, Cooper, discovers that global warming is melting the North Pole, he and his best friend, Tyler, take off on a runaway mission to save Santa.
Lila has to get Cooper safely home before her parents get back on Christmas Eve. But the only person who can help her is Tyler's older brother, Beau — a.k.a. Lila's musician, anti-everything ex-boyfriend.
It'll take more than a Christmas miracle for Lila and Beau to overcome their differences and find their fugitive brothers. But could a journey destined for disaster help these polar opposites fall in love...all over again?

I picked this book up because I'm a sucker for a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie, and Ex-mas seemed like a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie in book form. This book turned out to be exactly what I expected: a cute and fun romance set at Christmastime. I read this entire book in one day--Christmas Day, actually--because it's the kind of short and fast book meant to be read in just a few hours. Ex-mas is about Lila and her ex-boyfriend, who reconnect after a few years of being broken up so they can go on a wild adventure to find their runaway little brothers before their parents get home. This book has romance, humor, and crazy shenanigans, and it's a lot of fun to read. It might not be the best contemporary romance I've ever read, but it's certainly worth picking up if you're in the mood for something fun during the holidays. If you spend all of December watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies like I do, then you'll be delighted with this book.

Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart
From Goodreads:
At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.
One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?
Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.

I'm a huge fan of E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List (and the rest of the series), as well as her books The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks and Dramarama, so it was only a matter of time before I picked this one up. Fly on the Wall is not my favorite E. Lockhart book, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience reading it. It's quirky and hilarious and so, so different from other Young Adult books, and I adored it. Gretchen's experience as an actual fly, buzzing around the boys' locker room at school, was one of the funniest thingsI've ever read. It's like a weird social experiment in which a girl suddenly becomes privy to the secret lives of boys--who might as well be aliens, according to Gretchen. She learns things she might not have even wanted to learn about the boys in her school, and her commentary on the situation made me laugh so hard. This book is awkward and quirky and unique, and I wish it was longer. Alas, it is a very short book, so I finished it in just a few hours. But I would have liked to keep reading it for much longer, because oh my gosh, what a cute book. :)

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
From Goodreads:
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

As soon as I read the summary of this book, I was like GIVE IT TO ME NOW, because I'm a huge fan of contemporary romances and this book sounded perfect for me. While I did end up enjoying this book, it, sadly, was not as perfect for me as I'd hoped. I was able to relate to Wren as a main character really well, starting from the first few pages of the book, when I found out she was a quiet girl from Jersey who did not get into the National Honor Society. I'm a quiet girl from Jersey who didn't get into NHS, so I was like THIS GIRL TOTALLY UNDERSTANDS ME. For the most part, I did like Wren throughout the book. I also really liked Grayson. He's an interesting character, and he's super-cute, and I liked the natural progression of Wren and Grayson's relationship, which was totally adorable. My biggest problem with this book was the plot surrounding Grayson's "big secret." I won't spoil anything, but Grayson found himself involved in some bad stuff, and it all seemed way too dramatic for a bunch of teenagers, in my opinion. Grayson's "deep, dark secret" took a lot of focus away from the cute romance, which I think should have been the most important part of the book. Instead, there was all this unnecessary bad stuff that kept happening, and I was not a fan at all. It made the book too dark and dramatic, in a very cliche, almost Romeo and Juliet-like way. But I did still really like this book, because it was fun to read, and I couldn't put it down. If The Promise of Amazing had just focused on the relationship between Wren and Grayson, and the conflicts came from within that relationship instead of all the weird and bad stuff, then I probably would have fallen head-over-heels in love with this book.

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