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Muggle-Born.net is a blog mostly on young adult book reviews. My name is Cialina, and I am a college student living in New York City. I love Harry Potter, coffee, and bookstores.

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A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan HalpinA REALLY, AWESOME MESS by Brendan Halpin and Trish Cook Book Review
Publication Date: July 23rd 2013 by EgmontUSA
Rating:  – Poor

Book Summary: A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents’ divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog– and Emmy definitely doesn’t. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

A Really, Awesome Mess Book Review Overview:

  • Unlikeable protagonists but diverse and interesting cast of secondary characters
  • The plot gets out of hand and I ended up skimming the last half of the book

I picked up A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin on a whim. I was looking for something to read, and A Really Awesome Mess kind of reminded me of a younger-self favorite: Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, a novel about a teen who ends up at a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. A Really Awesome Mess tries to follow in the same vein by mixing mental health with humor. Unfortunately, A Really Awesome Mess is unsuccessful.

Emmy and Justin arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school for messed up teens. But Emmy and Justin refuse to admit that they both have problems. Emmy had always felt like an outsider in her own family. She was adopted from China, and she looks nothing like her family. After a scandalous photo of her spread around her school, Emmy retaliates by spreading rumors on Facebook. Justin was never able to properly cope with his parents’ divorce. When he overdoses on a handful of Tylenol, Justin hits rock bottom. In A Really Awesome Mess, Emmy and Justin make new friends and learn how to cope with their problems.

One of the downfalls of A Really Awesome Mess is that the two protagonists, who alternate narrating the story, are not likeable. To be honest, they’re quite annoying. At first, I thought that this would be the kind of story where you hate the main characters, but you end up growing to love them. This was not the case. As the story progressed, the more I rolled my eyes at the characters. It was really hard to empathize with them when I didn’t even like them.

A highlight of A Really Awesome Mess is the diverse cast of secondary characters. Emmy and Justin are forced to work as a team with others in their anger management class. Mohammed, Chip, Jenny, and Diana all had distinct personalities. So even if there were a ton of people to keep track of, it never got confusing.

I enjoyed the group’s dynamics, but then the plot takes a turn for the worse. The antics that the group gets into just get utterly ridiculous. I know I’m probably not supposed to take this book all that seriously. But to be honest, I really didn’t find myself laughing throughout the book. There were a few lines that deserved a chuckle, but for the most part, A Really Awesome Mess was silly, not funny. I had to resist rolling my eyes in a few scenes, and I ended up having to force myself through the last half of the book.

Once I reached the climax of the story, it was difficult to take the protagonists seriously. It’s hard for me to feel like they accomplished anything in terms of getting better. The characters never felt sincere to me when they came upon their turning points.  I never really felt that Emmy or Justin improved by the end of the book.

Overall, A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin is a mess not worth reading. The unlikeable protagonists will just have you rolling your eyes from beginning to end.



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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Two Stars - , , , , , | Words 979 words



Juliet Immortal by Stacey JayJULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay Book Review
Series: Juliet Immortal, #1
Publication Date: August 9th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Poor

Book Summary: The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn’t take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn’t anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she’s fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she’s forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

Juliet Immortal Book Review Overview:

  • Convoluted plot
  • The insta-love just made me want to cringe
  • The only thing I liked was the development of the mother/daughter relationship

I don’t know how I managed to get through the entire audiobook of JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay. From the very beginning, my alarm bells were already going off, and I knew that there was nothing to change my first impression. JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay is just not the book for me.

After a serious car accident, Juliet finds herself in the body of Ariel. Much to her horror, she sits next to the reincarnation of her biggest enemy and her former soul mate, Romeo. Juliet had been sent back to bring together two soul mates, her best friend, Gemma, and Ben, the new boy in town. Juliet must solidify their love before Romeo can kill her.

I just couldn’t get into the plot itself. As I was summarizing the audiobook, the plot just seemed to sound more and more ridiculous. Romeo and Juliet are reincarnated throughout years since their deaths. Juliet is forever reincarnated to bring soul mates together. On the other hand, Romeo is sent back to kill her by these immortal Mercenaries. The reincarnation of Romeo and Juliet in these teenage bodies just didn’t sit right with me. I was also just not into the idea of these higher beings controlling the souls of Romeo and Juliet to do their bidding.

The mixture of insta-love and a convoluted love square is not my kind of romance. I found myself cringing at the declarations of love. The dialogue was cheesy, and I did not feel the connection just a few chapters into the story.  I’m sorry, but you cannot convince me that these characters are madly in love with each other after three days.

The only highlight of JULIET IMMORTAL was the development of the mother/daughter relationship between Ariel and her mother. Like most mother/daughter relationships in YA, their relationship was rocky. I really enjoyed how Ariel and her mother learned how to communicate with one another. It’s the only part of the book where I didn’t really dislike the protagonist. My heart actually warmed up just a little and for a while, the audiobook became bearable to listen to.

I’m really disappointed by JULIET IMMORTAL by Stacey Jay. I can’t help but feel that such an iconic couple in literature has been butchered by a poorly executed novel.



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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Two Stars - , , , , | Words 697 words



Jessica Darling's It List #1JESSICA DARLING’S IT LIST #1 by Megan McCafferty Book Review
Series: Jessica Darling’s It List, #1
Publication Date: September 3rd 2013 by Poppy
Rating: – Poor |

Book Summary: Move over, Dork Diaries! Jessica Darling, star of Megan McCafferty’s bestselling Jessica Darling series for adults, is back in a hilarious new series perfect for tween (10 to 14) girls.

I hadn’t even gotten to homeroom yet and I’d already discovered five hard truths about junior high:

1. My best friend had turned pretty.
2. She didn’t know it yet.
3. It wouldn’t be long before she did.
4. That knowledge would change everything between us.
5. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

It’s the first day of seventh grade. Is Jessica Darling doomed for dorkdom?

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty’s hilarious series opener will have you laughing, cringing, and cheering for Jessica Darling as she learns that being herself beats being popular, pretty & perfect any day

Jessica Darling’s It List #1 by Megan McCafferty Book Review Overview:

  • Jessica Darling’s It List #1 was just a big disappointment
  • I never actually laughed out loud while reading, unfunny
  • The book is a bummer but it made me want to reread Jessica Darling all over again

It really just pains me to say this, but Jessica Darling’s It List #1 was just a big disappointment.

You know, maybe if I hadn’t read the Jessica Darling series all those years ago, I probably would have liked this book. Jessica’s funny, I guess. I can see the similarities in her younger self in her older self – which is pretty important. But I never actually laughed out loud when it came to reading. Which is a total bummer because Megan McCafferty can totally make me laugh in her other books. I’m also not attributing this to “middle grade humor” because I’ve read other middle grade books that managed to make me laugh out loud (example: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series). The fact that Jessica Darling’s It List was unfunny was extremely disappointing.

I guess it’s nice to see how the characters developed from their middle school days to their high school days… but was I the least bit curious about it before I read Jessica Darling’s It List? No, not at all. In fact, when I first found out about the series I just wanted to cringe. I’ve enjoyed Megan McCafferty’s other series (Bumped) so it felt a bit like a sell-out to me when I found out that she was doing a spin-off of Jessica Darling.

On the upside, the only two characters that I really enjoyed reading about were Hope and Marcus Flutie – yup, the Marcus Flutie. I guess they were the only normal characters that never talked in CONSTANT CAPITALS AND EXCLAMATIONS!!! — which could get pretty tiring.

The only good thing that came out of reading Jessica Darling’s It List is that it made me want to reread the whole Jessica Darling series all over again. I did not get the warm fuzzies with this book that I got when reading the Jessica Darling series. I wish that Jessica Darling’s It List was able to prove me wrong, but this is just another spin-off series that should not have happened.

 

About the Author

Megan McCaffertyMegan McCafferty is the author of BUMPED, a satirical dystopian YA novel published by the Balzer + Bray imprint of HarperCollins. She also wrote the bestselling Jessica Darling series: SLOPPY FIRSTS, SECOND HELPINGS, CHARMED THIRDS, FOURTH COMINGS and PERFECT FIFTHS.

Megan edited a short story anthology called SIXTEEN: Stories About That Sweet and Bitter Birthday. She has contributed to several fiction and nonfiction anthologies including DEAR BULLY, MY LITTLE RED BOOK, DOES THIS BOOK MAKE ME LOOK FAT? and EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME. Her work has been translated into eleven languages, including German, Chinese and Hungarian.

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Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Two Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 867 words



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- Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


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