Thursday, August 29, 2013

REVIEW: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Title: Slammed
Author: Colleen Hoover Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Pages: 352
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

First Thoughts: Well, I started the book at 9pm and stayed up until 2am to finish it - so, I guess it was good :) It is definitely geared to an older crowd, which as a teacher made me hesitate, but as a reader I was enraptured from page one.

This book had been on my TBR list for over a year. A fellow teacher and book club member raved about this book since Colleen Hoover self-published it; I’m not sure what took me so long, but I can definitely understand why it came so highly recommended to me. Personally, I loved this book, however I can’t imagine recommending this to my freshmen. Juniors and seniors, maybe, freshmen, no way.

The connection between Layken (love her name) and Will is undeniable. I was all ready to scoff at two young people falling so deeply in love so quickly. Instead, I fell in love with their love (cheesy, I know). Since sneaking my mom’s Nora Roberts novels, I have always been a sucker for romance novels. Colleen Hoover does a fantastic job building the relationship between the two. I felt the heartache they experienced; I understood the looks they gave across the room; I hated the tension they couldn’t seem to avoid. It was a beautiful (cheesy again) story of the ups and downs two people in love experience.

Layken and Will’s relationship kept me reading late into the night, but what I really loved was the slam poetry at the center of the novel (hence the title). Even as an English teacher, poetry always intimidates me. This book, though, makes poetry make sense - it’s all about feelings. I loved when Will talked about the point of poetry: “the points are not the point; the point is poetry.” The slam poems in the book are some of the most emotionally powerful pieces I’ve read in a long time - characters sharing feelings of abandonment, abuse, love, heartbreak, etc. They give me goosebumps thinking about them even now. Many of the characters in the book experienced loss in life that I couldn’t even imagine, and poetry was their escape, their relief. I loved that Hoover showed the therapeutic nature of words. What’s even more cool? Some poets actually recorded reading Hoover’s poems on youtube...awesome!

So, even though I loved the book and plan on reading the rest of the series myself, here’s why I won’t recommend this book to my freshmen (I will tell our upperclassmen teachers to promote it though):
  • The main characters are 18 and 21 - the maturity gap between seniors/college students and freshmen is ENORMOUS!
  • Not to give away a twist (it happens early on), but the relationship is between a teacher and student. Granted they didn’t know (talk about miscommunication) when they first felt a spark and they are only three years apart, but that topic is just not something I would feel comfortable recommending as a teacher myself.
  • The romance pushes the boundaries a bit for 14 year-olds. There isn’t sex but there is definitely passion. I’m not naive to what my students know, but it’s not something I necessarily want to be a part of.

Final Thoughts: A fantastic personal read, a written relationship that’s going to be hard to forget, but unfortunately, not one I can add to my underclassmen book talks.

Who Should Read It? As I’ve already said, this is not for a young crowd. I think it’s appropriate for juniors and seniors but definitely no younger (sorry froshies). Also, it’s, in my mind, a girly kind of book; not that boys can’t be into romance though. So, any appropriately aged girls into realistic fiction and romance should definitely pick this book up. The recommendation I received (again and again) did not disappoint!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Memorable Secondary Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is: Top Ten Most Memorable Secondary Characters

As a self-proclaimed character-reader, you know this week’s top ten list is right up my alley! I’m a firm believer that minor characters can make or break a story. Here’s my list of some of my favorite secondary characters (in no particular order; that would be way too difficult):


1. Howie in I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga - Love him! Howie is by far my favorite character in this book. He’s funny, cautious, and yet a risk-taker. Most importantly, he’s loyal - his friendship with Jazz is heartwarming in the midst of a dark, gruesome story.

2. Asha in Speechless by Hannah Harrington - I want a friend just like her! She doesn’t judge, she looks past people’s faults, and she’s just there for you - we need more girls like her in high school today.

3. Park’s mom in Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - My opinion of her changed so much throughout the book; by the end, she was perfect! One of my favorite scenes in the book is when she forces Eleanor into a makeover. She may be quirky, pushy, and outspoken, but everything she does is done out of love.


4. (Captain) Thorne in Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - So funny! His overconfident and flirtatious nature, and the way it drove Scarlet mad, had me laughing out loud. He provided the perfect ice-breaker in some super-intense moments.

5. Rayna and Toraf in Of Poseidon by Anna Banks - Best (mermaid) relationship ever! Toraf’s undying love (even in the face of Rayna’s wrath), Rayna’s need for independence (even when wanting to rely on someone), and the way they perfectly complimented each other had me swooning just a bit.

6. Kenji in Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - Another great comic relief character in an extremely tense story. I got a little bit nervous about Kenji towards the end, but, thankfully, he came through for me. I hope he plays an even bigger role in the sequel, Unravel Me.

7. Tiny Cooper in Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - So dramatic, over-the-top, in-your-face, crazy and oh so perfect for the story! Just like Asha in Speechless, I found myself wanting to be friends with Tiny Cooper. He is comfortable in his own (very large) skin and forces other to see the truth inside themselves. Sign me up for a friend like him!


8. Rue in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I loved Rue for who she made Katniss become. Without Rue, would Katniss have fought back? Without Rue, would Katniss have saved Peeta? Without Rue, who would Katniss be?

9. The Weasley Twins (Fred & George) in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - Call me old-fashioned, nerdy, lame, whatever - I still LOVE Harry Potter. The Weasley twins were two of my favorite characters throughout the entire series. My favorite moment? When they lit the fireworks during Umbridge’s reign. So rebellious, yet always standing up for what’s right - love!

10.  Harley in Across the Universe by Beth Revis - He is just so real; in a world with upside-down values, Harley just gets it. He knows what life should be like and he’s going to live his that way, even if it means being in a mental institution (for the sane - it’s all mixed-up). Plus, his sarcasm is spot-on - I love a witty sidekick.

I’m sure I’m missing some great characters - who would be on your list?