Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud Review

Book Blurb: Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Genuine Fraud is a masterful suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart, author of the New York Times bestseller We Were Liars.

Hello everyone! Today I have for you my review for Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. This book was the first one that I have ever been sent for review (shout-out to Delacorte Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House for sending it to me upon request)! So obviously this was a really big deal for me as it shows that this blog and my bookstagram are actually taking me somewhere in this industry. Not to mention the fact that I read E. Lockhart’s bestseller We Were Liars earlier this year and I loved it (to the point of me making my boyfriend read it too). So yes I went into this new release with high hopes…

My first point to make is that this book took me much longer to finish than it should have (one month and four days to be exact). I can blame this on me returning to uni and having other priorities but really it was due to the fact that I struggled to get into it. I was intrigued by the concept when I first read about it and having finished it now, I still love it but my biggest issue was the quality.

  1. The book is written backwards – meaning the beginning chapter is the second to last chapter (#18), each chapter goes back in time over a one year period (#17-#1), until you reach the final chapter in which it is the one after the first (#19). Sounds cool, right? It was, well would have been, if the time periods all made sense. The dates were in order but the events that were occurring didn’t seem to be as one chapter you would have just met a character but the next you already know them – even though you just went back in time. You can tell that Lockhart really tried to fully develop the characters and explain all of the confusing parts (eventually) by showing the past over time but even now I am still quite confused by like 60% of the book.
  2. Key moments/characters are introduced but not in full depth. There are the few key characters (ie. Imogen, Jule, and their love interests) but as far as the ones who turn out to be involved in twisting points of the story, they are just given a brief history and a reason to be where they are at the time. I just feel like if you are going to murder a character (or two…) then you should at least give a clear reasoning why. Well, besides the fact that the main character/murderer is clearly messed up.
  3. You don’t find out the main reason for the motive of the main character until one of the last chapters. I would be okay with this if it didn’t make everything even more confusing and just leave you hanging but sadly it did. It was definitely one of those moments for me where I said “Oh, wow. I really didn’t expect that.” but then followed that by saying “Wait what? That’s it?” I obviously won’t spoil the ending for you but if you do read this book, just be prepared to end it feeling lost.  

My second, and last, point to make has to deal with the style and editorial side of this book. Yes I am a publishing student so this is necessary, sorry. There were so many things wrong with this book! One of my biggest pet peeves is to constantly have to fix grammar mistakes while reading a book. I really didn’t expect this as We Were Liars left me with such a high level of respect for Lockhart as a writer and Delacorte Press as a publisher but something definitely seemed to have gone wrong with this book. I don’t know if the copy editing side of this release was rushed but it read like an advanced copy even though it was then released to the public less than a week after I received it.  No this did not really effect the story itself (I did enjoy it even though my first point seems to question that) but it was just a bit triggering for someone who is taught how to look for these type of mistakes in books. Maybe I overlooked them when I first read We Were Liars but it still wasn’t pleasant for Genuine Fraud to have such obvious ones.

Wow, this review turned into more of a rant than I expected. Sorry guys! I really did enjoy the book and I am grateful that I was sent it for review but I would definitely say that if you are interested in reading an E. Lockhart book read We Were Liars, if even first or only. 

Thank you guys for reading this review! I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you have read it yet or any other E. Lockhart book so let me know down in the comments below!

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Yes but only if they like young adult mysteries and have already read We Were Liars.

Did I enjoy reviewing my first ever book sent from a publisher?: Yes! This was such a big deal to me and I really did enjoy it. My next book for review will be Chasing Charlie by Linda McLaughlan so be on the lookout for that!

3StarsRating

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We Are Okay, Nina LaCour

We Are Okay Review

WeAreOkay1Book Blurb: “Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.”

Hello everyone! Today I have for you the We Are Okay by Nina LaCour review – also known as the book that every YA reader went crazy buying this year because it has such a beautiful cover. I came close to buying this book during my Shakespeare and Company Haul but I am very thankful that I waited until my Barnes and Noble trip because boy was there a price difference! Not to mention the fact that it was a perfect summer read.

To just start this off with a summary of my feelings about it, I both disliked and loved this book. It was a really unique contemporary read and from a writers aspect, I highly recommend it. With that being said though, it definitely didn’t meet my expectations. Prior to reading it this summer, I didn’t hear much about it besides the fact that people were currently reading it or felt that it was “just okay” (pun not intended). Which now that I have read it, I agree with them.

“I close my eyes, and I breathe her in, and I think about this home that belongs to neither of us, and I listen to the fire crackling, and I feel the warmth of the room and of her body, and we are okay. We are okay.”

The whole concept of it is raw and beautiful but until the end not much happens besides feelings and the past being discussed. So in terms of it being an eventful book that held my attention the whole time, it just didn’t do that for me. Instead it was very slow-paced and caused me to have a lot of sympathy for the characters while at the same time thinking philosophically about my own life. However, I did really appreciate LaCour’s choice of tying in the past with the present. It made the story both contemporary and a mystery which is currently a rare thing to find in new young adult books. Her character’s were fully developed, the conflict was strong and emotional, and the overall impact definitely pulls your heart-strings. Not to mention the fact that Marin and Mable had a romantic past *SPOILER* which is always nice to read in new books that are keeping up-to-date with controversial topics that should just be accepted.

WeAreOkay2

As a Creative Writing student, I took a lot from this book in terms of writing style and plot, seeing as the whole book takes place in a little over a weeks time in relatively the same location. I haven’t read many (if any) books like this before so it was a neat experience. This allowed LaCour to go far more in-depth with little habits of each character, create beautiful imagery when describing the main character’s memories and end the book with tears in your eyes.

Overall, this was one of my favorite summer reads this year. Yes it had a few flaws but having not read many YA novels during these last few months, this was the perfect book to read between an intense historical fiction (The Book Thief) and a young adult fantasy (City of Bones). I am very glad that I read it and can finally join the book community’s support of it but I definitely won’t be re-reading it any time soon.

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Yes but only if they enjoy YA contemporaries. 

Would I read another book by Nina LaCour because I loved her writing style so much?: Yes 

WeAreOkayRating

Unfiltered, Lily Collins

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Title: Unfiltered: No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me

Author: Lily Collins

Genre: Nonfiction

Edition: Hardback

Goodreads Blurb: “In this groundbreaking debut essay collection, featuring never-before-seen photos, actress Lily Collins—star of Mortal Instruments and the upcoming Rules Don’t Apply—is opening a poignant, honest conversation about the things young women struggle with: body image, self-confidence, relationships, family, dating, and so much more.

For the first time ever, Lily shares her life and her own deepest secrets, underlining that every single one of us experiences pain and heartbreak. We all understand what it’s like to live in the light and in the dark. For Lily, it’s about making it through to the other side, where you love what you see in the mirror and where you embrace yourself just as you are. She’s learned that all it takes is one person standing up and saying something for everyone else to realize they’re not alone.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Lily’s honest voice will inspire you to be who you are and say what you feel. It’s time to claim your voice! It’s time to live your life unfiltered.”


Unfiltered was the book that finally got me out of my summer reading slump. Having just finished my first year of uni, one in which I was constantly reading (both for leisure and academics), I allowed myself to take a much-needed break. This book had the refreshing touch to bring me back into wanting to make the time to read and not wanting to stop. Lily Collins wrote this book in the form of small essays – I rarely enjoy books written like this as they typically lack a good flow but she was able to achieve one that was highly enjoyable to read.

Collins proved herself to be capable of speaking of her truthful past, accepting how vulnerable she would feel while writing and knowing that it would reach out to people who needed to hear her words. To know that they are not alone. Overall, I found the book to be raw, emotional and beautiful. All of which I haven’t found in a nonfiction/memoir type book in a very long time, if possibly ever. I found myself staying up past 3 am, reading for hours straight, because I knew that each topic would lead into another and I didn’t want to stop.

The best part of this book was that it was a complex and complete experience. Collins was able to write it so that you not only get to understand her as an individual and her experiences, but also yours. The inspirational quotes and open opinions throughout all of it provides something to always think about and apply to all of her stories. Although I have not experienced everything that she has, nor to the degree that she has, it was still comforting to read someone who is so honest and relatable. There was no shame – only the truth.

“Healing is an ongoing process, and I will be working through my disorders for the rest of my life. But I know now that there is a greater happiness to be attained in this world: the happiness of enjoying myself to the fullest during the one life I have and accepting myself for who I am while I’m living it.”

I must admit that a lot of the topics are controversial ones – things that people are touchy about discussing, hearing and reading. But I personally felt that it was all handled well. I didn’t feel uncomfortable nor sick to my stomach. Rather it was just Collins being raw and honest, sharing her experiences and not in an asking-for-pitty type of way. If you are a fan of her’s and or have dealt with problems such as eating disorders, family members who are alcoholics or abusive relationships, I highly recommend reading this book. It was such a quick and enjoyable read for me – definitely worth the money.

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Yes.

Do I love Lily Collins even more now?: Yes.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5

 

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time, Mark Haddon

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Title: The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon

Genre: Mystery

Edition: Paperback

Award: Whitbread Book of the Year (2003)

Goodreads Blurb: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a murder mystery novel like no other. The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is fifteen and has Asperger’s Syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings. He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched. He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour’s dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.”


Oh this book – so many mixed feelings! It took me twenty-one days to finish… after attempting to read it for about two months and that doesn’t include the break that I had to take by reading another book in order to get through this one. To be quite honest, I am not exactly sure why I struggled so much but at the same time, I definitely do not understand the hype of it.

“I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”

Positives: 

1. Mental aspects were handled well. I found the introduction to Christopher explaining what it is like having asperger’s syndrome to be intriguing and written well. It gave you insight in a way that gave you knowledge and understanding, rather than lightly touching on the subject and asking for sympathy.

2. The main character, Christopher Boone. Vulnerable and bold. He shares everything, while still constantly surprising you. Although I felt like some examples of his characteristics were too long, it added to the intensity of his mind and made you feel protective of him when conflicts in the story came up.

Negatives: 

1. So many unnecessary parts. I personally felt as though at least 30% of this book could have been removed in order to make it a more enjoyable read. Too many parts were repetitive – like I get it, this is how Christopher’s mind works but I already know that it works in these ways (as explained in the first few chapters), so please just continue with the actual plot (mystery) and drama.

2. I feel wrong for disliking all of the main characters 90% of the time. Although I don’t think that the point of this book was to ask for sympathy but rather make you more aware, I still felt like I didn’t acknowledge the reasoning behind the reactions of the characters who dealt with the main conflicts. I spent more time being annoyed than connecting with them which is a key part to reading – let’s be honest.

3. The second half is MUCH better. I struggled through the first half, constantly taking breaks for multiple days in a row, but once I hit the halfway mark I couldn’t stop. The intensity and constant conflict finally hit and it kept my interest. If you do decide to read this book and struggle like I did, definitely push through until the end so that you will read the best parts (advice given by my boyfriend who let me borrow this book). Even if there aren’t a lot of them…

4. “Um… okay” type of ending. I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed by the ending but I definitely didn’t love it. It was a conclusion, a simple one, but not an exciting one. It didn’t feel like the book was worthwhile but the drama before it did, thankfully.

“Science and literature give me answers. And they ask me questions I will never be able to answer.”

Overall, I’m glad that I read this book because of the hype that it has but I definitely don’t understand the reasoning behind it – and probably never will.

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Only if they are interested in the topic.

Would I buy tickets to see the play?: No

Goodreads Rating: 3/5

My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

My Name is Lucy Barton

Title: My Name is Lucy Barton

Author: Elizabeth Strout

Genre: Fiction

Edition: Paperback

Award: Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016

Goodreads Blurb: “Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lies the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters.”


I had this novel first suggested to me by a worker at Waterstones and from then on, I always looked at the display as I walked by.  I am lucky enough to have an amazing boyfriend who knows and supports my love for books so receiving this from him was a lovely surprise.

This novel was one of the few in which I read almost all of in it one day and didn’t want to stop. It is written in such a raw and personal way that you feel as if you are sitting in a coffee shop with Lucy as she tells you her life story. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about this story was that with it being about how the past affected her future, you aren’t constantly confused about being sent to flashbacks but rather shown the memories as they hit her. You get to see what happened, how she felt at that time and then how she feels in the current day. It is a beautiful and effective way to write such a story.

“I have learned this: A person gets tired. The mind or the soul or whatever word we have for whatever is not just the body gets tired, and this, I have decided, is – usually, mostly – nature helping us. I was getting tired. I think – but I don’t know – that he was getting tired too.”

The best part for me about the main character was that her expressions of loneliness and feeling broken were not annoying. Too often, vulnerable, middle-aged female’s are written in a sob story way that makes them sound desperate for attention and like a mess that you would see in a dramatic, romance film. I found it almost comforting to read such a personable character – one who tells it as it is and pulls off the effect as if you are in her mind. You feel the pain, anger and love that she has for the people in her life. You see the impact of her childhood and marriage – the shock and heartbreak when her mother visits. The feelings are all real and Lucy Barton is like a real female woman in the real world.

(BIT OF A SPOILER) With that being said, I found it annoying how she says that she falls in love with almost every man that comes into her life. At the beginning of the book, it made sense with her discussing the relationship before her husband and the ways that it still affects her. However, it then gets to the point where she thinks she is in love with her gay neighbor and then her married doctor. She is a women, stuck in a hospital, with her mom visiting who she hasn’t seen in years, missing her children who aren’t being well taken care of by their father, and is worried about life afterwards. Does it make sense and add drama to the plot? Yes. Does it get repetitive and annoying to constantly read that she loves a guy whenever she introduces him into her life story? Yes.

“Do I understand that hurt my children feel? I think I do, though they might claim otherwise. But I think I know so well the pain we children clutch to our chests, how it lasts our whole lifetime, with longings so large you can’t even weep. We hold it tight, we do, with each seizure of the beating heart; This is mine, this is mine, this is mine.”

 Now for her mom – the main conflict of the novel. What a character she is! I was constantly going back and forth between hating and having sympathy for her. She is made out to be this complex mystery that Lucy never fully knew nor ever will. The tension and awkwardness felt through their talks and the way the mother sits in the room is beautifully heartbreaking. The whole time I thought, “I am so thankful that my mom and I aren’t like this.” Their relationship effected everything in the main character’s life from her relationship with her siblings and father to having children of her own. I just wanted to scream at the mom to be normal and take care of her child for once. And I admit, quite often there was the sense that the mother did want to do this but felt as though she couldn’t – good job Elizabeth Strout for purporsefully causing that frustration. With that being said, the last part with the mom really pissed me off but I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Overall, it was a beautiful novel. I really enjoyed it and am so glad that I read it. It is written beautifully, easy to get through while traveling and is one of those stories that I wish more were like. It was refreshing to read and I am now curious about Strout’s other books.

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Yes

Do I suggest reading this novel if you enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love?: Yes

Goodreads Rating: 4/5

The Sellout, Paul Beatty

The Sellout

Title: The Sellout

Author: Paul Beatty

Genre: Fiction

Edition: Paperback

Award: The Man Booker Prize 2016

Goodreads Blurb: “Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, it challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant. Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes, but when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral. Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.”


WARNING: SPOILERS (TO A DEGREE)

First off, do not read this book if you hate slavery/the idea of slavery being used. I don’t mean reading about the past but it being active in the present. The majority of this book revolves around that and is basically the whole conflict. I am not saying that I do enjoy that but that I could see people being sensitive to the topics included in the book. So don’t complain if you choose to read the book and don’t like it for that reason. You’re welcome.

Having read the blurb multiple times before purchasing this book, I admit that I expected a different plot. A brief summary is that the narrator is sent to trial for using slavery and racial segregation in the present time. The main explanation for the psychological damage that he has is because of his dead father who was a sociologist. As in a sociologist who ran tests on his child – yes, like many horror movies/Law and Order episodes. It was an interesting idea but didn’t really explain it all. I think that if the narrator had more controlling characteristics or better expressed his damaged childhood to some of the other characters, there would have been more drama that kept the book interesting throughout.

“Sometimes I wish Darth Vader had been my father. I’d have been better off. I wouldn’t have a right hand, but I definitely wouldn’t have the burden of being black and constantly having to decide when and if I gave a shit about it. Plus, I’m left-hand.”

Now for the good, bad and could have been improved things about the book.

Good:

  1. Little Rascals. The narrator’s friend/slave, Hominy Jenkins, was one of the boys in Little Rascals. The character himself caused a lot of unnecessary confusion for me and at times caused the story to drag. However, the characteristic of being a Little Rascal added a quirkiness which lead to humor towards the end of the book. Do I wish that Paul Beatty hadn’t made that choice? No. Do I think that he could have made the character a stronger individual with being a Little Rascal just a small thing on the side? Yes.
  2. Length. Overall, I don’t think that the book should have been shorter nor longer. Yes, some parts could have been elaborated but the timeframe chosen allowed each character, event, and conflict to have a decent amount of coverage. I do admit though that with the book being split into five parts, I did get tired in the middle. At times it seemed as if he was just adding rambles to the story, meanwhile I was eagerly waiting for the trial. I do admit though that I appreciated how much Beatty went into depth when describing certain events and childhood memories. But at the same time, I felt let down when the big event, the trial, wasn’t fully discussed and left the story feeling unresolved.

Bad:

  1. Location and time. The location and time is California in the present day. However, I feel like this choice of timing causes a lot of confusion and weakens the story. There is constant conflict between the narrator, his slave, the woman that he sees (don’t want to spoil too much) and his town mainly for this reason. Below are a few examples:
  •  The narrator smokes weed while in the court room and shares it with his lawyer. Really? As if that would happen in the present time!
  • The narrator sells weed to the people in his town, who don’t know what it is, and uses different names for it. Seriously? A town in California? Not knowing what weed is?
  • The town agrees to follow his idea with segregating the town. Yes this would be understandable if it was a town full of racist people but in present day, wouldn’t there be at least one person fighting against it?
  • The first step for the segregation is the local bus. Bit controversial (Rosa Parks).

Could have been worked on:

  1. Not enough written about the trial. I started this book believing that the trial would be a big part of it. However, it was mainly only the prologue and wasn’t strongly resolved at the end of the book. The book didn’t end on a cliffhanger but it just had a “Really? That’s it?” type of ending. I wish that Beatty had explained more about how it all ended and how the town was truly effected.
  2. Weak use of flashbacks. A large part of this book focuses on the narrators past relationships and the reasoning for the main characters being the way that they are. At times it was used strongly and added more emotion to the story, especially the parts about the father. But with that being said, I think that Beatty could have used it more for certain events and characters, such as the father’s death and Hominy’s “passion” for slavery and segregation.

Overall, it was a good book and I don’t regret reading nor purchasing it. If this review appealed to you then definitely read the book. However, if it doesn’t – save your money and buy a different one.

Would I suggest this book to a friend?: Yes

Would I read another book by Paul Beatty?: Yes

Goodreads Rating: 3/5

It, Alexa Chung

It Alexa Chung

Title: It

Author: Alexa Chung

Genre: Nonfiction

Edition: Paperback

Goodreads Blurb: “With influences that range from Jane Birkin to Mick Jagger, Alexa Chung is a unique fashion icon. Her first book, It, provides her legion of fans with a long-awaited inside look at her world. A truly one-off collection of Alexa’s personal writings, drawings and photographs, It covers everything from her thoughts on life, love and music to her favourite looks and how to decide what to wear in the morning. With wit, charm and a refreshingly down-to-earth attitude, this gorgeously designed full-colour book is a must-have for anyone who loves fashion, music and just about everything Alexa Chung.”


Alexa Chung’s It can best be described as a range of topics with little blurbs, photos, and doodles.

I had been wanting to read this book for over two years and got it as gift for Christmas. I had been saving it to read after an intense book, which ended up being Fahrenheit 451, with the thought that it would be enjoyable and chill. Seeing as I had first heard about it on a Youtuber’s channel, claiming that it changed her style and helped her find herself, I had high expectations. But sure enough, I ended up being let down.

I read this book in less than twelve hours which shows the poor quality and weak length. It was as if Chung only wrote her first thoughts about the topics ranging from childhood to beauty to underwear. I admit that her writing was not bad but she could have put more time into it. For a book that is priced at $12.00 (£10.00) and made with heavy-duty, expensive paper (publishing student moment), it should have gone into more depth.

The photos and doodles included throughout were nice but not exactly relevant. She and her editor could have worked together better and selected photos specifically for the topics and just overall, more interesting. I found it annoying that I would read ten or less sentences and then must go through two pages of photos. Not a layout for me.

Would I suggest this book to a friend? No.

Did I go into London to shop with her advice on my mind? Yes.

Goodreads Rating: 2/5