Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

Publication Date: September 11th, 2012
Hyperion Book CH
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
Bryce remembers it like it was yesterday. The scent of chlorine. The blinding crack and flash of pain. Blood in the water.
When she wakes up in the hospital, all Bryce can think of is her disastrous Olympic diving trial. But everything is different now. Bryce still feels seventeen, so how can her little sister be seventeen, too? Life went on without her while Bryce lay in a coma for five years. Her best friend and boyfriend have just graduated from college. Her parents barely speak. And everything she once dreamed of doing–winning a gold medal, traveling the world, falling in love–seems beyond her reach.
But Bryce has changed too, in seemingly impossible ways. She knows things she shouldn’t. Things that happened while she was asleep. Things that haven’t even happened yet. During one luminous summer, as she comes to understand that her dreams have changed forever, Bryce learns to see life for what it truly is: extraordinary.

The Gist: Girl woke up from a five-year coma; life around her predictably changed. Her family’s drifted apart. She lost her best friend and boyfriend. On top of it all, she’s sensing something different about herself: her senses are heightened and she’s remembering things from other people’s past. She’s also getting glimpses of the future – hers and her loved ones. What’s happening? Many called her a miracle but some days, she wonders, is she really? Or is she nothing but a freak of nature?

The Review: Much like Bryce at the beginning when she was innundated by confusion, I had pretty much scratched my head for the better part of this novel. From the vague explanation about her new-found extra-ordinary abilities to dealing with waking up finding your life wasn’t what it was, I felt that the novel was a bit disorganized – somewhat all over the place.

There is a lack of cohesiveness that starts from the time she wakes up from coma, creating and fulfilling her bucket list, and the eventual end. Sometimes, it was too much of everything and too little of something definite. Her bucket list – which consisted of things she missed from high school, felt like a random thing used to fill the pages. I thought that if this list came after a certain point in the novel where she found out the consequences of having her ability, then it would’ve made sense. The order felt wrong somehow.

The narrative has a mystical characteristic that just didn’t work when it should. We’re talking about a girl who literally slept for five years and woke up with some extra ordinary abilities – magical and miraculous. But Bryce herself didn’t seem that vested in what was going on most of the time.

Cicadas usually precedes her visions but for the life of me, I couldn’t find the connection. Someone, please…explain this to me like I’m five years old.

So the ending. Yeah. I’ve tried to wrap my head around it but I’ve failed so many times. Just because you saw how it ends, doesn’t mean you’ll go on and make it happen, lady. It’s like a morbid version of a self-fulfilling prophecy only she didn’t need encouragements from people, she just…let it happened. Ever heard of fighting fate? You can, you know. If you want it enough, that is. Oh but what am I rambling about anyway? It seems futile, considering I wasn’t at all clear on how this book ended. I’ve drawn to my own conclusion that fade to black scenes are soooo overrated.

VERDICT: I read this in less than three hours and it’s not because it had me completely entranced. It’s because I waited and waited until it got better. Sadly, it didn’t live up to its title. I have a feeling that if this book didn’t end the way it did, it’d have gotten a better rating. I don’t care much for how it ended – the story seemed unfinished.

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Review and Giveaway: The Taming by Teresa Toten and Eric Walters

(Sorry for the awful pic resolution!)
Publication Date: January 24th, 2012
Doubleday Canada
Format: ARC E-galley
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Katie likes to believe she’s invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is–shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: “My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina.”

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he’s honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father’s high-end Audi to a kid he’s never met, first day of school. “I have insurance for car theft,” he explains to a shocked Danny. “And there’s a full tank.” An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

*Gratuitous sigh* Young love. It’s great isn’t it?  The first time you see him across the hall…the first time you notice the hair flopping on his forehead…the silly way he makes you feel when he smiles at you…or how you tried, in vain, to calm your heart the first time he talked to you. Sigh. Oh to be young again.

Juxtaposing The Taming of the Shrew, I had images of Heath Ledger in all his badass glory serenading a very shrewd Julia Stiles in the stands. If you’re not familiar with the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You is one of those must-see movies that you can’t afford to miss. It’s romantic, funny, and hearfelt. I was sure this book would be fun. And it was…until I was hit by a streaking wrecking ball I never saw coming.

Katie and Evan’s romance started off ideally enough. You have Katie, who works hard at blending into the walls of her high school and Evan, who draws attention anywhere he goes. There isn’t anything spectacular about their first meeting – no fireworks (at least not on Evan’s side) and the earth hardly moved. Somehow, perfect Evan was able to see the beauty in simple Kate and have developed a fierce attraction, much to Kate’s surprise. Who wouldn’t want the attention of this handsome new comer? He’s gentlemanly, rich and not at all drawn to the usual popular crowd. He’s perfect. And Kate would do just about anything to keep him.

I want you to read this. This book, pardon the language, fucked with my head. I was deceived. It started off funny and quirky with dialogues that brought out quite a few chuckles from me. I was duped and left to feel comfortable – too comfortable that I did not see that huge ass wrecking ball heading my way. If you’d ever had to do a complete, dissection of The Taming of the Shrew, then perhaps you’d realize that Shakespeare’s comedy, is not all that funny. Let me put it this way, I’ve never seen it in this light. I’m dumbfounded. It was like finding out for the first time that Tiger Woods is a manwhore. Tiger Woods – whom I held in such a high regard for as long as I can remember. My opinion of him then, was that he was the most perfect athlete. Private, honest, family man. And then, bam! Elin Nordegren was chasing him with a golf club. Anyway, I’m rambling and probably not even making a whole lot of sense. My point is, not everything is what it seems.

The writing tag team of Toten and Walters did a phenomenal job of giving our main characters their genuine voices and personalities. This book is dark and what blew my mind was the lack of epiphany about the direction in which the authors were taking me at the time. They set me up. I credit the writers for this element of…surprise. If you guys read my status updates on Goodreads, you’d see how I was taken for a ride. My slow realization that, holy crap. I can’t believe this shit is about to get down! This book is amazing! The ending left me feeling conflicted. I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy for Katie and sad for Evan. I wish that I could take Evan and put him in another book – change his one and only major flaw. This guy was perfect. I believe I even swooned many a times until I got to the part where…anyway. I can’t say. I was sad for him. And knowing what I know about him, this probably doesn’t paint a good picture of me. But I really can’t help it. He was just…sad. I liked that once Katie realized what was going on, she didn’t become one of those characters. I wish I could elaborate more but the beauty of this book was from the unexpectedness of what happened. It’s making me feel guilty that I thoroughly enjoyed this book when the subject matters were awfully serious.

BITS & PIECES – The Goods. 

Danny’s inability to say Petruchio’s name correctly. Variations include: PISTACHIO, PINOCCHIO.

Travis’ undecipherable sexuality. Even he’s confused himself. Picture a Jared Leto, complete with guyliner and goth wardrobe.

Josh’s feeble capacity to understand the Shakespearean language. He’s a terrible actor but an awesome athlete.

“It would help if I had a clue about what the hell they’re talking about. Like, later, on the page they’re talking about cocks. Can we do that?” – Josh
“Chickens,” I wisphered so no one else would hear. “It’s a rooster reference.” – Katie

EVAN: “My father once said to me that the best thing in the world is a beautiful woman. But the worst thing in the world is a beautiful woman who knows she’s beautiful.”

Intelligent dialogues and witty banters.

YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. Heck, I’ll pre-order it for you! 

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